In saying something like "The group is big" ("La grupo estas granda"), I'm referring to the noun "group" singularly (i.e. the group itself is big). How would I refer to it collectively as in English, as in the sentence "The group are scared" (i.e. the members of the group are scared)? "La grupo estas timaj" doesn't sound like it would make sense. I could just keep it simple and say "La membroj de la grupo estas timaj", but I wonder if there is any Esperanto equivalent of using collective nouns in the above manner.

2 Answers 2


I would say here La grupo timas or La grupanoj timas and not even use an adjective. Note here that with -an- you still have a very similar effect without using membroj de.

  • Keep in mind, however, that changing an a-vorto (adjective root) into an i-vorto (verb) does not always have the same connotation of estas a-vorta. For instance: Filo: Mia hundido ne feliĉas! Paĉo: Ne, la hundido estas feliĉa, ĉar nun ĝi ne ekmalsanos. The boy is saying the dog isn’t subjectively acting happy (it’s getting a vaccination or something); the father is saying the dog is objectively happy (even though it probably isn’t, really), regardless of how it acts. Timi/a is like this: timas is “being scared”, tima is “frightened”. A fine distinction, but present.
    – Trey
    Jan 10, 2020 at 23:32

I think you're falling victim to L1 interference here. While it is possible in English to use both singular and plural with certain nouns (team, group, but also data), this is not necessarily the same in other languages, including Esperanto.

As per the grammatical rules (rule 3 of the fundamental 16), there is agreement between nouns and adjectives, so La grupo estis tima is correct usage. This would sound perfectly fine to a native speaker of, say, German.

  • Note: In JC Wells' Esperanto Dictionary the rule is phrased a bit more explicitly as They [adjectives] agree in case and number with the noun they qualify, forming plural and accusative in the same way. Harlow's rules description, which is linked here, is less explicit on this. Sep 30, 2019 at 16:37

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