Take for instance a simple sentence like "I am right". Should this then technically be "mi estas prave" (or even "mi prave estas") instead of "mi estas prava"? Why do I ask? Because, to me, this seems like...

  • "Mi estas prava."
    • ...I myself am what is right, because I am a god[dess] or something.
  • "Mi estas prave."/"Mi prave estas."
    • ...I "am being" right, e.g. because of something I said.

Granted, one could also have said "mi pravas", but ignore that case for the sake of this question. "Prav{a,e}" is just an example word I used in this question, but is not strictly limited to such a case.

In contrast, and also to better illustrate my question, take another sentence such as "I am pretty". Now, to me, this does describe how I am (and indeed I am! =^=), and thus, in my opinion, would be in the adjective form, ĉu ne?

  • "Mi estas bela."
    • I myself am what is pretty.
  • "Mi estas bele."/"Mi bele estas."
    • I...uh...exist prettily?

This answered question is close-ish to mine, but not quite. I already know that adverbs in Esperanto can describe verbs, adjectives, and subclauses (e.g. "Estas bele, ke la monadoj kune ŝajne harmonias"), but here I am not sure what actually should be the thing that is described (i.e. the subject "mi", or the "estas"), and thus whether the adjective or the adverb should be used.

  • Priskribante sin mem ... – Eduardo Trápani Mar 20 '20 at 15:07
  • Just noticed that it doesn't actually have to be one self, either, but any such subject (e.g. "ri estas dika"). But yes, good catch. – Mona the Monad Mar 20 '20 at 15:15
  • You can change the title if it is not gramatically correct. Better not to expose new learners to wrong constructions. Maybe "Priskriboj - ĉu ..." aŭ rekte "Ĉu esti ...". – Eduardo Trápani Mar 20 '20 at 16:20

Adjectives say something about the subject and adverbs say something about the verb or and adjective but not about the subject.

So you would always say:

Mi estas prava (the usual form is: mi pravas)
Mi estas bela
Mi estas rapida

When would you use the adverb with esti? When it says something about an adjective or a verb (infinitive or participle):

Mi estas tute sola
Mi estas sufiĉe kovrita de la littuko
Estus amuze kaŝi lian porteblan

Here tute/sufiĉe add information to sola/kovrita not to you. Amuze says something about kaŝi.

Also sometimes when the verb does not take a subject (or it is not mentioned), for example, or when the infinitive follows:

Tie estas tre varme (estas varma vetero)

That's not an exhaustive list, you can also check esti en PMEG. Tie troviĝas multaj ekzemploj kaj klarigoj.


There are two things worth noticing here.

  1. In Esperanto adjectives are used for describing nominals (nouns, pronouns and adjectives in case of Esperanto), to describe anything else adverbs are used. See PMEG.
  2. The verb esti is so called copula, i.e. a word, that links the subject to a predicative.

These give

  • Mi estas bela : bela describes the pronoun, which in this case is the subject, "I am beautiful"

Should you use an adverb

  • Mi estas bele : bele describes something else than the pronoun, which in this case must be the verb, but "I am beautifully" or "My being is beautiful" is pretty much senseless
  • Thank you for pointing out. I corrected the term to nominals. – Juha Metsäkallas Apr 1 '20 at 6:45
  • This is a good explanation. I just want to point out that, in this particular instance, Mi estas bele could take the other meaning of esti in the sense of ekzisti, and so could mean “I exist in a beautiful manner”. It is odd, but it does make sense. Just don't do that, unless you're being really poetic or literary. – Joffysloffy Apr 1 '20 at 14:31

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