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My family and I are learning Esperanto through Duolingo. We are native English speakers and just starting out. There are some times when the correct answer includes "estas" and others when it does not include "estas". Sometimes when the English "is" or "are" are used, "estas" is used and sometimes it isn't. Can someone help with when it is used and when it isn't? Thanks

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  • A couple of examples would really help. Also, I suggest you also check out lernu.net. May 31 at 11:26
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It might help if you give some examples in your question so that people can give a better response.

If this is your first time learning a language, a useful thing to bear in mind is that you can’t construct a sentence by translating the words one by one. For example if you want to say “I am eating an apple”, you can’t translate the words I, am, eating, an and apple. Instead you have to translate the meaning of the entire sentence.

At a guess, I think maybe the sentences that are causing you trouble are where is is used as part of the main verb to express the present continuous tense. For example in English you could have these sentences:

He is running.

That means the person is running right now.

He runs.

That means the person generally runs from time to time.

Esperanto generally doesn’t make a distinction between these two sentences and instead both are translated as:

Li kuras.

You would know what the person means by context. The same thing happens in French.

There is a way to express the “is running” in Esperanto but it is only used for emphasis and isn’t compulsory like in English.

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I bet that those cases are of type "I am eating", "You are eating", i.e. "am/are/is" + -ing. That form is called present continuous or progressive tense in English, but actually that continuousness/progressiveness is an aspect, something that is neither tense (e.g. present or past) nor mode (e.g. statment or order). What is expressed by aspects vary a lot from language to language, and that continuousness aspect is particular to English. Esperanto does not have that (it has other aspects). So

  • "I eat" and "I am eating" both get translated to Mi manĝas

When it comes to Duolingo, I strongly recommend to take the lessons at least once with an ordinary webbrowser, because the browser version has grammar lessons (look for buttons with the caption "Tips"). The app versions does not have those tips.

I personally prefer the course La teorio Nakamura in Lernu, because it more clearly builds on what you have learnt during the course – and has a story.

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Juha, Thanks for the tip on Duolingo tips. That was very helpful. To both Juha and Niel, Your explanations are helpful.

If this is your first time learning a language, a useful thing to bear in mind is that you can’t construct a sentence by translating the words one by one. For example if you want to say “I am eating an apple”, you can’t translate the words I, am, eating, an and apple. Instead you have to translate the meaning of the entire sentence.

Always good to remember. This is actually my third language, but my second language was learned organically from living in a place as opposed to through a program. There's a bit of difference between the two ways of learning a language.

In the Duolingo tips, it had a section on Estas. (emphasis mine)

Estas means am, is, or are. It is the present tense of the verb esti, to be. It is used in sentences like La nokto estas varma. (The night is hot.) or Adamo estas viro. (Adam is a man.) to assign a property or identity to someone or something.

It can also be used to state the existence of someone or something: Estas viro en la parko. (There is a man in the park.), or Estas nokto. (It is night.) From these examples we can see that when it is the first word in a sentence, Estas means "There is" or "It is":

That helps to answer why

He is cold because it is raining

is translated

li estas malvarma ĉar pluvas

and not

li estas malvarma ĉar estas pluvas

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    Welcome to Esperanto Language Stack Exchange! Although posted as an "answer", this post doesn't seem to attempt to answer the question. Please note that Esperanto Language Stack Exchange is not a forum, but a Q&A site. That being said, feel free to answer your own question if you feel you can. Maybe edit this post here, to make it more of an answer.
    – das-g
    Jun 3 at 22:33

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