I have a few questions regarding participles used as adverbs in Esperanto.

Let us consider the following sentence:

  • Having slept, I had breakfast.

Early on, I learned that the "Having slept" part should be translated into Esperanto as "Dorminte":

  • Dorminte, mi matenmanĝis.

I also seem to remember reading somewhere in some Esperanto-teacher book, that when the -int-, -ant-, or -ont- participle refers to the subject, it should be an adverb (ending in -nte).

However, now I'm beginning to question that advice, or if I even read it correctly, as I'm having trouble looking finding this rule again (if it ever was one).

So my first questions are: Is this rule necessarily correct? (That is, the rule that -nte should be used when referring to the subject.)

And if not, are there rules for when one should use -nta(j) vs. -nte?

My other concern is about this sentence:

  • Wounded, he died.

Until just recently, I would translate this to:

  • Vundita, li mortis.

But if -int- participles end in -inte when referring to the subject, wouldn't it make sense for -it- participles to use -ite instead of -ita?

Using https://tekstaro.com/ , I found examples of each in "Dua Libro de l’ lingvo Internacia" (Zamenhof, 1888):

  • Batate de la mastro, li ploris kaj ĵuris, ke li terure venĝos.
  • Punata antaŭ la rompita poto, la kato eble komprenos la kaŭzon de l’ punado.

I admit, both of these usages ("batate" and "punata") confuse me.

So my remaining questions are: Is there a difference between the two? (That is, between -ata and -ate.) If so what it? And if not, are the endings interchangeable in these cases?

And which of these is better?

  • Vundita, li mortis.
  • Vundite, li mortis.

Or are they both equally good to use?

  • 2
    Relevant chapter of PMEG: 28.2. Participoj kiel E-vortoj
    – das-g
    Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 23:02
  • Estas bona ideo demandi po unu afero. Tio kaj simpligas la respondojn, kaj igas ilin pli utilaj por aliaj personoj (kiuj ne nepre dividos kun vi ĉiujn dubojn). Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


First remember that an adjective (dorm…a) always describes a noun and nothing but a noun. If the describing word refers to anything else than a noun, it takes the e-ending (dorm…e).

When it comes to a participle construction like

  • Dorminte mi matenmanĝis.

the participle is best understood as a shortened clause, a frazekvialento, that describes a secondary action related to the rest of the sentence (which has the main action). The presence of n in the participle or lack of it (vund…nte vs. vund…te) denotes whether this secondary action is active (the subject of the sentence acts) resp. passive (the subject is actually an object which gets acted upon) voice. The vowel denotes the tense in relation to the main action, i.e. i indicates before, a at the same time and o after.

In the example the main action is matenmanĝi, eating, having breakfast, and it is in preterite or simple past tense, matenmanĝis. So putting all these together:

  • the main action, eating breakfast, took place in the past (and has ended), but before that there was another action, sleeping, that ended before that main action

Writing that idea in a long way would be something like Post kiam mi estis dorminta, mi matenmanĝis. Note that in Esperanto (as in English) the subject of the shortened clause must be the same as in the main clause. (There are languages where these two clauses can have different subjects.)

You most likely encounter shortened clauses only in thought-out texts, in speech you would likely hear something like Post kiam mi vekiĝis, mi matenmanĝis.


  • Vundita li mortis.

the participle descibes the pronoun directly ("the wounded he died"). While understadable as such, you more likely want to descibe the action and say vundite li mortis ("having been wounded he died").

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