Overview of Esperanto

The Infamous Accusative

For English-speaking learners of Esperanto probably the trickiest aspect when using the language is the accusative. The rule for the accusative is simple, but because it is not the way we do it in English we often get it wrong.
In Esperanto a noun which is the direct object of a verb has the letter "n" added to the end to mark it as the direct object.
The closest scenario to this still remaining in English occurs with the personal pronouns: we say "I helped him", but we do not say "I helped he"; "him" is the accusative form of "he" in English. In Esperanto this becomes "Mi helpis lin". "He helped me" would be "Li helpis min".

Unlike in English, though, this rule allows freedom of word order in Esperanto. In English we cannot say "I him helped" but in Esperanto "Mi lin helpis", "Lin mi helpis", "Lin helpis mi", "Helpis mi lin" and so on all mean "I helped him" but with subtle differences of emphasis.

Because of the regularity of Esperanto the accusative rule applies to all direct objects. "Ŝi portis sakon" ... "She carried a bag" ... is correct Esperanto. Nevertheless "Ŝi portis sako", although incorrect, would be understood by all Esperantists.

Note the agreement of adjectives: "Mi manĝis verdan pomon", "I ate a green apple" and "Ni havas du ruĝajn pomojn", "We have two red apples".