Overview of Esperanto

Word Building

We have already seen that an Esperantist can join words together to form new words. He or she can also use an array of affixes to change the meaning of a word root. Around half of these are given below:

opposite malami
to hate
again, once more reveni
to return, to come back
increases meaning bonega
a mansion
decreases meaning         libreto
a pamphlet
female of ŝafino
a ewe
offspring of ŝafido
a lamb
the collective ŝafaro
a flock of sheep
place for aŭtomobilejo
worthy vidinda
worth seeing
small part of panero
a breadcrumb
a tool for manĝilo
a piece of cutlery
-em tendency amema affectionate
-aĵ object (with characteristics of the root) manĝaĵo a meal, food
-ebl possibility portebla portable
-ul person (sometimes animal) bonulo a good fellow

Two suffixes in particular are used a lot in Esperanto: "-ig" and "-iĝ". The first has the meaning "to cause to" and the second has the meaning "to become" or "to get". For example, "feliĉigi" would mean "to make (someone) happy" and "feliĉiĝi" would mean "to get happy" or "to become happy".
More generally: "-ig" makes intransitive verbs transitive and "-iĝ" makes transitive verbs intransitive.
For example, "Legomoj kreskas en ŝia ĝardeno" means "Vegetables grow in her garden"; "Ŝi kreskigas legomojn en sia ĝardeno" means "She grows vegetables in her garden". The intransitive verb "kreski" becomes the transitive verb "kreskigi". In English we use the same word "to grow" in both situations, even though they mean quite different things.
"Li vendas librojn en sia butiko" means "He sells books in his shop". "Libroj vendiĝas bone en lia butiko" means "Books sell well in his shop". The verb "sell" is transitive in the first case and intransitive in the second.

The use of affixes in this regular way is a very powerful aspect of Esperanto, allowing a relatively small vocabulary to express many ideas.