What makes it so easy?

Esperanto is a language different from most in that it was carefully planned to be as easy-as-possible to learn. It was introduced with the hope that it would be studied worldwide, and become a common second language for everyone.

WHAT MAKES IT SO EASY?

1.       The grammar is simple, with no exceptions. The entire set of Esperanto grammar rules can be mastered in a single hour.  There is one simple rule for making plurals. A student of English has to learn a list of rules, exceptions to the rules and a number of words that don’t follow any of the rules. (See note below – Making Plurals.) Every Esperanto verb follows the same simple pattern; there are no irregular verbs requiring additional learning. English verb patterns are also simple, but there are hundreds of irregular verbs, meaning hundreds of more words to learn. 

2.       The spelling is completely phonetic, and the syllabic stress in consistent. Once you have learned the rules, if you see a word correctly spelled, you know how to pronounce it. No additional learning is required. After learning the basic rules for pronouncing most letters, a student of English is still faced with hundreds if not thousands of complexities. (e.g. There are eight different ways of pronouncing “ough”, none phonetic; there are thirteen different ways of spelling the long “o” sound; “yesterday” is stressed on the first syllable; “today” is stressed on the last syllable; “tomorrow” is stressed on the middle syllable; etc.)

3.       Vocabulary learning has been greatly reduced. Thousands of words are required to be fluent in any language, including Esperanto. In most languages that means learning thousands of vocabulary items. But in Esperanto, through the extensive use of compound words, prefixes, suffixes and grammatical endings, thousands of words are formed from only hundreds of vocabulary items. Studies have discovered that ninety five percent of spoken Esperanto can be understood after mastering less than 500 vocabulary items. (To better understand this, visit the page “Word-building in Esperanto”.)

Making Plurals

Esperanto

  • In their basic form, all Esperanto nouns end in the letter “o”.
  • All plurals are formed by adding the letter “j” after the “o”. (The “oj” ending is pronounced like the “oy” in the English word “boy”)
  • That’s it. In seconds you have learned to make plurals in Esperanto. there is nothing else to learn.

English

Major rules (for “regular” plurals ending in “s” or “es”)

  • For most nouns – add an “s”.
  • For nouns ending in ch, o, s, sh, x, or z – add “es”.
  • For nouns ending in “f” or “fe” – change the ending to “ves”.
  • For nouns ending in a “y” – change the “y” to “i” and add “es”.

Exceptions to the major rules:

  • Some nouns don’t change at all. (deer, deer)
  • Some nouns ending in “o” don’t need the “e”. (volcanos and volcanoes are both correct) 
  • For some nouns ending in “o” it is a mistake to add the “e”. (piano, pianos – not pianoes).
  • Sometimes a final “s” or “z” is doubled before adding “es”. (gas, gasses)
  • Some nouns ending in “f” don’t need to be changed. (hoofs and hooves are both correct)
  • For some nouns ending in “f”, it is a mistake to change the ending. (chief, chiefs – not chieves)
  • For nouns ending in a vowel plus “y”, just add “s”. (monkey, monkeys) 
    • Exception to the above rule for exceptions: Nouns ending in “quy” follow the regular rule. (soliloquy, soliloquies) 

Minor rules for making plurals in English

  • Nouns ending in “is” often change to “es” in the plural. (analysis, analyses)
  • Nouns ending in “on” or “um” often change to “a” in the plural. (criterion, criteria; millennium, millennia)
  • Nouns with a “oo” in the singular often change to a “ee” in the plural. (foot, feet)
  • Nouns ending in “ouse” often change to “ice” in the plural. (mouse, mice)
  • Nouns ending in “us” often change to “i” in the plural. (cactus, cacti) 

There are still more less-important minor rules [e.g. Words of Italian origin, notably technical terms in music and art, often retain the Italian plural (cello, celli; castrato, castrati)]. Learning all these rules and exceptions is not enough. There are a number of important words whose plurals are different words that needs to be learned separately (child, children; person, people; …). Instead of mastering plurals in seconds, students of English often make mistakes after years of study.