BASIC GRAMMAR OF THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE IDO
A concise guide to this practical international language which has been developed by linguists and scientists and is available for use by all who wish to communicate across language barriers in the easiest and most economical way possible
The international language Ido has been developed by linguists and scientists who included the philosopher-mathematician Louis Couturat and the philologist Otto Jespersen. It is both a written and a spoken language. It has been put to the test of practical use in correspondence and in hundreds of books and magazines. It has also been used for holiday gatherings and conferences where people from many countries have found themselves able to discuss a wide variety of matters directly with each other.
This eminently practical and easy language is indeed remarkable. Yet its existence is not widely known, partly owing to the scepticism of those who find it difficult to believe that such a thing is possible and who are determined not to allow their prejudiced opinion to be upset by exposing themselves to the evidence. The fact that Ido has achieved all that it already has is a tribute to those who refused to be dissuaded by the cries of "It can't be done" or "It won't work." It is the aim of this booklet not only to demonstrate (for the benefit of those with open minds) that Ido is practical, but also to assist in spreading knowledge of it.
The small vocabularies which follow the basic grammar are intended to include the more useful and frequently found words. They are sufficient for obtaining a very useful knowledge of Ido, enough to understand many ordinary texts and to begin correspondence in the language. More extensive vocabularies (such as Dyer's) tend to be more than a beginner requires, so it is hoped that this publication fills a need for the speaker of English who wishes to try the language at a modest cost.
The alphabet of Ido is as in English: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.
Because there are not many vowel sounds, exact pronunciation of them is less critical than it is in some languages where vowels and dipththongs are many and the distinctions are finer. Exact pronunciation of each vowel is less important in Ido than making each clearly recognisable.
Most consonants are pronounced as in English. But c is always pronounced like ts in bats, g is always hard as in get and give, h is never silent, j is as in French and like the s in pleasure, r is always sounded or trilled a little as in prize, s is always sharp as in same and bus (never like z as is the s in comes), and x is as in expert. The digraph ch is pronounced as in church, and sh as in ship; qu is pronounced as in quick.
Accent. All words of more than one syllable are stressed on the last syllable but one, except for infinitives which are stressed on the last syllable.
The definite article ('the' in English) is la as in la ponto (the bridge), and la lagi (the lakes). There is no indefinite article (a or an in English). So navo means ship or a ship according to context. In some languages, such as Russian, there are no articles at all, so the retention of one article in Ido is a reasonable compromise between languages such as English which have two articles, and those with none. The word la is invariable, like English "the" but unlike the corresponding words in French, German, Italian and Spanish. There is also no (grammatical) gender in Ido, consequently no need to learn that a word is masculine or feminine.
The vocabulary of Ido is based on that of the main European languages: English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. In general, each word is based on as many of these languages as possible, so that many words in Ido are recognisable to people in many countries.
Words of particular types (parts of speech) are in most cases indicated by their endings, and this makes it easy to see the structure of sentences. The root of each word (the part to which the ending is added) is never varied. Some words, such as prepositions, conjunctions and some adverbs do not have special endings. For example, en = in, sur = on, se = if.
Nouns in the singular end in -o: domo = house; nubo = cloud; libro = book; ucelo = bird; urbo = town.
Plural nouns are formed by replacing the final -o with -i: domi = houses; libri = books; flori = flowers; repasti = meals.
Adjectives end in -a: bona = good; granda = big; vera = true; simpla = simple; saja = wise; forta = strong.
Comparatives and superlatives are made using the words plu, min, maxim and minim. For example, plu forta = stronger, and min forta = less strong. Similarly, maxim granda = biggest or largest, while minim saja = least wise.
Adverbs are mostly derived from adjectives by changing the ending to -e: simple = simply; vere = truly; bone = well; rapide = quickly.
As in English, adjectives do not change their form. They may be placed either before (as usually in English) or after (as usually in French) the noun which they qualify. For example, reda floro or floro reda, granda tablo or tablo granda, nova libri or libri nova, granda domi or domi granda.
Verbs in the infinitive end in -ar: kantar = to sing; skribar = to write; vidar = to see; flugar = to fly.
The present tense is formed by replacing -ar by -as: vidas = see(s); lernas = learn(s); trovas = find(s).
The ending -anta corresponds to -ing in English when it means the active present participle: fluganta uceli = flying birds; persono skribanta letro = a person writing a letter; kantanta puerino = a singing girl.
Use of the letters a, i, and o to indicate present, past and future, as in the endings as, is and os is applied also to the active and passive participles. The ending -inta forms the active past participle:
Similarly the ending -onta produces the active future participle:
Never use "to have" or "to do" (as we do in English) as an auxiliary to form tenses.
An active verb is made passive by using the suffix es between the root and the required verb ending.
The suffix -ab- is used with verbs as an optional substitute for equivalent longer forms ending in -inta, and preceded by the appropriate form of the verb esar (to be). This is shown by the following examples:
skribabis (sbrib-ab-is) = esis skribinta = had written; vendabos (vend-ab-os) = esos vendinta = will have sold; vidabas (vid-ab-as) = esas vidinta = has seen ('is having seen').
The main personal pronouns are:
me - I, me
Note that me means both "I" and "me", just as in English we do not have separate words for "you" as subject or object. The full forms of il, el, ol are ilu, elu, olu, but the shorter forms are often used. Lu is very useful in situations when we would otherwise need to say il od el (he or she) since it covers both possibilities. The reflexive pronoun su is used when the object is the same person or thing as the subject.
Possessive pronouns are formed by adding the ending a to the personal pronouns (to the full form in the case of ilu, elu, olu). The main ones are:
mea - my, mine
Derivation. Any adjective can be turned into an adverb by replacing the final -a with an -e. Similarly, from any verb can be obtained a noun (with the noun ending o), meaning the corresponding action.
The ending -ing in English has two meanings which must be distinguished. In "the running horse" the word "running" is an adjective and is translated as kuranta (as in la kuranta kavalo). However, in "running is a pleasure" the word "running" is a noun and is translated as kuro as in kuro esas plezuro.
An adjective can be made into a noun by using the ending -o, the meaning of the noun being someone or something which has that quality. For example, from giganta (gigantic) we get giganto = a giant; from bela (beautiful) we derive belo (a beauty).
Similarly, from parolanta (speaking) we get parolanto = speaker, or someone now speaking, from sequanta (following) we derive sequanto = follower, and from employata (employed) we get employato = employee.
When a noun root is given the ending a the resulting adjective has the same meaning. A couple of examples will make this clear. Thus, from the noun papero (paper) the adjective papera describes something which is paper, as in papera chapelo = paper hat. Similarly, from metalo (metal) we get metala (of metal) as in metala taso = metal cup.
More often, adjectives are formed from nouns by adding a suffix. The general-purpose suffix for forming an adjective is -al-, which is placed between the root and the adjective ending -a.
A verb can be derived from an adjective by use of a suitable suffix, such as -ig-.
To derive a verb from a noun the appropriate suffix must be used, according to the intended meaning of the verb. In an international language it is essential to make the meaning clear, since different languages give different meanings (and sometimes more than one meaning) to verbs derived from nouns (as, for example, with the English verb "to stone").
Since an adverb can be made from an adjective, and an adjective from a noun, so we can also make an adverb from a noun.
Derivation of a variety of words from one word root is an important part of the language's economy and flexibility. So from the root skrib- (verb skribar = to write) we can derive skribo meaning 'writing' (the act of writing), skribado (prolonged writing), skribilo (a writing instrument of any kind), skribesos (will be written), skribala (the adjective), skribita (written), skriburo (a writing, i.e. something written), and so on.
Compound words may be formed freely. The last element in the combination is the main one in determining the meaning, while the preceding element only modifies the meaning.
It is important to note that nouns cannot be used unaltered as though they were also adjectives, as is often the case in English. So sea salt must not be translated by "maro salo", but must be translated either as one word, mar-salo or maro-salo, or by using the adjective for 'sea' (marala) as in marala salo, or by using the word for 'of' (di) as in salo di maro. Similarly, 'love letter' is letro di amo or amo-letro but not "amo letro".
Word order is similar to that in English, with some exceptions. Adjectives may precede or follow the noun they qualify. Shorter adjectives generally precede the noun, and longer ones generally follow it, but this is not obligatory. Adverbs may be placed anywhere that allows the meaning to be clear.
The subject generally comes before the direct object, but if this order is reversed then the direct object must show this by adding the letter n.
The indirect object is always indicated by the use of a preposition.
A statement is turned into a question not by changing the word order but by starting the sentence with the word ka.
Other question words include kande (when), quale (how), ube (where) and quo (what).
Prefixes and suffixes are very important and give great flexibility to the language. The most useful ones are listed here. A few of these are in fact ordinary words which are therefore also used on their own (such as ne = not), but most are true prefixes or suffixes and can be used only as such, not as separate words.
des- denotes the direct opposite: des-agreabla = disagreeable; des-facila = difficult; des-avantajo = disadvantage.
dis- denotes separation: dis-ruptar = to disrupt; dis-semar = to disseminate, to scatter.
ex- ex-, late, retired: ex-prezidanto; ex-oficiro.
mi- half, semi-, demi-: mi-horo = half an hour; mi-cirklo = semicircle.
mis- denotes wrong action: mis-pronuncar = to mispronounce; mis-uzo = misuse.
ne- un-, im-, ir-, non-: ne-posibla = impossible; ne-populara = unpopular.
par- used with verbal roots to denote thorough action: par-lektar = to read thoroughly.
pre- pre-, before: pre-dicar = to predict; pre-nomo = first name.
pseudo- pseudo-, false: pseudo-religioza = pseudo-religious.
retro- retro-, backward (used with verbal roots): retro-irar = to go back(ward); retro-tirar = to draw back(ward).
ri- denotes repetition (used with verbal roots): ri-facar = to do over again; ri-elektar = to re-elect.
sen- -less, without: sen-denta = toothless; sen-avantaja = without advantage.
stif- step-: stif-matro = stepmother.
vice- vice-, deputy: vice-prezidanto = vice-president.
-ach- gives an unfavourable or disparaging meaning: hund-acho = cur; infant-acho = brat; dom-acho = hovel.
-ad- indicates repeated or continued action (added to verbal roots): from frapar = to strike, frap-adar = to strike repeatedly, frap-ado = a beating; parolado = a speech.
-ag- is the root of the word ag-ar (to do, to act) and is used with nouns (especially tools) to form verbs meaning to act with the tool: from martelo (hammer), martel-agar = to hammer.
-aj- (added to adjective or noun) denotes something possessing the quality or made from the material indicated: bel-ajo = beautiful object; metal-ajo = something made of metal; (added to a transitive or mixed verb) indicates the object of the action: send-ajo = something sent; drink-ajo = a drink; dic-ajo = saying; (added to an intransitive verb) means something which acts in the sense of the verb: bril-ajo = something shining; exist-ajo = something existing.
-al- relating to: naciona-ala = national; autun-ala = autumnal; natur-ala = natural; manu-ala = manual.
-an- in forming a noun, denotes a member, inhabitant or adherent: senat-ano = senator; klub-ano = club member; vilaj-ano = villager; in forming an adjective (most often with the name of a country), it is used to indicate belonging: japoniana = Japanese; nederlandana = Dutch.
-ar- denotes a collection or group of objects or beings: hom-aro = humanity; libr-aro = library, book collection; har-aro = hair; muton-aro = flock of sheep.
-ari- indicates the object or recipient of an action: pag-ario = payee.
-atr- like: metal-atra = metallic, metal-like; blu-atra = bluish.
-e- coloured, having the colour of: or-ea = golden; oranj-ea = orange(-coloured).
-ebl- -able, -ible: drink-ebla = drinkable; lekt-ebla = readable; kred-ebla = credible.
-ed- -ful, contents of: pinch-edo = a pinch; glas-edo = glass-ful.
-eg- extremely, to a great extent, very large: pluv-egar = to rain very heavily; pluv-ego = downpour; rich-ega = extremely rich; dom-ego = mansion.
-em- inclined to (added to verbal roots): labor-ema = industrious; atak-ema = aggressive; parol-ema = talkative.
-end- something to be done or which must be done: pag-enda = payable, must be paid; problemo solv-enda = a problem which must be solved.
-er- person, or sometimes animal or thing, which customarily, but not professionally, does something (added to verbal roots): fum-ero = smoker; klim-ero = climber; rept-ero = reptile; kant-ero = singer.
-eri- an establishment: distil-erio = distillery; bak-erio = bakery.
-es- denotes a state or quality (as the root of the verb esar, to be): bel-eso = beauty; infant-eso = infancy; malad-eso = sickness.
-esk- to begin to, to become: dorm-eskar = to fall asleep; rich-eskar = to become rich; sid-eskar = to sit down (begin sitting).
-esm- ordinal numbers: un-esma = first; du-esma = second.
-estr- chief, head: urb-estro = (town) mayor; post-estro = postmaster; nav-estro = (ship's) captain.
-et- diminutive: river-eto = brook; libr-eto = booklet; pluv-etar = to drizzle; humid-eta = a trifle damp.
-ey- place for something or for doing something: kaval-eyo = stable; lav-eyo = wash-room; koqu-eyo = kitchen.
-id- offspring, descendant: Izrael-ido = Israelite.
-ier- (1) characterised by: kaval-iero = cavalier; (2) a tree or plant bearing the fruit etc indicated: pom-iero = apple tree; (3) a holder for something: kandel-iero = candlestick.
-if- indicates production or generation of something: sudor-ifar = to sweat; martel-if-isto = hammer maker.
-ig- to make, render, or transform into: bel-igar = to beautify; petr-igar = to petrify; larj-igar = to broaden; korekt-igar = to correct.
-il- denotes instrument or means of performing an action (added to verbal roots): bros-ilo = brush; paf-ilo = gun; bar-ilo = barrier; lud-ilo = plaything, toy.
-im- fraction: du-imo = half; quar-imo = quarter.
-in- female: spoz-ino = wife; aktor-ino = actress; kaval-ino = mare.
-ind- deserving to be, worthy of: respekt-inda = respectable; laud-inda = praiseworthy.
-ism- denotes a system, doctrine or belief: social-ismo = socialism; katolik-ismo = Catholicism; real-ismo = realism.
-ist- denotes a person in an occupation or profession: dent-isto = dentist; kant-isto = professional singer; also adherent of a party or doctrine: elit-isto = elitist.
-iv- capable of, that can do something (added to verbal roots): instrukt-iva = instructive; konvink-iva = convincing.
-iz- to provide with or put on: arm-izar = to arm; kron-izar = to crown; butr-izar = to (put) butter (on).
-op- so many at a time: quar-ope = four together, four at a time.
-opl- multiplying: du-opla = double; tri-opla = triple.
-oz- full of, containing: joy-oza = joyful, joyous; por-oza = porous; kuraj-oza = courageous.
-ul- male: spoz-ulo = husband; kat-ulo = tom-cat.
-ur- result or product of an action (added to verbal roots): pikt-uro = picture; skult-uro = sculpture; apert-uro = opening.
-uy- container: violin-uyo = violin case; sigar-uyo = cigar box.
-yun- young of an animal: bov-yuno = calf; kat-yuno = kitten.
Elision is useful mainly in poetry, of which there is quite a lot in Ido. The final -a of the adjective may be omitted (e.g., bon instead of bona; nacional instead of nacionala), and the final -as of the present tense of the verb may be elided (e.g., dank instead of dankas). In ordinary texts, however, the instance most generally found is use of es instead of esas (= am, is, are) since this word is used so often and the shorter form is convenient. (A few other words, such as some pronouns, also have short forms as noted above and in the vocabularies.)
Numbers are formed as shown by the following examples: un, du, tri, quar, kin, sis, sep, ok, non, dek; dek-e-un (eleven), dek-e-du (twelve), dek-e-tri (thirteen), dek-e-quar (fourteen) ... dek-e-non (nineteen); duadek (twenty), duadek-e-un (twenty-one), duadek-e-du (twenty-two) ...; triadek (thirty)... quaradek-e-kin (forty-five); ... cent (hundred), ... sepacent-e-duadek-e-sis (seven hundred and twenty-six); mil (thousand). Note the use of the letter a to link figures which are multiplied together (as in duadek for twenty, i.e. two times ten), and the use of -e- to link numbers which are added to make the required larger number.
A small selection of books in and about Ido
Those who would like to support the work of spreading Ido are invited to join their national society and/or the International Union for the International Language Ido, and to subscribe to one of the small magazines which keep those interested in touch with developments. Further information may be obtained from the following society, and from similar societies or representatives of Ido in other countries.
The International Language (Ido) Society of Great Britain
Hon. Secretary & Treasurer (to whom membership enquiries and subscriptions can be sent):
Book Service Manager (from whom a price list of publications can be obtained, and who can also supply details of subscriptions):
The language barrier
The diversity of languages in the world contributes much to the cultural richness of mankind. It presents, however, an obstacle to understanding between peoples.
La diverseso di lingui en la mondo kontributas multe a la kulturala richeso di homaro. Ol prizentas, tamen, obstaklo a kompreno inter populi.
Without losing the advantage of many national languages, we can cross the resulting barriers with an international language which is reserved for use only when people have no other means of communication in common.
Sen perdar la avantajo di multa nacionala lingui, ni povas transirar la rezultanta barili per internaciona linguo qua es rezervata por uzo nur kande personi havas nula altra komuna moyeno di komuniko.
Of many proposals for such a language, the most practical is that chosen by the Delegation for the Adoption of an Auxiliary International Language and developed over many years of work.
Di multa propozi por tala linguo, la maxim praktikala es ta selektita da la Delegaciono por la Adopto di Auxiliara Linguo Internaciona e developita dum multa yari de laboro.
The basic details of this remarkable language (Ido) are to be found in this booklet. Also included are two small vocabularies.
La bazala detali di ca remarkinda linguo (Ido) es trovebla en ca libreto. Anke inkluzita es du mikra vortari.
The reader is invited first just to gain the knowledge necessary to understand this language. Soon you will discover the pleasure of rapid progress and perhaps you will want to correspond with someone in another country. We know that Ido works. Now you can try it.
La lektanto es invitata unesme nur ganar la savo necesa por komprenar ca linguo. Balde vu deskovros la plezuro di rapida progreso e forsan vu volos korespondar kun ulu en altra lando. Ni savas ke Ido funcionas. Nun vu povas probar ol.
Ido is a key that opens the door to a wider world.
Ido es klefo qua apertas la pordo a plu vasta mondo.
Click here for IDO-ENGLISH VOCABULARY
Click here for ENGLISH-IDO VOCABULARY
For very basic information about the grammar and vocabulary of Ido, the following link will take you to HOW IDO WORKS
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