Common Intransitive Verbs in Esperanto

by Dr. David K. Jordan

from Being Colloquial in Esperanto, pp. 78-79

One common problem for English-speaking students of Esperanto is the fact that, in English, many (though by no means all) verbs can have two closely related but functionally quite different meanings. One of these meanings is intransitive, which means the action described by the verb affects only the subject of the sentence; the other of these meanings is transitive, which means that the action is one carried out by the subject which affects someone or something else. A good example is the word "drown". If we say "the man drowned" then "drown" is here an intransitive verb; the action affects only the man. On the other hand, if we say "the man drowned the kittens" then "drown" is here a transitive verb; the man carries out the action of drowning on the kittens.

There are, of course, English verbs that don't fit this paradigm. Take the word "die". If we say "the policeman died", we know that the verb "die" is intransitive and the action affects only the policeman. If we say "the policeman died the criminal" ... well, all we know is that we have made a mistake; we must say, instead, "the policeman killed the criminal" because "die", like its Esperanto equivalent morti, cannot be transitive.

In Esperanto, all verbs are either intransitive or transitive — either one or the other, but not both. Of course, Esperanto provides ways of shifting back and forth between these two actions. If a verb is intransitive, we can add the suffix -IG- to make it transitive; if it is transitive, we can add the suffix -IĜ- to make it intransitive.

Here is a list of common Esperanto verbs that are intransitive (and that are often confusing, in this way, for English speakers).

Verb Meaning Example Transitive
boli To boil La akvo bolis
The water boiled
boligi Mi boligis la akvon
I boiled the water
bruli To burn La lignaĵoj brulis
The wood burned
bruligi Mi bruligis la lignaĵojn
I burned the wood
ĉesi To cease La skuado ĉesis
The shaking stopped
ĉesigi La ŝoforo ĉesis la skuadon
The driver stopped the shaking
daŭri To last, endure, continue La kunveno daŭris
The meeting continued
daŭrigi Ni daŭrigis la kunvenon
We continued the meeting
degeli To thaw, melt La glacio degelis
The ice melted
degeligi La eskimo degeligis la glacion
The Eskimo melted the ice
droni To drown La knabo dronis
The boy drowned
dronigi La murdisto dronigis la knabon
The murderer drowned the boy
eksplodi To explode La bombo eksplodis
The bomb exploded
eksplodigi La ribelanto eksplodigis la bombon
The insurgent exploded the bomb
grimpi To climb La atleto grimpis
The athlete climbed
halti To come to a stop La aŭto haltis
The car stopped
haltigi La policano haltigis la aŭton
The policeman stopped the car
kreski To grow La vino kreskis
The vine grew
kreskigi La ĝardenisto kreskigis la vinon
The gardener grew the vine
krevi To burst, pop La balono krevis
The balloon burst
krevigi La pinglo krevigis la balonon
The pin burst the balloon
odori To smell, have an odor La fiŝo odoris
The fish smelled
odorigi La varmeco odorigis la fiŝon
The heat caused the fish to smell
pendi To hang La bildo pendis sur la muro
The picture hung on the wall
pendigi Mi pendigis la bildon sur la muro
I hung the picture on the wall
sidi To sit Li sidis
He sat (was sitting)
sidigi Mi sidigis lin
I sat him down
stari To stand Li staris
He stood (was standing)
starigi Mi starigis lin
I had him stand up
ŝpruci To squirt out La akvo ŝprucis de la fontano
The water squirted from the fountain
ŝprucigi La tubo ŝprucigis akvon
The hose squirted water
ŝrumpi To shrink La gefiloj ŝrumpis
The kids shrank
ŝrumpigi Kara, mi ŝrumpigis la gefilojn
Honey, I shrank the kids
ŝveli To swell La balono ŝvelis
The balloon swelled
ŝveligi Mi ŝveligis la balonon
I swelled the balloon
velki To wilt La folioj velkis
The leaves wilted
velkigi La aŭtuna malvarmeco velkigis la foliojn
The cold of autumn wilted the leaves

You can also find a list of common transitive verbs in Esperanto.