Vortkonstruado (Word Synthesis)
In Esperanto, words are formed by putting a grammatically coded ending on a root. For example, take the root for "health" (san-) and add the adjective ending (-a) to it to make "healthy" (sana). From there you can add affixes to change the meaning of the word. For example, take the word for healthy you just made (sana) and add the prefix for "opposite" (mal-) before it to get "unhealthy" or "sick" (malsana).
The same works for suffixes. In the case of suffixes, more than one can be added to a root to make different meanings. For example, take the root for health (san-), the prefix for "opposite" (mal-), the suffix for a person/people (-ul-), the suffix for a place where something occurs (-ej-), and the noun ending, and you get "The place where people are the opposite of healthy" (malsanulejo), which is the Esperanto word for hospital (although, the use of the word hospitalo has become common in recent years).
- San- (health) + -a (adjective) = Sana (healthy)
- Mal- (opposite) + San- (health) + -a (adjective) = Malsana (unhealthy)
- Mal- (opposite) + San- (health) + -ul- (person/people) + -ej- (place for something) + -o (noun) = Malsanulejo (Hospital, literally "Place of people who are unhealthy")
To form a compound word, one must juxtapose two roots together. When combining two words, you must make sure that the main word is the second word. It is optional to place a vowel between the two roots if the sound makes the compound word hard to pronounce or just too odd to a reader. When doing this, the vowel must be o if the leading word is a noun, and i if the leading word is a verb. It is also optional to put an n after the vowel if the second word is a verb acting upon the first word.
For example, take the root for ship (ŝip-) and the root for journey (vojaĝ-) to make "a journey by ship" (ŝipovojaĝo or ŝipvojaĝo). Another example is to take the root for pay (pag-) and able (pov-) to make "able to pay" (pagipova or pagpova). For an example of a verb acting on the first word, take the root for nothing (neni-) and the root for do (far-) to make "doing nothing" (nenionfara, neniofara, or nenifara).
- ŝip- (ship) + vojaĝ- (journey) + -o (noun) = ŝip(o)vojaĝo (a journey by ship)
- pag- (pay) + pov- (able/ability) + -a (adjective) = pag(i)pova (able to pay)
- neni- (nothing) + far- (to do) + -as (verb, present tense) = neni(o(n))faras (doing nothing)