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Verbs

Words that express any sort of action, state, or occurrence are called “verbs”, and there’s usually at least one in any complete sentence:

Ca breceli durstigas me! These pretzels are making me thirsty!
Me ne havis sexuala relati kun ta muliero! I did not have sexual relations with that woman!
Quon vi facos sen libereso? What will you do without freedom?
Me drapirus me per veluro se lo esus socie aceptebla. I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable.
Deprenez ta bebetuko de la kapo, ripozez ol sur la fratino! You take that diaper off your head, you put it back on your sister!

Past, Present, and Future Action

There are three basic “tenses” available to Ido verbs — past, present, and future — each expressing action happening at different times relative to the speaker:

The Present Tense

Verbs that express action that one has begun but not yet completed (those in the present tense) are marked by the suffix -as:

Ne existas kuliero. There is no spoon.
Dingo manjas elua bebeo (nun). A dingo is eating her baby (right now).
Me lektas La nesubtenebla lejereso de esar. I’m reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being (right now, or these days).

Note that the form of the verb does not change depending on who is performing it, as it does in English:

Me kompradas, do me esas. I shop, therefore I am.
Vu kompradas, do vu esas. You shop, therefore you are.
Il kompradas, do il esas. He shops, therefore he is.

The Past Tense

Verbs that express something that happened prior to the moment one is speaking (those in the past tense) are marked by the suffix -is:

Ne existis kuliero. There was no spoon.
Hiere dingo manjis elua bebeo. Yesterday a dingo ate her baby.

The Future Tense

Verbs that express something that will happen after the moment one is speaking (those in the future tense) are marked by the suffix -os:

Ne existos kuliero. There will be no spoon.
Morge dingo manjos elua bebeo. Tomorrow a dingo will eat her baby.

Hypothetical Action

The past, present, and future tenses all express actions that actually did, do, or will take place, and collectively make up what grammarians call the “indicative mood”. But there’s also a way to express hypothetical action that probably won’t take place, called the “conditional mood”, which in Ido is expressed by -us:

Klare, se ne existus kulieri, anke ne existus “sporks”. Obviously, if there were no spoons, there would be no sporks, either.
Ton me komprus po un dollar! I’d buy that for a dollar!
Dingo manjus elua bebeo se el ne manjus lu unesme. A dingo would have eaten her baby if she had not eaten it first.

Desired Action

Verbs expressing something requested are marked by the suffix -ez:

For la fetida manuachi de me, maledikita simio sordida! Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
Ne regardez me! Don’t look at me!
Vu ne regardez me! Don’t you look at me!
Vu ne regardas me! You’re not looking at me!
Li manjez briocho! Let them eat cake!
Li manjas briocho! They’re eating cake!
Ulu mortez por ke la cetera ni pli apreciez la vivo. Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.

Reported Action: The Sequence of Tenses

In English, when one reports what someone else says or feels, the tense of the quoted action changes depending on the tense of the main verb:

Direct quote: He said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.
Indirect quote: He said that these weren’t the droids we were looking for.
Indirect quote: He’ll say that these aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

In Ido, the tense of the quoted material stays the same as if it were quoted directly:

Direct quote: Il dicis, « Ci ne esas la droidi, quan vi serchas ».
Indirect quote: Il dicis ke ci ne esas la droidi, quan ni serchas.
Indirect quote: Il dicos ke ci ne esas la droidi, quan ni serchas.

Infinitives

When expressing the basic idea of an action without binding it to any particular tense or subject, English either uses the word to followed by the simple form of the verb or attaches -ing to it, as in “I like to dance” or “I like dancing”. In Ido, the same idea is expressed by adding -ar to the root of the verb:

Vidar esas kredar. Seeing is believing.
Semblas ke me selektis mala semano por cesar sniflar gluo. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
Tank, me devas lernar pilotar FireFox T-1000. Tank, I need to learn how to fly a T-1000 FireFox.
Un Ringo por guvernar omni, Un Ringo por trovar li, Un Ringo por adduktar omni ed en la tenebro ligar li! One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them!

Unlike in English, infinitives in Ido are inflected for tense; most are in the present tense, but past and future infinitives are also possible with -ir and -or:

Klasiko esas ulo, quan omni deziras lektir, ma nulu deziras lektar. A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.

While there’s nothing wrong with using infinitives after prepositions in Ido, it may be less jarring for some to express the same idea as an adverb instead:

Nulu ekirez ca loko sen kantir la « blues ». Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.
Nulu ekirez ca loko nekantinte la « blues ».

Impersonal Action

English often uses the pronoun it when there’s no obvious subject for a sentence, as in “It is freezing in here” and “It would be great if you could come in on Saturday”. Ido expresses the same idea by using no pronoun at all:

Deo dicis « Pluvez! », e pluvis. God said, “Rain!”, and it rained.
Esas bona esar la rejo. It’s good to be the king.
Se Deo ne existus, esus necesa ilun inventar. If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.

English “there is”, “there are”, “here is”, etc., is rendered the same way:

Ne existos Provinco, Pippin. There won’t be a Shire, Pippin.
Esas nula guvernerio quale nula guvernerio. There’s no government like no government.

except when one wants to call attention to the subject, in which case Ido uses yen:

Nu, yen la unika perfekta kozo, quon me kolektis: mineralaquo. Alright, now here’s the one perfecto thing I picked up: mineral water.
Yen me. Here I am.
Yen vua rejo! Behold your king!

Participles

Adjectives created from verbs are called “participles”. Most modern European languages, including English, recognize two kinds of participle — those expressing action currently being performed by the nouns they modify, and those expressing completed action, whether being performed by or on the nouns they modify:

In Progress Completed
a revealing dress a revealed truth
living relatives dearly departed
a winning smile a defeated sigh
a rising star a fallen star

In Ido, too, there are two basic types of participle: “active” (those being performed by the nouns they modify) and “passive” (those being performed on the nouns they modify by someone or something else). However, both types come in three distinct forms — one to express completed action, one for action in progress, and one for action yet to come:

Active Passive
manjinta dingo
a dingo that has eaten
manjita bebo
a baby that was eaten
manjanta dingo
a dingo currently eating
manjata bebo
a baby being eaten
manjonta dingo
a dingo about to eat
manjota bebo
a baby about to be eaten

Participles as Adverbs

A participle can also be used as an adverb by changing the final -a to -e. In this form it tells when or why something happens:

Vidante la hungranta dingo adirar, la bebeo vajiseskis. Seeing the hungry dingo approach, the baby began to cry.
Manjinte bebeo, la dingo dormeskis. Having eaten a baby, the dingo went to sleep.

Participles as Nouns

By changing the final -a to -o, a participle can be used as a noun. In this form it expresses a person or thing that performs an action, or on whom it is performed:

El vivis pavorante la riveno di la vivanta mortinti. She lived in fear of the return of the living dead.
Ni mortonti salutas vu! We who are about to die salute you!
La chasanti e la chasati The hunters and the hunted

Compound Verbs

Simple verbs in English and Ido show not only when the action took place (tense), but the degree of the action’s completion (aspect). For example, the simple past tense generally shows completed action (me skribis letero), the present tense action in progress (me skribas letero), and the future tense action that will be completed later on (me skribos letero). With compound verbs, one can express any degree of completion in any tense:

La dingo esis manjinta la bebeo kande me eniris. The dingo had (already) eaten the baby when I went in.
La dingo esis manjanta la bebeo kande me eniris. The dingo was eating the baby when I went in.
La dingo esis manjonta la bebeo kande me eniris. The dingo was about to eat the baby when I went in.
Etc.
La bebeo esos manjita kande me eniros. The baby will have been eaten when I go in.
La bebeo esos manjata kande me eniros. The baby will be being eaten when I go in.
La bebeo esos manjota kande me eniros. The baby will be about to be eaten when I go in.
Etc.

Alternatively, when describing an action that precedes another, one can use -ab-:

La tribuo parolabas. The tribe has spoken.
La dingo manjabis la bebeo kande me eniris. The dingo had (already) eaten the baby when I went in.
La bebeo manjesabos* kande me eniros. The baby will have (already) been eaten when I go in.
*Passive forms (see below) ending in -esabar get clunky and unclear the longer the root word (e.g., avantajizesabar “to have been advantaged”), and thus are generally restricted to roots of one syllable.

Compound tenses are more common in English than in Ido, which generally uses them only to underscore the time and completeness of one action in relation to another (manjar and enirar in the previous example) or to emphasize the agent of a passive action (dingo in manjata da dingo). Otherwise, where English uses a compound verb, Ido uses a simple one.

La dingo manjis la bebeo ante ke me eniris. The dingo had eaten the baby before I went in.
(action in the past)
Me savas ke vu e Franko projetis deskonektar me... I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me...
(action in the past)
Hike supre, me ja foriris. Up here, I’m already gone.
VU interferis kun la forci fundamentala di NATURO! YOU have meddled with the primal forces of NATURE!
Vintro venas. Winter is coming.
Mi prenos ca Huggies, ed irge-quanta pekunio vu havas. I’ll be taking these Huggies, and whatever cash you got.
Me dicas ta merdo de yari. E se on audis olu, to signifis onua morto. I’ve been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, it meant your ass.

Note that when action in the past continues into the present, the simple present is used, usually in conjunction with a start time.

Me lojas en karcero ek timo de post ta dio. I have been living in a prison of fear since that day.
Cady, omno, quo me manjas nuntempe esas ca tabuleti di Kälteen. Li esas neutila. Cady, all I’ve been eating are these Kälteen bars. They suck.

Transitive and Intransitive Action

When a person or thing directs action toward another person or thing, the action is said to be “transitive” (i.e., it transits its action onto something else). For example, pay (a fee), watch (a movie), say (the truth). The person or thing being acted on (in the previous examples, fee, movie, and truth) is called the “direct object”.

When the action is not directed toward something else, like be, sit, and recline, it is said to be “intransitive”.

In English, many verbs are both transitive and intransitive, depending on the context:

Intransitive Transitive
The ball rolled into the street. The boy rolled the ball into the street.
The water is boiling. The cook is boiling the water.
The snow will melt. The sun will melt the snow.

In Ido, most verbs are either transitive or intransitive, never both. To make an intransitive verb transitive, one can add -ig- to the root; to make a transitive verb intransitive, one can add -es- to the root:

Intransitive Transitive
La aquo bolias. La koquisto boliigas la aquo.
La nivo fuzesos. La suno fuzos la nivo.

However, some verbs in Ido are like English ones in that they’re transitive when they have an object, intransitive when they don’t:

Intransitive Transitive
La bulo rulis en la strado. La puero rulis la bulo en la strado.
la laboro komencas komencar sua laboro
la sercho duras durar sua sercho

Also, some intransitive verbs can have an object if that object is a noun version of the verb:

dancar la danco interdiktata to dance the forbidden dance
vivar la dolca vivo to live the good life
parolar la parolado di la Italianos to speak the speech of the Italians

or a specific example of the same:

dancar la Lambada to dance the Lambada
parolar la Italiana to speak Italian

Note, too, that one can use a patently transitive verb without an object, so as to emphasize only the idea of the action itself:

Hiere me lektis libro. Yesterday I read a book.
Hiere me lektis dum la tota dio. Yesterday I read all day.