sign in

Gadri 1

In Lojban, articles are called gadri, and all the ones discussed in this lesson are terminated by ku, except the combination la CMEVLA. We will begin by describing three simple kinds of descriptive sumti, and then immediately find that they are not so simple after all:

lo gadri: generic, converts selbri to sumti.

le gadri: specific and descriptive, converts selbri to sumti.

la gadri: naming article, converts selbri or cmevla to sumti.

You are already familiar with lo and what it does. It creates a sumti referring to what fits in the first place of the following selbri.

This may be contrasted with le, which is specific and descriptive. Saying le gerku says that you have one or more specific objects in mind, and you use the selbri gerku to describe it, so that the listener may identify those specific objects. This means that le has two important differences from lo. Firstly, it cannot refer to objects in general, but always refers to specific objects. Secondly, le gerku explicitly hints that the selbri is only meant to help the speaker identify what the description refers to, whether or not it actually satisfies the selbri. Perhaps the speaker is referring to a hyena, but is not familiar with them and thinks dog is a good enough approximation to be understood; that said, this non-veridicality is perhaps over-emphasized in many texts. The best way to describe a dog is usually to describe it as being a dog, and unless there is a good reason not to, le gerku is usually presumed to refer to something which is also lo gerku.

In translation, lo gerku can be any of "the dog", "the dogs", "a dog", "some dogs", or dogs in general; while le gerku is "the dog" or "the dogs". Even better for le gerku would be "the dog(s)".

Last of the three basic gadri, there is la, the naming gadri, which strips the following selbri of its usual meaning and refers to someone or something whose name is that selbri. If I in English refer to a person called Innocent by her name, I neither describe her as being innocent, nor do I state that she is. I only state that by convention, that object is referred to by that selbri or cmevla. Note that, unlike any other gadri, la can convert not only selbri to sumti, but also cmevla to sumti. Also, be cautious: other texts do not mention that names can be formed from ordinary selbri using the gadri la. But those heretics must burn; selbri names are as good as they get, and many a proud Lojbanist have them.

la is a bit eccentric, since it always marks the beginning of a name. Unlike the other gadri, anything that can be grammatically placed after la and its sisters is considered part of the name. For example, le mi gerku is "my dog", but la mi gerku is someone or something called "My Dog".


Using this knowledge, attempt to translate the following sentences, using the most appropriate (and specific) gadri:

Sentence Possible translation
John is an instructor. la .djan. cu ctuca
(Someone named) Cat is my friend. la mlatu ku pendo mi
Cats are beautiful. lo mlatu ku melbi
The cat is beautiful. le mlatu ku melbi

Note that lo mlatu ku melbi is also a perfectly valid translation for "The cat is beautiful". It is just less specific, in that it could also mean (for example) "Cats are beautiful".

Warning: In translation exercises throughout this entire course, we do not distinguish between "lo" and "le". This means that your answer will be accepted even if you use "le" in situations where only "lo" would be correct. We followed this approach because specifying everywhere whether just lo or both le and lo should be accepted would be too error prone and time consuming. Just be aware of this fact, and keep in mind that if your answer using le was accepted, that does not necessarily mean it was correct.


As usual, before proceeding to the next lesson, get some practice with interactive exercises – look for the "Practice" button nearby!

Beware that exercises loop indefinitely, so feel free to stop once you feel you've had enough. And be sure to revisit exercises on different days, to benefit from the spacing effect.

Lesson plan

  • Lesson
    • la, le, lo
  • New exercises
    • Identify the glosses of "la", "le" and "lo" (OK)


dunda x1 [donor] gives/donates gift/present x2 to recipient/beneficiary x3 [without payment/exchange]

pelxu x1 is yellow/golden [color adjective]

zdani x1 is a nest/house/lair/den/[home] of/for x2

tavla x1 talks/speaks to x2 about subject x3 in language x4

pendo x1 is/acts as a friend of/to x2 (experiencer); x2 befriends x1

prenu x1 is a person/people (noun) [not necessarily human]; x1 displays personality/a persona

mlatu x1 is a cat/[puss/pussy/kitten] [feline animal] of species/breed x2; (adjective:) x1 is feline

ctuca x1 teaches audience x2 ideas/methods/lore x3 (du'u) about subject(s) x4 by method x5 (event)

nelci x1 is fond of/likes/has a taste for x2 (object/state)

gerku x1 is a dog/canine/[bitch] of species/breed x2

melbi x1 is beautiful/pleasant to x2 in aspect x3 (ka) by aesthetic standard x4

sutra x1 is fast/swift/quick/hastes/rapid at doing/being/bringing about x2 (event/state)

lojbo x1 reflects [Loglandic]/Lojbanic language/culture/nationality/community in aspect x2

ciska x1 inscribes/writes x2 on display/storage medium x3 with writing implement x4; x1 is a scribe

djuno x1 knows fact(s) x2 (du'u) about subject x3 by epistemology x4

nupre x1 (agent) promises/commits/assures/threatens x2 (event/state) to x3 [beneficiary/victim]

cusku x1 (agent) expresses/says x2 (sedu'u/text/lu'e concept) for audience x3 via expressive medium x4

gleki x1 is happy/gay/merry/glad/gleeful about x2 (event/state)

citka x1 eats/ingests/consumes (transitive verb) x2

plise x1 is an apple [fruit] of species/strain x2

vecnu x1 [seller] sells/vends x2 [goods/service/commodity] to buyer x3 for amount/cost/expense x4

skami x1 is a computer for purpose x2

pilno x1 uses/employs x2 [tool, apparatus, machine, agent, acting entity, material] for purpose x3

cmene x1 (quoted word(s)) is a/the name/title/tag of x2 to/used-by namer/name-user x3 (person)

bangu x1 is a/the language/dialect used by x2 to express/communicate x3 (si'o/du'u, not quote)

fanva x1 translates text/utterance x2 to language x3 from language x4 with translation result x5

mukti x1 (action/event/state) motivates/is a motive/incentive for action/event x2, per volition of x3

gasnu x1 [person/agent] is an agentive cause of event x2; x1 does/brings about x2

lerci x1 (event) is late by standard x2


mi pro-sumti: me/we the speaker(s)/author(s); identified by self-vocative

do pro-sumti: you listener(s); identified by vocative

ti pro-sumti: this here; immediate demonstrative it; indicated thing/place near speaker

ta pro-sumti: that there; nearby demonstrative it; indicated thing/place near listener

zo'e pro-sumti: an elliptical/unspecified value; has some value which makes bridi true

lo veridical descriptor: the one(s) that really is(are) ...

ku elidable terminator: end description, modal, or negator sumti; often elidable

fa sumti place tag: tag 1st sumti place

fe sumti place tag: tag 2nd sumti place

fi sumti place tag: tag 3rd sumti place

fo sumti place tag: tag 4th sumti place

fu sumti place tag: tag 5th sumti place

se 2nd conversion; switch 1st/2nd places

te 3rd conversion; switch 1st/3rd places

ve 4th conversion; switch 1st/4th places

xe 5th conversion; switch 1st/5th places

xu discursive: true-false question

ma pro-sumti: sumti question (what/who/how/why/etc.); appropriately fill in sumti blank

mo pro-bridi: bridi/selbri/brivla question

na bridi contradictory negator; scope is an entire bridi; logically negates in some cmavo compounds

go'i pro-bridi: preceding bridi; in answer to a yes/no question, repeats the claim, meaning yes

su'u abstractor: generalized abstractor (how); x1 is [bridi] as a non-specific abstraction of type x2

nu abstractor: generalized event abstractor; x1 is state/process/achievement/activity of [bridi]

du'u abstractor: predication/bridi abstractor; x1 is predication [bridi] expressed in sentence x2

sedu'u compound abstractor: sentence/equation abstract; x1 is text expressing [bridi] which is x2

kei elidable terminator: end abstraction bridi (often elidable)

vau elidable: end of sumti in simple bridi; in compound bridi, separates common trailing sumti

cu elidable marker: separates selbri from preceding sumti, allows preceding terminator elision

poi restrictive relative clause; attaches subordinate bridi with identifying information to a sumti

noi non-restrictive relative clause; attaches subordinate bridi with incidental information

ke'a pro-sumti: relativized sumti (object of relative clause)

ku'o elidable terminator: end NOI relative clause; always elidable, but preferred in complex clauses

be sumti link to attach sumti (default x2) to a selbri; used in descriptions

bei separates multiple linked sumti within a selbri; used in descriptions

be'o elidable terminator: end linked sumti in specified description

pi'o pilno modal, 1st place used by ...

mu'i mukti modal, 1st place because of motive ...

gau gasnu modal, 1st place agent/actor case tag with active agent ...

pu time tense relation/direction: did [selbri]; before/prior to [sumti]; default past tense

ca time tense relation/direction: is [selbri]; during/simultaneous with [sumti]; present tense

ba time tense relation/direction: will [selbri]; after [sumti]; default future tense

zo quote next word only; quotes a single Lojban word (not a cmavo compound or tanru)

lu start grammatical quotation; quoted text should be grammatical on its own

li'u elidable terminator: end grammatical quotation; seldom elidable except at end of text

ne non-restrictive relative phrase marker: which incidentally is associated with ...

pe restrictive relative phrase marker: which is associated with ...; loosest associative/possessive

po restrictive relative phrase marker: which is specific to ...; normal possessive physical/legal

po'e restrictive relative phrase marker: which belongs to ... ; inalienable possession

.a logical connective: sumti afterthought or

.e logical connective: sumti afterthought and

.o logical connective: sumti afterthought biconditional/iff/if-and-only-if

.u logical connective: sumti afterthought whether-or-not

na'e contrary scalar negator: other than ...; not ...; a scale or set is implied

to'e polar opposite scalar negator

no'e midpoint scalar negator: neutral point between je'a and to'e; "not really"

tu'a extracts a concrete sumti from an unspecified abstraction; equivalent to le nu/su'u [sumti] co'e

jai convert tense/modal (tagged) place to 1st place; 1st place moves to extra FA place (fai)

la name descriptor: the one(s) called ... ; takes name or selbri description

le non-veridical descriptor: the one(s) described as ...


Any feedback about this lesson would be deeply appreciated.

If you believe you discovered an error, or if you have any criticism or suggestions, please consider opening an issue in our GitHub repository.

If you are interested, you may also edit this lesson directly. For more details, please refer to Improving existing lessons.