sign in

Quantifying sumti 1

Disclaimer: This lesson, as well as the remaining lessons covering sumti quantification (to be written), are highly experimental. Sumti quantification is a notoriously difficult subject to teach, and for more advanced uses there is even disagreement among experienced Lojbanists regarding what approach is best, resulting in a few different language variants. In this course, we intend to provide a high level overview of the fundamental concepts for everyday conversation, hopefully in a way which is compatible with the most commonly spoken variants of modern Lojban. But we are still actively working towards that, and there is no guarantee that the current version of these lessons is consistent. If you are an experienced Lojbanist, please help us improve these lessons (and, of course, any other lessons as well).

Okay, let's get started. We covered numbers in a previous, isolated lesson. How can we use them to quantity things?

Take a description sumti such as lo prenu ku. There are two possible locations where we could place a number, such as re ("two"): re lo prenu ku and lo re prenu ku. The first location, as in re lo prenu ku, is called an outer quantifier, because the quantifier (in this case, re) is outside of lo..ku. The second location, as in lo re prenu ku, is called an inner quantifier.

Both types of quantifiers somehow connect the number re to the sumti lo prenu ku, but outer quantifiers are somewhat more complex, and hence will only be explained in a future lesson. In this lesson, we will concern ourselves with inner quantifiers only.

So, what does lo re prenu ku means? Well, it roughly means "two persons" or "the two persons". More precisely, re in lo re prenu ku provides more information compared to just lo prenu ku, by indicating that the number of people involved is two; not one, not three, but exacly two. In modern Lojban, this is generally taken to mean that, sure, there could be lots of people in the universe, but in this particular context we are talking about only two of them.

What about the difference between lo re prenu and le re prenu? As previously mentioned, le indicates that the speaker has a particular person or persons in mind, so le re prenu would generally be translated as "the two persons". On the other hand, lo re prenu could be translated as "two persons" or "the two persons".

Let's see a few more examples:

basti x1 replaces/substitutes x2 for/instead of x3 in circumstance x4; x1 is a replacement/substitute.

bombila x1 is a light bulb.

Sentence Possible translation
lo re prenu cu kakne lo nu basti lo bombila Two persons are capable of replacing a light bulb.
xu do vecnu le re skami Did you sell the two computers?
le panopa gerku cu melbi The 101 dogs are beautiful.

So far, so good. But what happens when you quantify more than one sumti in a single bridi?

Sentence Possible translation
lo re prenu cu dunda lo ci gerku Two persons donated three dogs.

Just like the English version, this sentence is actually quite vague. For example, it does not distinguish between the following possible scenarios:

  1. Maybe there were two persons and each person had three dogs. In this case, a total of 6 dogs were donated.
  2. Maybe there were two persons and these two persons together donated a total of three dogs.
    1. Maybe the first person donated one dog and the second person donated two dogs, independently.
    2. Maybe the two persons shared ownership of all three dogs, and they collectively donated them all.

We will later see how to be more specific, for situations where context alone is not enough to narrow down the meaning.


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
    • Discuss inner quantifiers. But save outer quantifiers for a future lesson.
  • New exercises


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

kakne x1 is able to do/be/capable of doing/being x2 (event/state) under conditions x3 (event/state)


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 ...

no digit/number: 0 (digit) [zero]

pa digit/number: 1 (digit) [one]

re digit/number: 2 (digit) [two]

ci digit/number: 3 (digit) [three]

vo digit/number: 4 (digit) [four]

mu digit/number: 5 (digit) [five]

xa digit/number: 6 (digit) [six]

ze digit/number: 7 (digit) [seven]

bi digit/number: 8 (digit) [eight]

so digit/number: 9 (digit) [nine]

pi digit/number: radix (number base) point; default decimal

ro digit/number: each, all

so'a digit/number: almost all (digit/number)

so'e digit/number: most

so'i digit/number: many

so'o digit/number: several

so'u digit/number: few

pu'o interval event contour: in anticipation of ...; until ... ; inchoative ----| |

ca'o interval event contour: during ...; continuative |-----|

ba'o interval event contour: in the aftermath of ...; since ...; perfective | |----

co'a interval event contour: at the starting point of ...; initiative >|< |

co'u interval event contour: at the ending point of ... even if not done; cessative | >< |

loi veridical descriptor: the mass of individual(s) that is(are) ...

lei non-veridical descriptor: the mass of individual(s) described as ...

lai name descriptor: the mass of individual(s) named ... ; takes name or selbri description

lo'e veridical descriptor: the typical one(s) who really is(are) ...

le'e non-veridical descriptor: the stereotype of those 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.