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Unknown. -aŭ was the only possible vocalic ending left in the language, after the dedicated part-of-speech suffixes, apart from the uncommon -eŭ. There are, however, sporadic parallels in other languages, such as Lithuanian tačiau "however".



  1. A neutral suffix that does not specify the part of speech of a word. Generally used for words such as hodiaŭ "today" which may be either an adverb or a conjunction, noun, preposition, or adjective, depending on context.

Usage notes[edit]

In theory the suffix -aŭ may be replaced by another grammatical suffix, or simply dropped, but in practice this does not occur outside poetry:

" does not belong to the root, but is only a conventional ending, and is thus as easily left off as the o in nouns." Zamenhof further wrote of the "neutral but definite ending aŭ", that is, that -aŭ does not define the part of speech of the root. He suggested in 1892 that it could be replaced with an apostrophe. —Kalocsay & Waringhien 1985:121.

Derived terms[edit]

-aŭ is not a productive suffix, and is only found with a few roots. These are:

adiaŭ ‎(goodbye, interjection)
almenaŭ ‎(at least, conjunction and adverb)
ambaŭ ‎(both, adjective and adverb)
ankaŭ ‎(also, adverb)
ankoraŭ ‎(still, yet, conjunction and adverb)
anstataŭ ‎(instead of, preposition and conjunction)
antaŭ ‎(before, preposition) (the -aŭ cannot be removed)
apenaŭ ‎(barely, conjunction and adverb)
baldaŭ ‎(soon, adverb)
ĉirkaŭ ‎(around, preposition and adverb)
graŭ ‎(because of, preposition and neologism)
hieraŭ ‎(yesterday, noun and adverb)
hodiaŭ ‎(today, noun and adverb)
kontraŭ ‎(against, preposition and adverb)
kvazaŭ ‎(as if, conjunction and adverb)
malgraŭ ‎(despite, preposition)
morgaŭ ‎(tomorrow, noun and adverb)
preskaŭ ‎(almost, adverb)

Of the adverbs, only baldaŭ ‎(soon) can be used in the comparative. The preposition laŭ ‎(along) and the numeral naŭ ‎(nine) are bare roots, and do not contain this suffix.