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"Too big for X to eat"

Esperanto Language Asked on August 24, 2021

I once translated the sentence

Is a duck too big for a monad to eat?

to

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por monado manĝi?

According to an expert friend, it seems that this is incorrect. My next guesses were

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por monado por manĝi?
Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por manĝi por monado?
Por/Al/Laŭ monado, ĉu anaso estas tro granda por manĝi?

I never showed him these guesses yet, so I don’t know if any of these are correct. His suggestion to me, however, was

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por ke monado manĝu [ĝin].

Yes, I understand his suggestion and why it works (in fact, I now prefer this form, at the moment), but now I am curious about two things.

  1. What other ways are there to equivalently express this sentence?
  2. What makes my initial guesses incorrect?

I do remember reading about this in the PMEG, but I do not recall the precise rule(s) for this specific case.

3 Answers

  1. What other ways are there to equivalently express this sentence?

I don't know if equivalently, but you could also say it like this:

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por esti manĝita de X?
  1. What makes my initial guesses incorrect?

Check this page in PMEG about tro. The answers to this post are in the section Tro + klariga esprimo.

Tro ofte aperas kun klariga esprimo, kiu montras, kiel estus, aŭ kio povus okazi, se la troeco ne ekzistus.

La klariga esprimo povas esti subfrazo kun kepor ke. Tiaj subfrazoj havas normale ĉefverbon en U-formo, malofte en US-formo [...] La klariga esprimo povas ankaŭ esti por + I-verbo.

Correct answer by Eduardo Trápani on August 24, 2021

The implied being able (-ebl) to be eaten (passive tense).

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por esti manĝebla de X?

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por ke X povus manĝi ĝin?

Ĉu anaso estas tro granda por ke X manĝus ĝin? [different meaning]

X being the subject of eating, and the eating being in conditional tense, either a -us subphrase or -ebla.

Answered by Joop Eggen on August 24, 2021

In a sentence like

Is a duck too big for a monad to eat?

we have a subject (a monad) and a non-finite or a shortened clause, klariga esprimo or frazekvivalento, with an object (a duck). In the English grammar these non-finite clauses are called to-infinitive clauses:

  • He gave up his job to travel the world.
  • We wanted to ask her to come along.

which IMHO is a misnomer, because it doesn't clearly tell that the non-finite clause is the goal or expresses the intenction. As others have pointed out, Esperanto uses a (por) ke + u(s)-modo subclause for this purpose.

Should the action be directed towards the subject itself, you can omit the subclause and use only por + i-formo as a frazekvivalento

  • Ĉu mi estas tro vigla por ke mi ekdormus?
  • Ĉu mi estas tro vigla por ekdormi?

Answered by Juha Metsäkallas on August 24, 2021

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