ELG. Prepositions, dealing with places

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To Boston Via The Road Go I, With An Excursion Into The Land Of Modals


The basic type of Lojban sentence is the bridi: a claim by the speaker that certain objects are related in a certain way. The objects are expressed by Lojban grammatical forms called sumti; the relationship is expressed by the Lojban grammatical form called a selbri.

The sumti are not randomly associated with the selbri, but according to a systematic pattern known as the “place structure” of the selbri. This chapter describes the various ways in which the place structure of Lojban bridi is expressed and by which it can be manipulated. The place structure of a selbri is a sequence of empty slots into which the sumti associated with that selbri are placed. The sumti are said to occupy the places of the selbri.

For our present purposes, every selbri is assumed to have a well-known place structure. If the selbri is a brivla, the place structure can be looked up in a dictionary (or, if the brivla is a lujvo not in any dictionary, inferred from the principles of lujvo construction as explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch); if the selbri is a tanru, the place structure is the same as that of the final component in the tanru.

The stock example of a place structure is that of the gismu

x1 comes/goes to destination x2 from origin x3 via route x4 employing means of transport x5.

The “x1 ... x5” indicates that klama is a five-place predicate, and show the natural order (as assigned by the language engineers) of those places: agent, destination, origin, route, means.

The place structures of brivla are not absolutely stable aspects of the language. The work done so far has attempted to establish a basic place structure on which all users can, at first, agree. In the light of actual experience with the individual selbri of the language, there will inevitably be some degree of change to the brivla place structures.

Standard bridi form: cu

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
cu CU prefixed selbri separator

The most usual way of constructing a bridi from a selbri such as klama and an appropriate number of sumti is to place the sumti intended for the x1 place before the selbri, and all the other sumti in order after the selbri, thus:

Example 1
mi cu klama la bastn. la .atlantas. le dargu le karce
I go to-Boston from-Atlanta via-the road using-the car.

Here the sumti are assigned to the places as follows:

x1 agent mi
x2 destination la bastn.
x3 origin la .atlantas.
x4 route le dargu
x5 means le karce

(Note: Many of the examples in the rest of this chapter will turn out to have the same meaning as Example 1; this fact will not be reiterated.)

This ordering, with the x1 place before the selbri and all other places in natural order after the selbri, is called “standard bridi form”, and is found in the bulk of Lojban bridi, whether used in main sentences or in subordinate clauses. However, many other forms are possible, such as:

Example 2
mi la bastn. la .atlantas. le dargu le karce cu klama
I, to-Boston from-Atlanta via-the road using-the car, go.

Here the selbri is at the end; all the sumti are placed before it. However, the same order is maintained.

Similarly, we may split up the sumti, putting some before the selbri and others after it:

Example 3
mi la bastn. cu klama la .atlantas. le dargu le karce
I to-Boston go from-Atlanta via-the road using-the car.

All of the variant forms in this section and following sections can be used to place emphasis on the part or parts which have been moved out of their standard places. Thus, Example 2 places emphasis on the selbri (because it is at the end); Example 3 emphasizes :la bastn., because it has been moved before the selbri. Moving more than one component may dilute this emphasis. It is permitted, but no stylistic significance has yet been established for drastic reordering.

In all these examples, the cmavo cu (belonging to selma'o CU) is used to separate the selbri from any preceding sumti. It is never absolutely necessary to use cu. However, providing it helps the reader or listener to locate the selbri quickly, and may make it possible to place a complex sumti just before the selbri, allowing the speaker to omit elidable terminators, possibly a whole stream of them, that would otherwise be necessary.

The general rule, then, is that the selbri may occur anywhere in the bridi as long as the sumti maintain their order. The only exception (and it is an important one) is that if the selbri appears first, the x1 sumti is taken to have been omitted:

Example 4
klama la bastn. la .atlantas. le dargu le karce
A-goer to-Boston from-Atlanta via-the road using-the car.
Goes to-Boston from-Atlanta via-the road using-the car.
Look: a goer to Boston from Atlanta via the road using the car!

Here the x1 place is empty: the listener must guess from context who is going to Boston. In Example 4, klama is glossed “a goer” rather than “go” because “Go” at the beginning of an English sentence would suggest a command: “Go to Boston!”. Example is not a command, simply a normal statement with the x1 place unspecified, causing the emphasis to fall on the selbri klama. Such a bridi, with empty x1, is called an “observative”, because it usually calls on the listener to observe something in the environment which would belong in the x1 place. The third translation above shows this observative nature. Sometimes it is the relationship itself which the listener is asked to observe.

(There is a way to both provide a sumti for the x1 place and put the selbri first in the bridi: See Example .)

Suppose the speaker desires to omit a place other than the x1 place? (Presumably it is obvious or, for one reason or another, not worth saying.) Places at the end may simply be dropped:

Example 5
mi klama la bastn. la .atlantas.
I go to-Boston from-Atlanta (via an unspecified route, using an unspecified means).

Example 5 has empty x4 and x5 places: the speaker does not specify the route or the means of transport. However, simple omission will not work for a place when the places around it are to be specified: in

Example 6
mi klama la bastn. la .atlantas. le karce
I go to-Boston from-Atlanta via-the car.
le karce occupies the x4 place, and therefore Example 6 means:
I go to Boston from Atlanta, using the car as a route.

This is nonsense, since a car cannot be a route. What the speaker presumably meant is expressed by:

Example 7
mi klama la bastn. la .atlantas. zo'e le karce
I go to-Boston from-Atlanta via-something-unspecified using-the car.

Here the sumti cmavo zo'e is used to explicitly fill the x4 place; zo'e means “the unspecified thing” and has the same meaning as leaving the place empty: the listener must infer the correct meaning from context.

Tagging places: FA

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
fa FA tags x1 place
fe FA tags x2 place
fi FA tags x3 place
fo FA tags x4 place
fu FA tags x5 place
fi'a FA place structure question

In sentences like Example , it is easy to get lost and forget which sumti falls in which place, especially if the sumti are more complicated than simple names or descriptions. The place structure tags of selma'o FA may be used to help clarify place structures. The five cmavo fa, fe, fi, fo, and fu may be inserted just before the sumti in the x1 to x5 places respectively:

Example 8
fa mi cu klama fe la bastn. fi la .atlantas. fo le dargu fu le karce
x1= I go x2= Boston x3= Atlanta x4= the road x5= the car.
I go to Boston from Atlanta via the road using the car.

In Example , the tag fu before :le karce clarifies that :le karce occupies the x5 place of klama. The use of fu tells us nothing about the purpose or meaning of the x5 place; it simply says that :le karce occupies it.

In Example 8, the tags are overkill; they serve only to make Example 7 even longer than it is. Here is a better illustration of the use of FA tags for clarification:

Example 9
fa mi klama fe le zdani be mi be'o poi nurma vau fi la nu,IORK.
x1= I go x2= (the house of me) which is-rural x3= New York.

In Example 9, the place structure of klama is as follows:

x1 agent mi
x2 destination le zdani be mi be'o poi nurma vau
x3 origin la nu,IORK.
x4 route (empty)
x5 means (empty)

The fi tag serves to remind the hearer that what follows is in the x3 place of klama; after listening to the complex sumti occupying the x2 place, it's easy to get lost.

Of course, once the sumti have been tagged, the order in which they are specified no longer carries the burden of distinguishing the places. Therefore, it is perfectly all right to scramble them into any order desired, and to move the selbri to anywhere in the bridi, even the beginning:

Example 10
klama fa mi fi la .atlantas. fu le karce fe la bastn. fo le dargu
go x1= I x3= Atlanta x5= the car x2= Boston x4= the road.
Go I from Atlanta using the car to Boston via the road.

Note that no cu is permitted before the selbri in Example 10, because cu separates the selbri from any preceding sumti, and Example 10 has no such sumti.

Example 11
fu le karce fo le dargu fi la .atlantas. fe la bastn. cu klama fa mi
x5= the car x4= the road x3= Atlanta x2= Boston go x1=I
Using the car, via the road, from Atlanta to Boston go I.

Example 11 exhibits the reverse of the standard bridi form seen in Example 1 and Example 2, but still means exactly the same thing. If the FA tags were left out, however, producing:

Example 12
le karce le dargu la .atlantas. la bastn. cu klama mi
The car to-the road from-Atlanta via-Boston goes using-me.
The car goes to the road from Atlanta, with Boston as the route, using me as a means of transport.

the meaning would be wholly changed, and in fact nonsensical.

Tagging places with FA cmavo makes it easy not only to reorder the places but also to omit undesirable ones, without any need for zo'e or special rules about the x1 place:

Example 13
klama fi la .atlantas. fe la bastn. fu le karce
A-goer x3= Atlanta x2= Boston x5 = the car.
A goer from Atlanta to Boston using the car.

Here the x1 and x4 places are empty, and so no sumti are tagged with fa or fo; in addition, the x2 and x3 places appear in reverse order.

What if some sumti have FA tags and others do not? The rule is that after a FA-tagged sumti, any sumti following it occupy the places numerically succeeding it, subject to the proviso that an already-filled place is skipped:

Example 14
klama fa mi la bastn. la .atlantas. le dargu le karce
Go x1= I x2= Boston x3= Atlanta x4= the road x5= the car.
Go I to Boston from Atlanta via the road using the car.

In Example 14, the fa causes mi to occupy the x1 place, and then the following untagged sumti occupy in order the x2 through x5 places. This is the mechanism by which Lojban allows placing the selbri first while specifying a sumti for the x1 place.

Here is a more complex (and more confusing) example:

Example 15
mi klama fi la .atlantas. le dargu fe la bastn. le karce
I go x3= Atlanta, the road x2= Boston, the car.
I go from Atlanta via the road to Boston using the car.

In Example 15, mi occupies the x1 place because it is the first sumti in the sentence (and is before the selbri). The second sumti, :la .atlantas., occupies the x3 place by virtue of the tag fi, and :le dargu occupies the x4 place as a result of following :la .atlantas.. Finally, :la bastn. occupies the x2 place because of its tag fe, and :le karce skips over the already-occupied x3 and x4 places to land in the x5 place.

Such a convoluted use of tags should probably be avoided except when trying for a literal translation of some English (or other natural-language) sentence; the rules stated here are merely given so that some standard interpretation is possible.

It is grammatically permitted to tag more than one sumti with the same FA cmavo. The effect is that of making more than one claim:

Example 16
[fa] la rik. fa la djein. klama [fe] le skina fe le zdani fe le zarci
[x1=] Rick x1= Jane goes-to [x2=] the movie x2= the house x2= the office

may be taken to say that both Rick and Jane go to the movie, the house, and the office, merging six claims into one. More likely, however, it will simply confuse the listener. There are better ways, involving logical connectives (explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch), to say such things in Lojban. In fact, putting more than one sumti into a place is odd enough that it can only be done by explicit FA usage: this is the motivation for the proviso above, that already-occupied places are skipped. In this way, no sumti can be forced into a place already occupied unless it has an explicit FA cmavo tagging it.

The cmavo fi'a also belongs to selma'o FA, and allows Lojban users to ask questions about place structures. A bridi containing fi'a is a question, asking the listener to supply the appropriate other member of FA which will make the bridi a true statement:

Example 17
fi'a do dunda [fe] le vi rozgu
[what place]? you give x2= the nearby rose
In what way are you involved in the giving of this rose?
Are you the giver or the receiver of this rose?

In Example 17, the speaker uses the selbri dunda, whose place structure is: dunda :x1 gives x2 to x3

The tagged sumti :fi'a do indicates that the speaker wishes to know whether the sumti do falls in the x1 or the x3 place (the x2 place is already occupied by :le rozgu). The listener can reply with a sentence consisting solely of a FA cmavo: fa if the listener is the giver, fi if he/she is the receiver.

I have inserted the tag fe in brackets into Example 17, but it is actually not necessary, because fi'a does not count as a numeric tag; therefore, :le vi rozgu would necessarily be in the x2 place even if no tag were present, because it immediately follows the selbri.

There is also another member of FA, namely fai, which is discussed in Section 1.11.

Conversion: SE

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
se SE 2nd place conversion
te SE 3rd place conversion
ve SE 4th place conversion
xe SE 5th place conversion

So far we have seen ways to move sumti around within a bridi, but the actual place structure of the selbri has always remained untouched. The conversion cmavo of selma'o SE are incorporated within the selbri itself, and produce a new selbri (called a converted selbri) with a different place structure. In particular, after the application of any SE cmavo, the number and purposes of the places remain the same, but two of them have been exchanged, the x1 place and another. Which place has been exchanged with x1 depends on the cmavo chosen. Thus, for example, when se is used, the x1 place is swapped with the x2 place.

Note that the cmavo of SE begin with consecutive consonants in alphabetical order. There is no “1st place conversion” cmavo, because exchanging the x1 place with itself is a pointless maneuver.

Here are the place structures of

se klama:
x1 is the destination of x2's going from x3 via x4 using x5


te klama:
x1 is the origin and x2 the destination of x3 going via x4 using x5


ve klama:
x1 is the route to x2 from x3 used by x4 going via x5


xe klama:
x1 is the means in going to x2 from x3 via x4 employed by x5

Note that the place structure numbers in each case continue to be listed in the usual order, x1 to x5.

Consider the following pair of examples:

Example 18
la bastn. cu se klama mi
Boston is-the-destination of-me.
Boston is my destination.
Boston is gone to by me.

Example 19
fe la bastn. cu klama fa mi
x2 = Boston go x1=I.
To Boston go I.

Example 18 and Example 19 mean the same thing, in the sense that there is a relationship of going with the speaker as the agent and Boston as the destination (and with unspecified origin, route, and means). Structurally, however, they are quite different. Example has :la bastn. in the x1 place and mi in the x2 place of the selbri

se klama, and uses standard bridi order; Example has mi in the x1 place and :la bastn. in the x2 place of the selbri klama, and uses a non-standard order.

The most important use of conversion is in the construction of descriptions. A description is a sumti which begins with a cmavo of selma'o LA or LE, called the descriptor, and contains (in the simplest case) a selbri. We have already seen the descriptions :le dargu and :le karce. To this we could add:

Example 20
le klama
the go-er, the one who goes

In every case, the description is about something which fits into the x1 place of the selbri. In order to get a description of a destination (that is, something fitting the x2 place of klama), we must convert the selbri to :se klama, whose x1 place is a destination. The result is

Example 21
le se klama
the destination gone to by someone

Likewise, we can create three more converted descriptions:

Example 22
le te klama
the origin of someone's going

Example 23
le ve klama
the route of someone's going

Example 24
le xe klama
the means by which someone goes

Example 23 does not mean “the route” plain and simple: that is :le pluta, using a different selbri. It means a route that is used by someone for an act of klama; that is, a journey with origin and destination. A “road” on Mars, on which no one has traveled or is ever likely to, may be called :le pluta, but it cannot be

le ve klama, since there exists no one for whom it is :le ve klama be fo da (the route taken in an actual journey by someone [da]).

When converting selbri that are more complex than a single brivla, it is important to realize that the scope of a SE cmavo is only the following brivla (or equivalent unit). In order to convert an entire tanru, it is necessary to enclose the tanru in keke'e brackets:

Example 25
mi se ke blanu zdani [ke'e] ti
I [2nd conversion] blue house this-thing

The place structure of :blanu zdani (blue house) is the same as that of zdani, by the rule given in Section . The place structure of zdani is:

zdani :x1 is a house/nest/lair/den for inhabitant x2

The place structure of

se ke blanu zdani [ke'e] is therefore:
x1 is the inhabitant of the blue house (etc.) x2

Consequently, Example means:

I am the inhabitant of the blue house which is this thing.

Conversion applied to only part of a tanru has subtler effects which are explained in Section .

It is grammatical to convert a selbri more than once with SE; later (inner) conversions are applied before earlier (outer) ones. For example, the place structure of

se te klama is achieved by exchanging the x1 and x2 place of
te klama, producing:

x1 is the destination and x2 is the origin of x3 going via x4 using x5

On the other hand,

te se klama has a place structure derived from swapping the x1 and x3 places of
se klama:
x1 is the origin of x2's going to x3 via x4 using x5

which is quite different. However, multiple conversions like this are never necessary. Arbitrary scrambling of places can be achieved more easily and far more intelligibly with FA tags, and only a single conversion is ever needed in a description.

(Although no one has made any real use of it, it is perhaps worth noting that compound conversions of the form

setese, where the first and third cmavo are the same, effectively swap the two given places while leaving the others, including x1, alone:
setese (or equivalently
tesete) swap the x2 and x3 places, whereas
texete (or
xetexe) swap the x3 and x5 places.)

Modal places: FIhO, FEhU

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
fi'o FIhO modal place prefix
fe'u FEhU modal terminator

Sometimes the place structures engineered into Lojban are inadequate to meet the needs of actual speech. Consider the gismu viska, whose place structure is: viska :x1 sees x2 under conditions x3

Seeing is a threefold relationship, involving an agent (le viska), an object of sight (le se viska), and an environment that makes seeing possible (le te viska). Seeing is done with one or more eyes, of course; in general, the eyes belong to the entity in the x1 place.

Suppose, however, that you are blind in one eye and are talking to someone who doesn't know that. You might want to say, “I see you with the left eye.” There is no place in the place structure of viska such as “with eye x4” or the like. Lojban allows you to solve the problem by adding a new place, changing the relationship:

Example 26
mi viska do fi'o kanla [fe'u] le zunle
I see you [modal] eye: the left-thing
I see you with the left eye.

The three-place relation viska has now acquired a fourth place specifying the eye used for seeing. The combination of the cmavo fi'o (of selma'o FIhO) followed by a selbri, in this case the gismu kanla, forms a tag which is prefixed to the sumti filling the new place, namely

le zunle. The semantics of
fi'o kanla le zunle is that
le zunle fills the x1 place of kanla, whose place structure is

kanla :x1 is an/the eye of body x2


le zunle is an eye. The x2 place of kanla is unspecified and must be inferred from the context. It is important to remember that even though
le zunle is placed following
fi'o kanla, semantically it belongs in the x1 place of kanla. The selbri may be terminated with fe'u (of selma'o FEhU), an elidable terminator which is rarely required unless a non-logical connective follows the tag (omitting fe'u in that case would make the connective affect the selbri).

The term for such an added place is a “modal place”, as distinguished from the regular numbered places. (This use of the word “modal” is specific to the Loglan Project, and does not agree with the standard uses in either logic or linguistics, but is now too entrenched to change easily.) The fi'o construction marking a modal place is called a “modal tag”, and the sumti which follows it a “modal sumti”; the purely Lojban terms

sumti tcita and
seltcita sumti, respectively, are also commonly used. Modal sumti may be placed anywhere within the bridi, in any order; they have no effect whatever on the rules for assigning unmarked bridi to numbered places, and they may not be marked with FA cmavo.

Consider Example again. Another way to view the situation is to consider the speaker's left eye as a tool, a tool for seeing. The relevant selbri then becomes pilno, whose place structure is pilno :x1 uses x2 as a tool for purpose x3

and we can rewrite Example 26 as

Example 27
mi viska do fi'o se pilno le zunle kanla
I see you [modal] [conversion] use: the left eye.
I see you using my left eye.

Here the selbri belonging to the modal is

se pilno. The conversion of pilno is necessary in order to get the “tool” place into x1, since only x1 can be the modal sumti. The “tool user” place is the x2 of
se pilno (because it is the x1 of pilno) and remains unspecified. The tag
fi'o pilno would mean “with tool user”, leaving the tool unspecified.

Modal tags: BAI

There are certain selbri which seem particularly useful in constructing modal tags. In particular, pilno is one of them. The place structure of pilno is: pilno :x1 uses x2 as a tool for purpose x3

and almost any selbri which represents an action may need to specify a tool. Having to say

fi'o se pilno frequently would make many Lojban sentences unnecessarily verbose and clunky, so an abbreviation is provided in the language design: the compound cmavo sepi'o.

Here se is used before a cmavo, namely pi'o, rather than before a brivla. The meaning of this cmavo, which belongs to selma'o BAI, is exactly the same as that of

fi'o pilno fe'u. Since what we want is a tag based on
se pilno rather than
pilno- the tool, not the tool user – the grammar allows a BAI cmavo to be converted using a SE cmavo. Example may therefore be rewritten as:

Example 28
mi viska do sepi'o le zunle kanla
I see you with-tool: the left eye
I see you using my left eye.

The compound cmavo sepi'o is much shorter than

fi'o se pilno [fe'u] and can be thought of as a single word meaning “with-tool”. The modal tag pi'o, with no

se, similarly means “with-tool-user”, probably a less useful concept. Nevertheless, the parallelism with the place structure of pilno makes the additional syllable worthwhile.

Some BAI cmavo make sense with as well as without a SE cmavo; for example, ka'a, the BAI corresponding to the gismu klama, has five usable forms corresponding to the five places of klama respectively:


Any of these tags may be used to provide modal places for bridi, as in the following examples:

Example 29
la .eivn. cu vecnu loi flira cinta ka'a mi
Avon sells a-mass-of face paint with-goer me.
I am a traveling cosmetics salesperson for Avon.

Example 29 may seem a bit strained, but it illustrates the way in which an existing selbri, vecnu in this case, may have a place added to it which might otherwise seem utterly unrelated.)

Example 30
mi cadzu seka'a la bratfyd.
I walk with-destination Bradford.
I am walking to Bradford.

Example 31
bloti teka'a la nu,IORK.
[Observative:] is-a-boat with-origin New York
A boat from New York!

Example 32
do bajra veka'a lo djine
You run with-route a circle.
You are running in circles.

Example 33
mi citka xeka'a le vinji
I eat with-means-of-transport the airplane.
I eat in the airplane.

There are sixty-odd cmavo of selma'o BAI, based on selected gismu that seemed useful in a variety of settings. The list is somewhat biased toward English, because many of the cmavo were selected on the basis of corresponding English prepositions and preposition compounds such as “with”, “without”, and “by means of”. The BAI cmavo, however, are far more precise than English prepositions, because their meanings are fixed by the place structures of the corresponding gismu.

All BAI cmavo have the form CV'V or CVV. Most of them are CV'V, where the C is the first consonant of the corresponding gismu and the two Vs are the two vowels of the gismu. The table in Section 1.15 shows the exceptions.

There is one additional BAI cmavo that is not derived from a gismu: do'e. This cmavo is used when an extra place is needed, but it seems useful to be vague about the semantic implications of the extra place:

Example 34
lo nanmu be do'e le berti cu klama le tcadu
Some man [related to] the north came to-the city.
A man of the north came to the city.

Here :le berti is provided as a modal place of the selbri nanmu, but its exact significance is vague, and is paralleled in the colloquial translation by the vague English preposition “of”. Example also illustrates a modal place bound into a selbri with be. This construction is useful when the selbri of a description requires a modal place; this and other uses of be are more fully explained in Section .

Modal sentence connection: the causals

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
ri'a BAI rinka modal: physical cause
ki'u BAI krinu modal: justification
mu'i BAI mukti modal: motivation
ni'i BAI nibli modal: logical entailment

This section has two purposes. On the one hand, it explains the grammatical construct called “modal sentence connection”. On the other, it exemplifies some of the more useful BAI cmavo: the causals. (There are other BAI cmavo which have causal implications: ja'e means “with result”, and so seja'e means “with cause of unspecified nature”; likewise, gau means “with agent” and tezu'e means “with purpose”. These other modal cmavo will not be further discussed here, as my purpose is to explain modal sentence connection rather than Lojbanic views of causation.)

There are four causal gismu in Lojban, distinguishing different versions of the relationships lumped in English as “causal”:

event x1 physically causes event x2
event x1 is the justification for event x2
event x1 is the (human) motive for event x2
event x1 logically entails event x2

Each of these gismu has a related modal: ri'a, ki'u, mu'i, and ni'i respectively. Using these gismu and these modals, we can create various causal sentences with different implications:

Example 35
le spati cu banro ri'a le nu do djacu dunda fi le spati
The plant grows with-physical-cause the event-of you water give to the plant.
The plant grows because you water it.

Example 36
la djan. cpacu le pamoi se jinga ki'u le nu la djan. jinga
John gets the first prize with-justification the event-of John wins.
John got the first prize because he won.

Example 37
mi lebna le cukta mu'i le nu mi viska le cukta
I took the book with-motivation the event-of I saw the book.
I took the book because I saw it.

Example 38
la sokrates. morsi binxo ni'i le nu la sokrates. remna
Socrates dead-became with-logical-justification Socrates is-human.
Socrates died because Socrates is human.

In Example 35 through Example 36, the same English word “because” is used to translate all four modals, but the types of cause being expressed are quite different. Let us now focus on Example 35, and explore some variations on it.

As written, Example 35 claims that the plant grows, but only refers to the event of watering it in an abstraction bridi (abstractions are explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch) without actually making a claim. If I express Example 35, I have said that the plant in fact grows, but I have not said that you actually water it, merely that there is a causal relationship between watering and growing. This is semantically asymmetrical. Suppose I wanted to claim that the plant was being watered, and only mention its growth as ancillary information? Then we could reverse the main bridi and the abstraction bridi, saying:

Example 39
do djacu dunda fi le spati seri'a le nu ri banro
You water-give to the plant with-physical-effect it grows.
You water the plant; therefore, it grows.

with the ri'a changed to seri'a. In addition, there are also symmetrical forms:

Example 40
le nu do djacu dunda fi le spati cu rinka le nu le spati cu banro
The event-of (you water-give to the plant) causes the event-of (the plant grows).
Your watering the plant causes its growth. If you water the plant, then it grows.

does not claim either event, but asserts only the causal relationship between them. So in Example 40, I am not saying that the plant grows nor that you have in fact watered it. The second colloquial translation shows a form of “if-then” in English quite distinct from the logical connective “if-then” explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.

Suppose we wish to claim both events as well as their causal relationship? We can use one of two methods:

Example 41
le spati cu banro .iri'abo do djacu dunda fi le spati
The plant grows. Because you water-give to the plant.
The plant grows because you water it.

Example 42
do djacu dunda fi le spati .iseri'abo le spati cu banro
You water-give to the plant. Therefore it grows.
You water the plant; therefore, it grows.

The compound cmavo

.iri'abo and
.iseri'abo serve to connect two bridi, as the initial i indicates. The final bo is necessary to prevent the modal from “taking over” the following sumti. If the bo were omitted from Example 42 we would have:

Example 43
le spati cu banro .i ri'a do djacu dunda fi le spati
The plant grows. Because of you, [something] water-gives to the plant.
The plant grows. Because of you, water is given to the plant.


ri'a do is a modal sumti in Example 43, there is no longer an explicit sumti in the x1 place of
djacu dunda, and the translation must be changed.

The effect of sentences like Example 42 and Example 43 is that the modal, ri'a in this example, no longer modifies an explicit sumti. Instead, the sumti is implicit, the event given by a full bridi. Furthermore, there is a second implication: that the first bridi fills the x2 place of the gismu rinka; it specifies an event which is the effect. I am therefore claiming three things: that the plant grows, that you have watered it, and that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

In principle, any modal tag can appear in a sentence connective of the type exemplified by Example 42 and |Example 43. However, it makes little sense to use any modals which do not expect events or other abstractions to fill the places of the corresponding gismu. The sentence connective

.ibaubo is perfectly grammatical, but it is hard to imagine any two sentences which could be connected by an “in-language” modal. This is because a sentence describes an event, and an event can be a cause or an effect, but not a language.

Other modal connections

Like many Lojban grammatical constructions, sentence modal connection has both forethought and afterthought forms. (See Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch for a more detailed discussion of Lojban connectives.) Section 1.6 exemplifies only afterthought modal connection, illustrated here by:

Example 44
mi jgari lei djacu .iri'abo mi jgari le kabri
I grasp the-mass-of water with-physical-cause I grasp the cup.
Causing the mass of water to be grasped by me, I grasped the cup.
I grasp the water because I grasp the cup.

An afterthought connection is one that is signaled only by a cmavo (or a compound cmavo, in this case) between the two constructs being connected. Forethought connection uses a signal both before the first construct and between the two: the use of “both” and “and” in the first half of this sentence represents a forethought connection (though not a modal one).

To make forethought modal sentence connections in Lojban, place the modal plus gi before the first bridi, and gi between the two. No i is used within the construct. The forethought equivalent of Example is:

Example 45
ri'agi mi jgari le kabri gi mi jgari lei djacu
With-physical-cause I grasp the cup, I grasp the-mass-of water.
Because I grasp the cup, I grasp the water.

Note that the cause, the x1 of rinka is now placed first. To keep the two bridi in the original order of Example , we could say:

Example 46
seri'agi mi jgari lei djacu gi mi jgari le kabri
With-physical-effect I grasp the-mass-of water, I grasp the cup.

In English, the sentence “Therefore I grasp the water, I grasp the cup” is ungrammatical, because “therefore” is not grammatically equivalent to “because”. In Lojban,

seri'agi can be used just like

When the two bridi joined by a modal connection have one or more elements (selbri or sumti or both) in common, there are various condensed forms that can be used in place of full modal sentence connection with both bridi completely stated.

When the bridi are the same except for a single sumti, as in Examples 8.1 through 8.3, then a sumti modal connection may be employed:

Example 47
mi jgari ri'agi le kabri gi lei djacu
I grasp because the cup, the-mass-of water.Example means exactly the same as Example through Example , but there is no idiomatic English translation that will distinguish it from them.

If the two connected bridi are different in more than one sumti, then a termset may be employed. Termsets are explained more fully in Section , but are essentially a mechanism for creating connections between multiple sumti simultaneously.

Example 48
mi dunda le cukta la djan. .imu'ibo la djan. dunda lei jdini mi
I gave the book to John. Motivated-by John gave the-mass-of money to-me.
I gave the book to John, because John gave money to me.

means the same as:

Example 49
nu'i mu'igi la djan. lei jdini mi gi mi le cukta la djan. nu'u dunda
[start] because John, the-mass-of money, me; I, the book, John [end] gives.

Here there are three sumti in each half of the termset, because the two bridi share only their selbri.

There is no modal connection between selbri as such: bridi which differ only in the selbri can be modally connected using bridi-tail modal connection. The bridi-tail construct is more fully explained in Section , but essentially it consists of a selbri with optional sumti following it. Example is suitable for bridi-tail connection, and could be shortened to:

Example 50
mi mu'igi viska le cukta gi lebna le cukta
I, because saw the book, took the book.

Again, no straightforward English translation exists. It is even possible to shorten Example 50 further to:

Example 51
mi mu'igi viska gi lebna vau le cukta
I because saw, therefore took, the book.


le cukta is set off by the non-elidable vau and is made to belong to both bridi-tails – See Section for more explanations.

Since this is a chapter on rearranging sumti, it is worth pointing out that Example 51 can be further rearranged to:

Example 52
mi le cukta mu'igi viska gi lebna
I, the book, because saw, therefore took.

which doesn't require the extra vau; all sumti before a conjunction of bridi-tails are shared.

Finally, mathematical operands can be modally connected.

Example 53
li ny. du li vo .ini'ibo li ny. du li re su'i re
the number n = the-number 4. Entailed-by the-number n = the-number 2 + 2.
n = 4 because n = 2 + 2.

can be reduced to:

Example 54
li ny. du li ni'igi vei re su'i re [ve'o] gi vo
the-number n = the-number because ( 2 + 2 ) therefore 4.
n is 2 + 2, and is thus 4.

The cmavo vei and ve'o represent mathematical parentheses, and are required so that

ni'igi affects more than just the immediately following operand, namely the first re. (The right parenthesis, ve'o, is an elidable terminator.) As usual, no English translation does Example justice.

Note: Due to restrictions on the Lojban parsing algorithm, it is not possible to form modal connectives using the

fi'o- plus-selbri form of modal. Only the predefined modals of selma'o BAI can be compounded as shown in Section 1.6 and Section 1.7.

Modal selbri

Consider the example:

Example 55
mi tavla bau la lojban. bai tu'a la frank.
I speak in-language Lojban with-compeller some-act-by Frank.
I speak in Lojban, under compulsion by Frank.

Example has two modal sumti, using the modals bau and bai. Suppose we wanted to specify the language explicitly but be vague about who's doing the compelling. We can simplify Example to:

Example 56
mi tavla bau la lojban. bai [ku].
I speak in-language Lojban under-compulsion.

In Example , the elidable terminator ku has taken the place of the sumti which would normally follow bai. Alternatively, we could specify the one who compels but keep the language vague:

Example 57
mi tavla bau [ku] bai tu'a la frank.
I speak in-some-language under-compulsion-by some-act-by Frank.

We are also free to move the modal-plus- ku around the bridi:

Example 58
bau [ku] bai ku mi tavla
In-some-language under-compulsion I speak.

An alternative to using ku is to place the modal cmavo right before the selbri, following the cu which often appears there. When a modal is present, the cu is almost never necessary.

Example 59
mi bai tavla bau la lojban.
I compelledly speak in-language Lojban.

In this use, the modal is like a tanru modifier semantically, although grammatically it is quite distinct. Example 59 is very similar in meaning to:

Example 60
mi se bapli tavla bau la lojban.
I compelledly-speak in-language Lojban.

The se conversion is needed because

bapli tavla would be a “compeller type of speaker” rather than a “compelled (by someone) type of speaker”, which is what a
bai tavla is.

If the modal preceding a selbri is constructed using fi'o, then fe'u is required to prevent the main selbri and the modal selbri from colliding:

Example 61
mi fi'o kanla fe'u viska do
I with-eye see you.
I see you with my eye(s).

There are two other uses of modals. A modal can be attached to a pair of bridi-tails that have already been connected by a logical, non-logical, or modal connection (See Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch for more on logical and non-logical connections):

Example 62
mi bai ke ge klama le zarci gi cadzu le bisli [ke'e]
I under-compulsion (both go to-the market and walk on-the ice).
Under compulsion, I both go to the market and walk on the ice.

Here the bai is spread over both

klama le zarci and
cadzu le bisli, and the
ge ... gi represents the logical connection “both-and” between the two.

Similarly, a modal can be attached to multiple sentences that have been combined with tu'e and tu'u, which are explained in more detail in Section :

Example 63
bai tu'e mi klama le zarci .i mi cadzu le bisli [tu'u]
Under-compulsion [start] I go to-the market. I walk on-the ice [end].

means the same thing as Example .

Note: Either BAI modals or

fi'o- plus-selbri modals may correctly be used in any of the constructions discussed in this section.

Modal relative phrases; Comparison

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
pe GOI restrictive relative phrase
ne GOI incidental relative phrase
mau BAI zmadu modal
me'a BAI mleca modal

Relative phrases and clauses are explained in much more detail in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. However, there is a construction which combines a modal with a relative phrase which is relevant to this chapter. Consider the following examples of relative clauses:

Example 64
la .apasionatas. poi se cusku la .artr. rubnstain. cu se nelci mi
The Appassionata which is-expressed-by Arthur Rubinstein is-liked-by me.

Example 65
la .apasionatas. noi se finti la betovn. cu se nelci mi
The Appassionata, which is-created-by Beethoven, is-liked-by me.

In Example 64, :la .apasionatas. refers to a particular performance of the sonata, namely the one performed by Rubinstein. Therefore, the relative clause :poi se cusku uses the cmavo poi (of selma'o NOI) to restrict the meaning of :la .apasionatas to the performance in question.

In Example 65, however, :la .apasionatas. refers to the sonata as a whole, and the information that it was composed by Beethoven is merely incidental. The cmavo noi (also of selma'o NOI) expresses the incidental nature of this relationship.

The cmavo pe and ne (of selma'o GOI) are roughly equivalent to poi and noi respectively, but are followed by sumti rather than full bridi. We can abbreviate Example 64 and Example 65 to:

Example 66
la .apasionatas. pe la .artr. rubnstain. se nelci mi
The Appassionata of Arthur Rubinstein is-liked-by me.

Example 67
la .apasionatas. ne la betovn. se nelci mi
The Appassionata, which is of Beethoven, is-liked-by me.

Here the precise selbri of the relative clauses is lost: all we can tell is that the Appassionata is connected in some way with Rubinstein (in Example 66) and Beethoven (in Example 67), and that the relationships are respectively restrictive and incidental.

It happens that both cusku and finti have BAI cmavo, namely cu'u and fi'e. We can recast Example 66 and Example 67 as:

Example 68
la .apasionatas pe cu'u la .artr. rubnstain. cu se nelci mi
The Appassionata expressed-by Arthur Rubinstein is-liked-by me.

Example 69
la .apasionatas ne fi'e la betovn. cu se nelci mi
The Appassionata, invented-by Beethoven, is-liked-by me.

Example 68 and Example 69 have the full semantic content of Example 66 and Example 67 respectively.

Modal relative phrases are often used with the BAI cmavo mau and me'a, which are based on the comparative gismu zmadu (more than) and mleca (less than) respectively. The place structures are:

Example 70
x1 is more than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4
x1 is less than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4

Here are some examples:

Example 71
la frank. nelci la betis. ne semau la meiris.
Frank likes Betty, which-is more-than Mary.
Frank likes Betty more than (he likes) Mary.

Example 71 requires that Frank likes Betty, but adds the information that his liking for Betty exceeds his liking for Mary. The modal appears in the form semau because the x2 place of zmadu is the basis for comparison: in this case, Frank's liking for Mary.

Example 72
la frank. nelci la meiris. ne seme'a la betis.
Frank likes Mary, which-is less-than Betty.
Frank likes Mary less than (he likes) Betty.

Here we are told that Frank likes Mary less than he likes Betty; the information about the comparison is the same. It would be possible to rephrase Example using me'a rather than semau, and Example using mau rather than seme'a, but such usage would be unnecessarily confusing. Like many BAI cmavo, mau and me'a are more useful when converted with se.

If the ne were omitted in Example and Example , the modal sumti (:la meiris. and :la betis. respectively) would become attached to the bridi as a whole, producing a very different translation. Example would become:

Example 73
la frank. nelci la meiris. seme'a la betis.
Frank likes Mary is-less-than Betty.
Frank's liking Mary is less than Betty.

which compares a liking with a person, and is therefore nonsense.

Pure comparison, which states only the comparative information but says nothing about whether Frank actually likes either Mary or Betty (he may like neither, but dislike Betty less), would be expressed differently, as:

Example 74
le ni la frank. nelci la betis. cu zmadu le ni la frank. nelci la meiris.
The quantity-of Frank's liking Betty is-more-than the quantity-of Frank's liking Mary.

The mechanisms explained in this section are appropriate to many modals other than semau and seme'a. Some other modals that are often associated with relative phrases are: seba'i (“instead of”), ci'u (“on scale”), de'i ( “dated”), du'i ( “as much as”).

Some BAI tags can be used equally well in relative phrases or attached to bridi; others seem useful only attached to bridi. But it is also possible that the usefulness of particular BAI modals is an English-speaker bias, and that speakers of other languages may find other BAIs useful in divergent ways.

Note: The uses of modals discussed in this section are applicable both to BAI modals and to fi'o-plus-selbri modals.

Mixed modal connection

It is possible to mix logical connection (explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch) with modal connection, in a way that simultaneously asserts the logical connection and the modal relationship. Consider the sentences:

Example 75
mi nelci do .ije mi nelci la djein.
I like you. And I like Jane.

which is a logical connection, and

Example 76
mi nelci do .iki'ubo mi nelci la djein.
I like you. Justified-by I like Jane.

The meanings of Example 75 and Example 76 can be simultaneously expressed by combining the two compound cmavo, thus:

Example 77
mi nelci do .ijeki'ubo mi nelci la djein.
I like you. And justified-by I like Jane.

Here the two sentences

mi nelci do and :mi nelci la djein. are simultaneously asserted, their logical connection is asserted, and their causal relationship is asserted. The logical connective je comes before the modal ki'u in all such mixed connections.


mi nelci do and :mi nelci la djein. differ only in the final sumti, we can transform Example into a mixed sumti connection:

Example 78
mi nelci do .eki'ubo la djein.
I like you and/because Jane.

Note that this connection is an afterthought one. Mixed connectives are always afterthought; forethought connectives must be either logical or modal.

There are numerous other afterthought logical and non-logical connectives that can have modal information planted within them. For example, a bridi-tail connected version of Example 78 would be:

Example 79
mi nelci do gi'eki'ubo nelci la djein.
I like you and/because like Jane.

The following three complex examples all mean the same thing.

Example 80
mi bevri le dakli .ijeseri'abo tu'e mi bevri le gerku .ijadu'ibo mi bevri le mlatu [tu'u]
I carry the sack. And [effect] (I carry the dog. And/or [equal] I carry the cat.)
I carry the sack. As a result I carry the dog or I carry the cat, equally.

Example 81
mi bevri le dakli gi'eseri'ake bevri le gerku gi'adu'ibo bevri le mlatu [ke'e]
I carry the sack and [effect] (carry the dog and/or [equal] carry the cat).
I carry the sack and as a result carry the dog or carry the cat equally.

Example 82
mi bevri le dakli .eseri'ake le gerku .adu'ibo le mlatu [ke'e]
I carry the sack and [effect] (the cat and/or [equal] the dog).
I carry the sack, and as a result the cat or the dog equally.

In Example , the tu'etu'u brackets are the equivalent of the keke'e brackets in Example and Example , because keke'e cannot extend across more than one sentence. It would also be possible to change the

.ijeseri'abo to
.ije seri'a, which would show that the tu'etu'u portion was an effect, but would not pin down the
mi bevri le dakli portion as the cause. It is legal for a modal (or a tense; See Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch) to modify the whole of a tu'etu'u construct.

Note: The uses of modals discussed in this section are applicable both to BAI modals and to

fi'o- plus-selbri modals.

Modal conversion: JAI

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
jai JAI modal conversion
fai FA modal place structure tag

So far, conversion of numbered bridi places with SE and the addition of modal places with BAI have been two entirely separate operations. However, it is possible to convert a selbri in such a way that, rather than exchanging two numbered places, a modal place is made into a numbered place. For example,

Example 83
mi cusku bau la lojban.
I express [something] in-language Lojban.

has an explicit x1 place occupied by mi and an explicit bau place occupied by

la lojban. To exchange these two, we use a modal conversion operator consisting of

jai (of selma'o JAI) followed by the modal cmavo. Thus, the modal conversion of Example 83 is:

Example 84
la lojban. jai bau cusku fai mi
Lojban is-the-language-of-expression used-by me.

In Example 84, the modal place

la lojban. has become the x1 place of the new selbri
jai bau cusku. What has happened to the old x1 place? There is no numbered place for it to move to, so it moves to a special “unnumbered place” marked by the tag fai of selma'o FA.

Note: For the purposes of place numbering, fai behaves like fi'a; it does not affect the numbering of the other places around it.

Like SE conversions, JAI conversions are especially convenient in descriptions. We may refer to “the language of an expression” as

le jai bau cusku, for example.

In addition, it is grammatical to use jai without a following modal. This usage is not related to modals, but is explained here for completeness. The effect of jai by itself is to send the x1 place, which should be an abstraction, into the fai position, and to raise one of the sumti from the abstract sub-bridi into the x1 place of the main bridi. This feature is discussed in more detail in Section . The following two examples mean the same thing:

Example 85
le nu mi lebna le cukta cu se krinu le nu mi viska le cukta
The event-of (I take the book) is-justified-by the event-of (I see the book).
My taking the book is justified by my seeing it.

Example 86
mi jai se krinu le nu mi viska le cukta kei [fai le nu mi lebna le cukta]
I am-justified by the event-of (I see the book) [namely, the event-of (I take the book)]
I am justified in taking the book by seeing the book.

Example 86, with the bracketed part omitted, allows us to say that “I am justified” whereas in fact it is my action that is justified. This construction is vague, but useful in representing natural-language methods of expression.

Note: The uses of modals discussed in this section are applicable both to BAI modals and to :fi'o- plus-selbri modals.

Modal negation

Negation is explained in detail in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. There are two forms of negation in Lojban: contradictory and scalar negation. Contradictory negation expresses what is false, whereas scalar negation says that some alternative to what has been stated is true. A simple example is the difference between “John didn't go to Paris” (contradictory negation) and “John went to (somewhere) other than Paris” (scalar negation).

Contradictory negation involving BAI cmavo is performed by appending :-nai (of selma'o NAI) to the BAI. A common use of modals with :-nai is to deny a causal relationship:

Example 87
mi nelci do mu'inai le nu do nelci mi
I like you, but not because you like me.

Example 87 denies that the relationship between my liking you (which is asserted) and your liking me (which is not asserted) is one of motivation. Nothing is said about whether you like me or not, merely that that hypothetical liking is not the motivation for my liking you.

Scalar negation is achieved by prefixing na'e (of selma'o NAhE), or any of the other cmavo of NAhE, to the BAI cmavo.

Example 88
le spati cu banro na'emu'i le nu do djacu dunda fi le spati
The plant grows other-than-motivated-by the event-of you water-give to the plant.

Example 88 says that the relationship between the plant's growth and your watering it is not one of motivation: the plant is not motivated to grow, as plants are not something which can have motivation as a rule. Implicitly, some other relationship between watering and growth exists, but Example 88 doesn't say what it is (presumably ri'a).

Note: Modals made with fi'o plus a selbri cannot be negated directly. The selbri can itself be negated either with contradictory or with scalar negation, however.

Sticky modals

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
KI|stickiness flag

Like tenses, modals can be made persistent from the bridi in which they appear to all following bridi. The effect of this “stickiness” is to make the modal, along with its following sumti, act as if it appeared in every successive bridi. Stickiness is put into effect by following the modal (but not any following sumti) with the cmavo ki of selma'o KI. For example,

Example 89
mi tavla bau la lojban. bai ki tu'a la frank. .ibabo mi tavla bau la gliban.
I speak in-language Lojban compelled-by some-property-of Frank. Afterward, I speak in-language English.

means the same as:

Example 90
mi tavla bau la lojban. bai tu'a la frank. .ibabo mi tavla bau la gliban. bai tu'a la frank.
I speak in-language Lojban compelled-by some-property-of Frank. Afterward, I speak in-language English compelled-by some-property-of Frank.

In Example 89, bai is made sticky, and so Frank's compelling is made applicable to every following bridi. bau is not sticky, and so the language may vary from bridi to bridi, and if not specified in a particular bridi, no assumption can safely be made about its value.

To cancel stickiness, use the form :BAI ki ku, which stops any modal value for the specified BAI from being passed to the next bridi. To cancel stickiness for all modals simultaneously, and also for any sticky tenses that exist ( ki is used for both modals and tenses), use ki by itself, either before the selbri or (in the form :ki ku) anywhere in the bridi:

Example 91
mi ki tavla
I speak (no implication about language or compulsion).

Note: Modals made with fi'o-plus-selbri cannot be made sticky. This is an unfortunate, but unavoidable, restriction.

Logical and non-logical connection of modals

Logical and non-logical connectives are explained in detail in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. For the purposes of this chapter, it suffices to point out that a logical (or non-logical) connection between two bridi which differ only in a modal can be reduced to a single bridi with a connective between the modals. As a result, Example 92 and Example 93 mean the same thing:

Example 92
la frank. bajra seka'a le zdani .ije la frank. bajra teka'a le zdani
Frank runs with-destination the house. And Frank runs with-origin the house.
Frank runs to the house, and Frank runs from the house.

Example 93
la frank. bajra seka'a je teka'a le zdani
Frank runs with-destination and with-origin the house.
Frank runs to and from the house.

Neither example implies whether a single act, or two acts, of running is referred to. To compel the sentence to refer to a single act of running, you can use the form:

Example 94
la frank. bajra seka'a le zdani ce'e teka'a le zdani
Frank runs with-destination the house [joined-to] with-origin the-house.

The cmavo ce'e creates a termset containing two terms (termsets are explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch and Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch). When a termset contains more than one modal tag derived from a single BAI, the convention is that the two tags are derived from a common event.

CV'V cmavo of selma'o BAI with irregular forms

There are 65 cmavo of selma'o BAI, of which all but one ( do'e, discussed in Section 1.5), are derived directly from selected gismu. Of these 64 cmavo, 36 are entirely regular and have the form CV'V, where C is the first consonant of the corresponding gismu, and the Vs are the two vowels of the gismu. The remaining BAI cmavo, which are irregular in one way or another, are listed in the table below. The table is divided into sub-tables according to the nature of the exception; some cmavo appear in more than one sub-table, and are so noted.

cmavo gismu comments
Monosyllables of the form CVV:
bai bapli
bau bangu
cau claxu
fau fasnu
gau gasnu
kai ckaji uses 2nd consonant of gismu
mau zmadu uses 2nd consonant of gismu
koi korbi
rai traji uses 2nd consonant of gismu
sau sarcu
tai tamsmi based on lujvo, not gismu
zau zanru
Second consonant of the gismu as the C:
(the gismu is always of the form CCVCV)
ga'a zgana
kai ckaji has CVV form (monosyllable)
ki'i ckini
la'u klani has irregular 2nd V
le'a klesi has irregular 2nd V
mau zmadu has CVV form (monosyllable)
me'e cmene
ra'a srana
ra'i krasi
rai traji has CVV form (monosyllable)
ti'i stidi
tu'i stuzi
Irregular 2nd V:
fi'e finti
la'u klani uses 2nd consonant of gismu
le'a klesi uses 2nd consonant of gismu
ma'e marji
mu'u mupli
ti'u tcika
va'o vanbi
Special cases:
ri'i lifri uses 3rd consonant of gismu
tai tamsmi based on lujvo, not gismu
va'u xamgu CV'V cmavo can’t begin with “x”

Complete table of BAI cmavo with rough English equivalents

The following table shows all the cmavo belonging to selma'o BAI, and has five columns. The first column is the cmavo itself; the second column is the gismu linked to it. The third column gives an English phrase which indicates the meaning of the cmavo; and the fourth column indicates its meaning when preceded by se.

For those cmavo with meaningful te, ve, and even xe conversions (depending on the number of places of the underlying gismu), the meanings of these are shown on one or two extra columns following the meaning column for that cmavo.

It should be emphasized that the place structures of the gismu control the meanings of the BAI cmavo. The English phrases shown here are only suggestive, and are often too broad or too narrow to correctly specify what the acceptable range of uses for the modal tag are.

cmavo selma'o subclass meaning
ba'i basti replaced by instead of
bai bapli compelled by compelling
bau bangu in language in language of
be'i benji sent by transmitting te=sent to ve=with transmit origin xe=transmitted via
ca'i catni by authority of with authority over
cau claxu lacked by without
ci'e ciste in system with system function te=of system components
ci'o cinmo felt by feeling emotion
ci'u ckilu on the scale on scale measuring
cu'u cusku as said by expressing te=as told to ve=expressed in medium
de'i detri dated on the same date as
di'o diklo at the locus of at specific locus
do'e ----- vaguely related to
du'i dunli as much as equal to
du'o djuno according to knowing facts te=knowing about ve=under epistemology
fa'e fatne reverse of in reversal of
fau fasnu in the event of
fi'e finti created by creating work te=created for purpose
ga'a zgana to observer observing te=observed by means ve=observed under conditions
gau gasnu with agent as agent in doing
ja'e jalge resulting in results because of
ja'i javni by rule by rule prescribing
ji'e jimte up to limit as a limit of
ji'o jitro under direction controlling
ji'u jicmu based on supporting
ka'a klama gone to by with destination te=with origin ve=via route xe=by transport mode
ka'i krati represented by on behalf of
kai ckaji characterizing with property
ki'i ckini as relation of related to te=with relation
ki'u krinu justified by with justified result
koi korbi bounded by as boundary of te=bordering
ku'u kulnu in culture in culture of
la'u klani as quantity of in quantity
le'a klesi in category as category of te=defined by quality
li'e lidne led by leading
ma'e marji of material made from material te=in material form of
ma'i manri in reference frame as a standard for
mau zmadu exceeded by more than
me'a mleca undercut by less than
me'e cmene with name as a name for te=as a name to
mu'i mukti motivated by motive therefore
mu'u mupli exemplified by as an example of
ni'i nibli entailed by entails
pa'a panra in addition to similar to te=similar in pattern ve=similar by standard
pa'u pagbu with component as a part of
pi'o pilno used by using tool
po'i porsi in the sequence sequenced by rule
pu'a pluka pleased by in order to please
pu'e pruce by process processing from te=processing into ve=passing through stages
ra'a srana pertained to by concerning
ra'i krasi from source as an origin of
rai traji with superlative superlative in te=at extreme ve=superlative among
ri'a rinka caused by causing
ri'i lifri experienced by experiencing
sau sarcu requiring necessarily for te=necessarily under conditions
si'u sidju aided by assisting in
ta'i tadji by method as a method for
tai tamsmi as a form of in form te=in form similar to
ti'i stidi suggested by suggesting te=suggested to
ti'u tcika with time at the time of
tu'i stuzi with site as location of
va'o vanbi under conditions as conditions for
va'u xamgu benefiting from with beneficiary
zau zanru approved by approving
zu'e zukte with actor with means to goal te=with goal

The lujvo tamsmi on which tai is based is derived from the tanru tarmi simsa and has the place structure:

tamsmi = x1 has form x2, similar in form to x3 in property/quality x4

This lujvo is employed because tarmi does not have a place structure useful for the modal's purpose.