Some more personal pro-sumti

We've already seen two personal pro-sumti, mi and do, meaning 'I' (or 'me') and 'you'. However, you in English can mean four different things:

  1. The one person I'm talking to.

  2. A number of people I'm talking to.

  3. The person or people I'm talking to and some other person or people.

  4. Anyone (as in "Money can't buy you love.")

Lojban gets round the confusion between (1) and (2) by using numbers. The most common way to express (2) is rodo, 'all of you' (or Southern U.S. Y'all) and, as we've seen, coi rodo is "Hello all" — a common way to start an e-mail to a list. You can also use specific numbers: redo would mean 'two of you' or 'you two' (for example, I start e-mails to my parents with coi redo.)

Tip: To say "the two of you", Lojban does actually let you say le re do. But you need the numeral to be there already, in order to put an article in front of a pro-sumti: you can't say le do to mean 'you'.

You can also use numbers with ko, e.g. ro ko klama ti "All of you, get over here."

Case (3) is expressed by do'o 'you and someone else'. Case (4) is completely different: it's normally expressed by roda 'all x' or, more specifically ro le prenu 'all persons', but often you can just miss it out altogether.

English we is almost as confusing, as it can mean the speaker and the listener(s), the speaker and some other people, or the speaker and the listener and some other people. Not surprisingly, Lojban has four distinct pro-sumti for we:


you and I (but no-one else)


I and another/others (but not you)


you and I and another/others

(Once again, Lojban follows the lead of languages other than English in differentiating between these different kinds of we.)

The fourth pro-sumti? Oddly enough, it's mi! Lojban makes no distinction bewteen singular and plural; so if several people are speaking all together, mi (which refers to the one or more speakers) is perfectly correct for we. In practice, you'll usually get mi used like that when one person is presuming to speak (or more often, to write) on behalf of others.

Some examples:

mi prami do
I love you.

mi'a penmi do ti'u la cicac.
We'll meet you at three o'clock.

ma'a remna
We are all human.

mi djica lenu do cliva
We want you to go away.

Exercise 5

Is we/us in the following mi'o, mi'a, ma'a, or mi?

  1. We need to start seeing other people.

  2. We the people hold these truths to be self-evident.

  3. We decided to expel you from the association.

  4. You can't talk to us that way!

  5. We're in a fine mess, all of us, aren't we?

  6. They told us we should get married, and you said "OK."

  7. They told us we should get married, and he said "OK."