Languages > Esperanto > Lesson 7: One Table to Rule Them All

Lesson 7: One Table to Rule Them All
The Correlatives and Questions

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to ask questions, answer questions, and generally use the correlatives. After this, you will finally be ready to perform dialogues!

In Esperanto, you will find that learning these words is extremely easy as long as you remember the individual pieces, and it will open up a lot of possibility in your speech.

To use a correlative from the table, we must choose both a prefix and a suffix that come together to create a word. That word is a combination of the meanings of the respective pieces. Take a look at the table, and try to understand it. We will explain it in more detail after.

Interrogative Demonstrative Indefinite Universal Negative
What That Some Each, Every No
ki- ti- i- ĉi- neni-
Kind of, Sort of -a kia (what kind of, what a) tia (that kind of, such a) ia (some kind of) ĉia (every kind of) nenia (no kind of)
Reason -al kial (why) tial (therefore) ial (for some reason) ĉial (for all reasons) nenial (for no reason)
Time -am kiam (when) tiam (then) iam (at some time, once) ĉiam (always) neniam (never)
Location -e kie (where) tie (there) ie (somewhere) ĉie (everywhere) nenie (nowhere)
Location + Motion -en kien ([to] where, whither) tien ([to] there, thither) ien ([to] somewhere) ĉien ([to] everywhere) nenien ([to] nowhere)
Manner -el kiel (how, as, like, in what way) tiel (thus, as, so) iel (somehow) ĉiel (in every way) neniel (no-how, in no way)
Possessive -es kies (whose) ties (its, that one's) ies (someone's) ĉies (everyone's) nenies (no one's)
Demonstrative Pronoun -o kio (what) tio (that) io (something) ĉio (everything) nenio (nothing)
Amount -om kiom (how much/many) tiom (that much/many) iom (some, a little, a bit) ĉiom (all) neniom (none)
Demonstrative Determiner -u kiu (who, which one, which X) tiu (that one, that X) iu (someone, a certain X, some X) ĉiu (everyone, each X, all Xs) neniu (no one, no X)

That’s a lot of information! But don’t worry, it’s very simple to use.

Asking a question

There are two ways to ask a question in Esperanto. The simplest one is asking a yes or no question, and the other is using the correlatives of the “ki-” prefix.

It's a simple yes or no question

In English, we usually have to change the order of our words to pose a question rather than a statement: “You are a genius.” >> “Are you a genius?”. Notice how “are” and “you” changed places.

Esperanto instead uses an extra word that indicates a yes/no question. Simply adding “ĉu” to the beginning of your sentence will change it into a yes/no question rather than a statement.

See how it changes these examples:

Esperanto English Esperanto? English?
Vi estas mia amiko
You are my friend Ĉu vi estas mia amiko?
Are you my friend?
Hundoj ne ŝatas lakton
Dogs don't like milk Ĉu hundoj ne ŝatas lakton?
Do dogs not like milk?
Vi volas danci
You want to dance Ĉu vi volas danci?
Do you want to dance?

There are two ways to respond to this type of question in Esperanto - "jes" (yes), and "ne" (no). When answering a question that takes the form of a negative, be very careful with how you answer. Esperanto allows both logical and agreeing answers to a yes/no question. English uses an agreeing response. Let's see what this means with some examples:

Demando Tipo Respondo
Ĉu vi ne ŝatas birdojn? Western (agreeing) Ne (mi ne ŝatas birdojn)
Jes (mi ŝatas birdojn)
Ĉu vi ne ŝatas birdojn? Eastern (logical) Ne (mi ŝatas birdojn)
Jes (mi ne ŝatas birdojn)

More important than which response you use is to always be clear with what you mean; you might want to include a full statement that specifies your response.

What if it's more complicated than that?

For questions that are more complicated, or where you need a specific piece of information, you will have to use a correlative. The Interrogative column allows us to interrogate, or ask a question about a specific quality. Here’s how you can use it to construct a sentence.

English Quality Esperanto Pieces Esperanto Esperanto 2
When will you go? Time (ki + am) vi iros Kiam vi iros?
Vi iros kiam?
Where are you going? Location + Motion (ki + en) vi iras Kien vi iras?
Vi iras kien?
Who ate it? Demonstrative Determiner (ki + u) manĝis ĝin Kiu manĝis ĝin?
Manĝis ĝin kiu?
How much did she eat? Amount (ki + om) ŝi manĝis Kiom ŝi manĝis?
Ŝi manĝis kiom?
How did you know? Manner (ki + el) vi sciis Kiel vi sciis?
Vi sciis kiel?
What kind of pie do you like? Kind of (ki + a + j + n) tortojn vi ŝatas Kiajn tortojn vi ŝatas?
Vi ŝatas kiajn tortojn?

Similar to other rules of Esperanto, these question words can appear at any point in the sentence. Though, the beginning or end of the sentence is most common.

Some of these words should be used in certain ways, as we will explain below.

The “-a” suffix

Remember how adjectives in Esperanto end in “-a”. It’s no coincidence that the “Kind of, Sort of” correlatives also end in “-a”. It’s because these correlative words are also adjectives, and should be used in the same manner.

Like adjectives, the correlatives “tia”, “kia”, “ia”, etc. should be near the noun that they’re describing, and also match the plurality (“-j”) and accusative (“-n”). That’s pretty neat!

The “-o” suffix

Do you also remember how nouns use the “-o” suffix? The correlatives that end in “-o” are exactly that, nouns! This means that they should use the “-n” suffix if they are the direct object of the verb.

The “-om” suffix

This one refers to quantity. We can add “da ” after a quantity qualifier to express an amount of some noun. When using a noun with “da”, it should never take the accusative case (never use “-n”). We will revisit this rule when we talk about prepositions in a later lesson.

Esperanto English
Kiom da flugiloj havas birdo?
How many wings does a bird have?
Tero havas tiom da lunoj
Earth has that many moons

This and That

The “ti-” prefix is a great way to specify exactly what you’re talking about, such as “tio” (that), “tiam” (then), and “tie” (there). But in English we also have ways to specify proximity. “That” usually refers to objects away from the speaker, while“this” refers to objects near the speaker.

Esperanto can represent this proximity by placing the word “ĉi” on either side of “ti-”. The meaning is only apparent for some of the “ti-” correlatives, and for others its use is very rare, but sometimes fun to think about.

Look at these examples:

Esperanto English Esperanto English
Mi ŝatas tion
I like that Mi ŝatas ĉi tion
I like this
Mi vizitis tie
I visited there Mi vizitis ĉi tie
I visited here
Mi diris ĝin tiam
I said it then Mi diras ĝin tiam ĉi**
I am saying it now

**Notice in the last example how our verb tense had to change to accommodate the shift in time. We can’t say “Mi diris ĝin tiam ĉi” (I said it now) because that would be mixing two different temporal (time) periods in the same statement.

Ĉi tiam or nun?

There’s a more concise word that means “now”, which is “nun”. “Nun” can be interchanged with “ĉi tiam” / “tiam ĉi”, and is commonly preferred. From the example above, we can instead say “mi diras ĝin nun”.

Isn't that amazing!?

Don’t worry if you didn’t take it all in. These concepts will be seen thousands of times throughout your experience with the language, so you will get a lot of practice with them. If you ever feel lost, just take a look at the cheat-sheet to see the table of correlatives again.

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ĉi tie
ĉi tio
ĉi tiu
this (one)
each X, everyone
to dance, to danci
sometime, at some time
a certain X, some X, someone
how many, how much
which one, who, which X
with difficulty
no one
curious, inquisitive
to wonder
that many, that much
that X, that one, that (one)
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Who drank my milk? trink mian lakton?
Where are you going? vi ir?
Am I pretty? mi estas bel?
Nobody understands me komprenas.
What are you doing? vi far?
I always come here mi venas ĉi tie.
Why is the sky not green? la ĉielo estas verda.
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