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Perhaps because these concepts are so chaotically handled in most languages, I have never met anyone who could tell me what a “correlative” was outside the context of Esperanto grammar. In Esperanto, however, a correlative is a word made from the following table. Correlatives do an enormous amount of the grammatical grunt work.
Thus tiom means “that quantity”; kiam means “what time”; nenie means “no place”; ĉiom means “all of it”; and so on.
The following chart gives essentially the same information displayed in a slightly different format:
|tiu = this/that (one)||kiu = which (one), who(m)||ĉiu = each (one)||iu = some /any (one)||neniu = no (one)|
|tio = this/that||kio = which-/what||ĉio = every¬thing||io = some¬thing, any¬thing||nenio = nothing|
|tia = this/that kind of||kia = what kind of||ĉia = every kind of||ia = some /any kind of||nenia = no kind of|
|tie = there||kie = where||ĉie = everywhere||ie = somewhere, anywhere||nenie = nowhere|
|-AL||tial = for this/that reason; therefore||kial = for which /what reason; why||ĉial = for every reason||ial = for some/any reason||nenial = for no reason|
|-EL||tiel = in this/that way; thus||kiel = in what way; how||ĉiel = in every way||iel = in some/any way||neniel = in no way|
|-AM||tiam = then, at this/that time; then||kiam = at which/what time; when||ĉiam = at all times; always||iam = sometime, any time||neniam = never|
|-OM||tiom = this /that amount||kiom = which/what amount; how much||ĉiom = all, all of it||iom = some /any amount of it; somewhat||neniom = no amount, none, none of it|
|-ES||ties = that one’s||kies = whose||ĉies = everyone’s||ies = someone’s, anyone’s||nenies = no one’s|
Note that correlatives in -o do not distinguish singular and plural. The usual referent of such correlatives is (1) an unspecific “thing” or (2) the general situation already known to the listener. In context, English translations are usually “that,” “all this,” “the above,” “such matters,” and the like. Reference to a specific person, thing, or phenomenon is made with the -u forms.
*-This corresponds etymologically to the QU- and CU- of Latin, French or Spanish words like que, quel, cual, qui, quand, cuando, and the like, but note that the French and Spanish que has a huge range of usages corresponding to much more specific Esperanto words.
The series in K-* serves both (1) to form questions and (2) to create expressions to attach relative clauses to main clauses:
Caution: In English (but not in Esperanto) some expressions can be relatives rather than interrogatives because of the word order or the use of “do.” “Where do you live?” and “… where you live” are quite different for us. But in Esperanto kie loĝas vi (or kie vi loĝas) does both jobs.
For more about the way this works, see the section on “Forms in T-K and Ĉ-K” below.
Kiel tends to get especially heavy use among the correlatives. It often means “in what manner” (“how”), but tends to be used in questions to mean “to what degree” (“how much”) (where it overlaps with kiom in actual practice)
Kiel is also used roughly like English “as” or “like” (where it overlaps with kvazaŭ):
The series in T- (corresponding to English “th” words like “this,” “that,” “there,” “then”) is a general demonstrative, meaning both “this” and “that.” How can one distinguish “this” from “that”? One way to distinguish them is the use of the little word ĉi, placed before or after the correlative. Using ĉi marks closeness to the speaker, and it does this very clearly and vividly. Its absence does not necessarily mark great distance, but simply fails to emphasize closeness. Sometimes forms without ĉi are also best translated “this”:
Used with a Ĉ- correlative, ĉi approximates such English expressions as “all this,” “all this time,” and so on:
The same ĉi, by the way, is occasionally used in connection with other words than T- or Ĉ- correlatives, usually as a prefix and usually hyphenated:
Most Esperantists regard use of ĉi directly with a noun as jarring:
Even as ĉi modifies T- words to stress closeness, converting “that” to “this,” so, similarly, the word ajn modifies words in the I- series (iu, iel, iam, iom, and so on) to specify “any” as against “some.” Ajn is often translatable as “whatever” or “at all.” (Nothing, in theory, prevents its use with other forms, as some of the following examples show.)
Correlatives ending in -om refer to quantity. Although an -om form often functions as the subject or object of a sentence, and is therefore noun-like, it does not require -n to show the accusative case.
Nevertheless many speakers regard the -om series words as also adverbs, which can modify adjectives and other adverbs:
The use of-om words to modify adjectives is not universally approved. Those who favor the usage (including me) argue that it serves to make the following kind of distinction clearly:
Those who oppose the use of kiom with adjectives correctly argue that very few speakers in fact make such a distinction, so that kiel has to be understood as assuming either meaning by context anyway, and that, because the use of kiom is so rare, it is jarring when it does occur. As time passes, it seems ever less jarring, however.
Kioma, made of the correlative kiom plus the adjective suffix -a, would correspond to the English “whichth,” except that there is no English “whichth.” In other words, Kioma asks the question to which the answer is first, second, third, and so on. Consider the following:
The English question is ambiguous as to which of the two kinds of answers is sought. There is no such ambiguity in Esperanto.
The most common use of kioma, by far, is for telling time:
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