The correlatives are the bete noir of many English-speaking students of Esperanto; they never seem to get them right. This is, in my opinion, a simple lack of diligence on their part; even memorizing the fifty words separately should take no more than the better part of an evening. Given that these words make up approximately ten percent of all text in Esperanto, that might be worth doing.
K- A question word. Any correlative starting with K- asks a question, and corresponds to the English "which". EXAMPLE Kiu scias, kia malbono sin kaŝas en la homa kor'? = Who knows what (sort of) evil lurks in the hearts of men?As in English, Latin, etc., the question correlatives are also used to join together two parts of a sentence -- hence the term correlatives.
EXAMPLES Mi ne scias, kiam li alvenos = I don't know when he's going to arrive. Nu, li alvenos, kiam li alvenos = Well, he'll arrive when he arrives.
T- A specific answer. This word points to a certain specified response, and corresponds to the English "that."The T- words are generally taken to point to something at an indeterminate distance from the viewer. The particle ĉi can be added to give a feeling of proximity to the speaker; the particle for can also be added (though this is less often done) to show distance from the speaker. Traditionally, ĉi is usually placed immediately before the T- word to which it is attached; often, it is placed immediately after. This is not, however, absolutely necessary.
EXAMPLES tiu libro = that book ĉi tiu libro = this book (most common usage). tiu ĉi libro = this book tiu libro ĉi = this book (unusual usage) tiu libro for = yonder book tiam = then ĉi tiam = now (synonym ofEnglish expressions such as "here and there" are usually not shown by contrasting two different correlative pointers (*ĉi tie kaj tie) but by repetition of the same correlative (tie kaj tie), given that the basic correlative pointers are of indeterminate position.
) tiam ĉi = now tiam for = distant in time (uncommon usage)
- An indefinite answer. An omitted beginning corresponds to the English "some" or "any."A correlative of this type is usually taken to refer to a situation which as selected is unknown or unspecified instead of one in which it is unimportant ("some" instead of "any"). The latter situation can be emphasized by adding the particle ajn, usually after the correlative.
EXAMPLES Mi amas iun virinon = I love a (unspecified) woman. Mi amas iun ajn virinon = I love any woman whatever. Li loĝas ie = He lives somewhere (location unknown). Li loĝas ie ajn = He lives anywhere at all.
Ĉ- An all-encompassing or universal answer. This beginning corresponds to the English "every."
NEN- A negative answer. This beginning says that you either don't know or that there is no answer. It corresponds to the English "no."
-U For selecting an individual out of a group. Words in this group correspond to the English "who" or "which" and their respective answers.KIU can mean either who or which. If it is associated with a noun, it means "which"; if it stands alone, you can assume that the noun persono = person is understood: kiu [persono] = which [person] = who. Similar remarks apply to the other -U correlatives.
The -U words, as well as the -O and -A words can all take the -J and -N endings.
-O For naming a thing. Words in this group correspond to the English "what" and its respective answers. As the -O indicates, the answer should always be a noun.While the -O correlatives can take the -J ending, this is rare, as they usually refer to something not specified and therefore taken as singular.
-A For describing something. Words in this group correspond to the English "what kind of" and its respective answers. The -A will help you recognize the need to answer with an adjective.
-E For pointing out a location. Words in this group correspond to the English "where" and its respective answers.Answers should always be adverbs or adverbial phrases of location (though in the latter, the required preposition may be omitted as understood, as in: Kie li loĝas? [En] Londono. = Where does he live? [In] London.).
-EN For describing motion to a location. Words in this group correspond to the archaic English "whither".Actually, this form does not need to be included separately, since it follows automatically from the -E words by application of Rule 13 (see above). I have included it for completeness. There is no corresponding one-word equivalent for "whence".
-AM For defining time. Words in this group correspond to the English "when."
-OM For describing quantities and measurements. Words in this group correspond to the English "how much" (e.g. water) or "how many" (e.g. books).The -OM words are adverbs. That means that, when used as measures, they can't directly go with the name of the stuff being measured (a noun), but must take an intermediary word: the little preposition of measurement da, as in kiom da akvo = how much [of] water.
-EL For describing manner. Words in this group correspond to the English "how."The -EL words, which are also adverbs (obviously!), can be used to modify adjectives, showing an intensification of the quality defined by the adjective: kiel bela ŝi estas = how beautiful she is. Technically, you could also use the -OM words in this way, too: kiom bela ŝi estas = how beautiful she is. The difference would be a qualitative versus quantitative distinction (kiel bela ŝi estas -- like a rose rather than a Ferrari, versus kiom bela ŝi estas -- much more so than her sister). Most Esperantists, however, use the -EL words for all such distinctions.
-AL For describing reason. Words in this group correspond to the English "why."
-ES For describing possession. Words in this group correspond to the English "whose."
Correlatives are formed by tying one beginning and one ending to a linking vowel -I-. For instance:
Someone has just asked you how you intend to get to your mother-in-law's house for her sixtieth birthday party. You don't intend to go at all. Your answer being negative, you will use the beginning NEN-; and since the question asked was "how" (KIEL) you use the appropriate ending -EL. Hooking these to the linking vowel -I-, you answer, forcefully: "NENIEL!" (No way, José!)
Question Pointer Indefinite Universal Negative Individual KIU TIU IU ĈIU NENIU who,which that one some(one) every(one) no one, none Thing KIO TIO IO ĈIO NENIO what that thing something everything nothing Kind KIA TIA IA ĈIA NENIA what kind that kind some kind every kind no kind of of of of of Place KIE TIE IE ĈIE NENIE where there somewhere everywhere nowhere Motion KIEN TIEN IEN ĈIEN NENIEN where to there somewhere everywhere nowhere Time KIAM TIAM IAM ĈIAM NENIAM when then sometime always never Amount KIOM TIOM IOM ĈIOM NENIOM how much, so much, some all no amount how many so many Manner KIEL TIEL IEL ĈIEL NENIEL how so somehow in every in no way way Reason KIAL TIAL IAL ĈIAL NENIAL why so for some for every for no reason reason reason Possession KIES TIES IES ĈIES NENIES whose that one's somebody's everybody's nobody's