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Regarding the use of tio (and other t-words), these two following sources appear to be in contradiction.

According to PMEG, p245:

Simpla TI-vorto ĉiam montras ion ne tute proksiman al la parolanto. TI- vorto + ĉi montras ion proksiman al la parolanto...

While according to Being Colloquial in Esperanto, 10.3:

The series in T- (corresponding to English “th” words like “this,” “that,” “there,” “then”) is a general demonstrative, meaning both “this” and “that.”

Hence my question. Is one of these wrong? Or am I misunderstanding something, and these two sources can be reconciled?

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I see this question a lot in Duolingo. My advice there, since the responses are checked by computer, is to always use "this" when you see ĉi tiu and "that" when it's just tiu. In practice, though, the distinction isn't that hard and fast.

The trouble is not Esperanto. It's English. The word ĉi is used to indicate closeness to the speaker. You really only need it if there's a contrast. If there are two things, the closer one with have ĉi.

In English, there's no real difference between pointing at something and asking "what is this?" and pointing the same way at the same thing asking "what is that?"

This/that is why the Jordan quote doesn't contradict the PMEG quote.

  • Interestingly there is no difference in asking "what is this" and "what is that" in Chinese or Japanese as well, without another object to compare the distance. I think I get the point: Jordan meant both these two words would mean the same thing in english, not tiu could mean both near and far. Thanks for the answer. – Zuoanqh May 24 '18 at 0:47
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I don't think these two sources are in contradiction. Imagine you're holding an apple in each of your hands and say: this apple is good but this [other] is bad. Both apples are equally near. In Esperanto, you could say: tiu pomo estas bona sed ĉi tiu estas malbona. The second apple with ĉi tiu does not imply that it is closer than the first one. In this case it's only a way to make a clear distinction between the two.

Simpla TI-vorto ĉiam montras ion ne tute proksiman. How close is something that is not completely close? I think it depends on the context and the intention of the speaker/writer. That's why this is not always ĉi tiu or ĉi tio, but simply tiu or tio.

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