There was a time when I said something like

Mi havis monadon kiel dorlotbesto, kiam mi havas 12 jarojn.

But then someone corrected me, saying that it should be havis, instead, and showed me a corroborating page from the PMEG (I do not have it at the moment). Should verbs in some subordinate clauses not be relative? I remember that the page mentions some ki-vortoj like "kiam", "kie", "kiel", and a couple more, but, if I remember correctly, not "ke", "kiu", or "kio". What is the rule here, for relativity of tense?

  • 1
    Verŝajne vi volas diri: mi havis monadon kiel dorlotbestoN. Jen klarigo. Jan 2, 2020 at 14:37
  • @EduardoTrápani Ne, estu sen akuzativo, ĉar la komparo per kiel priskribas trajton de monado. La frazo ne estas mallongigo por “Mi havis monadon, kiel mi havis dorlotbeston”, sed la signifo estas: “Mi havis monadon, kiu rolis kiel dorlotbesto”. Komparu kun ĉi tia konstruo: “Tie oni verŝas vinon kiel vinagro”. La vorto “vinagro” priskribas la kvaliton de la vino (la vino estas acida); se vi dirus “Tie oni verŝas vinon kiel vinagron”, tiam la signifo estus “Tie oni verŝas vinon en la sama maniero kiel oni verŝas vinagron”. Tio tute ne estas la celata signifo. Jan 3, 2020 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Joffysloffy Tio estas Interesa... Eĉ se, laŭ mi, ankaŭ malĝusta. Mi pensis ke tio meritis apartan demandon, kaj mi ĝin faris. Jan 6, 2020 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


I think you are confusing this with the rule of tenses for direct and indirect speech. Normally, with a subordinate clause, the tense should just be as it would be in a normal sentence: In your example kiam refers to a time in the past, so the predicate (havis) should be in the past tense.

The thing with direct and indirect speech is that in Esperanto the tense of indirect speech should be the same as in direct speech, whereas in English this is not the case:

I said: “I want a turtle”.
I said, that I wanted a turtle.

But in Esperanto:

Mi diris: “Mi volas havi testudon”.
Mi diris, ke mi volas havi testudon.

By the way, monado is not an animal, but some kind of philosophical term.

  • 1
    Oh, sorry. In context, "monad" has become a sort of in-joke amongst us mathematical Esperantists, for being such a supposedly malfacile komprenebla "creature" in mathematics. Dec 31, 2019 at 14:57
  • 1
    That was me haha. It was this sentence: “La aĵo kunpuŝiĝis kun la alia aĵo, kio igas ĝin pensi pri vivo.” To be honest, I did not pay attention to the tenses, but this just shows a difference in time between the two situations: the kunpuŝiĝo is in the past from the perspective of the reader, whilst the igas is in the present. That is actually weird, and should just be igis. Normally you just express the order of events by words as antaŭ ol or post kiam, or dum, etc. but I don't remember ever explicitly writing the tense of a subordinate clause relative to that of the main clause. Dec 31, 2019 at 15:17
  • 1
    I cannot actually find this in PMEG. And in another Dutch highly esteemed reference book I cannot find it either. So I reckon it is not really a thing and you just use simple tenses relative to the current situation from where you are describing it. It only happens when you use -e-participles: Mi havis mondadon, havante 12 jarojn; if you used havinte, then you would have a monad after you were 12 years old, not during. Dec 31, 2019 at 15:18
  • 1
    Then I suppose that the rule is that relativity only applies in cases of indirect speech (e.g. "li diris, ke ...", "ĝi montris, ke ..."). Dec 31, 2019 at 15:22
  • 1
    Exactly, it is only ever an issue with indirect speech (and -e-participles). Dec 31, 2019 at 15:23

That someone was right. This explains how it works and you will notice that the tenses are the same, on both sides of kiam.

Another way to see it, in sentences like yours you should also be able to turn the two parts around:

kiam mi estis en la urbo, mi aĉetis novan robon. 

mi aĉetis novan robon kiam mi estis en la urbo. 

but you cannot do that for:

Mi havis monadon kiel dorlotbesto, kiam mi havas 12 jarojn.

Kiam mi havas 12 jarojn. Mi havis monadon kiel dorlotbesto.

Or you can think about the ommited tiam in the sentence, and the need for the pair kiam/tiam to share the same tense:

kiam mi estis en la urbo, (tiam) mi aĉetis novan robon. 

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.