I once went to the park with a friend in order to eat badgers with spoons, but the people there got very angry with us because of it.
… Notice that I used the word “with” three times in the above sentence. But each time I did so, its meaning was distinctly different. This may not be very difficult for a fluent English speaker, but it does seem a bit much. Plus, it’s needless ambiguity! If you’re English, the last “with” will probably seem most likely to mean that the people were angry at my friend and I. But why doesn’t the “with” mean the same as it does in the first instance? In other words, why doesn’t it mean that the people got angry at the same time (or at the same thing) as my friend and I? Because they got angry with us!
Same with the second example, why aren’t we eating badgers that are together with spoons? Instead we are using the spoons to eat the badgers.
So what does Esperanto do about this? Three different words!
- Kun = “with” in the sense of being together with something.
- Per = “with” or “by means of”, eat badgers by means of spoons.
- Kontraŭ = “with” or “against”. Think of it as being angry against someone, rather than together with them.