Whichth hour is it?

In Esperanto this is how you’d say it’s 3 o’clock:

  • Estas la tria (horo)

Which is literally:

  • It’s the third (hour)

Which I think is nice and simple.

The little interesting thing today, is in asking the question “what time is it?”

  • Kioma horo estas? = What time is it?

Specifically “kioma” is the cool bit. It comes from “kiom” which is a correlative word (see previous post), meaning “how much/many”. I just like the simplicity of why the “a” is there:

I think the PMEG’s explanation is pretty neat:

You use “kiom” to ask for:

  • Unu, du, tri… = One, two, three…

And you use “kioma” to ask for:

  • Unua, dua, tria… = First, second, third…
So “kioma horo estas” is like “which-th (or even “how many-th”) hour is it?”, to which you reply with “the fourth”! 😀

I just found why “which-th” was so natural to my brain. I had indeed read it before. Check out this page of “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”. It has a neat little sentence that is ambiguous in English:

  • Which of his sons are you?

Is the answer “the third” or “charles”?

But in Esperanto “kioma” asks for “whichth” (the third): which one are you in order?

And “kiu” asks for “which” (charles): which son are you?


6 thoughts on “Whichth hour is it?

  1. Thank you! Just started learning Esperanto recently, and already hit (and got confused by) “kioma”. Excellently explained as well by the example of the “which of his sons are you?” question. Dankon!

  2. Thanks for this, really helpful. I always get a little confused by “kioma”, thinking it’s a new correlative and forgetting it’s “kiom” in disguise. I need to think of it as “which-th” as you suggest or “which-a”.

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