Hello Duolingo-folk, 4+ years after I wrote this!  Let me know if you need further clarification in the comments below.

A bunch of uses of a neat little word today: ĉe

It mostly means “at” in the sense of showing close proximity. Though it can sometimes be translated as “with”, check this old post in order to not confuse it with the other words that can be translated as “with”.

It’s quite a versatile little word, without much changing its meaning. Mostly because “proximity” covers a variety of meanings.

Note that “apud” means “near”, but “ĉe” is much nearer (as you would expect from “at”), so don’t confuse them. “Apud” also often carries the meaning of being to the side of something (ĉe does not).

Ĉe” allows you to point to a place without having to be precise about exact location.

Time for some examples!

  • Ĉe la angulo de la ĉambro, mi vidis melon = At the corner of the room, I saw a badger.

Notice how it shows that the badger was somewhere about the corner of the room, but it doesn’t necessarily imply the the badger is pushed up against the corner touching it. Note that we might say “in” instead of “at” in English, which I think is funny since you can’t actually be inside the corner, since it’s just a meeting of walls and floor!

The location that something is proximal to, doesn’t have to be geographical, just as in English when we say things like “at the back of your head” or “at the end of your toe”. The place can even be just the title of the place “I work at (ĉe) the university”.

Similarly, it can refer to a location in time too:

  • Mi iros hejmen ĉe la fino de la tago = I will go home at the end of the day.

But don’t use it to refer to hours in time, e.g. “at four o’clock”, there’s a different system for expressing actual clock time.

This is interesting:

  • Ĉe melo la ĉaso neniam finiĝas = With a badger, the hunt never ends.

This broadens “ĉe” to be pointing out the general situation of an object/action. Notice how in the previous examples there may be an action such as “I will go home”, and where it is situated is elaborated using “ĉe”: “ĉe la fino de la tago“, the action is situated at the end of the day (a place in time, the same works for location).

Now here, the action is the hunt never ending. Where is this true? In what situation? With a badger! Instead of a time or location, we provide an entity/object, but it’s still a situation. You’ll often find this construction in proverbs.

Another nice, but simpler use is the following:

  • Ĉu vi amuziĝis ĉe mi? = Did you have fun at my place?

So abstractly “ĉe mi” is “my (I/me) sitation” and literally “at me (I)”. So my situation could be my general living space (my home) or my current location, i.e. “my place”.

Similarly with “ĉe ni“, “our situation”, though given that several people often don’t share the same house, the meaning is slightly different. What do we all share? Perhaps a region of the country? A country? A continent?

  • Estas tiel varme en via urbo! Ĉe ni, estas neniam varme. = It’s so warm in your city! In ours (at our city) it’s never warm.

Notice how “warm” is represented with an adverb (varme=”warmly”) here instead of an adjective (varma), like in “la urbo estas varma“. Weird huh? Future post!

(Main inspirations/guides for this post are the PMEG page, and the little section on ĉe in the Complete Grammar of Esperanto)

Skipping what’s unnecessary

The “pleonastic it” is when in English we use the word “it” simply to satisfy grammar, but where it adds no meaning:

  • “It’s raining” – What’s raining? “it” shouldn’t be needed.

So Esperanto does away with it! The verb “to rain” is “pluvi”

  • “Pluvas” = “It’s raining/It rains”
This is often the case with sentences about the weather, where in English we like to say “it’s thundering”, or “it’s hailing”, Esperanto will simply use the verb.
However, there are other such situations, any time the “it” isn’t referring to a concrete thing that you’ve previously referred to seems to be a candidate for verbs without their “it” subject.
Take this example from
  • “Temas ne pri li, sed pri ŝi.” – “It’s not about him, but about her.”
“Temas” (temi = to be about) doesn’t have a subject! But in English we use “it”.
Also, in English we often introduce things with “There are/is…”. In this case the “there” isn’t necessary, and in Esperanto we can just use the verb for is/are:
  • “Estas kameloj” = “There are camels”.
It seems like the word “there” is only necessary in Esperanto if you are talking about a particular place where something is. So perhaps:
  • “Tie estas kameloj” means “There (in that place) are camels”.