Lesson 5
Adjectives, Compound Nouns
Adverbs

 

Vocabulary
ike - bad, evil, complicated
jaki - dirty, nasty; trash
lawa - main, leading; head; to lead          
len - clothing, clothe
lili - little
mute - many, a lot
nasa - crazy, stupid, silly, weird
seli - warm, hot
sewi - high, superior; sky
tomo - house, building
utala - war, battle; to fight
 

 

Adjectives and compound nouns
As you should already know, Toki Pona has a very minimal vocabulary. The small amount of words, of course, makes the vocabulary much easier to learn. However, as a result, many words do not exist in the language. For example, there is no word that means friend. There are also no words for soldier, car, or shoe. Therefore, we often have to combine various words together to equal what might take only one word in English. For example, here's how to say friend in Toki Pona:
   jan (person) + pona (good) = jan pona
jan pona in English literally means person good (or, as we would say in normal English, good person). Due to Toki Pona's small vocabulary, though, it also means friend.

As you can see, the adjective (which was pona in the above example) goes after the noun rather than before it. That's why I said jan pona and not pona jan. This will undoubtedly seem incredibly awkward to you if you only speak English. However, many, many languages do this (including Spanish, Italian, and French, which put most of their adjectives after). It won't be easy to break the bonds that English have had on you your entire life, but, speaking from personal experience, the reward is well worth it because you will greatly expand your mind and will be able to think about things in a new, refreshing way.

In addition to adjectives such as pona, many of the verbs are often used as adjectives.
   1. jan - person
      pakala - to hurt
      jan pakala - an injured person, victim, etc.
   2. ilo - tool
      moku - to eat
      ilo moku - an eating utensil, such as a fork or spoon

You can add more than just one adjective onto a noun to reach the meaning that you want:
   jan - person
   jan utala - soldier
   jan utala pona - good soldier
   jan utala pona mute - many good soldiers
   jan utala pona ni - this good soldier
As you might have noticed, ni and mute come at the end of the phrase. This occurs almost always. The reason for this is that the phrases build as you go along, so the adjectives must be put into an organized, logical order. For example, notice the differences in these two phrases:
   jan utala pona - good soldier
   jan pona utala - fighting friend, sidekick, etc.

Here are some handy adjective combinations using words that you've already learned and that are fairly common. Try figuring out what their literal meanings are:
   ike lukin* - ugly
   jan ike - enemy
   jan lawa - leader
   jan lili - child
   jan sewi - god
   jan suli - adult
   jan unpa - lover, prostitute
   ma telo - mud, swamp
   ma tomo - city, town
   mi mute - we, us
   ona mute - they, them
     Note: While this structure is undoubtedly gramatically correct, most current
       speakers simply use ona. You can decide what's most comfortable for you.

   pona lukin* - pretty, attractive
   telo nasa - alcohol, beer, wine
   tomo telo - restroom

* Note that you can only use pona lukin and ike lukin by themselves after li. (For example: jan ni li pona lukin - That person is pretty.) There is a way to attach these phrases directly onto the noun using the word pi, but we have more important things to learn before we get to that point.

Possessives
To say my and your, you use the pronouns and treat them like any other adjective:
   tomo mi - my house
   ma sina - your country
   telo ona - his/her/its water
Other words are treated the same way:
   len jan - somebody's clothes
   seli suno - the sun's heat

 

Adverbs
I know that we've covered a lot of difficult topics in this lesson. Fortunately, the adverbs in Toki Pona should be quite simple for you, so just keep pushing for a few more minutes and we'll be done.

For adverbs in Toki Pona, the adverb simply follows the verb that it modifies. For example:
   mi lawa pona e jan. -- I lead people well.
   mi utala ike. -- I fight badly.
   sina lukin sewi e suno. -- You look up at the sun.
   ona li wile mute e ni. -- He wants that a lot.
   mi mute li lukin lili e ona. -- We barely saw it.

 

Practice
Firstly, see how well you can read the following poem. You know all the words and concepts, so you should be able to understand it. Then, check your translation for each line of the poem. And now here's the poem:

mi jo e kili.
ona li pona li lili.
mi moku lili e kili lili.

Try translating these sentences from English to Toki Pona.
   The leader drank dirty water.   
   I need a fork.   
   An enemy is attacking them.   
   That bad person has strange clothes.   
   We drank a lot of vodka.   
   Children watch adults.   
And now try changing these sentences from Toki Pona into English:
   mi lukin sewi e tomo suli.   
   seli suno li seli e tomo mi.   
   jan lili li wile e telo kili.   
   ona mute li nasa e jan suli.   
      Notice how even though nasa is typically an adjective, it is used as a verb here. Neat, huh?

 

ĦAy caramba! These last two lessons, and especially this one, might have seemed really hard. Now's the time when you'll have to start trying to think for yourself rather than relying on English first. If you haven't quite got it yet, it's okay; these things have to be learned by practice and association, so you'll get it in time. And if you still feel disheartened, think about this: If you've been learning and practicing the vocabulary of these past three sections like you should, you've already learned over a quarter of all the words in Toki Pona! Keep up the good work!

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