rnd's website logotoki pona page 6 - prepositions and locations

The vocabulary for this page will be divided into two groups. Prepositions:

word meaning
kepeken to use, using, with the help of
lon in, at, on, true, present, exist
sama same as, similar, like, sibling
tan from, because of, cause, reason
tawa to, for, moving, from persp. of

And regular words (which in this case all relate to locations):

word meaning
sewi up, above, sky, divine, sacred
noka foot, leg, bottom, under
poka hip, side, next to, nearby
monsi back, behind, rear, butt
sinpin face, foremost, front, wall

Prepositions are words that are attached to other parts of the sentence in order to express a place or time (more on that in the future) or a specific detail about the action.

In toki pona, the words "kepeken", "lon", "sama", "tan" and "tawa" are used as prepositions, by being added at the end of the sentence without any extra particles.

Here are some examples of all five of these words, both as prepositions and as regular words:

mi pona e tomo kepeken ilo mi. -- I am repairing the house using my tools.

mi toki kepeken toki pona. -- I speak in toki pona.

sina kepeken e ilo sitelen. -- You are using a writing/drawing tool (pen, pencil, brush).

mi lon tomo sina. -- I am in your house.

jan ike li kalama mute lon tomo lipu. -- A bad person is being very noisy in the library.

ona li toki e ijo lon. -- He/she/they speak the truth ("talk about things that exist").

mi en sina li sama. -- You and I are similar.

meli sama mi li pona. -- My sister is good.

kiwen lili li sama lukin pipi. -- The pebble ("small rock") looks like a bug.

mi lape tan ni: mi jo ala e wawa. -- I sleep, because i don't have any energy.

mi tawa tan tomo mi. -- I am leaving my house.

ona li awen lon tomo lipu. -- They stayed in the library.

tomo tawa mi li pona. -- My car ("moving house/structure") is good.

mi tawa tomo moku. -- I am going to the restaurant ("house of food").

The word "tawa" can also express perspective.

sina pona tawa mi. -- I like you. ("You are good for me.")

Since "tawa" can be both an adjective and a preposition, certain phrases can be ambiguous. For example, "tomo tawa mi" can mean both "my car" and "a house, from my perspective". The specific meaning will depend on context.

And here are some examples of the location words:

waso mute li lon sewi. -- Many birds are in the sky.

mi awen lon tomo mi. -- I am staying in my house.

mi toki tawa jan sewi. -- I speak to a (deity/angel/someone divine/(possibly literally) man in the sky).

mi tawa kepeken noka mi. -- I am moving on foot ("using my legs").

kiwen lili li lon noka mi. -- A small rock is below me.

mi tawa lon poka sina. -- I walk beside you.

jan poka li ike tawa mi. -- I don't like my neighbor.

poka mi li pakala. -- My hip/side is broken.

ona li lon monsi sina. -- They are behind you.

jan utala mute li lon sinpin mi. -- Warriors are standing in front of me.

lipu suli li lon sinpin ni. -- An important document is on this wall.

sinpin ona li pona lukin. -- Their face looks good.


There are two different ways to say "goodbye". If you are leaving, it's:

mi tawa! -- Goodbye! (literally "I'm going.")

If someone else is leaving, it's:

tawa pona! -- Goodbye! (literally "Good movement!")

In fact, a lot of words followed by "pona" are used as greetings.

moku pona! -- Bon appetit! / Have a nice meal! (literally "Good food!")

lape pona! -- Good night! / Sweet dreams! (literally "Good sleep!")

There is also a phrase that functions as many positive expressions, from "thanks" all the way to "peace be upon you":

pona tawa sina! (literally "Good to you!")

Dialectal differences

This part of the document describes how certain toki pona courses differ in explaining certain ideas.

  • The official book uses "lon" with a wider meaning, also including "with". For example, "I speak in toki pona" is translated as "mi toki lon toki pona". This does not seem to be a common usage of the word.

  • The official book uses "noka" to mean both "foot" and "below". This is a relatively new usage, and other courses prefer using "anpa" instead of "noka" to mean "below" (using "noka" only to specifically mean "leg" or "foot".) The word "anpa" will be covered in page 7.

  • Sometimes, words like "kepeken" and "tawa" can be used both as prepositions ("using", "towards") and as verbs ("to use", "to move"). The official book provides an example for "kepeken", where it's used as a verb:

o kepeken ala ilo ike. -- Don't use bad tools.

But frequently in the toki pona community the "e" particle is still added, as "kepeken" is used as a transitive verb, not a preposition:

mi kepeken e ilo. -- I'm using tools.

(This method was also preferred by the "o kama sona e toki pona!" course.)

The difference is that in the former example, the object ("ilo ike") is directly followed by the phrase "kepeken ala", and in the latter, "kepeken" is followed by "e", like for any other verb.

This course will follow the latter convention, since it is less ambiguous and allows for more grammar (For example, it's possible to more clearly add modifiers after "kepeken"). But in most such sentences, whether or not "e" is used should not make the meaning ambiguous.


Now, try to figure out the meaning of these sentences.

  • ona li toki tawa mama mije ona kepeken ilo toki.
  • moku suwi li ike tawa mi.
  • ma mama mi li utala e ma poka.
  • meli sama sina li jan pona mi.
  • pipi lili li lon sinpin sina.

And try to translate the following sentences into toki pona.

  • You broke my car.
  • The man feeds ("gives out food to") children.
  • I dislike this chat room ("talking structure").
  • I fixed the house because of you.
  • They are reading books in the library.


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