Toki Pona: The Verb


o toki — Talk!

o lete — Cool off!

o lape — Go to sleep!

mi o lape.  I should sleep.

Use With Pronouns

This isn’t really a conjugation. The pronoun morpheme don’t latch onto the word and can stand on their own.

mi lape, I sleep (notice no li!), can also mean we sleep

sina lape, you sleep (notice no li!)

ona li lape, he sleeps, verbose: mije ni li lape, ie. that man sleeps

ona li lape, she sleeps, verbose, meli ni li lape, i.e. that woman sleeps

ona li lape, it sleeps verbose, ilo ni li lape, i.e. that thing sleeps

All of the above have a second meaning of the plural. But to be verbose and specific, add mute.

mi mute li lape, we sleep (It seems like we should have li here, I’m not sure)

sina mute li lape, y’all sleep

ona mute li lape, they sleep.

Use With Time (Past, Present, Future Tense)

All of the above already have two additional meanings, e.g. I was sleeping/slept, I will sleep

To be verbose and precise, we use a phrase for the time + la + pronoun + verb

la turns the phrase into an adverb so that it describes the verb.

tenpo suno kama = upcoming sun time = tomorrow

tenpo suno kama la mi lape = I will sleep tomorrow

tenpo suno pini = previous sun time = yesterday

tenpo suno pini la mi lape = I slept yesterday.

To emphasize the present time, add “tenpo ni la” (now + adverbial particle)

tenpo ni la mi lape = (verbose) I sleep

Use with self reference

It’s quicker to just repeat the subject for the object, e.g.

mi li utala e mi. I strike me, I hit myself

mi weka linja mi. I remove my hair. I shave myself.

Sama means same, one could use it for reflexive verbs.

sama la mi utala li mi Self-ly, I hit me.

And removing the reduncancy

sama la mi utala. I hit myself.

Use with an Unknown Subject (Passive)

One strategy is to use the ‘someone’ ‘something’ a the subject

jan ijo pakala tomo mi. Someone wrecked my house. My house has been wrecked.

Use with Completion (Perfect tense)

pini means something is done, so it follows pini la makes a verbal phrase Perfect

pini la mi lape. I have slept.

Infinitive verb + Verb

These are very handy. In English, we’d use a infinitive plus a verb, but in toki pona, we just use the verbs that make sense in this pattern, e.g. want,

mi wili lape = I want to sleep, I must sleep, I have to sleep.

To be verbose and distiguish between want, must and have to, you’ll need adverbial phrases.

lili la mi wile lape. I sort of want to sleep. = I want to sleep.

wawa la mi wile lape. I insensely want to sleep = I have to sleep, I must sleep.

Noun + [missing copula] + Noun

A zero copula is where you omit the verb “to be” Again, li is not the verb “to be”

mi li jan pi kama sona. I [am] person of getting knowlege. I am a student.


Easy, leave off the object.

mi moku. I eat.

sina wawa. You become stronger.

Comments are closed.