Noun + Modifier
Modifiers are added in reverse order as compared to English.
sike mama = sphere maternal = egg
tomo telo = aquatic room = wash room
toki sona = wise words = proverb
Noun + Noun + Modifier
These can be ambiguous because the binding could be (n + modifier) + modifier or n + (noun modifier). Most nouns in toki pona have a verb, adjective or adverbial meaning, so the middle word is potentially ambiguous, (see next section on preventing this ambiguity)
sike mama waso = avian maternal sphere = bird’s egg
telo naso = water crazy = booze
tomo telo naso = odd restroom
Noun + pi + ( Noun + Modifier)
To prevent the ambiguity of the Noun + (Noun
tomo pi telo naso = room of water crazy = bar
Li + Word
li + word turns the word into a verb. Toki pona is a bit like Japanese in that adjectives are sometime treated like verbs.
Jan li pona. She’s is pretty. By li doesn’t mean ‘is’! At least not in the sense of “to be”
lon anu lon ala ni: nimi seme. To be or not to be, that is the question.
Verb + Verb
Jo kama = own come = to get, to receive
Sona kama = know come = to learn, to study
Jan + Personal Name
jan Matthew = Matthew
jan John = John
[More patterns to come]