Toki Pona: Hidden prepositions?


sewi is not officially marked as a preposition, but here in the unofficial texts, it is pretty clearly being used as one, unless it is really an adverb, i.e. modifies the verb.  Let’s check.

Let’s take this potentially sexist phrase:

  • mije li lon sewi meli.  Man exists above woman.
  • [noun] [verb marker] [exists] sewi [woman]

So is that an “abovely” exists, “superiorly” exists, “formally” existence, “holy-ly” exists?  I don’t think Sonja meant men’s existence is superior to women’s.

Or is it “above the woman”?  Yeah, that’s more likely.

This would raise the preposition count to seven and provide a more specific counterpart to “poka- along side”, “lon” at.


insa is not an official preposition.

ona li pali insa tomo pali mi.  He works inside my office. (insa as preposition)

Reading “insa” as a preposition makes more sense than reading it as:

ona li pali insa e tomo pali mi. He inwardly work my office. (insa as adverb)


selo is not an official preposition.

mi pali selo tomo pali mi.  I work outside my office. (selo as preposition)

mi pali selo e tomo pali mi. I outwardly work my office. (selo as adverb)

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