lipu sona

toki! this is a page for my toki pona lessons and dictionary. right now, it is incomplete. almost everything on this page will be revised and updated. feel free to look around!

lesson 0: introduction

New concepts

  • toki pona

Welcome to toki pona!

toki pona is a language created by Sonja Lang, first published in 2001, designed to simplify ideas to their basic elements.

toki pona is designed to be easy to use and learn; people have been said to learn the whole language in a matter of days and converse freely in only a few weeks. toki pona has only around 120-130 words (depending on how you count). The grammar is very simple, and the sounds have been selected to be common across languages and difficult to confuse.

However, toki pona has its limitations. It’s very difficult (though possible) to talk about scientific concepts or translate jargon-heavy text. Because words have such a wide range of semantic meanings, there is ambiguity; some sentences can be interpreted as two completely opposite meanings.

toki pona is highly dependent on context. There are no fixed phrases for things or concepts, meaning that depending on perspective, the same thing or idea may be described many different ways by different people. Even the grammar is flexible. Words cover a wide range of meanings; for example, there is one word that covers fruit, berry, and apple; one word for want and need; one word for strong and powerful.

Differences in this course

This course teaches the language as used by the community. Its writing takes into account constant community feedback. It teaches new and old commonly used words that weren’t included in Sonja Lang’s book. Instead of being prescriptive, I try to be descriptive.

Grammar is explained in a different way than in most courses; the explanation aligns more with most common analyses of toki pona grammar.


At the top of every lesson, teal cards contain a brief summary of what’s discussed below.

A purple card contains an example or a translation:

toki ni li tawa pana sona taso.
This sentence is only a teaching aid.

Text in italics is usually either a term that’s being emphasized, or a word in toki pona. Text in “quotes” is usually an English word.

At the bottom of lessons, red cards contain definitions of words, usually taken from Sonja Lang’s book.

Other resources and courses

I learned toki pona using the book Toki Pona: The Language of Good by Sonja Lang. The course in this book is very well written, and I recommend it to anyone looking to learn the language or support jan Sonja. Some of the language usage in the book differs from this course. I used it as a resource for writing this course.

jan Misali made a twelve-day video course. I haven’t used this resource, but I’ve heard good things about it from other members of the community.

jan Lentan (/dev/urandom) wrote a course called lipu sona pona. It takes into account the way different people speak toki pona and covers dialectal differences. It’s one of the best courses out there and I recommend checking it out. I used it as a resource for writing this course.

Sonja Lang made a Memrise deck for learning essential toki pona vocabulary. It’s a great resource for memorizing words. However, it doesn’t have some of the words in this course that were not in Sonja’s book.

jan Sasi made a dictionary that’s based on community polls of words by Sonja Lang. Instead of just listing word definitions, this dictionary shows how they’re translated by the community. It’s a very useful resource.

I made a Discord bot called qbot. Along other features, it includes toki pona dictionary lookup commands and a generator for the logographic script sitelen pona.

lesson 1: phonology

New concepts

  • the alphabet
  • consonants
  • vowels

In toki pona, there are fourteen different phonemes (sounds), each represented by one letter. They were carefully selected so that speakers of many languages will know them.


toki pona uses five vowels. They are very similar to the vowels in languages like Japanese, Esperanto, and Spanish.

letter sounds like IPA
a the a in far ä
i the ee in seen i
u the oo in moon u
e the e in bet
o the o in or


toki pona uses nine consonants.

The letters k, l, m, n, p, s, t, and w are pronounced the same as in English, and the same way as their IPA symbols.

The letter j is pronounced /j/, like the y in yellow.


Words are always pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. For example, the word soweli has stress on so, not we or li.

Some speakers stress particles, while others leave them unstressed.

Other notes

In this course, the sounds are defined using the International Phonetic Alphabet and their equivalents in General American English.

Sentences in toki pona start with lowercase letters, not uppercase.

toki pona pronunciation is flexible. You can pronounce letters in ways that differ from the standard pronunciation. For example, some people might pronounce toki pona as [dogi bona]. Because the sounds in toki pona are all common and distinct, this doesn’t create any ambiguity.

lesson 2: first sentences

New concepts

  • content words

New grammar

  • li

New words

  • toki
  • pona
  • jan
  • ijo
  • lipu
  • ni
  • kili
  • moku

Content words

Most words in toki pona are content words. Content words are words that have a meaning, as opposed to particles or grammar words. Content words can act as nouns, adjectives, or verbs depending on context. In this lesson, we’ll look at using them as nouns and verbs.

Sentences with li

A basic sentence in toki pona is structured like this:

[x1] li [x2].

This type of sentence means “[x1] is [x2]” or “[x1] does [x2]”.

jan li moku.
The person eats.
The person is food.

ni li toki.
This talks.
This is a language.

jan li pona.
The person is good.

The word li comes after the subject and marks the predicate of the sentence. li does not mean “to be”; toki pona does not have a copula.

Unlike some other languages, toki pona does not use articles. There are no words like “a” or “the”. Definiteness is determined through context.

toki pona words have many meanings:

ijo li pona.
Something is good.
The thing is simple.
The being fixes something.

jan li lipu.
The person is flat.
The person flattens something.
The person is a book.

lipu li pona.
The book is good.
The paper is repaired.

Words aren’t marked for number. This means words don’t change depending on whether the subject is singular or plural.

jan li pona.
People are good.

Parts of speech

In dictionaries, toki pona words are usually listed as only one part of speech: as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. However, nearly any content word can be used as any part of speech!

For example, the word moku is defined as a verb, meaning “to eat or drink”. When used as a noun, it means “food or beverage”.

New words from this lesson

toki toki

to communicate, say, speak, say, talk, use language, think
pona pona

good, positive, useful; friendly, peaceful; simple
jan jan

human being, person, somebody
ijo ijo

thing, phenomenon, object, matter
lipu lipu

flat object; book, document, card, paper, record, website
ni ni

that, this
kili kili

fruit, vegetable, mushroom
moku moku

to eat, drink, consume, swallow, ingest

lesson 3: pronouns and actions

New concepts

  • pronouns
  • transitive verbs

New grammar

  • e
  • predicates after pronouns

New words

  • mi
  • sina
  • ona
  • pali
  • open
  • pana
  • weka
  • utala


In toki pona, there are three pronouns: mi, sina, and ona.

I, me, my

you, your

they, she, he, it

mi or sina are exceptions to the li sentence structure. When the subject of a sentence is only mi or sina, don’t use li.

Here’s some examples of sentences with pronouns:

sina pona.
You are good.
Thank you.

mi utala.
I fight.

ona li moku.
She eats.

ni li ona.
This is him.

Transitive verbs and e

Transitive verbs are verbs that have an object. An object is the target of an action. For example, in English, in the sentence “I eat a fruit”, the word eat is a transitive verb, because it has a target: a fruit.

In toki pona, a transitive verb’s object is marked with e:

jan li weka e ijo.
The person throws away something.

sina pana e lipu.
You give books.

mi open e lipu.
I open a book.

ona li pona e ijo.
He fixes an object.

New words from this lesson

mi mi

I, me, we, us
sina sina

ona ona

he, she, it, they
pali pali

to do, take action on, work on; build, make, prepare
open open

to begin, start; open; turn on
pana pana

to give, send, emit, provide, put, release
weka weka

absent, away, ignored
utala utala

to battle, challenge, compete against, struggle against

lesson 4: modifiers

New grammar

  • adjectives
  • modifier phrases

New words

  • lili
  • suli
  • mute
  • sin
  • majuna
  • ike
  • wawa
  • ala


An adjective is a word used to describe a noun. Content words can act as adjectives. You’ve already seen them used this way:

jan li lili.
The person is small.

Modifier phrases

You can put an adjective after another word to modify it. (This is called head-initial order. This is the opposite order from some other languages, like English.) You can modify nouns, verbs, or other adjectives.

ijo suli
big thing

lipu sin
new book

pana wawa
to give with force

When used this way, the word is called a modifier.

Here are some sentences that use modifiers:

jan suli li pana e kili ike.
The big person gives away a bad fruit.

lipu majuna li wawa mute.
The old book is very powerful.

To say that something is yours, or belongs to someone, use a pronoun as a modifier:

ni li moku mi.
This is my food.

The word ala can be used to mean a lack of something.

jan ala
no one

lili ala
not small

When the words mi and sina are used with a modifier, use the word li to mark the predicate.

mi pali.
I work.

mi mute li pali.
We work.

You can use multiple modifiers for the same word. In that case, modifiers affect the whole phrase before them.

lipu majuna
the old book

lipu majuna ala
no old books

New words from this lesson

lili lili

little, small, short; few; a bit; young
suli suli

big, heavy, large, long, tall; important; adult
mute mute

many, a lot, more, much, several, very
sin sin

new, fresh; additional, another, extra
majuna majuna

ike ike

bad, negative; non-essential, irrelevant
wawa wawa

strong, powerful; confident, sure; energetic, intense
ala ala

no, not, zero

lesson 5: names, people, and questions

New concepts

  • names
  • gender
  • questions

New grammar

  • foreign words
  • seme

New words

  • tonsi
  • meli
  • mije
  • nimi
  • seme
  • anu
  • pakala
  • ma
  • tomo


Sometimes, you need to refer to people and places by their name. In toki pona, you can do this using “unofficial words”, also known as “loan adjectives”. Names are adapted from their source language using a series of phonetic rules.

Unlike most words in toki pona, names can only be used as adjectives:

Riley (the person)
jan Wali

Canada (the country)
ma Kanata

English (the language)
toki Inli

Seattle (the city)
ma tomo Sijata


toki pona has three words for gender:




These words are most often used as adjectives:

jan meli li pali e tomo.
The woman builds a house.


There are three types of questions:

x ala x?

If you want to ask a question that can be answered with yes or no, phrase the sentence normally, but use the form x ala x in place of the word you’re questioning.

jan pona ni li suli ala suli?
Is this friend (“good person”) big?

ona li pana ala pana e kili?
Did they give the berry?

toki pona has no explicit words for yes or no. The most common way to answer this type of question is to repeat the word for “yes”, or to add ala for “no”:

lipu li pona ala pona?
Is the book good?


pona ala.

x anu seme?

anu means “or”. (Some people use anu as a content word meaning “choice”.)

You can append the form anu seme (“or what?”) to the end of your sentence.

moku li pona anu seme?
Is the food good? (“The food is good or what?”)

lipu li pakala anu seme?
Is the book damaged? (“The book is broken or what?”)

x seme?

For more freeform questions, insert seme in place of what you want to know.

nimi sina li seme?
What’s your name?

ijo li seme e jan?
What’s that object doing to the person?

jan seme li ni?
Who is this person?

New words from this lesson

tonsi tonsi

meli meli

woman, female, feminine person; wife
mije mije

man, male, masculine person; husband
nimi nimi

name, word
seme seme

what? which?
anu anu

pakala pakala

botched, broken, damaged, harmed, messed up
ma ma

earth, land; outdoors, world; country, territory; soil
tomo tomo

indoor space; building, home, house, room

lesson 6: interjections and particles

New concepts

  • interjections
  • expressing emotions
  • calling someone
  • longer noun phrases

New grammar

  • emotional particle
  • vocative particle
  • emphasis particle
  • pi

New words

  • a
  • o
  • kin
  • leko
  • lape
  • seli
  • lete
  • ante
  • pi
  • nasa

Emotional emphasis

If you want to make a sentence stronger, you can emphasize it with the particle a:

ni li seli.
This is hot.

ni li seli a!
This is really hot!

a can be put at either the beginning or the end of a sentence.

a sina pona!
Thank you!

a adds emotional weight to speech it’s emphasizing. Laughter is usually written as a a a!

Addressing people and commands

If you want to call or address a particular person, use the vocative particle o after their name:

jan Netan o!

If you want to tell someone to do something, use o:

o pali e leko ni.
Build these stairs.

o lape.
Go to sleep.

You can combine these two uses, to tell someone to do something, address someone, or express a wish or desire.

jan Sasi o, toki!
Hello, Sasi!

o can replace li in a sentence.

jan Maku o pona e lipu pakala.
Marcus, fix the damaged book.

sina o lape.
I want you to sleep.

o pali e ni, jan lete o.
Do this, cold people.

You can use o and a in the same sentence.

jan Ana o lape a!
Anna, go to sleep!!


In Toki Pona: The Language of Good, kin is defined as a synonym for a. However, most people in the community use it slightly differently.

kin can be used for several things:

  • To emphasize something without the emotional effect of a.
  • As a word for “too”, “also”, “as well”.

ni li suli kin.
This is very big.

ijo ni li pona. ijo ante li pona kin.
This thing is good. The other thing is good too.


The particle pi is used to regroup modifiers.

By default, in a modifier phrase, the words modify each other from left to right.

tomo telo nasa
(tomo telo) nasa
strange (water-room)
(maybe a strange restroom?)

By using pi, you can change the order of these “parentheses”.

tomo pi telo nasa
tomo (telo nasa)
(strange water) room

The term telo nasa (“strange water”) is often used to mean alcohol, so this sentence could mean a bar.

If only one word is after pi, the word pi should not be there. That’s because there’s nothing to regroup: the sentence would mean the same with or without it.

Many people confuse pi with the word “of”. It’s true that pi can often be translated as “of”, but they don’t mean the same thing. After all, if pi meant “of”, “the language of good” would be toki pi pona, not toki pona.

New words from this lesson

a a

(emphasis, emotion or confirmation)
o o

hey! O! (vocative or imperative)
kin kin

(emphasis, emotion or confirmation)
leko leko

lape lape

sleeping, resting
seli seli

fire; cooking element, chemical reaction, heat source
lete lete

cold, cool; uncooked, raw
ante ante

different, altered, changed, other
pi pi

nasa nasa

unusual, strange; silly; drunk, intoxicated

lesson 7: prepositions

New concepts

  • location words

New grammar

  • prepositions

New words

  • lon
  • tawa
  • tan
  • kepeken
  • sama
  • poka
  • monsi
  • anpa
  • sewi
  • sinpin
  • ilo

Location words

The words poka, monsi, anpa, sewi, and sinpin are all used to indicate locations.


When you say that something is “at a location”, “using a tool”, or “from a place”, you’re using prepositions. toki pona has five prepositions.


lon means “at, in, existing”. It covers a wide range of meanings that, in English, would be several words. It can also be used as a noun or a verb, meaning “existing” or “to exist”.

Prepositions go before a content phrase.

lon ni
“in this”

lon poka mi
at my side
next to me

A prepositional phrase can be used as a predicate.

ona li lon ni.
She is here.

mi lon tomo sewi.
I’m in the upstairs apartment.

seme li lon monsi ni?
What’s behind this?


tawa means “to”, “toward”, or “in the perspective of”. It also is often used as a noun, verb, or adjective meaning “movement”, “to move”, “moving”.

You can attach a prepositional phrase to the end of a sentence to express a detail about the predicate.

ni li pona tawa mi.
To me, this is good.
I like this.

ona li pali e lipu lon tomo ante.
They’re writing a book in a different room.


tan means “from”, “because”, or “by”. It can also be used as a noun meaning “reason” or “cause”.

You often see tan used in questions ending in tan seme? (from what?) meaning “why?”

ike li lon tan seme?
Why is there evil?

You can use multiple prepositions together.

mi lon anpa ma tan seme?
Why are we underground?

ni li tan utala suli.
It’s because of the war.


kepeken means “using” or “with”, as in “with a tool”. (It doesn’t mean “with” as in “with another person”.)

sina pali e sinpin kepeken ilo.
You build a wall using a tool.

ona li tawa wawa kepeken tomo tawa.
He moved quickly in his car (“moving room”).


sama means “as”, “like”. It’s often used as an adjective meaning “similar”, “the same”, or “sibling”.

jan sama mi li pona.
My sibling is good.

ona li pali sama ilo.
They worked like a machine.

Other uses of prepositions

Some people use prepositions in the subject. This is especially prevalent in the dialect of ma pona pi toki pona, the largest toki pona Discord server.

jan lon ma ni li pona.
People in this country are good.

New words from this lesson

lon lon

located at, present at, real, true, existing
tawa tawa

going to, toward; for; from the perspective of
tan tan

by, from, because of
kepeken kepeken

to use, with, by means of
sama sama

same, similar; each other; sibling, peer, fellow
as, like
poka poka

hip, side; next to, nearby, vicinity
monsi monsi

back, behind, rear
anpa anpa

bowing down, downward, humble, lowly, dependent
sewi sewi

area above, highest part, something elevated
awe-inspiring, divine, sacred, supernatural
sinpin sinpin

face, foremost, front, wall
ilo ilo

tool, implement, machine, device

lesson 8: sitelen pona

New concepts

  • ideographic writing
  • sitelen pona

New words

  • sitelen
  • poki
  • lupa
  • nena
  • kiwen
  • telo
  • ko

sitelen pona is a writing system for toki pona created by Sonja Lang. You may have already seen sitelen pona symbols on the red word cards in each lesson.

Every toki pona word has a corresponding sitelen pona symbol. The symbols are often representative of the meaning of the word. For example, the symbol for poki (poki) is a stylized box.

The writing system is used in many contexts and is definitely worth learning.

The examples in this lesson will all have sitelen pona transcriptions. The sitelen pona text you see in this course is written in my font, linja suwi.

moku ale mi li lon poki.
All of my food is in boxes.

ilo li pana e kiwen tawa ilo ante.
The machine transfers stone to the other machine.

telo li lete lon poki mi tan pakala pi ilo seli.
The water in my bath is cold because the heater is broken.

ilo li ante e kiwen tawa ko.
The machine makes the rocks into powder.

lupa li lon tomo mi.
On my house, there is a door.

To write a name or a foreign word in sitelen pona, for each letter in the word, write a character for a word that starts with that letter, then draw a rectangle or cartouche around it. You can choose these characters to be representative of you or the thing you’re naming.

jan Itan li tan tomo lon nena.
Ethan is from a house on a hill.

New words from this lesson

sitelen sitelen

image, picture, representation, symbol, mark, writing
poki poki

container, bag, bowl, box, cup, cupboard, drawer, vessel
lupa lupa

door, hole, orifice, window
nena nena

bump, button, hill, mountain, nose, protuberance
kiwen kiwen

hard object, metal, rock, stone
telo telo

water, liquid, fluid, wet substance; beverage
ko ko

clay, clinging form, dough, semi-solid, paste, powder