He Papa Kuhikuhi Pilina‘ōlelo

Reference Grammar of the Hawaiian Language

E ʻonipaʻa kākou i ka ʻimi naʻauao

Reference Grammar of the Hawaiian Language

Table of Contents


Types of Simple (not Compound or Complex) Sentences

English Grammatical Terms

Comparison of Grammatical Terms

Nouns Unexpectedly Taking Ke Instead Of Ka

O-Class and A-Class

Ways to Express When

Days of the Week

Days of the Month

Traditional Seasons


Māka Painu (Verb Markers)

Loaʻa Verbs

Order of Hune Types 

Order of Intensifiers

Word Order in ʻAna Sentences


Who Is This Book For?

This grammar of the Hawaiian language is primarily intended for the English-speaking student at an institute of higher learning. It provides a quick reference to most grammatical constructs that an undergraduate student of the Hawaiian language will encounter, while also offering examples and further discussion of many topics. The project to create the book was born of the experience of the authors in studying Hawaiian Language years one through four at the University of Hawaii Maui College and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. A reference grammar of this type would have come to great use!

Who Are We?

Anita Bardwell
Joe Bardwell
Lopaka Weltman
Hoaloha Westcott

This book is a compilation of notes and handouts from 4 years of Hawaiian language courses, as well as an incorporation of previously published materials brought together as an on-line student reference.  We have endeavored to provide copious citations and none of the contents are our original research or opinion.  This work was produced on a 100% volunteer basis as a labor of love and respect for the Hawaiian language, and as a way to give back to the language revitalization effort.  The book will always remain free of charge.  None of the authors are kanaka maoli, but all of us have Hawaiian hearts and continually stand for and support native Hawaiian causes.  With deepest respect and aloha we hope you find this book useful.

You can reach us at hawaiian-grammar-grp@hawaii.edu.

We would like to thank the following for valuable suggestions, review and encouragement:

Kaliko Trapp (UH Hilo)

Kī‘ope Raymond (UHMC)

Kepano Trussel (UH Mānoa)

Albert Schütz (UH Mānoa)

Toma Kettig (UH Mānoa)

We also would like to send our love and condolences to the friends and family of Kepano Trussel who passed away just prior to the release of this version.  Kepano was one of our selfless and generous reviewers and advisors and was the inventor and maintainer of the ingenious Combined Hawaiian Dictionary.

Version Information

This is version 1.1, completed in 2020 and made available to the public in August, 2020.

Conventions and Notation

Kūmole (Reference Texts)

A Narrative of a Tour through Hawaii        

William Ellis, 1824

(Ellis 1824)

Uber die Hawaiische sprache        

Adelbert von Chamisso, 1837

(Chamisso 1837)

Grammar of the Hawaiian Language

L. Andrews, 1854

(Andrews 1854)

Introduction to Hawaiian Grammar

W. D. Alexander, 1864

(Alexander 1864)

The Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian-English Dictionary

Henry P. Judd, 1939

(Judd 1939)

Rarotongan Personal Pronouns: Form and Distribution

J. E. Buse in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1 (1960)

(Buse 1960)

Spoken Hawaiian

Samuel H. Elbert, 1970

(Elbert 1970)

The o/a Distinction in Hawaiian Possessives        

William H. Wilson in Oceanic Linguistics Vol. 15, No. 1/2, 1976

(Wilson 1976)

Hawaiian Grammar

Samuel H. Elbert, Mary Kawena Pukui, 1979

(Elbert/Pukui 1979)

Hawaiian Sentence Structures

Emily A. Hawkins, 1979

(Hawkins 1979)

Pedagogical Grammar of Hawaiian

Emily A. Hawkins, 1982

(Hawkins 1982)

Hawaiian Dictionary

Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert, 1957/1986

(Pukui/Elbert 1986)

ʻŌlelo Hou

John Keolamakaʻainana Lake, 1987

(Lake 1987)

The Hawaiian Sentence Book

Robert Lokomaikaʻiokalani Snakenberg, 1988

(Snakenberg 1988)

Ka Lei Haʻaheo

Alberta Pualani Hopkins, 1992

(Hopkins 1992)

ʻŌlelo ʻŌiwi Ke Kahua: He Puke AʻO ʻOlelo Hawaiʻi

Hōkūlani Cleeland, 1994

(Cleeland 1994)

The Voices of Eden

Albert Schütz, 1994

(Schütz 1994)

Māmaka Kaiao

Kōmike Huaʻōlelo, 2003

(Huaʻōlelo 2003)


Jason D. Cabral, University of Hawai'i at Hilo, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2004

(Cabral 2004)

Pocket Hawaiian Grammar

Albert J. Schütz, Gary N. K. Kanada, Kenneth W. Cook, 2005

(Schütz/Kanada/Cook 2005)


K. Laiana Wong, 2006

(Wong 2006)

A computational phonology and morphology of


‘Oiwi Parker Jones, University of Oxford, 2010

(Parker Jones 2010)

Pollex Online
Greenhill SJ & Clark R (2011)

(Pollex 2011)

Loanwords in Hawaiian

Oiwi Parker Jones, Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. (Martin Haspelmath and Uri Tadmor, editors), 2009

(Parker Jones 2009)

Nā Kai ʻEwalu - 1 and Nā Kai ʻEwalu - 2

Kauanoe Kamanā lāua ʻo William H. Wilson, 2012

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012)

The Teaching and Learning of Hawaiian in Mainstream Educational Contexts: Time for Change?
Keao NeSmith, University of Waikato, 2012

(NeSmith 2012)


C.M. Kaliko Baker, 2012

(Baker 2012)

Hawaiian Lunar Month

(Hawaiian Lunar Month)

Asia-Pacific Digital Library - Months

(Asia-Pacific Digital Library Months)

Wikipedia, Polynesia


Wikipedia, Polynesian languages

(Wikipedia-Polynesian languages)

Wikipedia, Tongan language

(Wikipedia-Tongan language)

Combined Hawaiian Dictionary

Kepano Trussel, 2011-2020


Keao NeSmith, Linguapax Review 7, 2019

(NeSmith 2019)


Annette Kuuipolani Kanahele Wong, University of Hawaii Press 2020

(Wong 2020)

Notations and Conventions

Kimo, Keola and Pualani are fictional characters and bear no relationship to any real persons, living or dead.  These 3 characters are used in examples throughout this book.

When translating the Hawaiian third party singular pronoun ʻo ia into English, we may use "he", "she" or "it" depending on the context.

"ABC" is used in patterns with the meaning "kikino (word phrase)". kikino is explained below.

Overview of Hawaiian Language


The first Western visitors to Hawaii towards the end of the 18th century were surprised to find that the local language was very similar to that of New Zealand and Tahiti. The Polynesian languages are spoken in an area of over 2,000,000 square miles - the Polynesian triangle.

Image from (Wikipedia-Polynesian languages).

Study of the phonetic and grammatical differences between the languages suggests the following historical derivation (Schütz 1994:334).

Examples of common words in representative Polynesian languages (Wikipedia-Polynesian

languages), (Wikipedia-Tongan language):
















North wind































See (Pollex 2011) for interactive resources to explore etymology of Polynesian words

Orthography and Pronunciation

The Hawaiian alphabet was defined through a vote by a committee of missionaries in 1826, using letters from the Latin alphabet. History and other traditional knowledge had been maintained through the centuries with oral tradition, including complex compilations such as the Kumulipo. The missionaries, who had arrived in 1820, were anxious to provide the means to convert the population to Christianity, including the reading of the Bible in Hawaiian.

The definition of the alphabet was to build on the work done earlier to establish alphabets for Tahitian and Māori. One of the goals was for the Hawaiian alphabet to be as similar to the Tahitian alphabet as possible. However, there were clear differences between the languages as perceived by the missionaries and there were also areas where their understanding was incomplete.

Besides the five vowels and seven consonants decided on for the alphabet (see below in this section), the missionaries and other Westerners visiting Hawaii heard Hawaiians use the sounds b, d, r, t and v. That was the source of much debate among the missionaries and the focus of the vote in 1826. There is ample evidence that those additional sounds were used by native speakers, but the committee voted to remove them from the alphabet because they formed pairs or triplets with other letters which could be used interchangeably with no impact on the meaning or on the ability of native speakers to comprehend. (Schütz 1994:111) illustrates the problem with an exchange from Albertine Loomis, Grapes of Canaan:

"Is the dance called hulahula?


"Is it hudahuda?"


"Or hurahura?"


The pairs and triplet were:

p, b

l, r, d

w, v

k, t

The first of each set was chosen for the alphabet.

While not conclusive, there is evidence that certain differences in usage were geographical (t instead of k on Kauaʻi and Niʻihau; t is still used on Niʻihau[1] and occasionally in chants), others based on phonetic context (w after u or o, v in other cases), others on personal preference, some pronounced as intermediate sounds of the set and some varied seemingly randomly. (Ellis 1824:349) reported that "The k in most of the islands is generally used in common intercourse, but it is never admitted into their poetical compositions, in which the t is universally and invariably employed." In almost all cases reported by the missionaries and by earlier Western Naturalists, native speakers did not perceive a difference in words used with one or the other sounds of a set. Each set is one phoneme, with potentially multiple renditions.

The missionaries were aware of two other important elements of pronunciation but were not able to capture them in their alphabet or use them in printing: the glottal stop and vowel length, both of which are essential to expressing meaning in the language. The glottal stop as a consonant, as well as vowel length, were not formally recognized and used in print until the middle of the 20th century. The glottal stop was known earlier as ʻuʻuina but renamed by Elbert in 1991 to ʻokina. The macron above a vowel to show length is termed kahakō.

The resultant Hawaiian alphabet contains 13 letters.  Each of the letters are pronounced as shown in the following table:

Hawaiian alphabet (Pukui/Elbert 1986:xvii):




About as in English


About as in English but with less aspiration


About as in English but may be dental-alveolar


About as in English


About as in English but may be dental


About as in English but with less aspiration


After i and e usually a lax v; after u and o usually like w; after a or initially like w or v[2]


Glottal stop, similar to the sound between the ohʻs in English oh-oh




Like a in above


Like a in far


Like e in bet


Like ay in pay


Like y in city


Like ee in see


Like o in sole but without off-glides


Like o in sole


Like oo in moon but without off-glides


Like oo in moon but without off-glides

Vowels with kahakō (macron) do not have off-glides, are somewhat longer than other vowels and are always stressed.



ei, eu, oi, ou, ai, ae, ao, au

Rising, always stressed on the first element, but the second element has more vowel quality than the off-glide in an English diphthong



See (Parker Jones 2009) for a modern evaluation of Hawaiian pronunciation.

Use of Kahakō and ‘Okina

As discussed above, the diacritical marks kahakō and ‘okina were not widely used in print until the middle of the 20th century. The style of writing without them is often called kahiko, or old style. The island of Ni‘ihau - the only place in the world where Hawaiian has continued to be the first language of the population without a break in transmission - never adopted use of the diacritical marks and many speakers there oppose their use in print. (NeSmith 2019:99)

Formation of Syllables

This means that a syllable consists of either a vowel or of a consonant followed by a vowel, and that a word ends in a vowel. Note that the ʻokina is a consonant - it can begin a syllable but not end it However, in orthography it differs from other consonants in that instead of being capitalized as the first letter of a sentence or a proper noun, the immediately following vowel is capitalized, e.g. ‘Alika. Similarly, it is replaced by the following vowel in acronyms, e.g. APL for ‘Aha Pūnana Leo. (NeSmith 2019:98)


When a syllable is emphasized in Hawaiian, it is somewhat louder, longer and often higher in pitch than other syllables. Words less than four syllables in length have accent on only one syllable, while those with four or more syllables have more than one with emphasis. In words of less than four syllables, the penultimate (second to last) syllable carries the accent, unless the last syllable has a long vowel (kahakō over it), in which case the last syllable has the most emphasis.

In speech and also in names, a ka‘i (ka, ke, nā) often joins with the following word to form one unit in terms of accent, e.g. kamaka (= ka maka, the eye).

The separation of syllable groups by accent is indicated in (Pukui/Elbert 1986), (Schutz/Kanada/Cook 2005) and in the modern dictionary (Huaʻōlelo 2003) with a raised period between accent groups:







The rules for which syllable receives emphasis apply within an accent group, not between them. There is more emphasis on the accented syllable of the final accent group than on the preceding ones.




A highway named after Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole; here there is more emphasis on the red syllable than on the two green ones

Within an accent group, the penultimate (next to last) syllable receives the most emphasis unless the last syllable has a long vowel (kahakō over it), in which case the last syllable has the most emphasis. Any syllable with a diphthong or long vowel also has emphasis.








sacred, prohibited

(Schutz/Kanada/Cook 2005: xvii-xx)


(Pukui/Elbert 1986) and (Hua‘ōlelo 2003) include 2,012 known foreign loanwords according to (Parker Jones 2009: 3). (Parker Jones 2010) estimates the total percentage of loanwords in (Pukui/Elbert 1986) to 17%. Of them, five are from Chinese, nine from French, three from Portuguese and four from Japanese. A few are from biblical Latin or Greek. Almost all the rest are from English, particularly American English. (Hua‘ōlelo 2003) makes a conscious effort when identifying new words to prioritize source languages other than English to compensate, according to (Parker Jones 2009: 16).

"Nouns were the most commonly borrowed, followed by verbs, function words, and finally adjectives. ... Why did Hawaiian borrow so many nouns? One contributing cause is probably the number of new things that have been introduced to Hawai‘i since contact, along with their names. (Parker Jones 2009: 9)

How does Hawaiian adapt the loanwords in pronunciation?

Structural Elements


(Elbert/Pukui 1979:43) specifies the following types of words:




Names of persons, places or things



Verbs commonly used as nouns without the nominalizer ʻana; see the section below on Word Types


Pronouns, Demonstratives, Possessives, Interrogatives; these can be used in place of a noun






Words not otherwise classifiable

Non-Word Elements

Non-Word Elements



Denote grammatical meaning, indicate whether accompanying words are nouns or verbs, whether  action is completed or going on, whether a noun is a subject, object, agent, possessor, locative or instrumental


The addition of prefixes, infixes and suffixes to bases; also reduplication; examples of prefixes are hoʻo-, ma- and aka-; an example of a suffix is -hine


Words, particles and affixes are combined in phrases, which are divided into noun phrases and verb phrases.

"Verb phrases contain verbs as their heads." (Elbert/Pukui 1979: 39). A word is identified as a verb by its potential occurrence together with a verb marker such as ua to mark tense or aspect. See below for examples of verb and noun phrases.

"Noun phrases contain nouns or substitutes for nouns" (where a substitute is a pronoun or demonstrative); "these are names of persons or places" or are identified through their use with a determiner such as he, ke/ka. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:39).

The order of the elements of a noun phrase is defined in (Elbert 1970:117,246) as:

Preposition ± Determiner + Noun ± Post-noun elements

± indicates that the following element is optional.

The determiners are:



Singular definite article

ka, ke

k-demonstratives ± mau

kēia, kēlā, kēnā, kēlā mau

k-possessives ± mau

kaʻu, kou, kona, kona mau

Indefinite/abstract article


Indefinite demonstrative


Plural definite article

Indefinite article


Indefinite article plural

he mau


ʻelua, ʻumikūmākolu

The post-noun elements are:

Post-noun element


Qualifying content words

pū, wale, ʻia


mai, aku, iho, aʻe

k-less demonstratives

nei, na/ana, la/ala

Verb marker ai



nō, la, naʻe, hoʻi, e, anei, paha, nohoʻi


i                ka                hale        

Preposition        Determiner        Noun        Qualifier (post-noun element)

definitely in the house

Grammar studies of the Hawaiian language from the start and through the 1970's have categorized noun usage by "case", as used in Latin. Breakdown by "case" is explicit in (Chamisso 1837), (Andrews 1854), (Alexander 1864), (Judd 1939), (Elbert 1970) and (Elbert/Pukui 1979). Six cases were identified. Unlike in the European languages, there is no declension of nouns; instead the case is indicated with a preposition, object marker or the lack of either. (Judd 1939:13) provides a typical list of cases and examples:





ka hale

the house


o ka hale

of the house


ko ka hale

the house's


no ka hale

for the house



i ka hale

to the house, the house (as object of a transitive verb)


ma ka hale

mai ka hale

me ka hale

e ka hale

at/by/in the house

from the house

with the house

by the house (agent)


One or more phrases produces a sentence. For example:

Ua hele        ke kanaka        i Maui.

Verb phrase        Noun phrase        Noun phrase

The man went to Maui.

Ua ʻai                ke kanaka        i ka poi.

Verb phrase        Noun phrase        Noun phrase

The man ate the poi.

Ua ʻai ʻia        ka poi                e ka wilikī.

Verb phrase        Noun phrase        Noun phrase

The poi was eaten by the engineer.

He kumu        au.

Noun phrase        Noun phrase

I am a teacher.

If there are pauses when speaking, they occur between phrases and not inside a phrase.

Sentences combining simple sentences are complex sentences:

ʻO ia                ka mea        aʻu                i makemake ai.

Noun phrase        Noun phrase        Noun phrase        Verb phrase

This sentence can be considered a composition of two simple sentences:

ʻO ia ka mea. ("That is the thing." - Equational sentence)

Ua makemake au i ka mea. ("I wanted the thing." - Simple Verb sentence)

That's the thing I wanted.

Types of Simple (Not Compound or Complex) Sentences

English name

Hawaiian name



Simple Verb

Pepeke Painu

Ua hele ke keiki i ka hale.

The boy went home (to the house)

Simple Verb, Negative

Pepeke Painu Hōʻole

ʻAʻole i hele ke keiki i ka hale.

The boy did not go home.

Class Inclusion

ʻAike He

He hale hou kēlā.

That is a new house.

Class Inclusion, Negative

ʻAike He Hōʻole

ʻAole kēlā he hale hou.

That is not a new house


ʻAike ʻO

ʻO ka hale o ke keiki kēlā.

That is the boy's house.

Equational, Negative

ʻAike ʻO Hōʻole

ʻAʻole kēlā ʻo ka hale o ke keiki.

That is not the boy's house.


Kālele ʻĀkena

Na ke keiki i hele i ka hale.

It was the boy who went home.


Kālele Kūlana

Ma ka hale i ʻai ai ke keiki.

It was at home that the boy ate.


Pepeke Henua

Aia ke keiki ma ka hale.

The boy is at home.

Immediate Sequential

"ʻO ka painu dir la nō ia"

ʻO ka hele akula nō ia o ke keiki i ka hale.

And then the boy went home.


Pepeke Nonoʻa

ʻElua puke a ke keiki.

The boy has two books.


ʻOi aku

ʻOi aku ke kaulana o Keola ma mua o Keani.

Keola is more famous than Keani.

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:21-22,26) - developed for teaching first-year and second-year Hawaiian at UH Hilo - takes a different approach to describe the components of a sentence. It introduces new, Hawaiian terms corresponding to the parts of an octopus (see also the Terminology section below).

A pepeke is an octopus or sentence. It is divided into one or more lālā (basic sentence parts; corresponds with a verb or noun phrase as discussed above). A pepeke has one or more poʻo (heads) and may have one or more ʻawe (tentacles or descriptive phrases) connected with a piko (navel or joining point). A poʻo, piko or ʻawe may include a kāhulu (descriptor). Every pepeke must have at least one poʻo, but the ʻawe and piko are optional (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:80). A hamani (transitive verb) may take a lauka (object or object phrase). A pepeke makua (primary pepeke) can be connected to a pepeke keiki (secondary pepeke) with e. A kuʻi is a conjunction that connects words within a poʻo, piko or ʻawe.




It's delicious.


ke kumu

i Honolulu.




The teacher is in Honolulu.



me Keola.




I am not with Keola.


ka wai.



The water is cold.


kēia kaikamahine

ma ka hale pule.




This girl works at church.


ka wahine noho i Kapahulu

me aʻu.


Piko (with kāhulu)


The lady that lives in Kapahulu works with me.




me ia.





I don't go with him.



ʻo Puaani

me ia.





Pualani doesn't go with him.

ʻO Pualani




You are Pualani.


ʻo Pualani

he haumana.




Pualani is not a student.


kēlā kaʻa o koʻu hoaloha

he mea ʻulaʻula.


Piko (with kāhulu)

Poʻo (with kāhulu)

That car of my friend is not red (a red thing).



e ʻai

i ka iʻa.




ʻAwe with Lauka

I want to eat (the) fish.


ʻo ia

e ʻike






He wants you to see.



iā ʻoe

e hele.





I want you to go.

Ua ʻai

ʻo Leo

i nā manakō

me Kimo

ma ke alanui.






Leo ate the mangos with Kimo on the street.

E Nani,


i kekahi manawa

kēia mau keiki!





Nani, sometimes these children are sloppy!

Ke hele ʻāwīwī mai nei


i aneʻi.




They are coming over here quickly.

ʻO koʻu māmā,


ʻo ia


i ia ʻano mea,


ʻo wau,

makemake nō











My mom doesn't like that sort of thing, but I do. (As for my mom, she doesnʻt like that sort of thing, but, as for me, i like.)

He kumu niu

ma laila.



There's a coconut tree there.


iā ʻoe

ke lawe

i kēia manakō.





You can take this mango

Ke Kinoʻō A Me Ke Kinoʻā (O-Class and A-Class Possessive Relationships)

Possessive relationships have two forms, where the form to be used depends on the noun that is possessed. In one case the letter a is used and in the other case itʻs the letter o. This distinction is called “A-Class” versus “O-Class”. The a and o appear in the context of possessive pronouns and with nouns to express the possessive relationship. Do we say "kaʻu hale" (A-Class) or "koʻu hale" (O-Class) for "my house"?

The categorization is not consistent in all cases and does not necessarily imply ownership in the strict sense, but rather speaks to the control of the relationship (and not directly to the control of the actual object being possessed). So, for example, you may not be able to control your cat but you can control your relationship to your cat (i.e. you can give it to someone else). (Buse 1960:131)[3]

Ke Kino‘ā (A-Class)

The thing possessed is “alienable” meaning that possession can be transferred to new ownership. This implies that you have a choice as to whether or not you possess the thing. Characteristics of A-Class things may include:




kaʻu puke

my book

kaʻu keiki

my child

kaʻu pūʻolo

my package

kaʻu ʻīlio

my dog

kaʻu kula

my school

Ke Kino‘ō (O-Class)

The thing possessed is “inalienable” meaning the possession cannot be taken from or given away by the possessor. This implies you have no choice as to whether or not you possess the thing.

Characteristics of O-Class things may include:



koʻu moena

my mat

koʻu pena lehelehe

my lipstick

koʻu māmalu

my umbrella

koʻu makuakāne

my father

koʻu kaʻa

my car

koʻu inoa

my name

koʻu hoahānau

my cousin

koʻu lio

my horse

koʻu hale ʻaina

my restaurant

koʻu manaʻo

my thoughts/feelings

The concept of an alienable versus inalienable relationship between possession and possessor is illustrated in the following examples where O-Class and A-Class possessive relationships are used for the same noun but where the two types imply different relationships:

O-Class vs A-Class

O-Class / Inalienable

A-Class / Alienable

koʻu kiʻi

The picture of me

kaʻu kiʻi

My picture (that I own)

koʻu hale

My house (that I live in)

kaʻu hale

My house (that I built for someone else)

koʻu ake

My liver (my internal organ)

kaʻu ake

My liver (my food that I can eat)

koʻu makua

My parent

kaʻu makua

My adult (a student/employee of mine)

noʻu kēlā

That is mine (I control it)

naʻu kēlā

That is mine (I have it right now)

koʻu lei

My lei (that I wear)

kaʻu lei

My lei (that Iʻm giving to someone else)

Note that an object is O-Class when you own and control it but it is an A-Class when you are going to give it to someone else, or it’s in your possession but you are going to transfer possession to someone else. (Wilson 1976: 39-50)


“There is a nice shade of distinction between the meanings of the relations expressed by a and o; but there is no preposition in English that will give the shade of difference. They must both be expressed in English by the preposition of; and yet they are so distinct in a Hawaiianʻs mind as rarely to be exchanged the one for the other.” (Andrews 1854:45)


Comparing Classical (Andrews, Alexander), Modern UH Mānoa (Pukui/Elbert, Hopkins in Ka Lei Haʻaheo) and Modern UH Hilo (Kamanā/Wilson in Nā Kai ʻEwalu) Grammatical Terminology

The first publications to comprehensively document the grammar of the Hawaiian language were (Chamisso 1837), (Andrews 1854) and (Alexander 1864). They all proceeded from classical Latin assumptions around the structure of language, seeking to identify word classifications (noun, pronoun, verb, adjective), noun declensions, verb cases and verb moods consistent with those in European languages. See (Schutz 1994) for a discussion of the issues around this approach.


The practice of aligning Hawaiian grammatical constructs with Latin concepts continued well into the 20th century with (Judd 1939). (Elbert/Pukui 1979) mostly abandons the attempt to define Hawaiian in terms of Latin grammar but assumes certain characteristic elements such as subject and predicate that do not directly match Hawaiian syntax. It also attaches Latin cases to the prepositions. (Elbert/Pukui 1979) does adopt the more natural classification of Hawaiian verbs into intransitive, transitive, stative and loaʻa (and similar) stative types, following publications on verb classes in other Polynesian languages in the 1960s.


The Hawaiian Renaissance, starting in the 1970s, gave rise to new ways to interpret and present Hawaiian grammar, attempting to match its inherent characteristics and provide a path to competence for a new generation of instructors in the language, particularly for the students of Hawaiian immersion schools. (Kamanā/Wilson 2012) introduced the concept of the pepeke (squid) to represent a sentence, consisting mainly of the poʻo (head), piko (navel) and ʻawe (tentacles). It applies Hawaiian terms for all the constructs of the language as needed in the first and second years of instruction in the language at UH Hilo.


In addition to the pepeke system which employs the concept of a squid, there is an alternate system which utilizes the kalo plant to represent a sentence. This system is called the Hāloa system and is shown below next to the pepeke system:

(Hopkins 1992) takes a different approach, defining a number of new English-language terms - not constrained by Latin grammar - for the Hawaiian language constructs for use in the first year of instruction at UH Mānoa.


The following table relates and illustrates the Hawaiian grammatical terms used in (Kamanā/Wilson 2012) by presenting the corresponding terms used by (Hopkins 1992), and the Hāloa system where available, supplemented with examples and notes.

Grammatical Terms

Pepeke System

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012)

 Hāloa System

(Hopkins 1992)





















Grammatical pattern

 Word types                 




common noun or verb: kikino, hamani, hehele, ʻaʻano


haʻiinoa laulā


an entity with a body



personal pronoun

au, ʻoe, ʻo ia, māua, kāua, mākou, lāua, lākou




nominal usage


pili mua





meme‘a preceded by a ka‘i

kaʻi hōʻiloa



he (indefinite article)

kaʻi huahelu




kaʻi iloa


definite article

ka, ke

kaʻi ākoʻa



ka, ke (indefinite plural)

kaʻi iloa/ʻākoa



nā (definite plural)

kaʻi kuhi



kēia, kēnā, kēlā, ia (demonstrative pronoun)

kaʻi wae



kekahi (one, some)

kaʻi nonoʻa



kou, kaʻu, ko ke kumu


inoa or

haʻiinoa pili kahi


proper noun

iʻoa paku

haʻiinoa wahi


place name

iʻoa kuhane



person name

iʻoa henua

haʻiinoa henua


 relative place

ʻami kāhea




ʻami ʻaike



ʻo (at start of sentence)

ʻami piko



ʻo (before name or location)

ʻami mole



mai, maiā (from)

ʻami henua

piko (lau) honua


ma (at)

ʻami hoa

piko (lau) hoa


me (with)

ʻami ʻākena ʻiae

piko (lau) aʻa hana


 Passive marker

ʻami kuhilana



i (to)

ʻami ʻākena ʻaʻano

piko (lau) aʻa hopena


 Agentative  preposition

ʻami lauka

lau pili

object marker

i, iā

ʻami kūmua

piko (lau) kūmua


 Preposition (from)

ʻami nonoʻa

piko (lau) noʻa

n-possessive, k-less possessive

na, no, a, o




wale, loa, ʻē, hou




aku, mai, aʻe, iho




ana, nei


hune hoʻoia


kā, lā, nō, hoʻi, paha








ʻaʻole, aia, inā

 Verb types         




general term for a verb – verbal usage


hana pili


kākau - takes a direct object


hana pili ʻole


hele - does not take a direct object




maʻa - describes a state, has a passive sense

 Syntactical constructs


hopuna ʻōlelo






phrase - incomplete sentence



adjective, adverb

wikiwiki, anuanu


leo pili ʻia mai

passive voice sentence with transitive verb

Ua kākau ʻia ka puke e aʻu. (The book was written by me.)



passive voice sentence with stative verb

Ua make ka iʻa i ke anuanu. (The fish died of cold.)

ʻawe ʻākena ʻaʻano

lau aʻa hopena


Agentative phrase (stative)

ʻawe lauka

lau pili


Object phrase

ʻawe hoa

lau hoa


Conjunctive phrase

ʻawe henua

lau henua


Locative phrase

ʻawe kūmua

lau kūmua


Prepositional phrase

ʻawe nonoʻa

lau noʻa


n-possessive phrase

pepeke ʻaike ʻo

ana kūlike ʻo

equational sentence

ʻO Keola ke kumu. (Keola is the teacher.)

pepeke ʻaike he

ana kūlike he

class-inclusion sentence

He kumu ʻo Keola. (Keola is a teacher.)

pepeke painu

ana haʻina

simple verb sentence

Ke aʻo mai nei ʻo Keola. (Keola is teaching.)

pepeke huahelu

ana helu


Number sentence

pepeke henua

ana henua

locational sentence

Aia ʻo Keola ma ke kula. (Keola is at school.)

pepeke nonoʻa


have-a sentence

He puke kaʻu. (I have a book.)

pepeke kālele kūlana


situation emphatic sentence

Ma ke kula e aʻo aku ana ʻo Keola. (It is at school that Keola is teaching.)

pepeke kālele ʻākena


actor emphatic sentence

Na Keola e aʻo aku ana. (It is Keola who is teaching.)

ʻoi aku


comparative sentence

ʻOi aku ke kaulana o Keola ma mua o Keani. (Keola is more famous than Keani.)

kiʻa pepeke


ʻana nominalization

Kaulana ke aʻo aku ʻana o Keola. (The teaching by Keola is famous.)

māka painu

māka haʻina

verb marker

Tenses and moods in verbs are indicated with external particles rather than conjugation:

Ua ʻike ʻo ia iaʻu. (He saw me.)

E nāna ana ʻo ia iaʻu. (He was looking at me.)

māka piko

kaha piko


Subject marker


kumu alakaʻi



kāhulu pepeke piko ʻole

pākuʻi haʻina kumu houʻole

relative clause type A

ʻO ia nō ke keiki i hele mai i ke kula. (He is the child who came to school.)

kāhulu pepeke piko hou

pākuʻi haʻina kumu hou

relative clause type B

ʻO ia nō ke keiki aʻu i ʻike mai i ke kula. (He is the child I saw at school.)


English/Latin Grammatical Terms

As discussed above, this book considers Hawaiian grammar both in the terms used by the many grammar books and course books from (Chamisso 1837) to (Schutz/Kanada/Cook 2005) as well as the new Hawaiian terms of (Kamanā/Wilson 2012). While the book discusses usage of all known Hawaiian language patterns with references to books of both categories, it does not define the English/Latin grammatical terms themselves but refers the interested reader to Wikipedia:

English Grammatical Terms


Wikipedia Reference










https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active%E2%80%93stative_language, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_(grammar)

















Definite, Indefinite






Direct Object, Indirect Object











https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrogative, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrogative_word











Noun Phrase












Proper Noun, Common Noun


Relative Clause






Subordinate Clause







https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitive_verb, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitivity_(grammar)



Verb Phrase




Word Types


One of the distinguishing features of the Hawaiian language is the versatility of word usage. The same word (excluding particles, conjunctions and prepositions) can in principle be used in the sense of a verb, a noun, an adjective or an adverb with no change in conjugation. Wahine, for example, can be used to indicate a woman, to become a woman, to have female characteristics or to do something in a feminine way.


English Type




He wahine ʻo ia.

She is a woman.


Ua wahine ʻo ia.

She has become a woman.


He leo wahine kona.

He/she has a feminine voice.


E hele wahine ʻoe.

Go like a woman.


In practice, many words are not commonly used as verbs, while any verb can be used as a noun (similar to a gerund in other languages). (Elbert/Pukui 1979:105) suggests that the noun-only words "are limited largely to material objects, plants and animals, and names of persons and places".

"...there is no formally distinguished class of adjective or of adverb in Hawaiian, Words performing as English adjectives and adverbs are stative verbs in Hawaiian." (Elbert/Pukui 1979:49). The usage patterns in Hawaiian suggest a different classification from that of verb, noun, adjective and adverb. The comprehensive Hawaiian dictionary (Pukui/Elbert 1986) uses one of the following terms to indicate the type of most words:







kumu (base, source, tree, teacher)


intransitive verb

hele (to go)


stative verb

maʻi (to be sick)


transitive verb

kākau (to write)


An additional category in (Elbert/Pukui 1979:43) includes "verbs commonly used as nouns without the nominalizer ʻana". They are treated in (Pukui/Elbert 1986) as a subcategory of vi., vs. and vt.:





nvi., nvs., nvt.


Nani ke mele. (The singing/song is beautiful.)


(Elbert/Pukui 1979) distinguishes between stative verbs of the loaʻa type and other stative verbs, and between "deliberate transitive" and "spontaneous transitive" verbs, but (Hawkins 1982:27) indicates that these distinctions are not relevant to a syntactical analysis such as ours.

A small number of words in (Pukui/Elbert 1986) have other well-defined types[5]:






conjunction (a particle connecting sentences, phrases, and words)

akā (but)



kēia (this)


interrogative (a question word)

aha (why, what)


interjection (a short expression that does not fit into the normal patterns of the language, often expressing emotion, but also including salutations, taunts, song refrains, calls to animals, and onomatopoeic sounds)

kā (disapproval, surprise)


locative noun (a noun indicating location in space or time)

loko (inside)



ʻelima (five)



ʻia (verb marker indicating passive sense)



kona (his, her)



ma (in, on, at)



Note that the same word may have more than one meaning, with the same or different types for the distinct meanings.

Counts by word type in (Pukui/Elbert 1986) (total entries there 26,853, whereof 20,890 unique terms):

Word type














Intransitive verb



Intransitive noun-verb



Transitive verb



Transitive noun-verb



Stative verb



Stative noun-verb


















Locative noun






Particle (this class is not used; instead part. and various specific particles are tagged)



The transitivizing prefixes ho-, hō-, hoʻ- and hōʻ-







There are 7,275 words that are not classified explicitly as one of the above. Of them, the following can be considered additional grammatical categories, variants or combinations:

Word type



idiom. (any short expression with meaning not deducible from the meanings of the parts)


Examples: aho, aia, eia, kana, mea



Particle; includes verb markers ke-nei, ke-lā and e, as well as the directional aku and the intensifiers such as hoʻi, paha and wale nō



N-possessives - nāna, nāu, naʻu, nona, nou, noʻu

Directional part. (a particle following a headword that indicates relative proximity in space or time of the speaker and hearer)


aʻela, akula, mai

Intensifying part.


e, nō, nohoʻi

vi., interj.


Can be intransitive verb or interjection



aʻe, iho

nvs., nvi.


Can be stative or intransitive verb - pā, pali

nvs., nvt.


Can be stative or transitive verb - makeleho

The rest need to be analyzed individually to determine the grammatical category (they generally refer to another term in the dictionary):

Word type










Variant, variety



Passive/imperative, verbs with the affix -a, -na or -ia to indicate a passive or imperative sense, e.g. huia (to be met) from hui (to meet)



Words made transitive with the prefix hoʻo-, e.g. hoʻopapa, hoʻonoho



Secondary reference



Beginning with a capital letter

Short for


Shortened form, e.g.  hakuleʻi - haku + pololeʻi

Rare var.


E.g. nahe - rare var. of nahenahe

A variety


Similar to




E.g. -kē - rare. suffix. Here and there. See holoholokē, holokē, lelekē.

Rare redup.


hulahula, kananana, lakolako

Miscellaneous other definitions


1,533 words in the Wehewehe database have more than one type. Six of them have six types, but only 346 altogether have more than two types.

See (CHD) for additional statistical analysis.

Nā Kikino (Nouns)

As discussed above, Hawaiian does not have a strict distinction between nouns and other word types, particularly verbs. Any word that can be used as a verb can also be used as a noun. However, some words that are used as nouns are rarely or never used as verbs. These words are classified as n for nouns in (Pukui/Elbert 1986) and as kikino in (Kamanā/Wilson 2012). n/kikino words are further subdivided into proper nouns (iʻoa) and common nouns (memeʻa), while proper nouns distinguish between names of people, spirits or pets (iʻoa kuhane) and names of places, buildings, canoes and songs (iʻoa paku). Some words function as iʻoa kuhane in certain contexts and iʻoa paku in others. (Kamanā/Wilson P2 2012:5,19).

Nā Meme‘a (Common Noun)

Common nouns (memeʻa) are not capitalized in common usage. Hawaiian names (proper nouns) are generally words with other usages (as common nouns). When the word is used as a name, it is capitalized. Example:



ke kula


ʻo Kula

the place named Kula

Aia he kula i Kula.

There is a school in Kula.

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 P1:5) describes memeʻa as "types of things, actions and conditions".

Nā Iʻoa (Proper Nouns)

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 P1:5) describes iʻoa as "personal names, place names and a few other terms".

As in English, proper nouns are generally capitalized. Proper nouns take the determiner ʻo when functioning as the subject of a sentence, not ka or ke or he. Examples:



ʻO kona inoa ʻo Kalei.

His name is Kalei.

ʻO Kalei kona inoa.

His name is Kalei.

Ua hele mai ʻo Kalei.

Kalei came.

When a proper noun functions as the object of a verb, it takes  rather than i as the object marker. Examples:



Ua ʻike au iā Kalei.

I saw Kalei.

E haʻalele ana ʻo ia iā Kula.

He is leaving Kula,

That contrasts with i as object marker for common nouns:



E haʻalele ana ʻo ia i ke kula.

He is leaving the school.

Proper nouns are further divided into place names (iʻoa paku) and other names (iʻoa kuhane). While all proper nouns take  instead of i as object marker, a place name takes the preposition i to indicate location or direction.

Historically, the object marker in Proto-Polynesian was *i while the preposition was *ki. The two merged in pronunciation in Hawaiian but should be treated as separate grammatical entities. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:135)

A non-place proper noun takes only an object marker ; it does not take a preposition (i). Examples:



Ua hele ʻo ia i Kula.

He went to Kula.

Ke noho nei ʻo ia i Kula.

He is living in Kula.

Makemake ʻo ia iā Kula.

He likes Kula.

Nā Helunui (Plurals)

Only a very small number of nouns take a different form when indicating plural. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:106) lists ten such nouns, all of them referring to people; the plural of these nouns has the third from the last vowel lengthened (note that a plural determiner is required when using these):






family god



old man



old person















old woman







Plurality is indicated by the definite determiner  used with a noun or by the plural modifier mau, used with the indefinite determiners he and kekahi and with the possessive and demonstrative pronouns.



Aia ke keiki ma ʻō.

The child is over there.

Aia nā keiki ma ʻō.

The children are over there.

Aia ka wahine ma ʻō.

The woman is over there.

Aia nā wāhine ma ʻō.

The women are over there.

Aia he mau keiki ma ʻō.

There are children over there.

Aia kekahi mau keiki ma ʻō.

There are some children over there.

Aia kaʻu mau keiki ma ʻō.

My children are over there.

Naʻu kēlā mau keiki.

Those children are mine.

(Alexander 1864:6) adds three collective plural modifiers: poʻe (for people), puʻu (for lifeless things) and pae (for lands or islands). Similar uses are described in (Andrews 1854:39-41).[15]



He poʻe haumāna

A company of disciples (students)

Ka poʻe wāhine

The women

He puʻu pōhaku

A pile of stones

Kēia pae moku

These islands

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:162) says that poʻe may be used also for inanimate nouns. It also lists kau for more than two items, wahi for a small or insignificant number and nāhi (contraction of nā wahi), but not puʻu or pae as plural markers. kau and nāhi are rarely used.



Kēia poʻe hale

These houses

Ua ʻike anei ʻoe i kau puaʻa a mākou?

Have you seen our pigs?

kāna wahi wāhine

his unimportant wives

ʻAuhea akula nāhi keiki?

Where are the boys?

mau can also be used with collective nouns to indicate multiple instances:



E kiʻi ʻoe i ka wai!

Go get water!

E kiʻi ʻoe i kekahi mau wai!

Go get the water (bottles)!

He one kēia.

This is sand.

He mau one kēia.

These are different kinds of sand.

Mass Nouns

To express "some" of an object type, the following patterns are used:

i/he kikino

(i) kekahi (mau) kikino

For example:

Ua noi ke kuene i kāpiki.


Ua noi ke kuene i kekahi mau kāpiki.        
The waitress asked for some cabbage.

Note that he never follows i. (Hawkins 1982:4) In other words, when the noun is an object, it takes only i or only he.

Ua hānau mai ʻo ia he keiki kāne.                She bore a son.



Ua hele mai ʻo Puhiʻula mai kekahi ʻāina mai.

Puhiʻula came from some land.

I kona hele ʻana mai, ua hoʻololi ʻo ia iā ia iho i puhi nui loa.

On coming, he changed himself into a very large eel.

E lawe mai ʻoe i kalo naʻu e hana ai i ka poi.

Bring some kalo for me to make poi.

Ua kua au i kumu lāʻau na Kimo e kūkulu ai i ka hale. (or i hale, or he hale)

I cut some trees for Kimo to build a house.

E kūʻai ʻoe i kini na ke kumu e inu ai.

Buy some gin for the kumu to drink.

Ua kūʻai mai ʻo ia i kekahi palaoa āna e hānai ai i ka iʻa.

She bought some bread to feed the fish.

I wai e inu ai?

Can I have some water to drink?

Makemake au i kumu e ola ai.

I want a reason to live.


Male and female instances of a thing represented by a noun are indicated by appending kāne or wahine. In some common cases, a new compound word is formed while in most cases kāne or wahine is written as a separate word.



moa kāne


moa wahine






Nā Iʻoa Henua (Locative Nouns)

A number of nouns for time and place are considered to be locative nouns in Hawaiian. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:120-121) distinguishes between those that can be used with or without the determiner ka/ke (usually with different meanings) and those that can only be used without the determiner. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:121) identifies ten words of the first type:

I‘oa Henua


Without determiner

With determiner



Aia ke ao i luna. (The cloud is above.)

No ka luna ko luna, no ka lalo ko lalo. (What belongs up is up, what belongs down is down - Everything has a place and an order.)



Aia ke kanaka i lalo o ke kaʻa. (The person is under the car.)

Ua ʻike ʻo ia i ka lalo o ke kaʻa. (He saw the underside of the car.)


before, first

Ua hānau ʻia ʻo ia ma mua o ka ʻōlaʻi. (He was born before the earthquake.)

ʻO Keola ka mua. (Keola is the first-born, or the first to go.)


middle, center

Noho ʻo ia ma waena o Kahului a Pukalani. (He lives between Kahului and Pukalani.)

ʻO Makawao ka waena o ka moku. (Makawao is the center of the island.)


after, last, because

Ua hiki mai ʻo Keola ma hope o Keani. (Keola arrived after Keani.)

ʻO Keola nō ka hope. (Keola is indeed the last-born.)


after, last, because of something/someone

Ma muli o lāua i haʻalele ʻo Keola. (Because of them, Keola left.)

ʻO ka muli loa ʻo Keola. (Keola is the last-born.)


in, mainland

Ua komo ʻo ia i loko o ke kaʻa. (He got in the car.)

Paʻapū ka loko o ka lumi. (The inside of the room is crowded.)



Ke moe nei ʻo ia i waho o ka hale. (He is sleeping outside the house.)

Ua ʻike ʻo ia i ka waho o ka hale, (He saw the outside of the house.)



Aia ʻo Ala Moana Pāka ma kai aku o ke alanui Ala Moana. (Ala Moana Park is seaward of Ala Moana Boulevard.)

Ua lawe lākou i ka waʻa i ke kai. (They took the canoe to the ocean.)



Ua neʻe aku ʻo ia i uka o Kahului. (He moved inland from Kahului.)

Anuanu ka makani o ka uka. (The wind of the inland is cold.)

(Hopkins 1992:126) does not consider muli to be a locative.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979) indicates that mamuli o (because) can be shortened to ma o.



Ua hele mai au ma ona ala.

I came for his sake.

Ma o wai ʻoukou i pili ai?

Through whom are you all related?

When using or referring to an Iʻoa Henua the kaʻi clarifies the intended meaning.  The following table provides the meaning of the kaʻi and Iʻoa henua combination as well as an example:


Iʻoa henua




iā luna

 The top

 E nānā ʻoe iā luna.

 Look at the top.

o luna

 Of the top

 Anuanu ka hau o luna.

 The snow of the top is cold.

i luna

 Towards the  top

 E nānā ʻoe i luna.

 Look toward the top.

ʻo luna

 As a piko

 Anuanu ʻo luna

 The top is cold.

ma luna

 On top

 A  ia ke keiki ma luna.

 The child is on top.

Locative nouns of the second type (not used with a determiner) are place names and the following (Elbert/Pukui 1979:121-122):





ʻaneʻi, ʻoneʻi


Aia ke kaʻa ma ʻaneʻi.

The car is here.



lepo ma haʻi o ke kalo

dirt on the edge of the taro


carried in front (poetic)

kuʻu keiki i hiʻialo ʻia

my beloved child carried in my arms


carried in back (poetic)

hele ʻia i hiʻikua i hiʻialo

gone far and near

kahakai, kahaone

beach, seashore

Hiki i nā ʻīlio ke ʻauʻau i kahakai.

The dogs can swim at the beach.

kahi (ka + wahi)

the place

I laila kahi a mākou i holo ai.

There was the place we rode to.

kapa, kakapa

edge, boundary

kū ma kapa

to stand on the edge (figuratively: forbidding)


household, home

kanaka hele i kauhale

a person who goes from house to house



Ua hiki aku kāua i kulakula.

We have reached the open fields (a place to stop).

laila (often pronounced leila or lila)


ʻAʻohe aʻu mea makemake o laila.

There is nothing I want there.



Aia akula i makalae i ka paeaea.

There [he's] gone on the shore pole fishing.


windward, easterly

mai naʻe a lalo

from east to west



nā kānaka lawaiʻa o neʻi nei

the fishermen of this place; the local fishermen



i ʻō i ʻaneʻi

here and there, to and fro

Time words of the second type (used without a determiner):







Hele mai nei nō ʻānō.

Come here now.



Hele kākou ʻapōpō.

We go tomorrow.



mai kinohi a Hōʻike ʻAna

from Genesis to Revelations (from beginning to end)



Nāwaliwali au mai nehinei mai nō.

I have been unwell since yesterday.

When used with motion verbs, the locatives are generally preceded by i. In other cases, they may be preceded by i or ma with no difference in meaning. (Hopkins 1992:126)



Ua hiki ʻo Keola i loko o ka hale

Keola arrived in the house.

Ke moe nei ʻo Keola i loko o ka hale.

Keola is sleeping in the house.

Ke moe nei ʻo Keola ma loko o ka hale.

Keola is sleeping in the house.

When mua and hope are used to express location in time, they are always preceded by ma.



ma mua o ka ʻaina kakahiaka

before breakfast

ma hope (iho)

later on, afterwards

ma mua o kēlā manawa

before that time, before then

ma hope o kaʻu hana

after my work

Mua and hope are also used as adverbs and modifiers with "time" meanings.



Ua ʻai mua ʻo ia.

He ate already (earlier).

kaʻu papa mua

my first class

ka hōʻike hope loa

the final exam

hele hope

younger sibling (come after)

Nā Papani (Pronouns)


"Hawaiian distinguishes between singular, dual, and plural. The dual pronouns refer to groups of two people (we two, you two, they two). The plural pronouns refer to groups of three or more... Hawaiian distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive pronouns in the first person dual and plural. There are four Hawaiian pronouns where English uses one word, 'we'." (Hopkins 1992:31).

Meaning of first person plural types:

Dual Inclusive                You and me

Dual Exclusive        We two (not including you)

Plural Inclusive        All of us

Plural Exclusive        We, but not you

As Subject

First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


au (I)

ʻoe (you)

ʻo ia (he/she)


kāua (we)

māua (we)

ʻolua (you)

lāua (they)


kākou (we)

mākou (we)

ʻoukou (you)

lākou (they)




E hele au i ke kula.

I will go to school.

E hele kāua i ke kula.

Let's you and me go to school.

E hele māua i ke kula.

The two of us (not including you) will go to school.

E hele kākou i ke kula.

Let's go to school (three or more people, including you).

E hele mākou i ke kula.

We (three or more people, not including you) will go to school.

Ua hele ʻoe i ke kula?

Did you (one person) go to school?

Ua hele ʻolua i ke kula?

Did you two go to school?

Ua hele ʻoukou i ke kula?

Did you (three or more people) go to school?

Ua hele ʻo ia i ke kula.

He/she went to school.

Ua hele lāua i ke kula.

The two of them went to school.

Ua hele lākou i ke kula.

They (three or more people) went to school.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:109) also discusses haʻi in this context as a pronoun, with the meaning "someone" or "someone else".




nā keiki a haʻi

someone else's children

Na haʻi kēlā.

That was done by someone else./That belongs to someone else.

Mai haʻi iā haʻi!

Don't tell someone (anyone)!

Nā Kuʻi Papani (As Subject with Additional Participant)

māua and lāua are also used to express I and he/she together with an additional person (or other animate entity), taking ʻo or me to connect the additional entity. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:108-109)

ʻolua may also be used in the same way to express you and an additional person (or other animate entity). (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 II:30)



Hele mai lāua ʻo Keola.

He comes with Keola.

E kūkulu ana lāua ʻo kona makuakāne i koʻu hale.

He and his father are going to build my house.

Ke ʻai nei māua ʻo Keola.

Keola and I are eating.

māua me kuʻu makuahine

my mother and I

ʻolua ʻo kāu kāne

you and your husband

After a Preposition or Object Marker

After a preposition or the object marker , the third person singular pronoun drops the determiner ʻo and becomes ia instead of ʻo ia, while the first person singular form is aʻu. With the object marker , the first person singular contracts to iaʻu. As with proper nouns, pronouns take  as object marker rather than i.

First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


iaʻu (me)

iā ʻoe (you)

iā ia (him/her)


iā kāua (us)

iā māua (us)

iā ʻolua (you)

iā lāua (them)


iā kākou (us)

iā mākou (us)

iā ʻoukou (you)

iā lākou (them)




Hele ʻo ia me aʻu i ke kula.

He goes with me to school.

Ua ʻike ʻo ia iaʻu i ke kula.

He saw me at school.

Hele au me ia i ke kula.

I go with him to school.

Ua ʻike au iā ia i ke kula.

I saw him at school.

E hele ʻo ia me kāua i ke kula.

He will go with us two to school.

Ua ʻike au iā lāua i ke kula.

I saw the two of them at school.

Ua ʻike ʻo ia iā mākou i ke kula.

He saw us (three or more) at school.

E hele au me ʻoukou i ke kula.

I will go with you (three or more) to school.

Nā Nonoʻa (Possessives)

The basic possessive particles used to build possessive pronouns and possessive relationships in general start with or consist of a or o, depending on if the relationship is o-class or a-class. They are called ʻami nonoʻa iki or ∅-possessives or k-less possessives (because they do not have a prefix). The kaʻi nonoʻa or k-possessives have k prefixed while the ʻami nonoʻa nui or n-possessives have n prefixed.

A k-possessive and its corresponding ∅-possessive pronoun can be used interchangeably, although it requires changing the order of the possessed and possessor.

Nā Kaʻi Nonoʻa (K-possessive)

The singular forms of the k-possessive pronouns have a distinct form with k- prefixed to the ∅-possessive as a single word, while the dual and plural take  or ko (depending on if it is an a-class or o-class relationship) with the personal pronoun retained unchanged as a separate word. Note that  and ko are also used with nouns in general to indicate k-type possession, e.g. kā ka haumana puke (the student's book), in the same way. Some authors write  instead of ko.


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


kaʻu (my)

kāu (your)

kāna (his)


kā kāua (our)

kā māua (our)

kā ʻolua (your)

kā lāua (their)


kā kākou (our)

kā mākou (our)

kā ʻoukou (your)

kā lākou (their)


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


koʻu (my)

kou (your)

kona (his)


ko kāua (our)

ko māua (our)

ko ʻolua (your)

ko lāua (their)


ko kākou (our)

ko mākou (our)

ko ʻoukou (your)

ko lākou (their)




koʻu inoa

my name

ko māua makuakāne

our father

kou kaʻa

your car

kāu ʻeke

your bag

kāna kope

his coffee

kā lākou ʻīlio

their dog

Ko/Kā Ia Nei, Ko/Kā Ia Ala

The k-possessive is used in the following pattern to mean "his here" or "his there":

ko ia nei (pronounced koinei)                his here (o-possessive)

kā ia nei (pronounced kāinei)                his here (a-possessive)

ko ia ala (pronounced koiala)                his there (o-possessive)

kā ia ala (pronounced kāiala)                his there (a-possessive)



ko ia nei ʻāina

his land here

ko ia ala ʻāina

his land over there

Ko ia nei kū aʻela nō ia a hoʻi.

And then she got up to go home. (This is an ʻO ka painu dir la pattern)

nonolo ko ia nei ihu

his nose here snored (this guy snored)

Nā ʻAmi Nonoʻa Iki (∅-possessive)

The singular forms of the ∅-possessive pronouns have a distinct single-word form, while the dual and plural take a or o (depending on if it is an a-class or o-class relationship) with the personal pronoun retained unchanged as a separate word. Note that a and o are also used with nouns in general to indicate ∅-type possession, e.g. ka puke a ka haumana (the student's book), in the same way.


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


aʻu (my)

āu (your)

āna (his)


a kāua (our)

a māua (our)

a ʻolua (your)

a lāua (their)


a kākou (our)

a mākou (our)

a ʻoukou (your)

a lākou (their)


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


oʻu (my)

ou (your)

ona (his)


o kāua (our)

o māua (our)

o ʻolua (your)

o lāua (their)


o kākou (our)

o mākou (our)

o ʻoukou (your)

o lākou (their)




ka inoa oʻu

my name

ka makuakāne o māua

our father

ke kaʻa ou

your car

ka ʻeke āu

your bag

ke kope ona

his cup

ka ʻīlio a lākou

their dog

Nā ʻAmi Nonoʻa Nui (N-possessive)

The singular forms of the n-possessive pronouns have a distinct form with n- prefixed to the ∅-possessive as a single word, while the dual and plural take na or no (depending on if it is an a-class or o-class relationship) with the personal pronoun retained unchanged as a separate word. The n-possessive pronouns are used in verbless sentences to ask and answer the question "Whose is this (thing)?" (HOPKINS-1992:176) Note that na and no are also used with nouns in general to ask and answer similar questions, e.g. na ka haumana ka puke (the book is the student's), in the same way.

Na and no are also used as a preposition to indicate a beneficiary, e,g, No Keola kēia mele. (This song is for/about Keola); Ua haku ʻia kēia mele no Keola. (This song was composed for/about Keola.) Prepositions are discussed below.

Na at the start of a painu (verb) sentence indicates instead that the sentence structure is kālele ʻākena, e.g. Naʻu i holoi i nā pā. (It was I that washed the dishes.) Kālele ʻākena is discussed below.


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


naʻu (my)

nāu (your)

nāna (his)


na kāua (our)

na māua (our)

na ʻolua (your)

na lāua (their)


na kākou (our)

na mākou (our)

na ʻoukou (your)

na lākou (their)


First person inclusive

First person exclusive

Second person

Third person


noʻu (my)

nou (your)

nona (his)


no kāua (our)

no māua (our)

no ʻolua (your)

no lāua (their)


no kākou (our)

no mākou (our)

no ʻoukou (your)

no lākou (their)



Na wai kēia pāpale?

Whose is this hat?

Noʻu kēnā pāpale.

That hat is mine.

Nāna ka puke.

The book is his.

No mākou ka hale.

The house is ours

Nou ke kuleana.

The responsibility is yours.

Na lākou ka ʻīlio.

The dog is theirs.

ʻAʻole kēia kaʻa noʻu i kēia wā.

This car isn't mine any more.

ʻAʻole au nāna.

I'm not his (son).

The n-possessive pronouns have a stronger sense of ownership (vs possession) than the k-possessive pronouns:

Naʻu kēlā kaʻa.                            That car is mine.

ʻO kēlā kaʻa koʻu kaʻa.                        That is my car.

They may also indicate "taking ownership/responsibility":



Naʻu nō e kōkua.

It is certainly I who am to help.

Naʻu e mālama kona mau iwi a hiki i ka wā e loaʻa ai ʻo kaʻu pua.[16]

I was to care for her bones until I had a child.

With i (be!, do!) or he, no and na imply "one of".



He ʻīlio kēia na Kimo

This is a dog of Kimo's (Kimo's dog).

He hoaaloha ʻo ia noʻu.

She is a friend of mine (my friend).

He mau moʻopuna lāua nāu?

Are they grandchildren of yours (your grandchildren)?

I ipo ʻoe nāna.

Be a girlfriend of his (Be his girlfriend).

I wahi noho kēia no ʻolua.

Let this be a living place for you (Why don't you live here?).

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 P2:174-175)

Comparison of Pronouns, Third Person Singular





ʻo ia

Ua hele ʻo ia.

He went.


iā ia

Ua ʻike au iā ia.

I saw him



ʻElua āna puke.

He has two books.



ʻO kēlā kāna puke.

That is his book.



Nāna ka puke.

That is his book.


The demonstratives in Hawaiian consist of k-class and ∅-class. Distinction is made between objects close to the speaker, close to the addressee or far from both. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:93)

k-class and ∅-class:

Near speaker


Near addressee








ia, ua

ala, lā/-la, ana

Ia and ua are generally translated as "the aforementioned". In connected discourse or narration, kēlā preceding a noun means “the” in the sense of aforementioned: Kēlā mau mea, those things. (Pukui/Elbert 1986:143) Ia is more common in conversation than kēlā or kēnā.

A common construction in literature is ua + noun + nei///ala (see below for examples).

Neia is termed an aberrant n-demonstrative by (Elbert/Pukui 1979:110) meaning "this" and is rare, mostly used in the Bible and in mele.



Ua maikaʻi kēia.

This is good.

ʻAʻole kēnā ʻo ke kolopā.

That (near you) is not the crowbar.

ʻAʻole kēnā he wahine ʻē.

That (near you) is not a strange woman.

E hele ana kēia i ka hana.

I (this person) am going to work.

Maikaʻi ia mea.

This (aforementioned) thing is good.

Hawaiʻi nei

this (beloved) Hawaii

ua kanaka nei

this person (just mentioned)

ua hale lā

that house (just spoken of)

o neia manawa

of this time

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:114) suggests a third type of demonstratives: p-class.


Near speaker


Near addressee


Like this



Like that







Pēlā ka pane.

The answer is like that.

Pēnei ka nūhou.

Here is (follows) the news.

Pehea ke kiʻina a ka ipo?

How to get a sweetheart?


The following are the Hawaiian interrogative words:




What, why


where, which




when (future)


when (past)


how many, how much

Aha, hea and wai substitute for nouns (see examples below). (Elbert/Pukui 1979:119).

Aha is commonly used in the phrases he aha (what, as subject of a sentence) and no/i ke aha (why).

Hea occurs frequently following the locational prepositions i, ma, mai and no. It can also follow a kikino to mean "which".




He aha kēlā?

What's that?

No ke aha ʻo ia i haʻalele ai i ka papa?

Why did he leave class?

Ua aha ʻoe?

What happened to you?

Aia ke kumu ma hea?

Where is the teacher?

ʻO wai ke kumu?

Who's the teacher (what is the teacher's name)?

ʻEhia kālā?

How much money?

No hea mai ʻo ia?

Where is he from (where is he a native of)?

Āhea e pau ai ka papa?

When will the class end?

Ināhea ʻoe i hiki mai ai?

When did you arrive?

Ua nānā ʻoe i ke kiʻi ʻoniʻoni hea?

Which movie did you watch?


(Alexander 1864:13) lists the following as indefinite pronouns:






some, a little


some part, some


one, a, a certain


a certain, some

Alexander states that haʻi "is used only after prepositions, and never occurs in the nominative case", but that opinion is not shared in later studies, including (Elbert/Pukui 1979:109).

See above for consideration of haʻi as a personal pronoun by (Elbert/Pukui 1979:109).

(Alexander 1864:13) suggests that in addition to the above, ʻĒ "is properly an adjective, but it may be well to mention it in this connection."

kekahi is often used in the phrase kekahi i kekahi to mean "each other" or "one another". After the subject of a sentence, it means "also", e.g. ʻO au kekahi. (Me too).




ko haʻi waiwai

another's property

ke kauwahi o ka ʻōlelo a ke Akua

a little of the word of God

Eia nā inoa o kahi mau mea.

Here are the names of certain persons.

E aloha ʻoukou i kekahi i kekahi.

Love one another.

kēlā wahi kanaka

that fellow

Nā Painu (Verbs)

The distinction between hehele (intransitive), hamani (transitive) and ʻaʻano (stative) verbs was introduced in the overview section of this chapter. It was also pointed out that any painu (verb) can be used as a noun or as a modifier (kāhulu - adjective or adverb). In common usage, some verbs take the nominalizer ʻana when functioning as nouns while others don’t. The former are denoted as v, vt, vi or vs in (Pukui/Elbert 1986:xviiii,xxv-xxvi) while the latter are denoted as nv, nvt, nvi or nvs.

Examples of verb usage as nouns, following (Pukui/Elbert 1986):


Verb type


ke kani ʻana


making noise

ke kei


taking pride in

ke kālewa ʻana


moving from place to place

ke kele



ke kale ʻana


being watery (poi)

ke koa


being brave or a warrior

More words are denoted as nouns than as verbs in (Pukui/Elbert 1986).

Stative verbs are most common, followed by intransitive.

Using the vocabulary[17] introduced in (Kamanā/Wilson 2012) provides a somewhat different picture. This vocabulary is focused on the language of modern conversation and news reporting.

The number of nouns is greater than that of verbs, but the stative verbs do not dominate among the verbs.

Verbs acquire a mood or tense through māka painu (verb markers), not through conjugation as in European languages.

Nā Hamani (Transitive)

Transitive verbs take a direct object:



Ua ʻai ʻo ia i ka poi.

He ate the poi.

Na ke Akua i hana i nā mea.

God made the things.

Noʻonoʻo iho i ka panina.

Think about the answer.

Ua ʻike au iā Keola.

I saw Keola.

A transitive verb takes the particle ʻia to express a passive sense, where the subject of the sentence is the ʻōkena (object) rather than the ʻākena (actor). See the section on ʻia for details.



Ua ʻai ʻia ka poi e ke keiki.

The poi was eaten by the boy.

Ua hana ʻia nā mea e ke Akua.

The things were made by God.

Nā Hehele (Intransitive)

Intransitive verbs do not take a direct object:



Mai hele ʻoe.

Don't go.

Ua kū aʻe ʻo Kalei.

Kalei stood up.

E ʻauʻau kāua.

Let's swim (we two).

Intransitive verbs do not take nui or loa as intensifiers. "Hele loa" means to go far, not to go a great deal. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:48).

Nā ʻAʻano (Stative)

The concept of stative verbs was introduced in the study of Polynesian languages in 1965 and adopted in the 1971 version of (Pukui/Elbert 1986). They "refer to a state of affairs, rather than to an action, event, or process." (Elbert/Pukui 1979:49) Stative verbs are often used where an adjective or adverb would be used in English:



Hauʻoli au.

I am happy.

He puke maikaʻi kēia.

This is a good book.

ʻO ka lio kaulana loa ʻo Kimo.

Kimo is the most famous horse.

Ua paʻani hauʻoli nō lākou.

They played quite happily.

When a stative verb is used with the māka painu ua, the sense is not that the state occurred in the past but that the transition to the state has completed:



Ua wahine ʻo ia.

She is (has become) a woman.

Ua maʻi ʻo ia.

He is (became) sick.

Stative verbs usually take the possessive o rather than a:



ka nani o ka wahine

the beauty of the woman

Where the passive form of transitive verbs takes e to indicate the agent, stative verbs take i (or  for pronouns and proper nouns):



Ua ʻike ʻia ke keiki e ke kumu.

The child was seen by the teacher.

Ua maʻi ke keiki i ke anuanu.

The child is (has become) sick from cold.

Stative verbs take loa rather than nui as intensifier:



make loa

completely dead

maikaʻi loa

very good

A verb word may be stative in one context and transitive in another. (Hawkins 1979:21) gives the example:



ʻOno ka poi.

The poi is delicious. (stative)

ʻOno au i ka poi.

I crave poi. (transitive)

ʻOno ka poi iaʻu.

The poi is delicious to me. (stative)

Minamina au i ka lei.

I prize the lei.

Minamina ka lei iaʻu.

The lei is prized by me.

Loaʻa-type Verbs

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:49) considers "a much smaller class of stative verbs, but of much-used ones... called loaʻa-type (vsl)." The three most commonly used are hiki, loaʻa and maopopo. Verbs of this type are[18]:

Loa‘a Verbs

Loaʻa verb



find, get






live, save


in pain


be thrown down




win, lose

















The usage of many of these words is challenging to grasp for English-speakers because they indicate the state of the object rather than an action by the subject:



Ua loaʻa ke kaʻa i koʻu makuakāne.

My dad got the car. Literally "The car was gotten by my dad".

ʻAʻole maopopo iaʻu kona ʻōlelo.

I don't understand what he is saying. Literally "His speaking is not understood by me".

Ua lilo kēla kalaka i ka ʻaihue.

That truck was taken by a thief. Literally "That truck was lost due to a thief".

Hiki nō iaʻu ke aʻo aku i nā papa.

I can teach the classes. Literally "It is possible for me to teach the classes".

As with the other stative verbs, the agent in the examples above is indicated with i, iaʻu or , not with e.

(Schutz 1994:288) suggests that "the feature the so-called loaʻa verbs have in common is that they are not only stative, but that two entities are involved", i.e. that they are used with an agent as well as a subject.

Traditionally, loaʻa-type verbs did not take the passive voice particle ʻia because their sense is inherently passive, but (Elbert/Pukui 1979:50-51) indicates that some Hawaiian speakers now use it to express a passive transitive sense:



Ua wela ʻia kona ʻāʻī i ka pauka.

His neck was burned with powder.

Ua nui loa ʻia kona inaina.

His wrath was very great.

Nā Huakahu Helu (Numbers)

The numbers zero through nine have a base form which is only used in certain contexts in speech, as a suffix in compound words (e.g. makawalu - numerous, literally "eight eyes") and when included as part of numbers greater than ten and as ordinals. They are prefixed with ʻe when standing alone as cardinal numbers in counting or in qualifying a memeʻa (noun).

Base form

Stand-alone form































For the number one, the form hoʻokahi is used to indicate one item, while ʻekahi is used in counting.



ʻekahi, ʻelua, ʻekolu

one, two, three

hoʻokahi lio

one horse

Base numbers beyond nine are:






















100 (from English)


1,000 (from English)


1,000,000 (from English)

The base numbers from 10 through 90 are extended with -kūmā- and a number between 1 and 9 to indicate the single digit part. In older texts and formal speech, -kumamā- may be used instead of -kūmā-. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:159) No conjunction is used when joining haneli, kaukani or miliona with another base number from 10 up. A me is used to connect haneli, kaukani or miliona with a number between 1 and 9.








19 (in the Bible or formal speech)



ʻehā kaukani, ʻekolu haneli kanalimakūmālua


hoʻokahi haneli a me ʻeiwa


ʻekolu kaukani a me ʻelua


Older texts additionally used base numbers loosely identified as 4 followed by a number of 0's (Alexander 1864:10):












The base form of the numbers one through nine is used in conversation when e.g. saying a telephone number.



walu ʻole walu, hiku kahi ʻole, hā kahi iwa lima

808 710-4195

kahi, lua, kolu

One, two three (here I come)

A compound number or the ʻe- form of a number one through nine (hoʻokahi for one) may occur in one of two positions in a phrase to indicate a number of items:

1. After a kaʻi (determiner) and before the optional plural marker mau:









two fish

2. After a memeʻa (noun):








the two fish



ʻelua iʻa

two fish

ʻelua mau iʻa

two fish

He ʻelua mau iʻa kēia.

These are two fish.

Eia nō nā iʻa ʻelua.

Here are the two fish.

Eia nō nā iʻa he ʻelua.

Here are the two fish.

See Ka Pepeke Nonoʻa for usage of cardinal numbers indicating possession.


There are two patterns for ordinal numbers:




























the second child

Note that the memeʻa (noun) and the ka‘i (determiner)  are singular. Using the plural ka‘i in the second form makes it a cardinal expression:

nā keiki he ‘elua

the two children

kēia mau keiki (he) ‘elua

these two children

However, mua is used instead of a base number for "the first".



ka mua o ke keiki

the first child

ke kolu o ka lā

the third day

ka hiku o ka makahiki

the seventh year

ka iwakāluakumākahi o ka lā

the 21st day


To indicate "two-by-two", "three at a time", "into four parts", etc, use the form pā- + base number:



miki pālua

to dip twice (eat poi with two fingers)

hānau pālima

quintuplet birth

hāʻawi pākolu

to give to three

hoʻonoho pāhā

to arrange by fours


Fractions are expressed as hapa- + base number. Without a base number, hapa is loosely interpreted as half.




one half


one third


one fourth

ʻElua hapalima

Two fifths

He hapa haole a he hapa Hawaiʻi au.

I am half non-Hawaiian and half Hawaiian.

Nā Kaʻi Iloa a Hōʻiloa (Articles)

Memeʻa (common nouns and verbs used as nouns) generally must be preceded by one and only one kaʻi.



Aia ʻo Kimo ma ka hale.

Kimo is at home (in the house).

Aia ʻo Kimo ma koʻu hale.

Kimo is at my house.

Aia ʻo Kimo ma hale.


Aia ʻo Kimo ma ka koʻu hale.


Ua kūʻai ʻo Kimo i ka hale.

Kimo bought the/a house.

Ua kūʻai ʻo Kimo i hale.


Ka, Ke, Nā (Definite)

As a general rule, ke is used as the singular definite article before words beginning with k, a, e, or o; ka as the singular definite article before other words; nā before plurals.



ke kao

the goat

ke ao

the cloud

ka hale

the house

ka ua

the rain

nā kao

the goats

nā hale

the houses

There are some words starting with ʻokina or p (and a few others) that take ke instead of ka.

Nouns Unexpectedly Taking Ke Instead Of Ka

There are a number of words that take the kaʻi “ke” when conventional grammar “rules” would indicate that the kaʻi “ka” should be used. The rule (“words starting with k,e,a,o take ke”) has a number of exceptions including some words beginning with the ʻokina (glottal stop) and some words beginning with the letter “p”. In these cases the use of “ke” imparts a different meaning to the noun. “Ke” has been referred to as a vestigial form because it occurs as “te” in other Polynesian languages. These exceptions to the general rule are called kūʻēlula (kūʻē means to defy, and lula means rule).


The following list is close to, but not completely, exhaustive. In cases where the kaʻi impacts the meaning of the kikino (noun) both definitions are provided. In a number of cases, only the first example kikino is shown in the case when several, more specific, modified forms of the kikino are also preceded by ke. For example, only  ke pā  (plate) is listed however the following modified forms also take ke:

·         Ke pā ʻoma                  Baking pan

·         Ke pā pahiolo                  Saw blade

·         Ke pā pālahalaha            Platter

·         Ke pā palai                  Frying pan

(and more)


In the Fornander legends and in the Biblical "Song of Solomon" mele 'song' is usually preceded by ke: Kau hou 'o Kamaunu-a-Niho i ke mele (FS 201). 'Ka-maunu-a-Niho chanted the song again.' Youʻll find this usage supported in the University of Hawaii.



ke ʻa

Lava rock (“ke” is found in some early usages)

ka ʻa

Fire, fiery

ke ʻaki

Top, tip, height

ka ʻaki

A fastening to ones hair to make a knot or braid

ke pāhoehoe

Smooth unbroken lava rock (may also take ka)

ke ʻala

Perfume, fragrance (fig. Esteemed)

ka ʻala

A variety of taro; dense volcanic stone for poi pounders, adzes, etc.

ke ʻālina

Scar, blemish, fig. Low, discraced social status

ke ʻamaʻumaʻu

Young ʻamaʻu ferns, many ʻamʻu ferns, a covering of ʻamaʻu ferns

ka ʻamaʻumaʻu

Place of amaʻu ferns, the term for ʻamaʻu fern species

ke ʻamaʻu

A covering of ferns

ke ʻanini

Eaves overhanging a structure

ke ʻano

Type, variety, nature, character manner

ke ʻanona

Genus (in taxonomy)

ke ʻanopili

A property (as a distinctive attribute)

ke ʻāpapa lani

Legendary abode of the gods

ke ʻapi

Soft part of a personʻs or animalʻs body (sometimes takes ka)

ke ʻāpuʻepuʻe

Difficulty, a struggle

ke ʻau hoʻokuʻu

Toilet handle

ke ʻau kī wai

Faucet handle

ke ʻaulaʻo

Twig, small stick

ke ʻaumana


ke ʻau paikikala

Bicycle handlebars

ke ʻau pā palai

Frying pan handle

ke ʻau ʻume

Drawer handle

ke ʻawa

Volcanic eruption

ka ʻawa

Cold mountain rain, fog, mist

ke ʻeke

Bag, picket (sometimes uses “Ka”)

ke ʻie

Woven basket, basket

ke lono


ke mele

song, chant, poem   (preceded by both Ka and Ke)

ke noi

Proposal, request, petition

ke ʻō ʻeli

Digging fork

ke oeoe

A long object, pillar

ke ʻō hoʻokani

Tuning fork (in music)

ke ʻoki

A cut, division, limit  (also preceeded by Ka)

ke pā

Plate, dish, pan, disk

ka pā

Yard, fence

ke pā hao

Iron pan

ke pahūpahū


ke paʻiʻula

One of several older forms of tapa all beginning with Ke paʻi...

ke paʻi

A shot, as of a photograph or in a movie

ke paʻi

Bunch, cluster as of grapes

ka paʻi

Bundle, package, especially of food

ke pākaukau

Table, counter, booth

ke pale

Barrier, curtain, partition, shield, outer garment (takes both Ka and Ke)

ke palili

Small, weak taro shoot

ke pane

Rear part of the head, top or summit as of a mountain

ke panepoʻo

Pinnacle, summit

ke pani

Lid, cover, gate, plug  (sometimes preceeded by Ka)

ke pāniniu

Spinner, as in board games

ke penikala


ke pī


ke pihi

Button, badge

ke pili

Roof covering of grass, thatch

ka pili

A relative or close relation, thing belonging to

ke piʻoloke

Alarm (as when one is startled or perturbed)

ke poho


ke poʻi

Cover, lid

ke poʻi lani

High heavens

ke poʻina nalu

Where the waves break, surf break

ke pola


ke poʻo  kea


ke poʻo

Heads (as in a coin toss), head of a person or animal

ka poʻo

Head (of an organization), director, summit

ke puhi

Burn, set on fire, bake, smoke

ke pulu

Tinder, kindling

ke pulupulu

kindling, tinder, fine linen, mulch, any greenery used as mulch

Ka pulupulu

Cotton, glossy soft growth on the base of tree-fern stalks

Ke puna


In most cases where the is used in English, ka/ke/ is used in Hawaiian. However, the reverse is not always true. The following table illustrates some Hawaiian usage of ke/ka that differs from the English.




Before abstract and general terms

me ke aloha

with love

As plural in some cases

me ka wāwae

with his feet

Before collective nouns

Ua inu iho au i ka wai.

I drank water.

He, Kekahi, Kahi (Indefinite)

While he is the closest term in Hawaiian to English "a", it is not as widely used as in English:

Kekahi and kahi are usually translated (in this context) as "some".

He may be followed by mau before the noun to indicate plural.

The most common usage of he is at the start of pepeke ʻaike he (class-inclusion) and pepeke nonoʻa (possessive) sentences.

The following table illustrates ways in which the indefinite article is expressed in Hawaiian.



He kao kaʻu.

I have a goat (pepeke nonoʻa).

He mau kao kaʻu.

I have goats (pepeke nonoʻa).

He kumu ʻo ia.

He is a teacher (pepeke ʻaike he).

He poepoe ka honua.

The earth is round/a globe.

Ua ʻike au iā ia me he keiki kāne.

I saw him with a boy.

Hele mai he ʻelua wāhine.

Two women came.

ʻO Pualani, he kumu ia.

Pualani is a teacher (pepeke ʻaike he; this example shows how to reverse the order).

ʻIke ʻo ia i kekahi hale.

He saw a house.

ʻIke ʻo ia he mau hale.

He saw some houses. Literally, "he saw there are some houses".

ʻIke ʻo ia i mau hale.

He saw houses.This sentence does not include an indefinite article; it is included here to contrast with the preceding sentence.

ʻIke ʻo ia he wahi hale.

He saw a small house. Literally, "he saw there is a small house".

ʻO (Proper Noun Marker)

A proper noun is preceded by ʻo if it is not preceded by an ʻami (preposition) or the object marker . This is also the case when the proper noun directly follows a common noun (and so further defines it).

Note that this use of ʻo is distinct from its use in Pepeke ʻAike ʻO (equational sentences).



Ā haʻalele ʻo Kamapuaʻa i nā wāhine a me kona mākuahūnōai ʻo Kāneiki.

And Kamapuaʻa left the women and his father-in-law, Kāneiki.

Ā hiki ʻo Kamapuaʻa iā Wailinuʻu, ka lawaiʻa.

And Kamapuaʻa went to Wailinuʻu, the fisherman.

ʻAuhea nā wahi ʻelemakule, ʻo Nūnū a me Kākohe?

Where are the unimportant old men, Nūnū and Kākohe?

ka hale o ke aliʻi ʻo ʻUmi

the house of the chief ʻUmi

ka huakaʻi kaʻapuni a ke aliʻi a ʻUmi

the tour of the chief, ʻUmi (the tour of the chief, of ʻUmi)

me kāna wahine me Pualani

with his wife, Pualani (with his wife, with Pualani)

no ke aliʻi no ʻUmi

for the chief, ʻUmi (for the chief, for ʻUmi)

Nā Kuʻi (Conjunctions)


a followed by a verb means "when", only in the past.

A Painu



a ʻaoa ka ʻīlio

when the dog barked

a kū ʻo Keola

when Keola stood up

a haʻalele māua iā Kahului

when we left Kahului

a hoʻomākaukau ʻia ka mea ʻai

when the food was prepared

A, A Me (And)

To express "and", a me is used to connect a noun phrase with another noun phrase that starts with a kaʻi (determiner), iʻoa (proper noun) or papani (pronoun); in other cases, a is used[19]. (Kamanā/Wilson I 2012:54) Verb phrases and simple sentences are connected with a.



ma ʻō a ma aneʻi

here and there

Ua hele ʻo ia i Maui a i Molokaʻi.

He went to Maui and Molokaʻi.

i kēla manawa a i kēia manawa

now and then; literally "at that time and this time"

Ua aʻo mai a hana au ma Maui.

I studied and worked on Maui.

Hana au ma Honolulu a me Kapolei.

I work in Honolulu and Kapolei.

ʻO Pualani kona inoa ma ka hale a me ka hana.

Her name is Pualani at home and work.

Aia ʻo ia me kona makuahine a me kona makua kāne.

She is with her mother and her father.

Hauʻoli ʻoe a me aʻu.

You and I are happy.

A may also be used to start a sentence. It is then considered to be part of the poʻo:

A wela kēlā ʻāina i kēia manawa.

poʻo piko ʻawe

And that land is hot now.



A aia kona kaʻa ma ke alanui.

And his car is on the street.

A ʻaʻole ʻo Kalei me aʻu.

And Kalei isn't with me.

A pehea ʻo Kimo?

And how's Kimo?

A ʻo kēia koʻu makua kāne.

And this is my father.

Ā (Until)

Ā is used as a kuʻi (conjunction) to indicate until an action. A closely related use is as an ʻami (preposition) to mean up to, as far as, until. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:165) Some writers omit the kahakō in some or all usage.



Usage type

Hana ā ka hola ʻelua.

Work until two o'clock.


Hana nō ā pau ka hana.

Work until the work is finished.


Hele a uka.

Go as far as the uplands.


Hele nō ā pau ke alanui.

Go until the road is finished (until the end of the road).


Hele nō ā puni ka honua.

Go until the world is circled (Go around the world).


Ā is also used with a stative verb in the pattern hele ā ʻaʻano meaning to become in a state of.



Ua hele ʻo ia ā hūhū.

He has become angry.

A I ʻOle / Ā...Paha (Or)

Verb phrases or noun phrases are combined in the sense of "or" with a i ʻole or with ā ... paha. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:164-166) Note that, as in English, a i ʻole only occurs once for a series of alternates, between the last two.



E kākau i ka leka, ka leka uila, a i ʻole e kelepona i ka Civil Rights Compliance Staff.

Write a letter, email or call by phone to the Civil Rights Compliance Staff.

Ua makemake anei ʻoe i kēlā pālule a i ʻole i kēia?

Do you want that shirt or this (one)?

E hele ana ʻoe a i ʻole e noho ana?

Are you going or staying?

ʻelua ā ʻekolu paha

two or three

Āhea (When/Future), Ināhea (When/Past)

The interrogative conjunctions āhea and ināhea introduce a verb phrase to ask "when" in the past (ināhea) or in the future (āhea). (Alexander 1864:17) considers them interrogative adverbs. See Kālele Kūlana for use in situation-emphatic sentences.



Āhea ʻoe e hele mai ai?

When will you come?

Ināhea ʻoe i hele mai ai?

When did you come?

Āhea ana e hōʻea aku ai ka mokulele ma Oʻahu?

When will the airplane reach Oʻahu?

Ināhea i lilo ai ʻo Keola i mākaʻi?

When did Keola become a police officer?

Aia Nō A, Aia Wale Nō A

Aia nō a or aia wale nō a introducing a verb means "only when". Note that aia nō (without a) means "still".

Aia (Wale) Nō A Painu

Aia nō a komo aku i loko o ke aʻo ʻana, a laila ʻike ʻia nā pōmaikaʻi like ʻole o ko kākou ʻōlelo.

Only when getting into learning are the various benefits of our language known.


Aia nō lākou ke hiamoe nei.

They are still sleeping.



aia nō a ʻaoa ka ʻīlio

only when the dog barked

A aia nō a mākaukau kēia mau mea, a holo nō ka waʻa.[20]

Only when these things are ready will the canoe go.

Aia wale nō a uku ʻoe hiki iā ʻoe ke holo i laila.

Only when you pay, then you can travel there.

Akā, Eia Naʻe, ʻAʻole Naʻe, Naʻe (But, However)

Akā is usually preceded and followed by a comma in writing, corresponding to the way a speaker pauses briefly after saying it. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:166) Akā may be followed by naʻe with no change in meaning. (Cleeland 1994:190) Eia naʻe is used the same way as akā and with the same meaning. Either can start a sentence. On its own, naʻe cannot start a phrase or sentence.

ʻAʻole naʻe functions as akā - "but, however" - in introducing a negative sentence.



Ua makemake au, akā, he hana nui.

I like (it), but it is difficult.

E ʻonou ʻia aku ana ʻo ia i loko o kēia manawa, akā naʻe, ua hoʻopau ʻia nā pohihihi ma o kona lilo ʻana akula i moho no kēlā kūlana.[21]

He is being persuaded now, but the confusion ended about his change to a candidate for that position.

Ua ʻimi a kākau no mākou i ka mea o ka Mahimahi, akā naʻe, ʻaʻohe mea i loko o kona ʻōpū.[22]

He wanted to write about us concerning the Mahimahi, but his stomach was empty (he was hungry).

He kanaka kaulana ma ka hoʻokohukohu ʻana, eia naʻe, ʻaʻole i kaulana ma o ka heʻenalu wale ʻana nō.[23]

He was famous for his showmanship, but not famous only for surfing.

He mea nui ka ʻai, eia naʻe, ʻo ka hānai kai ʻoi aʻe.[24]

Food is important, but being raised by the ocean is more so.

Eia naʻe, ʻo ka mea maʻamau ʻelima mile no kēlā me kēia hola.[25]

However, usually it was five miles (traveled) every hour.

ʻAole naʻe ʻo ia i huikala ʻia.

However he was not exonerated.

Ma mua naʻe o ko Waikīkī lilo ʻana he wahi hoʻonānea kaulana o Hawaiʻi nei, ua momona nō ke kaiaola o laila...

However, before Waikiki changed into this Hawaii's famous recreational place, the ecosystem there was really fertile...

Ua kui au nā lei a pau, koe naʻe kēnā lei maile.[26]

I threaded all the leis, except for that maile lei.

ʻAkahi Nō A

ʻakahi nō a followed by a verb means "just happened", "first time".

ʻAkahi Nō A Painu

a is sometimes written with a kahakō: ā.

The pattern is also seen without .

As with many other verb patterns, when the piko (subject) is a papani (pronoun), the papani jumps ahead of the verb (including a or a māka painu).



ʻakahi nō a ʻaoa ka ʻīlio

the dog barked for the first time

ʻAkahi nō ʻoe ā hiki maʻaneʻi?

Is this the first time you have come here?

ʻAkahi nō ā pau kaʻu haʻawina.

My lesson is just finished.

ʻAkahi nō au i hele i laila.

This is the first time I've gone there. (I've never gone there before.)

ʻakahi a haʻo ʻia kekahi o lākou

for the first time, one of them was missed

ʻAkahi hoʻi a ʻike kuʻu maka i ka nani o Hilo.

It was indeed the first time I saw the beauty of Hilo with my own eyes.


As shown in the sections above, there are many different ways of saying or asking when.  The following table summarizes the various patterns that can be used.

Ways to Express When





Time frame

Kiʻa Pepeke

I koʻu ʻike ʻana iā ia…

In my seeing her…

Anytime (indeterminate time)

Pepeke Painu

Iaʻu i ʻike ai iā ia…

When I saw her…

Depends on Māka Painu

Kāhulu Pepeke Piko Hou

I ka manawa aʻu i ʻike ai iā ia…

At the time I saw her…

Depends on Māka Painu

Kāhulu Pepeke Kiʻa Pepeke

I ka manawa o koʻu ʻike ʻana iā ia…

At the time of my seeing her…

Anytime (indeterminate time)

ʻOiai Kiʻa

ʻOiai koʻu ʻike ʻana iā ia…

While I seeing her…

Anytime (indeterminate time)

ʻOiai Painu

ʻOiai au i ʻike ai iā ia…

When I saw her…

Depends on Māka Painu

Ke Painu

Ke ʻike au iā ia..

If/when I see her…


A Painu

A ʻike au iā ia…

When/until I see/saw her…

Anytime (indeterminate time)

i/iā ABC nō a painu

Iā Kimo nō a maʻi…

As soon as Kimo is/was sick

Mostly for Past

I loa nō a painu

I loa nō au a ʻike iā ia…

As soon as I saw her..

Mostly for Past

Aia nō a painu

Aia nō au a ʻike iā ia…

Only when I see her…


ʻAkahi nō a painu

ʻAkahi nō au a ʻike iā ia…

I just (first time) saw her…


I hākālia nō a painu

I hākālia nō au a ʻike iā ia…

Finally (after a long wait) I saw her…


I painu (vt/vi) ka hana o ABC

I ʻike ka hana oʻu…

When I saw…

Past… in a sequence of events

ʻAneʻane (Almost)

ʻAneʻane introduces a verb phrase to indicate that it almost happened:

ʻAneʻane e painu  or

ʻAneʻane painu

Note that the tense is indicated by the context.



Ua ʻaneʻane nō hoʻi koʻu lauoho e pili aku ma koʻu wāwae.

My hair indeed almost was close to/reached my feet.

ʻAneʻane e kani ka hola ʻekahi.

It is almost one o’clock.

E holoi ʻia ka lima, no ka mea, ʻaneʻane nō mākaukau ka ʻaina ahiahi.

The hands are washed because soon dinner will be ready.

Hapahā i hala ka hola ʻeiwa, ʻaneʻane pau ka papa.

It’s 9:15, class is almost finished.

Lohi nā haumāna, akā ʻaneʻane e hiki mai.

The students are late, but they have almost arrived.

ʻAneʻane lawa ke kālā no ka hele ʻana i Maui.

There’s almost enough money for going to Maui.

ʻAneʻane (au) mākaukau!

I’m almost ready!

ʻAʻole (Negative)

ʻAʻole is used on its own as an interjection answering a question ("No") and to negate any of the verb phrases except for the imperative form - see Sentences. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:168) also considers ʻaʻole a conjunction because "(1) It introduces and connects clauses and sentences. (2) It may be followed by the verb-marking particles used after conjunctions".  The examples provided are:



ʻAʻole i hele ke kanaka.

The man did not go.

ʻAʻole ʻo ia i hele.

He didn't go.

E Pili Ana No/I/Iā (About, Concerning, Relating To, Pertaining To)

The e pili ana pattern expresses what something/one is about, concerning, relating to, or pertaining to.



Ua hīmeni ʻo ia i ke mele e pili ana iā Liliʻuokalani.

She sang the song about Liliʻuokalani.

Ke nānā iho nei māua i kekahi kiʻiʻoniʻoni e pili ana i ke kanu ʻana i ke kalo.

We are watching a movie pertaining to the planting of taro.

ʻO kēia kekahi mele e pili ana no ke kaua ʻo Kapaniwai.

This is one song concerning the battle of Kapaniwai.

Ua lohe ʻoe i ka ʻōlelo o Keola e pili ana iaʻu?

Did you hear Keola talking about me?

Eia ka moʻolelo e pili ana i kēlā mau ʻīlio.

Here is the story relating to those dogs.


ʻEmo ʻOle (In No Time At All)

ʻEmo ʻole introduces a phrase to add the meaning "immediately, in no time at all". Note its use stand-alone before a comma - with or without He -, connected with ā to a verb and connected with a kaʻi (determiner) to a verb/noun.



ʻEmo ʻole ā hele maila ke aliʻi.

In no time at all, the chief came.

ʻEmo ʻole ka piʻo o ke anuenue.

A rainbow suddenly appeared.

ʻEmo ʻole, paʻē maila ka leo, mai ka lani mai.

Suddenly the voice was heard from heaven.

ʻEmo ʻole ka nanea o ka pepeiao i ke kani a nā pila.

The ears immediately experience the pleasure of the music of the instruments.

He ʻemo ʻole, a pae aku ʻo Keola i ka nalu.

In no time, Keola was on the wave.

ʻIke au i kā ia ala pai pika, ʻemo ʻole, ʻono au i ka pai pika.

 I saw his pizza and suddenly wanted to eat pizza.

A few of the kuʻi discussed above are sometimes referred to as Kuʻa (conjunctions with painu).  They are somewhat different from the other kuʻi in that they are followed by a painu (verb).  The following table summarizes the Kuʻa:




Negated Kuʻa


i painu

So, as a way, as a means, in order to

iʻole e painu

So as not, etc

o painu

Lest, bumbye, or else



a painu

Until, as far as, and until (when)



ke painu

If and when, when future, whenever

ke ʻole e painu

If not, when not, etc.


Hākālia Nō A

Hākālia nō a before a verb means "when finally". The pattern is preceded by i for a completed action. This is a rarely used term. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:166)

(I) Hākālia Nō A Painu



i hākālia nō a ʻaoa ka ʻīlio

when the dog finally barked

Hākālia nō a ao, ʻo ko mākou hele nō ia.

As soon as it was daylight, we went.

I (In Order That), I ʻOle E (In Order That Not)

The word i has many functions in Hawaiian. See other sections for its use as a conjunction to indicate "while", as an object marker and as a preposition.

As a conjunction to indicate "in order that" / "so that", i is followed directly by a verb without a marker:

I Painu

The negative - "so that not" takes ʻole e between i and the verb:

I ʻOle E Painu



I nui ke kālā, mai kūʻai i nā mea hūpō!

To have lots of money, donʻt buy stupid things!

i nānā mai ʻo Keola iaʻu

in order for Keola to look at me

Holo au i kēlā me kēia lā i ola pono koʻu kino.

I run every day so my body will be healthy.

E hoʻokokoke mai i lohe ʻoe.

Come close so that you can hear.

Ua lawe mai mākou i ka pika i ʻole e pōloli nā kaikamahine.

We brought pizza so the girls would not be hungry.

E kuʻi i ke kalo me ka ikaika i ʻaeʻae ke kalo.

Pound the taro very hard so it will be soft.

i ʻole kākou e lohi

so we are not late

I ʻole e kuhihewa, e heluhelu pono i nā mea e pono ai.

In order to not wrongly accuse, read carefully the righteous things .

I Ka Hana O (And Then When)

The following pattern means "and then when (somebody did something)":

i hamani/hehele ka hana o kikino



i ʻaoa ka hana o ka ʻīlio

and then when the dog barked

i  ka hana o Keola

and then when Keola stood up

i haʻalele ka hana o māua iā Kahului

and then when we left Kahului

i hoʻomākaukau ka hana o Kimo i ka mea ʻai

and then when Kimo prepared the food


I Loa Nō A / I Lawa Nō A

I loa nō a before a verb means "no sooner than", "as soon as".

I Loa Nō A Painu

i lawa nō a may be used interchangeably with i loa nō a.



I loa nō a welo ka lā, anu ʻo waho i ka makani ikaika.

No sooner than the sun sets, outside gets cold from the strong winds.

i loa nō a lilo ka makana iā Keola

as soon as Keola won the prize

I loa nō a hoʻi ka makuahine i ka hale, ua hoʻomākaukau i ka ʻaina ahiahi.

As soon as the mother returned home, she prepared dinner.

I lawa nō a hoʻi ʻo Lonoikamakahiki i Kahiki a hōʻea hou mai ka wā o Kū.

As soon as Lonoikamakahiki returned to Tahiti, Kū's time returned again.

I loa nō iā ia e hala aku, ʻōʻili ana ka makua kāne.

No sooner had he gone, than the father appeared.

I/Iā, ʻOiai/ʻOi, Ke, A, Hākālia, I Loa Nō A, I Lawa Nō A, Aia Nō A, ʻAkahi Nō A, I Ka Hana O (While/When)


As with the object marker i/iā,  as a conjunction is used before papani (pronouns) and iʻoa (proper nouns) while i is used before common nouns and kaʻi (determiners). Here the meaning is "while", so a verb is required.

i/ ABC e/i painu ai/nei/ana

i ka/ke painu (ʻana)

With nō a between the noun and the verb, the meaning is "as soon as" or "no sooner than":

i/ ABC nō a painu



i ka ʻaoa ʻana o ka ʻīlio

when the dog barks (anytime - past, current, future)

i ka ʻīlio i ʻaoa ai

when the dog barked (past, due to i painu ai)

i ka manawa o ka ʻīlio i ʻaoa ai

when the dog barked (past, due to i painu ai)

i ka manawa o ko ka ʻīlio ʻaoa ʻana

when the dog barks (anytime - past, current, future)

i ko ke kumu heluna ʻana aku i nā moʻolelo

when the teacher was grading/marking the papers

I koʻu wehe ʻana i ka puke, ʻaʻohe wahi mea o ka pepa.

When I opened the book, there was no trace of paper.

iaʻu e kuʻi ai i ke kalo

when I pound taro

i ka manu nō a haʻalele

as soon as the bird left

iā ia nō a haʻalele

as soon as he left

Inā, I, ʻEʻole, Ke (If)

The most commonly used term for "if" (a conditional clause) is inā[27]. Most often there is no change to the resultative clause, but inā or a laila may be used to introduce it.

When the conditional clause marker is followed by a verb marker, the resultative clause is introduced in different ways depending on the marker:

Conditional clause marker

Resultative introduction

inā i

inā ua


a laila

inā ... e ...


inā e



inā / inā lā

a i



inā ua



(Elbert/Pukui 1979:166-167), (Hawkins 1982:137-138)

For example:

Inā i hāʻawi mai nā hoʻokele i ka hoe iā ia, inā ua pakele lāua i ka make.

Conditional clause marker                Resultative introduction

See the example table below for the translation.

It is very common for the resultative phrase to be introduced with a laila.



Pono nō e aloha iā Mailani inā e noho ka pōpoki ma ʻaneʻi.

You really need to love Mailani if the cat will live here.

Inā hoʻi paha au e ʻike aku i wahi manawa ʻuʻuku!

If I had only known a little sooner!

Inā au make, mai ʻoukou mālama i kēlā ʻano hana.

If I die, don't take care of (worry about) that kind of thing.

Inā ʻoe ʻike i ka pipiʻi o kahakai, he pipiʻi nunui loa kēlā.

If you see the rush of the shoreline water, it's a really big rush.

Inā he aliʻi ʻoe, ua hiki iā ʻoe ke komo.

If you are an aliʻi, you can enter.

Inā he nui ke kālā, inā e holomua ka hana.

If the money is great, then the work will progress.

Inā i hāʻawi mai nā hoʻokele i ka hoe iā ia, inā ua pakele lāua i ka make.

If the steersmen had given him the paddle, then they would have escaped death.

Inā ʻoe e ʻae ana e kau pū kuʻu mau ʻopeʻope me aʻu, a laila, holo pū kāua.

If you agree to place my bundles with me, then we'll sail together.

Inā i hele mai nei ʻoe, inā ua ʻike.

If you had come, then you would have known.

Inā e hou mai ʻo Kamalama ... he ʻumi kānaka e kū.

If Kamalama hurls (his spear), then ten men are hit.

Inā he kaikamahine ke hānau mua mai, a laila, e make, a inā he mau kaikamāhine wale nō kā kāua ke hānau mai, e make nō.

If the first born is a girl, it will die, and if only girls are born to us two, they will certainly die.

Inā e lilo mai ʻo Lāʻieikawai, he ʻoi ʻoe.

If Lāʻieikawai becomes yours, then indeed you are the best.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:166-167) (Hawkins 1982:137-138)

I is also used to indicate "if" in some cases.



I aʻo maikaʻi ʻia e kāua, inā holomua nō ka hana.

If they had been taught well by us, then the work would really have progressed.

I hākālia ihola au, inā lā ʻo au ke make mua i ka haole.

If I wait, the white man will kill me first.

Ā i ʻino mai ke koko, pau pū ka hale i ka ʻino.

And if the blood is bad, the house is bad at the same time.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:167)

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:167) suggest two additional conjunctions for use with similar meaning to inā: ʻeʻole and ke. ʻEʻole means "if not", while ke in this context means if in the future.



ʻEʻole au i ʻike aku nei iā ʻoe, inā ua make ʻoe.

If I hadn't seen you, you would have been killed.

Ke hele ʻoe, e hele au.

If you go, I go.

E maluhia lākou ke hiki mai.

They shall be at peace when/if they come.


Ke is used directly before a verb to indicate when (but not in the past; see below for constructs to use with a past action), whenever or if. Because no verb marker is used, the tense must be determined from the context.

Ke Painu Kikino

When the piko (subject) is a papani (pronoun), it may follow or precede the painu:

ke hele ʻoe


ke ʻoe hele

when you go



E maluhia lākou ke hiki mai.

They shall be at peace when/if (they) come.

Ke ulu ka hua ʻōhelo, hū ka pele.

When the ʻōhelo fruit grows, the lava rises.

E hele aku ana au i ka hale, ke kiʻi ʻo Pualani iaʻu

I am going home when Pualani picks me up.

Ke pua ka pua kō, lawaiʻa au i ka heʻe.

When the sugar cane flower blooms, I fish for heʻe.

ke huhū au iā ʻoe

if/when I am mad at you

Ke ʻoe kōkua iā ia, mai haʻi i ka haʻina.

When you help him, donʻt tell the answer.

Ke hele ʻoe, hele au.[28]

If you go, I go.

Makia, Mākiʻa, Malia, Mālia, Mali‘a, Malama (Perhaps)

The most common word for "maybe, perhaps" is malia (mālia and maliʻa are variants); mākiʻa is less common and malama is rare. Each may be followed by the particle o, probably the imperative/intentive, according to (Elbert/Pukui 1979:168)

See the section on huneʻaʻau for the use of paha as "maybe, perhaps". Paha is not a conjunction and cannot start a sentence.



Malia paha o hele au.

Perhaps I'll go.

Malama o ulu mai ka ʻanoʻano.

Maybe the seeds will grow.

Mākiʻa o uhaele aku kāua.

We'll probably go.

Mākiʻa paha e kāhea aku au iā ʻoe.

Maybe I should call you.

Nani (Since/Because)

(Pukui/Elbert 1986:261) reports the use of nani as a conjunction meaning "since, because".



Nani hoʻi ua kiʻi ʻia maila e make, he aha lā hoʻi...

Since [I] am indeed summoned by death, what of it …

Nani nō ia e hele ana ʻoe i ke kula, e hoʻoikaika i ka haʻawina.

Since you are going to school, work hard on the lessons.

Nō Hoʻi (Also)

Nō hoʻi may be inserted between two phrases (noun and/or verb) to mean "also". It may also be added after two phrases combined with a or a me to emphasize that the second is in addition to the first. Note that nō hoʻi is also used as a huneʻaʻao (intensifier) with the meaning "indeed". The last example below may have that intent rather than "also".



Ua ʻai au i ka poi a me ka iʻa nō hoʻi.

I ate poi and also fish.

Ua ʻoliʻoli a ʻeleu nō hoʻi kāna mau ʻīlio.

His dogs became happy and active as well.

E kipa aku ana au i koʻu ʻohana a me koʻu poʻe hoa nō hoʻi.

I am going to visit my family and my friends as well.

Ma Oʻahu au i hānau (ʻia) a i hānai ʻia ai nō hoʻi.

It was on Oahu that I was born and also raised.

Hauʻoli nō hoʻi koʻu manaʻo i kēia mau ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a kākou.

I am also happy about these Hawaiian words of ours.

Naʻe (However/Still/Yet)

Naʻe is followed by a noun phrase to indicate "yet", ʻbut", "however", "still". It also follows initial ʻaʻole.

Note that eia nō naʻe means "therefore" and aia naʻe means "nevertheless" or "at the time of".



Ua koe nō naʻe ke ola.

Yet life remains.

Aloha maila naʻe hoʻi kō ipo.

But your sweetheart did indeed send greetings.

ʻAʻole naʻe ia i hiki mai.

He hasn't come yet.

ʻAʻole naʻe i ʻike ua keiki nei i ka pono ʻole o ua mau kaikamahine nei.

But that child didnʻt know about the injustice of those girls.

E hele aku ana paha au i ka pāʻina; ʻaʻole naʻe au e noho ana a lōʻihi.

I may go to the party, but I wonʻt be staying long.

A i ka mao ʻana aʻe o kēia mau hōʻailona, ua hānau maila naʻe he keiki kāne maikaʻi.

As these omens waned, a fine boy child was born.

aia naʻe i kēia manawa i hānau ai, ua hoʻouna akula ʻo Kāne a me Kanaloa i ko lāua kaikuahine

and at the time of birth, Kāne and Kanaloa sent their daughter

aia naʻe i ko ia nei wā i hiki aku ai, aia ʻo Kū e lawelawe ana i ke keiki

but when she appeared, Kū was attending the child

he ʻole loa naʻe ka noho iho penei

but living this way is a big nothing

Ua hiki ʻo ia, akā naʻe, poina ʻo ia i nā kī.

She arrived, but she forgot the keys.

No Ka Mea (Because)

No ka mea connects two verb phrases to mean "because". It is often written with commas before and after.



Aia ke aliʻi i uka o ke kuahiwi, no ka mea, ke ʻoki akula nā kahuna i ke kumu lāʻau.

The chief is upland in the mountain because the experts are cutting the tree.

ʻAʻole i pau koʻu makemake e lawaiʻa ma Kona, no ka mea, he mālie ke kai i nā lā a pau.

I hadnʻt stopped wanting to fish in Kona because the sea is calm every day.

...holo akula a pae ma Waikīkī, Oʻahu, no ka mea, ʻo kekahi ia o nā wahi noho mau ʻia e nā aliʻi o Oʻahu nei.

...went to land at Waikīkī, Oahu, because that is one of the places still inhabited by the royalty of Oahu.

E hāliu mai kou pepeiao, e Iehova, a e hoʻolohe mai iaʻu; No ka mea, ua pilikia au, a ua ʻilihune hoʻi.

Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy.

See also mamuli o for "because" in front of a noun phrase.

O (Lest)

O introduces a phrase with the meaning "lest" or "so that not".



Mālama o hina.

Be careful lest (you) fall.

Mai piʻi aʻe i ka lālā... o ʻike ʻia kou wahi hilahila.

Don’t climb up the branches... lest your private parts be seen.

o ʻōlelo ʻoe

lest you speak (so you don’t speak)

E ʻai ʻoe i ka mea ulu o maʻi auaneʻi.

Eat your vegetables lest you get sick (so you don’t get sick).

o huhū au iā ʻoe

lest I be mad at you (so that I not be mad at you)

Mai hele i Las Vegas o nui ka pilikia.

Don’t go to Las Vegas lest there be a lot of trouble.

Mai makaʻu i ka ʻoiaʻiʻo o huikau kou noʻonoʻo ʻana.

Don’t be afraid of the truth or your thoughts will be confused.


ʻOiai directly before a noun or verb phrase means "when" or "while".

ʻOiai e/i painu ai/nei/ana ABC

ʻOiai ka/ke painu (ʻana)

Note that if ʻoiai is followed by a comma, its meaning is instead "since".

ʻOiai e hoʻomākaukau ana ke kaikamahine, ua hele aku au.

While the girl was preparing, I left.


ʻOiai, e hoʻomākaukau ana ke kaikamahine, ua hele aku au.

Since the girl was preparing, I left.



ʻoiai au ma Honolulu

when I am in Honolulu

ʻoiai au i inu iho i ka waina

when I drank wine

ʻOiai e loaʻa ai iā ia ke kālā, e uku ʻia ʻoe.

When she gets the money, you should be paid.

ʻoiai ko ka ʻīlio ʻaoa ʻana

when the dog barked

ʻoiai i ʻaoa ai ka ʻīlio

when the dog barked

ʻoiai ka maopopo ʻana iā ʻoe

when you understand

Wahi A (According To)

The following pattern means "according to":

wahi a kikino



wahi a kēia moʻolelo

according to this story

A wahi a kahiko he pilina kō ka moʻo me ka ʻīlio moʻo.

According to the old times, there is a connection between the lizard and the brindled dog.

Wahi āna, he haumana ʻeleu ʻoe.

According to her, you are a good student.

wahi a ka mea āna i lohe ai

according to the thing he heard

wahi a koʻu lohe

according to what I heard

Wahi a kūpuna, ʻaʻole pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.

According to the old folks, knowledge is not complete with the first hālau.

Nā ʻAmi (Prepositions)

Ā (Emphatic To)

Ā is used instead of i for "to" to stress the distance traveled, with a sense of "as far as", "all the way to".



hele i Maui

going to Maui

hele ā Maui

going as far as Maui

hele ā ke kuahiwi

going to the mountains

Lele ka manu ā luna.

The bird flies way up.

The use of ā as a conjunction meaning "until" is discussed above.

A/o Nonoʻa (Possessive)

The use of a vs o to indicate a possessive relationship is discussed above.

The possessive pattern is:

noun-phrase        a/o        noun-phrase



ka iʻa a kākou

our fish

nā iwi o Pualani

Pualani's (own) bones

nā iwi a Pualani

Pualani's bones (in her possession)

ka lei o ke kumu

the lei of the teacher

ka nani o Maui

the beauty of Maui

nā hōʻike a kaʻu mau haumāna

the exams of my students (my students' exams)

ʻAmi Kuhilana I/Iā/Iō (To)

As with the object markers i/, i as preposition is used as "in", "at", to" with common nouns while  is used with iʻoa (names). However, i is used with iʻoa paku (place names).  is used in some biblical texts instead of .

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:135) says that in Proto-Polynesian, the preposition was *i and the object marker was *ki, while in Hawaiian they have merged in pronunciation and therefore also in writing.

The preposition is also called ʻami henua.



Hele au i ke Kula Nui o Maui i Kahului.

I go to the university of Maui in Kahului.

Aia ka pāʻina ʻohana i ka hale ʻaina Pākē.

The family party is at a Chinese restaurant.

Ua hiki akula lāua i Mokoliʻi.

And then they arrived in Mokoliʻi.

I hea ʻoe e hele aku ai ma hope o ka papa?

Where will you go after class?

ʻAmi Hea E (Vocative)

E precedes the name or role of a person being addressed. It may also precede a third person pronoun, but with the meaning "you"; it is then followed by nei or ala to indicate a person or persons who are near or far. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:146-147) writes it as ē (long vowel) and says it may come both before and after the name for additional emphasis.

E        iʻoa


E        kaʻi        memeʻa


E        papani        

The use of e as vocative is distinct from its use to indicate the agent in a passive verb phrase.



E Kimo, he kāne kolohe ʻoe?

Kimo, are you a rascal guy?

E Pualani, hele mai!

Pualani, come here!

Ē Pualani ē, hele mai!

Pualani, come here! (Elbert/Pukui 1979:147)

E kuʻu aliʻi maikaʻi, hele mai.

O my good chief, come here.

E ke kumu, hiki ke hele aku?

Teacher, is it OK to go?

E lākou lā

Say, all of you

E ia nei

Say, you here

E is followed by a pronoun and nei or ala in the following common expressions, which are considered polite:



E ia nei (pronounced Einei)

You here

E ia ala (pronounced (Eiala)

You there

E laua nei

You two here

E laua ala (pronounced Elauala)

You two there

E lākou nei

O you here

E lākou ala

O you there



E lākou nei e peʻe hoʻopue nei

O you who are hiding crouched over here

E ia nei!

Look at us![29]

E ia nei e kāʻalo aku nei

Hey you who is passing by

ʻAmi Henua Ma (At/In/On)

Ma is used synonymously with i/ in daily conversation in many cases to mean "at", "in", "on". (Elbert/Pukui 1979:135) suggests the following distinctions in usage:

i is more definite and precise than ma: ā noho i Waikīkī ma Oʻahu (FS 35) “living at Waikīkī on Oʻahu”.

Hawkins (1975, section 2.2.4) explained the difference in the two prepositions by suggesting that when i and ma are spoken together, the larger area is marked by ma and the smaller, or more specific one, by i. She also suggested that "stationary" descriptions are by ma, and nonstationary ones by i: Ola nā mākua ma Puna. 'The parents survive/live in Puna.' Pā'ani nā mākua i Puna. 'The parents play at Puna.'

(Hopkins 1992:41-42) says:

In addition to "to, toward", i can also mean "in, on, at"


Ma also means "in, on, at," and is used more or less interchangeably with i in that context. If anything, ma is more specific than i:

        ʻAi mākou ma ka hale ʻaina i ka Hale Kahawai.

        We eat at the cafeteria in Hale Kahawai.

        Noho au ma Kaʻaʻawa i ka mokupuni ʻo Oʻahu.

        I live in Kaʻaʻawa on the island of Oʻahu.

Ma does not mean "to/toward" and cannot be substituted for i in that context, nor does it commonly occur with time phrases.

(Cleeland 1994:85) says:

Notice especially that the words i and ma have been given the same definitions, and they can usually be interchanged without any difference in meaning. Some people feel that if two related places are mentioned, ma should be used for the more specific place, while others feel i is the more specific term. In general, however, native speakers seem to use the two words interchangeably, often even using i or ma in both positions.

However, we will discover that the word i has a number of different meanings, and in this lesson, we will use the terms ma ʻaneʻi and ma ʻō because this is by far the more common usage. It is possible, however, to say i ʻaneʻi and i ʻō, but when used this way, the meaning of i is usual to.

See above for additional examples and for usage of ma and i with time expressions.



Aia ka pāʻina ʻohana i ka hale ʻaina Pākē.

The family party is at a Chinese restaurant.

Aia ka pāʻina ʻohana ma ka hale ʻaina Pākē.

The family party is at a Chinese restaurant.

Ke hele nei au i ka hale.

I am going home.

Ke hele nei au ma ka hale.

ʻAmi Hoahana Me (With/Like)

Me is used with the meaning of "with". See above for a me meaning "and". Besides the physical sense of one thing being "with" another thing, me is commonly used where English would use an adverb or "like a" to modify/decorate a verb, either with a kaʻi and a verb or with he and a noun (often followed by ).



Noho ʻo Pualani me kona keiki.

Pualani lives with her child.

Kākau ʻoe me kēia penikala.

Write with this pencil.

Noho ihola me ka ʻoluʻolu.

(He) lived then in comfort (He lived then comfortably)

Me nei ʻoe i hana ai.

Do it this way.

Ua holo ia me he lio lā.

He (aforementioned) ran like a horse.

Pono e holo me ka wikiwiki.

We must run quickly.

ʻAmi Kūmua Mai/Maiā (From)

Used as a preposition, mai means "from". Before a pronoun or proper noun, maiā is used instead, except with first person singular where mai aʻu is used.

See below for mai as a hunekuhi (directional). Mai commonly occurs twice in the same context, one time meaning "from" and the other as a directional.

This use is also distinct from mai as the negative imperative ("Don’t").

When mai is used to mean from, it is in the ʻawe. When used as a negative command it is in the poʻo. When used as a directional it comes after the verb.

No is used instead of mai to indicate origin:

No Honolulu au.
I am from Honolulu.

Mai Honolulu mai au.
I am coming from Honolulu.



Mai Honolulu mai

From Honolulu (the second mai is a directional)

Mai Honolulu aku

Away from Honolulu

maiā ia aku

away from him

mai aʻu aku

away from me

Ua ʻike nā mea a pau mai Hawaiʻi a hiki i Niʻihau.

Everyone saw from Hawaiʻi to Niʻihau.

E and I (Agentive)

When an ʻākena (agent, the one causing the action) is called out in a passive sentence, itʻs done with e (which is translated as “by” or “by means of”) preceding the agent, e.g. “e ka pōpoki” - “by the cat”.



ʻAi ʻia ka iʻa nui e ka pōpoki.

The big fish is eaten by the cat.

Heluhelu ʻia ka puke makemakika e kēlā keiki wahine.

The math book is read by that girl.

Hānau ʻia ʻo Pualani e[30] Ellen.

Pualani was born by Ellen.

Ua kākau ‘ia ka leka e a‘u.

The letter was written by me.

E haku ‘ia ka mele e ‘oe?

Will the song be composed by you?

If the cause of the action is not intentional, the agent is indicated with i/ instead (as with loaʻa verbs). In English, "with" is often used instead of "by" in similar sentences.



Ua hoʻopiha ʻia kēia kiowai e ke keiki.

This puddle was filled by the child.

Ua hoʻopiha ʻia kēia kiowai i ka wai.

This puddle was filled with water.

Ola ka mōʻī i ke Akua.

God save the king (Live the king by the god).[31]

I/Iā (Direct and Indirect Object Marker)

As discussed above under proper nouns,  is used as object marker before a pronoun or proper noun, while i is used before common nouns.  is also used before wai (whom). If the object is "me", i is contracted with the pronoun to iaʻu.

In English, the subject and direct object of a hamani (transitive verb) are usually distinguished only by their position in a sentence:

The dog ate the fish. vs The fish ate the dog.

An indirect object is indicated in English with the preposition "to":

The man gave the fish to the dog.

While awkward, the order can be changed and the meaning preserved thanks to the preposition:

The man gave to the dog the fish.

In Hawaiian, both the direct and the indirect object take i or . The direct object generally precedes the indirect object as in English where there is a preposition before the indirect object:

Ua hāʻawi ke kanaka i ka iʻa i ka ʻīlio.
man gave the fish to the dog.

Ua hāʻawi ke kanaka i ka ʻīlio i ka iʻa.
man gave the dog to the fish.

In English, the preposition can be eliminated before the indirect object; in this case, the indirect object comes first:

The man gave the dog the fish.

That is generally the opposite order from Hawaiian.

The object marker is sometimes omitted before or after i:

Haʻalele akula ia (i) ia aku. He (aforementioned) rejected this bonito.

The object marker is usually also omitted in kālele ʻākena sentences (beginning with the agentive na):

Na Pualani i ʻike ka hale. Pualani saw the house.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:134)

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 P1:106) calls the object marker an ʻami lauka. The ʻākena is the actor and the ʻōkena is the object. With hamani verbs, the ʻākena is in the piko and the ʻōkena is in the ʻawe:

ʻAi ke kanaka i ka manō.

Poʻo (hamani) Piko (ʻākena) ʻAwe Lauka (ʻōkena)

The man eats the shark.

If there is an indirect object as well, it is a second ʻawe:

ʻHāʻawi         ke kanaka i ka manō        i ka ʻīlio.

Poʻo (hamani) Piko (ʻākena) ʻAwe Lauka (ʻōkena) ʻAwe

The man gives the shark to the dog.



ʻAi ʻoe i ka poi.

You eat the poi.

Makemake ʻo Pualani i kēia lei.

Pualani likes this lei.

Makemake au iā Kimo.

I like Kimo.

Kōkua ka ʻīlio iaʻu.

The dog helps me.

Kelepona ʻo Kimo iā ia.

Kimo telephones her.

ʻIke māua iā Lānaʻi.

We see Lānaʻi.

Ua haʻi koʻu makuakāne iaʻu i nā moʻolelo kahiko.

My father told me the old stories. (Here the indirect object comes before the direct object)

E hoʻouna ʻoe i ka leka uila iaʻu.

Send me email.

Ua hāʻawi ʻoe i ka manō iā wai?

Who did you give the shark to?

I O (To The Face Of)

I o is used similarly to  as a preposition before a papani (pronoun) or iʻoa (proper noun) meaning “to”, but with a sense of “personally”, “to the person’s face”.

In older texts it may also appear as "i ma pono o".



i ou

to you (personally)

i oʻu

to me (personally)

E nīnau ʻoe i o Keola.

Ask in Keolaʻs face.

E lawe ʻolua i ka makana i ona.

Deliver the present to him personally.

Na (Benefactive/Agentive)

Na as preposition indicates that something is for the benefit of, or intended for, or implemented by someone or something else. Note that this is different from na/no as possessive pronoun (indicating ownership), and that in this usage, it is always na and not no.

Comparing use of a k-possessive pronoun, no as benefactive preposition and na/no as n-possessive pronoun:



Grammatical type

He kaʻa kona.

He has a car.

k-possessive pronoun

He kaʻa nona.

Thereʻs a car for him.

benefactive preposition no

Nona ke kaʻa.

The car is his.

n-possessive pronoun

Benefactive no contrasts with agentive na in some common cases:



Grammatical type

He mele na Kimo.

It is a song (written) by Kimo.

agentive preposition na

He mele no Kimo.

It is a song for/about Kimo.

benefactive preposition no

A common pattern is:

E painu na kikino e painu ai
For someone/something to do (something)

E  kiʻi mai ʻoe i wai naʻu e inu iho ai.
Get water for me to drink.



Na ka lani ka inoa.

For the royal chief the name-song. (The name song honors the royal chief.)

Makemake au i ʻelua hua moa naʻu.

I want two eggs for me.

Na Kimo kēia meaʻono, ʻaʻole nāu.

This cake is for Kimo, not for you.

Nāna ke koloaka hope ma ka pahu kula.

The last soda in the cooler is for him.

Ua hāʻawi mai ʻo Kimo i ka ʻīlio na māua.

Kimo gave the dog to us.

Na Kimo wale nō kēlā.

That is only for Kimo.

Na wai ke kuleana?

Whose (For whom) is the responsibility?

E kākau ʻoe i haʻawina na kākou e aʻo ai i ka pepeke.

Write a lesson for us to learn the pepeke.

E hāʻawi aku ʻoe i kaʻa na Kimo e kalaiwa ai i Kahului.

Give Kimo (a) car so he can drive to Kahului.

E haʻi mai ʻoe i moʻolelo naʻu e kākau ai.

Tell me a story for me to write.

No (Benefactive/Causative/Locative)

No as a preposition may mean that something was caused by something else.

Common causative expressions with no are:

no laila        therefore

no ka mea        because

no ke aha        why?

It is also used to mean towards a location as an ʻawe with a verb phrase, particularly with the verb haʻalele (to leave). With a noun phrase, it means "from", with more of a sense of "origin" as opposed to "recent location", which would be mai instead.

No Kauaʻi au.                                I’m from Kauaʻi (That is my island).

Mai Kauaʻi mai au.                        I (traveled here) from Kauaʻi.

No hea kou mau kūpuna?                Where are your grandparents from?

Mai hea aku kou mau kūpuna?        Where did your grandparents leave from?


See the section on n-possessive pronouns  for use of no to indicate ownership.



Ua hana au i kēia muʻumuʻu hou nou.

I made this new muʻumuʻu for you.

ʻAʻohe ou aloha noʻu?

Don't you have any love for me?

Nui loa ka pilikia no mākou.

There's a lot of trouble for us.

No laila maikaʻi ʻole.

Therefore [itʻs] no good.

Ua hele aʻe nei no Maui.

[He] has just now gone to Maui.

Ua haʻalele ʻo Kimo iā Maui no Oʻahu.

Kimo left Maui for Oʻahu (to go to Oʻahu).

ʻO, ∅ (Subject)

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:131) considers ʻo a subject marker preposition while (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 P1:24-25) calls it the ʻami piko ʻo and says it is used "when SPEAKING ABOUT a person or place. The ʻami piko marks the iʻoa referring to such a person or place in the piko." We consider here the use of ʻo other than as the introducer of an equational sentence.

As a subject marker, ʻo precedes ia to indicate he/she/it, as well as preceding a proper noun. It does not occur when there is a preposition or object marker before the ia or the proper noun. The following examples illustrate cases where it is used as well as cases where it is not used.



Aia ʻo Keola me aʻu.

Keola is with me.

Aia ʻo Hanalē ma aneʻi.

Hanalē is here.

Aia ʻo Hanalei ma Kauaʻi.

Hanalei is on Kauaʻi.

He wahine ʻoluʻolu ʻo Pualani.

Pualani is a pleasant woman.

Ua ʻike ʻo ia.

He saw.

Ua hele au me ia.

I went with him.

E hele aku ʻoe i Waikikī!

Go to Waikikī!

He mau makana kēia maiā Pualani mai.

These are some gifts from Pualani.

Hauʻoli loa māua ʻo Keola e ʻike i ko ʻoukou makuahine.

Keola and I are very happy to meet your mother.

Aia he pāʻina ma ko Pualani hale ʻaina.

There's a party at Pualani's restaurant.

ʻAʻole e hoʻi aku ana ʻo Pualani i Honolulu i kēlā ʻapōpō.

Pualani isn't returning to Honolulu tomorrow.

Pē (Like)

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:150) says that the rare preposition  is used in the phrase pē kēia ("like this").

Nā Hunekuhi (Directionals)

The four hunekuhi (directionals) are used in a verb phrase to "tell that someone is moving away from you, to tell that something is facing you, and to tell that something seems far away." (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:198). They are often not explicitly translated into English. Hunekuhi are much more heavily used in 19th century Hawaiian writing than in current conversation. It is almost always possible to include a hunekuhi in a verb phrase; doing so makes a sentence sound more idiomatic and truly Hawaiian.




Towards me, towards us, to me. to us; facing me, facing us


Indicating a direction in a straight, forceful line not towards me, rather, facing away from me, facing away from us, facing you; far off


In several directions with short jerky movements; not towards me, also in an upward direction, facing away from me


In a downward direction, down into a person, as with thinking, drinking, eating; very close

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:198)

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:91-95) identifies groups of verbs that tend to be used more with one or another of the hunekuhi, but concludes: "It is difficult or impossible to fashion hard and fast rules for the use of directionals. The safest course is simply to follow examples slavishly."



E hele mai ʻoe (iaʻu)!

Come (to me)!

E hāʻawi mai ʻoe i ka puke (iaʻu)!

Give the book (to me)!

E hele aku ʻoe!


E mālama iho ʻoe i kou kino.

Take care (of your body).

E kūʻai aku ana ʻo ia i kona hale i Hilo.

She's selling her house in Hilo.

E kūʻai mai ana ʻo ia i ka hale hou i Honolulu nei.

She's buying a new house here in Honolulu.

Honi aku a honi mai

Trade kisses (kiss you, kiss me)

See Helu Manawa ʻAna for the use of hunekuhi in time expressions.

When a hunekuhi is followed by ala, the two are written as one word nowadays because they receive accent together: maila, akula, ihola, aʻela. The present tense (but far away) verb pattern ke painu ala most often occurs with a directional in this way (but the pattern is not commonly used).



Ke ʻai ihola ʻo Kimo i ke kū ma ke pākaukau.

Kimo is eating the stew on the table.

Ke kīloi akula nā keiki kāne i nā pōhaku.

The children are throwing rocks.

Aku nei, akula and maila are used in past tense verb phrases to indicate the timing of the action or state change, especially in stories (moʻolelo).



Ua painu aku nei


Ua painu akula

Immediately, And then

The ua is often dropped in phrases of the second type.



Ua ʻau akula ʻo ia mai kekahi kapa a kekahi kapa o ke kahawai.

And then he swam from one side of the river to the other.

Hele akula ʻo ia.

And then he left.

Kauoha akula ua wahine nei, “ʻO ka Hale kuke kona wahi e noho ai."

And then that woman ordered: "the kitchen is where she is to sleep".

Heluhelu akula au ā hiamoe maila ʻo ia.

I read until she fell asleep.

The hunekuhi occur in kāhulu pepeke piko hou (descriptive clauses with a new piko) with a present tense verb to indicate an action in the present but far away. They replace ai in this context.



ʻEhia a ʻoukou kāpiki e kūʻai maila?

How many (heads of) cabbage are you buying?

Iho is also used as a noun or after a pronoun or locative to indicate "self". (Elbert/Pukui 1979:91-95)



Ke nānā nei au iaʻu iho.

I'm looking now at myself.

Noʻu iho

As for me

i loko iho o kou noʻonoʻo

within your thoughts

Hunekuhi occur in verbless sentences or noun phrases with a meaning of coming or going.



I Maui aku nei au.

I was on Maui / I went to Maui.

Eia mai au.

Here I am / Here I come.

Eia aʻe ʻo Kimo.

Here comes Kimo.

Mai is often used without a preceding verb in calling someone to come, especially to eat. (Hopkins 1992:25)




Come here!

Mai, mai, mai e ʻai!

Come, come, come eat!

See ʻO Ka Painu Dir La for another specific use of hunekuhi to indicate timing.

Nā Huneʻaʻau (Intensifiers Nō, Kā, Lā, Paha, …)

The huneʻaʻau are a small set of words that occur at the end of the poʻo (a noun or verb phrase) and express emotion or other qualifying aspect with respect to the phrase. While never necessary, Hawaiian without huneʻaʻau sounds expressionless and flat. When more than one is used in a phrase, they must be in the order of the following table.



Assurance - "still", "just", "even", "do", "itself

Shock or surprise (generally no equivalent in English), not often used after a verb; nō kā expresses astonishment

Adds force; uncommon except with wai, aha, pehea, ʻehia and hea where it is often translated as "the heck"


Contradiction - "however", "but"; nō naʻe means "still", "yet", "however"


Connects two things - "too", "also", "either"; nō hoʻi is a strong intensifier


Slight anger or annoyance

Strong affirmation, stronger than nō


Yes/no question (no equivalent in English)


Uncertainty - "maybe", "could have", "might", "I think"; when followed by , it is often translated as "probably"

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:103-105)

Only  is used independently:


What the heck!



Aia nō ʻo ia i Hilo.

He is still in Hilo.

Makemake nō au i kēlā.

Boy do I ever like that.

ʻAe. Ua hele nō au.

Yes. I did (go).

ʻAʻole nō ʻo ia i kōkua mai.

He didn't even help me.

Naʻu nō i hana i kēnā ʻupena.

I made that net myself.

I nehinei nō, ua ʻike au iā ia i ke kula.

Just yesterday I saw him at school.

ʻO ʻoe kā kāna moʻopuna!

So YOU'RE his grandson!

He ʻono kā!

But it was good after all! Imagine!

ʻAʻole nō kā hoʻi kākou i kono ʻia.

Of course (are you surprised to learn that) we werenʻt invited.

I Hawai'i ho'ihā me Pele e noho ai.

Then stay at Hawai'i with Pele.

ʻO ia kā!

You don't say!

Pehea lā.

Who knows.

ʻO wai lā!

Heck if I know who!

He aha lā!

Heck if I know what!

ʻAʻole lā!

No way! No sir-ee!

ʻAʻole naʻe au i hele.

However, I didnʻt go.

He wela naʻe kēia pā.

Dis plate hot, but.

ʻO Kimo naʻe kona pāpā.

But, Kimo is her daddy.

Eia naʻe,


Aia naʻe,


A i nehinei hoʻi, ua ʻike au iā Kimo.

And yesterday, I saw Kimo.

Ua hele au i Kona, a i Hilo nō hoʻi.

I went to Kona, and to Hilo too.

ʻAʻole hoʻi au i lohe.

I didn't hear either.

Akamai nō hoʻi kēlā keiki.

Well I'll tell you that kid sure is smart.

ʻEha hoʻi ka ihu.

My nose sore as why (said after someone notices that you are rubbing your nose)

ʻO ia hoʻi!

I should say!

Ua ʻike anei ʻoe i Keola?

Have you seen Keola?

E hele ana anei ʻoe i Waimea?

Are you going to Waimea?

Ke ʻai nei anei ʻo Pualani?

Is Pualani eating?

ʻAʻole anei ʻoe i ʻike mai iā mākou?

Didn't you see us?

Ua hele paha ʻo ia i Kekaha.

Maybe he went to Kekaha.

Aia paha lākou ma loko o ka hale.

They might be inside the house.

Ua pau paha i kēia manawa.

I think it's "pau" now.

ʻAʻole paha ʻo ia i hele.

I don't think she went.

He poi nō paha kā lāua.

They probably have poi.

Pēlā paha.

You're probably right.

ʻO ia paha.

That could be so.

ʻAʻole paha!

Not! Come on, that can't be true!

All examples from (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:103-105).

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:100-104) considers the following to fall into the same general category as the above:




probably, soon


slight anger or annoyance




superlative, usually used after hoʻi



Mai walaʻau aʻe hoʻi o makani auaneʻi.

Don't say too much or the wind will blow.

He kau auaneʻi i ka lae ʻaʻā.

Watch out lest the canoe land on a rocky reef.

He paʻakai auaneʻi ke kanaka o heheʻe.

Man isn’t salt that melts.

E noho mai paha auaneʻi ā kipi mai iā ʻoe.

Perhaps (they) will wait and later revolt against you.

He aliʻi waiwai auaneʻi ia.

Soon he will be a rich chief.

I Hawaiʻi hoʻihā me Pele e noho ai.

Then stay at Hawaii with Pele.

Kāhea ʻia hoʻihā.

Then summon (her).

‘O ia hā!

That's for sure!

Hele mai nei nō ʻānō.

Come here now.

Hele mai ke aliʻi ʻānō.

The chief is coming now.

He nani mai hoʻi kau!

Oh, so beautiful!

E lohe mai auaneʻi kau i ka leo o ka makua.

Soon (you) will listen to the parent's request.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:100) considers nohoʻi and nonaʻe to be additional intensifiers, but they are generally considered to be two words each today: nō hoʻi and nō naʻe.

The order of intensifiers when more than one is used in a phrase is:

Order of Intensifiers

nō   kā   lā   auaneʻi*   naʻe   hoʻi   hoʻihā      ʻānō   anei   paha   auaneʻi**   kau

where auaneʻi* indicates uncertainty while auaneʻi** indicates soon/eventually. (Neumann 2019:20)

A recent study found that the order of certain words changes in specific contexts:  before  in questions, anei before hoʻi in negative phrases. (Neumann 2019:50-53)

Word Usage Patterns

Ke Kāhulu (Descriptors)


Adjectives in English are modifiers of nouns. See the section on ʻaʻano verbs for how stative verbs generally fill the function of adjectives in Hawaiian, following a verb. For example:

Wela ka hao.

aʻano memeʻa

The iron is hot.

An English sequence of a noun preceded by two adjectives such as a 'fine new house' might in Hawaiian be:

hale maikaʻi a hou

memeʻa aʻano kuʻi aʻano

house good and new

Compounds also may be followed by qualifiers:

he mea hou maikaʻia

memeʻa ʻaʻano         ʻaʻano

a thing new good

some good news / a good new thing

limu kala lau liʻi

memeʻa ʻaʻano         memeʻa ʻaʻano

seaweed rough leaf small

small-leafed Sargassum sp.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:129)

Any memeʻa can modify any other memeʻa (any memeʻa can be a kāhulu), for example:

peni pepa
a pen for paper, or a pen of paper

pepa peni
paper for a pen


Adverbs in English are modifiers of verbs or adjectives. As with adjectives, ʻaʻano verbs often directly fill the role.



Ua heluhelu wikiwiki ʻo ia i ka palapala.

He read the document quickly.

He wahine akamai loa au.

I am a very intelligent woman. (loa is an adverb, modifying akamai)

Another common pattern to express the function of an adverb is me ka painu or me ke ʻano painu.



E ʻōlelo ana ʻo ia me ka haʻahaʻa.

He spoke humbly.

E oli ana nā keiki me ke ʻano haʻaheo no ko lākou one hānau.

The kids are chanting proudly about their place of birth.

Ua kokoke ʻo ia iaʻu me ka wikiwiki loa.

He approached me very quickly.

Ua mālama ʻia me ke ʻano kapukapu akua.

They were raised with the sanctity of gods.

Honua is used as an adverb in the meaning of "suddenly".



Huhū honua ihola ʻo ia.

He suddenly became angry.

Nalowale honua ka wahine hiʻuiʻa

The mermaid suddenly disappeared.

Koke is used as an adverb with the meaning quickly. Koke iho nō means "that very" with a time unit.



No kona hele koke ʻole mai

because of his not coming quickly

E hele koke mai nō ʻoe.

Come quickly.

I ia pō koke iho nō, ua hoʻopūʻiwa.

That very night, he was afraid.

Hoʻomaka hou aʻela ke kula i ia pule koke iho nō.

School starts again that very week.

 ", a modifier of both verbs and nouns has two meanings: 'together with, entirely, also with', and 'inactive, sluggish, quiet, bored'. Context determines which translation is appropriate; the second meaning is quite rare." (Elbert/Pukui 1979:90)



like pū

just the same

Me ʻoe pū.

You too. / Same to you.

Noho pū wale nō.

Just living together.

Noho pū wale ihola nō ʻo Kimo.

Kimo just sat there dejectedly.

Inā ʻoe e ʻae ana e kau pū kuʻu mau ʻopeʻope me aʻu, a laila, holo pū kāua.

If you agree to place my bundles with me, then we’ll sail together.

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:63) calls out mai explicitly as an adverb when used before a verb, with the meaning of "almost".



Mai hāʻule ke keiki.

The child almost fell.

(Alexander 1864:17) names hea, auhea, ihea, etc. as interrogative adverbs. It considers ʻaʻole and ʻole to be negative adverbs.

(Judd 1939:20-22) lists adverbs of time (ʻānō, ʻapōpō, inehinei, hou, etc), denial adverbs (ʻaʻole, mai, naʻe, etc.), place adverbs (aia, eia, kokoke and a puni), assent adverbs (ʻae, e. u, and ʻo ia), affirmation adverbs (, hoʻi, ʻoiaʻiʻo, etc), salutation adverbs (aloha, welina, ʻanoʻai), doubt adverbs (i, inā, paha, etc.) and resemblance adverbs (like, menei, penei, etc.).

Comparative, Superlative

In English, the comparative and superlative of an adjective are generally formed by adding "er" and "est": fast, faster, fastest; pretty, prettier, prettiest. They can also generally be formed by preceding them with "more" and "most": beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful. As discussed above, ʻaʻano (stative) verbs are usually employed in Hawaiian where English would use an adjective.


To express "more" for an ʻaʻano, the following pattern is used:

ʻoi aku ka ʻaʻano ma mua o ko kikino ʻaʻano

For example:

ʻoi aku ka nani o Kaupō ma mua o ko Kahului nani
Kaupō is more beautiful than Kahului.

See the section on comparative sentences for the structure of sentences that focus on comparing a property of two objects.


The kāhulu (adverb) loa is used where English would use "most" or "-est":



ke keiki akamai loa

the smartest child

nā palaki hope loa he ʻumi

the last ten brushes

ka muli loa

the last born

Note that there is ambiguity here since loa is also used where English would use "very".

I ka wā ma mua loa                        a very long time ago

ʻO ia kaulana loa ma Maui.                He is very famous on Maui.

Me ka māmā loa i hele ai ʻo ʻEleʻio.        It was with great speed that ʻEleʻio went.

Ua kaumaha loa au.                        I became very sad.

When loa is used without a definite determiner, it can usually be translated as "very". When used with a definite determiner, it may be translated as "very" or "most".

a ʻoi, a keu, a emi (or more, or less)

To express "more than" or "less than" a quantity, "or more" or "or less", the following pattern is used:

he helu a ʻoi

he helu a keu

he helu a emi

"A ʻoi" and "a keu" mean more than, while "a emi" means less than.

Sometimes ā (with kahakō) appears instead of a, especially in moʻolelo (stories).

"A ʻoi" and "a keu" may be followed by the directional aku with no change in meaning. Similarly, "a emi" may be followed by the directional iho or mai.

The following expressions are equivalent to “a ʻoi”:

a ʻoi aʻe

a ʻoi aʻe paha

a ʻoi iki paha



he ʻumikūmālua mau haumāna a ʻoi

more than 12 students; 12 or more students

he iwākāluakūmāhā mau pia a emi

less than 24 beers; 24 beers or less

He ʻumikūmālua keiki a ʻoi a lāua.

They have more than 12 kids.

Ua lilo iā ia he kaukani kālā a emi.

She lost a little less than 1,000 dollars.

E kupa aku i ke kalo no ʻekolu hola a ʻoi aʻe paha.

Boil the taro for maybe 3 hours or more.

pā ʻumi a keu

10 and upwards

mai ka iwakālua o ko lākou mau makahiki a keu aku

(all the men in Israel) who are twenty years old or more

He kanakolu mālolo o kēia lawaiʻa e loaʻa a emi mai nō hoʻi.[32]

Thirty and less of these flying-fish are caught in this method of fishing.

Keu is used to mean "very", exceedingly in the following pattern:

He keu au kikino a ka painu



He keu aku ia a ka hahana.

It was very heated.

He keu aku ʻo ia a ka pakalaki.

He was very unlucky.

No Ka Wā (Temporal)


A complete date is expressed as follows:

(weekday) o ka lā (day of month) kēia o (month) o (year)

As in English, the part of the year before the decade may be expressed either as thousands, hundreds (two thousand nineteen) or as a count of hundreds (twenty nineteen). The more common is the latter, as in English.



ma ka Pōʻalima o ka lā ʻumi kēia o ʻApelila o ʻiwakālua ʻumikūmāʻiwa

on Friday the 10th of April, 2019

ma ka lā ʻehiku kēia o Kepakemapa

on September 7

Days of the Week

The days of the week are formed with Pō (night) and the numbers one through six in the ʻa- form, with Lāpule (day of prayer) for Sunday.




which day















The days of the week take a kaʻi (determiner), unlike in English.



ʻO ka Pōʻalima kēia, a pau ke kula.

It is Friday and school is over.

Aia kāu papa i ka pōʻahia?

Which day is your class?

Nā Pō O Ka Mahina (Days of the Month)

The days of the month are called nā pō o ka mahina - the nights of the moon. Knowledge of the cycles of the moon was essential to Polynesian navigation.









faint thread






Kū 1



Kū 2



Kū 3



last Kū


ʻOle Kūkahi

ʻOle Kū 1


ʻOle Kūlua

ʻOle Kū 2


ʻOle Kūkolu

ʻOle Kū 3


ʻOle Kūpau

Last ʻOle Kū

growing bigger







to hide



to blossom



fruit, egg



god, first night of fullness



second night of fullness



third night of fullness



to drop, pass


Lāʻau Kūkahi

Lāʻau Kū 1


Lāʻau Kūlua

Lāʻau Kū 2


Lāʻau Kūpau

last Lāʻau Kū

round, full






ʻOle Kūkahi

ʻOle Kū 1


ʻOle Kūlua

ʻOle Kū 2


ʻOle Kūpau

Last ʻOle Kū


Kāloa Kūkahi

Kāloa Ku 1 (Kāloa is short for Kanaloa)


Kāloa Kūlua

Kāloa Ku 2


Kāloa Kūpau

Last Kāloa Ku



the god Kāne



the god Lono






cut-off, new moon


(Hawaiian Lunar Month)

See more on the Hawaiian days of the month in an article from the Hokuleʻa team.

Helu Manawa ʻAna (Time)

Hawaiian has taken the English terms for hour (hola), minute (minuke) and half (hapa) to tell the time of day, although hapa does not necessarily mean exactly half but rather a part of the whole.

i hala ka hola indicates "past the hour".

i koe kani ka hola indicates "before the hour" (literally "remaining until the hour rings").



ʻO ka hola ʻehia kēia?

What time is it?

ʻo ka hola ʻekahi


ʻo ka hapalua hola ʻekolu


He iwakālua minuke i hala ka hola ʻehā.

It is 4:20.

He ʻumi minuke i koe kani ka hola ʻelima.

It is 4:50.

hapahā i hala ka hola ʻelua


I ka hola ʻehia?

When (will it happen)?

The traditional Hawaiian divisions of the day are used independently or together with the hours of the day.




early in the morning, from sunrise until as late as between 10:30 and 11:00


late morning (after kakahiaka) until 1:00 or 1:30 in the afternoon




5:00 to 8:30 or 9:00PM

from ahiahi to midnight


around midnight


from aumoe to dawn

(Cleeland 1994:23-24)



hapalua hola ʻekolu o ka ʻauinalā.

3:30 in the afternoon

ʻelima minuke i hala ka hola ʻewalu o ke ahiahi

8:05 in the evening

hapahā i koe kani ka hola ʻehiku o ke kakahiaka

quarter to seven in the morning

Nā Kau (Traditional Seasons and Months)

As in most tropical climates, there are two seasons in Hawaiʻi, the cooler wetter season called Hoʻoilo, and the hotter, drier season called Kau. Both seasons last about six months. In ancient times, the months were marked by the appearance of different stars and constellations in the eastern sky at sunset. The names of the months varied from district to district and island to island. The following names are from the Prince Kuhiʻo Hawaiian Civic Club Calendar, published annually.

(Asia-Pacific Digital Library Months)

Hoʻoilo (Cooler, Wetter Season)



Welehu (Oct.-Nov.)

Makaliʻi (Pleiades) appears in the ENE sky after sunset. Rainy season. Makahiki, a four-month long harvest festival, dedicated to Lono, a god of rain and agriculture, began toward the end of Kau and continued into the new year. ʻOpelu and akule fishing.

Makaliʻi (Nov.-Dec.)

Sun rises and sets at its southern limit (winter solstice). Land prepared for planting. ʻOpelu and akule fishing; ʻamaʻama (mullet) spawning and kapu through Feb. Koholā (humpbacked-whales) feed and breed in island waters through April.

Kaʻelo (Dec.-Jan.)

ʻAʻa (Sirius) and Orion in the eastern evening sky. ʻUala (sweet potato) planting in dry leeward areas to take advantage of winter rains. Reef and inshore fishing.

Kaulua (Jan.-Feb.)

Ke Aliʻi o Kona i ka Lewa (Canopus) in the SE by S evening sky. In traditional times, aku kapu lifted at the end of Makahiki; ʻopelu kapu through July during its spawning season; reef and inshore fishing. Planting period for all crops - kalo, ʻuala, gourds, wauke (bark cloth), ʻolonā (for cordage), bananas, yams, arrowroot.

Nana (Feb.-Mar.)

Sun rises due east and sets due west (spring equinox). Mulch and weed gardens; vigorous plant growth begins. ʻAmaʻama fishing season opens; mālolo (flying fish) spawning.

Welo (Mar.-April)

Leo in the eastern evening sky. All things grow; crops maturing. ʻAmaʻama and mālolo fishing. Deep-sea fishing through summer. ʻĪlio-holo-i-ka-uaua (monk seal) pups are born, spring through summer.

Kau (Hotter, Drier Season)



Ikiiki (April-May)

Makaliʻi in the WNW evening sky; Hokuleʻa (Arcturus) in the ENE evening sky. ʻUala planting with summer rains. Honu (green sea turtles) come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand through summer. Great schools of moi (threadfish) and mālolo.

Kaʻaona (May-June)

Sun rises and sets at its northern limit (summer solstice). ʻUlu (breadfruit) ripens. Ula (lobster) and moi kapu through August during their spawning seasons. Aku and ʻahi (tuna) season.

Hinaiaʻeleʻele (June-July)

Manaiakalani (Maui’s Fishhook, or Scorpio) in the SE evening sky. Humid weather, sudden storms. ʻŌhiʻa ʻai (mountain apple) ripens; gourds and melons ripen. In traditional times,ʻopelu kapu lifted; aku kapu through Jan. during its spawning season; akule spawning.

Hilinaehu (July-August)

Leo in the western evening sky. ʻŌhiʻa ʻai abundant. Heʻe (octopus) fishing with lures.

Hilinama (Aug.-Sept.)

Sun rises due east and sets due west (fall equinox). Tubers ripen for harvest; sugar cane blossoms; vines dying off. Ula and moi season; ʻopelu fishing.

ʻIkuwa (Sept.-Oct.)

Iwakeliʻi (Cassiopeia) in the NNE evening sky. Thunder and rain. Plant growth slows. Kalo and ʻuala harvest. Preparation for the Makahiki Harvest Festival. Akule and ʻOpelu plentiful.

Nā Mahina (Months)

The months of the year are adopted from English. They are proper nouns and so take ʻo when they are the subject of a sentence.



























Relative Time

Besides ʻapōpō for tomorrow and nehinei for yesterday, hunekuhi (directionals) are used with units of time to indicate a time in the past or present, with nei as well for the past.

nei after iho, aʻe, and aku adds the meaning "past", with aku nei being more remote than iho nei or aʻe nei.

Mai nei indicates past time and present place.

nehinei is generally used with a preceding i. ʻapōpō is generally used as ka lā ʻapōpō, with i preceding to mean on the day of tomorrow:

ʻO ka Pōʻahia ka lā ʻapōpō?

What day is tomorrow?

E hoʻomaka ke kula i ka lā ʻapōpō.

School starts tomorrow.

The time scale with directionals with and without following nei is more or less as follows:



aku nei

distant past

aʻe nei, iho nei

recent past


adjoining the present


near future


distant future

(Elbert/Pukui 1979:92)



Inā ʻoe i hele mai nei me ka maikaʻi...

If you had come here with good [intentions]...

i nehinei


i kēia mau lā iho nei

these last few days

i kēia mau lā iho

the coming few days

hele mai nei nō ʻo ia

he came here

kēlā pule aku nei

last week

kēia pule aku nei ā ia pule aku nei

the week before last

Ua hele aʻe nei no Maui.

[He] has just gone to Maui.

ia lā aʻe ia lā aʻe

from day to day

koʻu mua aʻe

the (one born) just before me

ʻapōpō ā ia lā aku

the day after tomorrow

ke kaikamahine aʻu e honi ai i kēia pō

the girl I will kiss tonight

E kūʻē mākou iā ʻoe mā i kēia ahiahi?

Are we playing you folks tonight?

E ʻai ʻia ana ka mea ʻono e lākou i ka pō nei.

The cake was being eaten by them last night.

Ua hiki mai nei kāu leka.

Your letter just arrived.

Ka Painu (Verbs)

Nā Māka Painu (Verb Markers)

In English, there is a somewhat confusing and difficult to understand process of “conjugating” a verb in order to understand the time frame or state of completion under which the action happens.  The spelling of the verb sometimes indicates its “tense”.  E.g. I see the bird, I saw the bird, I am seeing the bird, etc.  In Hawaiian, the spelling of the painu (verb) does not change but rather is marked by indicators that signal the tense or state of completion.  These indicators are called māka painu. (Hawkins 1982:38)


The table below shows the māka painu that are used for various sentence patterns (analula) in Hawaiian.  This table will be used throughout this book with the appropriate row highlighted for the analula being discussed.

Māka Painu (Verb Markers)



Completed Action

Not Completed Action

Happening Right Now


Recently Completed

Pepeke Painu


Ua painu

E painu ana

Ke painu nei

E painu

Ua painu dir nei/la

ʻAʻole Painu


i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele ʻĀkena

e painu

i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele Kūlana

e painu ai

i painu ai

ana, e painu ai

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu ai

i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke

    Piko hou ʻole




-, e*




i painu




e painu ana




e painu nei




e painu




i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke

     Piko hou



e painu ai



i painu ai



e painu ana



e painu nei



e painu ai



i painu dir nei/la

*The habitual form is sometimes marked with e and sometimes omitted.

The basic forms of the māka painu are shown in the first row of the above table (Pepeke Painu).  Each of the māka painu for the Pepeke Painu is discussed as follows:




A simple painu (verb) sentence that describes action without reference to tense can also be thought of as habitual action.  This type of action is not marked with a māka painu in a pepeke painu. This is true for any type of painu as shown in the following examples:



Verb type

Kalaiwa au i ke kaʻa.

I drive (habitually) the car.


Hele au i ka hale.

I go (habitually) to the house.


Anuanu ka wai.

The water is cold (habitually)



Sometimes, especially in literature, habitual sentences are marked with a preceding He (Hawkins 1982:40).  The following example illustrates this:


He hele au i ka hale.
I go (habitually) to the house.

This form is also used to indicate the type of person:

He ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi kēlā keiki kāne.
That boy is a Hawaiian speaker.


Completed Action:


The māka painu marker ua indicates action that has been completed for hamani and hehele types of painu and is therefore similar to the English past tense.  For stative (ʻaʻano) painu, the preceding ua indicates that the state or condition described by the painu has already been reached, and that condition might still exist.  Therefore, for ʻaʻano painu the ua can represent present as well as past tense (Kamanā/Wilson 2012:121).



Verb type

Ua kalaiwa au i ke kaʻa.

I drove the car.


Ua hele au i ka hale.

I went to the house.


Ua anuanu ka wai.

The water has become cold.


There are also situations where one wants to indicate a completed action of a single occurrence.  This is indicated by ana in the Poʻo.  Using ana in the Poʻo can also be used to indicate future action (see next section on Not completed action).  Distinguishing what is meant when ana is used in the Poʻo needs to rely on other contextual clues.



 I ka hola ʻelua, kanu ana mākou i ke kalo.

At 2:00 we planted the taro.


Not Completed Action:


Action that has not been completed is indicated using the māka painu e painu ana.  In other words, that action could be currently happening, going to happen, or was happening.  Clues to determine the time frame under which the activity is happening need to come from the context of the conversation (Hopkins 1992:64).




E kamaʻilio ana au iā Kimo i nehinei.

 I was talking to Kimo yesterday.

E hana ana au i kēia manawa.

I am working at this time.

E hele ana au i ka hale i kēia Pōʻakahi aʻe.

I am going to go to the house next Monday.

E wela ana ka wai.

The water is getting hot, the water was getting hot, the water will be getting hot.

There are situations where one wants to clearly indicate that an action will happen in the future.  This can be indicated by ana in the Poʻo.  Using ana in the Poʻo can also be used to indicate completed action of a single occurrence (see previous section on completed action).  Distinguishing what is meant when ana is used in the Poʻo needs to rely on other contextual clues.

Painu ana + piko:
Aia ana ʻoe i ka hale?
Are you going to be at the house?


Happening Right Now:


The māka painu e painu ana can have the meaning of action happening now, but using the māka painu ke painu nei gives a stronger emphasis of the action happening right now. Consider the following examples:



E ulana ana ʻo Pualani i ka lei.

Pualani is weaving the lei.

Ke ulana nei ʻo Pualani i ka lei.

Pualani is weaving the lei right now.

Note that Ke painu nei is sometimes expressed as Ke painu ala. Using nei indicates an action happening near to the speaker in distance, and using ala indicates an action happening far from the speaker in distance. Ke painu ala is not often seen.  Ke painu nei occurs most often in formal speeches, in church, and in writing.  E painu ana is more commonly used in day-to-day conversations to indicate ongoing action (Hopkins 1992:125).




The suggestive māka painu, e painu, has multiple meanings/usages is discussed in other sections of this book as well as this one.  Two of these meanings/usages will be discussed here.  The first meaning is when one is expressing a command.  The second is when expressing “will”, “should”, “shall”, and “”letʻs” (Kamanā/Wilson 2012:126).  The following examples illustrate these usages:



E haʻawi aku ʻoe i ka poi i ka wahine.

Give the poi to the women. (command)

E hoʻomākaukau ʻoe i ka meaʻai.

You will prepare the food.

E kamaʻilio ʻoe iā ia.

You should talk to her.

E mālama au i nā keiki.

I shall care for the children.

E nānā kākou i ka hōʻike.

Letʻs watch the show.


Recently Completed:


The māka painu ua, used along with a directional (hunekuhi)  (aku, mai, aʻe, iho) and either nei or la indicates recently completed action. Using nei indicates the action completed near the speaker and la indicates action completed action away from the speaker.  he following are examples of this māka painu:



Ua lele aʻela ka manu i ke kumulāʻau.

The bird recently flew to the tree.

Ua kalaiwa mai nei ke keiki i aneʻi.

The boy recently drove here.

Ua noho iho nei oʻia I ka hale.

She recently lived in the house.

Ua hele akula ʻo Kimo i Lāhaina.

 Kimo recently went to Lāhaina.


Note that the hunekuhi and la are often written and pronounced as a single word. As the above table shows, the māka painu can change based on the analula that is being used. Each of the rows of the table will be discussed in the appropriate sections of this book that follow.

Nā Māka Painu Kauoha (Imperative)

There are three positive imperative verb markers and one negative. An imperative marker immediately precedes its verb.













E hele ʻoe!

Go! (You should/must go!)

Ō hoʻi ā ʻōlelo aku...

Better go back and say...

Ō hele kāua.

Let's go.

Mai uwē ʻoe.

Don't cry.

I ipo ʻoe nāna.

 Be a girlfriend of his. (Be his girlfriend.)

I wahi noho kēia no ʻolua.

Let this be a living place for you. (Why don't you live here?)

In discourse, the imperative marker is often dropped:

Hele ʻoe!

Mai is also used stand-alone:

Don't! Stop!

ʻIa (Passivizer)

The particle ʻia after a hamani (transitive verb) gives it a passive sense. The ʻōkena (object) of the verb becomes the piko (subject), instead of the ʻākena (actor). Consider the sentence, “The fish was eaten by Kimo”. In this case, the fish is the subject of the sentence but it is not the fish that is doing the eating. Kimo is the one doing the eating, but is expressed in the sentence as the agent of the action, not the subject. (Elbert/Pukui 1979:83)

ʻAi ʻo Kimo i ka iʻa.

poʻo piko ʻākena ʻami lauka ʻawe ʻōkena

Kimo eats the fish.

ʻAi ʻia ka iʻa e Kimo.

poʻo piko ʻōkena ʻawe ʻākena

The fish is eaten by Kimo.

As a hamani (transitive verb), ʻai takes the object marker i to indicate the object of the eating. In the passive form with ʻia, there is no object and so no object marker.

Examples of transitive verbs and their use in a passive sense with ʻia:



E ʻai i ka iʻa!

Eat the fish!

ʻAi ʻia ka iʻa.

The fish is eaten

Ua hānau ʻo ia iā Pualani.

She gave birth to Pualani.

Ua hānau ʻia ʻo Pualani.

Pualani was born

See E and I (Agentive) above for when an ʻākena (agent, the one causing the action) is called out in a passive sentence.

The painu (verb) with ʻia is typically translated with an "-en” or “-ed” in English, e.g. "eaten", "cooked".



ʻAi ʻia ka iʻa nui e ka pōpoki.

The big fish is eaten by the cat.

Heluhelu ʻia ka puke makemakika e kēlā keiki wahine.

The math book is read by that girl.

Hānau ʻia ʻo Pualani e[33] Ellen.

Pualani was born by Ellen.

Ua kākau ‘ia ka leka e a‘u.

The letter was written by me.

E haku ‘ia ka mele e ‘oe?

Will the song be composed by you?

Note that the passive verb portion of the sentence is exactly as described previously only now the agent is identified as well: the cat, that girl and Ellen.

If the cause of the action is not intentional, the agent is indicated with i/ instead (as with loaʻa verbs). In English, "with" is often used instead of "by" in similar sentences.



Ua hoʻopiha ʻia kēia kiowai e ke keiki.

This puddle was filled by the child.

Ua hoʻopiha ʻia kēia kiowai i ka wai.

This puddle was filled with water.

Oftentimes in speaking Hawaiian the person being addressed is spoken to indirectly (see section on indirect addressing).  This holds true for suggesting that something should be done.  This is called a passive voice command and has the following form:

E painu ʻia piko

E hoʻomākaukau ʻia ka meaʻai.
The food shall be prepared.

This is a nicer way of saying that someone specific should prepare the food… they should know who they are.

Hoʻo- (Transitivizer)

The prefix hoʻo- makes the word it is attached to into a hamani (transitive verb). It is most often attached to an ʻaʻano (stative verb) or hehele (intransitive verb), but it may be attached to a kikino (noun) or even a hamani to change its meaning. The meaning of a word prefixed with hoʻo- is to cause to take on the state or form or action of the word following hoʻo.

The prefix changes form depending on the first letters of the word it is attached to.

First letters



ʻokina + kahakō


hoʻā (to cause to burn or turn on) from ʻā (to burn or be turned on)

hoʻōhule (to cause to be bald) from ʻōhule (to be bald)

ʻokina (and no kahakō)

hōʻike (to show, cause to be seen) from ʻike (to see)

hōʻano ʻē (to make weird) from ʻano ʻē (weird)

a, e or o

hoʻ + lengthened vowel (if not already long)

hoʻāla (to cause to wake up) from ala (to be awake)

hoʻēmi (to reduce) from emi (to diminish, go down)

hoʻōla (to cause to be alive, cure) from ola (to be alive, healthy)

hoʻōlaʻi (to cause an earthquake) from olaʻi (earthquake)

all others (i, u or a consonant other than ʻokina)


hoʻoikaika (to make strong) from ikaika (strong)

hoʻomanʻo (to remind someone) from manaʻo (to think of something)

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 2:46)

Kiʻa Painu (Nominalizer)

The particle ʻana as a separate word following a painu (verb) changes the sense of the verb into a kikino (noun) describing the action of the verb, e.g. ka holo ʻana (the running) from holo (to run). Almost any painu or kikino can be used with ʻana, but it is most often seen with hamani and hehele verbs. In English translation, the expression is often a gerund (running, seeing, knowing, climbing).

(Pukui/Elbert 1986) distinguishes between verbs that can be used as nouns without ‘ana (nvt, nvi) and those that require ‘ana (vt, vi).

A very common usage of kiʻa painu is where English would use a subordinate verb clause, especially to express the idea of "when" for an action in the past.

The relationship of the thing or person doing the action to the kiʻa painu is usually o-type.



i kona hele ʻana

when he went

ma mua o ka hoʻomaka ʻana o ka papa

before the beginning of the class

Ua ʻike au i ka ʻai ʻana o ka pōpoki i ka manu.

I saw the cat eat the bird.

I koʻu hoʻi ʻana mai, ua lilo.

When I returned, (it) was gone.

I ka wehe ʻana aku i ka puke, ua lilo paha ka pila i ka makani.

When (X) opened the door, the bill was probably taken by the wind.

Pehea ka loaʻa ʻana o ka ʻaihue?

How was the thief caught?

ʻO ia ka hopena o ka hele ʻole ʻana e hoʻolohe lipine.

Thatʻs the consequence of not going to listen to the tapes.

E noho ʻoe me ka ʻike ʻole ʻana o Kimo.

Live without Kimo knowing.

No ke aha kou hele ʻole ʻana?

Why didn't/don't you go?

There may be other words between the verb and ʻana, with the following pattern:

Word Order in ‘Ana Sentences












my returning




o ka ʻiole

the perching of the rat






o ke kalaka

the returning of the truck

(Hopkins 1992:185-187)

Special Verb Patterns

These are verbs with particular idiomatic uses as poʻo (head of a phrase), expressing something other than their fundamental meaning.

Hele A

The following pattern means "to become":

hele a painu



Ua hele a laha loa

Became widely known

Mai ʻai nui o hele a momona kou ʻōpū.

Don’t eat too much or you will become fat.

Pehea ʻo ia i hele ai a mākaukau i ka makemakika?

How did he get good at math?

Ua hele a momona ka ʻīlio.

The dog became fat.

Koe (Nō)

The following pattern means except for / remaining:

Koe (nō) kikino



Koe nō ka penikala ma luna o ke pākaukau.

Only the pencil is left on the table.

Ua hana mākou i nā mea a pau, koe kēia.

We did everything except for this.

ʻAʻole i koe hoʻokahi kanaka.

Not one person remained.

a koe ka waiūpaʻa

except for cheese

See idioms for other special uses of koe.

Kohu ABC

This pattern means to resemble, to be similar to, something like a, but lacks the idea of something fitting like a shoe.  See the section on Kū i/iā.





Kohu keko kona piʻina i ke kumu niu.

Like a monkey his climbing the coconut tree.

Kohu luahine kona ʻōlelo ʻana.

Her speaking resembles that of an old woman.

Kohu nananana ke mea aʻu i ʻike iho ai.

The thing that I saw was similar to a spider.

Kohu Mea Lā/Ala

seems like/as if, seems as though, indefinite


The kohu mea lā/ala pattern expresses the idea that something seems to be, but without certainty.  




Kohu mea lā, ʻo ia kāna ipo.

Seems like, she is his girlfriend.

Kohu mea ala, ua hānau ʻia au i nehinei.

Seems as though, I was born yesterday.

Kohu mea lā, ʻaʻole maopopo ka haʻawina iā ia.

Itʻs as if he doesnʻt understand the lesson.


Kū A

The following pattern means to turn into something:

a kikino hunekuhi-la kikino

The pattern is often used in moʻolelo (stories).



Kū a kanaka aʻela kaʻu ʻilio.

My dog turned into a man.

A kū a lio ʻāhinahina aʻela ua poʻe ʻiole nei.

And these rats here turned into silver-gray horses.

Kū a puaʻa liʻiliʻi aʻela ʻo Kamapuaʻa.

Kamapuaʻa turned into a small pig.

Kū I/Iā

The following pattern means to fit, match, be similar to, resemble something:

 kikino i/iā kikino



Kū ʻo Keola i kona makuakāne.

Keola resembles his father.

Kū ʻo ia i ka nani.

She looks beautiful.

Kū ke kāmaʻa i loaʻa iā ia.

The shoe seems to belong to her.



Lilo is a word that can function as either a hamani or a loaʻa-type ʻaʻano. When functioning as a hamani it means “to become”, and as a stative loaʻa it means to accrue (Elbert/Pukui 1979:53). It also means “to be engrossed or absorbed in something” (Hopkins 1992: 186).  Other meanings include to be lost, gone, pass into the possession of, to relinquish; to become, turn into, to overcome, be purchased, taken.  

Lilo Used as a Hamani

When using lilo to describe becoming or turning into something/someone, the ʻami preceding the target kikino indicates either something general (i) or something specific (ʻo).




E lilo ana ʻo ia i kahu maʻi.

She is going to become a nurse.

E lilo ana ʻo ia ʻo kaʻu ipo aloha.

She is going to become my sweetheart.

Mai lilo ʻoe i ʻaihue.

Donʻt become a thief.

E lilo ʻoe i kumu.

You should become a teacher

Ua lawe a lilo ʻia ka ipo.

The sweetheart was carried off and lost.

Ua lilo ʻo Kimo ʻo ke kauka o Kalākaua.

Kimo became Kalākauaʻs doctor.

E lilo ana ka wahine ʻo kona hoa.

The woman is going to become his friend.



Kamanā/Wilson indicate a slightly different structure for the case with a specific target; a second pepeke ʻaike ʻo is added after the piko as shown below (Kamanā/Wilson 2012: 176).



Ua lilo ʻo Kimo ʻo ia ʻo Kalākaua ma ka hana keaka.

Kimo became Kalākaua in the play.

E lilo ana au ʻo au ka mea mua.

I am going to be the first one.

E lilo ana lāua ʻo lāua ia mau haumāna i kēia makahiki aʻe.

They are going to be those students (we have been talking about) next year.

Lilo Used as a Loaʻa Type ʻAʻano (Stative)


The following examples illustrate lilo functioning as a stative Loaʻa meaning “to accrue”, “to be engrossed or absorbed in something”.  





Ua lilo ke kālā i ka ʻaihue.

The money accrued to the thief. (The thief got the money)

Mai lilo ke kālā i ka ʻaihue.

The thief almost got the money.

Ua lilo au i ka heluhelu ʻana I ka puke hoihoi.

I was absorbed in reading the interesting book.

E lilo ana kāu meaʻai iā Kimo.

Kimo is going to get your food.

Ua lilo kāna maunu i ka iʻa.

A fish got his bait.

E lilo ana ʻo Pualani i kēlā kiʻiʻoniʻoni.

Pualani is absorbed in that movie.

Lilo ʻo Keola i kāna haʻawina.

Keola is (habitually) lost in his assignment.



The ʻaʻano (stative verb) mākaukau ("ready", "prepared") takes "no ka" rather than the infinitive marker "e" to introduce the painu (verb).



Ua mākaukau mākou no ka hele ʻana.

We are ready to go (We are ready for the going).

Note that this use of mākaukau is different from when used to mean "proficient", where it may take i/ like other ʻaʻano (stative verbs).



Mākaukau au i ka huakaʻi hele.

I am proficient at traveling.

nā ʻālapa e mākaukau ana no ka mokomoko

the athletes proficient at boxing

leka noi ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi e hōʻike ana i kou mākaukau no kēia kūlana

letter in Hawaiian showing you are ready for (have the proficiency for) this position

Me He Mea Lā

seems like/as if, seems as though, Definite


Expressing the idea that something seems as though with definite certainty the Me he mea lā pattern is used.  See examples in the table below for usage:





Me he mea lā, E hoʻopuka ʻia ana ka papa i kēia makahiki

Seems as though the class will graduate this year.

Me he mea lā, ua hoʻopaʻahau ʻia ka wai.

Seems like the water has been frozen.

Me he mea lā, ua kūaʻi mai ʻo Kimo i ka mea ʻai.

Seems as if Kimo bought the food.




Nele I

"Nele" means "to be missing/lacking" something:

Nele kikino/papani i kikino ʻole

where kikino/papani is the subject and kikino is the thing that is missing.

The ʻole is sometimes omitted.



Ua nele au i ka meaʻai ʻole

I am lacking for not having food (I am lacking food).

Ua nele lāua i ka ukana ʻole.

We don’t have any luggage.

ʻAʻole ʻo ia i nele i ka ipo ʻole.

He was not lacking a sweetheart.

Nele maoli kēia ʻohana i ka nui o nā keiki.

This family is truly lacking because they have so many kids.

Nele ʻoe i ka pepa ʻole?

Do you lack paper?

Noke I Ka

Noke (to persist, keep on) is used in the following pattern to mean persist in doing something:

noke piko i ka painu



Noke lāua nei i ka ʻōpā i nā wāwae o lāua i komo i loko.

They (here) keep on pushing their feet inside.

noke i ka ʻakaʻaka

keep on laughing

Pāpā ʻIa

The following pattern means forbidden/prohibited to do something:

Pāpā ʻia, ʻaʻole e painu



Pāpā ʻia, ʻaʻole e inu i ka lama ma loko o kēia lumi.

It is forbidden to drink alcohol inside this room.

E ia nei, e ala mai, ua pāpā ʻia, ʻaʻole e hiamoe ma kahi kau kaʻa ʻōhua.

You there, get up, it is prohibited to sleep at the bus stop.

Ua pāpā ʻia, ʻaʻole e piʻi i uka o laila ma muli o ka hāneʻe ʻana o ka mauna.

It was prohibited to climb above there because of landslides.


Ka Pepeke Painu (Simple Verb Sentences)

Composition of a Pepeke Painu

A simple verb sentence (pepeke painu) starts with a verb phrase, which is a verb with or without verb markers (māka painu) to indicate tense and optionally with directionals (hunekuhi) and/or intensifiers (huneʻaʻau). The highlighted rows in the table below indicate the verb markers to use for each tense for the positive and the negative cases.



Completed Action

Not Completed Action

Happening Right Now


Recently Completed

Pepeke Painu


Ua painu

E painu ana

Ke painu nei

E painu

Ua painu dir nei/la

ʻAʻole Painu


i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele ʻĀkena

e painu

i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele Kūlana

e painu ai

i painu ai


e painu ai

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu ai

i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou ʻole

-, e* 

 i painu

e painu ana


e painu nei


e painu


i painu dirnei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou

e painu ai

i painu ai

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu ai

i painu dirnei/la

*The habitual form is sometimes marked with e and sometimes without.

The verb phrase is the poʻo or head of the sentence. It is followed by a piko or subject and optionally an ʻawe or descriptive phrase.

Ua hōloi au i nā pā.                  

Poʻo Piko ʻAwe

I cleaned the dishes.

Ua hele nō au        i ke kula.                  

Poʻo Piko ʻAwe

I definitely went to school.



Hele aku au i ke kula.

I go to school.

Ua hele aku au i ke kula.

I went to school.

E hele aku ana au i ke kula.

I used to go/am going/will be going to school.

Ke hele aku nei au i ke kula.

I am going to school (right now).

E hele aku au i ke kula.

I will/should go to school.

Ua hele akula au i ke kula.

I went to school a while ago (or far away).

Ua hele aku nei au i ke kula.

I went to school recently (or nearby).

Aloha mai ‘o Kimo iā Maui.

Kimo loves Maui.

Ua ha‘alaele ‘o ia iā O‘ahu no Maui.

He left Oahu to go to Maui,

Ka Hōʻole O Ka Pepeke Painu (Negative Simple Verb Sentences)

A simple verb sentence is negated by starting it with ʻAʻole, which is considered an additional poʻo or head. The other changes are that ua becomes i for past tense and that a papani (pronoun) used as piko (subject) jumps before the verb. Any intensifiers (huneʻaʻauʻ) are placed directly after ʻAʻole.

ʻAʻole nō        au        i hele        i ke kula.                  

Poʻo 1                Poʻo 2        Piko         ʻAwe

I definitely did not go to school.



ʻAʻole au hele aku i ke kula.

I don't go to school.

ʻAʻole au i hele aku i ke kula.

I didn't go to school.

ʻAʻole au e hele aku ana i ke kula.

I was not going/am not going/will not be going to school.

ʻAʻole au e hele aku nei i ke kula.

I am not going to school (right now).

ʻAʻole au e hele aku i ke kula.

I will/should not go to school.

ʻAʻole au i hele akula i ke kula.

I didn't go to school a while ago (or far away).

ʻAʻole au i hele aku nei i ke kula.

I didn't go to school recently (or nearby).

‘A‘ole i nānā aku ‘o Kimo i ke ki‘i ‘oni‘oni.

Kimo did not watch the movie.

‘A‘ole e ‘ai ka ‘īlio i ka ‘iole.

The dog won't eat the rat.

Order of Hune Types in Simple Verb Sentences

With examples from (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 II:106):

























Only one hunekuhi and/or one hunekaime can be used at a time, while other types of hune allow for multiple members of each category.



E ʻai wikiwiki wale ʻia mai ana nō kā lā ka iʻa.

The fish is really amazingly quickly being eaten.

Ka Pepeke ʻAike ʻO (Equational)

ʻAike ʻO sentences, referred to as “equational” sentences, consist of two noun phrases that represent things or people or properties that are the same as (equal to) each other. These sentences always begin with ʻO, followed by the noun phrases that are equal to one another.


ʻO kēlā kanaka koʻu makua kāne.

There are two equivalent noun phrases when saying “That man is my father.” “That man” equals/is the same as “My father”. Noun phrase 1 is “kēla kanaka” and noun phrase 2 is “koʻu makua kāne”.


In English, if the two noun phrases can be reversed and still mean the same thing, itʻs a sign that they are equivalent. As shown in the example above, “That man is my father” could also be expressed as “My father is that man.” They are equivalent and express the same thought, and therefore use the ʻAike ʻO sentence pattern.


To identify English sentences that use the ʻAike ʻO pattern, look for English phrases that include “am”, “is” or “are”. For example: “…am the teacher” or  “…is the boss” or “...are your friends”. These English sentences include “is”, “am” or “are” to express two things that are the same.


Being equivalent is not the same as "is an example of". In English itʻs the difference between “The woman is the teacher” and “The woman is a teacher”. To say “The woman is a teacher.” the ʻAike He sentence pattern is used and is described in the ʻAike He section. This pattern can usually not be reversed without changing the meaning of the sentence - "The teacher is a woman".


Note that a kaʻi (ka/ke/kēia/etc.) is required following the ʻO unless the first noun is a proper noun:



ʻO ka wahine ke kumu o ka papa.

The woman is the teacher of the class.

ʻO kēia (mea) kona alanui.

This (one) is his street.

ʻO Kimo ke keiki.

Kimo is the child.

ʻO Kaʻala ke kuahiwi o Oʻahu.

Kaʻala is the mountain on Oahu.

ʻO au ʻo Kimo

I am Kimo


Ka Hōʻole O Ka Pepeke ʻAike ʻO (Negative Equational Sentence)

When the two noun phrases are not equal to one another, the pattern is:

ʻAʻole (noun phrase 1) ʻo (noun phrase 2).



Aʻole kēla kanaka ʻo koʻu makua kāne

That man is not my father

ʻAʻole ke keiki ʻo Kimo.  

Kimo is not the child.

ʻAʻole ʻo Kimo ʻo au

I am not Kimo


The noun phrase to emphasize is placed at the beginning of the sentence, also in the negative form. For example, if starting with a positive equational sentence:

ʻO kēlā wahine ke kumu kula o kēia papa.
That woman is the teacher of this class.

The negation can be either of the following depending on what is being emphasized:

ʻAʻole kēlā wahine ʻo ke kumu kula o kēia papa.

That woman is not the teacher of  this class.

ʻAʻole ke kumu kula o kēia papa ʻo kēlā wahine.

That woman is not the teacher of this class.

In conversation, the ʻo may be dropped.

Questions with ʻAike ʻO

The ʻAike ʻO  pattern can also be used to ask “Who is” type questions by starting with ʻO wai... :

ʻO wai ke kumu o kēia papa?
Who is the teacher of this class?

The response to the question simply substitutes the answer noun phrase in place of wai:

ʻO Keola ke kumu o kēia papa.
Keola is the teacher of this class.

ʻO Ka/Ke Kikino, (As For)

A pattern beginning with "ʻO ka/ke kikino," (note the comma) is a compound sentence, emphasizing the kikino.

ʻO ka pōpoki, lele ʻo ia ma luna o ka noho.        As for the cat, it jumped up on the chair.

Ka Pepeke ʻAike He (Class-Inclusion Sentence)

 The He sentence structure expresses that some particular thing (a person, a thing) is a member of a class of objects. We say the object "is a" or "is some" and not that the object "is the”. Keola is a teacher but he is not the teacher. The plural marker mau is used after he to indicate plural or some.

The basic structure of the pepeke is:

He (mau) + predicate noun-phrase + subject noun-phrase

poʻo piko



He kumu ʻo ia.

He is a teacher

He kumu ʻakamai ʻo ia.

He is a smart teacher.

He mau kumu ʻakamai lākou.

They are smart teachers.

He mau pōpoki kēlā.

Those are cats.

He Hawaiʻi kēlā kaikamahine.

That girl is a Hawaiian.

He Hawaiʻi kēlā kaikamahine akamai loa.

That very smart girl is a Hawaiian.

The Hawaiian language doesnʻt have a verb meaning “to be”. In Hawaiian there are three sentence patterns used to express the English "is":

English name

Hawaiian name




Simple Verb with stative verb

Pepeke Painu


Akamai ʻkēlā.

That one is smart.

Class Inclusion

ʻAike He

is a

He kumu akamai kēlā.

That is a smart teacher.


ʻAike ʻO

is the

ʻO ke kumu kēlā.

That is the teacher.

ʻAʻano (stative) verbs are used where an adjective would be used as the predicate. The simple verb sentence with a stative verb expresses that one or more objects has a quality ("is").

Ka Hōʻole O Ka Pepeke ʻAike He (Negative Class Inclusional Sentences)

The hōʻole (negative) form of the sentence begins with ʻAʻole. The class (that is being negated, and which appeared at the end of the statement when expressed as a positive) follows the he that now appears in the middle of the phrase. This expresses that something is NOT a member of a class (that something “is not a...”).

ʻAʻole + noun phrase + he + noun phrase




ʻAʻole kēlā he pōpoki.

That is not a cat.

ʻAʻole kēlā he mau pōpoki.

Those are not cats.

ʻAʻole ʻo Pualani he kumu.

Pualani is not a teacher.

Ke Kālele ʻĀkena (Actor-Emphatic)

The term Kālele ʻĀkena is made up of the two words “Kālele” which means to stress or emphasize, and the word “ʻĀkena” which means agent.  Thus, this sentence structure is used when one wants to emphasize who (the agent) is responsible to perform a certain action (Hopkins 1992:195).  See (Wong 2006:152) for further discussion on Kālele ʻĀkena and for an extensive examination of ways in which agents are indicated in Hawaiian as compared to English.


The Kālele ʻĀkena sentence form contains two poʻo as shown by the color coded example below:


Naʻu i holoi i nā pā.                  

Poʻo 1 Poʻo 2 ʻAwe.

Consider the following example comparing a simple Pepeke Painu sentence with a Kālele ʻĀkena:


Pepeke Painu form:
Ua holoi au i nā pā.
Poʻo Piko ʻAwe

I washed the dishes.

Kālele ʻĀkena form:
Naʻu i holoi i nā pā.
Poʻo Poʻo ʻAwe

It was I that washed the dishes.                                                                                                                                

This example illustrates that a Kālele ʻĀkena places emphasis on the responsible party.  It also shows the important aspects of constructing a Kālele ʻĀkena, namely, the following:


1.    They are always constructed using N-possessives of A class.

2.    The verbs used are always hamani or helele but never ʻaʻano.

3.    The verbs are marked with māka painu to indicate verb tense. See the green highlighted row of the table below which shows the māka painu forms to be used.





Completed Action

Not Completed Action

Happening Right Now


Recently Completed

Pepeke Painu


Ua painu

E painu ana

Ke painu nei

E painu

Ua painu dir nei/la

ʻAʻole Painu


i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele ʻĀkena

e painu

i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele Kūlana

e painu ai

i painu ai

ana, e painu ai

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu ai

i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou ʻole



-, e*




i painu




e painu ana




e painu nei




e painu




i painu dir nei/la

i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou


e painu ai



i painu ai



e painu ana



e painu nei



e painu ai


i painu dir nei/la

*The habitual form is sometimes marked with e and sometimes no marker.


There are different schools of thought as to whether or not the ʻami (object marker) is required, not required, or optional at the start of the ʻAwe for Kālele ʻĀkena sentences with Hamani (Transitive) type verbs.  Elbert and Pukui state that “object markers do not occur after transitive verbs.” (Elbert/Pukui 1979: 149).  This leads to an example such as the following:


Naʻu e mālama kona mau iwi.      I was (responsible) to care for her bones.


Hopkins states that “It is also acceptable to omit the object marker, but for clarity’s sake you should probably use it.” (Hopkins 1992: 196).  Kamanā and Wilson don’t mention omitting the ʻami (object marker) for Hamani type verbs in their discussion of Kālele ʻĀkena  (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 Vol II: 37).  As a result of these different schools of thought you will encounter Kālele ʻĀkena sentences both with and without the ʻami (object marker).


The following examples illustrate the use of the Kālele ʻĀkena (all include the ʻami):


Poʻo 1

Poʻo 2



Na Kimo

e pūlehu

i nā ʻuala a me ka iʻa.

It is Kimo that roasts the sweet potatoes and fish.

Na mākou

i hoe

i kēia waʻa.

It was us that paddled this canoe.

Na nā makua

e hoʻomākaukau ana

i ka meaʻai.

The parents are going to prepare the food.

Na ke keiki

e wehiwehi nei

i ka hale.

It is the kids (or the kid) that are (is) decorating the house.

Na lāua

e hele aku

i ka hale kūʻai.

It is the two of them that should go to the store.


i kōkua

iā ia.

I was responsible to help her.


e hula

ma ka Pōʻalima.

You are the one that dances on Fridays.


e lawe aku

i ka ʻōpala i ke kini ʻōpala.

It is her responsibility to take the trash to the trash can.

Na nā mākaʻi

e hopu ana

i nā ʻaihue.

It is the police (responsibility) that are going to arrest the thief.


Remember that ʻaʻano type verbs are not used in Kālele ʻĀkena. Therefore an example like the following is grammatically incorrect and in fact doesnʻt make sense:


Na Keola i anuanu i ka meaʻai.            It is Keola responsibility to cold the food.


If one wanted to express the thought that the food is cold because of Keola, a simple Pepeke Painu with an ʻawe ʻākena ʻaʻano (causative noun phrase) would suffice as follows:  

Ua anuanu ka meaʻai iā Keola.        The food is cold due to Keola (perhaps he was late arriving)

Note that huneʻaʻau (intensifiers) follow the first poʻo as shown in the examples below:



Naʻu nō i hōloi i nā pā.

It is indeed I that washed the dishes.

Na Pualani nō hoʻi i kōkua aku iā ia.

It is indeed Pualani that helped her.

Nāna nō hoʻi e pūlehu aʻe i nā ʻuala.

It is her indeed that will roast the sweet potatoes.

Na haʻi lā i haʻi iā haʻi.        

It was someone that told someone.

Na nā nananana nō e nānā ana i nā nēnē.

It is the spiders that are going to look at the geese.

Moving the ʻAwe Forward

Generally in Hawaiian, the most important parts of a thought are brought forward to the beginning portion of the sentence (e.g. Kālele Kūlana if it is the place or time).  The ʻawe in a Kālele ʻĀkena can be brought forward which adds additional emphasis on the object of the sentence as illustrated by the following examples:

Na Kimo e kalaiwa e nā keiki i ke kula.
Na Kimo nā keiki e kalaiwa i ke kula.
It is Kimo that drives the kids to school.

The above 2 sentences have the same meaning but the second emphasizes the fact that it is the kids that Kimo drives to school.

In the case of moving a papani forward, the object marker needs to be inserted as shown below:

Naʻu i kōkua iā ia.
Naʻu ʻo ia i kōkua.
It was I that helped her.

Ka Hōʻole O Ke Kālele ʻĀkena (Negative of the Actor-Emphatic)

Negating a Kālele ʻĀkena is a simple matter of adding the negation to the front of the sentence as a third poʻo as follows:


ʻAʻole na Keola e aʻo aku i nā keiki.

Poʻo 1 Poʻo 2 Poʻo 3 ʻAwe.

It is not Keola’s responsibility to teach the children


Keep in mind that huneʻaʻaʻu (intensifiers) are added to the first poʻo in any Hawaiian sentence.  The example below shows how the intensifier moves when the additional poʻo is added:


Na ka wahine paha e hoʻopaʻa i kēlā kaʻa.        It is perhaps the women’s responsibility to fix that car.


Adding the new poʻo (ʻAʻole):


ʻAʻole paha na ka wahine e hoʻopaʻa i kēlā kaʻa.        It is perhaps not the women’s responsibility to fix that car.

Ke Kālele Kūlana (Situation-Emphatic)

Generally in Hawaiian, the most important part of a sentence comes first. The term Kālele Kūlana simply means to emphasize the situation (as opposed to the person or the action).  Sometimes this type of emphasis is referred to as “Topicalization” (Hawkins 1982:100).  There is a distinct difference between simply moving the ʻawe to the beginning of a sentence and turning that sentence into a Kālele Kūlana.  Consider the following:

A simple Pepeke Painu:

Ua hoʻi mai nō ke keiki i ka Pōʻalima.

Poʻo                Piko        ʻAwe

The child returned on Friday.


A fronted ʻawe:

I ka Pōʻalima, ua hoʻi mai nō ke keiki.

ʻAwe                Poʻo                   Piko     

On Friday, the child returned.


Kālele Kūlana form:

I ka Pōʻalima nō i hoʻi mai ai ke keiki.        

Poʻo 1               Poʻo 2          Piko

It was on Friday the child returned.


Simply moving an ʻawe to the front of a sentence places some emphasis on it (the ʻawe) but also is used as a way to add interest and variation in both spoken and written Hawaiian.  Kālele Kūlana form is used when one really wants to emphasize the time, place or manner in which an event occurs.  Therefore, Kālele Kūlana form is used to emphasize and ask When, Where, Why, Which, and How. (Hopkins 1992:203)

In the Kālele Kūlana example above, note that the ʻawe became a new poʻo and that the huneʻaʻau () moved to follow the first poʻo.


Note that there are always two māka painu markers used for Kālele Kūlana. The painu (verbs) are marked with māka painu to indicate tense.  See the green highlighted row of the table below which shows the māka painu forms to be used for the Kālele Kūlana.




Completed Action

Not Completed Action

Happening Right Now


Recently Completed

Pepeke Painu


Ua painu

E painu ana

Ke painu nei

E painu

Ua painu dir nei/la

ʻAʻole Painu


i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele ʻĀkena

e painu

i painu

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu

i painu dir nei/la

Kālele Kūlana

e painu ai

i painu ai

ana, e painu ai

e painu ana

e painu nei

e painu ai

i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou ʻole




-, e*




i painu




e painu ana




e painu nei




e painu




i painu dir nei/la

Kahulu Pepeke Piko hou



e painu ai



i painu ai



e painu ana



e painu nei



e painu ai



i painu dir nei/la

*The habitual form is sometimes marked with e and sometimes omitted.

The location of the piko within the Kālele Kūlana form depends on if the piko is a papani (pronoun) or not as illustrated below:

Piko is not a papani:

I ka Pōʻalima nō i hoʻi mai ai ke keiki.        It was on Friday, the child returned.

Poʻo 1               Poʻo 2          Piko

Piko follows the painu/māka painu.


Piko is a papani:

I ka Pōʻalima nō māua i hoʻi mai ai.        It was on Friday, that we returned.

Poʻo 1                 Piko   Poʻo 2          

 Piko precedes the painu/māka painu.

Note that the names of people are sometimes placed in this position as well.

Moving Ana Forward for Future Tense:

Looking into the above table of māka painu markers you will see that the Not Completed Action column for Kālele Kūlana looks a little different.  In order to distinguish the case for future action in a Kālele Kūlana, the normal e painu ana is replaced with ana, e painu ai.  Leaving off the ana would therefore mark the painu as habitual or suggestive as opposed to future, and not moving it forward would mark the painu as past and on-going action.   This is shown in the following examples:


Ma hea ana ʻoe e hele ai i ke kula?        Where (future) are you going to school?

Ma hea ʻoe e hele ai i ke kula?        Where (habitual or suggestive) do you go to school?

Ma hea ʻoe e hele ana i ke kula?        Where (past, on-going) are (or were) you going to school?


As mentioned earlier, Kālele Kūlana is used when emphasizing or asking When, Where, Why, Which, and How.  The following examples illustrate the use of Kālele Kūlana.




Examples of emphasizing or asking When

I ka manawa hea i hōʻea mai ai nā waʻa mai Molokaʻi mai?

When did the canoes arrive from Molokaʻi?

I ka Pōʻalua ana māua e haʻalele aku ai iā Maui no Oʻahu.

It is on Tuesday that we are going to depart Maui for Oʻahu.

I ka ʻauinalā ʻo Pualani e hānai aku ai i nā moa.

It is in the afternoon that Pualani feeds the chickens

Āhea ʻo Kimo e hele aku ai i ka pāka?

When should Kimo go to the park?

Ināhea ʻoukou i hoʻi maila i ka hale waihona puke?

When did you guys return(recently) to the library?

Examples of emphasizing or asking Where

Ma Pukalani ana au e noho iho ai.

Pukalani is where I am going to live.

Ma hea i kau iho ai ke kāne i kāna mau kī?

Where did the man place his keys?

I ka pāka ʻo Pualani e ulana nei i nā moena lauhala.

It is in the park that Pualani is weaving the pandanus leaf mats.

Ma hea nō e ʻai ana ai nā keiki?

Where are the kids eating?

Ma Hilo i hoʻopau ʻia aku nei ka hale e nā kāne.

It was in Hilo that the house was recently completed by the men.

Examples of emphasizing or asking Why

No ke aha ʻo Keola e kalaiwa aku ai i ke kaʻa ʻulaʻula?

Why does Keola drive the red car?

No ka hana ana lākou e noho iho ai i Oʻahu.

It is for work that they are going to live in Oʻahu.

No ke aha ʻo Keola lāua ʻo Kimo e kamaʻilio ana ma Hanapēpē?

Why were Keola and Kimo talking in Hanapēpē?

No ka ʻai ʻana i hoʻi mai ai ka ʻīlio i ka hale.

For eating the dog returned to the house.

No ke aha ʻoe i paʻi akula i kēlā moʻolelo i ka nūpepa?

Why did you recently publish that story in the newspaper?

No ka hoʻomaopopo au i paʻi akula i kēlā moʻolelo i ka nūpepa.

For remembering that story I recently published that story in the newspaper.

Examples of emphasizing or asking Which

Ma ke kaʻa hea i hopu iho ai nā mākaʻi i ka mea ʻaihue?

In which car did the police arrest the robber?

Ma ke kaʻa ʻulaʻula i hopu iho ai nā mākaʻi i ka mea ʻaihue.

In the red car the police arrested the robber.

Ma ke alanui hea ʻo Kimo e noho ai?

On which street does Kimo live?

Ma ke alanui ʻo Makani ʻo Kimo e noho ai.

On the street named Makani Kimo lives.

I ka mea hea e lawe aku ai ke keikikāne i ka papa?

Which thing should the boy take to class?

I kāna penikala e lawe aku ai ke keikikāne i ka papa.

His pencil he should take to class.

I ka makahiki ʻehia ʻoe i hānau ʻia ai?

Which year were you born?

I ka makahiki ʻumikūmāiwa kanaiwa au i hānau ʻia ai.

In the year 1990 I was born.

I ka pālule hea ʻo Kimo e kūʻai mai ai?

Which shirt should Kimo buy?

I ka pālule polū ʻo Kimo e kūʻai mai ai.

The blue shirt Kimo should buy.

Examples of emphasizing or asking How

Pehea ana ʻoe e hāpai ai i kēlā mau manakō a pau?

How are you going to carry all of those mangos?

I ka ʻeke ana au e hāpai ai i kēlā mau manakō a pau.

In the bag I am going to carry all of those mangos.

Pehea ʻo Kimo i uku aku ai i kēia papa?

How did Kimo pay for this class?

Me kāna kālā ʻo Kimo i uku aku ai i kēia papa.

With his money Kimo payed for this class.

Pehea i hana ʻia aku nei kēnā pākaukau?

How was that table made?

Me kēlā koʻi i hana ʻia aku nei kēnā pākaukau.

With that adze that table was made.

Pehea i ʻeha ai kou lima?

How was your hand hurt?

I kēlā pōhaku i ʻeha ai koʻu lima.

Due to the rock my hand was hurt.

Pehea lākou e hoʻoulu aʻe ai i kēlā kalo ʻono?

How do they grow that delicious taro?

Me ke aloha lākou e hoʻoulu aʻe ai i kēlā kalo ʻono.

With love they grow that delicious taro.


Ka Pepeke Henua (Locational)

The Hawaiian Dictionary (Pukui/Elbert 1979:9, 39) defines Aia, as an idiom for “There”, “There it is” and “There are” and Eia as an idiom for “Here”, “Here is” or “Here are.” However, it’s important to note that the Aia and Eia do not always have to be translated into English but that one of these words MUST be in the Hawaiian sentence, even if  the words “there is/are” or “here is/are” are not in the English sentence to be translated. (Snakenberg 1988:Intro-x)

The Pepeke Henua Aia, or locational sentence, is used to tell where or when something or someone is, or even describe what the piko is doing (or what state it is in). For example it’s used to tell that something or someone “is on Maui”, “is with your uncle”, or “is on Friday.”

These sentences will have at least three parts, beginning with Aia (or Eia), followed by a piko (who/what) and one or more ʻawe. The ‘awe can come before the piko instead with a comma to separate them. This pattern is used for locations such as: in, on, at, or with. It is also used to express what day something is ʻonʻ.




Aia koʻu hale ma kēia alanui.

My house is on this street.

Ma kēia alanui, aia ko‘u hale.

My house is on this street.

Aia ke kumu i Honolulu.

The teacher is in Honolulu.

Aia ʻo Leo ma kēlā hale.

Leo is at that house.

Aia ka lūʻau i kēia lā.

The lūʻau is today (on this day).

Eia nā ʻano o ka lole Hawaiʻi i ka wā kahiko.

Here are the kinds of Hawaiian clothing in the old days.

Aia au i ka heʻe nalu.

I am out surfing.

Time Reference or Tense in a Locational Sentence

The previous examples are all referring to the present tense, that is, someone or something is at a location “right now”. Aia/Eia do not take māka painu (verb markers) to indicated completed, past, future, etc. That someone or something either “Was there” or “Will be there” is determined from the context, often a date or time reference as an additional ʻawe. For example, “Aia au i ke kula i nehinei.” expresses that “I was at the school yesterday.”

Pepeke Henua Aia sentence patterns can also be used with a number or an amount. For these sentences, the pattern is as follows:

Aia he # mau (item) i/ma/me where.




Aia he ʻehā mau hale ma kēia alanui.

There are four houses on this street.


The he and/or mau may be omitted in conversation.



Aia ʻehā hale ma kēia alanui.

There are four houses on this street.

Temporary Possession

The Aia construction can also be used to express temporary possession (as opposed to ownership). These sentences use the pattern:

Aia (possession) i/iā (possessor).



Aia koʻu kaʻa i koʻu kaikuʻana.

My sister has my car. (My car is with my sister.)

Aia ka puke iā Kimo

Kimo (temporarily) has the book.

Aia for Locational Questions

The Aia construction can be used to ask locational questions as well. The unknown location of the thing is expressed with either i hea or ma hea. For example, “Where is Keola?” is expressed as “Aia i hea ʻo Keola?”

There are actually four ways to ask this question because the ʻami “ma” and “i” are interchangeable and the ʻawe and piko position can be switched:

Aia ʻo Keoni i hea?

Aia ʻo Keoni ma hea?

Aia i hea ʻo Keoni?

Aia ma hea ʻo Keoni?

The most common ways of asking this question are the last two above. (Kamanā/Wilson 2012:30) Voice intonation must also be used to express these as  a question.

Expressing “With” an Inanimate Object in the Pepeke Henua Pattern

If the piko is an inanimate object and you want to say that it is with someone, use i or  for “with” instead of me. Following the pattern of I is to be used for kaʻi + Memeʻa;  is to be used with proper nouns or pronouns.

In the examples below, the book (ka puke) is an inanimate object.



Aia ka puke iā Pualani.

The book is with Pualani.  

Aia ka puke i ke kumu.

The book is with the teacher.

Ke Aia A (Until)

The following pattern with Aia means "Only if/when", rather than "There is":

Aia a painu



Aia a pau ka papa, hiki iā ʻoe ke hele e heʻe nalu.

Only if/when the class is finished, you can go surfing.

Aia a heluhelu ʻo ia i ka puke, hiki iā ʻoe ke nīnau.

Only if/when you read the book, you can ask questions.

Aia a maopopo iā ʻoe, e ʻōlelo mai.

Only if/when you understand, speak up.

Ka Hōʻole O Ka Pepeke Henua (Negative Locational Sentences)

To negate a Pepeke Henua Aia sentence, simply replace Aia with ʻAʻole:

 ʻAʻole (who/what)    i/ma/me (when/where).




Aia ka makua ma Keaʻau.

ʻAʻole ka makua ma Keaʻau.

The parent is in Keaʻau.

The parent is not in Keaʻau.

Aia ka pāʻina i ka Pōʻaono.

ʻAʻole ka pāʻina i ka Pōʻaono.

The party is on Saturday.

The party is not on Saturday


Variations of the Pepeke Henua Pattern

In Hawaiian, and similar to in English, when engaged in a conversation or when answering a question, some repetitive or implied words might be dropped. In Hawaiian, in a Pepeke Henua, the ʻawe and/or the piko may be dropped, if they are obvious from the context.



Nīnau:    “Aia ʻo Kimo ma ka hale?”

Pane:    “Aia nō!”

Question:  Is Kimo in the house?

Answer:    Certainly he’s there!

Eia ʻoe ke hōʻike ʻia aku nei...

You are hereby notified...


There are cases where Aia/Eia does not take a preposition; they are considered idioms:

Idiom, Phrase, or Interjection


“Aia lā!”

There, I told you so! (Elbert 1970:176)

"Aia aku aia mai"

Occasionally, Now and then (Hopkins 1992:209)

“Eia aʻe ʻo Pua”

Here comes Pua. (Hopkins 1992:246)

"Aia nō (ia) iā ʻoe"

That’s up to you. (lit., there indeed it to you). (Hopkins 1992:214, 258)

The ʻawe or piko in a pepeke henua may be a kāhulu pepeke.



Aia nā manu i hānai ʻia e lāua ma hope o ka hale.

The birds who were raised by them are behind the house.

Aia ka hale āna e kūʻai mai ana.

There is the house that he was buying.

Aia ma hea nā kuki a kou makuahine i kuke aku nei?

Where are the cookies which your mother just cooked?

Aia nō ʻoe ke hele nei i ke kulanui?

Are you still going to the university?

Aia ana māua ma laila ke kono ʻia.

We will be there when we are invited.

Aia ke kaha i ka pono o kāu hana ma ka hōʻike hope loa .

Your grade depends on how well you work on the final exam.

Ke Kālele Kūmua (From Where)

A sentence beginning with maiā (for pronouns or wai) or mai says where the piko (subject) was previously:

Mai kikino mai piko

Maiā papani/wai mai piko

The negation begins with ʻAʻole:

ʻAʻole mai kikino mai piko

ʻAʻole maiā papani/wai mai piko

The hunekuhi (directional) mai following the kikino may be dropped.



Mai hea mai ka moku?

Where is the boat from (where did it come from)?

Mai Niʻihau mai ka moku.

The boat is from Niʻihau (it was previously in Niʻihau but may originally be from somewhere else).

ʻAʻole mai Niʻihau ka moku.

The boat did not come from Niʻihau.

Maiā wai mai kēia makana?

Who is the present from?

Ke Kālele Hoahana (With)

A sentence beginning with me says who the piko (subject) is/was with:

Me kikino/papani/wai piko

The negation begins with ʻAʻole:

ʻAʻole me kikino piko

ʻAʻole papani me piko



Me Kimo ʻo ia.

He is with Kimo.

Me kēia ka hana.

The work is with this (the work is like this).

ʻAʻole ʻo ia me Kimo.

He is not with Kimo.

ʻAʻole me aʻu ʻo Kimo.

Kimo is not with me.

Me wai lākou?

Who is he with?

Me ke aha ka hana?

What is the work with (what is the work like)?

Me kēnā.

With that (like that).

Ka ʻO Ka Painu Dir La Nō Ia O ABC (Immediate Sequential)

The sequence ʻo ka painu dir la nō ia o ABC, also called ʻo ka v-dir-la, expresses an action happening in the past immediately after (whatever was related prior to this expression). dir is any hunekuhi (directional). The possessive particle is always o, not a. The subject of the phrase follows o. The expression is common in moʻolelo (stories). Example:

ʻO ka hiamoe ihola nō ia o nā keiki kāne.                Right after that the boys went to sleep.

The subject is generally expressed with a k-possessive rather than o if it is a pronoun:

ʻO koʻu wehe aʻela nō ia i nā puka aniani a pau.        Right after that I opened all the windows.

This sentence structure is common in literature, while in spoken Hawaiian today, a simple verb sentence pattern is more likely to be used:

A laila, ua wehe au i nā puka aniani a pau.                After that I opened all the windows.

(Hawkins 1982:41)



ʻO ko lāua haʻalele akula nō ia iā Maui no Kauaʻi.

Right after that they left Maui for Kauai.

ʻO ka loaʻa maila nō ia o kaʻu makana.

Then I got my present.

ʻO ka ʻakaʻaka maila nō ia o Keola iā mākou.

And then Keola laughed at us.

ʻO ke kī akula nō ia o kāna kaikunāne i ka puaʻa.

Immediately thereafter, her brother shot the pig.

ʻO ke pane akula nō ia o Kaʻahumanu i  ka moʻo.

Kaʻahumanu quickly replied to the moʻo.

ʻO ka lele akula nō ia o ka ʻīlio moʻo mai loko aʻe o ka ʻumeke.

Then the brindled dog jumped out of the calabash.

ʻO ko mākou uē maila nō ia.

And then we cried.

Ka Pepeke Nonoʻa (Possessive)

Hawaiian does not have a verb meaning "to have". Possession is expressed through a version of pepeke ʻaike he with a k-possessive:

He nonoʻana ko/ ʻeinonoʻa

where nonoʻana is the thing that is possessed and ʻeinonoʻa is the possessor, e.g.

He ʻīlio  Kimo.        Kimo has a dog.

This pattern is sometimes referred to mnemonically as "He to the K".

To express the plural of the thing that is possessed, mau is added after He:

He mau ʻīlio kā Kimo.        Kimo has (some) dogs.

To express a number, none, many/much or "how many" (as a question), the number, none, many/much or "how many" starts the sentence instead of just He. Instead of ko/, a k-less possessive o/a connects the possessed with the possessor:

Huahelu nonoʻana o/a ʻeinonoʻa

ʻEhia ʻīlio a Kimo?                How many dogs does Kimo have?

ʻEhā (mau) ʻīlio a Kimo.        Kimo has four dogs.

ʻAʻohe ʻīlio a Kimo.                Kimo has no dogs.

Nui nā ʻīlio a Kimo.                Kimo has many dogs.

Note that nui can be used with either a k-less or a k-possessive:

Nui kā Kimo mau ʻīlio.        Kimo has many dogs.

Nui kaʻu mau ʻīlio.                I have many dogs.

Nui nā ʻīlio aʻu.                I have many dogs.

When the possessor is a papani (pronoun), the ʻeinonoʻa precedes the nonoʻana:

huahelu o/a ʻeinononoʻa/papani nonoʻana

Hoʻokahi a mākou iʻa.                We have one fish.

ʻAʻohe a māua kālā.                We have no money.

ʻEhia o ʻolua (mau) kuka?        How many coats do you have?

ʻAʻohe can also be used with a verb to mean "never, never ever":

ʻAʻohe aʻu hele.                I have never gone.

ʻAʻohe oʻu hele hou ʻana aku.        I’m never going again.



He poi kā kākou.

We have poi.

He lumi koʻu.

I have a room.

He puke kāu.

You have a book.

He mau hale ko lākou.

They have (some) houses.

He mau puke kāu.

You have (some) books.

He iwakālua (mau) leka a nā haumāna.

The students have twenty letters.

Hoʻokahi halekūʻai o Wainiha.

Wainiha has one store (there’s one store in Wainiha).

ʻEhia iʻa a ia kanaka?

How many fish does that man have?

ʻAʻohe noho o Pualani.

Pualani doesn’t have a chair (Pualani has no chairs).

He ʻumi a kākou (mau) pā.

We have ten plates.

He kanakolu aʻu (mau) haumāna.

I have thirty students.

ʻAʻohe ou pāpaple.

You don't have a hat (you have no hat).

ʻEiwa āna (mau) kāwele.

He has nine towels.

(Kamanā/Wilson 2012 I:214-218)

Ka Hiki (It is Possible)


Hiki is introduced in the discussion of loaʻa-type verbs.


Hiki, meaning “to be possible”, is as close as we can get to the English “can” or “able to”. For example in English, “you can go” expresses a similar concept to “(It) is possible for you to go.”

The subject of hiki is always ia (it): hiki ia = “it is possible,” but is generally omitted in the Hawaiian. Whoever can do the action (the “do-er”) follows hiki as a direct object.

Instead of the usual infinitive e, verbs in hiki sentences are preceded by ke.  (Hopkins 1992:164-165) This ke is not the word for “the” and never changes to ka; ke is always used in these hiki sentences.


The hiki sentence pattern is affected by whether a hamani (transitive verb), a hehele (intransitive verb) or ʻaʻano (stative verb) follows ke.


Hiki with hamani (transitive verbs) and hehele (intransitive verbs)

When hiki is used in hamani or hehele verb sentences, the “do-er” who “can do/is able to do” the action is in the ʻawe position following hiki, which is the poʻo, as shown in the sentence construction:

Hiki iā ʻoe ke hele me aʻu?                                Can you go with me?

Hiki i/iā “do-er” ke painu (i/iā Direct Object)

Poʻo        ʻAwe       Poʻo          (ʻAwe)





Hiki iā ʻoe ke hele.

You can go.

Hiki iaʻu ke kōkua iā ʻoe.

I am able to help you.

Hiki i nā ʻōpiopio ke hana.

The young people can work.

Hiki iā Keola ke ʻai i ka iʻa.

Keola can eat the fish.

A hiki iā Keola ke noho ma ka hale.

And Keola can stay home. (Cleeland 1994:265)


Hiki with ʻaʻano (stative verbs)

When the painu is an ʻaʻano (stative verb), the word order is:

Ua hiki ke pilikia ʻoe iā ia.                        You could have had problems with him.

Hiki  ke painu “do-er” (i/iā Direct Object)

Poʻo    Poʻo      Piko          (ʻAwe)

The following examples use ʻaʻano (stative verbs), such as pilikia and loaʻa or the passive form of a hamani (transitive verb) with ʻia.




E hiki ana ke loaʻa ke kālā iā kākou.

We are going to be able to find the money.

Hiki ke ʻai ʻia kēia iʻa e ʻoukou.

The fish can be eaten by you.



Hiki Negated and With Tense markers

The kino hōʻole (negative form) of a hiki sentence starts with ʻaʻole. Note that there is no piko after ʻaʻole. (Kamanā/Wilson 2012 II:100)

The māka painu (verb markers) change as for negated pepeke painu (simple verb sentences).

(Hopkins 1992:165)




ʻAʻole i hiki iā ia ke kōkua iā kākou.

He is not/was not able to help us.

ʻAʻole i hiki i ke keiki ke ʻike.

The child couldn’t see.

ʻAʻole e hiki ana ke loaʻa ia mea ʻai ma laila.

It is going to be impossible to get that sort of food there.

ʻAʻole hiki iā ʻoe ke hoʻi aku.

You can’t return.

Ua hiki iā lākou ke ʻike iā ia.

They could see him.

Ka I Loko Nō O (Despite)

Here loko is not used as a locative but introduces a sentence with “Despite”, “In spite of”.



I loko nō o kona hoʻopili ʻana i kaʻu ʻōlelo

Despite his repeating my story

I loko nō o ko Kimo moloā

In spite of Kimo’s laziness

I loko nō o ka waiwai, hana nō

In spite of wealth, working anyway

ʻEā, i loko nō o ia noho hewa ʻia, mau nō ke kūʻokoʻa.

Yes, despite that occupation, the independence continues.

Ka ʻĀnō Iho Nō (Immediately After)

The locative time word ʻānō with iho nō introduces a sentence (usually after a comma) to mean "immediately after".



ʻĀnō iho nō, ua hoʻi nā keiki i kā lākou papa.

Immediately the kids returned to their class.

ʻĀnō iho nō, komo mai ʻo Liko ma loko o ka lumi hālāwai.

Immediately, Liko entered into the meeting room.

Nā Mea Hoʻohālikelike (Comparative and Superlative Sentences)

Ka Pepeke ʻOi Aku

When comparing a quality belonging to two subjects such as “my truck is bigger than your car”, the Pepeke ʻOi aku is used (Kamanā/Wilson 2012, puke 1:200). The pattern of the ʻOi aku is as follows:


Poʻo          Piko me ke kāhulu          ʻAwe me ke kāhulu


ʻOi aku     ke/ka quality o A             ma mua o ke/ka B


Example:  ʻOi aku ka ʻono o kēlā iʻa ma mua o kēia moa.  (That fish is more delicious than this chicken)


The K possessive form can also be used as shown in the following:


ʻOi aku ko Kimo nui ma mua oʻu.  (Kimo is bigger than me.)  


Note that if the second subject (B) is a papani then the k-less possessive form is used at the end of the sentence as illustrated in the above example.


Some of the māka painu used for Pepeke Painu sentences can be used with ʻOi aku sentences as well (Kamanā/Wilson 2012, puke 1:200).  Consider the following:


Ua ʻoi aku ka nui o kēlā kalaka ma mua o kēlā kaʻa.  (That truck was bigger than that car.)

E ʻoi aku ana ko Kimo ikaika ma mua ona.  (Kimo is going to be stronger than him.)

E ʻoi aku ka palupalu o kāna kapa ma mua kaʻu kapa.  (Her kapa will be softer than my kapa)


Because ʻoi is an ʻaʻano the māka painu ke painu nei is not typically used, thus the following would be incorrect:


Ke ʻoi aku nei ka anuanu o kēia pia ma mua o kēnā pia.  (This beer is colder than that beer.)


The “aku” in the ʻOi aku structure is simply a hunekuhi.  Therefore,  it can be replaced by other hunekuhi, although aʻe is the one typically used in place of aku since they both give the sense of outward or upward.  This makes sense in that the ʻoi aku pattern is used to say one item is somehow superior to another.  Also, since aku and aʻe are hunekuhi, other words can come between them and ʻoi (Kamanā/Wilson 2012, puke 1:200).  Consider the following examples:


E ʻoi loa aku ana ka wela o ka lā ʻapōpō ma mua o kēia lā.  (Tomorrow is going to be way hotter than today).

Ua ʻoi aʻe ke akamai o Pualani ma mua o Kimo.  (Pualani was smarter than Kimo.)

ʻOi hou aʻe ka ʻono o kēia poi ma mua o kēnā poi.  (This poi is once again more delicious than that poi.)


When comparing the goodness of something compared to another, the Hawaiian word used is maikaʻi.  Sometimes the ka maikaʻi o is dropped as being understood as shown below:


ʻOi aku (ka maikaʻi o) kēlā waʻa ma mua o kēia waʻa.  (That canoe is better than this canoe.)


Negation:  Negating a pepeke ʻoi aku is done in the same manner as a pepeke painu. As shown below:

Affirmative:  Ua ʻoi aku ka māluhiluhi o Keola ma mua o Pualani.  (Keola was more tired than Pualani)


Negated:  ʻAʻole i ʻoi aku ka māluhiluhi o Keola ma mua o Pualani.  (Keola was not more tired than Pualani)


The following are additional examples illustrating the use of the ʻOi aku:




ʻOi aku ke anuanu o ka hau ma mua o ka wai.

The ice is colder than the water.

Ua ʻoi aku ka poupou o Kimo ma mua oʻu i ka wā kamaliʻi

Kimo was shorter than me when we were kids.

ʻOi aʻe ka wela o ka laulau ma mua o ka poi.

The laulau is hotter than the poi.

ʻOi aku kou kaʻa ma mua o koʻu kaʻa.

Your car is better than my car.

ʻAʻole e ʻoi hou aʻe ana kou ikaika ma mua oʻu.

Once again you are not going to be stronger than me.


Ka Pepeke E Aho

This pattern is used when one wants to say that something is simply better without making a comparison to something else.  In English it could be translated as “it is better..”, or in Pidgeon “mo bettah…”.  The pattern can be used in several different forms as follows:


E aho ia

E aho e painu + piko

E aho + kiʻa


The following example illustrates the use of this pattern:


E aho ke kūʻai ʻana mai i ka makana ma kēia hale kūʻai. (Better buying the gift at this store.)


Poʻo    Piko                    ʻAwe


Note that because the E aho portion of the sentence is a poʻo, huneʻauʻau may be used following aho.  The following examples illustrate the use of the E aho pattern:




E aho ia, e hoʻomākaukau koke lākou.

Better they should get ready quickly.

E aho paha ʻo McDonaldʻs.

Perhaps McDonald’s is better.

E aho nō e haʻalele kākou ma ka Pōʻakahi.

Better indeed we should leave on Monday.

E aho nō ka noho ʻana i ka hale.

Better living in the house.

E aho nō ka ʻaikalima

Ice cream is better.



Ke Kāhulu Pepeke Piko Hou ʻOle (Relative Clause as Subject of Verb) 

Kāhulu (descriptors) are used very frequently in both written and spoken Hawaiian.  Kāhulu were covered earlier in this book, and recall that the term kāhulu is derived from the word hulu (feather). Thought of in this manner it means to put a feather on the word it follows, or to adorn the previous word.  This section will examine a specific type of kāhulu, namely, a kāhulu that describes an action that the previous word performs. The modified word is sometimes referred to as the kaʻi kikino (head noun, also referred to as kiʻa alakaʻi).  These kāhulu are not complete sentences but rather painu (verbs) that adorn the word they are modifying.  There is no new subject introduced by using this type of kāhulu, thus the name “Kāhulu Pepeke Piko hou ʻole”, meaning without a new piko (subject). You may also see these referred to as “Kāhulu Pepeke Type A”. (Hawkins 1982:108) or "Pākuʻi Haʻina-Kumu Hou ʻOle" (UH West Oʻahu).  Consider the following:


A simple ʻAike ʻO:

ʻO Kimo ke kāne kioea.                Kimo is the slender man.

Poʻo       Piko      kāhulu

Now if we use a kāhulu that describes an action (i.e. a painu):


ʻO Kimo ke kāne i kalaiwa i ka hale.        Kimo is the man that drove to the house.

Poʻo 1   Piko       Kāhulu Pepeke ʻAwe


Note the māka painu marker (i) before the painu (kalaiwa) in the above example. The painu (verbs) are marked with māka painu to indicate tense.  See the green highlighted row of the table below which shows the māka painu patterns to be used for the Kāhulu