Updated jan Pije's lessons/Lesson 10 Questions using seme

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Vocabulary

olin - to love affectionately, as of a person

seme - what, which (used to make question words)

sin - new, another, more

supa - any type of furniture

suwi - sweet, cute; candy, cookie


Questions using seme

Okey dokey. In lesson eight, we talked about how to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. However, we didn't talk about questions that require more in-depth answers. For example, if someone asked you, "What hit you?" you couldn't simply answer yes or no; that just doesn't make sense, because you'd have to say the name of the thing that hit you. Well, to ask questions like these in Toki Pona, we have to use the word seme.

seme li utala e sina? -- What attacked you?

Do you see how that works? Here are more examples using seme:

seme li moku e kili mi? -- What is eating my fruit?
seme li lon poka mi? -- What is beside me?
seme li lon tomo mi? -- What is in my house?
seme li pona tawa sina? -- What is good to you? What do you like?

Okay, this next part is probably going to seem rather confusing at first, and so I'm going to ease you into it by using things that you've already learned. Study this sentence for a moment or two:

sina lukin e pipi. -- You're watching a bug.

Now we're going to turn that sentence into a question. Instead of saying "You're watching a bug," we're going to ask "What are you watching?":

sina lukin e pipi. -- You're watching a bug. ---->
sina lukin e seme? -- You're watching what?

See, it's tempting to mix the word order all up like you do when you ask a question like this in English (The "what" part jumps to the beginning of the sentence, and the "are" moves forward: "What are you watching?" If you tried to translate this directly, it'd be something like "e seme lukin sina?" and that's just insane.). Both pipi and seme are treated as plain nouns, and the word order of the sentence does not change even when the sentence is a question. Here are some more examples:

sina pakala e seme? -- What did you hurt?
sina lon seme? -- Where are you? (literally: You in what?)
ona li jo e seme? -- What does he have?

seme can also be used as an adjective. The word order of the sentence still does not change, no matter what:

jan seme li moku? -- Who is eating?
jan seme literally means person what/which,and that is the same meaning as the word who in English.
jan seme li tawa poka sina? -- Who went with you?
sina lukin e jan seme? -- Whom did you see?
sina toki tawa jan seme? -- Whom are you talking to?
ma seme li pona tawa sina? -- Which countries are good to you? Which countries do you like?
sina kama tan ma seme? -- Which country do you come from? (lit: You come from country which?)

The only reason that this concept might seem difficult is because you're tempted to move the word orders around, because many languages (including English) do it. One neat little trick you can do to check a translation is to think of the question as a plain statement, and then replace the word seme with ni. If the sentence doesn't make sense after you've done that, you probably translated wrong.

seme is also used to make what equals the English word why. Also, don't forget that tan can mean "because of":

sina kama tan seme? -- You came because-of what? Why did you come?

I think that's pretty easy to understand, so I won't drag it out with lots of examples.

Miscellaneous

Well, you're now over half way done with this Toki Pona course. Congratulations on making it this far! With the exception of one or two concepts that are left, you now know all the essential parts of Toki Pona. Most of the lessons from here on will just be used to start wrapping things up and covering various little topics that are left.

However, there are a few minor details of the language that need to be covered, although they are too easy to be taught in a lesson by themselves. Therefore, in some of the lessons from here on (but not in all of them), you will have a small miscellaneous section like this one. The miscellaneous section will simply introduce a few vocabulary words and show you how they're used. So, in today's miscellaneous section, we'll cover the words supa, suwi, sin, and olin.

supa

If you look this word up in the dictionary, it will tell you that it means any type of horizontal surface. While it can still be used this way, in actual use it has essentially come to mean either a table, a chair, or a sofa. Also, we Tokiponans use supa lape ("sleep surface") to mean "bed".

suwi

There's nothing particularly hard about this word. As an adjective, it's used to mean sweet or cute. Just keep in mind that by "cute" I don't mean that it's sexy, attractive, or anything like that. As a noun, suwi means candy or some other type of sweet food. Here are a few examples:

jan lili sina li suwi. -- Your baby is cute.
telo kili ni li suwi. -- This fruit drink is sweet.
mi wile e suwi! -- I want a cookie!

sin

This word is almost always an adjective and simply means another or more. Here are two examples:

jan sin li kama. -- More people are coming. OR Another person is coming.
mi wile e suwi sin! -- I want another cookie! OR I want more cookies!

olin

This word is used to mean love. However, it only refers to affectionate love, like loving people. For example, you might olin your girlfriend or your parents, but you don't olin baseball. You can't olin things or objects; if you still want to say that you like something and can't use olin, it's best to say it like this:

ni li pona tawa mi. -- "That (is) good to me." I like that.

Practice

Try translating these sentences from English to Toki Pona.

What do you want to do?

Who loves you?

Is that sweet?

I’m going to bed.

Are more people coming?

Give me a lollipop!

Who’s there?

Which bug hurt you?

Whom did you go with?

He loves to eat.

jan Ken o, mi olin e sina.

ni li jan seme?

sina lon seme?

mi lon tan seme?

jan seme li meli sina?

sina tawa ma tomo tan seme?

sina wile tawa ma seme?

Answers

sina wile pali e seme?

jan seme li olin e sina?

ni li suwi ala suwi?

mi tawa supa lape.

jan sin li kama ala kama?

o pana e suwi tawa mi!

jan seme li lon? / jan seme li lon ni?

pipi seme li pakala e sina?

sina tawa poka jan seme?

moku li pona tawa ona.

Ken, I love you.

Who is that?

Where are you? (lit: You in what?)

Why am I here? (lit: I exist because-of what?)

Who is your girlfriend/wife?

Why did you go to the city?

What place do you want to go to?