Hawaiian/Pronunciation and Letters

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This section talks about the structure of Hawaiian, and simple things to note when learning the language.


In each lesson, three parts will be provided for you; a grammar section, a vocabulary section, and a review, or practice section. Be sure to go through everything carefully, then move on to the next chapter.

Hawaiian consists of h, k, l, m, n, p, w, and an 'okina, which represents a glottal stop in the voice when speaking, as in the English phrase, uh-oh. The 'okina is basically an apostrophe between two vowels and it does not have a specific sound, other than the slight stop. The vowels are the same as in English, a, e, i, o, u, with one exception: a kahakō can be placed over any vowel to make its length increase- expressed as a line over a vowel.

Note how hale (house) has a short a, compared to kāne (man).

Another rule in Hawaiian is that consonants can not double up. That is, they can't be side by side in a word. Vowels have more freedom because they can lie next to each other, however consonants cannot. Consonants cannot end a word either (the 'okina is considered a consonant).

Note the following sounds:

Hawaiian Sound With the Kahakō
A Ah ā - Aah
E Ay ē - ayy
I Ee ī - Eee
O Oh ō - Ohh
U Oo ū - Ooo

All of the consonants are pronounced the same as in English, except the w which is usually pronounced as a v.


In each lesson, you will be given a short list of vocabulary words to learn. These will help you in future lessons, and increase your knowledge about the language.

Kāne- man Wahine- woman
Kumu- teacher Haumana- student
Hoaaloha- friend Keiki- child
Pua- flower One- sand
Maika'i- good Ma'i- sick
Hau'oli- happy Kaumaha- sad

Simple Sentence[edit]

A simple Hawaiian sentence's general structure is adjective-noun announcer-noun/proper noun. This is used to say "a noun" is "an adjective", as in Maika'i ke pua. Literally: Good the Flower; the flower is good. Notice how the adjective goes to the front of the sentence, and the subject comes after it. If the subject comes first, it would make an entirely different phrase. It would not be a complete sentence, but rather, a fragment, or a part of a complete sentence. In a different sentence structure, the adjective comes after the object it describes. ex: ka pua maika'i: the good flower. Compare the two groups of words:

Maika'i ka pua. The flower is good.
Ka pua maika'i. The good flower.

One must be consciously aware of this switch, and organize their sentence acordingly.