Tok Pisin

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About Tok Pisin[edit]

Phonology (sounds)[edit]

Basic vocabulary and its use[edit]

See also Dictionary


There are basically two types of verbs in Tok Pisin: transitive and intransitive.

  • In general, transitive verbs end in -im. Example: kisim (sampela samting), take, receive something
  • In general, intransitive verbs do not end in -im. Example: slip (long nait), sleep (at night)

More about verbs


Nouns are usually not marked for plural in Tok Pisin.

More about nouns


There are basically four types of adjectives in Tokpisin:

  • Class 1 adjectives have the suffix -pela in attributive position, and also when they follow the copula. Example: bikpela, big. Bikpela haus, A big building, Haus i bikpela, The building is big.
  • Class 2 adjectives have the suffix -pela in attributive position, but they usually lose it when they follow the copula. Example: kolpela, cold. Kolpela wara, Cold water but Wara i kol, The water is cold.
  • Class 3 adjectives do not have the suffix -pela. Example: liklik, small. Liklik haus, A small building, Haus i liklik, The building is small.
  • Class 4 adjectives do not have the suffix -pela either. Unlike other adjectives, they stand after the noun in attributive position. Example: nogut, bad. Tok nogut, bad words, insults.

Tokpisin adjectives can be either attributive or non-attributive. The attributive type is marked by the attributive morpheme -pela; the non-attributive is unmarked. Semantically, the attributive form qualifies the noun; it attributes characteristics about the noun, while the non-attributive form states the being; the status of the noun. Syntactically, the attributive precedes the noun, while the non-attributive follows the noun. A few adjective forms like "liklik", and "nogut", are considered "non-stabilized forms" (Paradigms have been designed to use to explain some of these linguistics phenomena). Tokpisin has some of these variations still exists. Many of these variations are acceptable and are variously marked by the cognition of the speaker of the time about the noun. When someone says "nogutpela tok", the person is attributive in his thought. When he says "nogut tok" the person is non-attributive. Many non-attributive forms of Tokpisin are compound words now and must not be taken literally. For example: "tok nogut" 'swear - using bad language'; "tok i nogut" 'unacceptable message'; "tokim nogut" 'improperly said'; "nogut tok" 'bad words'.

More about adjectives


There are two basic prepositions in Tok Pisin: bilong and long.

  • bilong is used for attribution. Examples: haus bilong mi, My home; Han bilong diwai, Arm of a tree; branch.
  • long is used as a universal preposition for other meanings.

Nevertheless, there is one other self standing preposition: wantaim, with. There are also all kinds of compound preposition like ananit long, under; insait long, in; antap long, on, above, etc.

More about prepositions


More about adverbs



Personal pronouns

Interrogative pronouns

Basic Grammar[edit]

Getting started[edit]

Lessons and exercises