Updated jan Pije's lessons/Lesson 6 Prepositions 1 lon, kepeken, and tawa

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kama - to come, to happen, to cause

kepeken - to use; with, using

kiwen - stone, rock; hard like a rock

kon - air, atmosphere, spirit, wind

lon - to be in/at/on, to exist; in, at, on

pana - to give, to send, to release, to emit

poki - container, bowl, glass, cup, box, etc.

toki - language; to talk, to speak

tawa - to go to, to move; to, for


lon, like tawa and kepeken, can be used as both a verb and a preposition. Study these examples:

mi lon tomo. -- I'm in the house.
mi moku lon tomo. -- I eat in the house.

In the first example, lon is used as the verb of the sentence; in the second, it is used as a preposition. Neat, huh? Here are some more examples:

suno li lon sewi. -- The sun is in the sky.
mi telo e mi lon tomo telo. -- I bathe myself in the restroom. (Remember from lesson 5 that tomo telo means restroom, bathroom, etc.)
kili li lon poki. -- The fruit is in the basket.

Using lon with wile

Because lon can be used as either a preposition or a verb, the meaning of the sentence can be a bit confusing when used with wile. For example:

mi wile lon tomo. -- I want to be at home. OR I want in a house.

The Toki Pona sentence has two possible translations. The first translation states that the speaker wishes he were at home. The second translation states that the speaker wants to do something (although he doesn't actually state what he wants to do) in a house. It's best to split this sentence up to avoid confusion:

mi wile e ni: mi lon tomo. -- I want this: I'm at home.

Toki Pona often uses this e ni: trick to get by without having that as used in sentences such as "You told me that you are eating." This sentence would be translated as "sina toki e ni tawa mi: sina moku." This feature is common in Toki Pona and you'll see it more as you proceed through these lessons.

Using lon as an action verb

What you are about to learn is a minor detail and is rarely used in Toki Pona. It's also going to use some vocabulary that we haven't learned yet. Unless you're just highly interested, you should probably skip this section and come back later if you want to, because this feature is not very important at all.

So you're still here? Good! Firstly, we need to cover two vocabulary words: lape (sleep), pini (stop, end). These words will be covered in later lessons, so you don't have to memorize them now if you do not wish to, but they are necessary for what you are about to learn. Now, with this new vocabulary, you can talk about waking someone up:

mi pini e lape sina. -- I ended your sleep. I woke you up.

That is plain enough. However, you can also express this using lon:

mi lon e sina. -- I made you aware of reality. I forced you to be to present and alert.

Note, however, that you could not say, "sina lon e mi" ("You woke me up"). The person who was sleeping was in his own private existance of sleep. When he woke up, he would not feel that he had brought into reality because, to him, sleep was the reality. He was simply moved from one existance to another one. "mi lon e sina" only works because, to the waker, it seems as if the sleeper is not present in the waker's reality; the sleeper seems absent, and so waking him up brings him back to reality. Make sense?

If you didn't quite understand that, don't worry. It's a very minor diversion included for anyone who happens to be interested. For most situations, it'd be best to use the pini e lape phrase.


This one isn't too difficult. It's actually easier than lon because you use e after it like you've been doing other verbs.

mi kepeken e ilo. - I'm using tools.
sina wile kepeken e ilo. - You have to use tools.
mi kepeken e poki ni. - I'm using that cup.

And kepeken can also be used as a preposition.

mi moku kepeken ilo moku. - I eat using a fork/spoon/any type of eating utensil.
mi lukin kepeken ilo suno. - I look using a flashlight. (ilo suno = a tool of light, hence flashlight)

This shouldn't seem too difficult.


Using tawa as a verb

Hopefully you understood lon well, because tawa is similar to it. Like lon, tawa doesn't have an e after it.

mi tawa tomo mi. -- I'm going to my house.
ona mute li tawa utala - They're going to the war.
sina wile tawa telo suli. -- You want to go to the ocean.
ona li tawa sewi kiwen. -- She's going up the rock. (Note that sewi as used in this sentence is a noun. A more literal translation of that sentence is "She's going to the top (of) the rock.")

The reason that lon and tawa don't have an e after them is that there is no object. For example, in the sentence "I'm going to my house," the speaker simply went home. He did not do anything to his house, he just went to it. If he had burned the house down or had tried to do something to it or affect it in some way, then e would come after the verb. Otherwise, no e.

Using tawa to mean "to"

As I said a moment ago, tawa is often used as a preposition.

mi toki tawa sina. - I talk to you.
ona li lawa e jan tawa ma pona. - He led people to the good land.
ona li kama tawa ma mi. - He's coming to my country.

This is also a good time to talk about how to say that you like certain things. In Toki Pona, to say that you like something, we have a pattern, and the pattern uses tawa as a preposition:

ni li pona tawa mi. - That is good to me. (or, in other words, "I like that.")

And to say that you don't like something, replace pona with ike.

ni li ike tawa mi - That is bad to me. I don't like that.

Here are some examples:

kili li pona tawa mi. - I like fruit.
toki li pona tawa mi. - I like talking. or I like languages.
tomo li ike tawa mi. - I don't like buildings.
telo suli li ike tawa mi. - I don't like the ocean.

Keep in mind that e can only come after the verb of the sentence. Toki Pona does not use clauses. So for example, if you wanted to say "I like watching the countryside," you could NOT say something like this: lukin e ma li pona tawa mi. It's best to split this into two sentences:

mi lukin e ma. ni li pona tawa mi. - I'm watching the countryside. This is good to me.

Of course, you could choose to say this same sentence using other techniques we learned in chapter five:

ma li pona lukin. - The countryside is good visually. The countryside is good to look at.

Using tawa to mean "for"

Okay, so tawa essentially means to go to or simply to, right? Not exactly. It can also mean for, as in this sentence:

mi pona e tomo tawa jan pakala. -- I fixed the house for the disabled man.

Unfortunately, the trick of letting tawa mean both to and for isn't without its drawbacks. Keep reading to see why.

Using tawa as an adjective

You know how some words in Toki Pona can be used as nouns, verbs, or adjectives, depending on context? Well, tawa is the same way. tawa is used as an adjective to make the phrase we use for car:

tomo tawa - car (a more literal translation is "moving construction")
tomo tawa telo - boat, ship
tomo tawa kon - airplane, helicopter

Ambiguity of tawa

I want you to think about the following sentence for a few moments before continuing on. See if you can think of different meanings that it might have.

mi pana e tomo tawa sina.

Okay. If tawa is used as an adjective, then this sentence says "I gave your car." If it is used as a preposition, though, it could mean, "I gave the house to you." So, how do you tell the difference? You don't! (Insert evil, mocking laugh here.) This is one of those problems inherent in Toki Pona that there is no way to avoid.

tawa as an action verb

We have only one more thing to learn about tawa (Yay!). Do you remember how I said tawa doesn't have an e after it because nothing is being done to an object? Well, that's true, but tawa can have objects, like this:

mi tawa e kiwen. -- I'm moving the rock.
ona li tawa e len mi. -- She moved my clothes.

tawa can be used as an action verb in these situations because there is an object. Something has done an action on something else; that was not the case with tawa in other example sentences.


We've already briefly touched on this word, but it is quite common, and so we need to look at it a little more closely.

First, it's used with tawa, like this:

ona li kama tawa tomo mi. -- He came to my house.

It can also be used as an action verb. It means "to cause" or "to bring about":

mi kama e pakala. -- I caused an accident.
sina kama e ni: mi wile moku. -- You caused this: I want to eat. You made me hungry. (Note that you couldn't have said sina kama e mi wile moku. Toki Pona does not have clauses; pieces of sentences cannot be shoved together like that. If you're in doubt, it's usually wise simply to split a sentence into two.)

It can also be used with infinitives to make a progressive-like effect. One of the most common infinitives that it is used with is jo, so we'll just cover it for now. When you say kama jo, it means get:

mi kama jo e telo. -- I came to have the water. I got the water.

Neat, huh? kama is a very flexible word.


I fixed the flashlight using a small tool.

I like Toki Pona.

We gave them food. (If you got that one wrong, think of the sentence like this: "We gave food to them." It means the same thing.)

This is for my friend.

The tools are in the container.

That bottle is in the dirt.

I want to go to his house using my car.

They are arguing. (Hint: Remember what you learned about adverbs in lesson 5.)

And now try changing these sentences from Toki Pona into English:

sina wile kama tawa tomo toki.

jan li toki kepeken toki pona lon tomo toki.

mi tawa tomo toki. ona li pona tawa mi.

sina kama jo e jan pona lon ni. ( lon ni means either "here" or "there". Can you figure out what it literally means?)


mi pona e ilo suno kepeken ilo lili.

toki pona li pona tawa mi.

mi mute li pana e moku tawa ona mute.

ni li tawa jan pona mi.

ilo li lon poki.

poki ni li lon jaki.

mi wile tawa tomo ona kepeken tomo tawa mi.

ona mute li utala toki.

You should come to the chat room.

People talk in/using Toki Pona in the chat room.

I go the chat room. It is good for me. I like to go to the chat room.

You will get friends there.