o kama sona e toki pona!
Lesson 10: Questions Using seme


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

In lesson 8, you learned how to ask and answer yes/no questions. For more complex questions, though, you must use the word seme.
seme li utala e sina? What attacked you?
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?

To ask a question in English, you have to move the question word (i.e., what, who, when, where, why, how) to the beginning of the sentence. In Toki Pona, though, the word order doesn't change. For example:
sina lukin e ijo. You're watching something.
sina lukin e seme? You're watching what? In colloquial English, you'd ask, What are you watching?
     Do not say, "seme lukin sina?," "seme sina lukin?," etc.
Both ijo and seme are treated as plain nouns, and the sentence's word order doesn't change even if the sentence is a question. Here are some more examples:
sina pakala e seme? What did you destroy?
sina lon seme? Where are you? (literally: You in what?)
ona li jo e seme? What does he have?

seme can also be an adjective. The word order of the sentence still doesn't change, no matter what:
jan seme li moku? Who is eating?
jan seme is literally translated as person what/which, but it means who.
jan seme li tawa lon 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? (literally, You come from country which?)

Because English and many other languages re-arrange words for question sentences, you may be tempted to do likewise in Toki Pona. One helpful trick to avoid doing so is to re-imagine the sentence as a plain statement by replacing seme with the word ni. If the sentence doesn't make sense after you replace seme with ni, you've probably done something wrong.

seme is also used to say why. Remember that tan can mean because of, and therefore tan seme because of what why.
sina ike tan seme? You're bad because-of what? or in other words, Why are you bad?


You're now over half way through this course. Congratulations! There are still two important grammar concepts to learn (namely, pi and la), but other than that, you now know all of Toki Pona's essential features. The remainder of the course will begin to wrap things up and teach various lesser topics.

Some of the remaining words and details are simply too easy to justify teaching them in a lesson by themselves. Therefore, in some of the remaining lessons (but not in all of them), you'll have a miscellaneous section like this one to introduce a few vocabulary words and give some examples how to use them. In this lesson's miscellaneous section, you'll learn about the words supa, suwi, sin, and olin.


The official dictionary defines supa as any type of horizontal surface. Although this definition is accurate, supa is used in particular to mean a piece of furniture, especially a table, a chair, or sofa, and we Toki Ponans also use supa lape (literally, sleep surface) to mean bed.


As an adjective, suwi means sweet or cute. (Don't confuse suwi with sexual attractiveness. Just as you learned in lesson 5 that pona lukin pretty, likewise unpa lukin sexy.) As a noun, suwi means candy or some other 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!


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!

* The official dictionary lists sin, which has been a mainstay word ever since Toki Pona was first presented online, as being interchangeable with namako, a word made official more than ten years later. Traditionally, though, these two words had different connotations and uses, and most Toki Ponans seem to use these two words according to their traditional definitions, so this course will teach them that way. namako is explained more fully in lesson 18.


olin means love but only refers to affectionate love, e.g. for loving people. You could olin your parents or girlfriend but not baseball. Since you can't olin things or objects, instead express your feelings using the phrase "pona tawa mi":
ni li pona tawa mi. That (is) good to me, or in other words, I like that.


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.
Think carefully! This one is tricky.

And now try changing these sentences from Toki Pona into English:
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?
to lesson 11 →