o kama sona e toki pona!
Lesson 13: Colors


jelo yellow pimeja black, dark
kule color; to paint, to color sitelen picture, image; to draw, to write
laso blue walo white
loje red    

Color Combinations

Before you begin this lesson, look at the vocabulary above. Notice that there are words for a few colors, but no words for purple, green, orange, grey, etc. That's because these words don't exist in Toki Pona. With that in mind, look at this picture:

Although the image looks purple, it's actually a grid full of red and blue squares. Here's a close-up of part of that same picture:

As you know, combining red and blue makes purple. Toki Pona uses this color-combination concept to describe other colors. Here's an example:
len clothing
len laso blue clothing
len laso loje purple clothing (literally: reddish blue clothing)

The color-combination concept lets you describe many different colors using just a few words. Here's a list of some of the common ones:
laso loje purple (reddish blue)
laso jelo green (yellowish blue)
loje jelo orange (yellowish red)
loje walo pink (whitish red)
walo pimeja grey (dark white)
You can string as many color words together as you want, but try not go get carried away. The goal of Toki Pona is simplicity, after all, so keep it basic.

There's not much logic to govern the order in which you should list the colors, so you have some flexibility.
laso loje reddish blue = purple
loje laso bluish red = purple
laso jelo yellowish blue = green
jelo laso bluish yellow = green

pi and Colors

Suppose that you have a shirt that looks like this:

Of course, the shirt is both loje (red) and laso (blue), but you can't simply call it len loje laso because that would mean purple shirt as you learned above.

To resolve this problem, use en to separate the two colors, and use pi to show that the two colors both modify len separately:
len pi loje en laso shirt of red and blue

Make sense? Just to emphasize the importance of pi, let's see what would happen if you accidentally omitted it:
len loje en laso li pona. A red shirt and blueness are good.
Without pi, laso has nothing to modify and actually becomes a noun, so the sentence makes no sense. Use pi to show that both loje and laso modify len separately.


kule has two main uses. Let's look at them one at a time.

Using kule to ask what color something is

If you understand seme, asking what color something is should be self-explanatory, but here's an example:
ni li kule seme? What color is that? (literally: That is color which?)

kule as a verb

kule as a verb means to color or to paint. Here's an example:
mi kule e lipu. I'm coloring the paper.


sitelen is the word for this lesson's miscellaneous section. As a noun it means picture or image, and it's frequently used to make compound nouns, several of which are described below. As a verb sitelen means to draw or to write.

sitelen tawa (literally, moving picture) means a movie or a TV show. Some examples:
sitelen tawa The Simpsons li pona tawa mi. I like the TV show The Simpsons.
sitelen tawa The Godfather li pona kin. The movie The Godfather is good, too.
sitelen can also be used in other combinations. sitelen ma means map, for example.


Try translating these sentences from English to Toki Pona.
I don't see the blue bag.
A little green person came from the sky.
I like the color purple.
The sky is blue.
Look at that red bug.
I want the map.
Do you watch Breaking Bad?
Which color do you like?
Think: "Which color is good for you?"

And now try changing these sentences from Toki Pona into English:
suno li jelo.
telo suli li laso.
mi wile moku e kili loje.
ona li kule e tomo tawa.

Now try reading this Toki Pona poem. It uses poetic expressions, but if you've been studying, you'll be able to enjoy and to appreciate the poem because we've already covered the concepts and vocabulary that this poem uses.

ma mi li pimeja.
kalama ala li lon.
mi lape. mi sona.

to lesson 14 →