Inflection and Number

Nouns are never inflected. Number can be indicated by the following ways:

  • A word accompanying a noun. For example, tona vae (his leg), ona vae (his legs), or te lakau (a stick), lakau (sticks).

  • Lengthening of the vowel of the noun. For example tangata (man), tangata (men) (pronounced "taangata"), or fafine (woman), fafine (women) (pronounced "faafinee").

Formatter's note: Unfortunately the macrons, or long diacritics above the vowels, were not displayed in the source from which I am formatting this grammar, and therefore I know not where and how to correctly place them on words such as the above.

Words which accompany the noun and show number:

Singular / Plural

  • te (the) / a (the)
  • tenei (this near me) / nei (these near me)
  • tena (that near you) / kona (those near you)
  • tela (that away from us) / kola (those away from us)
  • se (a, an) / ni, ne (some)
  • tasi (one, a, an) / lua (two)
  • tokotasi (one person) / tokolua (two persons)
  • taku, toku (my) / aku, oku (my)
  • te ma (our) or a maua (our)
  • ta (our) or a taua (our)
  • te motou (our) or a matou (our)
  • tou (our) or a tatou (our)
  • tau, tou (your, thy) / au,ou (your, thy)
  • tona, hna (his. her) / ana, ona (his, her)
  • te otou (your) or a koutou (your)
  • te la (their) or a laua (their)
  • te lotou (their) or a latou (their)

But note, nei may be singular or plural. For example, te fale nei (this house), fale nei (these houses). The variable o, a vowel in the possessive pronouns will be discussed later.

Formatter's note: I realize that some of this text is confusing or hard to differentiate (as seen in the big list above of forms for "our"), but I am just presenting what was in the original grammar with a couple changes.


Gender is expressed by different words for masculine and feminine:

  • tangata (male) / fafine (female)
  • puaka tangata (boar) / puaka fafine (sow)
  • tamatangata (son) / tamafine (daughter)

Nominal Adjectives

As in English, common nouns are frequently used as adjectives. For example, te fale vaka (the canoe house), or tunga nifo (teeth marks).

Time and Place Nouns

Certain nouns which indicate time and place are important, and should be noted here; they frequently form the key words of compound adverbs and prepositions.

  • lunga (the top, the upper part)
  • lalo (the bottom, the under part)
  • loto (the inside, the midst)
  • fofo, fafo (the outside, the exterior)
  • mua (the front, the forepart)
  • muli (the rear, the hind part)
  • fea? ((What) place? (What) time?)
  • nei (the present)
  • ko (yonder place, time distant)
  • tua (the outer side, the back)
  • tai (the sea shore, as opposed to places inland)
  • uta,ngauta (inland, dryland, as opposed to the sea shore)
  • va (space between two things or places)

Please email me if you have any corrections, suggestions, questions, ideas, or content to add. I'd love to hear from you!

changed May 16, 2010