Volume 43 1934 > Volume 43, No. 169 > A grammar of the language spoken by the Kwara'ae people of Mala, British Solomon Islands, by Norman C. Deck, p 1-16
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(Continued from Vol. 42, page 256.)

dola noa'a liu, my word shall never pass away; nau'a ne'e noa'a liu kusi firute, as for me I shall by no means stumble; nama (see par. 223) also strengthens a negative: kira ka 'iri lisi's nama, they never saw them; na kala defo ne'e 'iri mae la'u, this young maiden is not dead (any more).

149 Double negatives do not, as in English, counteract one another, but strengthen one another: no ta kala ma'e leta … kasi liu 'o'o fa'asia na lo, not one jot shall pass from the law; 'osi sasia na Aofia kasi ta'u (needlessly) lagata'i nia go'o ma'i niniari, do not cause the master to needlessly hard work in coming to-day now; no ta wae kasi totolia oo'onga'a fuana ro wae inoto ki, no man can work for two masters; noa ta wae 'iri lilisia sa God, no man hath seen God; noa liu ta fau kasi tua fafona ta fau, not any stone shall remain upon a stone.

150 A very strong negative indeed is formed by the denial of a hypothetical statement, as follows: nau fasi (as if) nei saea ne'e noa'a, lit., I as if I shall say it, will not, in other words the idea of my saying it is not to be entertained, i.e, I shall certainly not say it. This construction is especially used in denial of someone else's statement about you. Further examples: nia fasi ne'e nia ke leka rorodo ne'e noa'a, he will certainly not go to-morrow, never; fasi (ne'e) nau ku leleka i ro'oki ne'e noa'a, I certainly did not go yesterday (some had said that I did); si di'i kulu tutua ana kaidai ba ana ma'a kia ki, fasi kulu ke ado fa'inida ana 'abuna prophet ki noa'a, if we had been in the days of our fathers we would certainly not have been partakers in the blood of the prophets (Mt. 23:30). But carefully differentiate the foregoing construction from the following: nau fasi kui leka i ro'oki ma ka noa'a, I would have gone (essayed to go) yesterday, but it did not eventuate; fasi nau kui leka ma'i ma ka noa'a, I would have come but I did not. Note the following very idiomatic sentence: si fasi mae'a (i) bore ne'e nau kui ba'a mae nama fa'ini'o i ma ne'e fasi nau kui tofe 'oe noa'a liu, though it may be death that I must die with you, well then I shall never deny thee never.

151 The strict sense of “never” is rendered as follows: nia le'a fuana wae ne'eri si nia kasi tau futafuta go'o, it were good for this man if he had never been born, here the neg. kasi with tau gives the sense.

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  • 1. The verb may be used simply, without either pronoun or particle, the voice of the speaker giving it force: leka ma'i, come; tua 'ana, let be (Mt. 27:49).
  • 2. For commands to be obeyed immediately, which do not involve the future, use the pronoun (and present particle): mulu leka, you go; kulu kwau, let us be off.
  • 3. For commands involving the present and future action use the future particle: kulu kwau kue leka, let us be off and go; muke sasi 'uri, you do thus (and continue).
  • 4. For commands which involve a present crisis with a resultant action or condition use the future particle with na'a, or the verb with na'a: 'oke sikasika na'a, be thou clean; leka na'a 'amu, go thy way (Mt. 8:13).
  • 5. For a quasi-command when one wishes to be polite and not dictatorial use the verb with basi (just): leka basi ma'i, just come please; rongo basi, listen please.
  • 6. For a double command not necessarily involving the future: tata'e ko liliu, arise and walk.
  • 7. For a double command the second involving the future: tata'e koe leka kwau 'uana, arise and go for it (koe is fut.).
  • 8. For a double command both being future: muke leka muka saesae 'uana ru ne'e tarifula ne'e fada 'ania, go ye and learn what this meaneth (here it is not necessary, though allowable, to use the future particle in the 2nd command as the first predicates it necessarily).

153 For aspirations and desires in prayer, use the future: ma'a kami ma'i Heaven kike fa'aabua satamu, our Father in Heaven hallowed be thy name, or one might say almost as well satamu ke abu, thy name shall be holy.


154 1. Use the simple negative: 'osi bili, or 'oe kosi bili, do not steal; mu kasi sasi la'u sulia raolada, do not ye according to their works. When a previous action is in view or arguable use la'u (any more) after the verb: 'osi angi la'u, don't cry any more, stop crying; mu kasi ma'u la'u, do not continue to fear. But la'u is often used where such a previous action is with difficulty arguable: mu kasi 'abera la'u sulia fata'a ne'e muke fata 'ania, be not anxious about the words ye shall speak; mu kasi di'ida la'u, be ye not like them (the heathen); mu kasi fa'arongoa la'u ta wae, do not tell any man (Mt. 17:9).

155 2. Make use of the verb alua with the verbal noun: alua bili'a, leave stealing, do not steal; in this example an elipsis may be understood, thus a woman will often say to a child, alua angi'a ke teo 'ana, leave crying it lie down as for it, the elipsis in the first example being “ke teo 'ana” alua saungilana fuamu nunu 'i ru, do not make for thee an image. Care is to be exercised with alua, - 3 for if, instead of the verbal noun, a verb is used, the command has exactly the opposite meaning: alua ke bilia, let him steal it; alua ke angi, let him cry.

156 3. A weaker prohibition is expressed by the particles expressing possibility: koto angi, don't cry; mu kata kwaifi fasi nau ku dao ma'i fuana …, do not imagine that I have come to … (Mt. 10:34); mu kata manata 'uri i manatamua, think not to say within yourselves. In the above use of the particles of possibility an elipsis may be understood, namely the word sasi, lest; the full prohibition would go: sasi koto fa'afa'arongoa ta wae, (beware) lest thou tell any man, “see that thou tell no man” (Mt. 8:4); sasi ta wae kata lologea la'u, let not man put asunder (Mt. 19:6); sasi ta wae kata saisai ana ru ne'e, see that no man know it; sasi koto fifigwanu, be not troubled. An instance of a combination of alua with this particle is the following: alu(a) nia kata koso fuana laulana ru nia ki, let him not descend to take his goods.

157 4. A prohibition can be expressed by the verb no with the preposition fa'inia: mulu no fani (a short form of fa'inia) isi'a ne'e, do not make a noise here, lit., ye not with a noise here.


158 When a noun is the subject of the verb we sometimes find the demonstrative ne'e used as an accessory subject instead of the 3rd pers. sing. pro. nia; this is especially so when the noun is followed by the possessive pronoun or suffix; the use of ne'e in other cases is often a matter of idiom. Examples: sulia ne'e tea nia ne'e falamana ka 'uri, because her mother instructed her thus; falosu nau ne'e waluda, ma oko'a nau ne'e sasala, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light; 'oke ru'u sana mauri'a fa' i nia 'abamu ne'e mu ma 'aemu ne'e kodo, enter into life with your arm broken (maimed) and your legs halt; sulia mada ne'e kulufefe, because their eyes were heavy; saele'anga doe (i) na'a ana wae ne'e aburongo'a nia ne'e aloge kwau, blessing to the man of whom his transgression is forgiven (Psa. 32:1); suli nau ki ne'e watautau, my bones are weak; sulia fo'osi nia ne'e ilinga'i ma nununa sa Jesus, because his offering represented a type of Jesus; lia dila'a 'oro ki ne'e ke saungia wae ta'a ki, many sorrows shall afflict the wicked; ta'i Jesus ne'e nama ne'e ke leka ma'i, this same Jesus shall come. With such a use of ne'e compare pars. 121 and 183.


Some verbs are only used intransitively, but the majority can be used transitively (1) by adding the usual objective pronouns to the verb-stem; (2) by means of transitive suffixes; (3) by carrying over the action of the verb on to an object by means of a preposition; (4) by means of the suffix to'o with the pronomial suffixes ku, mu, na, etc.

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159 Verbs only used intransitively are very few: nia ka 'uri, he said thus (here 'uri is an adverb used as a verb); nia noa 'ua, it is not yet (here again 'ua is an adv. used as a verb).

160 Verbs which can be used transitively by the addition of the usual objective pronouns: nau ku rongo, I hear; nau ku rongo 'o, I hear thee; 'oko soke, you lie; 'oko soke nau, you lie to me; 'osi bili, do not steal; 'osi bilia, do not steal it. There are many such verbs. When the stem of such a verb ends in a then the 3rd pers. sing. obj. suffix a coalesces with this a, forming a long a: oga, want; ogaa, want it; taraa ma'i, drag it hither; 'abalaa, “fathom” it, i.e., measure it in fathoms ('abala, a fathom).

fi akoakobe hot akofia, heat it
  kwa'u, drink kwa'ufia, drink it
  sina, shine (sun) sinafia, sun shine on it, sunburn it
  talo, a shild (n.) talofia, shield it
  nununa, its shadow (n.) nunufia, shade it
li busu, burst busulia, burst on it
  mae, die maelia, die of it
  to'o, fit, correspond to'olia, correspond to it
mi ano, ground (n.) anomia, bury it
  oto, point otomia, pierce it
ngi bubu, gaze bubungia, gaze at it
  sau, kill saungia, kill it
  'ato, difficult (adj.) 'atongi nia, be hard for him.
si angi, cry angisia, cry for it
  fo'o, pray fo'osia, pray to him, worship him
  oli, return olisia, answer him
  rii, shout riisia, shout for him
'i tala, road (n.) tala'ia, lead him
ta reba, broad (adj.) rebataa, broadcast it
la 'abana, his hand 'abalaa, measure it in fathoms

162 Another set of transitive suffixes end in a'i (S.E. San Cristoval, agi), the suffixes take nia, not a, as 3rd pers. sing. object.

ta'i moamoa, vomit moata'i nia, vomit on it
  oli, return olita'i nia, return it (cf. olisia above)
  aliki, be spilt likita'i nia, spill it.
nga'i takalo, be scattered takalonga'i nia, scatter it abroad
  rora, go astray nia roranga'i nia talana, he wandered about
  sausau, wind (n.) saulanga'i nia, blow it off (la in addition)
ma'i lolomo, sink down loloma'i nia, submerge, baptize him
  tala, road (n.) fa'atalama'i nia, instruct him
ra'i taga, stretch the hands out tagara'i nia, shake out (a sheet)
  mu, break in two (rope) mura'i nia, tear it (fish net)
la'i fu, come to light, become disclosed fa'afula'i nia, disclose it
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163 But there is a short way of writing these verbs ending in a'i when the obj. is in the 3rd person, when -a'i nia becomes -ani, thus: takaloma'i nia maga 'ai, scatter seed about, becomes takalomani maga 'ai; this applies to all the suffixes given in the preceding table: kika takamani mangisina fanga ne'eri, they picked up fragments of food; kike daurani ta gwa'i fau doe ni gagilana uiti ana luana, they will hang a mill-stone about his neck; ta'i wae ne'e angitani mole 'etalent 'ana, a man who owed ten thousand talents. Occasionally verbs ending in a'i may be used intransitively: 'oko to'oma'i ke dao ana tagafula ru, count up to the tenth article.

164 Sometimes a verb-stem may take more than one transitive suffix, sometimes without a change of meaning, but usually so.

With same meaning: ifunga'inia, ifulanga'inia, clear him out (from village); lafua, lafunga'inia, lift him; fula'inia, fa'afula'inia, fa'afulanga'inia, disclose, confess it; liu, go past; liunga'inia, liuta'inia, take it as you go past; to'oa, mark it; to'olama'inia 'ani …, toolanga'inia 'ani …, interpret as …; abera, be anxious; aberanga'inia, aberata'inia 'ani, be detained, preoccupied with (but abera sulia, abera 'ania, be anxious about it).

With change of meaning: lia, look; lisia, look at it; lianga'inia, look to him (to do something); oli, return; olita'inia, return it; olisia, answer him; mu, be broken in two (rope); musia, break it in two (rope); mura'inia, tear it (fish net); takalo, be scattered; takaloa, scatter it; takaloma'inia, scatter it about; kwa'i, beat; kwa'ia, beat him; kwa'ila'inia, bash it (on to something). Many of the verbs ending in a'i can only be used transitively, i.e., there is no corresponding intrans. stem to be found, thus angita'inia ru, owe something, no simple stem from which this is formed can now be found.

165 A set of intransitive and transitive verbs is formed by means of the addition of to'o to the verb-stem, this addition to'o being followed by the suffixes ku, mu, na, etc., in the transitive set. This suffix to'o has the force of trying, or of putting the action of the verb to the test. Such verbs may even be formed from nouns: fiia, v.t., expect it; fiito'o, trust; fiito'ona, trust him, i.e., put your expectation of him to the test; mea-na, his tongue; meato'o, taste, test with the tongue; meato'na, taste it; soke, v.i., deceive; soketo'ona, try and deceive him; sarea, v.t., feed him; sareto'omu, try to feed thee; lia, v.i., look; liato'oda, find them (by looking); kwa'u, drink; kwa'uto'ona, taste by drinking; foea, open it; foeto'ona, find by opening (a book or parcel). I think that to'oku, to'omu, to'ona, etc. are the contractions of to'o aku, to'o amu, to'o ana, as found in Koio and Sa'a and other dialects.

166 The action of an intransitive verb may be carried over to an object by means of a preposition, the meaning varying with the preposition: nau ku uu, I stand; nau ku uu fafona box, I stand on a box; ala 'ania, let it; ala faafia, agree to it; uia, throw at it; ui, throw; ui 'ania, throw it away; rete 'uana, feel for it (in a bag); bo'obo'o ni ru, need anything; and so on.

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167 A set of transitive verbs is formed by means of the causative prefix fa'a to verb-stems, adjectives, adverbs, and even nouns: rongo, v.i., hear; fa'arongoa, cause him to hear, tell him; futa, v.i., passive, to be born; fa'afutaa, beget him; doe, adj., big; fa'adoea, magnify him; naunau, adj., proud; fa'anaunaua, make him proud; le'a, good; 'oko faale'a 'oe na'a, you decorate yourself; aofia, master; fa'aaofia, worship him; suffixes may be used in conjunction with this prefix: teo, lie down; fa'ateofi nau, cause me to lie down; tafanga'i, open by; fa'atafanga'inia, cause it to appear, discover it.

168 A set of transitive verbs very similar to the preceding is formed from verb-stems, adjectives, and adverbs by means of the prefix mala (mala is usually a preposition meaning “like, as,” or the pidgin English “all same”): siofa, adj., v.i., be poor; malasiofaa, impoverish him (synon. fa'asiofaa); gau, inherently evil; malagaua, ruin him or it (synonyms sasigaua, sasi gau ana); dalafa, of no account, pidgin English “all about”; maladalafaa ru aabu, blaspheme; malangeongeoa, manhandle him, put it all about; occasionally the same prefix is used to form an intrans. verb:'oko malanaunau, you act proudly (naunau, adj., proud). In conjunction with the prefix mala we find the suffixes li and si, also the preposition ana: malata'alia, malata'a ana, spoil it (ta'a, adj., bad); le'a, good; 'oko fa'ale'a amu, you presume (to a man who has refused to help in making a feast but comes to partake); ngi, v.i., break; malangisia mani 'oe, misuse, waste your money; inoto, high, exalted; malainoto 'ana talana, exalt himself.

169 The force of the above prefix fa'a, cause, may be expressed also by the verbs sasia, kwatea, make, cause him…: 'oko sasi nia (or kwate nia) ke naunau, you cause him to be proud.

170 Many naturally transitive verbs may be used intransitively by means of the prefix kwai (normally a reciprocal prefix, see next section): nau ku fa'amauri 'oe, I save thee; but nau ku kwai fa'amauri, I save, I cure; so also wae ni kwaifa'amauri, a saviour; nau ku asunga'ini'o, I despatch you (to go); nia ka kwaiasunga'i, he sent (Mt. 2:16); so also: nia kwaifa'amanata i siada, he taught at their place; mu kasi kwaimatalanga'i leu, judge no more; nia kwaibobori, he waited; tala'ia, lead him; wae ni kwaitala'i, a leader; ogaa, want it; kwaioga'anga nau, my will.

171 But the prefix kwai usually expresses reciprocal action: nonoia, kiss him; kero kwainonoi, they two kiss one another; oroa, “boss” him; kira kwaioroi, they boss one another; maasia, wait for him; kero kwaimaasi, they wait for one another; kero uu kwaito'oi, they two stood opposite to one another.

172 But when the action of the verb is carried over by means of a preposition to the object the preceding method will not serve, but the word kwailiu (lit., pass one another) is used: aalafe fuaua, love him; kero aalafe kwailiu fuadaro'o, they two love one another; the order of the two last words may be reversed: kero bare kwailiu fuadaro'o, or kero bare fuadaro'o kwailiu, they two row with one - 7 another; kero lia le'a kwailiu adaro'o, they two are well disposed to one another; kika 'uri kwailiu 'ada fuada, they said to one another; kike kwate kwailiu ada ma kike ha ta'a kwailiu ada, they shall betray one another and hate one another; kika faorai kwailiu i safitada, they took counsel; ta kingi'a bore ne'e kike fua kwailiu 'ada talada, every kingdom divided against itself; kira kwaima kwailiu fuada, they are kind to one another; kira ala kwailiu faafia, they agree amongst themselves about it. In the following examples the prefix kwai has lost its reciprocal sense and become reflexive: nau ku kwaiudui, I blame myself, am contrite; but kero kwaiudui kwailiu, they two blame one another; nau ku kwaiolisi, I reproach myself; nia ka kwaiolisi 'ana talana, he reproached himself.

173 In some transitive verbs the action reflects on the subject: nau ku 'asi nau, I fall down (syn. nau ku olo, I fall down); 'aeku fi nau, my foot hurts, pains me; nau ku ote nau sulia, I am tired (“fed up ”) about it; kira asida i ano, they fell down on the ground; ti maga 'ai asi'i i ninimana tala, some seed fell by the roadside; nau ku oka nau sulia, I am pleased about it; nau ku oka nau liu na'a 'ani'o, I am very pleased with you.

174 But usually when the action of the verb reflects on the subject we can use (1) the reflexive pronouns (i) talaku, etc., after the verb; (2) the reflexive particle tala before the verb; (3) or both together; (4) or either reinforced by ti'aku; (5) or la'alau after the verb (compare par. 88).

  • 1. Nau ku fa'ali nau i talaku, I spoil myself; nia fa'ata'i nia talana, he showed himself.
  • 2. Kulu tala soke kulu, we deceive ourselves; ru 'oro ki sui ka tala dao, all things arrived of themselves; tala manata'i 'oe 'amu, pity thyself.
  • 3. Wae ke tala lafu nia 'ana talana, man exalts himself; nau ku tala fa'alinau talaku, I spoil myself; si di'ia kulu tala matanga'i kulu 'akulu talakulu, if we judge ourselves; fikulakulu 'akulu talakulu ta'ifau, the assembling of ourselves together.
  • 4. Nau kusi fa'amauri nau 'aku ti'aku, I cannot save myself by myself alone; nau ku fa'ali nau ti'aku talaku, I alone spoil myself.
  • 5. Nei sasia la'alau, I shall do it by myself alone; ru nei la'alau, object belonging to myself alone; ru 'oe la'alau, object belonging to thyself alone; ru kulu la'alau, object belonging to ourselves alone. Note the following synonymous expressions: ru nei la'alau, ru nei go'o ti'aku, ru nei 'aku talaku, ru nei lala 'aku, object belonging to myself alone (compare par. 88).

175 Failure after an attempt is expressed by the verb talafia, miss it, subjoined to the principle verb: daua, take hold of it; dautalafia, fail to hold it; rongoa, hear him; rongotalafia, fail to hear him; sasia, do it; sasitalafia, fail to do it.

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176 There is no passive voice in Kwara'ae (or in any language on Malaita), so, as in Malu'u (Toaba'ita), it has often to be expressed by the use of the 3rd pers. plur. pro. kira, used in an impersonal way like the French “on dit,” it is said. Such a use is less common in Kwara'ae than in Malu'u, and may occasion ambiguity making it necessary to introduce words to avoid this; this deficiency causes difficulty in translation. But in some cases the passive can be expressed most felicitously by the use of the gerundive, especially after the preposition fuana when a clause expressing purpose is in view: so to say “this tree was cut down yesterday” a native will turn it thus, kira tufua 'ai ne'e i ro'oki, lit., “they cut this tree down yesterday,” kira being used impersonally with no particular people in view. Such a use even appears in their pidgin English, “altogether cut'im down tree yesterday” where “altogether” is an impers. 3rd plur. equivalent. So also we find: kira kwaisi kike rongoda, they think they shall be heard (Mt. 6:7); using the gerundive we find: muke abula ma'i fuana ongolana abulata'anga'a kamu ki, turn ye round for the rubbing out of your sins, for “that your sins may be blotted out”; also, na kwatelana ma'i na Lo ne'eri ne'e ana sa Moses, the Law was given by Moses, ma'e ana expressing origin.

177 But there is a limited number of adjectives expressing condition, state, or result of action which have the force of passive participles when used predicatively; many of these commence with a and ma: futa, be born; kakari, be split lengthways (karia, split it, v.t.); madiko, be broken (dikoa, v.t.); ma'oi, be broken in two ('oia, v.t.); mangisingisi, be broken into pieces (ngia, v.t.); aloge, be loosed (logea, v.t.); agio, be capsized (gioa, v.t.) ; aliki, be split (likita'inia, v.t.); afisu, be fallen down of itself (fisua, v.t., pluck it, i.e., fruit). See pars. 106, 107.


178 When a verb governs a noun-object the construction shows two objects; (a) an immediate or anticipatory object in a suffix or pronoun; (b) a remoter and complimentary object in agreement with the immediate object.

1. When the noun-object expressed is in the singular the immediate object appears in the 3rd pers. sing. suffix aor the 3rd pers. sing. pronoun nia, according to the verb (see pars. 61, 62), and the noun follows immediately, or after an adverb if present (but see “Order of Adverbs,” par. 242, for exceptions to this), in agreement. Thus: nia lafua iolo nia, he is lifting his canoe (here a agrees with its compliment iolo nia); ngalia ma'i wa'i 'oe, bring your basket; nia saunga'inia luma nia, he is making his house. This rule applies in the same way to prepositions governing a noun: leka ma'i fa'asia kula ne'e, come away from this place; ui 'ania kwau ii'a ne'e, throw away this fish; 'oke uu 'usia ma, stand against the door; but sometimes, in the case of prepositions, this suffix a is omitted for the sake of brevity: 'oko tufua 'ai ne'e 'ani (instead of 'ania) axe 'oe, - 9 cut this tree down with thy axe; leka suli (instead of sulia) tale ne'e, go by this road. For anticipatory objects after verbs or prepositions ending in a'i see pars. 61, 62, and 163, the anticipatory object being omitted when the short form of the verb is used: takalomani maga 'ae, scatter seed about. So also with fa'inia which is shortened to fani: nia saungani wae fani kini, he made both man and woman; mulu no fani isi'a ne'e, leave off making this noise.

179 2. When the noun-object expressed is in the plural the verb still takes the 3rd pers. singular suffix a (or nia after verbs in a'i), and the noun-object with the plur. particle ki follows. But when the plural noun-object is not expressed but implied, being in view from a previous mention, or in the mind's eye, the verb takes the 3rd pers. plur. suffix or pronoun: nau ku lisia wae 'oro ki, bore ma nau kusi fa'arongoda 'ania, I saw many people but I did not tell them of it (here notice a and da respectively). Thus Kwara'ae is sparing in its expression of the plural, it avoids in this connection redundancy. When the plural noun-object is neuter but is implied, we find the neuter plural suffixes as given in par. 59 under “Pronouns”: ru ne'e 'oko oga'i, things which thou wantest; ti ru bore ne'e kamu ke loge'e…kike loge'e la'u go'o i Heaven, whatsoever things which you loose (them) … they loose them in Heaven also; here we have 'e instead of 'i because the verb-root ends in e; ngali'i ma'i fuaku, bring them (the five loaves of Mt. 14:18) here to me; ti ru bore ne'e kamu firi'ini … kike firi'ini la'u go'o i Heaven, whatsoever things which you bind (them) … they shall bind then in Heaven also; here we have an unusual third pers. plur. neut. suffix, firi'ia means “bind it,” and firi'ida “bind them” (persons), but firi'i'i would be too difficult to say, hence we have firi'ini. The same applies to prepositions when they govern a neut. plur. implied object: 'oe kosi rongoa ru 'oro' ne'e ki nini kira sae 'oe 'ani'i ki?, Hearest thou not these many things with which they accuse thee?, here the last ki applies to the relative clause nini … 'ani'i.

180 Direct and indirect objects are expressed in two ways, depending upon the nature of the verb; (a) 'oke fa'ata'inia tala fuaka, show us the road, lit. show the road to us; 'oke fa'atalama'inia fo'onga'a fuaku, teach me to pray, lit. teach prayer to me; (b) 'oke fa'arongo nau ma'i 'ania, tell me it, lit. cause me to hear about it; gania 'uana to afu bread, ask him for a loaf.

181 Sometimes when a verb is used constantly in association with a common object the anticipatory suffix-object is omitted and the verb-stem used alone: fasifasi ru, sow seed (instead of fasia ru); uku ru, heap things together; to'o ru, to have (things); loiloi ru, pick up things; kore kini, marry (instead of korea); kwate kini, give in marriage; ngali kulu, bear a burden; fa'amauri ru, give life. In the above cases the verb is used in a general sense without any definite object in view.

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182 The verb-stem may be reduplicated or merely the first syllable when there are more than one: daodau, saesaea, sikasika, alualua, tutua or tuatua, fifikua, fifiolo, sisilikwa'u, sausauna'inia, kwaikwailiufi, 'a'ania, tatala'ia, oleolenia, ngangalia.


183 In Kwara'ae as in other Melanesian languages there is no verb “to be,” but the idea is expressed in other ways.

  • (a) The language omits it where the verb is used in English: 'oe 'o na Alako sa God, thou art the Son of God; 'ae 'o wae ba 'oke leka ma'i?, art thou he that should come?; mike sai ana ne'e nia'a na Christ, we know that he is the Christ; ta'i kala ngela alako nia i ne'e, there is a young lad here; ta'i kunu nia i ne'eri saena i Jerusalem, there was a pool in Jerusalem; uni 'i 'ai nia mau'a, the crop is white; nia nai (na'a i) fai?, where is it?; kaidai ne'e 'oke 'ua fa'inia suli tala, while thou art yet in the way with him; ne'e kwau, here it is (handing an object to another).
  • (b) The demonstrative pronouns ninia, ne'eria, neana, bania, etc., may be used (see par. 80): ru baera ninia, this is that thing, lit. that thing this here; ru nau ninia, this is my thing; luma sa tai ninia?, whose is this house?; wae fa'uta (i) na'a ninia?, what manner of man is this?; nau'a go'o ninia (or nini nau), it is I merely; si di'ia 'ae 'o go'o neana, if that is thou (not another); na Madakola'a mamana ne'eri ne'eria, that was the true Light; na fa'amamana'anga sa John nini 'uri, the testimony of John was as follows; fai madamo ki nini 'ala'a 'ua, there are yet four months.
  • (c) The demonstrative adjective ne'e may be used: na Fata'a ne'eri ne'e God, the Word was God; sa tai ne'e sa God? sa God ne'e ta'i spirit, who is God? God is a spirit; na sila ne'eri ne'e alakona na Ai ta'a, the darnel is the children of the wicked one; unu ana nonina wae ne'e na ma 'i wae, the light of the body is the eye; si mamu ne'e sakadola, if thine eye is single; ru sa Jesus na'a ne'e nau'a the property of Jesus (now) am I; ma fangalana ne'e na siko ma ngingidua, and his food was locusts and honey.
  • (d) Occasionally the verbs tua and teo may be used; tua then has the meaning of exist: fita God ki ne'e kira tua? ta'i ru (i) go'o, how many Gods are there? only one; alu ke teo ira di'ia nena 'oko oga, be it unto thee as thou wilt.

184 The adverb noa, no, not, can be used as a verb with the sense of to “not be,” to “not”: 'oke no fa'asia wae 'o'olo neana, have nothing to do with that just man, lit. do thou “not” from that just man; na prophet fa'ainotolana kasi no, a prophet cannot fail in honour, lit. the honouring of him cannot “not be ”; nia'a noa la'u na Madakola'a ne'eri, he was not the Light; nia noa'a i ne'e, he is not here; si di'ia ne'e 'oe 'o noa la'u na, Christ baera, nama noa la'u - 11 sa Elijah, noe ma na prophet baera, if thou art not the Christ, or art not Elijah, or not the prophet.


185 The verbs alua and sau ana can have the sense of “to become”: nau ku saunga'inia ka sui ma ka fi'i alua na'a dako (or ka fi'i sau na'a ana dako). I finished working it and it then became a dish; ma muka sau na'a ana kala ngela ki, and ye become (as) little children; ma abufungu'a (i) ka sau na'a ana, and he became unfruitful, lit. unfruitfulness became him.


186 The verb “to have” may be expressed in Kwara'ae in the following ways:

  • (a) By the verb to'o with the preposition ana: kira to'o na'a ana kwaiara'anga kira, they have their reward; bore ma ke to'o ana mauri'a firi, but shall have eternal life; ru ne'e nia to'o ani ki ta'ifau, all the things that he hath.
  • (b) By the series kuna, muna, nina, nana: nau kuna fanga ni anilana, I have meat to eat (Jno. 4:32); nau kuna ro alako, I have two sons; 'oe muna ta ai, thou hast one of them; nia nina ro ngela ki, he has two children; si di'ia ta wae ke mae ma noa nina ngela, if a man die having no issue;nau noa kuta ara'i, I have not any husband; kaumulu nana ta'i wae ni kwaifa'amanata, ye have a teacher; fokisi ki kira nani kilu, the foxes have holes; kaumulu nani ma'e utu ni fuanga'a, ye have a guard of soldiers.
  • (c) By the preposition ana, “along ”: na Alako-wae nia noa ana ta kula fuana alulana gwauna ana, the Son of man hath not where to lay his head; 'o no amu ta ru ni ufi kafo, thou hast nothing to draw with; nia noa ada ta wine, they had no wine; ta wae ne'e ana ro alinga fuana rongo'a, he that hath ears to hear; ru nini mango ni ada, things which have breath; fasi amulu ta fito'onga ma mu kasi fitala, if ye have faith and doubt not; ta'i lima afu bread ki ma ro ii'a go'o ninia aimili, we have five loaves and two fishes; kira ada ta'i wae na fa'atoto'a firi'ia, they had a notable prisoner. See pars. 68 and 256.

187 There is an immense number of compound verbs where the meanings of separate verbs are combined; but space can only be allowed for some of the more characteristic combinations. Compounds with sili, want: silikwa'u, be thirsty; sililisia, wish to see it; silifanga, want to eat; ailasilileka, not wish to go. With eta, go first: etadao, arrive first; etafata, prophesy; etafa'asikasika, first cleanse; etaui basi 'ania falo, first cast out the beam; etafali na'a toli, first step down. With 'isia, end it: du'u 'isia kala ma'e gagau 'isi, pay the uttermost farthing; kamu kasi lekaisia go'o 'ua taone i Israel ki sui, ye shall not have completely gone over the cities of Israel. With fiku, heap together: kira raofiku fa'inia, they work together with - 12 him; kira fikulokoa ta ru, they “took counsel,” discussed together; kira tuafiku, they remained together. With sarufe, slow: sarufeleka, go slowly; sarufefata, speak slowly, clearly. Other examples must be left for vocabularies.


1. Of Time; 2. Manner; 3. Place; 4. Degree, extent, quality; 5. Affirmation and Negation; 6. Interrogatives; 7. Order and use of Adverbs.


Note that the order of the adverbs in the sentence varies and must be learnt for each adverb from the examples.

188 I na'o, before:

Nau ku lilisia was neana i na'o, I have seen that man before; ne'e i na'o maaku rodorodo ma i niniari nei lia na'a, (time) before I was blind but now I see. Compare “before” in par. 291.

I buri, i buira, afterwards:

Nau ku lisia i buri, I saw him afterwards; nei leka i Makira i na'o, i buira nau kui fi'i leka i Malaita, I shall go first to Makira, then afterwards to Malaita; nei leka dao i Malu'u ka sui, i buira nei fi'i oli ma'i, I shall reach Malu'u then afterward I shall return; nia leka ma'i i buira, he came afterwards. Compare “after ” in par. 292.

189 Karangi, ofani, soon, presently:

Nei karangi (or ofani) leka na'a i Tulagi, I shall now soon go to Tulagi. The adv. may precede the pronoun: karangi (or ofani) nei leka na'a i Tulagi, with the same meaning; nia ofani leka dao na'a ma'i, he will soon arrive now; nei karangi sasia na'a, I shall do it presently. Karangi (but not ofani) may be used as a verb: nia karangi go'o, it is quite soon; nia karangi na'a, it is now at hand. See par. 116.

Malakwasi, ta bongi, the use of ba'a before the verb, the use of tutua or leleka as an introductory word give the sense of “bye and bye “:

Malakwasi nau kui leka, I will go bye and bye (in the remoter future); ta bongi nau kui leka, I will go bye and bye (in the nearer future); tutua (or leleka) ta ma'e dangi ke ba'a dao, bye and bye a day will come; saeta'anga'a ne'e tutua ke ba'a dao, the coming wrath; ma tutua (or leleka) ka saulafi na'a, and later on when it was evening (lit. and “stop stop” or “go go ” it evening now).

190 Na'a, now, now already:

The adv. na'a, except when it is used with a fut. verb. particle, shows a preterite, i.e., the action of the verb is complete as regards time, this preterite may be more strongly expressed by ka sui na'a, it finish now, and still more strongly by ka sui dangalu na'a: nau ku sasia na'a, I have already done it; nau ku sasia ka sui na'a, I have finished doing it; nau ku sasia ka sui dangalu na'a, I have quite finished doing it; nau ku lisia na'a nai, I have seen him now - 13 here. Notice na'a with karangi in the previous section. Na'a when used with a future verbal particle expresses a present action continuing into the future, see par. 139.

191 Na'a 'uri, 'uri go'o, go'o 'uri, just now, at this very moment:

nau ku lisia na'a 'uri, I have just now seen him (just past); nau ku lisia 'uri go'o, I am just now looking at him; nia ke kwatea go'o 'uri ma'i fulingana ta fai mole'e angel, he will just now grant about forty thousand angels; ma ana kaidai ne'e go'o kira alua ila ka teo na'a i laila 'ai ki, and even now the axe is laid at the root of the trees.

192 Niniari, i niniari, to-day now, this time now; leleka ka dao 'uri niniari, until now (lit. go go it reach thus to-day now); leleka ka dao i ta'ena, until to-day; sana rodo, ana rodo, sa rodo, by night; sana asoa, ana asoa, by day.

193 Na'a 'ua sinole, tau na'a kwau, mala 'ua, na'a 'ua (in descending order), long ago: nia mae na'a 'ua sinole, he died very long ago; na alanga'inga ne'e sa God ba kwatea ma'i, ka tau na'a kwau, the promise which God gave long ago; kira sasia mala 'ua, they did it a good while back; kira sasia na'a 'ua, they did it some time ago.

'Ua na'a ma'i, tau na'a ma'i (duration up to now), for a long time: nau ku mata'i 'ua na'a ma'i (or tau na'a ma'i), I have been sick for a long time; nau ku mata'i 'ua sinole na'a ma'i, I have been sick for a very long time; ita 'ua na'a ma'i, nau ku 'iri lekaleka i Tulagi, for a long time I have not gone to Tulagi; nau ku lulu tau na'a 'uana, I have looked a long time for it.

Tau 'ua, for a long time yet:

nau kui tua tau 'ua ta nau kui sasia, I shall stay a long time yet before doing it (lit. then I shall do it); nia tau 'ua fuana ne'e nau kui sasia fafanga'a ne'e, there is a long time yet for me to make this feast.

194 'Ua, yet:

u kui lisia 'ua, I shall see it yet; ne'e nia fata go'o 'ua, while he was merely yet speaking; ana kaidai ne'e kulu abulata'a 'ua bore, while (and although) we are yet sinning; ngela ro fa'i ngali'a 'ua, children up to two years of age (yet); i na'ona kaidai ne'eri nia 'ua, before the time (yet) Mt. 8:29.

Noa 'ua, or 'ua with negative particle, not yet:

nau kusi lisia 'ua, I have not yet seen it; noa mala 'ua, not yet indeed (but bye and bye); mu kasi sai 'ua ana?, do ye not yet understand?; kamu kasi leka 'isia go'o 'ua taone i Israel ki sui go'o 'ani, ye shall not yet have gone over to the end all the cities of Israel.

195 Firi, suli bongi firi, always: nau ku sukulu firi go'o 'aku, I always attend school; nau ku sasia firi nama 'aku, I always continue to do it (see par. 122); nau ku sasia suli bongi (or dangi) firi, I always do it; mauri'a firi, eternal life.

Noa ta bongi kasi no, without intermission: nau ku sasia go'o 'aku (noa) ta bongi kasi no, I do it without intermission.

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Suli bongi 'oro, suli dangi 'oro, kaidai 'oro ki, often: nau ku sasia (suli) bongi 'oro, I do it often; nau ku sasia kaidai 'oro ki, I do it often.

Ti kaidai go'o, folobongi go'o, sometimes: nau ku sasia ti kaidai go'o (or folobongi go'o), I do it sometimes.

Bara fau, bara bongi, seldom: nau ku sukulu bara fau na'a, I seldom attend school now; nau ku leka na'a suli bara bongi, I seldom go now; 'oko sasi bara fau ana, you seldom do it (see par. 242).

196 Ita ma'i na'o, from the beginning: bore ma ita ma'i na'o nia noa kasi 'uira la'u, but from the beginning it was not so.

Ita ana kaidai ne'e ka oli 'ala'a ma tutua firi, henceforth for ever (lit. start now it return upwards and stop stop for ever); ita i ta'ena ka oli 'ala'a suli kudi, from to-day on for ever; ita ana kaidai ne'eri, from that time; sulia ana kaidai ne'eri go'o ru fualanga ni fuli bara'anga doe liu, for then shall be great tribulation.


197 There are a few particles which, unlike other adverbs, immediately or nearly immediately precede the verb they qualify (most adverbs follow):

Ba, bani are used when the action of the verb is sometime past: nau ba (or bani) ku leleka i na'o, I did go before (but not now), it expresses a sort of pluperfect; nia bani kira saea la'u go'o, it was said of old time also; na prophet ba keresia ka 'uri, the prophet did write thus; 'orolana prophet ba kira ogaoga kike lisia ru ne'e ki, many prophets did desire to see these things.

Ba'a is used when the action of the verb is decidedly in the future—a deferred future, compare “bye and bye” in the preceding group (par. 189): nau kui ba'a leka taka, I may go bye and bye; ana kaidai ne'e na Christ baera ke ba'a dao, when the Christ shall come.

Fi'i has two meanings (1) “then,” when it is often used with conjunctions meaning “then” (pars. 273, 291), (2) “just.” In Kwara'ae it is pronounced quite separately from the verbal particles ku, ko, ka, etc. When the time of the verb is in the future we usually find fi'i used with the future verbal particle, but not necessarily so, for the present verb. particle may be used, fi'i in itself showing futurity: nau kui fi'i leka, I am just about to go; wae ni kwaifa'amauri ka fi'i futa…i ta'ena. a saviour is (just) born to-day; wae fi'i doe, a young man just grown up; sui ka fi'i fanga ana bread neana, then he (then) eateth of that bread.

Mani, just a bit: mani manata basi sulia, just think a moment of that, Heb. selah; mani manatato'ona doelana sa God, just think of God's greatness; mani has almost the same force as basi, see pars. 152, 218.

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198 Gwanufafo, three days before yesterday; gwanulafi, two days before yesterday; gwanuki, one day before yesterday; i ro'oki, i ro'o, yesterday; i ta'ena, to-day; ta'ena na'a, to-day (partly over); ta'ena mala, to-day yet; (i) rorodo, to-morrow; fafonai, one day after to-morrow; kwalitai, two days after to-morrow; kwalitaifafo, three days after to-morrow; i niniari, this day now; ana fa'i bongi i buri, on the morrow (Jno. 1:29); ta'i bongi (or dangi) sui na'a kwau; one day ago; ulu fa'i bongi sui na'a kwau, three days ago; ta'i bongi nia 'ua, one day hence.


199 Tofungana rodo, midnight; no'o angi, birds awake, cock crow; makalokalo'a, first signs of dawn; ulafusiwae'a, later dawn but too dark to recognize man; la'a bilabila, kwaila'a na'a, la'a na'a, dawn, getting clearer and clearer; ofodangi ta'a, early morning; ofodangi, ofodangi le'a, morning; sina (or sato) fane, sunrise; sina fane ngasi, sunrise, heat coming; dangi na'a, day now; asoa, daytime (from sunrise to sunset); asoa i ta'ena, to-day; tofungana asoa, midday; sina 'uri gwau na'a, midday, a man stands in his own shadow; sina afalili, about 1 p.m.; sina kwailani, sun declining; sina egofolo, about 3 p.m.; sina daotoli, sun nearly level, about 5.30 p.m.; sina foto ruru, a red sunset; sina suu na'a, sun now set; saulafi, evening; ulafusiwae'a, makalokalo'a, too dark for recognition; rodo na'a, night; ma'erodo 'afai, pitch darkness.


200 'Urii, like this, thus (cf. 'urii adj. par. 93), this way: 'Oko sasia 'urii, do it thus; ke ba'a 'uri na'amo, thus it must be; fo'o suli kala ru 'uri ki, pray somewhat like this; muka 'iri sasi'i, ne'e 'urii, koto'a saga, ye have not done them, such as, judgment; 'uri may be combined with kwau when it refers further back: 'uri kwau, like that; leka 'urii, go this way. 'Urii is used to introduce direct quotations, then meaning “say thus”: nia ka 'urii, Nau kui sasia, he said, I shall do it; nia ba 'urii, Nau ku sasasia, he said, I did do it. Note the following idioms: nei 'uri ma ku 'uri, or nei ru ma ku ru, I shall do thus and thus. The i of 'uri is only long before a pause.

'Una 'eri, 'una 'eri kwau, thus, like that, this adv. refers further back than 'uri: futalana ma'i, sa Jesus Christ ka 'una 'eri kwau, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise (strictly speaking 'una 'eri kwau is used as a verb here).

201 'Ira, 'uira, thus (just mentioned), as you have just said: nia 'ira, it is as you say; 'oko sasi la'u 'ira uita?, why do you so (in answer to a man who has just spoken)?; tae ne'e 'ira fuamia?, what is that (referring to Judas' words Mt. 27:4) to us?; si mulu sasi 'ira, otherwise (Mt. 6:1), lit. if ye do as hath been said; alu ke teo 'ira di'ia nena 'oko oga, be it unto thee even as thou wilt (referring to the woman's desire just voiced).

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202 Le'a, well; le'a liu, very well: 'oko fata le'a speak clearly; nau ku lisi le'a amu, I look carefully at you, but nau ku lisi'o ka le'a I am very pleased with you (lit. I see you it is good); nau ku sasi le'a ana, I do it well (see par. 242), but nau ku sasia ka le'a, I make it to be good.

Ta'a, badly, ill; ta'a liu, very badly: kira fu'usi ta'a ana ana koto, they condemned him, lit. declared him bad in court.

Ma'udi, diligently, energetically: faluta ma'udi, paddle diligently; rao ma'udi, work energetically; sasi ma'udi ana, perform it diligently; fata ma'udi, talk too much (in a bad sense).

203 Likotai, aliali, silolo, laulau, lakolako, quickly: leka aliali ma'i, come quickly; 'oke fa'ale'a likotai liana malimae 'oe, reconcile thine adversary quickly.

Ngasi, strongly: uu ngasi, stand strong; oo'o ngasi, work strong.

Fa'i lalili, at a run: nia dao fa'i lalili, he arrived at a run.

To'o, deliberately, quietly, still: ka dao ka tua to'o ana ta'i taone, he came and dwelt quietly at a town; fata to'o, speak deliberately; uu to'o, stand still.

Fanto'o, carefully: leka fauto'o, go carefully, pick your steps; lia fauto'o ana, look carefully at it; also, lia faua, look carefully at it.

Talinga'i, carefully, thoughtfully: ka saefilo talinga'i ada 'uana kaidai, he carefully enquired of them about the time; mulu lulu talinga'i 'uana kala ngela neeri, search diligently for the young child; fata talinga'i fuana, speak expressly unto him.

Totonga'i, intensely, with authority: fata tolonga'i fuana, command him; bubu totonga'i ana, gaze intently at him.

Lalo, deeply: manata lalo to'ona, think deeply about it.

Tete, narrowly, carefully: lia tete ana, look narrowly at him.

Lauma, carelessly: lia lauma ana, glance at him.

Tafa, tafanga'i, openly, patently: fata tafanga'i, tell out openly, confess; sasi tafanga'i ana, do it openly; sakatafa, appear (lit. jump into view); nia noa kasi oga fa'a'eke tafanga'i lana, he did not wish to shame her openly.

Safunga'i, ago, secretly, hiddenly: lukata'i safunga'i ana, loose her secretly; sama ago to'ona, touch him secretly; lia safunga'i ana, see it in secret.

Aroaro, nene, silently, quietly: tua aroaro, stay quiet; danga nene 'ani nia, let him go quietly.

'O'o, vainly, for no reason, freely: faafi 'o'o ana, accuse him falsely (vainly); rao 'o'o ana, work it in vain; sae 'o'o ana, call him vainly; 'oko saeta'a 'o'o go'o 'ana fuaku, thou art angry with me for no cause; kwate 'o'o ana, give it freely, no charge.

Sakonga'i, gratuitously, undeservedly: ru ne'e nia kwate sakonga'i ana, a thing which he gave undeservedly; kwate'a ne'e sa God ke kwate sakonga'i ana, the gift which God gives gratuitously.