Updated jan Pije's lessons/Lesson 16 Numbers


nanpa - number

tu - two; to divide

wan - one; to unite

weka - away; to remove, to eliminate

Use Numbers Sparingly!

Okay, before I even begin this lesson, I want to say something: The method that you're about to learn for making higher numbers should be avoided as much as possible. While it is possible to say numbers like 23 in Toki Pona, by no means should you specify these particular numbers unless it is crucial that you do so.

Cardinal Numbers

Okay, now as you've probably already noticed, there are only two number words in Toki Pona: wan (1) and tu (2). Additionally, ala can be used to mean 0.

When we need to make higher numbers, we combine these numbers together. Essentially, you just string wan and tu together to add up to the number you want. For example, here's how you add tu and wan together to make 3: tu wan = 2 + 1 = 3 Neat, huh? Here are some more examples:

tu tu = 2 + 2 = 4
tu tu tu wan = 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 7

These numbers are added onto nouns just like adjectives:

jan tu wan = 3 people
jan lili tu tu = 4 children

As you can see, expressing higher numbers quickly becomes tedious. Toki Pona was designed this way intentionally to encourage you to focus on simplicity.

Use mute. Conserve the Numbers.

Okay, so it's a bad idea to use the numbers when you don't absolutely need them. So, instead, we use mute for any number higher than two:

jan mute li kama. -- Many people came.

Of course, this is still pretty vague. mute in the above sentence could mean 3 or it could mean 3 000. Fortunately, mute is just an adjective, and so we can attach other adjectives after it. Here's what you might say if there were lots and lots of people:

jan mute mute mute li kama! -- Many, many, many people are coming!

More than likely, that sentence is saying that at least a thousand people are coming. Now suppose that you had more than two people but still not very many. Let's say that the number is around 4 or 5. Here's how you'd say that:

jan mute lili li kama. -- A small amount (of) people are coming.

Once again, these descriptions are still relative and would change depending on what you're talking about. Just try to use good judgment, and remember that Toki Pona is not about being exact.

Ordinal Numbers

If you understood how the cardinal numbers work, the ordinal numbers only require one more step. Here's how you'd translate "4th person":

jan pi nanpa tu tu -- person of number 4; 4th person

Like I said, if you understood the cardinal numbers, it's easy because you just stick pi nanpa in between the noun and the number. Here are a few more examples, if you think you need to look at them:

ni li jan lili ona pi nanpa tu. -- This is her second child.
meli mi pi nanpa wan li nasa. -- My first girlfriend was crazy.

Other Uses of wan and tu

wan can be used as a verb. It means to unite.

mi en meli mi li wan. -- I and my girlfriend united. My girlfriend and I got married.

tu used as a verb means to split or to divide.

o tu e palisa ni. -- Split this stick. Break it into two pieces.

A Note about luka

The word luka used to mean 5. Its use as a number was very similar to what I described above for wan and tu; for example, luka tu would have been how to say 7.

This use of luka was removed to keep the language's focus on simplicity. I am mentioning this former meaning of luka here because you may see it in some older texts, and I want you to be familiar with the meaning.


Today's word is weka. As a verb, it just means to get rid of, to remove, etc.

o weka e len sina. -- Remove your clothes.
o weka e jan lili tan ni. ona li wile ala kute e ni. -- Remove the kid from here. He shouldn't hear this.

weka is also used very often as an adjective and an adverb.

mi weka. -- I was away.
mi wile tawa weka. -- I want to go away. I want to leave.

It can also be used to mean the equivalent of far or distant.

tomo mi li weka tan ni. -- My house is away from here.
ma Elopa li weka tan ma Mewika. -- Europe is away from the USA.

And add ala to mean that it's somewhere closeby:

ma Mewika li weka ala tan ma Kupa. -- The USA is not away from Cuba.
Last modified on 14 March 2012, at 02:50