Updated jan Pije's lessons/Lesson 13 Colors


jelo - yellow

kule - color; to paint, to color

laso - blue

loje - red

pimeja - black, dark

sitelen - picture, image; to draw, to write

walo - white

Color combinations

All right, before we get started with this lesson, make sure you take a good look at the list of vocabulary for this lesson. Notice how there are no words like purple, green, or grey. That's because these words don't exist in Toki Pona. With that in mind, look at this picture:

Missing picture

What color do you see? Purple, right? Wrong! If you zoomed in on this picture, you'd see that it's actually a grid of many blue and red blocks. Here is a close-up of part of that same picture that you see above:

Missing picture

So you see that blue and red combine to make the color purple. Well, Toki Pona follows this same idea. Check this out:

len -- clothing
len laso -- blue clothing
len laso loje -- reddish blue clothing; thus, purple clothing!

Personally, I don't like this type of formation, but I do have to admit that it's quite neat.

Using the above method, you can mix different colors to come up with all sorts of different things. Here is 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 stack as many colors together as you want, but don't get carried away. After all, Toki Pona is about simplicity, so keep it basic.

Keep in mind that colors by themselves can't really follow any sort of logical pattern, so you're free to mix them around as you like:

laso loje -- reddish blue = purple
loje laso -- bluish red = purple
laso jelo -- yellowish blue = green
jelo laso -- bluish yellow = green

Using colors with pi

If you understood the color combination method that I taught above, you pretty much know everything you need about Toki Pona's colors for practical use. However, if you feel so inclined, we can talk about more technical stuff. If you'd rather skip over this part of the lesson, that'll be all right with me. What you'll learn here is seldom used. If you'd like to learn about it, though, keep reading.

Okay, suppose that you have a shirt that looks like this:

Missing picture

The shirt is obviously made up of loje and laso. However, you can't call it len loje laso, because that means "purple shirt", as you just saw a few minutes ago earlier in the lesson. So, we have to use en to separate the two colors, and then we have to use pi to show that even though there are two different colors, they both modify the word "shirt":

len pi loje en laso -- shirt of red and blue

Get it? Now let's look at what would've happened if you had not used pi here:

len loje en laso li pona. -- A red shirt and blue are good.

Without pi, laso is just left sitting there, and it doesn't have anything to modify. Therefore, that sentence is incorrect. You have to use pi to show that both loje and laso modify len.


This is fairly easy to understand. kule has two main uses, and so I'll cover them one at a time.

Using kule to ask what color something is

This doesn't need much explanation, if you understand seme.

ni li kule seme? -- What color is that? ("That is color which?")

kule as a verb

kule as a verb just means "to color" or "to paint". Here's an example:

mi kule e lipu -- I'm coloring the paper.


The word for today's miscellaneous section is sitelen. As a noun it means picture or image. As a verb, it means to draw or to write.

sitelen is most useful for the compound nouns that you can make with it. sitelen tawa ("motion picture") is used to mean either a movie or a TV show. Here are a few 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 also.

sitelen can also be used with ma to mean "map":

o pana e sitelen ma tawa mi.

sitelen ma, of course, means "picture (of) land".


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 The X-Files?

Which color do you like?

suno li jelo.

telo suli li laso.

mi wile moku e kili loje.

ona li kule e tomo tawa.

ma mi li pimeja.

kalama ala li lon.

mi lape. mi sona.


mi lukin ala e poki laso.

jan laso jelo lili li kama tan sewi. OR jan jelo laso lili li kama tan sewi.

kule loje laso li pona tawa mi. OR kule laso loje li pona tawa mi.

sewi li laso.

o lukin e pipi loje ni.

mi wile e sitelen ma.

sina lukin ala lukin e sitelen tawa X-Files?

kule seme li pona tawa sina?

The sun is yellow.

The big water [ocean] is blue.

I want to eat a red fruit.

He’s painting the car.

My land is dark.

No sound exists.

I sleep. I know.