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lipu lili pi toki pona

License: CC BY 4.0

tl;dr This grammar description and dictionary shows how I use this language and what are my principles. It was not meant to be a lesson of any kind, but I can see the potential in it as a "brief" summary about the language, or like a cheat sheet. I would recommend checking out the table of contents first.


Update (01 sep. 2021)

Maintainer needed!

If anyone would like to take over this grammar summary and dictionary, feel free to fork and do so, but this version of it will not be maintained anymore.
However, I would ask you to remove the updates and the Intro section or move them to a separate "archive" (in case you would like to keep them), as they are rather personal and very informal in content -- this repository shall remain untouched.

Update (19 jul. 2021)

ku (the Toki Pona Dictionary by jan Sonja) was released recently and along with it came new, now "official" (or as close to official as it gets) words. Also there are now 3 different sets of words with different "officiality" (nimi pu and 2 sets of nimi ku, one that is more-or-less the new standard set and the other that contains everything featured in the dictionary).

For months now I've been thinking about my place in the greater toki pona community and my goals, and I decided that if I would to rewrite this little summary of mine, I would keep the same philosophy as before with one little addendum, making it "write the grammar based on pu, fill the gaps and clarify where it's needed, and present the language as it was ca. 2016." This approach, even though my potentially "controversial" views on how pi and en can be used, would make this new summary one of the more if not most traditional/conservative documents presenting toki pona, which is one part ironic, one part perfectly fitting; let's begin with the latter.
It is fitting, because my goal was never to give a comprehensive and fully detailed description of the language, but only a baseline, focusing on the essentials and some details that might be either ambiguous and controversial; in this case, I would present my own interpretation and reasoning along with potential other alternative interpretations. These, in this current document, are way more prevalent than I would like them to be, so even if they were present in the new doc, they would be moved to the end similarly how I have an "unnecessary details" section in my own conlang's (Picilang) grammar section.
It is also ironic, because for years I was left with the feeling that my interpretations, arguments and ideas were often too experimental, stretching rules more than I should, etc., basically the exact opposit of "traditional" (although my preferred use of "pi" is partially based on rules ca. 2005). tok' apona could also be a reason why it is ironic, alas that was a different sort of "misunderstanding", where some people (who shall not be named) took it as my take on toki pona and not as a not-to-be-taken-seriously dialect that was from the beginning meant to be used under very specific circumstances for very specific purposes.
That being said, the new document that again, might never come to be, would be less apologetic in its writing and focused more on presenting facts on which 95+% of speakers would agree.

Frankly speaking, I am not sure if I would even attempt to write such a document by myself ever again; it would require a huge amount of further discussions, arguments and research about the current use of toki pona, and more importantly, what to incluse, because my original plan of presenting a ca. 2016 state of toki pona would now be very obsolete, given that new words like tonsi and lanpan are rapidly gaining popularity. We would need not only to "select" which dictionary to follow, but potentially cherry pick a new set of words and present them as our own dictionary.

In the future if or when I'll work on toki pona art (whether it's a song, rap, short story or something completely else), I shall mostly stick to this document and to the toki pona I know; not because this has grown to be the "second-most indisputable" technically still not-abandoned piece of toki pona document (after pu), but because for the longest time even if I wasn't against community-coined words, I did not promote, suggest or recommended them, even though they have become now semi-official overnight. This, in my opinion, marks a new era of toki pona that I was not prepared for, and I must think about what goals should I work towards within the community in the future. But I think it's important to be said that I am not against these developments, nor any of the words nor the reasons why people have coined them.

jan ale li pona. olin li tawa jan ale. o utala ala.

Update (05 feb. 2021)

Today jan Sonja has announced that the biggest, semi-official toki pona facebook group (under the name "toki pona") "...has adopted a policy against linguistic prescriptivism. Do not tell anyone that the way they speak Toki Pona is somehow incorrect."

While this is fine on some level, to me it shows that toki pona would never become neither centralized nor governed really by anyone nor central body. Given the language, it might be weird, but I like order and, moreover, clear set of rules. Because pu was written in such way that even its rules are somewhat ambiguous (this is further expanded on below and in the grammar), I am yet again tempted to move forward with my long term plans and finally write my final (and hopefully updated, if necessary) version of this grammar summary and dictionary to serve as stable base for future learners as well as a snapshot to toki pona circa 2015. This new source would not contain tok' apona nor any addition made post-pu, its sole aim would be to provide a stable basis without most of the controversy.
While naturally there would be parts that might get called out by "purists", none of those are against rules set by pu -- in cases where a rule depends on the interpretation of a certain word (e.g. does the word "group" undoubtedly mean "two or more" or does it allow a group of one member?), the possible controversial opinion shall be denoted and treated accordingly.

Update (sept. 2020)

Since jan Pije has removed his lessons and now only available in archived form, I plan to do (yet another) rewrite of this booklet along with a possible rename. Changes would include: how to handle jan Sonja's post-pu words, a bit more properly written grammar description, lessons (maybe? if there's a demand), more clarification about borderline non-pu use of the language and, most and foremost, it no longer will be apologetic, i.e. I won't try to repeat everything 30+ times that is (depending on how you interpret pu) possibly violates the base rules set by pu.
The goal of this update is to attempt, if not "to fill the space left by jan Pije", but to provide an alternative source to the language that is fairly close to pu, while also being more descriptive than that.


This doc is basically a brief-ish, but almost complete description of the toki pona grammar (that happened to come along with a dictionary as well) that is based on how I use the language. This doc is intended to those who has a basic understanding on the language, or interested in how others interpret it.

Most people will use toki pona according to pu or jan Pije's o kama sona e toki pona!. These are great sources and I wish not to compete with them... except that I kind of do. Many people learn from different sources that describes toki pona slightly differently and, for the sake of simplicity, I will call these variations dialects. Those differences are often minute and arguably identical to pu (depending on how one interprets pu), which was my goal as well when I first wrote this nasin.

Why was it called nasin pi jan Sotan? Because I want to make it clear that it is, in fact, describes toki pona as a language in a way that in practice most people will not have any problem with it, but there are fundamental differences between some of the structures and the "logic behind the language" that may make it different. Just a quick example, the particles e and li were (and sometimes still are) a matter of debate whether they are independent words, separators between or parts of the noun/verb/subject/object, etc. I have my own view on them, others have different ones and, in the end, maybe every one of us is right, since pu did not gave us a definite answer -- it only says that they are particles and this and that are what they do. Let us not mention the issues with pi -- with little to no stretch, we (many toki pona enthusiasts and I) could write pages on this subject alone; it's different uses, alternative interpretations, other's views on it, what rules do or should apply to it, etc. Also, I needed a name that uniquely identifies this document.
But as time have passed and plans have changed, this doc ultimately was renamed to lipu lili pi toki pona. It technically still described "my nasin", but I felt like this name would suit it better, especially since I plan to [censored].

Lastly, I would like to point out that unlike many "proper" grammar descriptions, many sentences begin with "I" instead of using passive. This is because originally this document was only to present "how I use the language", rather than "this is how the language should be used". While technically this is still true (as of 05/05/2019), in the future I would expand this doc and change ("properize") its language.

PS: As a disgusting attempt to get people to read my writings, one of my original reasons to write the predecessor of this doc was to make clear what and how I meant things. I applied either these same rules or its (mostly unwritten) predecessors since around 2015 in things that you can read at

Table of Contents

The order shows how this is supposed to be read.

  • Definitions -- describes my use of terms and different-than-usual word uses (e.g. "usually" means "by pu" and what sins are)
  • Grammar -- describes the toki pona grammar (may not be beginner friendly)
  • Dictionary -- a complete toki pona dictionary, including words that are not official anymore
  • tok' apona -- a rather crazy toki pona dialect for informal uses (DO NOT use toki pona like this in general toki pona groups!)


If you find any error in the text (either grammatical or contextual), please send a pull request, fork the project, or write an email to me at!

This work by B. Zoltán Gorza is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. To view a copy of the license, visit this site.


Here shall be my TODO list, for I have these items on a paper for more than a week now and I definitely will add these, but not yet (for reasons).

  • Add more and more complex sentence examples
  • Reconsider options to either remove, move or restructure the frighteningly long text in README (especially the anectodal parts)


jan Sotan's *deprecated* toki pona grammar summary and dictionary







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