The Kaʻi Determiners #4: kēlā, kēnā, kēia

Learn How To Say This and That (kēlā, kēnā, kēia) — Video Lesson 0608V


This video is Part IV of the Kaʻi Series about Hawaiian articles and determiners. You will learn the words for “this” and “that” in Hawaiian. The video part of the lesson is about 13 minutes long.

Level Check

Make sure you already know what a kaʻi is. If you don’t, then you should go through the following videos first:


There are only two kaʻi that we use in English, namely “this” and “that”. But in Hawaiian, there are three:

  • that (far away, or at least not right near either of us);
  • that (near or connected to you); and
  • this (right here where I am).

Take note of the order in which English and Hawaiian speakers tend to use these particular kaʻi. In Hawaiian, we want to say “I took that and this with me” rather than “I took this and that with me.” What a cool cultural difference!

So although we only have one word commonly used in English for “that”, we have two in Hawaiian. It depends on how close the thing is to the person being spoken to. If the item is far away and can be pointed at, we say “kēlā” for “that”; if, however, the item is near to or touching the person to whom you are speaking, then we use the polite word “kēnā” to mean “that (by you)”. Examples follow using the structure we call Pepeke ʻAike He (“something is a something”) which you will learn more about in a future lesson.


At the Zoo. Two friends are chatting about what they see. There is an elephant far away, but there is also a bird sitting on a branch immediately above one of the two friends.

“He aha kēlā?”What is that (pointing at it)?
“He ʻelepani!”An elephant!
“He aha kēnā?”What is that (near to you)?
“He manu!”A bird!

If we want to say “this” (this thing here near to me), we say “kēia”. Examples:

“He aha kēia?”What is this (here)?
“He manu!”This is a bird!
“He kāne kēia.”This is a man.
“He wahine kēia?”(1)Is this a woman?

Footnote (1): remember to use “Lēʻahi” yes/no question intonation on this one since the answer expected is only going to be either yes or no.

Next Steps

Next up in this series will be 0609V Nonoʻa Possessive Kaʻi #1 which will explain the first three basic possessive ka’i: mine, yours, and his/hers.

He mau hana nanea loa kēia!
(these are some fun things to do!)
– Kaliko

Video Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. This video follows 0601, 0602, and 0603 about kaʻi
  3. This and That
  4. “Kēlā” – that over there
  5. “Kēnā” – that near you
  6. “Kēia” – this over here
  7. Practice
  8. Next Video 0609 introducing possessive kaʻi

Length: 13 minutes

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