0901P Practice Describing Things #1

Using Single-Word Kāhulu


This assignment will allow you to practice one of the most basic and important building blocks of Hawaiian language: the kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu sequence. You will be able to use the knowledge you have gained so far to be able to create some fun, simple, and useful phrases! If you are arriving here wondering what any of this means, here are the previous lessons you should have already completed: So now that the stage has been set, let’s get into this practice! You’ll need some index cards or perhaps a nice notebook for this one.

Learn Vocabulary

I am going to give you two great lists of vocabulary words you should definitely memorize, because they are commonly used Hawaiian words. The first set contains kikino (common nouns), and the second contains ʻaʻano (describing words). Take these vocabulary words and write them onto index cards or into a notebook and study them until you start to remember them. You don’t have to be perfect at recalling them at this time. And I know what you may be thinking: It is possible to print this page right from a computer! But I think you’ll find that writing the words will (1) make you see each word better, and (2) help you to see its shape better so you can recognize it later on, and (3) give you much more of a chance to cogitate on the meanings as you go through the lists!

Set One

Kikino (noun-like words)

ka inoa name
ka haumāna1 student
ke keiki boy, son, child
ke keikikāne boy, son
ke kaikamahine2 girl, daughter
ka wahine female, woman
ke kāne male, man
ka makua parent
ka luahine old woman
ka makuakāne father
ke kumu teacher; source; trunk of tree
ka makuahine mother
ka mokupuni island
ka ʻanakala uncle (from English)
ke alanui street, road
ka ʻanakē aunty (from English)
ka hale house, building
ka ʻekemakule old man
ke kaʻa car
ke pākaukau3 table
ka noho chair
ka palapala document


  • 1. be careful with the word haumāna. There is always a kahakō regardless of whether it is singlular or plural.
  • 2. the word kaikamahine is often pronounced “keikiamahine” although it is not written that way.
  • 3. pākaukau retains the kaʻi “ke” rather than “ka” as one might expect.

Set Two

ʻAʻano (words describing a state or condition)

akamai intelligent
hūpō stupid, idiotic
mākaukau ready; capable at doing something
hemahema uncoordinated; weak; maladroit
huʻihuʻi cold (the object)
anuanu cold (the feeling)
wela hot (of an object or a feeling)
māluhiluhi tired
ʻōmaʻimaʻi feeling unwell
maʻi very unwell
ola alive, living; better (after being unwell)
ehuehu healthy (in good health); also ahuahu
hauʻoli happy, fun
nuha grumpy (internalized); obstinate
huhū angry, displeased, or resentful (outwardly)
ʻoluʻolu kind (disposition); comfortable (as a chair or cool temperature)
kahiko ancient, from the olden days
hou new
pupuka ugly
nani beautiful, pretty
liʻiliʻi small
nui large; important
nunui very big
hewa wrong, incorrect
pololei correct; straight
kekeʻe crooked, bent
lohi slow; late
wikiwiki quick, fast
hauna generally stinky
ʻaʻala pleasantly fragrant
ʻeleʻele black
keʻokeʻo white
ʻōmaʻomaʻo green
kaulana famous
maikaʻi good, fine
ʻono delicious
momona sweet tasting; fatty or greasy (in a good way); corpulent

Making Simple Phrases

The next step is to remember how to build a sequence of words which allow you to say things like “the famous island” or “the quick car”. These are not sentences; rather, they are just little bits of what could be a complete sentence (like, “I went to the famous island last week” or “I have a quick car“). The order we will use for this practice is, of course, as follows: kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu. Remember that a kāhulu can be made of any memeʻa-type word (a kikino, an ʻaʻano, a hamani, or a hehele). This is one of the things that makes Hawaiian so amazingly powerful! Unlike in English, where we have to remember to change endings or even use different words for the same feeling (e.g., “good” vs. “well”), any memeʻa can be used to describe another just by putting it immediately afterwards. Make up as many combinations as seem to make sense using the vocabulary in this practice lesson, and any other memeʻa you might know already or look up in Ulukau’s “Wehewehe Wikiwiki” online dictionary. Here are some examples:
ka makua ehuehu the healthy and strong parent
ke pākaukau nunui the huge table
he mokupuni nui a large island
he kaikamahine hauʻoli a happy girl
kekahi kaʻa hou another new car

Putting Practice To Use

The final part to this practice is to now go out and try to use these kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu combinations. As you drive around or walk to work or watch television, take a look at things and try to recall how to describe them. If you run into a word you don’t know, no problem! Just use the English one until you have a chance to learn the Hawaiian word. For example, you might see a large pizza or a broken table, but you don’t know the word for pizza or broken; you should just say “he pizza nui!” or “ke pākaukau broken”. Just have fun and enjoy the words you do know and get the order right first and foremost.

Next Steps

To continue practicing how to create kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu phrases, head over to the next item in this section: 0902P ʻAilāʻau The Forest Eater in which you will read an interesting short story and use some more vocabulary words to create more short phrases.

aloha Kaliko

Pane mai

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