0901P Practice Describing Things #1

This homework assignment will allow you to learn and practice the correct order of kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu. If you do not know what those three things are, then you should watch the first four videos in the 0600 Series.

The lesson text follows the vocabulary.


Nā 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 makuakāne father
ka makuahine mother
ka ʻanakala uncle (from English)
ka ʻanakē aunty (from English)
ka ʻelemakule old man
ka luahine old woman
ke kumu teacher; source; trunk of tree
ka mokupuni island
ke alanui street, road
ka hale house, building
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.

Nā ʻAʻano (words describing a state or condition)

akamai intelligent
mākaukau ready; capable at doing something
huʻihuʻi cold (the object)
anuanu cold (the feeling)
wela hot (of an object or your feeling)
māluhiluhi tired
ʻōmaʻimaʻi unwell
maʻi very unwell
ola alive
ehuehu healthy (in good health); also ahuahu
hauʻoli happy, fun
kahiko ancient, old
hou new
pupuka ugly
nani beautiful
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 fragrant
ʻeleʻele black
keʻokeʻo white
ʻōmaʻomaʻo green
ʻoluʻolu comfortable
kaulana famous
maikaʻi good, fine
ʻono delicious


Take the vocabulary words and write them onto index cards or into your notebook and study them until you start to remember them. You don't have to be perfect at recalling them at this time. It is possible to print this page right from your 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.

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").

In English, we put the descriptor (adjective) before the object it describes (the noun). Hawaiian does it the other way around: the noun comes first, and then you put the describing words. For exmaple, a "big car" in English would be a "car big" in Hawaiian.

To allow us to speak about Hawaiian grammar later on when things become more complicated, we should start right now using the Hawaiian grammar terms, because they describe Hawaiian much better than English grammar terms do. Furthermore, some of us might not even know the English grammar terms like "dangling modifier" and "past participle" anyway, so we may as well learn the Hawaiian ones right from the start!

The order we will use for this lesson is as follows: kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu.

Once again a reminder:

  • kaʻi: the leading word before a memeʻa, such as ka, ke, and he. In English, an article or determiner.
  • memeʻa: a content word which could be any one of four types, kikino, ʻaʻano, hamani, or hehele
    • kikino: like a noun, a word for a thing (eg. house)
    • ʻaʻano: a word describing a state or condition (eg. happy)
    • hamani: a verb which requires an object (eg. to kick, like when you kick a ball)
    • hehele: a verb where the action occurs only in the do-er of the action (eg. to jump)
  • kāhulu: a memeʻa word functioning as an adjective or adverb, meaning that it adds a description to the preceeding memeʻa. Most frequently, ʻaʻano are used as kāhulu.

Make up as many combinations as seem to make sense using the vocabulary in this lesson, and any other memeʻa you might know already or look up in the 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)

The final part to this lesson 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.

aloha, Kaliko

Pane mai

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