In the last lesson we saw a single word operating as the predicate. In this lesson we examine two ways that the predicate can expand. It can offer an object to receive the action, or it can include more than one action.
To introduce a direct object, toki pona uses e. Everything between li and e describes an action the subject is taking, and everything after e describes what is being acted upon.
- jan li moku e kili. - [subj] li [action] e [obj]. - The person eats fruit.
If there is more than one object, each one is preceded by e:
- jan li moku e kili e telo. - [subj] li [action] e [obj] e [obj]. - The person consumes fruit and water.
We can also describe more that one [action/quality/state of being] if each one is preceded by li
- jan li toki li sitelen. - [subj] li [action] li [action]. - The person talks and writes.
- telo li suli li pona. - [subj] li [quality] li [quality]. - Water is important and good.
direct objects using e
In the last lesson, we saw how li works as a container for the predicate in a basic sentence. When there is a direct object, the particle e forms a second container for the object:
three block structure
We are now looking at sentences with a subject, action, and an object. This translates into 3 glyph blocks:
- Action (infixed in ‘li’ if the subject is not mi or sina)
- Object infixed in e.
Remember how we move down and to the right? We also want to keep each sentence as compact as possible, not strung out in a long line. Here are two useful arrangements for a three-block sentence:
Notice how in both cases, one of the blocks is larger in size? This keeps the sentence in a relatively square shape. It also clues us in to the direction that the sentence is to be read. You must read either across an entire row, or down an entire column.
don’t crowd your composition
When deciding how to lay out your sentences, the important thing to consider is information density. Make sure you don’t end up cramming a bunch of information into a small space. That’s why we wouldn’t choose to have a large S block, followed by small A and O blocks.
Now we can really see how sitelen sitelen treats language as spatial, rather than linear. In this respect, long compound sentences can prove an organizational challenge, since a string of actions or objects separated by li or e become atomic blocks that must be arranged in space.
A grouping of a couple actions or objects, however, can still be managed quite easily. In a sentence with two actions, the three block structure from above will still work.
four equal sized blocks
Sometimes the best organization is four blocks of equal size. To avoid ambiguity, four block structures are always read down the columns, from left to right.
two direct objects
One good example of the four block structure is a sentence with two direct objects. They naturally fall into four components:
- e + Object 1
- e + Object 2
By running down the columns, the subject with rest on top of the action, and the objects will stack to the right:
columns and rows
Now that our sentences are getting longer, we’ve started to talk about block structure in terms of columns and rows. If this is still a little confusing to visualize, don’t worry. In the next lesson we will focus on how this works.