Lesson 10: Questions using seme

olin
olin
seme
seme
sin
sin
supa
supa
suwi
suwi
question mark
question mark

Questions using seme

There isn’t anything really difficult to learn about forming questions. As long as you learned what the question mark looks like in lesson 8, and you know how to use seme in toki pona grammar, you only need to learn the glyph for seme and you are set to go:

seme?
seme?

The important thing to remember is that seme often takes the place of the part of the sentence in question. If you are asking who or what did something, seme will probably take place of the subject:

seme li lape lon supa?
seme li lape lon supa?

When asking what was done, seme takes the place of the verb

sina seme e ona?
sina seme e ona?
ona li seme e sina?
ona li seme e sina?

When you are asking what something is, seme will be infixed in li:

pipi suwi li seme?
pipi suwi li seme?

And when asking who or what was acted upon, seme will most likely take the place of the direct object, infixed in e:

ona li olin e seme?
ona li olin e seme?
sina lukin e seme?
sina lukin e seme?
jan nasa li pali e seme?
jan nasa li pali e seme?

Additionally, seme can take the place of an adjective when asking which one(s)

kili seme li suwi?
kili seme li suwi?
mi mute li wile tawa tomo seme?
mi mute li wile tawa tomo seme?

asking why with tan seme

To ask why in toki pona, we use tan seme. Remember from lesson 6 that tan is a preposition, and thus a container, so seme naturally sits inside. One further simplification however is allowed:

tan seme tan seme
tan seme

There is nothing grammatically wrong when we surround seme within tan, but sometimes the double line draws too much unnecessary attention. By enlarging seme slightly we fill the entirety of tan , effectively combine the two glyphs.

sina olin e ona tan seme?
sina olin e ona tan seme?

questions with other prepositions

This simplification carries over to our other prepositions as well. To be sure there is no requirement seme be combined when surrounded by a preposition. But if you compare the two glyph blocks below, you can see in the second one, when we join tawa and seme, it aids in readability:

tomo tawa li tawa seme? tomo tawa li tawa seme?
tomo tawa li tawa seme?

Here are two further examples with lon, kepeken, and sama:

sina li lon seme?
sina li lon seme?
mi pakala kepeken seme?
mi pakala kepeken seme?
jan ni li sama seme?
jan ni li sama seme?

When seme is modifying something else within a preposition, we follow normal block order rules:

jan utala li tan ma seme?
jan utala li tan ma seme?

expressing new, another, more

There are two things to note when working with sin, one of which you may have already noticed if you have spend much time looking at the syllabary. The glyph for sin is the same as it’s syllable equivalent, si with a suffix of n.

si
si
sin
sin
sin
sin

Take note again of the two variations of i within the glyphs above, and remember from lesson 2 that the syllabary presents the simplified version, but both are used interchangeably in the glyph as well as the syllable. Your choice will most likely be determined by how small of a space you are trying to fit it into.

seme li sin?
seme li sin?

The other thing to note about sin is that it can naturally take on a rectangular proportion, something that we referred to as a short or thin block in lesson 5. As sin is often used as a modifier, you will find comes in quite handy.

seme li lon insa poki sin?
seme li lon insa poki sin?
jan sin li seme?
jan sin li seme?