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Te taetae ni Kiribati

The language of Kiribati

Grammar Handbook

 

Lesson 7

INTERROGATIVES

Part 3 - What, How Many

a. teraa?   what?

Teraa, 'what', may be used directly before inanimate nouns – that is, nouns which are things, but not people:

Teraa te b'ai aanne?
what the thing that?
What is that thing?

Teraa te rongorongo?
what the news
What's the news?

When questioning an action, before a verb, teraa is used with a relative pronoun:

Teraa ae e karaoia nakoim?
what that he do-it to-you
What did he do to you?

(This is preferable to a similar construction without the relative pronoun:

*E karaoa teraa nakoim?
he do what to-you)

b. raa?   what, which?

Raa, 'what, which', is always used following a noun (unless followed by a possessive suffix, below), and can be used with people as well as with things:

Ko tangira to boki raa?
you want the book which
Which book do you want?

Te aomata raa?
the person which
Which person?

When used with the possessive suffixes, raa questions 'what relationship' (The hyphen is used here only for illustration.):

Raa-m teuaanne?
your-what that-man
What relation is that man to you?

Raa-n te auti?
its-what the house
What (which) part of the house?

It can also be translated by 'how':

maan
long (time), duration
Maanra?
How long?

When questioning 'what kind of things', baikara is used:

Baikara aika ko tangiri?
what-things that you want
What sort of things do you want?

(In the singular, this would be te b'ai teraa or te b'ai raa.)

c. iraua?   how many?

This will be dealt with in more detail in the section on numeral classifiers, for ira-ua takes different numeral classifiers according to the things questioned. The most common use is with the general classifier, -ua:

Iraua am ririki?
how-many your years
How old are you?

Ira-man tarim?
how-many your-same sex siblings
How many brothers (sisters) have you?

d. Notes on asking 'What?'

Like English and many languages, Kiribati has a number of expressions to use when something wasn't heard, all translating roughly as 'What?':

Teraa?(what?)
Teraa ae ko taku?(what which you said?)
Teraana?(its what?)
Teraa am taeka?(what your words?)
  
E kangaa?(it how?)
E aera?(it done-how?)

You may hear variations on these as well. They are all more or less interchangeable.

e. Notes on asking 'the how many-th?'

While iraua asks the question 'how many?', sometimes it is necessary to ask for 'the how many-th?'. English uses a variety of ways to achieve this. After a race we might ask a runner 'what number did you come in?'. For days of the week, we ask 'what day is today?'. For selecting from a row of objects we might merely ask 'which one?'. Kiribati uses one construction for all of these cases, the question word ira- plus its appropriate classifier, and the ordinal prefix, ka-, meaning roughly '-th'. (Hyphens are for clarification only, not used in normal writing.):

Te ka-ira-man ngkoe?
the how-many-th you
What number are you?

Te ka-ira-bong aei?
the how-many-th-day this?
What day is today?

Te ka-ira-ua to bai aanne?
the how-many-th that thing
Which one (of the series) is that?

(see the lessons on ordinals and classifiers for further information)

Exercises

A. Form questions from the following sentences using teraa, assuming the underlined words to be the missing information:

 1.  N na teboka te aroka.
N na   water     the plant
 2.  Aran to bai aei bon te buriki.
Aran to bai aei bon te  brick
 3.  Te kaibuke aarei bon Teraaka.
Te  ship
 4.  Te man aei bon te kirii.
Boanimal aei bon te dog
 5.  Bon te been te b'ai aarei.
Bon tepen
 6.  Te b'ai are iaon te kaa bon te kie.
Te b'ai are iaon te carbon te kie mat
 7.  N na kam'aa te am'arake.
N na kcookte amarfood
 8.  A na kabooi taiani kariki man te titooa.
A na kbuytainisome    bread
 9.  Bon te am'arake ae e kam'aia tinau.
Bon te am'arake ae e kcook it     my mother
10.  Bon waan tamau te waa aarei.
Bonmy father's canoe

B. Form questions from the following sentences in a similar fashion using raa:

 1.  I noora te taamnei are n te m'aneaba.
I noora te tapicture
 2.  A na toka n te ranti aarei.
A natake (ride)telaunch
 3.  E tangira te kanre ae e uraura.
E wantte kanrecandy
 4.  Ti maeka n te auti ae e buubura.
Ti mliven te auti ae e buburabig
 5.  E kabooi kariki ake a kangkang.
E a buykarbreadake a kangdelicious
 6.  N na toka ni waanikiban Nauru.
N na toka ni Nairplane of
 7.  Ti reirei n te reirei are teuana.
Ti study         school the     one
 8.  Kam na kaea te meeri are te aoa itiua.
Kam na chase         ferryare te aoaseven o'clock
 9.  E iein ma te aiine ae e unuun.
E marryma te aiine ae e unquarrelsome
10.  I kaboonganaa te biti ae e kakang.
I kabuseboonganaa teknifeae e kansharp

C. Use raa plus the possessive suffixes to form questions from the following sentences:

 1.  E uruaki moan au kaa.
E broken   front of
 2.  M'aaneu Nei Meere.
my same-sex sibling
 3.  E karaoa kamaaman ana auti Tom.
E make       windows of
 4.  E uruaki mataroan te titooa.
E uruaki door of
 5.  Buun Bauro te aiine aarei.
wife of
 6.  Natin Baie Nei Tebora.
child of
 7.  E m'akoro waen te teei aarei.
E  cutwaen  leg ofteei   child
 8.  E in mataroan te auti aarei.
Eshut
 9.  E bua matan ana tiib'aati.
Elost     cover of
10.  A m'akoro nanon waeia naakekei.
A m'akoro soles of   their feet

D. Form questions to which the following sentences are answers using maanra:

 1.  Aua nam'akaina tikuna i Abemama.
four monthsnamakaikhis stay
 2.  Itiua ana ririki n reirei i Biti .
seven his   years     study     Fiji
 3.  Abong aia bong ni wene n te oonaoraki.
Four     their daysni wene n lien te oonahospital
 4.  Teuana ana wiiki ni maeka i Bonriki.
one         his weekn teitei n live
 5.  Nimaua au aoa ngai n teitei n te marae ni waanikiba.
five         my hoursn teitei n standn teitei n teairfield
 6.  Uabong am bong ngkoe ni karaoa te reirei aei.
two           your daysn teitei n karaoadon teitei telesson
 7.  Onoua aia ririki ni mm'akuri i Nauru.
six         their yearsn teitei work
 8.  Tebongina au bong ngai ni maraki.
tenn teitei ni mamy daysn teitei ni nisick
 9.  I aki maan ngai ni korea au reta.
I not longn teitei ni manwrite
 10.  Uoua au wiiki n tiku i Tarawa.
  two      my weekstei stay

E. Use Iraua or Iraman to form questions asking 'how many' from the following sentences:

(click for glossary)

 1.  Iai onoman au beeki n te oo.
 
 2.  Teniua ana ririki Karianako.
 
 3.  Tebwina au nam'akaina ikai.
 
 4.  Uabwi ma teuana au ririki.
 
 5.  Niiman natiu mm'aane.
 
 6.  Bon akea au katam'a.
 
 7.  Teniman konana iika.
 
 8.  Onoua au ririki ni maeka i Tarawa.
 
 9.  Uangaun ma temanna au moa.
 
 10.  Itiua au ririki n reirei.
 


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© 1979, 2003 Stephen Trussel, ACTION / Peace Corps, The Experiment in International Living. The Experiment in International Living, Inc., prepared this handbook for the U. S. Government under ACTION Contract number 78-043-1037. The reproduction of any part of this handbook other than for such purposes as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research, or other "fair use" is subject to the prior written permission of ACTION.