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Te taetae ni Kiribati

The language of Kiribati

Grammar Handbook

 

Lesson 9

INTERROGATIVES

Part 5 - Question Verbs

Gilbertese uses seven verbs which have interrogative force. Otherwise they act just as any other verbs, being preceded by a subject pronoun to form a complete sentence:

a. Ngaa -  to be where

E ngaa to kai-ni-b'ati?
it be-where the bus stop
Where is the bus stop?

Ngaa is generally used only with the third person pronouns. In other cases, a construction with iia is preferred. (see preceding lesson.):

Ko meake iia?
you live where?
It can also be used in the sense of 'when', 'where in time':

E ngaa to bong ae ko aki tabe iai?
it where the day that you not busy there
What day aren't you busy?

When used with this meaning, iai, meaning 'there, at that time' must be incorporated into both the question and answer:

Te-Moanibong te bong ae I aki tabe iai.
Monday the day that I not busy then
I'm not busy on Monday.

 

b. Aera -  to do what

Kam na aera?
you (pl) will do-what?
What are you going to do?

Aera is also commonly used equivalent to "what did you say", when the last remark was misheard:

E aera?
What? How's that again?

It is often used as a greeting as well, in the sense "where are you going"':

Ko na aera?
Where are you going?
What are you up to?

Sometimes it also means 'why', in which case it is used with ngkai, ngke, and ngkana, like bukin teraa. (See preceding lesson.) With ngke in the past, and ngkai in the non-past. Ngkana has the implication of the questioner's disapproval, disbelief, or challenge:

E aera ngkai ko nako Betio?
why now you go-to Betio
Why are you going to Betio?

E aera ngkana ko nako Betio?
What are you going to Betio for?
(negative intonation)

 

c. Uara -   to be how

Kouara?
you be-how
How are you?

E uara am mm'akuri?
it be-how your work
How's your job?

 

d. Nakea -   go where

Ko na nakea?
you will go where
Where are you going?

Like ko (na) aera, ko (na) nakea is often used in passing as a greeting.

 

e. Kangaa -   to do how, in what way

Ko kangaa ni karaoia?
you in what way of do it
How did you do it?

In some cases, like e aera, it can have the sense of 'what', as when asking someone what someone else said:

E kangaa ana taeka?
it be how his words
What did he say?

 

f. Rikea -   to pass by where

Ko na rikea?
you will pass by where
Which route will you take?

 

g. Iraanna -   to do in what way

Ko iraanna ni kateia
you in what way of build it
How did you build it?

Iraanna is more commonly used in the passive form - Iraanaki, 'done in what way'. (See lesson on passives):

E iraanaki te am'arake?
it done in what way the food
How was that food made?

NOTE

There is a word similar in sound to iraanna: iraana. It means roughly 'where' and is a composition of i, the locative prefix, plus raa, 'what' (lesson 7), plus the possessive suffix na, 'its', which gives raa the meaning of 'what relationship?'. Altogether it has the sense 'at what relationship to it; where?'.

Similarly, iraab'ai, 'on which side of the thing?', can be seen as a contraction of i + raa + (n + te) b'ai.

Exercises

(click for glossary)

A. Use ngaa to form questions to which the following sentences are answers:

 1.  Aarei te um'a ni kuuka.
 
 2.  E mena i Betio tinau.
 
 3.  Are i Bonriki te marae ni waanikiba.
 
 4.  Are irarikin te auti te kaa.
 
 5.  Aarei aobitin te reirei.
 
 6.  Te Katenibong te bong ae I aki tabe iai.
 
 7.  Te Kanimabong ae e na roko ae N na nako iai nako Betio.
 
 8.  Boni Maati te nam'akaina ae N na oki iai.
 
 9.  Are i Maiana tamau.
 
10.  Bon Ritemba te nam'akaina ae e bati iai te kukurei.
 

B. Use aera to form questions to which the following sentences could be answers. Use the variety of forms you have studied:

 1.  Ti nangi mm'akuri ngkai.
 
 2.  N na toka n te b'ati.
 
 3.  I tabe n reirei.
 
 4.  E a mate te unimm'aane.
 
 5.  E na roko ningaabong te kaibuke.
 
 6.  I a tia n karaoia.
 
 7.  I nako Betio b'a N na noora tamau.
 
 8.  Bukina b'a I tabetabe.
 
 9.  E uruaki au b'aatika.
 
10.  I tabe ni mm'akuri.
 

C. Use uara to form questions to which the following could be answers:

 1.  I marurung.
 
 2.  Ti marurung.
 
 3.  E raoiroi Amerika.
 
 4.  E a tabe ni marurung.
 
 5.  A marurung.
 
 6.  E a raoiroi teutana waeu.
 
 7.  E buaakaka Hawaii.
 
 8.  E kakukurei Kiribati.
 
 9.  Ko marurung.
 
10.  E a marurung imwiin aorakina.
 

D. Use nakea to form questions to which the following sentences could be answers:

 1.  E nako Biti tamau.
 
 2.  A nakon te titooa.
 
 3.  Ti nako Tabiteuea.
 
 4.  A nako Nonouti taan reirei.
 
 5.  N na nako Nauru.
 
 6.  Ti nang okira Kiribati.
 
 7.  Ti nako Arorae n te wiiki ae e nako.
 
 8.  N nang okira abau.
 
 9.  A na nako Amerika.
 
10.  E na nako ni maeka i Kuria.
 

E. Use kangaa (ni karaoia), to form questions to which the following sentences could be answers:

 1.  E kaburoa te ran n te b'ata.
 
 2.  E roko Kum-On n te kaibuke.
 
 3.  A m'ananga n te waanikiba.
 
 4.  I kabooa au boki n te m'ane.
 
 5.  E ongo te rongorongo man te aobiti.
 
 6.  A karekeaki iika n te karaun.
 
 7.  A kuneaki taani bure irouia Bureitiman.
 
 8.  Ti roko n te kaibuke.
 
 9.  A kabooi aia kariki man te titooa.
 
10.  A kana te raiti b'a a kabooa man te titooa.
 

F. Use rikea to form questions to which the following could be answers:

 1.  N na ri rarikin te titooa.
 
 2.  E ri Nauru.
 
 3.  Ti na ri Bairiki.
 
 4.  A ri Kiritimati mai Hawaii.
 
 5.  N na ri rarikin Baie.
 
 6.  E na ri akuun ana auti Meeri.
 
 7.  E na ri Biti n nako Aotiteria.
 
 8.  Kam riai n ri rarikin te kawai.
 
 9.  A ri nanon te kawai nakomai.
 
10.  A ri tanrake mai tabon te aba.
 

G. Use iraanaki (iraanna) to form questions to which the following sentences could be answers:

 1.  E umunaki te am'arake aei.
 
 2.  E koreaki te b'ai aei n te biti.
 
 3.  E oreaki te teei aei.
 
 4.  E kaburoaki te mai aei.
 
 5.  E uruakaki te booti aei.
 
 6.  A oreaki ataei aikai iroun te tia reirei.
 
 7.  E koreaki te booro aei.
 
 8.  E kaitiakaki te ruu.
 
 9.  E kab'akaaki te ben.
 
10.  E beeniaki te auti.
 


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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.