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Te taetae ni Kiribati

The language of Kiribati


Iraua am ririki? - Reirei Teniua

How old are you? - Lesson Three


This lesson will familiarize you with some ways of talking about age - asking how old someone is, finding out who is older or younger than you, etc.

dialogue for study

Iraua am ririki?

How old are you?

Tiaon:   Nao, ante natina anne?  John:  Sir, whose son (child) is that?
Mm'aane:  Bon natiu.  Man:  It is my son.
Tiaon:   Ai iraua ana ririki?  John:   How old is he?
Mm'aane:   I taku b'a tao ai nimaua ke onoua ana ririki.
N na titirakina neiei b'a tao e ataia.
Neiko ai iraua ana ririki teuaaei?
  Man:   I think he is about five or six.
I'll ask this woman if she knows.
'Woman', how old is this boy?
Aiine:   I taku b'a e a kani koro onoua n te ririki aei.
N na titirakina m'aanena aei.
Tebora ai iraua ngkai ana ririki Te Karianako?
  Woman:   I think he is about six this year.
I'll ask his sister here.
Deborah, how old is Karianako now?
Tebora:   I aki ataia. Au ririki ngai ai ruaiua.  Deborah:  I don't know. I'm nine now.


1. Study the dialogue carefully, going over each sentence with your teacher so that you understand what each of the expressions means. Once you have grasped the meaning, assign the roles of the conversation and act them out.

2. Once you have acted out the dialogue, try putting similar questions to the members of your class. At this point you will need some help with the numbers for your responses, which you can get from your teacher and from the grammar sections on numbers. (p. 103 in the Grammar)



Before the name Karianako in the dialogue is the article Te. Often when a name is mentioned which has a meaning (karianako = in large quantity) a personal article will be used. See the section in the grammar on articles for more information on the use of this article. (Lesson 14, p. 87)

additional dialogue

Tebora:  A! I a tib'a uringga!
Ai itiua ana ririki.
  Deborah:  Oh! I just remembered it!
He is now seven years old.
Taion:  E ikawai riki Neiei uoua te ririki nakon teuaaei.  John:  This girl is two years older than this boy.
Mm'aane:  E eng, ana ririki teuaaei ngkai ai itiua.  Man:  Yes, he's now seven years old.

Additional Activities:

Study this continuation of the dialogue as you have studied the first part. When you understand it, try to write a parallel continuation, changing the content. Read your continuation to the class, and ask questions about the new content, like "how much older is the girl than her brother" in Kiribati.


Outside Activities:

Try putting your new skills to use in the community. I Kiribati are not embarrassed by questions about age in general, so find out how old the people you come into contact with are. How old is an 'old man' in Kiribati? An 'old woman'?


Grammar References:

When asking about age you will be exposed to a variety of numbers. This is a good time to examine the grammar sections on numbers, and certainly to learn how to say your own age! (Lesson 16, p. 103)

Kiribati page

© 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.