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Te taetae ni Kiribati

The language of Kiribati


Maanra? - Reirei Onoua

How long? - Lesson Six


This lesson will teach you something about time - questions as to how long you've been somewhere, names of the days of the week and months of the year, and similar expressions. You will also get some additional practice with the numbers.



Study the dialogue, paying special attention to the way of asking "how long". Using the calendar, create a new set of questions to direct to your class, along the lines of: 'I arrived here on Tuesday, April 3, and I'll be leaving the 2nd of May. How long is my stay?', etc. (In te taetae ni Kiribati, of course!)

dialogue for study



How long?

Maria:  Nao, ko na mauri. I taku b'a aio ara moan tai ni kaaitiboo. Ai maanra ngkoe ikai?Maria:  How do you do sir. I think this is the first time we've met. How long have you been here?
Bauro:  E koaua. I roko ikai n te Kanimabong aei. Te bong aei bon te Taabati are nanona b'a ai tib'a tenibong au bong ikai.Paul:  It's true. I just arrived here last Friday. Today is Sunday, so I've just been here for three days.
Maria:  Ao a na maanra ngkoe n tiku ikai?Maria:  And how long are you going to stay here?
Bauro:  I aki maan. N na tiku ikai ni karokoa te nam'akaina ae Meei. Tao N na kiitana ikai ni moan wiikin Meei. Tao ai ti teniua riki te wiiki.Paul:  Not long. I'll be here until the month of May. Maybe I'll leave in the first week of May. Perhaps about three more weeks.



In English, when giving the date, we use the ordinal numbers – the first of March, the third of June, August fifth. In Kiribati, however, the cardinal series is used, March 4 = aua ni Maati (four of March), April 17 = tebwi ma itiua n Eberi (seventeen of April), without the article.

supplementary voacbulary

ngkoananoa   yesterday
n te bong aei   today
ningaabong  tomorrow
ae e na roko   this coming
ae e nako   last
te bong   day
te wiiki   week
te nam'akaina   month
te ririki   year

Bongin te wiiki
Te Moanibong
Te Kauabong
Te Katenibong
Te Kaabong
Te Kanimabong
Te Kaonobong
Te Taabati

Te Nam'akaina



The days of the week and the months should need no translation. Notice the construction of the names of the days. They are the ordinals before the word 'day': the first day, the second day, etc. The word for Sunday is Taabati = Sabbath. (Be careful of Tuesday, the second day – it's Kauabong, not Kauouabong!) The names of the months are taken from the English.

Supplementary Activities:    

Using this new vocabulary, extend and expand the dialogue you have studied by writing a new one. You might try presenting a narrative and following it up with time questions relating to the content. It's important to become quickly familiar with the days of the week and months. Memorize them and practice them regularly.

Outside Activities:

The question of 'how long' is one that comes up frequently in conversation. Find out how long the people you meet have lived on the island, how long a visitor intends to stay, how long someone has been working on something, etc.


Additional Note

Notice that bong may also be used as a numeral classifier, so that in the dialogue, three days = tenibong. See the grammar on numeral classifiers.

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.