The ‘okina diacritical mark, or glottal stop, shown as (‘), is considered a consonant, and is therefore always followed by a vowel.
The Macron or Kahako mark is a vowel that has a line over it (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū), and is very important in showing where the vowels are stressed and somewhat elongated as compared with normal vowels.
p and k are pronounced about the same as in English, but with less aspiration
h, l, m, and n are pronounced about the same as in English
w after an “i” or “e” sounds like a v
w after a “u” or “o” sounds like a w
w after an “a” may sound like either a v or w
‘okina (‘) is a glottal stop, similar to the sound between the oh’s in oh-oh
a like a in above
e like e in set
i like y in city
o like o in mole
u like oo in soon
ā like a in above
ē like ay in play
ī like ee in fee
ō like o in mole
ū like oo in soon
The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters: A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W.
H as in hale, K as in Kate, L as in laid, M as in moon, N as in noon, P as in peak, and W as in always.
Rules of the Language:
Every word must end in a vowel. Every consonant must be followed by at least one vowel. Every syllable must end in a vowel.
The okina ( ’ ) is a glottal stop like the sound between the ohs in “oh-oh” and is considered a consonant. In order to clarify pronunciation, you will often see the glottal stop or ‘okina used on words in this guide such as Hawai’i. Due to printing restrictions, we will not use the macron, which is found above stressed vowels in the Hawaiian language.
He Pattern sentences consist of He + Noun + (Adjective) + Pronoun. No verbs are used in this construction because “is”, “are” and “am” are understood. This pattern allows for specific pronouns (this, that, his her, my) rather than “a” or “the”.
He aha kēia? – (What this?) – What is this?
He peni kēia. – (This pen.) – This is a pen.
He mau peni kēia. – (These many pen.) – These are pens.
He aha `oe? – (What you?) – What are you?
He kumu au. – (I teacher.) – I am a teacher.
He Hawai`i `oe. – (You Hawaiian.) – You are Hawaiian.
He Hawai`i nui `oia. – (He big Hawaiian.) – He is a big Hawaiian.
`O Equational Pattern sentences balance a noun or pronoun with another noun or pronoun and, as in the He Pattern sentences, there are no verbs used.
`O Keoni ko`u inoa. – (John = my name) – My name is John.
`O Kioni kēlā. – (John = this) – This is John. (as in answering a phone)
`O kēlā `ilio ka `ilio maika`i`le. – (That dog = the dog not good) – That dog’s not good.
He`e Pattern sentences consist of a Verb + Subject + Predicate, with “i” as the directional marker (to, on, of, in, etc.) between the Subject and Predicate.
Hele `o Keoni i ke kula.
goes John to the school
John goes to the school.
Kōkua nā kauka i kēlā kanaka me ke kino eha.
care (plural) doctor of that person with the body sore
The doctors take care of that person with the sore body.
Noho ka wahine i ka noho `olu`olu i ka malu o ka niu.
sits the woman on the chair comfortable in the shade of the coconut tree
The woman sits on the comfortable chair in the shade of the coconut tree.
The following articles (ka`i) are used in sentence formation:
E – is used to start a sentence when addressing someone
he – is “a”
ke – means “the”, used with words beginning with a e k o and some words beginning with an `okina or a p
ka – means “the”, used with words that start with all other letters, and many words that start with an `okina, (ie: ka `ōlelo and ka `āina.) Rules for the use of ke and ka have many exceptions, you’ll see and get use to it as you learn the language.
nā – indicates plural, more than one, of the word it modifies
Simple sentences consist of an Adjective + an Article + a Noun, using “ke” and “ka” (the).
Nui ke `ilio. – (Big the dog.) – The dog is big.
Pupele ke poki. – (Crazy the cat.) – The cat is crazy.
Ula ke apala. – (Red the apple.) – The apple is red.
`Ono ke kumu. – (Good the teacher.) – The teacher is good.
Wele ka lā. – (Hot the sun.) – The sun is hot.
Vowels are pronounced as follows:
A - ah
E - eh
I - ee
O - oh
U - oo
Names and words are easier to pronounce when they are broken down into single syllable bits. (ie. puainako, pu-a-i-na-ko (poo-ah-eh-nah-co)). Sometimes the letter W is pronounced the same as V as in the traditional pronunciation of Hawai’i which is phonetically pronounced huh-vi-ee rather than huh-why-ee. W’s can be pronounced like W or V (both are correct). Most Hawaiians pronounced it as V. The 5 vowels a,e,i,o and u as well as the 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p, and w make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet. In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel which also means all Hawaiian words end in a vowel.