The construction li pi is a historical and deprecated construction for expression "made of", recommended by some old Toki Pona courses. Similar to the construction pi X en Y, this evokes the controversial glossing of pi as "of", which is proscribed and considered misleading in standard usage. The grammar checker telo misikeke marks li pi as a full error. An example of this construction is:
tomo ni li pi (kiwen)
*tomo ni li pi kiwen.
This house is made out of stone.
In modern Toki Pona, the particle pi is used to start a phrase that, as a group, modifies a directly preceding phrase of content words. Therefore, at least one content word is expected before pi, and at least 2 after: ijo pi ijo ijo. The word li is another particle, not a content word, so pi cannot directly follow it.
Alternative constructions[edit | edit source]
The simplest solution is to insert the most general content word, ijo ("thing, being"), after li. A more specific content word that makes sense in this position can also be used. For example:
tomo ni li
*tomo ni li
tomo ni li ijo mi
tomo ni li ijo mi.
This house is something mine.
There are some cases where dropping the pi instead may be understood, such as if the following phrase works on its own as a predicate. If the particle pi is being used to mark possession (which it does not mark itself), it may make sense to drop the pi with simple pronouns. Alternatively, with other phrases, it may be clearer to insert the word jo, which can describe possession. For example:
tomo ni li mi
tomo ni li mi.
This house is mine.
("This house is me" is often ruled out by context)
tomo ni li jo pi (olin mi)
tomo ni li jo pi olin mi.
This house is my partner's property.
(The phrase tomo ni li olin mi would likely be interpreted as "This house is my love.")