From sona pona

    pi is a particle used for grouping modifiers together.

    How it works[edit | edit source]

    By default, each modifier applies to the whole phrase before it[1]:

    jan pona
    good person
    jan pona mute
    many good people

    pi marks the next word as a new head, which takes its own modifiers:

    jan pi pona mute
    very good person

    pi needs to be followed by at least two content words: the new head and a modifier applying to it. If there would only be one word after it, you don't need the pi.

    There is no way to "close" a pi phrase. Instead, modifiers that apply to the first word should be moved before the pi:

    jan pi pana sona
    knowledge-giving person (teacher)
    jan ike pi pana sona
    knowledge-giving bad person (bad teacher)
    1. Some analyze them as all applying to the first word instead, but the distinction often doesn't matter.

    Multiple pi[edit | edit source]

    While not defined in pu, some speakers do use multiple pi in a single phrase. However, this carries a risk of ambiguity as to whether the second pi is contained within the first or not:

    lipu pi sona mute pi toki Inli
    English much-knowledge book (is the book in English or is the knowledge about English?)

    jan Lope argues that, like li and e, both pi phrases apply equally to the first noun in the phrase, rather than nesting.[1] As an example, he gives

    kulupu pi kalama musi pi ma Inli li pona.
    The English rock band is good.

    The ambiguity is whether it's an English band that plays some sort of music, or a band from somewhere that plays English music. There is little agreement on this matter, and in practice both interpretations are possible.

    Using a single word between the pi does prevent the ambiguity, as a non-nested layout would contain an invalid single-word pi phrase. However, if you feel the need to stack this many modifiers, you might be better off rephrasing the phrase into a sentence:

    kiwen pi soweli pi kute suli
    big-eared animal rock
    kiwen ni li sama soweli pi kute suli
    this rock is like a big-eared animal
    soweli pi kute suli li lawa e kiwen ni
    a big-eared animal rules over this rock

    pi and "of"[edit | edit source]

    Some dictionaries define pi as the English word "of". This can be misleading, as not all instances of "of" translate into pi:

    toki pi pona
    language of good

    It may be more helpful to think of every modifier as having an implied "of" before it:

    kala utala suli
    fish of fighting of bigness

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. [1]jan Lope, "Are multiple pi phrases possible?

    External resources[edit | edit source]