From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki
pona in sitelen pona
pona in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈpo.na/
Usage 2023: Core (100% → )2022: Core (100%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Content word
Codepoint 󱥔 U+F1954

pona is a core content word relating to positive qualities, typically glossed as "good".

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word pona is derived from Esperanto bona, meaning "good", itself from Romance languages, ultimately from Latin bonus.[1]

Semantic space[edit | edit source]

The semantic space of pona includes positive qualities, especially those that are coherent with Toki Pona's philosophy.[2] It covers ideas of goodness, helpfulness, and peace and calm. It is an antonym of ike ("bad").


toki pona

good speech (eloquence, a compliment, etc.)
the language of good

soweli pona li lon tomo mi

soweli pona li lon tomo mi.

A friendly animal is at our house.
We have a pet.

pona can also refer to things related to the Toki Pona language. This treats Toki Pona (lit. 'the language of good') as a language that is pona by definition.


sitelen pona

Toki Pona glyphs

While pona is also often translated as "simple", oversimplification can still be ike. In practice, pona describes the happy medium between overcomplicated and oversimplified. In this sense, something is pona if it limits itself to the relevant and essential.

As a transitive verb, pona refers to causing something to be good, such as improving or beneficially simplifying it.

mi pona e supa pakala.

mi pona e supa pakala.

We fixed the broken furniture.

Subjectivity[edit | edit source]

Being a value judgment, pona is generally subjective. However, this is often made more explicit by specifying who or what finds something pona.

nasin ni li pona tawa ona

nasin ni li pona tawa ona.

This method is good to them.
They like or benefit from this method.

mi la toki ale li pona 

mi la, toki ale li pona.

As for me, all languages are nice.
I like every language.

Interjection[edit | edit source]

pona can also be used as a positive interjection, used to indicate the speaker's happiness or acceptance. The "Phrase Book" section of Toki Pona: The Language of Good defines this use of pona as:

great, thanks, OK

pona is also used as a part of many interjections. For example:

kama pona

kama pona!


Other common examples include:

  • pona tawa sina: "peace be with you"
  • tawa pona: "bye" (said by the person staying), "farewell", "bon voyage"
  • ale li pona: "all is well", "life is good", "don't worry"
  • lape pona: "good night"
  • moku pona: "enjoy your meal", "bon appetit"
  • sina pona: "you're cool", "I like you"; "thank you" (acknowledging that "you did something good")

pu[edit | edit source]

In the "Official Toki Pona Dictionary" section, the book Toki Pona: The Language of Good defines pona as:

ADJECTIVE  good, positive, useful; friendly, peaceful; simple

ku[edit | edit source]

For Toki Pona Dictionary, respondents in ma pona pi toki pona translated these English words as pona:[3]

good5, appropriate5, nice5, acceptable5, simply4, OK4, fine4, proper4, quality4, valid4, pleasant4, friendly4, positive4, well4, simple4, benefit4, virtue4, alright4, correct3, fix3, repair3, cool3, advantage3, right (not wrong)3, okay3, fixed3, validity3, helpful3, kind3, merit3, successfully3, ethical3, peaceful3, ideal3, improve3, improvement3, correction3, fair3, grace3, heal3, ease3, successful3, supportive3, awesome3, approval3, correctly2, adequate2, effectiveness2, reasonable2, decent2, thanks2, welfare2, peace2, wonderful2, plain2, properly2, fairly2, civil2, terrific2, improved2, worthy2, well-being2, lovely2, natural2, resolve2, easy2, elementary2, enhance2, efficiency2, mercy2, useful2, justice2, elegant2, beautiful2, courtesy2, effective2, comfortable2, reliability2, perfect2, please2, relieve2, basic2, better2, honest2, solve2, free2, success2, fascinating2, qualify2, morality2, easily2, excellent2, sufficient2

sitelen pona[edit | edit source]

The sitelen pona glyph for pona (󱥔) represents a closed smiling mouth.

It is an upside down version of the glyph for ike. It is usually written wider than tall to make it more clearly distinct from lupa.

It was designed in such a way that the preexisting Toki Pona logo would be reverse compatible as a composite glyph for toki pona (toki-pona).[4]

sitelen sitelen[edit | edit source]

The sitelen sitelen word glyph for pona (pona) is derived from the Toki Pona logo[5] with an emphasized smile, the three bumps on top being equivalent to the emitters of the logo.

In small writing, the "lips" of the pona glyph may be simplified away, leaving a single line for the smile.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Word Origins". tokipona.org. Archived from the original on 8 August 2002.
  2. lipamanka. "what is “pona?”". lipamanka.gay. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  3. Lang, Sonja. (18 July 2021). Toki Pona Dictionary. Illustrated by Vacon Sartirani. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292362. pp. 332–334.
  4. jan Sonja [@sonjalang]. (1 December 2023). [Message posted in the #sona.pona.la thread in the #toki-suli channel in the ma pona pi toki pona Discord server]. Discord. Retrieved 1 December 2023. "the emblem or logo of toki pona is pretty much from the very beginning, 2001 probably. when i created sitelen pona many years later, shortly before publishing pu, i made sure it would be retro-compatible and mean "toki pona"".
  5. Gabel, Jonathan. (20 May 2012). "sitelen sitelen acknowledgements and etymology". jonathangabel.com. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. Gabel, Jonathan. (20 May 2024). "drawing dictionary: step by step". jonathangabel.com. Retrieved 11 March 2024.

Further reading[edit | edit source]