In Toki Pona grammar, modifiers are a position that content words take on when placed after another content word, encompassing the role of adjectives and adverbs in English. The word that is modified is called the head. For example, in the phrase toki pona, toki ("speech, speak") is the head, and pona ("good, well") is a modifier.
Modifiers always follow their heads. The first modifier follows directly, and the other modifiers follow each other. For example, in sike loje mi, loje and mi both modify sike.
Many particles, such as e, pi, and la, mark the following word as the head of a phrase. So do prepositions. For example, treating tawa as a preposition, every content word in jan li pana e moku tawa sina (jan, pana, moku, sina) is a head. However, if tawa were interpreted as a content word, it and sina would modify moku. A possible exception to li marking the following word as a head is with preverbs.
Standard names are a type of modifier.
Meaning[edit | edit source]
Modifiers indicate the vaguest relationship between two words. Typically, otherwise unclear concepts will be introduced using full, and often multiple, sentences, so that the sentence-structuring particles there will clarify the relationship that will, afterwards, be indicated with modifiers.
Modifiers can indicate possession, especially if the modifier is a pronoun, or a name is used as a pi phrase to become a phrasal modifier. However, possession is not the only possible meaning of pronoun and name modifiers, and can be stated more clearly using jo, or alternative strategies as in the jon't style.