When you want to say that
something (or somebody) is something else, there is no
verb meaning "be" in Bislama, and the words describing
the two things are simply placed one after the other, as
'I am a teacher.'
hanggre. 'You are hungry.'
When the first part of the
sentence is a noun or a pronoun other than mi or
yu, the second part of the sentence will usually
be separated from the first part by the small word
i, as in:
hanggre. 'Thompson is hungry.'
Mifala i bos.
'We are the bosses.'
To indicate that an action is
being performed, a verb follows a pronoun or a noun, with
the word i coming between the two as described
Tomson i kukum
raes. 'Thompson cooks the rice.'
Mifala i ridim
buk. 'We read the book.'
However, if the first
noun is plural rather than singular, the word i is
replaced by oli, e.g.
Ol man oli kukum
raes. 'The men cook rice.'
Ol studen oli ridim
buk. 'The students read the
Ol bos oli
hanggre. 'The bosses are
Verbs in Bislama do not have
endings to express meanings like present continuous or
past tense in English. A verb can appear on its own, as
in the examples just given, where it can have any tense
depending on the context. But if you need to indicate the
tense, this can be done by placing a special "auxiliary"
between the word i (or oli) and the verb.
Other meanings can also be expressed by words of this
Tomson i bin
ridim buk. 'Thompson read the
Tomson i stap
ridim buk. 'Thompson is reading the
Tomson i save
kukum raes. 'Thompson can cook the
Ol studen oli mas
ridim buk. 'The students must read the
There are two exceptions.
Firstly, the future tense is expressed by the form
bae, which is not placed between i (or
oli) and the verb at all, but it appears either
before the word i (or oli), or before at the
beginning of the sentence, e.g.
Bae Tomson i
ridim buk. 'Thompson will read the
Ol studen bae oli
ridim buk. 'The students will read the
Secondly, if you want to
indicate that something has already happened, you do this
by placing finis after the verb, e.g.
Ol studen oli ridim
buk finis. 'The students have
already read the book.'
Tomson i hanggre
finis. 'Thompson is already
To make a statement negative in
Bislama, all you have to do is put the word no
between the word i (or oli) and the verb,
Tomson i no
kukum raes. 'Thompson does not cook
Ol student oli no
ridim buk. 'The students do not read
It is possible to place
no before any of the other words that express
tense or aspect (except bai), as in:
Tomson i no
bin salem haos. 'Thompson did not sell
Ol bos oli no mas
ridim buk. 'The bosses must not read
Bae ol man oli no
kukum raes. 'The men will not cook
Verbs that have objects in
Bislama generally have a special ending to indicate this.
So, compare the following:
Sera i stap
rid. 'Sarah is reading.'
Sera i stap ridim
buk. 'Sarah is reading the
This ending is sometimes
-im, sometimes -um, and sometimes
-em. When the last vowel in the verb is i
or u, then the vowel of the ending will be the
same, but when there is any other vowel in the verb, the
ending will always be -em. That is why we
Sera i bin
kuk. 'Sarah cooked.'
Sera i bin kukum
raes. 'Sarah cooked the
Haos bae i
bon. 'The house will
Lulu bae i bonem
haos. 'Lulu will burn the
There are four main
prepositions in Bislama: long meaning 'in', 'on',
'at' or 'with'; blong meaning 'of' or 'for';
wetem 'along with' and from 'because of'.
Mi stap slip
long haos. 'I am sleeping in the
Mi bin katem frut
long naef. 'I cut the fruit with
Ol studen oli save swim
long riva. 'The students can
swim in the river.'
Bae mi kuk blong
yu. 'I will cook for you.'
Bae mi kam wetem
yu. 'I will come with
Mi bin kam from ol
studen. 'I came because of the
The preposition blong is
also used to indicate possession, e.g.
mi 'my house'
BACKGROUND VOCABULARY SOUNDS
ol studen blong
tija 'the teacher's
tija blong ol
studen 'the students' teacher'