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First Lessons in Maori

VII. Sentences without Verbs

VII. Sentences without Verbs.

§ 34. Subject and Predicate.

—The Subject in a sentence is that of which anything is said.

The Predicate is that which is said of the Subject.


John is a boy. John runs. In both these “John” is the Subject: “a boy” and “runs” are Predicates.

The Subject and Predicate do not always occupy the same relative positions in English, for though the Subject is generally placed first, it is sometimes placed last. It will be sufficiently accurate for the purposes of this chapter to consider the Predicate identical with the most emphatic member of the sentence.

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§ 35. Substantive Verb.

—In English, when the predicate is not a verb, the verb “to be,” commonly called the substantive verb, is used to connect the predicate with its subject. This verb has no equivalent in Maori, but the relation of subject to predicate is indicated by the use of certain particles and by the relative position of the different words in the sentence.

§ 36.

In an affirmative Sentence the predicate stands first, and the subject after it; and two nouns, or an adjective and a noun, placed in these relative positions, form a sentence although without a verb. In a negative sentence, this relative position is apparently (§ 39) reversed.

Sentences of this kind are made either with or without the specific particle ko.

§ 37.

Use the specific particle ko when the predicate is either


A proper name, or personal pronoun, a local noun (§ 8), or either of the interrogatives wai, or hea; or


A common noun with any of the definitives (§ 18) except he.

  • Ko ia tenei, this is he.

  • Ko wai tona ingoa? what is his name?

  • Ko Hamo tona ingoa, his name is Hamo.

  • Ko toku whare tera, that is my house.

  • Ko hea tera maunga? What is (the name of) that mountain?

§ 38.

Make a sentence without ko when the predicate is either


A common noun (a), an adjective (b), or a verb in the infinitive (c), with the indefinite article he.

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A noun, pronoun, verb, or adjective following a preposition (d).

In both these cases, the verb or adjective is treated as a noun.


He whare pai tera, that is a good house.


He pirau enei kumara, these kumara are rotten.


He hanga i te whare te mahi a Horo, Horo's work is to build the house.


Kei Tauranga a Turi, Turi is at Tauranga.

Mo ratou tena whare, that house is for them.

Hei runga i te puke te whare, let the house be on the hill.

§ 39.

When the predicate consists of several words, the most emphatic word generally stands alone in the place of the predicate, the rest being placed after the subject. This is the case when the predicate contains an explanatory or a relative clause, or a clause in any other way dependent on the principal word. This also accounts for the apparent reversing of the positions of subject and predicate in a negative sentence, the negation being the most prominent thing in such a sentence.

  • He tangata tenei no Akaroa, this is a man from Akaroa.

  • Ko te tama tera a Turi, that is the son of Turi.

  • He kai kei reira ma te tamaiti a Kuiwai, there is some food there for Kuiwai's child.

  • Ko te tangata tera i kitea e ahau, that is the man who was seen by me.

§ 40. Negative Sentences.

—(a) The negative of a sentence with ko (§ 37). is always made with ehara..i, ko being dropped.

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  • Aff. Ko ia tenei, this is he.

  • Neg. Ehara tenei i a ia, this is not he.

  • Aff. Ko te whare tera, that is the house.

  • Neg. Ehara tera i te whare, that is not the house.

(b) When the predicate in the corresponding affirmative sentence is a common noun, an adjective, or a verb in the infinitive, with the indefinite article he (§ 38, a, b, c), the negative is made with ehara. i, and te is substituted for he.

  • Aff. He whare pai tera, that is a good house.

  • Neg. Ehara tera i te whare pai, that is not a good house.

  • Aff. He pirau enei riwai, these potatoes are rotten.

  • Neg. Ehara enei riwai i te pirau, these potatoes are not rotten.

  • Aff. He tuakana ia noku, he is an elder brother of mine.

  • Neg. Ehara ia i te tuakana noku, he is not an elder brother of mine.

When the predicate in the corresponding affirmative sentence is a noun, adjective, or verb, following a preposition (§ 38, d), the following constructions are used:—

(c) If the preposition in the affirmative sentence is na or no, the negative is made with ehari..i, and the preposition is dropped.

  • Aff. No Turi tera whare, that house belongs to Turi.

  • Neg. Ehara i a Turi tera whare, that house does not belong to Turi.

(d) If the preposition is ma or mo signifying for, use ehara i te mea, retaining the preposition.

  • Aff. Mo Turi te whare, the house is for Turi.

  • Neg. Ehara i te mea mo Turi te whare, the house is not for Turi.

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(e) If the preposition is hei signifying at, or in possession of (§ 15), use kauaka, retaining the preposition.

  • Aff. Hei te taha o te huarahi te taiepa, let the fence be at the side of the road.

  • Neg. Kauaka hei te taha, etc., let not the fence be, etc.

(f) If the preposition is kei or i (§ 15), signifying at, or in possession of, use kahore for the negative, with the preposition i only, and never kei.

  • Kei hea te tahā? Kahore i konei. Where is the calabash? It is not here.

  • Aff. Kei a Turi te taura, the rope is in Turi's possession.

  • Neg. Kahore i a Turi te taura, the rope is not in Turi's possession.

  • Aff. I a wai tera kainga? Whose was that place?

  • Neg. Kahore i a Waitaha. It was not Waitaha's.

§ 41.

The use of an interrogative adverb, as ianei, koia, oti, ranei, or of one of the words, wai, who, tehea, which, aha, what, pehea, of what sort, hea, what place, or hia, how many, makes a sentence essentially interrogative. Otherwise an interrogative is indicated solely by the tone of the voice, the form of the sentence, whether with or without a verb, being unaltered.

  • Nou tena potae, that hat is yours.

  • Nou tena potae? is that hat yours?

  • Kahore au toki maku, you have no axe for me.

  • Kahore au toki maku? have you no axe for me.

  • Na wai tenei mara? whose is this cultivation?

  • He kai ranei kei roto i te whare? Is there any food in the house?

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Obs. i. If a question in Maori is cast in the negative form, the answer, ae or kahore, is by strict Maori idiom to be regarded as assenting to or dissenting from the statement involved in the question, and must, in accordance with English idiom, be translated no and yes respectively.

  • Kahore āu toki māku? Have you no axe for me? Kahore, yes. (That is the suggestion that there is no axe is incorrect.)

But a modern Maori would probably use the English idiom and reply, Ae, meaning Yes.

Obs. ii. In asking a person's name wai is always used, never aha. Similarly, hea is used in asking the name of a place.

Ko wai te ingoa o te tamaiti? What is the child's name?

Ko hea tera maunga? What is that mountain?

§ 42.

The Time of these “sentences without verbs” may, as far as the form of the sentence is concerned, be past, present, or future. When it is not shewn by the essential meaning of any of the words it must be gathered from the context. If no clue to the time is given, what is said will be understood in present time. For the indications of time in the case of the prepositions hei, i, and kei refer to § 15.