1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hawaiian
  4. >
  5. Doing my best, but having tro…


Doing my best, but having trouble

Hi guys!

Native English speaker. Languages have always been very interesting to me and something I've had natural success in, I'm semi-fluent in German and now working towards Hawaiian, Ukrainian, and Norwegian. With Ukrainian and Norwegian, I've had quick progress, and German was quite easy, but I'm really struggling with Hawaiian.

Does anyone know of any good and reliable sources to learn and further understand Hawaiian sentence structures and tenses? It doesn't seem to follow the same "rules" as other languages I'm learning - which is fascinating, of course, but makes it far more difficult. If anyone could give me a quick explanation, or link me to a source of it, that would be awesome. Thank you all so much for your time.


September 16, 2019



Aloha e @bob.r.frank , you should definitley not feel uneasy about struggling in Hawaiian, as I see you are coming from a very strong European-language background. Polynesian languages are so very different from others party because of the linguistic family they belong to (linguistic families can play the strongest part in being able to learn other languages "easily"; e.g. syntax and cultural basis). The second distinction lies in a fact which Iʻm sure you know already: that language and culture go hand in hand. Oceanic & Polynesian cultures are very distinct from their continental cousins, and Hawaiian culture is even quite distinct from their siblings within the Polynesian family.

My other comment is that there is actually a reason why you do not see Hawaiian language resources available for self-learning... itʻs really hard to grasp conceptually outside of a classroom setting where the instructor can educate on Hawaiian culture, ideologies, spirituality, and history; which help you form a Hawaiian perspective that is truly needed to make a breakthrough in Hawaiian language study.

I have a few questions for you... is there anything specific you are having a hard time with? Give some examples and I can try to see what the root of your struggles are. How far are you in the lessons? Also, Have you ever been to Hawaii? (trust me, this makes a difference lol). Feel free to ask me anything if you get stuck. I can help to give you a Hawaiian conceptual viewpoint that may make things clearer for you.

Some resources that I can give you right away are the websites: Wehewehe.org and manomano.io

These are great online dictionaries in Hawaiian. Also for texts I can list: Hawaiian Grammar by Pukui & Elbert ; Spoken Hawaiian by Elbert ; and Nā Kai ʻEwalu by faculty of UH Hilo school of Hawaiian Language.

Hope this helps, and please reply back to me so that I can help you out!


Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, Hawaiian is certainly a lot different, though I'm not complaining! I love challenges.

Specific things I could say I'm having a difficult time with, are words in a sentence that pop up seemingly randomly (e.g. ʻo, mai, e), and the order of words when I have to make a complex sentence. In the languages I've learned so far, the order has been clear to me (for example, in German, the first verb goes in the second position, and the rest go at the end), but with Hawaiian the pattern has evaded me so far. I'm sure there is a pattern, there's a pattern in all languages, but I'm not picking up on it yet.

I'm about three quarters of the way done with the Hawaiian lessons on Duolingo. Considering the pace at which I've done these, I'll probably have reached the end of the tree within a week or so.

And, yes, I've been to Hawaii. It was several years ago, and I wasn't learning the language at the time. I just surfed a lot lol. I'd definitely like to go back again though once I've got a decent grip on the language, it would make everything a lot more interesting and fun. That's definitely something I'm gonna do in the future.


Ahhhh, 'ae a mahalo nui for your reply! I will just kind of touch on each of your remarks briefly before going into some specific examples to help you where you mentioned haha.

'Ae having gone to Hawai'i before makes a great difference! Pay attention to the "Pidgin" (Hawaiian Creole) that Native Hawaiians may speak next time you are there. It follows Hawaiian Grammar pretty closely but uses English as the main communicating vehicle.

Yes, the "rules" or "word orders" in the sentences are what differentiate Hawaiian and other Polynesian Languages from most others that people have had exposure to, but you will get it eventually :]. Guessing by how far you are in the lessons here, I think you will do just fine.

Okay, so some quick comments that I want to point out about the words that seem to pop up randomly in a sentence and about word order.... - Ma ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, sentence fragments are "marked" by the preceding particle. For example, in English you can say "I eat an apple," I eat the apple," and "I eat apples." They all of different connotations about specific or nonspecific or general in reference to "apple," but notice how you can leave out the preceding particle for the general case? "I like apples" is valid in English, but to say the same thing in Hawaiian would not work, because you need to include a particle before "apples (general sense)." This can trip up learners very quickly. I will now explain usage of " ʻo " and " e " around this concept. - " 'o " is something that denotes a proper noun-like word and MUST be included before proper nouns. Contrast the name Ruby and the gem called ruby. Hawaiian would contrast these with " ʻo Ruby" and "ka ruby." Some more examples: " ʻAi ka ʻīlio i ka mea ʻai ʻīlio." The dog eats the dog food. " ʻAi ʻo ʻĪlio i ka mea ʻai ʻīlio." Dog eats the dog food (animal is named "Dog.") - The use of "e" is similar to "ʻo" when addressing someone you are speaking to. "Hele ʻoe i ka hale kūʻai, e Pua." You go to the store, Pua. If you left out "e," it would read "Hele ʻoe i ka hale kūʻai pua." Which would translate to "You go to the flower store." - The use of "E" in the beginning of a verb-like word is to suggest an action should take place. "E ʻai ka ʻīlio i ka mea ʻai ʻīlio." The dog should eat the dog food. "E hele ʻoe i ka hale kūʻai i kēia ahiahi." Go to the store this evening (a suggestion, you are telling someone to do this). - mai/aku are directionals. They emphasize the speaker and the one being spoken to. E hele. "Go." E hele mai. "Go towards me (the speaker)" or "Come" (which is more natural to translate to in English). E hele aku. "Go away from me (the speaker)" or just " Go away" in English.

Hopefully this helps a bit! And if you already knew what I was talking about then yay, this hopefully reinforces what you already know haha.

Let me know if you have any more specific questions. I will always try to help ;3.


There is quite an amount of Hawaiian teaching on youtube


I just started, but came already to the conclusion that I just have to learn a bunch of phrases until l I understand the grammatical pattern. While I learned all other languages the opposite way.


Get yourself an English/Hawaiian dictionary.


Learn Hawaiian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.