This post is based on Practical Marshallese by Peter Rudiak-Gould, a freely distributed, full-length textbook for learning the native language of the Marshall Islands. It has been used since 2004 as the official language manual for all volunteers in the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program, and it has formed the basis of language classes for Americans at Kwajalein Atoll. The 102 short lessons describe the grammar of the language in practical and familiar terms, and a glossary presents 1500 useful words.

I like, I don’t like

In the last lesson you learned the words for ‘with me,’ ‘with you,’ etc.  These words can also mean ‘in my opinion,’ ‘in your opinion,’ etc.  For instance:

Eaiboojoj ippa      = it-beautiful/with me  = It is beautiful in my opinion or I think it is beautiful
Ennọ ippān Dan   = it-tasty/with/Dan      = It is tasty in Dan’s opinion or Dan thinks it tastes good or It tastes good to Dan

– You can use this meaning with the words for ‘good’ (‘eṃṃan’)  and ‘bad’ (‘nana’) to make sentences like ‘I like it,’ ‘I don’t like it’:

Eṃṃan ippa        = it-good/with me          = It is good in my opinion or I like it
Enana raij ippāer = it-bad/rice/with them  = Rice is bad in their opinion or They don’t like rice

– To make it into a question (like ‘do you like rice?’) just use ‘ke’:

Eṃṃan ke ippaṃ?  = it-good/?/with you  = Is it good in your opinion? or Do you like it?
Eṃṃan ke eọñōd    = ippāer? it-good/?/fish/with them = Is fishing good in their opinion? or Do they like fishing?

– If you leave out the word for ‘with’ and just say ‘eṃṃan ke?’, it becomes a general way to say to ‘Do you like it?’ ‘How is it?’:

Eṃṃan ke?         = it-good/?           = Do you like it?       or How is it?
Eṃṃan ke Arno? = it-good/?Arno   = Do you like Arno? or How is Arno?

You can answer this with ‘eṃṃan’ (‘It’s good,’ ‘I like it’) or ‘enana’ (‘It’s bad,’ ‘I don’t like it’).

– If you put ‘eṃṃan ke?’ at the end of a sentence it means ‘okay?’:

Q: Ña itōn eọñōd,  = eṃṃan ke? me/I-NEAR FUTURE/going to/fish/, /it-good/?  = I’m going to fish, okay?
A: Eṃṃan it-good = Okay.
A: Enana it-bad = No, that’s not okay.

– ‘Kōṇaan’ is another way to say ‘to like,’ and ‘jab kōṇaan’ is another way to say ‘to not like.’  ‘Kōṇaan’ also means ‘to want,’ so it is a bit ambiguous:

Ikōṇaan eọñōd           = I-like,want/fish       = I like to fish or I want to fish
Ijab kōṇaan eọñōd     = I-not/like,want/fish = I don’t like to fish or I don’t want to fish
Kokōṇaan ke eọñōd? = You-like/?/fish?      = Do you like to fish? or Do you want to fish?


A: Eṃṃan ke Ṃajeḷ ippaṃ? A: Do you like the Marshall Islands?
B: Elukkuun eṃṃan ippa.  Aolep riṃajeḷ relukkuun jouj. B: I like it a lot.  All Marshallese people are very nice.
A: Ak ennọ ke ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippaṃ? A: But do you like Marshallese food?
B: Ennọ aolep kain ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippa: raij, ek, mā, bōb… B: I like all kinds of Marshallese food: rice, fish, breadfruit, pandanus…
A: Ak ennọ ke ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippān baamḷe eo aṃ ilo Amedka? A: Does your family in America like Marshallese food?
B: Ejab lukkuun ennọ ṃōñā in ṃajeḷ ippāer.  Ennọ ṃōñā in pālle ippāer.  Ak elukkuun aiboojoj Ṃajeḷ ippāer. B: They don’t like Marshallese food very much.  They like American food.  But they think the Marshall Islands is very beautiful.


wailōj (from English ‘wireless’) talk on a short-wave radio, use a short-wave radio
dekā rock, stone, pebble, boulder, gravel
babu lie down
bait or ire to  fight
etetal to walk
iiep basket
jutak to stand up
kajutak to raise Ex. Kajutak peiṃ = Raise your hand
minit (from English) minute
pako shark

Practical Marshallese

Published by Marco Mora-Huizar

I am a Spanish and Marshallese translator. Iaar katak Kajin Majol ilo Enid, Oklahoma.

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