Sunday, 1 March 2015


Major Bruce Copeland RAAF School of Languages 1978-1992.

I came to PNG to serve at Igam Barracks during 1976-1977. I had just completed a Bahasa Indonesia course at the RAAF School of Languages. And my first major posting was to Papua New Guinea and no Tok Pisin course that started in the Australian army in 1972.

I found that learning Tok Pisin by myself was very difficult. Many PNG speakers talked softly and quickly. My big problem was to know how to start a sentence.

I never forgot the problems I had in learning the language. I always had difficulty with the starts of sentences. So over the years, I formulated a strategy of teaching that focused on starts of sentences.

Participants on the course learned the patterns daily like children learning the multiplication tables. Yumi go. Yumi go. Yumi go long taun. Yumi go long taun. Yumi go insait long haus. Yumi go insait long haus. ( go pronounced gaw. Long pronounced law)

The patterns below are the framework of the Tok Pisin language. These are the core of all major structures. These can be combined in hundreds of ways to the full boundary of the Tok Pisin language.

This is the tree. Now please start to learn a couple of hundred more leaves to suit your needs. Please learn the patterns off by heart. Revise regularly even when you are becoming fluent.

On future courses, if we can learn the patterns quickly, we can start to explore the hundreds of combinations in rhythm.

Please continue with:


You will learn these off by heart on our 5x2 hour Tok Pisin course with a few hundred more combinations based on these patterns. You are shown how to put these together with the speed of a nerve impulse.


There was a tank on the top of the mountain. The mountain was inside of Igam Barrracks. Igam Barracks was near to Lae. Lae is in PNG. A well was at the bottom of the mountain. There was water inside of the well. A pump was on top of the well. An engine was near to the pump. The first pipe was down from the pump. The second was between the pump and the tank. The third pipe was between the tank and the barracks.

This was the first exercise of the training and laid the foundation of all structures that have prepositions.

Tang i stap we?
(Where is the tank?)
Tang i stap antap long maunden.
(The tank is on the top of the mountain)

Maunden i stap we?
(Where is the mountain?)
Maunden i stap insait long Igam Bareks.
(The mountain is inside Igam Barracks)

Igam Bareks i stap we?
(Where is Igam Barracks?)
Igam Bareks i stap klostu long Lae.
(Igam Barracks is near Lae}

Lae i stap we?
(Where is Lae?)
Lae i stap long PNG.
(Lae is in PNG)

Hul i stap we?
(Where is the well?)
Hul i stap daunbilo long maunden
(The well is down the mountain)

Wara i stap we?
(Where is the water?)
Wara i stap insait long hul 
(The water is in the hole)

Pam i stap we?
(Where is the pump?)
Pam i stap antap long hul.
(The pump is on top of the hole.)

Ensin i stap we?
(Where is the engine?)
Ensin i stap klostu long pam.
(The engine is near the pump)

Nambawan paip i stap we?
(Where is the first pipe?)
Nambawan paip i stap daunbilo long pam
(First pipe is below the pump)

Nambatu paip i stap we?
(Where is the second pipe?)
Nambatu paip i stap namel long pam na tang
(The second pipe is between the pump and tank)

Nambatri paip i stap we?
(Where is the third pipe?)
Nambatri paip i stap namel long tank na bareks.
(The third pipe is between the tank and barracks)

This was the key exercise to the course. It introduced the question form, the marker “i” which was a weak stress. And the prepositions with long as a weak stress and pronounced “law”.


Now let us start the basic starts of sentences.

KANGE NGA KONA: Tok Pisin Tree (Pidgin English)
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Tok Pisin Tree (64 patterns) I found that learning Tok Pisin by myself was very - Cached - Similar


• go  (go)
• go long taun ( go to town)
• go insait long haus (go into the house)
• go kisim kaikai (go get food)
• kisim wara (get water)
• go baim kaikai long maket (go buy food at the market)
• kisim wara i kam (bring water)
• kisim pikinini i go long haus (take the child to the house)

Bai mi:
Mi bai:
(I will)

• go  (go)
• go long hap (go over there)
• go sindaun wantaim em (go sit with him/her)
• go stap wantaim meri bilong mi (go stay with my wife)
• go sindaun aninit long haus (go sit under the house)

(Yu) no ken:

• go baim kaikai  (go buy food)
• go lukluk nabaut (go look about)
• go toktok wantaim em (go talk with him)
• go askim bos pastaim ( go ask the boss first)
• go insait long haus ( go into the house)

Yumi no ken:
(Let us not)

• wari  ( worry)
• wari tumas (be too worried)
• bel hevi tumas ( be too sad)
• go long taun long biknait (go to town late at night)
• spak long home brew (booze on home brew)
• pulim simok long spak brus (smoke marijuana)
• raun wantaim ol meri ( go around with women)
• tok baksait long ol arapela meri (talk at the back of other women)
• tok bilas long man ia ( ridicule that man)

Ol man i no ken:
( Men should not)

• pait ( fight)
• hambak nabaut ( fool around)
• spak long bia o buai (booze on beer or betelnut)
• raun wantaim ol meri (go around with women)
• slip nabaut long olgeta hap ( sleep around everywhere)
• paitim meri bilong em/en ( fight his wife)
• paulim pikinini meri bilong em/en (abuse his daughter)
• kisim sik HIV/AIDS ( catch HIV/AIDS)
• givim sik long meri bilong em/en (give the sickness to his wife)
• paulim famili ( mess up the family)

Ol meri i no ken:
(Women should not)

• kros ( be cross)
• wari tumas ( be too worried)
• maritim man i marit pinis ( marry a married man)
• raun long ol naitklab ( go around the night clubs)
• raun long nait ( go around at night)

Ol manmeri itambu long:
(People are forbidden to)

• brukim marit ( break up their marriage)
• hambak nabaut ( fool around)
• lusim tingting long ol pikinini bilong ol (forget their children)
• raun long biknait ( go around at night)

Yu no ken lus(im) tingting long:
(Don’t forget to)

• kisim mani i kam ( bring money)
• go painim dok bilong yu ( look for your dog)
• go lukim em ( go find it)
• opim dua ( open the door)
• pasim dua liklik ( shut the door a little)
• go wantaim ol man ( go with the men)

……….no ken lus(im) tingting long go long taun
( .. not forget to go to town)

• Yumi ( Let us)
• Ol i ( They should)
• Ol meri i ( The women should)
• Lain bilong yu i ( Your group should)
• Ol wokman na wokmeri i (The workers should)

Yu gat:
(You have/ do you have?))

• pikinini o nogat? (children)
• hamas pikinini? ( how many children)
• hamas pikinini man? (how many boys)
• hamas pikinini meri? (how many girls)
• haus i stap we? ( a house situated where)
• sik malaria ( malaria)
• wanem kain sik? ( what kind of sickness)
• hamas krismas? ( how many birthdays)
• wanem kain ka? ( what kind of car)
• hamas kain dok? ( how many kinds of dogs)
• buk bilong mi o nogat? ( my book)
• bikpela wari a? ( a big worry)
• wanem kain wari? ( what kind of worry)

Mi gat:

(I have)

• draipela wari ( an enormous problem)
• kain kain hevi ( various problems)
• tupela pikinini meri ( two daughters)
• meri/man ( a wife/ a husband)
• gutpela haus meri tru ( a very good house meri)
• draipela dinau i go long beng ( a massive debt to the bank)
• nupela ka ( a new car)
• mani inap long peim skul fi ( money sufficient to pay school fee)
• wanpela wari mi laik toktok long em/en ( a problem I want to talk about)
• tripela kain dok ( three kinds of dogs)
• kain ka ol i kolim Hummer ( a kind of car they call a Hummer)
• sik malaria ( malaria)

Mi no gat:
(I do not have)

• mani  ( money)
• haus ( a house)
• ka ( a car)
• meri ( a wife)
• mani inap long baim tiket ( money enough to but a ticket)
• pikinini ( child)
• save long yusim komputa ( knowledge to use a computer)
• ol kain kain samting ( various things)

Husat i gat:
(Who has)

• buk bilong opis? ( the office book)
• ki bilong ka? ( the key to the car)
• mani inap long baim tiket? ( money to buy a ticket)
• planti mani? ( plenty of money)

Husat i no gat:
(Who does not have)

• mani? ( money)
• nupela buk? ( a new book)
• pikinini? ( a child)
• kaikai? ( food)
• kaikai inap long wiken? ( food enough for the weekend)

Husat i laik:
(Who would like to)

• go long taun? ( go to town)
• kisim win long 5 pela minit? ( rest for 5 minutes)
• kisim bia? ( have a beer)
• malolo long apinun? ( rest in the afternoon)
• lukim TV? ( watch TV)

Husat i laikim:
(Who wants or Who likes)

• bia? ( a beer)
• kopi o ti? ( coffee or tea)
• PNG? (PNG)
• moa kopi? ( moa coffee)

Meri i laik:
(The woman is about to)

• karim pikinini ( give birth)
• dai ( die)
• kirap long slip (wake up from sleep)
• opim dua ( open the door)
• toktok long yumi ( talk to us)
• krai ( cry)
• kisim sut ( have an injection)


• lukim dok bilong mi liklik?  (glimpsed my dog?)
• wari long wanem samting? ( are worried about what thing)
• laik go we? ( want to go where)
• laik mi kam wantaim yu? (want me to come with you)
• laik toktok long wanem samting? ( want to talk about what thing)
• ting olsem yu laik kam? (think you want to come)
• klia long dispela samting? ( sure about this thing)
• save long pasin bilong yusim komputa? (know to use a computer)
• pren bilong John a? ( are John’s friend eh?)
• save lotu? ( customarily go to church)
• save lotu long wanem sios? ( worship at what church)
• bilong wanem lain lotu? ( belong to what church group)
• bilong lain SDA a? (belong to the SDA group eh?)
• save lotu long Sarere a? ( customarily worship on Saturday eh?)
• save spak? ( customarily booze)
• man bilong Morobe a? ( are a Morobe man eh?)
• bai kam o nogat? ( will come or not?)
• bai go sindaun we? (will sit where?)
• bai go long haus pastaim a? ( will go to the house first eh?)


• ensin i bagarap ( the engine is damaged)
• pikinini i sik liklik ( the child is slightly sick)
• yu gat bikpela wari ( you have a big worry)
• yu no klia tumas ( you are not too sure)
• olgeta samting i paul ( everything is messed up)
• em i taim bilong toktok ( it is time to talk)
• taim bilong pait i pinis olgeta ( time to fight is completely finished)

Ating bai mi:
(Perhaps I will)

• go lukluk nabaut pastaim ( go look around first)
• go askim bos pastaim ( go ask the boss first)
• traim dua gen ( try the door again)
• draivim ka i go bek long Lae ( drive the car back to Lae)
• kisim meri i kam ( bring the woman)
• go tokim wan wan man pastaim ( go talk to each man first)

Ating mobeta yu:
(Perhaps it would be better if you)

• wasim han bipo yu kaikai ( wash hands before eating)
• no wari tumas (are not too worried)
• go sindaun long hap ( go sit over there)
• go kisim ol meri i kam ( go and bring the women)
• kisim nupela ka ( get a new car)
• go kisim sut long haus sik ( get an injection at the hospital)

Itambu (tru) long:
(It is [quite] forbidden to)

• go insait long haus ( go into the house)
• opim dua (open the door)
• stilim kaikai ( steal food)
• stil ( steal)
• go insait ( enter)

Em i taim bilong:
(It is time to)

• kaikai (eat)
• go long sios ( go to church)
• opim stua ( open the store)
• go tokim em ( go and tell him/her)
• askim ol tisa long kam ( ask the teachers to come)
• stat (start)
• pinis (finish)

Em i taim bilong … long go kisim kaikai.
(It is time for …to go grt food)

• mi (me)
• yumi ( us)
• ol meri ( the women)
• ol pikinini ( the children)
• ol lain meri ( the group of women)

Em i man bilong
(He is a man who)

• spak (boozes)
• pait (fights)
• PNG ( is from PNG)
• Morobe ( is from Morobe)
• kusai ( cheats)
• giaman ( tells lies)
• sios (belongs to the church)
• bel kaskas ( whinges)

Gutpela sapos yu:
(it would be good if you)

• go nau ( go now)
• lusim tingting long dispela samting ( forget about this thing)
• go tokim bos pastaim ( go talk to the boss first)
• wasim ka ( wash the car)
• katim gras ( cut the grass)
• tok sori long famili ( apologize to the family)

Nogut yu:
(It would be bad if you)

• kam bihaintaim ( come late)
• kam bihaintaim tumas (come too late)
• go aut long biknait ( go out late at night)
• kirap long moningtaim tru ( get up in early morning)
• kam long wok bihaintaim ( come to work late)
• hambak nabaut long taim bilong wok ( mess around in work time)
• lusim tingting ( forget)
• bel kaskas tumas (whinge too much)

Mi laik:
(I would like to)

• go ( go)
• go wantaim yu ( go with you)
• go kisim wara ( go get water)
• go waswas long riva ( go bathe in the river)
• askim yu long wanpela samting (ask you about something)
• kisim wanpela bia ( get a beer)
• kisim wanpela moa ( get one more)
• go antap ( go up)
• go antap moa ( go up higher)
• go antap moa yet ( go up still higher)
• go antap moa moa yet ( go up even higher still)
• go long taun bipo long belo ( go to town before lunch)
• kam bek bihain long belo ( come back after lunch)
• lusim haus tupela aua bihain long belo ( leave house 2 hours after lunch)
• malolo liklik ( rest a little)
• kisim win liklik bipo mi go ( have a breather before I go)

Mi laik yu:
(I would like you to)

• kam wantaim mi ( come with me)
• go baim kaikai long maket ( go buy food at the market)
• opim dua (open the door)
• opim dua liklik ( open the door a little)
• opim dua liklik moa ( open the door a little more)
• opim dua liklik moa yet ( open the door still a little further)
• opim dua olgeta (open the door completely)

Yu laik mi?
(Would you like me to)

• go wantaim yu ….o nogat? (go with you?)
• go sindaun long hap   … o we? ( go sit over there or where”)
• go wok long haus ….o we? (go work at the house or where?)
• go spak long taun ….o wanem? (go boozing in town or what?)
• go askim em pastaim…o wanem? (go ask him first or what?)

(You / are)

• husat? ( who)
• man bilong we? ( a man from where?)
• meri bilong wanem hap? ( a woman from what area)
• man bilong giaman a? ( are a liar eh?)
• man bilong sios o nogat? ( a church man or not?)
• man bilong hailans o nogat? ( are a highlands man or not?)
• man bilong Goroka o we? ( a Goroka man or where?)
• gat hamas pikinini? ( have how many children)
• gat hamas pikinini man? (have how many boys)
• gat hamas pikinini meri? ( have how many girls)
• gat hamas krismas? ( have how many birthdays)
• gat wari/hevi o nogat? ( you have a problem or not?)
• gat wanem kain wari? ( have what kind of problem)
• laik go we? ( want to go where)
• stap we? ( where)
• stap long wanem hap? ( in which area)
• go we? ( are going where)
• go long wanem hap bilong hailans? (went to which highlands area)
• meri bilong Peter a? ( Peter’s wife eh?)

Wanem taim

• bai yu kam? ( you will come)
• yu bai kam?
• ren i kam? ( the rain comes)
• stua bai pas? (will the store shut)
• yu bai opim stua? (will you open the store)
• ren bai kam? (will the rain come)
• yu kisim sik? ( you caught the sickness)
• pik i dai pinis? ( did the pig die)


• i stap? ( is that)
• bai kam? ( will come)
• i stilim mani pinis? ( stole the money)
• i laik kam wantaim mi? ( would like to come with me)
• i laik kisim wanpela bia? ( would like to have a beer)
• i laik kisim wanpela moa? ( would like to have one more)
• i gat buk bilong mi? ( has my book)
• i no gat mani? ( has no money)
• i pret? ( is afraid)
• i no pret tumas? ( is not too afraid)
• i bel hevi liklik? ( is a little sad)
• (i) inap katim diwai? ( is able to cut wood)
• i gat mani inap long baim tiket? ( has money enough to buy a ticket)
• no gat strong inap long wokabaut? ( does not have strength to walk)

I gat:
(There is/are)

• tupela dok i stap ( two dogs that exist)
• hamas dok i stap? ( how many dogs that exist)
• hamas kain pis i stap? ( how many kinds of fish that exist)
• wanem kain pis i stap long riva?  ( what kind of fish in the river)
• ol wanem kain pis i stap? (what kinds of fish that exist)
• hamas haus i stap long hap? (How many houses that exist over there)
• planti haus i stap antap long maunden ( many houses on the mountain)
• kain kain pik i stap ( there are various pigs that exist)
• tupela meri i wasim klos long riva (2 women washing clothes at the river)
• wanpela pikinini i waswas i stap ( a child in the act of washing)
• wanpela meri i brumim haus i stap ( a woman sweeping the house)
• foapela man i spak i stap ( four men in the act of boozing)

I stap at the end gives the present continuous tense.
He is bathing. Em i waswas i stap. He is walking.
Em i wokabout i stap. He is going and coming.
Em i go i kam i stap.
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