Tongan Phrases

It’s not necessary to speak Tongan when you visit the Friendly Islands. English is the second language here and almost all Tongans have some exposure to it. At the Aquarium Café, all of our staff speak English, but it might be helpful to learn a few Tongan phrases. Tongans are always impressed when a visitor tries to speak to them in their native tongue.

Even just learning to say mālō e lelei (hello) and mālō (thank you) will be much appreciated.

In Tongan, a consonant almost always indicates a new syllable and the vowels have a slightly different pronunciation than they do in English. For example “a” is pronounced as “ah”, “e” is said as “ay”, “i” is said as “ee”.

English Tongan
Hi (informal) Mālō e lelei
Hello (formal) Mālō ‘etau lava
How are you? Fēfē hake? (Idiomatic)
Fine, thank you Sai pē, mālō
How about you? Fēfē koe?
Very good Sai ‘aupito
Are you ok? Sai pē?
Good-bye (said to someone who is going, when you are staying, informal) ‘Alu ā
Good-bye (said to someone who is staying, when you are going, informal) Nofo ā
See you later (informal) Toki sio
Bye, Rose (good-bye to a person using his/her name) Lose ē, Rose
Yes (common response to all the farewells above) ‘Io! (pronounced “’Iooo”)
Yes Io
No ‘ikai
Thank you mālō
Thank you very much mālō ‘aupito
No, thank you ‘ikai, mālō pē
Excuse me (said when passing in front of someone) tulou
Please kātaki
Sorry fakamolemole
Please, help me kātaki, tokoni mai
What is the Tongan word for _____? Ko e hā e lea faka-Tonga ki he ____?
I am here (appropriate response when someone calls your name) Ko au
What’s that? Ko e hā ē?
Sorry, what is it? (say it again) Fakamolemole, ko e hā koā?
Where is the toilet? Ko fē e falemālōlō?
I have a question ‘Oku ‘i ai ki’i fehu’i
I am tired ‘Oku ou hela’ia
I am Mike (name) Ko Mike au
Sorry, I don’t understand Fakamolemole, ‘ikai mahino
Let’s begin Tau kamata
Time to rest Taimi mālōlō
Let’s pray Tau lotu
Do you know how to speak English? Ke poto he lea faka-pālangi?
I speak a little Tongan ‘Oku ou lea faka-Tonga si’isi’i pē
(an expression of grief, excitement, or concern) Oiauē!
Stop it! Tuku ia!
Don’t ‘Oua
It’s ok/never mind Sai pē ia
Just joking Fakakata pē
Just wondering around ‘Eva pē
Of course Ka ko toe hā
Oh, how sad!/pitiful Faka’ofa
Man!! Masi’i!
Really? Mo’oni?

Here is a look at Tongan numbers and other phrases that have to do with money and counting.

Numbers English Tongan
0 zero noa
1 one taha
2 two ua
3 three tolu
4 four
5 five nima
6 six ono
7 seven fitu
8 eight valu
9 nine hiva
10 ten hongofulu
20 twenty uanoa
30 thirty tolunoa
40 forty fānoa
50 fifty nimanoa
60 sixty ononoa
70 seventy fitunoa
80 eighty valunoa
90 ninety hivanoa
100 hundred teau
dollar pa’anga
cent sēniti
How much is it? ‘Oku fiha?
Eight dollars Pa’anga ‘e valu
Ten cents Sēniti ‘e hongofulu
Two dollars and ten cents Pa’anga ‘e ua sēniti ‘e hongofulu