Samoan Limiters

Samoan Subject

Caption: When you identify subjects in the Samoan language, the basic phrase structure is 
O present tense marker

the limiter which makes the noun or subject singular or plural

and then the noun

Let’s identify a house or fale 

O, our limiter goes right here, then the noun is fale,

Now let’s get our limiter

this grid of limiters in the Samoan language is divided into singular, plural, specific, and nonspecific

this row is singular,  le and se

O le fale:  the house, the singular specific house

O se fale: a house,  not any specific house in particular, just a house.  

I want a house.  Is that a house.  Do you have a house.

this column is specific, le and no limiter

Again: O le fale, the house, singular and specific

No limiter: O fale, the multiple specific set of houses.  The houses in your neighborhood. The houses you delivered newspapers to today…specific set of houses.

This column is nonspecific

Again in Samoan language: O se fale, a house, a singular nonspecific house

ni, also pronounced and spelled gi: O ni fale, some houses

if you’re describing the noun then that word often goes after the noun

manaia or nice

O le fale manaia

O se fale manaia

O ni fale manaia

O fale manaia

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English Explanation of Limiters

Limiters are an important part of English grammar and Samoan language. They help modify nouns to give more context and specificity. They can show definiteness, quantity, possession, and more. Understanding limiters helps us create clear and precise sentences. Let’s explore the types of limiters, their functions, and how they are used in sentences in a simple way.

Types of Limiters

  1. Articles:
  • Definite Article (“the”): Points to a specific noun that everyone knows about. For example, “the dog” means a particular dog both the speaker and listener know.
  • Indefinite Articles (“a” and “an”): Used with singular, countable nouns to refer to any member of a group. “A” is used before consonant sounds (e.g., “a cat”), and “an” is used before vowel sounds (e.g., “an apple”).
  1. Demonstratives:
  • This/These: Indicate something close by. “This” is singular (e.g., “this book”), and “these” is plural (e.g., “these books”).
  • That/Those: Indicate something farther away. “That” is singular (e.g., “that car”), and “those” is plural (e.g., “those cars”).
  1. Possessives:
  • My, Your, His, Her, Its, Our, Their: Show ownership. For example, “my house” means the house belongs to me. In Samoan language it’s la’u, lau, lana, le ma, le matou, and many others
  1. Quantifiers:
  • Some, Any, Many, Much, Few, Little, Several, All, No: Indicate quantity. For example, “some water,” “many people,” “few cars.”
  1. Interrogatives:
  • Which, What, Whose: Used in questions to ask about a noun. “Which” asks for a specific choice (e.g., “Which color do you like?”), “what” asks for general identification (e.g., “What time is it?”), and “whose” asks about possession (e.g., “Whose book is this?”).
  1. Distributives:
  • Each, Every, Either, Neither: Refer to members of a group separately. For example, “each student” means every individual student considered separately, while “every student” refers to all students in a group.
  1. Numbers:
  • Cardinal Numbers (one, two, three, etc.): Indicate specific quantities. For example, “two cats” means exactly two cats.
  • Ordinal Numbers (first, second, third, etc.): Indicate position or order. For example, “the first chapter” means the initial chapter in a sequence.

Functions of Limiters

Limiters perform several key functions in a sentence:

  1. Defining and Identifying: Limiters help specify which noun we are talking about. For instance, “the book on the table” specifies a particular book.
  2. Quantifying: They indicate how much or how many. For example, “some milk” and “many people” give us an idea about quantity.
  3. Expressing Possession: They show ownership, such as in “her car” or “their ideas.”
  4. Asking Questions: They are used in interrogative sentences, such as “Which dress do you prefer?”
  5. Indicating Distribution: They specify how something is shared or divided, as in “Each student received a book.”

Usage of Limiters


  • Definite Article (“the”):
  • Used when the noun is specific or previously mentioned. “I saw a dog. The dog was barking.”
  • Used with unique objects or well-known things: “the sun,” “the president.”
  • Indefinite Articles (“a” and “an”):
  • Used with singular, countable nouns when the noun is not specific. “I need a pen.”
  • “A” before consonant sounds and “an” before vowel sounds: “a university,” “an hour.”


  • Demonstratives change based on proximity and number. “This” and “these” for near objects; “that” and “those” for distant objects.
  • “This book is mine.” (singular, near)
  • “These books are mine.” (plural, near)
  • “That house is old.” (singular, far)
  • “Those houses are old.” (plural, far)


  • Indicate ownership and always precede the noun.
  • “My car is red.”
  • “Their house is large.”


  • Quantifiers vary based on countability and specificity:
  • Countable nouns: “many books,” “few apples.”
  • Uncountable nouns: “much water,” “little sugar.”
  • Both: “all people,” “some advice.”


  • Used to form questions regarding nouns:
  • “Which movie do you want to watch?”
  • “What color do you like?”
  • “Whose jacket is this?”


  • Each and every denote individual members of a group:
  • “Each student has a book.”
  • “Every student must participate.”
  • Either and neither refer to a choice between two:
  • “Either option is fine.”
  • “Neither answer is correct.”


  • Cardinal Numbers: “I have two dogs.”
  • Ordinal Numbers: “She finished first in the race.”

Special Considerations

  1. Zero Limiter:
  • Sometimes, no limiter is used, typically with plural or uncountable nouns in a general sense. For example, “Dogs are friendly” or “Water is essential.”
  1. Double Limiters:
  • Generally, only one limiter is used per noun phrase, but possessives can combine with quantifiers or articles in complex structures: “All my friends,” “Both the solutions.”
  1. Contextual Limiters:
  • The choice of limiter can change the meaning or focus of a sentence. For example, “some” vs. “any”:
    • Affirmative: “I need some help.”
    • Negative: “I don’t need any help.”
    • Questions: “Do you need any help?” (general) vs. “Do you need some help?” (expecting a positive response).


Limiters are essential in providing clarity and precision in communication. They define nouns in terms of specificity, quantity, possession, and more, which helps in constructing meaningful and clear sentences. By understanding and correctly using limiters, one can enhance both written and spoken English, making interactions more effective and nuanced.

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