The Samoan Helping Verb: Masani/Usually

Samoan Helping Verbs
Caption: The Samoan helping verb “masani” means usually. These types of verbs work with another verb to provide a more detailed description of an action.

The word usually in Samoan translates to Masani

It’s used several different ways but often times it’s used with another verb or action

Like usually go, usually walks, usually cries

In Samoan, usually or masani is connected to the other word with the word ona

So you’ll hear present tense marker E

masani ona and then the verb ..alu

E masani ona alu = USUALLY GOES

E masani ona tagi= usually cries

E masani ona savali= usually walk

Now we’re going to add the doer of the action by using the pronoun ou or I

it goes right before the verb

E masani ona ou alu = I USUALLY GO

E masani ona ou tagi= I usually cry

E masani ona ou savali= I usually walk

If you want to change the doer, change the pronoun. 

E masani ona ‘e alu= You usually go

E masani ona ia tagi= He usually cries

E masani ona ma o= We usually go

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Helping verbs, also known as auxiliary verbs, are essential in the Samoan language. They help convey the time of an action, its nature, and the speaker’s attitude towards it. This explanation will focus on two specific sentence structures involving helping verbs in Samoan: 1) tense marker “E,” helping verb, “ona,” and main verb, and 2) tense marker “E,” helping verb, “ona,” pronoun, and main verb.

Understanding the Structures

Before diving into examples, it’s important to understand the components of the structures:

  1. Tense Marker “E”: This word is used to indicate that the action is either habitual, happening generally, or sometimes it can denote a future action.
  2. Helping Verb: These are verbs like “mafai” (can), “tatau” (must), and others that modify the main verb.
  3. Ona: This is a particle used to link the helping verb with the main verb.
  4. Main Verb: The primary action in the sentence.
  5. Pronoun: Words like “ia” (he/she), “ou” (I), “oe” (you), etc., that replace nouns.

Structure 1: E, Helping Verb, Ona, Main Verb

Example 1: E mafai ona siva

  • Translation: It can dance.
  • Breakdown:
    • “E” (tense marker indicating a general possibility),
    • “mafai” (can, as the helping verb),
    • “ona” (linking particle),
    • “siva” (dance, as the main verb).

Example 2: E tatau ona alu

  • Translation: It must go.
  • Breakdown:
    • “E” (tense marker indicating necessity),
    • “tatau” (must, as the helping verb),
    • “ona” (linking particle),
    • “alu” (go, as the main verb).

In these examples, the helping verb “mafai” shows ability, and “tatau” shows necessity. These helping verbs modify the main verbs “siva” (dance) and “alu” (go) to indicate what can or must be done.

Structure 2: E, Helping Verb, Ona, Pronoun, Main Verb

Example 1: E mafai ona ia siva

  • Translation: He/she can dance.
  • Breakdown:
    • “E” (tense marker),
    • “mafai” (can, as the helping verb),
    • “ona” (linking particle),
    • “ia” (he/she, as the pronoun),
    • “siva” (dance, as the main verb).

Example 2: E tatau ona ou alu

  • Translation: I must go.
  • Breakdown:
    • “E” (tense marker),
    • “tatau” (must, as the helping verb),
    • “ona” (linking particle),
    • “ou” (I, as the pronoun),
    • “alu” (go, as the main verb).

In these sentences, the pronouns “ia” and “ou” are used to specify who is performing the action. The helping verbs “mafai” and “tatau” still indicate ability and necessity, respectively.

Detailed Explanation of Function and Operation

Helping verbs in Samoan serve several critical functions. They clarify when an action happens, its nature, and the speaker’s stance towards it. Let’s break down these functions with examples using the two structures:

Indicating Ability and Possibility

Structure 1 Example:

  • E mafai ona fai: It can be done.
    • “E” indicates a general ability.
    • “mafai” as the helping verb shows possibility.
    • “fai” is the main verb meaning “do.”

Structure 2 Example:

  • E mafai ona ia fai: He/she can do it.
    • Here, “ia” specifies that it is he or she who can do it.

Indicating Necessity and Obligation

Structure 1 Example:

  • E tatau ona faia: It must be done.
    • “tatau” is used as the helping verb to indicate necessity.
    • “faia” is the main verb meaning “do.”

Structure 2 Example:

  • E tatau ona latou faia: They must do it.
    • “latou” (they) is the pronoun specifying who must do it.

Practical Application in Daily Use

Helping verbs make communication more precise and meaningful. For instance:

  1. Expressing Ability:
    • E mafai ona ia ta’alo: He/she can play.
      • Useful when discussing capabilities or permissions.
  2. Expressing Obligation:
    • E tatau ona ou galue: I must work.
      • Indicates a required action, often used in daily responsibilities.

Summarizing the Importance

Helping verbs in Samoan, as demonstrated through the two structures, are indispensable for constructing meaningful sentences. They:

  • Help indicate tense, showing when an action happens.
  • Clarify the speaker’s attitude, such as necessity, possibility, or ability.
  • Ensure sentences are clear and specific about who is performing the action.

By mastering the use of helping verbs, one can significantly enhance their fluency and accuracy in Samoan. These verbs are not just grammatical tools but are essential for effective communication, providing the nuance needed to express complex ideas and relationships between actions. Whether indicating ability, necessity, or permission, helping verbs are key to conveying precise meanings in the Samoan language.

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