Now that I’ve gone through all five of those (big) little words – tonu, rawa, noa, kē, kau – it’s time to see how different they are when they’re applied to the same base word.
I’ve written some examples using tītiro, whakaaro and haere. Each example has more than one possible translation depending on context but I chose these to show the breadth of their use.
keep looking, constantly looking
really look, examine, stare at
glance, happen to look, scan
look the other way, look askance
look directly at it, stare into space
Of course the tense and and context can also change the meaning.
Kei te tītiro tonu mai tērā tāne.
That guy is still looking this way.
Kei te tītiro noa pea ki te rūma.
Maybe he’s just looking around the room.
E mete, kei te tītiro rawa mai ia ki a tāua.
Mate, he’s totally checking us out.
Kāhore! Kei te tītiro kē ia ki te pouaka whakaata.
No way! He’s looking instead at the television.
Hei aha tāu! Kei te tītiro kau atu ia ki a koe naianei.
Whatever! Now he’s looking straight at you.
Here’s another example using whakaaro.
Kei te whakaaro tonu a Mere nāku te hē.
Mere still thinks that it was my fault.
Me whakaaro rawa koe i mua i te mahi.
You should seriously think before acting.
Ka whakaaro noa ia ki te take.
He’s just musing on the situation.
He whakaaro kē tēnā.
That’s a strange idea.
E whakaaro kau ana rātou ki te rongoā.
They‘re trying to think of the solution.
And another one for haere.
Kei te haere tonu taua mahi
That project is ongoing.
Ka haere rawa koe ki te mutunga.
You’re going all the way to the end.
I haere noa ia i te waenganui pō.
He just took off in the middle of the night.
Kua haere kē te pahi ki Tāmaki.
The bus to Auckland has already gone.
Kaua e haere kau ki te ngahere.
Don’t go into the bush alone and unprepared.
Keep doing this with any common base word and you’ll see how big a difference a little word can make. The best thing about them is that you if you don’t know the words for muse, scan or askance you can still convey that meaning. So if you learn these Super-5 little words really well, you’ve multiplied your existing vocabulary by 5… and that’s a bargain in any language.