Notes and flashcard practice for learning ‘a’ and ‘o’ class singular possessives in te reo Māori (my, your, his, her)




How well do you know your ‘a’ and ‘o’ categories?  If you think you’re good to go at least with the singular t-class possessives go ahead and test your knowledge with the flashcards below.  Please note that the macron/tohutō is not supported on the flashcards so I’ve used the double vowel instead to indicate where to place the stress for pronunciation.


And yes while it’s true that there is a neutral form ‘taku, tō, tana’ these are only available in the singular form so it’s best to understand the ‘a’ and ‘o’ categories from the get go then you can express yourself more clearly and you’ll be way ahead when you start learning the plural forms.


NB:  If you need to brush up I hope that the grammar notes underneath the flashcards will help.  Another post will discuss the dual/plural possessive forms tā tāua, tā tātou etc).

  • my stomach
    tooku puku
  • my (1) sheep
    taaku hipi
  • my (2+) sheep
    aaku hipi
  • his eyes
    oona whatu
  • his eyes
    oona kanohi
  • his aunt
    toona whaea keekee
  • your children
    aau tamariki
  • your husband
    taau hoa tane
  • your friend
    toou hoa
  • my pen
    taaku pene
  • her cups
    aana kapu
  • your books
    aau pukapuka
  • my money
    aaku moni
  • your mobile phone
    taau waea puukoro
  • my space
    taaku koo
  • his work
    taana mahi
  • her speech
    taana koorero
  • your blanket
    taau paraikete
  • my greetings
    aaku mihi
  • your chocolates
    aau tiakarete
  • his beer
    taana piia
  • my smartphone
    taaku waea atamai
  • your breakfast
    taau parakuihi
  • my daughter
    taaku tamaahine
  • his flock of geese
    taana kaahui kuihi
  • my child
    taaku tamaiti
  • my nose
    tooku ihu
  • my ears
    ooku taringa
  • my friend
    tooku hoa
  • his shoes
    oou huu
  • his boss
    toona rangatira
  • your feet
    oou waewae
  • your name
    toou ingoa
  • his horse
    taana hoiho
  • my house
    tooku whare
  • her book
    taana pukapuka
  • your family
    toou whaanau
  • her books
    aana pukapuka
  • his dog
    taana kurii
  • my husband
    taaku hoa taane
  • his wife
    taana hoa wahine
  • your ipad
    taau iPapa
  • my grandchild
    taaku mokopuna
  • your fish
    taau ika
  • my Dad
    tooku paapaa
  • your tribe
    toou iwi
  • This is my house.
    Ko tooku whare teenei.
  • This is my cat.
    Ko taaku ngeru teenei.
  • Here's your mobile phone!
    Anei taau waea puukoro!



Why are there ‘a’ and ‘o’ categories to express possession?


In te reo Māori when you use words that express possession or relationship (my, your, his, her etc) you can communicate something more than you do in English as you have a number of extra words to choose from.

You can not only say who the thing belongs to or who is in a certain relationship but you can communicate who or what is in the dominant (‘A’ category)  or subordinate (‘O’ category) position in the relationship and you can even communicate whether it’s just one thing that you have or more than one thing that is owned or in the relationship.

For example when it comes to people, if we are junior in age to someone we express that using the ‘o’ category – you can tell that the possessives that start with ‘t’ (t-class possessives)  are in the ‘o’ category by the letter that follows the ‘t’.  Tōku (my), tōu (your) tōna (his/her) etc but if we are in a protective, nurturing role we use the ‘a’ category (tāku (my), tāu (your), tāna (his, her).


Tōku māmā.  My mum.  (I’m junior to her.)

Tōku matua kēkē.  My aunt/uncle.  (I’m junior to her/him.)

Tāku tamahine.  My daughter.  (She’s under my protection)

Tāna pēpē.  His baby.  (She’s under his protection.)



Let’s look at the ‘t’ class possessives here,  ie: the group of words in te reo Māori that in their singular form begin with a ‘t’ and express possession or relationship (just drop the ‘t’ for the plural form to say that more than one thing is owned or that you are referring to more than one person to the relationship.)

Singular Pronoun Forms – when just one person owns something or is in a particular relationship.

Number of things possessed
English One Two or more ‘A’ Class Examples – dominant ‘O’ Class Examples – equal/subordinant
my tāku / tōku āku  / ōku Āku (plural) tamariki.  My children. Tōku (singular) māmā.   My mum.
your tāu / tōu āu / ōu Tāu (singular) tamahine.  Your daughter. Ōu (plural) mātua.  Your parents.
his / her tāna / tōna āna / ōna Tāna (singular) teina.  (Her (younger) sister. Tōna (singular) tuakana.  Her (older) sister.










A CATEGORY = expresses our relationship with anyone or anything we are senior to, anyone under our control, protection or authority

Skills, activities, things we produce or control

Food and drink  (but not drinking water)

Portable and man-made things  (apart from articles of clothing or parts of something and big immovable man-made things)

Domestic animals and pets (but not horses)

Children, husbands, wives, grandchildren, students

Technology and machinery (apart from transport)



O CATEGORY = expresses our relationship  with anyone or thing we are junior to, under the control, protection or guidance of, part of, equal to

Feelings, thoughts, emotions, personal qualities



Parts of (things, groups, organizations etc)

Relatives, seniors, partners and friends  (apart from husband, wife child and grandchild)

Transport, shelter (things you go into), support, help

Immovable manmade objects