Learn Mini II: Advanced Mini

This guide is the sequel to Learn Mini in 20 Minutes covering more advanced grammar topics.

Drop it like it’s hot

Now that you know the rules, you can break them.

Mini allows you to drop the one-letter words if a sentence is clear enough from context. This can happen for very short sentences where the subject or object is a single pronoun or proper name.

Mi i amo a tu. => Mi amo tu.
I love you.
Bob i pale mui. => Bob pale mui.
Bob talks a lot.
Tu i no manja a ale pan. => Tu no manja a ale pan.
You didn't eat all the bread.

We few, we happy few

Pronouns in Mini can be with other words to indicate gender, plurality, and other things:

mi          first person
tu second person
si third person
mi I / me
mi-duo we two
mi-ale we (includes addressee)
mi-mui we (excludes addressee)
mi-ego myself
tu you
tu-ale you all
tu-ego yourself
si he / she / it
si-viro he
si-feme she
si-kosa it
si-ale they
si-uno one (indefinite pronoun)
si-ota the other one
si-ego himself, herself, itself

When personal pronouns are used as adjectives, they become possessives.

tu kaja        your boxsi note        his/her/its notemi-ale kosa    our thingale mi kosa    all my things

Will-o’-the-wisp

In the last lesson, we mentioned that Mini has a very strict word ordering. Here’s an example of the word ordering of a longer phrase:

mui vasa kolo ropa
= (mui (vasa (kolo ropa)))
= (many (water (color clothes)))
= many wet colorful clothes

The word o, which we introduced before, changes how a phrase is grouped. It doesn’t really have an English equivalent. And it’s also not a preposition, since it isn’t doing anything else but switching around the ordering of a phrase:

mui vasa o kolo ropa
= ((mui vasa) (kolo ropa))
= ((very water) (color clothes))
= very wet colorful clothes
mui vasa kolo o ropa
= ((mui (vasa kolo)) ropa)
= very water-color clothes
= very blue clothes

De o, me say, de-e-e o

One common question people have when learning Mini is when to use de versus o. On first glance, they both seem to mean something like “of.”

The difference is that de is a preposition and is always followed by a noun. And o is a weird grammatical particle that is used to separate adjectives and adverbs. If you want to say something is “of” something or someone, use “de”.

mui kore o animale
very dear animal
animale de mui kore
animal of many hearts

From me to you

Prepositional phrases typically follow the words they’re describing, but when they’re describing the verb, they can also go after the direct object.

Mi toma a kosa go tu.          
I take the thing to you.
Mi dona di unda mesa a kosa.
I put the thing here, under the table.
Mi dona di a kosa unda mesa.
I put the thing under the table here.

Numbers game

Mini has a full base-10 number system.

Numbers can be read off digit by digit or in a Chinese-like fashion by combining a digit with a power of ten.

nulo  0
uno 1
duo 2
san 3
fo 4
penta 5
sita 6
seven 7
ba 8
nin 9
ten 10
sento 100
kilo 1,000
mega 1,000,000
giga 1,000,000,000
tera 1,000,000,000,000
37 san ten seven
136,789,000 sento san ten sita mega seven sento ba ten nin kilo /
uno san sita seven ba nin nulo nulo nulo
4.01 fo punto nulo uno / fo an uno de sento peso
2/3 duo de san peso
-42 meno fo ten duo
5+2 penta an duo
6-3 sita meno san
4/5 fo de-i divi de 5
3*9 san kon nin
4^5 fo go penta
1st uno-ranko / 1-ranko
2nd duo-ranko / 2-ranko
73rd seven-ten-san-ranko / 73-ranko
11:30 am ten uno san ten ante senta
4:55 pm fo penta ten penta afa senta
7 o'clock 7-ranko ora
Monday dia 1
Wednesday dia 3
Dec 5th 5-ranko dia de monato 12 / 5 de monato 12

All together now

Compound words in Mini are formed by chaining consecutive words together with a hyphen.

A few examples (in a random order):

pasa-pota                passport
bon-veni welcome
regen-uti umbrella (rain-tool)
en-mun, eki-mun entrance (in-door), exit (out-door)
inventi-man inventor (invent-person)
kinde-gaden kindergarten (child-garden)
inveti-banka-man investment banker (invest-bank-person)
en-move immigration (in-move-tion)
semi-pota semiconductor (semi-carry)
inta-neto internet
mala-tira misfire (bad-shoot)
ale-en-i-savi omniscient (all-knowing)
bon-neso goodness (good-ness)

Compounds words work the same way as normal words in Mini and can be used as any part of speech:

Bisinesa-man i en-pota a 200 kilo-gama de vino-beri.
The businessman imports (in-carries) 200 kilograms of grapes (wine-berries).
Gen-viva de no-mori bete i de kon-pasa kon ruina de si tumba.
The revival (again-life) of the undead beast coincided (with-happened) with the destruction of his tomb.
Siensa-man i pensa ke raja-topi-viru i mebi ave veni de kave de vola-muso.
The scientist thinks the coronavirus (king-hat-virus) might have come from a bat (flight-mouse) cave.

Harder, better, faster, stronger

You can compare things using ma (more), meno (less), and sama (like/as).

good        bon
better ma bon (more good)
best da ma bon (that more good)
worse meno bon (less good)
worst da meno bon (that less good)
Mi e sama mega sama tu.
I am as big as you.
Da e ma bon.
That is better.
Mi e ma bon sama tu.
I am better than you.
Di feruta e meno ruja sama da.
This fruit is less red than that one.
Da pan e da ma bon.
That bread is the best.

It’s all relative

The word ke can also be used to initiate a relative clause modifying a noun. A relative clause is a dependent clause that modifies the thing before it: E.g. In the sentence “I want the cake that is good,” that is good is the relative clause.

Mi vole a keki ke e bon.
I want the cake that is good.
Man, ke ave a mone mui, no vole make.
A person that has a lot of money does not want to work.

Ackshually, …

Mini sentences may be preceded or followed by an adverb or phrase to establish context:

Afa, mi-ale go.                    
Afterward, we go.
Mi-ale debe kipa di, tamen.
We should stay here, however.

Mini uses a few subordinating conjunctions for convenience:

ka      because 
se if
tamen although
vile while
Vaku-man i kan mira a najima ka si ventana i en punto eki de Tera.
The spaceman can see the star because his window is pointing away from Earth.
Ka mi odi tu, mi senti sama en-i open a aero-loka.
Because I hate you, I feel like opening the airlock.
Se tu open a mun, mi-ale i go e de-i suko en vaku.
If you open the door, we will be sucked into space.
Tamen si i go mori, si deside open a loka.
Although s/he will die, s/he decides to open the lock.
Vile tu open a loka, mi toma a mi fini nafasa.
While you open the lock, I take my last breath.

Each of these conjunctions can be combined with de to function as a compound preposition:

ka de      because of    
se de whether
tamen de despite
vile de during
Tamen de mala manja, si i kipa go tamen a retorante.
Despite the bad food, he nevertheless keeps going to the restaurant.
Vile de evento, mi no bibe a ani kosa.
During the event, I didn't drink anything.

Back to the future

By default, Mini verbs do not indicate whether an action is happening in the past, present, or future. Context usually makes that clear.

If you need to explicitly indicate when something is happening, you can use two helping verbs (de, go) to indicate past tense or future tense. Note that both of these words are normally prepositions, but when they come after i have, they this special function:

Past         de
Present (none)
Future go
Mega viro i de manja. The big man ate.Mega viro i manja. The big man eats.Mega viro i go manja. The big man will eat.

If you are trying to translate an “is” sentence, you can still use these helping verbs to indicate the tense. Since the helping verbs are grammatically verbs, they use the word i:

Mega viro i de a mini viro.      The big man was a small man.I de a vasa.                     There was water.

If you’re trying to use the future tense in an “is” sentence, you use veni (become) to avoid ambiguity:

Mini viro i go veni a mega viro. 
The small man will be a big man.
Mega viro i go (veni) e bon.
The big man will be good.

Helping out

Beside tenses, Mini has a number of other words which can be used as helping verbs to give more information about how an action happens.

Helping verbs always come before the main verb.

Helper    Functionave       have    (perfect)
en is (progressive)
pasa used to (habitual)
Animale i ave manja. The animal has eaten.
Animale i en manja. The animal is eating.
Mi go ave en manja. I will have been eating.
Mi pasa savi a feme. I used to know the woman.
da would
debe should, need to, have to
kan can, may, be able to
mebi might
vole want to
Mi da make a da, pero mi no kan.
I would do that, but I can't.
Si debe resi.
She should rest.
Si mebi kan go.
He might be able to go.

Stack it up

Mini verbs can stack on top of each other to form more complicated phrases:

Mi kipa vole fini pale kon si.            
I keep wanting to stop talking with him.
Mi debe mebi ave begin etudi a Mini.
I should perhaps have started studying Mini.

It keeps not happening

Put “no” in front of verbs to negate them.

All other adverbs come after the verb:

Si kipa pale rapi.
S/he keeps talking quickly.
Si kipa no pale.
S/he keeps not talking.
Si no kipa pale.
S/he does not keep talking.

A need for speed

By default, the word ordering does not distinguish between verbs and adverbs.

But you can use the word o to clarify that a word is an adverb.

Mi i begin rapi a karo. 
I start to speed the car.
Mi i begin o rapi a karo.
I start the car quickly.

Double trouble

Like English, there are some verbs in Mini that can take multiple objects:

Mi name a feme-kinde a Alisa.       
I name the girl Alice.
Mi i an a si a mi seri.
I add it (to) my list.

It’s cool

It turns out you don’t actually need to include a subject. The part of speech words a and e (but not i) can be used to form a sentence without a definite subject:

A vasa.          There is water.
E vasa. It’s wet.
A man. There is a person.
E kula. It's cool.

Feelin’ good

In English, some verbs are weird and take an adjective as their object. A common example would be the phrase “to feel good.” The word good here is not adverb describing feel, but an adjective describing the subject.

Mini also has the same distinction, but it’s marked explicitly with the word e:

Mi senti e bon.              I feel good.
Mi labora i veni e su duro. My work becomes too hard.

Many other verbs in English take adjectives (e.g. looks good, tastes bad, smells funny, or seems ok), but they aren’t translated as verbs in Mini because the subject is not actually doing the action.

Si-ale i ave a raro aroma.     
They smell weird. / They have a weird smell.
Si-feme i ave a bon mira.
She looks good. / She has a good appearance.

Some verbs that take an adjective can also take another (normal) object to indicate a change of state:

Tu make a manja e mala.          
You make the food bad.

Become what you were meant to be

To tell someone they need to be a certain thing or a certain way, you have to use the command form of veni (become):

I veni a viro.    Be(come) a man!
I veni e bon. Be(come) good!

To boldly go…

In English, infinitives are formed with the compound to [verb]: to eat, to work, to play, etc. Mini is the same: Infinitives can be formed using the compound word go-i followed by a verb (or go-e or go-a for the equivalent of to be):

Go-i mori a baka-pale-tori
To kill a mockingbird (back-talk-bird)
Go-i go o poten a ke no man i ave go ante
To boldly go where no man has gone before
Go-i ero, e man. Go-i padon, e deo.
To err is human, to forgive divine.
Go-a man bon, e au duro.
To be a good person is too hard.

-ing land

Unlike with infinitives, the English language does not use a word like “to” to form participles like “writing” or “swimming”. But we could imagine what it would look like if it did: Instead of the word “writing”, we could use a phrase like “in write.” This is the approach Mini takes.

Active participles can be formed using the compound word en-i followed by a verb (or en-e or en-a for being):

En-i no vasa a veji, a mala kosa.
Not watering the plants is a bad thing.
Feme en-i manja a pan i kite.
The woman eating the bread leaves.
Animale, en-e mega su, i unda.
The animal, being too large, falls.

Mistakes were made

In English, passive participles like written or cooked are formed by adding -ed/-en to the end of the verb. In Mini, passive participles are formed using the compound word de-i followed by a verb:

Mini a pale de-i make.
Mini is a constructed language.
De-i kosina sama di, veji i ave a bon aroma.
Cooked like this, the vegetables have a nice aroma.

Just like in English, the passive participle can be used to form the passive voice:

Di buku e de-i note de mi.
This book is written by me.

Da a ale!

Se tu ave leje tila di, tu savi a nea ale de Mini. Bon labora! Mi arapan ke ale i ave e no su duro go tu. (Di linga e de-i supose e da ma fasile, tu savi.) En ani moda, i danke a tu, go en-i leje a ale di an en-i etudi a di linga. Tu e redi nun go-i go eki an pale a Mini kon ale mundo!

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store