Hawaiian Language Basics

Hawaiian Letters

Hawaiians are very proud of their language and culture and tend to be very forgiving and welcoming of all outsiders. Anyone who shows an interest in learning the Hawaiian language and culture tends to be embraced. In general, if you speak a Hawaiian word with a smile and Aloha, it’s OK, you can’t be wrong.

First, some basics of the Hawaiian language:

The 5 vowels a, e, i, o and u as well as the 7 consonants h, k, l, m, n, p, and w make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet.

In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel which also means all Hawaiian words end in a vowel.

Hawaiian Pronunciation


Names and words are more easily pronounced when they are broken down into single syllable chunks. Sometimes the letter W is pronounced the same as V as in the traditional pronunciation of Hawai’i which is phonetically pronounced huh-vi-ee rather than huh-why-ee. Both versions are considered acceptable.

a: “ah”, as in father: aloha
e: “ay”, as in may: nene
i: “ee”, as in bee: honi
o: “oh”, as in so: mahalo
u: “oo”, as in spoon: kapu