A me O-Whanaungatanga A and O categories - Relationships
Learning the concept of a and o and which category a person or object falls into can prove difficult at times. However, it is essential to learn to use these accurately if you are to become fluent. In this section, we will only be discussing the a and o categories in relation to personal relationships.
We have learnt previously in Kōwae 1 when asking who someone is, that either a or o is used to mean ‘of.’ Whether a or o is used depends on the relationship between the possessor and what is possessed.
Ko wai te whaea o Tiāre rāua ko Hera?
Who is Charles and Sarah's mother?
Ko wai te tamāhine a Hāriata rāua ko Tīpene?
Who is Charlotte and Steve's daughter?
The category relates to the superior or inferior relationship that the possessor has with the possessed. If the person who is in the possessed role is of the same generation or above (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.) as the possessor, they fall into the o category (see the first example above). If the possessed is of a generation below that of the possessor (children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc.) they fall into the a category (see the second example above). Look at the whakapapa for a female below:
Those located above the line fall into the o category whilst those below the line fall into the a category. As you can see from the whakapapa diagram for a female, her husband (tāne) falls into the a category. This is the same for a wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Friends (hoa), relatives (whanaunga) and descendents (uri) all fall into the o category.
Look at the following examples to familiarise yourself with the correct usage of a and o before completing the exercise.
Ko Mīria te tipuna o Te Hererīpene.
Mīria is Te Hererīpene's grandmother. (Te Hererīpene is the possessor and Mīria is the possessed. Mīria is two generations above Te Hererīpene.)
Ko Te Hererīpene te hoa o Eruera.
Te Hererīpene is Eruera's friend. (Te Hererīpene is possessed. Friends fall into the o category)
Ko Api rāua ko Ngāwai ngā tamariki a Wiremu rāua ko Tarati.
Api and Ngāwai are Wiremu and Tarati's children. (The children are what is possessed and therefore, fall into the a category.)
For further explanations and exercises: Te Kākano Pukapuka Tātaki p.2 and Te Kākano pp.140-142.)
Whakakīa ia āputa ki te kupu ‘a’, ki te kupu ‘o’ rānei. Fill each gap with either ‘a’ or ‘o’.
Don’t forget to use commas, question marks, and fullstops and macrons where appropriate (ā,ē,ī,ō, and ū).