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Expand Your Vocabulary with Tagalog Beginner Words

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Having a commendable vocabulary list to study is imperative when you’re learning a new language. That said, mastering core Filipino words is crucial if you want to become fluent in the language of the Philippines. 

Tagalog beginner words are simple everyday words that form the foundation of a much larger vocabulary. Learning and mastering them will help you if you’re going to pursue a career or education in the Philippines or if you simply want to move to the country.

The good news about Filipino vocabulary is that most of the words have an equivalent in English. And if you commit to studying for at least an hour every day, you’ll be able to master all the basic Filipino words and apply them in daily conversations after only 200 hours.

Tagalog takes 1100 hours to learn, though, which means you’ll still have a long way to go. So, if there’s a good time to start, it’s now! Let’s do it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Mga Panghalip (Pronouns)
  2. Mga Bilang (Numbers)
  3. Mga Pangngalan (Nouns)
  4. Mga Pandiwa (Verbs)
  5. Mga Pang-Uri (Adjectives)
  6. Mga Pangatnig (Conjunctions)
  7. At iba pa… (More beginner words)
  8. Catch More Filipino Beginner Words at FilipinoPod101.com!

1. Mga Panghalip (Pronouns)

Pronouns are among the core parts of speech that one should master first when learning any new language

In Filipino, pronouns are called panghalip. There are six categories of Filipino pronouns. Most of them have direct equivalents in English, although some have more uses than their English equivalents.

You can visit our comprehensive guide to Filipino pronouns if you wish to delve deeper into the subject.

As a beginner in Filipino, you just need to focus on the three basic pronoun categories: personal, demonstrative, and interrogative. 

Personal Pronouns (Panghalip Panao)

These are pronouns that replace the proper names of people in sentences. The keyword is panao, which is derived from tao, meaning “human.”

PersonFilipinoEnglish
1st person sg.akoI
2nd person sg.ikawyou
3rd person sg.siyahe/she
1st person pl.tayowe
2nd person pl.kayoyou all
3rd person pl.silathey

Take note that Filipino grammar doesn’t use gender pronouns, which is why “he” and “she” are both siya in Tagalog.

  • Nag-aaral siya ng bokabularyong Filipino. (“She’s studying Filipino vocabulary.”)
  • Nagbabasa siya palagi ng diksyunaryo. (“He always reads the dictionary.”)

Demonstrative Pronouns (Panghalip Pamatlig)

While English grammar only has four demonstrative pronouns (if we don’t include “yonder,” that is), Filipino has more than a dozen. Nevertheless, we’ll only focus on the most common ones, which are the pronominals.

FilipinoEnglish
itothis
ditohere
iyanthat
niyanthat
diyanthere
iyonthat
doonthere

Both iyan and niyan are translated as “that” in English. The difference between the two is that iyan is often found at the beginning of a sentence, while niyan is usually found at the end.

  • Iyan ang gustong kong matutunan. (“That’s what I want to learn.”)
  • Gusto kong matuto niyan. (“I want to learn that.”)

Interrogative Pronouns (Panghalip Pananong)

FilipinoEnglish
anowhat
alinwhich
sinowho/whom
kaninowhose

There are five interrogative pronouns in the English language. All of them have an equivalent in Filipino grammar, although “who” and “whom” share the same word, which is sino.

  • Sino ang estudyante mo sa Pilipino? (“Who is your student in Filipino?”)
  • Sino yung sinasabi mo na nagtuturo sa iyo ng Pilipino? (“Whom did you say was teaching you Filipino?”)

2. Mga Bilang (Numbers)

Numbers may seem rather insignificant when you’re learning a new language. You may even be tempted to learn them last. However, learning numbers is crucial because we encounter and use them in everyday life. That said, here are the numbers 1-10 in Filipino. You can always check our blog entry on numbers and how to count in Filipino for more detailed information. 

  • 1       isa
  • 2       dalawa
  • 3       tatlo
  • 4       apat
  • 5       lima
  • 6       anim
  • 7       pito
  • 8       walo
  • 9       siyam
  • 10       sampu

Three Ducklings

May tatlong bibi akong nakita. (“I saw three ducklings.”)

3. Mga Pangngalan (Nouns)

Nouns are one of the fundamental word groups in Filipino for beginners to study. They can be used alone to convey an urgent point or with verbs and objects to form a complete thought. 

The Tagalog word for “noun” sounds like the Tagalog word for “name.” However, pangngalan literally means “for naming,” and yes, we know that’s what nouns are for. We use nouns to name people, places, things, events, actions, ideas, and states of existence. There are so many Filipino nouns we could cover here, but let’s focus on the most basic ones first. 

Time

FilipinoEnglish
orashour/time
minutominute
segundosecond
umagamorning
tanghalinoon
haponafternoon
gabinight/evening
arawday
linggoweek
buwanmonth
taonyear


Days of the week:

FilipinoEnglish
LunesMonday
MartesTuesday
MiyerkulesWednesday
HuwebesThursday
BiyernesFriday
SabadoSaturday
LinggoSunday

Notice that the Filipino translations for “week” and “Sunday” are the same: linggo

  • Mag-iisang linggo ka na dito sa Linggo. (“You will have been here for a week this Sunday.”)

People

FilipinoEnglish
ama/tatayfather
ina/inay/nanaymother
anak/batachild
anak na lalakison
anak na babaedaughter
asawaspouse
pamilyafamily
kuyaolder brother
ateolder sister
panganayeldest
bunsoyoungest
pinsancousin
tiyuhinuncle
tiyahinaunt
lolograndfather
lolagrandmother
guroteacher
mag-aaralstudent
doktordoctor
narsnurse
pulispoliceman

Places

FilipinoEnglish
palengkemarket
ospitalhospital
paaralanschool
opisinaoffice
munisipyomunicipal hall
bangkobank
botikadrugstore
simbahanchurch
istasyon ng busbus station
himpilan ng pulispolice station

School and Office Essentials

FilipinoEnglish
lapispencil
bolpenballpoint pen
panulatpen
papelpaper
kuwadernonotebook
guntingscissors
pamburaeraser
pandikitglue
sobreenvelope

Body Parts

FilipinoEnglish
ulohead
buhokhair
mataeyes
taingaears
ilongnose
bibigmouth
leegneck
dibdibchest
brasoarm
sikoelbow
kamayhand
bintithigh
hitaleg
tuhodknee
paafeet

Food

FilipinoEnglish
bigasrice
ulamviand
pampalasacondiment
gulayvegetable
prutasfruit
karnemeat
gatasmilk
itlogegg
baboypork
bakabeef
manokchicken
isdafish

A Business Meeting

Beginner words form the foundation of a much larger vocabulary.

4. Mga Pandiwa (Verbs)

The most basic Filipino sentence cannot stand without a verb. Known as pandiwa in Filipino, verbs are what give life to any speech. Here are 50 common Filipino verbs with which you can build your vocabulary. You can also visit our blog page for a more detailed guide to Filipino verbs.

FilipinoEnglish
gumisingto wake up
bumangonto get up
kumainto eat
uminomto drink
magsipilyoto brush one’s teeth
maligoto bathe
maglutoto cook
maglabato do the laundry
magtrabahoto work
mag-aralto study
magmanehoto drive
sumakayto ride
umakyatto climb
bumabato go down
magpahingato rest
matulogto sleep
magbigayto give
kumuhato get
tumanggapto receive
maglakadto walk
tumakboto run
umupoto sit
humigato lie down
tumayoto stand
umalisto go/leave
bumalikto come back/return
dumiretsoto go straight ahead
umatrasto move backward
umabanteto move forward
lumikoto turn left or right
tumalonto jump
ngumitito smile
lumangoyto swim
gumawato make/do something
magtanongto ask
maghanapto find/look for something
magsulatto write
pumayagto allow
pumikitto close one’s eyes
magbilangto count
mag-isipto think
tumawato laugh
umiyakto cry
sumigawto shout
magalitto get angry
manghingito ask for something
pumuntato go somewhere
dumaloto attend
sumamato come along
humawakto hold

Two Figure skaters

Verbs can make anything come alive!

5. Mga Pang-Uri (Adjectives)

In Filipino grammar, the ligatures na, ng, and g are used to connect adjectives to the words they’re modifying. We use na when the adjective ends in a consonant (except for “n,” in which case we used the ligature g). We then use ng if the word ends in a vowel.

  • Matangkad na tao (“A tall person”)
  • Malaking alon (“A big wave”)
  • Balingkinitang nilalang (“A slender creature”)

We have more lessons explaining the use of Filipino adjectives here at FilipinoPod101.com. Check them out for more examples!

Adjectives Describing Objects

FilipinoEnglish
malakibig
maliitsmall
mahabalong
maiklishort
mataashigh
malapadwide
mababalow
manipisthin
pabilogcircular

Adjectives Describing People

FilipinoEnglish
magandabeautiful/pretty
guwapo/pogihandsome
matangkadtall
maliit/mababashort
maputilight-skinned
maitimdark-skinned
morenobrown-skinned
balingkinitanslender
matabafat
payatslim/thin

Adjectives Describing Emotions

FilipinoEnglish
masayahappy
maligayajoyful
malungkotsad
galitangry
nasusuklamdisgusted
takotafraid/fearful
gigileager

Adjectives Describing the Weather

FilipinoEnglish
maarawsunny
mainithumid
maulanrainy
mahanginwindy
maaliwalasclear
maulapcloudy
mabagyostormy
makulimlimshady
maginawcold
malamigcool

You’ve probably noticed that most Filipino adjectives start with the prefix ma-, although some may end in a suffix instead. Filipino adjectives that are formed using prefixes and suffixes are called maylapi. The adjective maganda (“beautiful”) for instance, is formed by adding the prefix ma- to the root word ganda, which means “beauty.”

A Woman with a Sweater, Hat, and Gloves Shivering in the Cold

Maginaw! Malapit ng mag-Pasko! (“It’s cold! The Christmas season must be near!”)

6. Mga Pangatnig (Conjunctions)

When you start learning Tagalog, you’ll find that knowing a few conjunctions can make your speech sound more fluid, even with a limited vocabulary. 

Conjunctions are called pangatnig in Filipino, and they’re used to connect words, phrases, or clauses. There are as many conjunctions in Filipino as there are in English, but here are the most common ones used in daily conversations.

FilipinoEnglish
atand
oor
dahil/kasibecause
perobut
kayaso
parafor/so that/to 

It’s normal for some conjunctions to have more than one equivalent in Filipino and vice-versa. Take “because,” for instance.

  • Ayaw niyang kumain dahil/kasi busog na siya. (“He doesn’t want to eat because he’s already full.”)

In the same manner, some Filipino conjunctions, such as para, have more than one use in English.

  • Pumunta kami para makita siya. (“We came here to see her/so that we could see her.”)

The conjunction “but” also has more than one equivalent in Filipino, although pero is the one that’s mostly used in ordinary conversations. Its other equivalents are subalit, ngunit, and sapagkat, which are more formal or literary. 

  • Dumalaw ako sa inyo pero wala ka. (“I went to your place, but you were not around.”)

Another word that’s used to substitute pero as a colloquial term is kaso.

  • Hinabol kita kaso ambilis mo. (“I tried to run after you, but you were too fast.”)

7. At iba pa… (More beginner words)

Filipino grammar does not use auxiliary verbs like the ones we’re accustomed to in English. However, there are several words in Tagalog (called “linkers”) necessary for connecting thoughts.

na, ng, and g

We’ve already talked about how ng, na, and g are used with adjectives. These three linkers are also used with Filipino adverbs.

  • Natulog siya na gutom. (“He slept with an empty stomach.”)
  • Tumakbo siya ng mabilis. (“He ran fast.”)
  • Naglarong mag-isa ang bata. (“The child played alone.”)

ang and si

The words ang and si are among the most basic markers in Filipino grammar. The ang marker is used to point out a word as the focus of a sentence.

  • Guro ang babae. (“The woman is a teacher.”)
  • Magaling ang estudyante. (“The student is good.”)
  • Nasa labas ang kotse. (“The car is outside.”)

The marker si, on the other hand, is used to indicate the name of a person as the focus.

  • Guro si Rodel sa UP. (“Rodel is a teacher at UP.”)
  • Estudyante si Ace sa Ateneo. (“Ace is a student at Ateneo.”)
  • Si Andrew ang nagmamaneho ng kotse. (“Andrew is the one driving the car.”)

The marker si becomes sina if the subject is plural.

  • Nag-aaral sina Emily and Jonas. (“Emily and Jonas are studying.”)
  • Aalis na sina Jordan at yung kaibigan niya. (“Jordan and his friend are leaving.”)
  • Nakarating na sina mama at papa ng Maynila. (“Mom and Dad have arrived in Manila.”)

mga

The Tagalog particle mga is one of the most useful basic Filipino words to learn. In English grammar, the pluralization of words means either adding -s or –es to the end of a word, changing the spelling of the word altogether, or retaining its original spelling. In Tagalog, the only way you can transform a word into its plural form is by adding mga before it. 

  • mga tao (“people”)
  • mga kamay (“hands”)
  • mga bahay (“houses”)

There are cases when the number of the noun is understood from the context, and mga is not necessary.

  • Kumakain ba ng gulay? (“Do you eat vegetables?”)
  • Maraming basura sa daan. (“There’s a lot of trash on the road.”)
  • Magpunas ka ng paa. (“Wipe your feet.”)

A Guy Running in the Forest

Hinabol kita, kaso ambilis mo. (“I tried to run after you, but you were too fast.”)

8. Catch More Filipino Beginner Words at FilipinoPod101.com!

Today, you’ve learned some of the most useful Tagalog beginner words! If you feel that we’ve missed anything, or if there are other basic words you want us to cover next time, do let us know in the comments section.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out other articles and Filipino lessons for beginners here at FilipinoPod101.com. You’ll be happy to find out that there are more resources like this blog post that can help you build your vocabulary and practice your Filipino grammar skills.

Here at FilipinoPod101, our goal is to make learning the Tagalog language a lot easier and more convenient for you. For example, our MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members allows you to have 1-on-1 lessons with a Filipino teacher. 

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now and begin your journey to Filipino language fluency!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino