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Learn the Different Tenses in Filipino Here!

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Grammatical tense is an important tool that helps us express time as it relates to actions or states of being. As such, mastering the different tenses in Filipino will help you establish effective communication in both written and oral forms. 

The challenge when it comes to Filipino grammar, though, is that the tenses are quite dissimilar from those found in English. As you might imagine, learning Filipino verb conjugation can be quite a formidable task! 

The good news is that there’s a systematic way to study and master the different verb tenses in Filipino. We already have a post about Tagalog verb conjugation that you might want to go through, but we’re going to touch on that a bit here, as well. 

First, let’s give you a brief introduction to the different Filipino tenses.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Tenses in Filipino
  2. The Present Tense
  3. Past Tense
  4. Future Tense
  5. Verb Conjugation and Auxiliary Verbs Summary
  6. Learn More Than Just Verb Tenses with FilipinoPod101!

1. Introduction to Tenses in Filipino

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably read a few times that conjugating Filipino verbs can be a bit more complex than conjugating, let’s say, English verbs. Again, that’s because Filipino verb conjugation is not limited to conjugating verbs based on tense. In Filipino grammar, verbs are also conjugated based on their focus, mood, and aspect. 

We’re not going to deal with those other factors in this post, however. Today, we’ll simply deal with tenses. 

There are three major verb tenses in Filipino: 

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

At first glance, it would seem that Filipino tenses are just the same as English tenses. You might be tempted to think that translating an English verb in either of the three tenses would give you its equivalent in Filipino. However, that’s not always the case because it depends on the word you’re conjugating. We’ll get into that as we move forward.

Now, let’s get into the first verb tense in Filipino.

2. The Present Tense

The present tense, or kasalukuyan in Tagalog, is a tense expressing an action that’s being done at the moment. It can also be used to express an action done habitually.

In English grammar, there are four aspects of the present tense. However, this is not the case in Filipino. 

One thing you need to understand about Tagalog verb conjugation is that Tagalog verbs are conjugated through the use of affixes (panlapi). In our article on Tagalog verb conjugation, we discussed that Tagalog verbs are grouped based on how they’re conjugated and named based on the affix used to conjugate them.

We have: 

  • MAG verbs
  • MA verbs
  • UM verbs
  • IN verbs
  • I verbs

In the present tense, a verb can be conjugated using the affix nag, na, um, in, or i depending on the root word.

Root VerbPresent Tense
aral 
“study”
nag-aaral 
(actor focus)
Nag-aaral ako ng Pilipino. 
“I am studying Filipino.”
kain 
“eat”
kumakain 
(actor focus)
Kumakain ako ngayon. 
“I am eating right now.”
kinig 
“listen”
nakikinig 
(actor focus)
Nakikinig si Kurt ng balita. 
“Kurt is listening to the news.”
bigay 
“give”
binibigay 
(object focus)
Binibigay niya sa akin ang kanyang sweldo. 
“He gives me his salary.”
sulong 
“promote”
isinusulong 
(object focus)
Isinusulong ng gobyerno ang paggamit ng face mask sa pampublikong lugar. 
“The use of face masks in public is being promoted by the government.”

While there are no direct equivalents of the four English present tense aspects in Filipino, it’s possible to translate verbs in these aspects to Filipino. Refer to the examples below:

Simple PresentI study Filipino. Nag-aaral ako ng Pilipino.
Present ContinuousI am studying Filipino.Nag-aaral ako ng Pilipino.
Present PerfectI have studied Filipino.Nakapag-aral ako ng Pilipino.
Present Perfect ContinuousI have been studying Filipino (for two years now).Nag-aaral ako ng Pilipino (ng mga dalawang taon na).

Notice that the verbs in the examples above are in actor focus. Things change when the verbs are in object focus. For instance, the simple present tense “I study Filipino,” will become Inaaral ko ang Pilipino, which is in the continuous tense.

Someone Handing Over a $100 Bill

Binibigay niya sa akin ang kanyang sweldo. (“He gives me his salary.”)

    Knowing the basic sentence structure of the Filipino language is important in learning how to conjugate Tagalog verbs.

3. Past Tense

The past tense (nagdaan) is a tense expressing an action that took place in the past. 

A verb can be conjugated in the past tense using the affix nag, na, um, in, or i depending on the root word.

Root VerbPast Tense
aral 
“study”
nag-aral 
(actor focus)
Nag-aral ako ng Pilipino. 
“I studied Filipino.”
kinig 
“listen”
nakinig 
(actor focus)
Nakinig siya ng audio lesson. 
“He listened to an audio lesson.”
kain 
“eat”
kumain 
(actor focus)
Kumain ako kaninang umaga. 
“I ate this morning.”
bigay 
“give”
binigay 
(object focus)
Binigay niya sa akin ang kanyang sweldo. 
“He gave me his salary.”
hinto 
“stop”
inihinto 
(object focus)
Inihinto na ang proyekto. 
“The project was stopped.”

English grammar has four aspects of the past tense, none of which have a direct equivalent in the Filipino language. However, it’s possible to translate verbs in these tenses to Filipino. Refer to the examples below:

Simple PastI studied Filipino. Nag-aral ako ng Pilipino.
Past ContinuousI was studying when she called.Nag-aaral ako ng tumawag siya.
Past PerfectI had studied Filipino before we decided to move to the Philippines.Nakapag-aral ako ng Pilipino bago kami nagdesisyon na lumipat sa Pilipinas.
Past Perfect ContinuousI had been studying Filipino (for two years already when we met).Nag-aaral ako ng Pilipino (ng mga dalawang taon na noong magkakilala kami).

Notice that the form of the sentences in the present perfect and past perfect are similar in Filipino grammar. In English, the distinction between the two would be in the form of the verb “to have,” which is “have” or “has” in present perfect and “had” in past perfect. The past perfect will also have a clause for the second action, prior to which the first action had been completed.

In Filipino, there is no equivalent for the verb “to have,” so you can identify the past perfect via the clause describing the second action in the sentence, which only appears in this form of the past tense.

A Baby Being Fed Baby Food

Kumain ako kaninang umaga. (“I ate this morning.”)

4. Future Tense

Similar to the future tense in English, the Filipino future tense (hinaharap) expresses an action or event that is yet to happen or be completed.

A verb can be conjugated in the future tense using the affixes mag, ma, in, and i. However, there are instances when an affix is not added, but the first syllable of the word is repeated instead. Take, for example, the verb punta (go): it becomes pupunta (will go) in the future tense.

Root VerbFuture Tense
aral 
“study”
mag-aaral 
(actor focus)
Mag-aaral ako ng Pilipino. 
“I will study Filipino.”
kinig 
“listen”
makikinig 
(actor focus)
Makikinig siya ng audio lesson. 
“She will listen to an audio lesson.”
kain 
“eat”
kakain 
(actor focus)
Kakain ako mamaya. 
“I will eat later.”
bigay 
“give”
ibibigay 
(object focus)
Ibibigay niya sa akin ang kanyang sweldo. 
“He will give me his salary.”
paliwanag 
“explain”
ipapaliwanag 
(object focus)
Ipapaliwanag din ang lahat. 
“Everything will eventually be explained.”

Now, let’s see how we can translate Tagalog verbs in the future tense to the four types of English future tenses.

Simple FutureI will study Filipino. Mag-aaral ako ng Pilipino.
Future ContinuousI will be studying Filipino.Mag-aaral ako ng Pilipino.
Future PerfectI will have studied by that time.Nakakapag-aral na ako sa mga panahon na ‘yan.
Future Perfect ContinuousI will have been studying here in the Philippines for five years in 2022.Nakapag-aral na ako dito sa Pilipinas ng limang taon pagdating ng 2022.

A Woman Listening to Something with Headphones

Makikinig siya ng audio lesson. (“She will listen to an audio lesson.”)


5. Verb Conjugation and Auxiliary Verbs Summary

We already have an entire blog post dedicated to Tagalog verb conjugation, but since we’re talking about tenses, let’s take this opportunity to learn just a little bit about how to conjugate verbs in Filipino. 

In English grammar, verbs are conjugated not only based on tense but also based on six different persons. This is not the case with Tagalog verbs. 

Each verb in Tagalog belongs to a group (as described earlier in this article), and this group plays a role in how the verb is conjugated. We discuss this in great detail in our verb conjugation article, so for now, we’ll focus more on how verbs conjugate for each tense. 

1 – Conjugating Tagalog Verbs in the Present Tense

In one of our examples, we used the word aral, or “study,” and its present tense form nag-aaral. We can conjugate the root verb in the present tense by reduplicating the first syllable of the root verb and then attaching the prefix nag before it. Thus, aral becomes nag-aaral. Please note that some verbs take the hyphen when conjugated, although there aren’t many of these verbs. Now, let’s take a look at more examples:

turo (teach)nagtuturo (teaching)
sulat (write)nagsusulat (writing)
pahinga (rest)nagpapahinga (resting)

Now, to conjugate in the present tense using the affix na, simply reduplicate the first syllable of the root verb and attach na before the newly formed word: 

nood (watch)nanonood (watching)
tulog (sleep)natutulog (sleeping)
buhay (live)nabubuhay (living)

Remember that some actor focus verbs in the present tense also use the affix um, such as in the word kumakain (eating). In this case, we reduplicate the first syllable and insert the affix um after the first letter of the newly formed word. Thus, kain becomes kumakain. Here are more examples:

hinga (breathe)humihinga (breathing)
tayo (stand)tumatayo (standing)
talon (jump)tumatalon (jumping)

We also conjugate verbs in the present tense using the affix in, particularly when the verb is in object focus. We used the word binibigay (giving) in one of our examples. To conjugate it, we reduplicated the first syllable and inserted the affix in before the root verb. Thus, bigay became binibigay. Here are more examples:

tawag (call)tinatawag (calling)
sabi (say)sinasabi (saying)
putol (cut)pinuputol (cutting)

Verbs in the present tense using the affix i are a bit tricky since there’s no clear formula involved. What’s clear, though, is that the affix is found at the beginning of the word and the first syllable of some words is reduplicated. Also, the words using this affix are object focus verbs. Study the following words to see what we mean:

pakilala (introduce)ipinapakilala (being introduced)
pahayag (declare)ipinapahayag (being declared)
bunyi (celebrate)ipinagbubunyi (being celebrated)


2 – Conjugating Tagalog Verbs in the Past Tense

Now, let’s take a look at some rules for conjugating Filipino verbs in the past tense. Just like the present tense, the past tense uses the affixes nag, na, um, in, and i.

To conjugate a verb in the past tense using nag, we simply attach the affix to the root verb. The word aral, for instance, becomes nag-aral. Some words receive the hyphen during conjugation, and aral is one of them. Let’s check out more examples below:

turo (teach)nagturo (taught)
sulat (write)nagsulat (wrote)
pahinga (rest)nagpahinga (rested)

We can also use the affix na to conjugate in the past tense. To do this, we simply add it to the beginning of the root verb. Take a look at the following examples:

nood (watch)nanood (watched)
tulog (sleep)natulog (slept)
buhay (live)nabuhay (lived)

The rule is the same when conjugating in the past tense using the affix um. Refer to the table below:

hinga (breathe)huminga (breathed)
tayo (stand)tumayo (stood)
talon (jump)tumalon (jumped)

The rule for using the affix in when conjugating in the past tense is similar to that for the present tense, only this time, the first syllable is not reduplicated.

tawag (call)tinawag (called)
sabi (say)sinabi (said)
putol (cut)pinutol (cut)

This time, let’s take a look at how the past tense is formed using the affix i

pakilala (introduce)ipinakilala (was introduced)
pahayag (declare)ipinahayag (was declared)
bunyi (celebrate)ipinagbunyi (was celebrated)


3 – Conjugating Tagalog Verbs in the Future Tense

The future tense is the easiest of the three to conjugate. As mentioned, we conjugate Tagalog verbs in the future tense using the affixes mag, ma, in, and i

To conjugate using the affix mag, what we do is reduplicate the first syllable of the root verb and add mag to the beginning. Let’s see how we can do that with our previous examples:

turo (teach)magtuturo (will teach)
sulat (write)magsusulat (will write)
pahinga (rest)magpapahinga (will rest)

The rule for conjugating in the future tense using the affix ma is pretty much the same. Observe the following examples:

nood (watch)manonood (will watch)
tulog (sleep)matutulog (will sleep)
buhay (live)mabubuhay (will live)

Now, to conjugate verbs in the future tense using the affix in, we simply reduplicate the first syllable of the root verb and attach in to the end of the word. 

tawag (call)tatawagin (will call)
sabi (say)sasabihin (will say)
putol (cut)puputulin (will cut)

In some cases, hin is used instead of in, such as in the case of sabi in the example above. The same is true for the root verb basa (read), which becomes babasahin in the future tense.

Finally, let’s conjugate in the future tense using the affix i. Here are some examples:

pakilala (introduce)ipakikilala (will be introduced)
pahayag (declare)ipapahayag (will be declared)
bunyi (celebrate)ipagbubunyi (will be celebrated)

And one more thing: Filipino sentences do not make use of auxiliary verbs. It’s long been taught that ay is a form of the copula “to be,” but we know now that this is not the case. Based on recent sources, it’s more like a replacement for a slight pause. When looking at direct translations, however, it would seem that ay is the equivalent of the verb “is,” such as in the following sentence:

  • Si Loisa ay nag-aaral ng Pilipino.
    “Loisa is studying Filipino.”

A Woman being Recognized in Front of People in a Business Meeting

Ipakikilala na siya bilang bagong presidente ng kumpanya.
(“She will finally be introduced as the new company president.”)


6. Learn More Than Just Verb Tenses with FilipinoPod101!

In this lesson, we’ve discussed the importance of studying the three main tenses of verbs in the Filipino language. We’ve also learned that conjugating Tagalog verbs is a bit different from conjugating verbs in English. We understand if this is quite overwhelming at first, but then that’s where FilipinoPod101 comes in. 

FilipinoPod101 uses a unique style of teaching Filipino grammar, allowing you to learn Filipino through a variety of lessons not limited to reading materials, audio lessons, and video classes. FilipinoPod101 provides free learning resources for anyone who’s starting their journey in learning the language of the Philippines. 

If you sign up today, you’ll gain access to these resources and more! Of course, there’s also the MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members; this allows you to receive one-on-one lessons and non-stop feedback from a native Filipino-speaking teacher through your smartphone or tablet via our app. 

So, how was this lesson on Filipino verb tenses? Let us know in the comments section!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Tagalog?

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There’s probably no country that sends its people to work overseas more than the Philippines. And although it’s largely a country where people tend to leave and decide to settle abroad, it also attracts quite a good number of foreigners. In March 2019, some 714,000 foreign visitors were reported to have visited the Philippines. Headlines may say that living here isn’t a good idea, but foreigners who’ve experienced life in the archipelago say otherwise.

Considering foreigners’ appreciation of the Philippines and the Filipino language’s international reach as a spoken language, it’s not hard to see why more and more foreigners are looking for ways to learn Tagalog fast.

But how long does it take to learn Filipino, really? And what’s the best way to start studying the language?

These are just a couple of the questions frequently asked by non-Filipino speakers who wish to learn the language, and we’ll discuss them here today.

A Woman in Red Polka Dot Dress Holding a Luggage on a Dirt Road

Learning a new language is not a destination, but a journey.


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?
  4. Nothing is Too Hard with FilipinoPod101 on Your Side!

1. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?

Learning the Filipino language might be easy or difficult, depending on who you ask. Some say Tagalog is easy to learn compared to other languages, while others say it’s a complicated language to study and become familiar with. The reason for this disparity is that there are so many factors involved in the process of learning and mastering a new language. Regardless of how slowly or quickly you can pick it up, one thing remains constant: you need to start at the bottom (a.k.a. the beginner level).  

At the beginner level, you can understand very basic Tagalog phrases and know how to use everyday expressions. You also know how to introduce yourself and others, as well as how to ask and give answers to questions about personal details. These details include information such as where you live, how old you are, and so on. You can also interact in a simple way as long as the person you’re talking to speaks slowly and clearly.

What You Will Learn at the Beginner Level

The Filipino alphabet is based on the ISO basic Latin alphabet, with the addition of the Spanish ñ and the digraph ng. Unless your native language isn’t based on the Latin script, you can virtually skip this part and proceed to learn some core Filipino words and expressions. This includes words used in greetings, numbers, days, months, body parts, animal names, and the like. You’ll also learn how to introduce yourself at this level, as well as how to ask basic questions (such as asking for directions).

How to Get There

Wondering how to learn basic Tagalog effectively? If you’re studying on your own, you’ll want to develop goals and strategies that will help you reach the beginner level and eventually the intermediate and advanced levels. In this regard, you only need to remember three things: Plan, Track, and Evaluate. 

  • Plan your goals first, and then plan what strategies you’ll use to achieve them. 
  • Track your progress every day to see how well you’re doing. 
  • Evaluate yourself after a week or two to see whether you have achieved your goals. Take note of which strategies worked and which ones didn’t. Repeat the entire process, adjusting your goals if necessary.

A Businessman Making Plans and Tracking Progress

Learning a language like Filipino requires careful planning.

Since you’re just starting to build your vocabulary, you’ll want to focus on familiarizing yourself with everyday Tagalog words. This means you’ve got to have flashcards on hand at all times. Practice pronouncing the words correctly, making sure your voice is loud enough for your ears to hear. Speaking of hearing, you should also listen to audio lessons as part of your daily schedule. And most importantly, have some practice conversations with a native speaker as often as you can.

Beginner Level Tip: 

Practice with a native speaker as soon as possible. This is a crucial step to becoming fluent in Tagalog. 

How many hours do you need to spend studying Filipino to get to the beginner level? 

This depends on several factors. Let’s assume that you’re fluent in English. In this case, it will take you around 150-200 hours to learn basic Filipino (that is, if you study at least one hour per session on a daily basis). That includes memorizing basic Filipino words, learning how they’re used in a sentence, and having a practice session with a native speaker.

Two Students Chatting with Each Other in a Classroom

Practice with a native speaker as soon as possible. 
This is a crucial step to becoming fluent in Tagalog.

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?

Let’s say you’ve already spent 200 hours studying basic Filipino. By this time, you should be ready to proceed to the intermediate level. 

Once you reach the end of this level, it will be easier for you to understand important points about subjects related to work, school, and similar matters. You’ll also find it easier to produce simple sentences about topics that are familiar to you. 

You will be more comfortable expressing yourself, particularly in terms of describing events and things you’ve experienced. You might also be more fluent around this time, able to interact more spontaneously with native speakers.

What You Will Learn at the Intermediate Level

At this level, you’ll start learning more Filipino words and expressions, but this time, the words you’ll learn are not limited to the names of things or places. You’ll also learn words used to describe actions and experiences, as well as those used to describe a person or situation. In addition to taking your vocabulary to another level, you’ll also learn grammatical tenses and verb conjugation. Add to that the Filipino parts of speech and sentence structure, and you have a good idea of what your studies should focus on at this point.

How to Get There

There are still a lot of core Filipino words for you to learn at this level, so don’t do away with those flashcards yet. Aside from simply memorizing words and their meanings, practice pronouncing the words, too. It’s also important to learn them in context, as new words are more meaningful (and more memorable) this way. When memorizing a particular word, try using it in a sentence or a story. It also helps to study vocabulary based on a specific topic or theme.

If you’re wondering how to learn Filipino words outside of flashcards, keep in mind that you can learn more words and their pronunciation by listening to audio lessons. By now, you should be able to watch Tagalog films or TV programs with subtitles. This is also the best time to read Tagalog literature. You don’t necessarily have to read Noli Me Tangere or Banaag at Sikat; you can instead find reading materials with content appropriate to your level and relevant to your learning goals.

For best results, do all these things in addition to having regular practice conversations with a native speaker.

Intermediate Level Tip: 

The key to becoming fluent in Tagalog is to practice your listening skills. Listen carefully to how a native speaker would pronounce words, break down sentences into parts, and try to understand each word. Repeat the process until you’ve familiarized yourself with Tagalog words, how they’re pronounced, and how they’re used in a sentence.

Bonus Tip: 

It’s important to imitate the accent and intonation of a native speaker, as they both carry the emotions the speaker wishes to convey.

    By now, you should be able to post social media comments the Filipino way. This lesson should be able to help you with that.

How long will it take for you to get from the beginner level to the intermediate level? To achieve this, you’ll need to spend another 250-300 hours of studying.

A Man Studying in a Library

Find reading materials with content appropriate to your level and relevant to your learning goals.

3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?

Congratulations! You’re now ready for the advanced level. 

Once you master this level, you’ll be almost as fluent in Filipino as you are in your own language. You’ll now be able to produce well-structured, detailed sentences on any subject, whether simple or complex. You’ll also be able to understand demanding texts and their implicit meaning. In addition, you’ll be comfortable expressing yourself spontaneously without having to grasp for words. You can also use Filipino now for professional and academic purposes and not just for casual conversations.

What You Will Learn at the Advanced Level

Expanding your vocabulary doesn’t stop after you complete the intermediate level. Most native speakers know at least 15,000 word families, so it should be your goal to become familiar with at least 10,000 words in the language to reach the advanced level. This time, your approach will be more advanced, too. You won’t simply memorize words, but also learn the grammar and gain a deeper understanding of the Filipino culture.

How to Get There

In addition to the habits you formed to get to the beginner and intermediate levels, you must now start speaking and writing with a Filipino tutor who can guide you and offer you feedback. You’ll want to look for more Tagalog books, as well. Several authors write in contemporary Tagalog, such as Bob Ong and Edgar Calabia. If you’re going to visit a bookstore in the Philippines, head straight to the Filipiniana section where you will find a collection of books that are strong in history, economics, literature, sociology, and political science.

Advanced Level Tip: 

Filipino grammar books are okay, but that’s the only thing they can teach you—grammar. When studying a language, it’s important to learn what a native speaker would actually say in real situations, and not just repeat sentences you read from books. 

    At the advanced level, you should already know how to conduct business using the Filipino language. This lesson should help you prepare!

So how long does it take to learn Tagalog fluently? To go from the intermediate level to the advanced level, you’ll need to study for another 550-600 hours.

Again, your learning speed will depend on several factors, and the numbers here are just estimates. They’re particularly based on the numbers provided by the Foreign Service Institute, which is the center for foreign-language learning in the United States government. According to their research, Tagalog is a Category III language and takes a total of 1100 hours to learn. That means Tagalog is more difficult to learn than French, Italian, or Spanish!

A Woman Dressed in Graduation Attire and Holding a Diploma

Tagalog is a Category III language and takes a total of 1100 hours to master.

Nothing is Too Hard with FilipinoPod101 on Your Side!

Learning Filipino is a journey that starts with a single step. And just like with any other journey, the best way to get to your destination is to travel with a map. In this case, your map is FilipinoPod101! Yes, it’s possible to reach the advanced level and start speaking fluent Tagalog like a native speaker. You can do this largely on your own, but with an expert to guide you and give you feedback along the way, you’ll be able to learn Tagalog fast.

Want to save time and money as you learn the Filipino language and discover the culture? Sign up with FilipinoPod101 today! Here, you’ll get access to free learning resources you won’t find elsewhere, as well as access to exclusive lessons from our Lesson Library. Our Innovative Language 101 app will also give you a way to view your lessons and track your progress anytime, anywhere.

Need a personal teacher to guide you through lessons tailored to your specific needs and goals? Our MyTeacher service will take care of you! With this Premium PLUS feature, you’ll receive continuous feedback on your progress, so you’ll know exactly where you are in your journey toward mastering Filipino.

So, what did you think of this post? Were we able to answer your question on how to learn Tagalog faster? Let us know in the comments section! 

Happy learning!

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30 Filipino Proverbs for Everyday Life

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The Filipino culture is saturated with all kinds of traditions, beliefs, and superstitions, many of which are either illogical or impractical. Despite this, it’s also rich in proverbs that contain ageless wisdom. Known as salawikain in Tagalog, Filipino proverbs are bits and pieces of knowledge passed down orally from one generation to another. Their main purpose is to relate perceptions and little truths that have been tested through time.

There are many things from my childhood I will never forget. Among them are the Filipino proverbs that were taught to me by my parents and elders, and the ones I read from the once-popular Tagalog children’s magazine Pambata, which featured a comic strip entitled ‘Mga Salawikain ni Lolo Brigido.’

In this article, allow me to share with you some of the most celebrated proverbs that Filipinos have grown to love over the years.

A Man in Deep Study

Ang kapaitan ng pag-aaral ay mas kanais-nais kaysa kapaitan ng kamangmangan.
“The bitterness of studying is preferable to the bitterness of ignorance.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Character and Wisdom
  2. Proverbs About Life and Living
  3. Proverbs About Work and Success
  4. Proverbs About Relationships
  5. Miscellaneous Filipino Proverbs
  6. Learn Filipino Proverbs Plus Much More With FilipinoPod101!

1. Proverbs About Character and Wisdom

Every culture has its own ideals concerning how one should act, and its own ideas of what it means to be wise. So what better way to begin our Filipino proverbs list than with some proverbs on character and wisdom? 

#1

FilipinoAnuman ang gagawin, pitong beses iisipin.
Translation“Whatever you do, think about it seven times.”
This old Filipino saying is a reminder that every action has a consequence. Filipinos are known for being procrastinators, but we can be impulsive in many ways as well. Filipino parents who have grown in wisdom often use this very proverb to tell their young and more daring offspring not to be hasty when making decisions.

Huwag kang mag padalos-dalos. Bago ka mag desisyon, mag-isip ka muna ng pitong beses.
“Don’t rush. Think carefully before you make a decision.”

#2

FilipinoAng hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.
Translation“He who forgets where he came from will never reach his destination.”
This proverb is usually attributed to Dr. Jose Rizal, although there’s evidence it didn’t originate from him. There’s no question that this is one of the most popular Filipino proverbs, and one that’s often on the lips of Filipino people. There are several ways it can be interpreted, but many people use it to refer to the importance of repaying a favor.

Matuto kang lumingon sa pinanggalingan mo. Kung hindi dahil sa akin, hindi ka aasenso ng ganito.
“Learn to look back where you came from. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be as successful as you are today.”


#3

FilipinoAng karanasan ay mabuting guro.
Translation“Experience is the best teacher.”
Probably every culture has a version of this proverb. It reminds us that life is a series of experiences, a series of learning opportunities.

Ayaw mo kasing makinig, kaya ngayon, ang pinagdaanan mo na ang nagturo sa iyo.
“You didn’t want to listen, so now your experience became your teacher.”

#4

FilipinoUbos-ubos biyaya, pagkatapos nakatunganga. 
Translation“Spend lavishly and you end up with nothing.”
The word ubos is Filipino for “nothing is left.” It’s repeated here to emphasize a point. In this case, it’s used to refer to spending all your blessings in one go. Nakatunganga, on the other hand, is “to be idle.” It can also refer to the act of staring blankly into space, the exact expression someone has on their face after learning they have no money left.

Bakit mo inubos ang pera mo? Nakatunganga ka diyan ngayon.
“Why did you spend all your money? Now, you don’t know what to do.”

#5

FilipinoWalang nakasisira sa bakal kundi sariling kalawang.
Translation“Nothing destroys iron except its own rust.”
This proverb has two meanings, although the first one is similar to the second. It’s a metaphor that could mean no one can hurt you as much as the people who know you well, such as a family member or close friend. In the same manner, no one can destroy your reputation as much as you can—that is, if you keep on doing what is wrong and dishonorable.

Sisirain ka ng sarili mong kalawang kapag hindi ka nagbago.
“Your own rust will destroy you if you don’t mend your ways.”

#6

FilipinoLaging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
Translation“Regret is always at the end.”
No one regrets their action at first. Being sorry about something always comes after the damage has been done. If you think about it, this proverb complements our first proverb (the one about pondering deeply about a decision before acting on it). 

Pag-isipan mo ‘yan ng pitong beses. Tandaan mo, laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
“Evaluate your next step very carefully—think about it seven times. Remember, regret is always at the end.”

A Sad Child Being Punished

Laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
“Regret is always at the end.”

2. Proverbs About Life and Living

We all strive to live the best life we can, but it’s not always easy and our path is not always clear. Here are some Filipino proverbs about life and living to give you some cultural perspective on the topic. 

#7

FilipinoAng buhay ay parang gulong, minsang nasa ibabaw, minsang nasa ilalim. 
Translation“Life is like a wheel: Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down.”
They say life is full of ups and downs, and we can’t expect to be happy all the time. This proverb is a reminder of that truth. The earlier you come to terms with it, the fewer frustrations you’ll have in life. A popular version of this proverb is: Ang buhay ay weather-weather lang. (Life is like the weather.)

Huwag kang makampante. Nasa ibabaw ka ngayon, pero hindi mo alam baka bukas nasa ilalim ka na.
“Don’t be overconfident. You may be at the top now, but you never know if you’re going to be at the bottom tomorrow.”


#8

FilipinoNasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa. 
Translation“To be merciful is God’s; to act is man’s.”
The bahala na mentality, or the concept that the future is up in the air, is deep within the psyche of the Filipino people. Many Filipinos fail to reach their true potential because of this.

“I did my best. I’ll just pray that God will do the rest?”

This proverb is a direct rebuke to that mentality, and it’s very similar to the famous motto, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Kumayod ka kung gusto mong umasenso. Nasa Diyos nga ang awa, pero nasa tao ang gawa!
“Work hard if you want to succeed. God is gracious, but nothing will happen to you if you remain idle!”

#9

FilipinoHabang may buhay, may pag-asa.
Translation“As long as there is life, there is hope.”
Filipinos are among the most resilient of peoples, and this proverb speaks of this truth. Various threats loom so largely every day that we sometimes feel that our situations are hopeless. But if one thing is true, it’s that we should never lose hope as long as there is breath in our lungs.

Alam ko nahihirapan ka na, pero huwag mong kalimutan na habang may buhay, may pag-asa.
“I know you’re having a very difficult time, but never forget that as long as there is life, there is hope.”

#10

FilipinoPag may hirap, may ginhawa.
Translation“When there is a difficulty, there is also a relief.”
This is somewhat similar to the previous proverb about life being full of ups and downs. Most assuredly, life is full of paradoxes and dilemmas. But even if we’re facing hardships right now, we should never forget that we’ve also experienced many good things in the past—and we’ll experience more in the days to come! So don’t lose hope. A wise man once said, “Should we accept from God only good and not adversity?”

#11

FilipinoKalabaw lang ang tumatanda. 
Translation“Only carabaos grow old.”
There’s a reason that the carabao, or the water buffalo, is the national animal of the Philippines. As a symbol of hard work, the carabao is a tough, powerful, and tireless beast. But even an animal as majestic as the carabao grows old and eventually dies. Our grandparents used to quote this proverb to remind everybody that growing old is all in the mind and that anyone can stay as young and strong as they want by maintaining a positive outlook on life. In other words, “Age is just a number.”

Lola, tama na ang trabaho. Magpahinga ka na.
Hmp! Kalabaw lang ang tumatanda!

“Grandma, you need to get some rest from work.”
“Hmph! Only carabaos grow old!”

#12

FilipinoAng masamang damo ay matagal mamatay.
Translation“Weeds don’t die easily.”
This proverb has long been used to describe evil people, particularly why they always seem to live longer. It’s somewhat related to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and its opposite, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” 

Indeed, we often perceive the wicked to be prospering more than they deserve, but let us not forget that both good and bad are part of life. Perhaps one of the purposes of this proverb is to remind us that it’s impossible to completely rid our lives of evil. All we can do is accept this fact, resist evil, and strive to be better individuals. 

Meanwhile, some people quote this proverb after narrowly escaping death. 

Huwag kayong mag-alala sa akin. Masamang damo ako.
“Don’t be too worried about me. I don’t die easily.”

Three Old Women and an Old Man Laughing and Playing Cards

Kalabaw lang ang tumatanda.
“Only carabaos grow old.”

3. Proverbs About Work and Success

Every culture has something to say about the value of hard work and what it takes to be successful. Below are some common Filipino proverbs on the topic to inspire and motivate you! 

#13

FilipinoHangga’t makitid ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot. 
Translation“Learn how to curl up while the blanket is short.”
Blankets are an important part of life in the Philippines. They protect not only against the cold, but also against mosquitoes and other bugs. In poor communities, a blanket can be a luxury. This proverb advises that if your blanket is too short, learn to bend your knees so that it can cover your entire body. In other words, learn to adjust to your circumstances. 

As we’ve already learned, life has its ups and downs. Be content with what you have at the moment. Work hard and save until you reach the point where you can indulge in a bit of luxury.

Matuto ka munang mamaluktot habang naghahanap ka pa lang ng trabaho.
“Learn to save first while you’re still looking for a job.”

#14

FilipinoPag may tiyaga, may nilaga. 
Translation“If you persevere, you will reap the fruits of your labor.”
In rural Philippines, the nilaga or stew is considered a reward after a hard day’s work. If a Filipino worker doesn’t work hard enough, he won’t have enough money to buy the ingredients for this nutritious dish. This proverb motivates us to work hard because if we persevere, success—and perhaps a delicious bowl of nilaga—will be waiting for us at the end. 


#15

FilipinoDaig ng maagap ang masipag. 
Translation“Promptness wins over diligence.”
To be maagap means to be proactive. You can be hardworking and persevering, but if you’re not mindful of what’s going on around you, you’ll risk losing your work and its potential rewards. 

Be a hardworking individual. Be excellent in what you do and never quit until you’ve completed your task. But in the process, don’t forget to stay alert and ready. In the end, a quick-witted person will win over someone who seems to work non-stop.

#16

FilipinoAng kita sa bula, sa bula rin mawawala.
Translation“What comes from bubbles will disappear in bubbles.”
In a time when get-rich-quick schemes are becoming more and more rampant, nothing could be more valuable than this proverb. The word bula is Filipino for “bubble.” And as you know, bubbles can be attractive and mesmerizing sometimes. But just as fast as they appear, so do they disappear in the blink of an eye. Don’t fall for schemes that promise quick riches. As the saying goes, the way to get rich quickly is to do it slowly.

#17

FilipinoAng umaayaw ay di nagwawagi, ang nagwawagi ay di umaayaw. 
Translation“A quitter never wins; a winner never quits.”
There’s a time to quit and there’s a time to persevere and endure. This is a very straightforward proverb, reminding us that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. After all, no one who quit prematurely became a champion in life.

Huwag kang aayaw kaagad dahil ikaw din ang matatalo sa huli.
“Don’t quit easily because you’ll only end up being the loser in the end if you do.”

#18

FilipinoPera na, naging bato pa.
Translation“What you thought was money turned out to be stone.”
This is an expression of regret, often said by people who thought they were able to make a profit out of something. In the end, what they thought was a genuine opportunity turned out to be a scam. An excellent reminder that true success cannot be obtained overnight.

Nagsisi ako na sumali ako sa negosyo na ‘to. Pera na naging bato pa.
“I regret joining this business. The money I invested simply turned into stone.”


Beef Nilaga

Pag may tiyaga, may nilaga.
“If you persevere, you will reap the fruits of your labor.”

4. Proverbs About Relationships

Lasting relationships are some of the most precious things in life, but they can also be the most trying. Here are a few Filipino proverbs about love, family, and friendship to give you some perspective. 

#19

FilipinoAng matapat na kaibigan, tunay na maaasahan. 
Translation“You will know a true friend in time of need.”
Perhaps you’re more familiar with, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” 

It’s easy to attract people into our lives when we’re experiencing success. But when everything seems to be falling apart, these so-called friends will be nowhere to be found. Those who are truly loyal to us are those who will stay by our side to support us, even when they know they’ll get nothing in return.

#20

FilipinoAng pag-aasawa ay hindi biro, ‘di tulad ng kanin, iluluwa kung mapaso. 
Translation“Marriage is not a joke. It is not like food that you can spit out when it is too hot to chew.”
Marrying a person means marrying their entire family. This is especially true in a culture like that of the Philippines, where married couples tend to live together with either of the couple’s side of the family. True enough, strife between husband and wife often involves family members from each side. But then, this old Filipino proverb helps us understand that marriage is a lifetime commitment and not something you can throw away once you get tired of its flavor.

-Isasauli ko na siya sa nanay niya.-Anong akala mo sa relasyon niyo?
Parang kanin na pag napaso ka iluluwa mo lang?

-“I’m going to return her to her parents.”
-“What do you think of your relationship? Do you think it’s like rice that you can simply spit out when you get burned?”

#21

FilipinoAnak na di paluluhain, ina ang patatangisin.  
Translation“An undisciplined child will leave his mother in tears.”
This is the Filipino equivalent of the Biblical proverb that says, “He who spares the rod hates his son.” Spanking a child for bad behavior may be taboo in Western countries, but in the Philippines, it has been common practice to hit a child with a stick as a form of discipline. Many Filipinos forty years old and above would tell you they’re thankful that they lived in a generation when it was okay to hit a child to keep them in check. That’s not to say that it’s still okay today. After all, there are many ways to discipline an unruly child. What this proverb is telling us is that children should never be spoiled if they are to grow up bringing honor to their parents and themselves.

#22

FilipinoHindi magbubunga ng santol ang mabolo. 
Translation“The mabolo tree will not bear a santol fruit.”
Speaking of honor, in Asian countries like the Philippines, society places much importance on honoring one’s parents. This proverb is used in both a positive and a negative sense. 

When society sees a child growing up to become as successful and noble as his parents, they conclude that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. If that same child ended up going the opposite direction, he would be labeled a “black sheep,” a “rotten fruit” that is just as rotten as the tree he had fallen from.

#23

FilipinoPagkahaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.  
Translation“The procession may be long, but it will surely still end up in the church.”
As a primarily Catholic country, the Philippines has several religious festivals, most of which are celebrated with long processions. No matter how long and slow the procession may be, one can be sure that its final destination is the church. 

Filipinos liken long engagements to a religious procession. For some couples, it takes years before the decision to finally settle down is made. The journey toward marriage may be full of ups and downs, but like religious processions, they end up in front of the church altar where they say their “I do’s.”

#24

FilipinoKapag binato ka ng bato, batuhin mo ng tinapay.
Translation“When someone throws a stone at you, throw back a piece of bread.”
This reminds us of one of the sayings in Scripture: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

In life, you’ll encounter people who will oppress you and do their best to bring you down. It’s tempting to take vengeance against such people, but no proverb is more full of wisdom than this one, telling us not to retaliate. What will we gain if we fight fire with fire? The best way to deal with conflict is to neutralize the situation. As a famous man once wrote, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 


A Newly Married Couple Running between Rows of Cheering Family Members

Pagkahaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.  
“The procession may be long, but it will surely still end up in the church.”

5. Miscellaneous Filipino Proverbs

To wrap up, here are a few more Tagalog proverbs for the road. 

#25

FilipinoMadaling sabihin, mahirap gawin.  
Translation“Easier said than done.”
This particular proverb is often directed toward proud people who always fall short of accomplishing the very thing they proudly boasted of being able to do with ease. Such people often miscalculate the difficulty of a task, put off doing it, and then end up realizing they shouldn’t have been overconfident.

#26

FilipinoAng taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit. 
Translation“A desperate person will cling to a knife.”
There’s a moral dilemma to this proverb. Would you sentence a man who had committed a crime, or would you pardon him because he only did what he did because he had to feed his family? Let us know in the comments section how you would interpret this proverb.

#27

FilipinoAng taong walang kibo, nasa loob ang kulo. 
Translation“A quiet person hides his anger.”
Have you ever noticed that the calmer a person looks on the outside, the more capacity that person has for mischief? A colleague may seem peaceful because he doesn’t talk a lot. But be careful when dealing with that person, because one reason he may be reserved is that he doesn’t know how to express himself. And more often than not, it’s those kinds of people whose emotions are raging inside. They’re like a volcano that has remained dormant for a long time, only to erupt violently without warning.

Mag-ingat ka kay Dante. Nasa loob ang kulo niyan.
“Be careful with Dante. He may seem calm, but he can be very violent.”

#28

FilipinoAng naglalakad nang matulin, pag natinik ay malalim. 
Translation“A person who walks fast will have a deeper wound when he is pricked.”
We live in a generation where we’re bombarded with lies telling us that bigger and faster are better. As a result, we often prefer fast food over home-cooked meals; we sign up with get-rich-quick programs instead of working hard from the bottom up. 

This proverb encourages us not to be hasty, but to take things slowly, thinking carefully about our actions. He who hurries often gets wounded the deepest, so don’t get distracted by false promises of shortcuts and quick success.

#29

FilipinoMagbiro ka sa lasing, huwag sa bagong gising.  
Translation“Throw a prank on a drunk man, but never on someone who has just woken up.”
It’s not uncommon to see prank videos on the internet these days, and the two groups of people we often see falling victim are those who are drunk and those who are deep asleep. If you’ve ever been startled awake, you know for sure that it’s not a pleasant feeling. You’ve probably even wished you were drunk because it would have made the situation easier to forget. 

Before the age of the internet and before online pranks became popular, this proverb reminded Filipinos never to prank someone who’s sleeping or had just woken up. Our ancestors had been there, and they realized the results weren’t pretty.

#30

FilipinoAng taong naniniwala sa sabi-sabi ay walang tiwala sa sarili.  
Translation“The person who believes in rumors has no self-confidence.”
A more popular version of this proverb goes, Ang maniwala sa sabi-sabi, walang bait sa sarili. In English, “The person who believes in rumors has no common sense.” 

Indeed, a person who easily believes what they hear or read about has no self-respect. And there’s no better generation to begin applying this proverb than the one we’re in, where fake news and internet hoaxes run amuck.

    → Boost your confidence with this lesson on improving your Filipino speaking skills.

A Child Drawing a Mustache and Beard on Their Sleeping Father

Magbiro ka sa lasing, huwag sa bagong gising.
“Throw a prank on a drunk man, but never on someone who has just woken up.”

6. Learn Filipino Proverbs Plus Much More With FilipinoPod101!

We’ve talked about some of the most famous Filipino proverbs here, but did you know that you can learn even more with FilipinoPod101? Add more Tagalog words to your arsenal, improve your pronunciation, and fall even deeper in love with Filipino culture by signing up with FilipinoPod101. Here, you’ll find unlimited resources that will help you in your Filipino language studies.

And if you want to speed up your learning, you can always avail yourself of MyTeacher, a FilipinoPod101 Premium PLUS feature that pairs you up with your own personal teacher. He or she will give you one-on-one lessons and continual feedback, so you’ll know how much you’re improving.

Before you go: Did we forget any Filipino proverb that you believe should be on this list? Feel free to let us know in the comments, or discuss your favorite ones with your fellow Filipino learners!

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Fundamental Tagalog Grammar Rules For Learners

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Filipino is a beautiful language, but it cannot be learned and mastered overnight. 

If you want to master grammar in Tagalog and speak like a native Filipino, you need to have a strong foundation. That means studying the language in-depth and learning the most basic concepts before advancing to the more difficult parts.

Well, if you want to familiarize yourself with the Filipino grammar basics, you’ve come to the right place. On this page, we’ll present you with the fundamentals of Filipino grammar, from sentence formation to pronunciation.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Nouns
  3. Pronouns
  4. Verbs and Tenses
  5. Adjectives
  6. Level Up Your Filipino With FilipinoPod101

1. General Rules

There are four general aspects of the Filipino language you need to be familiar with before you can begin studying the rest. Let’s start with how words are formed and connected in Filipino.

1 – Roots and Affixes

Roots and affixes are the main ingredients of Tagalog words. Affixes are added to roots to change the meaning or aspect of a word, particularly of verbs.

The affix -in, for instance, can be added to the verb root kain (eat), to change it to its past or imperative form.

RootPastImperative
kainkinainkainin

Some Tagalog root words can also be combined to craft a new word.

araw (day) + gabi (night)araw-gabi (day and night)

New words can also be formed by repeating certain roots. In this case, a hyphen is used as a separator.

isa (one)isa-isa (one by one)
gaya (imitate)gaya-gaya (a person who imitates)
halo (mix)halo-halo (a mixture of different things)
araw (day)araw-araw (every day)

Finally, affixes can be added to the beginning, middle, or end of a root word to form new nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.

  • tag-ulan (rainy season)
  • kahapon (yesterday)
  • mahangin (windy)
  • tumawid (crossed)
  • mabenta (marketable)
  • iyakin (crybaby)

2 – Sentence Structure

Tagalog word order is a bit different from that of English, and is much simpler in a sense. For instance:

English SentenceFilipino TranslationLiteral Meaning
The car is beautiful.Maganda ang kotse.Beautiful the car.

Here, the particle marker ang is used to mark the noun that comes after it as the subject of the sentence. 

You could also say, Ang kotse ay maganda, which is a direct translation of the example. However, this particular sentence pattern is used only in formal writing and not in casual conversations.


3 – Pronunciation and Sounds

Replaceable Sounds

We’ve discussed Tagalog pronunciation in detail in one of our recent blog entries, but we haven’t yet touched on the topic of replaceable sounds. Under certain conditions, some Tagalog vowel sounds can be replaced.

The /i/ sound, for instance, can be changed to the /e/ sound:

  • lalaki (man, male) → lalake
  • hindi (no) → hinde
  • mabuti (good) → mabute
  • mabait (friendly) → mabaet
  • madami (plenty) → madame

The /e/ sound can also be changed to the /i/ sound. This usually happens when the last syllable is immediately followed by a word:

  • sige na (come on, go ahead) → sigi na

And then there’s the changing of the /o/ sound to the /u/ sound:

  • total (after all) → tutal

This also happens when the last syllable is not followed by a pause:

  • Ano pa? (What else?) → Anu pa?
  • Botika (Drugstore) → Butika

Keep in mind that the change in sound is only applied to spoken language; they keep their original spelling in written form.

Syllable Repetition

One thing that’s unique about the Filipino language is the repetition of syllables in words, particularly when conjugating verbs. The word awit (to sing), for instance, becomes aawit (will sing) in its future tense. 

The rules for syllable repetition are simple. If the syllable begins with a vowel, the first vowel alone is repeated.

amin (admit)aamin (will admit)
iwan (leave behind)iiwan (will leave behind)
uwi (go home)uuwi (will go home)

Now, if the syllable begins with a consonant, the first consonant and the first vowel are repeated.

balik (return)babalik (will return)
sayaw (dance)sasayaw (will dance)
kain (eat)kakain (will eat)

A Child Playing with Colored Wooden Blocks

Roots and affixes are the building blocks of Tagalog words.

4 – Markers

Markers play an important role in Tagalog grammar. These are short words that indicate what role a word is playing in a sentence. The three main markers are ang, ng, and sa.

The Ang Marker

The four ang markers are: ang, si, sina, and ang mga.

The ang marker is used to mark a word as the focus of a sentence. 

Matalino ang babae.The woman is smart.
Magulo ang usapan.The discussion was a mess.
May limang anak ang lalaki.The man has five children.

However, it’s not used to mark people’s names. We use the si marker for that one.

Masipag si Marco.Marco is hardworking.
Nagbabasa si Denise sa loob ng kwarto niya.Denise is reading inside her room.
Nasa opisina si Roxanne.Roxanne is in the office.

Take note that the si marker is only used to mark singular names. To indicate the names of two or more people, we use sina.

Nasa labas na sina Paul at Aileen.Paul and Aileen are already outside.
Dumating kanina sina Rudy.Rudy and company arrived earlier.
Hindi nakauwi sina JR at Lisa.JR and Lisa were not able to make it home.

What about ang mga? Well, we use this marker to mark a word that’s in its plural form.

Naglalaro ang mga bata.The kids are playing.
Nagliparan ang mga ibon.The birds have flown away.
Biglang nagsidatingan ang mga tao.The people suddenly started arriving.

The Ng Marker

The ng markers are: ng, ni, nina, and ng mga.

Ng is used to indicate possession, with the name of the possessor coming right after the marker.

bahay ng presidentehome of the president
pagkain ng pusafood of the cat
aklat ng estudyantebook of the student

It’s also used to mark a direct object that is not the focus.

Naghanap ng trabaho si Anton.Anton went looking for a job.
Bumili ng bahay ang pamilya ni Marc.Marc’s family bought a house.
Binigyan niya ako ng maraming pera.He gave me a lot of money.

The Sa Marker

The sa markers are: sa, kay, kina, and sa mga.

Sa is used to mark location, direction, future time, and the beneficiary of an action in a sentence.

LocationMay pagtitipon sa bahay ko.There’s a party at my house.
DirectionPumunta siya sa Maynila.He went to Manila.
Future timeDadating si Mico sa Martes.Mico will arrive on Tuesday.
Beneficiary of an actionNagluto siya para sa asawa niya.He cooked for his wife.

2. Nouns

Nouns are the most important words you can learn when you begin studying a language. But they can only benefit you if you know how to use them! In this section, we’ll cover a couple of basic Filipino grammar rules concerning nouns and their usage.

1 – Gender

Filipino is considered a gender-neutral language. That said, there are no equivalents for the words “he” and “she” in Tagalog.

In the following sentences, siya is used to refer to both the male subject and the female subject.

  • Siya yung sinasabi ko. (He was the one I was talking about.)
  • Umalis siya para bumili ng pagkain para sa amin. (She went to buy some food for us.)

In these examples, niya is used for the pronouns “he” and “she,” serving as a substitute for an unfocused actor.

  • Kinuha niya ang telepono ko. (He took my phone.)
  • Hinugasan niya ang kanyang mga kamay. (She washed her hands.)

2 – Plurals

In English grammar, regular nouns in their singular form are changed into their plural form by adding -s at the end of the word. In Filipino grammar, a word is made plural by placing the marker mga before the word.

EnglishFilipino
SingularPluralSingularPlural
birdbirdsibonmga ibon
carcarskotsemga kotse
treetreespunomga puno


3. Pronouns

In Filipino grammar, pronouns are categorized in the same manner that English pronouns are. However, it’s important to note that not all English pronouns have a direct equivalent in Tagalog. Tagalog pronouns are unique in that they’re divided into three groups—the same groups that are used to classify markers—ang, ng, and sa.

1 – Ang pronouns are the focus in a sentence.


EnglishFilipinoExample
“I”ako (singular first person)Ako ang nag-ayos ng problema niya.
“I am the one who fixed his problem.”
“you”ikaw (singular second person)Ikaw ang hinahanap nila.
“You are the one they are looking for.”
“he” / “she”siya (singular third person)Siya ang may pakana ng lahat.
“She is the mastermind of all this.”
“we”tayo (inclusive) / kami (exclusive) (plural first person)Nanalo tayo.
“We won.”
“you all”kayo (plural second person)Dapat pumunta kayo lahat dun.
“You all should go there.”
“they”sila (plural third person)Umuwi na sila.
“They went home already.”

2 – Ng pronouns replace unfocused nouns in a sentence.


EnglishFilipinoExample
“my” / “of me”ko (singular first person)Natupad ang kahilingan ko.
“My wish was granted.”
“your” / “of you”mo (singular second person)Nasa labas ang mga kaibigan mo. “Your friends are outside.”
“his” / “her” / “of him” / “of her”niya (singular third person)Nahanap niya ang nawawala kong aso.
“He found my lost dog.”
“our” / “of us”namin (exclusive) / natin (inclusive) (plural first person)Isinauli namin ang kotse.
“The car was returned by us.”
“your” / “of you”ninyo (plural second person)Nariyan na ang mga grado ninyo.
“Your grades are now available.”
“their” / “of them”nila (plural third person)Malayo ang opisina nila.
“Their office is quite far.”

3 – Sa indicates an unfocused direction and location in a sentence; it also indicates possession.


EnglishFilipinoExample
“me” / “my”akin (singular first person)Nasa akin ang anak mo.
“Your daughter is with me.”
“you” / “your”iyo (singular second person)Tatawag ako sa iyo bukas.
“I am going to call you tomorrow.”
“him” / “his” / “her” / “hers”kanya (singular third person)Nasa kanya ang mikropono.
“The microphone is with him.”
“us” / “our”amin (exclusive) / atin (inclusive) (plural first person)Amin ito.
“This is ours.”
“you” / “your”inyo (plural second person)Sa inyo yata ito.
“This is probably yours.”
“them” / “their”kanila (plural third person)Kanila na lang yang pagkain.
“Give the food to them.”

4 – Kita

In instances when “I” (ko) acts as the doer and “you” (ka) functions as the object, the pronoun kita is used. The best example is the statement, Mahal kita (“I love you”), or literally, “You are loved by me.” 

Here are more examples where kita (“I…you”) is used:

  • Nakita kita sa TV. (I saw you on TV.)
    Lit. “You were seen on TV by me.”
  • Tinatawag kita kanina. (I was calling you earlier.)
    Lit. “You were called by me earlier.”
  • Kaibigan kita. (You are my friend.)
  • Tuturuan kita. (I will teach you.)
  • Bibigyan kita ng pabuya. (I will give you a reward.)

A Guy Whispered Something to a Girl

Tuturuan kita ng Filipino. (“I will teach you Filipino.”)


4. Verbs and Tenses

Verbs are arguably the most difficult aspect of Tagalog grammar. Non-Tagalog speakers might find them complicated at first as they don’t work the same way that English verbs do. The good news is  that, in Filipino grammar, tenses work pretty much the same way as those in English. 

Basically, Tagalog verbs are made up of a verb root and an affix. In order to change the meaning or tense of the verb, an affix can be added to the beginning, middle, or end of the verb root.

1 – Verb Groups

Tagalog verbs are grouped according to how they’re conjugated. They can either be mag-, ma-, um-, in-, or i- verbs. 

Below are examples of how words are conjugated in each group:

-Mag Verb

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
aral (to study)nag-aral (studied)nag-aaral (studying)mag-aaral (will study)mag-aral (study)

-Ma Verb

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
kinig (to listen)nakinig (listened)nakikinig (listening)makikinig (will listen)makinig (listen)

-Um Verb

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
kain (to eat)kumain (ate)kumakain (eating)kakain (will eat)kumain (eat)

-In Verb

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
tawag (to call)tumawag (called)tumatawag (calling)tatawag (will call)tumawag (call)

-I Verb

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
inom (to drink)uminom (was drank)iniinom (being drank)iinumin (will be drank)inumin (drink)

2 – Verb Repetition

Tagalog verbs can be repeated when expressing a prolonged action. This is a unique characteristic of Filipino grammar. When verbs are repeated in this manner, the two words are linked by nang.

Kain nang kain si Raul.Raul keeps on eating.
Sumigaw nang sumigaw si Tanya.Tanya kept on shouting.
Iyak nang iyak si Joy.Joy keeps on crying.

A Man with Plenty of Foods

Kain nang kain si Raul. (“Raul keeps on eating.”)


5. Adjectives

Adjectives are the spice of language. This section will teach you what you should know before using them yourself.

1 – Adjective-Noun Identicals

Some Tagalog adjectives are identical to nouns in both spelling and meaning, although they differ in pronunciation with the noun having a long vowel sound.

NounAdjective
buhay (life)buhay (alive)
gutom (hunger)gutom (hungry)
hirap (poverty)hirap (struggling)
pagod (tiredness)pagod (tired)
sunog (fire)sunog (burnt)

2 – Adjective Gender

There are a number of Tagalog adjectives used to describe female individuals. These words usually end in /a/.

MaleFemale
ambisyoso (ambitious)ambisyosa
bobo (stupid)boba 
bungangero (vociferous)bungangera
luku-luko (crazy)luka-luka
suplado (snobbish)suplada

3 – Degrees of Adjectives

In Tagalog grammar, adjectives are sometimes repeated when describing a noun in the intensive degree. 

  • In the superlative degree, pinaka is usually added before the word, as in pinakamaganda (the most beautiful). 
  • Meanwhile, napaka is used to describe something to an intensive degree, as in napakaganda (very beautiful). 

This can also be achieved by repeating the root word, as in magandang-maganda or ang ganda-ganda.

Take note that if the root word ends in a vowel, -ng is attached to it—but only to the first appearance of the word, and not the repetition.

batang-batavery young
basang-basavery wet
litong-litovery confused
sirang-siraextremely worn out
tuwang-tuwavery happy

On the other hand, if the root word ends in a consonant, the two words are linked by na.

atat na atatvery eager
gutom na gutomvery hungry
laos na laosvery obsolete
malinis na malinisvery clean
pagod na pagodvery tired

A Woman Thinking Something while Studying

Litong-lito ka na ba? Bakit hindi mo subukan ang FilipinoPod101?
(“Are you very confused already? Why don’t you try FilipinoPod101?”)

6. Level Up Your Filipino With FilipinoPod101

These are just some of the basic concepts of Tagalog grammar. There is definitely a lot more to the Tagalog language than these foundational rules. If you want to take things to another level, FilipinoPod101 is here for you.

There are free resources available to you on FilipinoPod101.com, but if you want to benefit from exclusive lessons and lesson materials, become a Premium member today. If you sign up now, you’ll get instant access to some exclusive materials that will help you in your Tagalog learning journey. Some of the things you’ll get to enjoy are the exclusive lessons from our Lesson Library, interactive lesson quizzes, and the MyTeacher feature that lets you have your own personal teacher who will provide you with a professional assessment and a personalized learning program.

That’s it for this post. If you have any questions about grammar in Tagalog, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments section!

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Is Filipino Hard to Learn? Here’s All You Need to Know.

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The Philippines is rich in cultural history, which is why it attracts a lot of visitors. If you want to visit the country or even live there, it only makes sense for you to learn the Filipino language by heart. Now, the question is this: Is Tagalog hard to learn? This is a subjective question with no short answer. And while Filipino (sometimes referred to as Tagalog) is the country’s national language, it’s not the only system of communication used in the Philippines. After all, the Philippines is an archipelago, with each region having its own spoken language and dialect. 

Perhaps one of the proofs that Filipino isn’t that difficult to learn are the foreigners who have learned to speak it fluently. For example, vloggers Dwaine Woolley and Wil Dasovich—raised in Australia and the United States, respectively—are both known to be fluent Tagalog-speakers. 

And that’s not to mention the number of other foreigners who have made a living as actors and actresses here in the Philippines. Dayanara Torres, Sandara Park, Sam Milby, Ryan Bang—most, if not all, of these celebrities had to learn Filipino, and they’re now able to speak the language fluently. 

Why is that? Of course, they did their part by studying the language. But another reason is that Filipino is actually one of the easiest and most fun languages to learn, and we’re going to show you why.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Is it Hard to Learn Filipino?
  2. I Want to Learn Filipino. Where Should I Start?
  3. Tips for New Filipino Learners
  4. Why is FilipinoPod101 Great for Learning Filipino?
  5. Hindi Mahirap Mag-Aral ng Filipino. (“It’s not that difficult to learn Filipino.”)

1. Is it Hard to Learn Filipino?

Kid Listening to Filipino Podcast

“It’s more fun learning Filipino.”

Like in any language, there are factors that can make Filipino hard to learn. That said, it’s actually one of the easiest languages to study and master. That doesn’t mean that you can become fluent overnight, but compared to other languages, Filipino is a bit more straightforward.

One thing that makes learning Filipino fun is that Pinoys can be very encouraging and won’t hesitate to tell you that learning the language isn’t that difficult at all. Most Pinoys will even go the extra mile to help you sharpen your skills.

Another thing that makes Filipino an interesting language to learn is that around twenty percent of the language is based on Spanish. In a way, that’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

In the following sections, we’ll talk about what things might make the Filipino language hard to learn, how to overcome those challenges, and which things about the language are super-easy! 

A- The Challenging Parts of Learning Filipino

Like I said, Filipino is not a difficult language to learn and master. But just like any other language, it has aspects to it that require more effort, which we’ve listed below.

1 – The pronunciation of some words can be a bit tricky.

While most Tagalog words are pronounced the same way as they’re spelled, some words can be a bit more challenging than others. Tao (“man”), aso (“dog”), pusa (“cat”)—these words don’t pose any challenge at all. But what about words like nakakapagpabagabag (“worrisome”) and kumukutikutitap (“twinkling”)? Or kagilagilalas (“marvelous”) and nagsisiusyosohan (“watching with curiosity”)? 

And then there are words beginning with or including the infamous “ng” sound (pronounced like the “ng” in the words “ringing” and “clinging”), as well as words including the diphthongs ay, aw, iw, oy, and uy. If these words don’t twist your tongue (and your brain), I don’t know what will.

It’s a good thing that there are ways to overcome these hurdles, as described in our Filipino Pronunciation Guide. With practice, you’ll eventually master all the nuances of Filipino pronunciation: which emphasis to use and when to use them, how to correctly syllabicate certain words, and so on.

If you want to try your hand at more hard Filipino words to pronounce, see our relevant vocabulary list!

2 – Some words don’t have direct translations in English.

Another challenging factor of learning Filipino is that some words simply don’t have direct translations, at least in English. 

Take the word tampo, for instance. Filipinos use this word to express that feeling you get when someone has disappointed you. But it goes beyond simply feeling bad toward the other person. It’s like holding a grudge, but to a lesser degree. It’s the act of ignoring the person you’re mad at, but at the same time expecting the other person to comfort you. It’s like…okay, I give up. Like I said, there’s no direct translation for this word. 

And I haven’t even mentioned words like kilig (somewhat similar to having butterflies in your stomach when you see your crush), or alimpungatan (that feeling you get when you’re suddenly awakened just moments before entering a deep state of sleep). 

But wait, there’s more!

3 – Verb conjugation can be baffling at times.

Just like in English, Filipino verbs are conjugated by attaching a variety of affixes to action words. Unlike in English, however, these affixes reflect not only tense, but also aspect, voice, focus or trigger, and a variety of other factors. For instance, in English grammar, verbs are categorized as either regular or irregular. In Filipino, verbs are categorized according to the verb group they belong to: mag-, ma-, um-, in-, and i-, not including irregular verbs. 

And then there’s the trigger system, which is a central feature of Filipino verbs. This system also makes use of the affixes I mentioned, plus a few more. The three main affixes, however, are -in, i-, and -an:

  • -in

This is used when an action is done toward the actor. For example: bitbitin (“to carry something”). It’s also used to describe actions that produce change: biyakin (“to crack open”).

  • i-

This is used when an action is done to move something away from the actor. For example: itapon (“to throw something”). 

  • -an

This is used when the action done produces a change in something’s surface: punasan (“to wipe”) or hugasan (“to wash” or “to rinse”). 

Where’s the confusion, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at this example:

  • Bitbitin mo ang sako. (“Carry the sack.”)
  • Magbitbit ka ng sako. (“Carry a sack.”)

In the English translation, only one article needed to be changed to alter the sentence’s meaning. In Filipino, however, only the word sako (“sack”) remained unchanged.

B- The Easy Parts of Learning Filipino

Now that we’ve got the difficult aspects of learning Filipino out of the way, let’s move on and look at the top reasons why learning Filipino is easy.

1 – Gender-specific pronouns do not exist in Filipino.

This can be a confusing aspect of Tagalog to some degree, but it’s also one of the easiest parts of studying the language. In Tagalog, there’s only one word used to refer to a person: siya. There’s no “he” and “she” or “him” and “her.” There’s also no “they” or “them,” but sila is used instead. 

In the same manner, there are no separate Tagalog words for “husband” and “wife.” In Tagalog, both are translated as asawa or kabiyak, meaning “spouse.”

Glass Door Signs for Female and Male Entry

In Tagalog, there is only one word used to refer to another person: “siya.”

2 – Spelling is not an issue.

Perhaps one of the easiest aspects of the Filipino language is the spelling. Unlike in many languages across the globe, in Filipino, words are spelled the way they sound. You don’t need to worry about “k” sounds that are spelled as “ch,” or “tō” sounds that are actually spelled as “teau” (as in “plateau”). There are also no “th” sounds in Tagalog as in “mouth” or “thirst.” Even lengthy words are spelled with little to no complications.

3 – Phonetics are a no-brainer.

Tagalog phonology and phonetics do have more complex aspects, such as fricatives and affricates, but since words sound just as they’re spelled, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. All you need to do is memorize how patinig (“vowels”) and katinig (“consonants”) sound, and you’re good to go. You’ll have to deal with stresses and glottal stops later on, but for the most part, Tagalog phonetics isn’t much of a hindrance when you’re studying Filipino.

4 – It’s more fun learning Filipino.

The slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has been around for years now, and the country’s Department of Tourism says it’s not going to go anywhere anytime soon. And if there’s one way to describe the Filipino language learning experience, it’s through this slogan. One reason why learning Filipino is fun is that when you’re studying the language, you’re not only learning about words and sentences—you’re also learning about the culture of the country and its people.

2. I Want to Learn Filipino. Where Should I Start?

Are you ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime, but don’t know where to start? Here’s what we recommend:

1 – Start with everyday phrases.

The best way to start learning a new language is to familiarize yourself with everyday phrases or words that you would use on a daily basis. Here are a few common Filipino expressions you can begin learning today:

  • Magandang umaga. (“Good morning.”)
  • Kumusta ka? (“How are you?”)
  • Anong oras na? (“What time is it?”)

2 – Build your vocabulary.

You can’t survive learning a new language if you don’t make the effort to build your vocabulary. Spending at least fifteen minutes a day learning a new word is enough to bring about an immediate improvement in your Filipino vocabulary skills. You can start by investing in a Tagalog dictionary. Of course, you can always download an app or study our list of 2000 Core Filipino Words. It would also be an excellent idea to keep a journal of new Tagalog words you’re learning. Writing words down on paper will help reinforce them in your memory, and you’ll have something to pull out of your reservoir during conversations.

3 – Read Filipino literature.

Memorizing words from a list is a good strategy, but reading regularly from a variety of sources is a much better way to improve your vocabulary. Don’t worry about people calling you a bookworm or a nerd. Studies have confirmed over and over that reading regularly fosters language development and helps one become much more expressive. You can check out our entry on The Power of Reading that offers a fun explanation of this process.

4 – Listen to Filipino songs.

Aside from simply reading good Filipino books, listening to OPM (Original Pilipino Music) songs is another great way to help you learn Filipino. Music can be a powerful tool for learning, not only because singing is fun and relaxing, but also because song lyrics have a way of getting stuck inside a person’s head. That said, most songs, particularly OPM, are written in a poetic manner. This means that the lyrics you hear and repeat may not map directly onto day-to-day conversations. But that’s okay. In fact, songs are a great way to learn Tagalog words in their formal structure.

    Did you know that one of the best times to learn Filipino through music is while you’re stuck in traffic?
A Taxi Driver Listening to a Filipino Lesson

Who says you can’t drive and study Filipino at the same time?

5 – Watch Filipino films.

Just like listening to OPM, watching Filipino films is a fun approach to improving your Tagalog. We have an entry on the top Filipino TV shows to watch to improve your language skills, where we mentioned that while watching Tagalog films and shows won’t make you a master of Tagalog overnight, it sure can bring your skills up a notch. Speaking of Filipino films, check out our entry on the Top 10 Filipino Movies: Jose Rizal. This film will not only help you improve your vocabulary, but also teach you more about the life of the national hero of the Philippines.

6 – Make lots of Tagalog friends.

Remember when I said that it’s more fun learning Filipino? Well, one of the main reasons is that Filipinos are more than willing to help you learn their language. We Filipinos are known to be very welcoming and friendly to strangers. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that our hospitality doesn’t end with our making sure your stay is comfortable. 

We’re also very generous—not only with our material possessions, but also with our wisdom and knowledge. If you want to make learning Filipino much easier, just make more Tagalog-speaking friends. You’ll learn simply by having daily conversations with them. And if you’re lucky, the sincere ones will even give you language lessons for free!


3. Tips for New Filipino Learners

1 – Be committed.

Learning a language starts with the desire to learn and master something new, but if you’re going to succeed, you’ll need to commit to the task. Filipino is not a very difficult language to learn, but there will always be a learning curve when you’re first starting out. Before you even begin, make sure that you first cultivate a commitment to learning. In one of his interviews, the founder of Innovative Language, Peter Galante, said that big commitments can turbocharge one’s learning. In fact, it was his decision to commit that helped him ramp up his own progress.

2 – Be patient.

I can confidently say that you’re going to go through a lot of discouraging moments while learning Filipino. Be patient with yourself and trust the process. There will be times when you feel you’re making a lot of progress, but there will also be times when you feel you’re not advancing at all. It’s during these times that your patience matters the most. If you’re losing your patience because learning Filipino is starting to feel very difficult, just remind yourself of what Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.”

3 – Be persevering.

All your hard work will come to nothing if you give up the moment the going gets tough. Commit to persevere. If you do, there’s no question that you’ll reach your goal. One thing you can do to make sure you don’t quit in the middle of your learning adventure is to remind yourself of why you’re learning in the first place. 

Why are you studying Tagalog? Why spend time and money learning a new language? The only reason we often give up on what we’re doing is that we’ve forgotten the “why” behind our “what.” At the same time, however, see to it that you’re not too hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. Keep in mind that making mistakes is a part of the process. If you feel you need to take a break, don’t hesitate to do so. Sometimes, it’s all that your mind and body need to recharge.

4 – Think big.

Finally, believe in yourself. If you don’t believe that you’re going to succeed, you’re right. When you’re just starting your journey of learning Filipino, never underestimate yourself. Keep in mind that you have the potential to actually acquire a new language the same way you acquired your first. Believe in your potential, and nothing will stop you from becoming an expert in Filipino.

A Man Standing on Top of a Snowy Mountain

“Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.” – John Ruskin

4. Why is FilipinoPod101 Great for Learning Filipino?

In addition to the four previous tips for new learners of Filipino, one of the best ways to accelerate your progress is to sign up for a FilipinoPod101 account. Here are three reasons why this language-learning system will help you speak like a native Filipino in no time.

1 – Unique Learning System

There are quite a few language-learning systems online, so why choose FilipinoPod101? Well, unlike most language-learning systems, FilipinoPod101 uses a unique method that combines techniques you won’t find in a traditional classroom. For instance, all the materials offered by FilipinoPod101—from blog articles to PDF lessons to live video tutorials—are created using a variety of writing and speaking styles. In that manner, you’ll be exposed to different elements, which is vital for developing reading comprehension, pronunciation, and even a proper accent. 

Moreover, with FilipinoPod101, you’ll be exposed to learning materials dedicated to cultural information, so that you’re not only learning about Tagalog grammar but the Filipino culture, as well.

2 – High-Quality Resources

When I say high-quality, I’m talking about lessons—written, audio-recorded, and filmed—that have been prepared by the best writers and teachers. All content offered here is fresh and up-to-date, each one designed to keep current events and pop culture in mind, so that whenever you decide to start, you can rest assured that you are given relevant lesson materials tailored to meet your needs. Most importantly, all content released by FilipinoPod101 is screened and approved by a certified Filipino teacher, so that you can be sure every time that the information you’re receiving is accurate and reliable.

3 – One-on-One Coaching

Speaking of teachers, perhaps one of the most distinct attributes of FilipinoPod101 is our MyTeacher feature. This feature allows you to sharpen your Filipino skills at a rate like no other. Imagine being able to receive non-stop feedback and corrections, as well as one-on-one interaction with a personal teacher. With this approach, you’re sure to receive the guidance necessary to grow and improve your Filipino language skills.

A Woman Teaching a Girl How to Write Something in Filipino

Sabi ko sa’yo eh. Hindi mahirap mag-aral ng Filipino
(“What did I tell you? It’s not that difficult to learn Filipino.”)

5. Hindi Mahirap Mag-Aral ng Filipino. (“It’s not that difficult to learn Filipino.”)

No, it’s not that difficult to learn Filipino, especially if you have FilipinoPod101 as your partner. As mentioned, FilipinoPod101 is a unique language-learning system that offers everything you need to learn Filipino all in one place. What’s unique about FilipinoPod101 is that your learning goes beyond reading, watching, or listening to lesson materials. If you need a quick answer to a question, you can always depend on our community of helpful students and teachers.

So, are you ready to learn Filipino? Do you have questions that weren’t answered in this article? Don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments section below! And if you believe you’re all set to embark on the journey of learning this one-of-a-kind language, sign up now!

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10 Common Filipino Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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As a Filipino, I would say that the Tagalog language is one of the easiest languages to learn. Filipino pronunciation, for instance, isn’t rocket science, since Filipino words are pronounced the way they’re spelled. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual for students of the language to commit common Filipino mistakes. In fact, even native speakers make grammar mistakes all the time, whether in speaking or writing. But who doesn’t? 

Committing mistakes is part of learning, and even experts of the language commit an error in Filipino from time to time. The good news is that you can avoid such errors by simply being familiar with the common Filipino grammar mistakes most students make. And that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article.

There are plenty of ways you can get Tagalog grammar and speech wrong, but we’ll stick to the ten most common ones in a variety of categories: pronunciation, vocabulary, word order, word usage, and various other grammar mistakes. Of course, we’ll look at some of the ways one can avoid such errors as well. 

So, if you’re ready, let’s begin!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. Other Common Mistakes
  6. The Biggest Mistake
  7. Minimize Your Filipino Grammar Mistakes with the Help of FilipinoPod101

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

As mentioned, one of the best things about learning Filipino is that the words are often pronounced the way they’re spelled. Nevertheless, there are still a few common Filipino errors that students make when it comes to pronunciation. We’ve actually covered this subject in our article on Filipino Pronunciation, but it seems worthwhile to reiterate certain points. 

1 – Syllabication

One of the pronunciation errors that Filipino language students make is not using correct syllabication. More often than not, this is due to the student carrying over their accent and not using the correct Filipino accent, which can result in a word being pronounced with the incorrect number of syllables. For instance, the word tao or “man,” could be mispronounced as /taw/ instead of /ta.o/. In the same manner, the word manok or “chicken,” could be mispronounced as /ma.no.ka/ (three syllables) instead of /ma.nok/ (two syllables).

2 – Emphasis

Another aspect of Filipino pronunciation where students often err is emphasis. We’re not going to go into detail regarding this subject since we’ve covered it in our pronunciation article already. However, just to reiterate, Tagalog words are pronounced in one of four ways according to emphasis, or what is known in Filipino as diin. These four types of diin are: malumay, malumi, mabilis, and maragsa. 


2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes

While the Filipino language is quite easy to learn, it’s not one that’s free of confusion. A vocabulary mistake that even native speakers get confused with from time to time is in the usage of ng and nang. There was no strict distinction between the two words in the past, but all that has changed, and today, both foreigners and natives alike get confused as to which one to use in a given context.

3 – Ng versus Nang

NG

The two-letter word ng is the exact translation of the preposition “of,” and that’s basically how the word is used. However, it also functions as a conjunction.

Here are some sample sentences of ng used as a preposition:

  • Jed ang may-ari ng kotse. (“Jed is the owner of the car.”)
  • Masyadong maikli ang kadena ng aso. (“The chain of the dog is too short.”)

Now, here are some examples of ng used as a conjunction:

  • Bumili ka pala ng bagong bahay? (“So, you bought a new house?”)
  • Kumakain si Kent ng mansanas. (“Kent is eating an apple.”)

Using nang instead of ng in the previous sentences is a common mistake in Filipino that learners make. 

NANG

If ng is the equivalent of the preposition “of,” nang, on the other hand, is the equivalent of the conjunction “when.” Here’s how to use it correctly:

  • Naliligo ako nang biglang may kumatok sa pinto. (“I was taking a bath when someone suddenly knocked on the door.”)
  • Tumakbo siya papalayo nang makita niya akong paparating. (“He ran away when he saw me coming.”)

Nang is also used to mean “to,” “for,” or “so that.”

  • Matulog ka na nang hindi ka mahuli sa klase bukas. (“Go to bed now so that you won’t be late to class tomorrow.”)
  • Dapat magpahinga ka rin nang hindi ka palaging nagkakasakit. (“You better rest for you not to get sick often.”)

It also answers the question “How?”

  • Paano siya sumigaw? (“How did he cry out?”)
    Sumigaw siya nang malakas. (“He cried out loudly.”)
  • Paano siya namatay? (“How did he die?”)
    Namatay siya nang nakangiti. (“He died smiling.”)

Not only that, but nang also functions as a connector of action words that are repeated in a sentence. In Filipino grammar, action words are repeated when the speaker wants to emphasize a certain behavior.

  • Kain ka nang kain hindi ka naman tumataba. (“All you do is eat, and yet you never get fat.”)
  • Tulog ka nang tulog. Tumulong ka naman dito sa bahay? (“You don’t do anything but sleep. Why don’t you help around here?”)
  • Iyak nang iyak ang bata. (“The child kept on crying.”)
Man Pointing to Himself with Confused Look on His Face

‘Nang’ ba? Akala ko ‘ng’? (“What do you mean nang? I thought it was ng?”)

4 – Kumusta and not Kamusta

Filipinos tend to be flexible when it comes to using kumusta and kamusta, both of which mean “How are you?” 

Kamusta is actually the one that’s most commonly used, particularly in informal conversations. However, if you’re going to use the greeting in a formal manner, such as when writing a formal letter, a report, or lyrics for a Filipino song, then the correct version to use is kumusta. And if you’re wondering why it sounds Spanish, well, that’s because it actually came from the Spanish greeting cómo esta.

3. Word Order Mistakes

Mistakes in Filipino word order are pretty common among native English-speakers in particular. Here are two things to watch out for! 

5 – “Barok” Speak

In one of our previous articles, we talked about Filipino Word Order, and we learned that Filipino is primarily a V-S-O language. We also learned that Filipino is quite flexible in terms of word order, and can actually be inverted. That said, you won’t really find a lot of word order mistakes in spoken Filipino, although there’s something that we call “barok” speaking, wherein the speaker omits linking words necessary for crafting a complete thought. 

For instance, instead of saying Ako si John (“I am John”), the speaker would say Ako John (“Me John”). 

In some cases, the linking word ay, often used in formal or literary Filipino (S-V-O), is omitted. This, too, is an error, since the absence of ay between the subject and the verb makes the sentence sound awkward. 

For instance, removing ay from Ang bata ay kumakanta (“The child is singing”) transforms it to Ang bata kumakanta (“The child singing”), which is an incomplete thought.

6 – Use of Ba

Aside from that, another common word order mistake in Filipino grammar is in the use of the untranslatable word ba. This word is often placed at the end of an interrogative sentence, although it can also appear in the middle, depending on the sentence structure.

  1. Kumain ka na ba? (“Have you eaten already?”) 

    In this simple interrogative sentence, ba is placed at the end. A common mistake students make here is to place ba before na.

    Kumain ka ba na? (INCORRECT) ✘
  1. Kumain ba siya? (“Did he eat?”) 

    Here, ba comes before the subject or the pronoun siya. In this case, it would be incorrect to place ba after siya.

    Kumain siya ba? (INCORRECT) ✘
  1. Nasaan na ba ang susi? (“Where is the key, anyway?”) 

    Here, ba appears before the object. Placing it at the end of the sentence would make the sentence sound awkward.

    Nasaan na ang susi ba? (INCORRECT) ✘
  1. Siya ba ang sinasabi mo? (“Is he the one you were talking about?”) 

    This time, ba appears right after the pronoun siya. To move it to a different spot would, again, make the sentence sound awkward.

    Siya ang sinasabi mo ba? (INCORRECT) ✘

There are cases when you can move ba to two different spots without the sentence sounding awkward, such as in the following examples:

  • Ano ba ang kinain mo? (“What did you eat?”)
  • Ano ang kinain mo ba? (“What did you eat?”)

In the first example, ba is placed right after ano, while in the second example, it’s found at the end. It would seem that the second example is the better-sounding one since ba is usually found at the end of a sentence, but in this case, the first example would be more preferable to use.

4. Grammar Mistakes

Now, let’s talk about two of the most common grammar mistakes Filipino-learners make! 

7 – Use of ikaw, ka, and mo

Ka and ikaw both mean “you,” although you should note that the former is used more in everyday speech. Interchanging the two words is a common error among students of Filipino. For instance, instead of saying Mabait ka (“You are kind”), some students would say:

  • Mabait ikaw. (INCORRECT) ✘

Ikaw can also be used in the Filipino translation of “You are kind.” However, it should be placed at the beginning of the sentence and followed by the connector ay:

  • Ikaw ay mabait. (CORRECT)

Keep in mind that this is a more formal way of saying Mabait ka, and is not used in day-to-day conversations.

Here are more examples:

  1. Kumain ka na habang maaga pa. (“Go and eat while it’s still early.”)

Using ikaw:

  • Kumain na ikaw habang maaga pa. (INCORRECT) ✘
  • Ikaw ay kumain na habang maaga pa. (CORRECT)
  1. Naligo ka na ba? (“Have you taken a bath already?”)

Using ikaw:

  • Naligo na ba ikaw? (INCORRECT) ✘
  • Ikaw ba ay naligo na? (CORRECT)

Mo, on the other hand, is the equivalent of “your,” but when the verb in a sentence functions as an object-focused verb, mo is used instead of ka and now takes the “you” meaning.

You won’t encounter a lot of errors in the use of mo, but since it also means “you” just like ka and ikaw, it would help to understand when and how to use it in a sentence. Here are several examples of how to use it:

As a pronoun:

  • Isulat mo ang pangalan mo dito. (“Write your name here.”)
  • Nasaan na ang tatay mo? (“Where is your father?”)
  • tabi mo konti ang bisikleta mo. (“Move your bicycle a little bit.”)

When used as “you” in a sentence:

  • Pinagaan mo ang pakiramdam ko. (“You made me feel better.”)
  • Tinutulungan mo ako palagi. Salamat. (“You always help me. Thank you.”)
  • Binuksan mo ba ang binigay kong regalo? (“Did you open the gift I gave you?”)

8 – Verb Conjugation Errors

In our entry on Filipino Verb Conjugation, we talked about how Filipino verbs are conjugated using the affixes mag-, ma-, um-, in-, and i-.

A common error for students of Filipino is interchanging the affixes when conjugating verbs.

For instance, many students use mag- instead of -um when conjugating “um” verbs. Instead of saying pumunta, students would say magpunta.

The word pumunta is both the past tense and the imperative tense of the verb “go.” It would be incorrect to use mag- in this case, since punta (“go”) is not a mag- verb but an um– verb.

Here are more examples:

  1. “C’mon, let us eat!”

    Tara, magkain na tayo. (INCORRECT) ✘
    Tara, kumain na tayo. (CORRECT)
  1. “We’re moving next week.”

    Maglipat na kami sa susunod na Linggo. (INCORRECT) ✘
    Lilipat na kami sa susunod na Linggo. (CORRECT)
  1. “Why don’t you want to take a bath?”

    Bakit ayaw mong magligo? (INCORRECT) ✘
    Bakit ayaw mong maligo? (CORRECT) 
Man Standing on the Edge of Bathtub with Shower Hose

Magligo na..este, maliligo na ako. (“Time to take a bath.”)

For a more detailed review on how to conjugate Filipino verbs, you can check out our entry titled “Learn the Basics of Filipino Verb Conjugation.”

5. Other Common Mistakes

In this section, we’ll talk about common Filipino mistakes that don’t quite fit in the other categories. Let’s take a look.

9 – Ano ba talaga, kuya? (“Which one is it really, bro?”)

It’s true that Tagalog is the first language of Filipinos, particularly in Luzon, but there are details that even so-called masters of the language sometimes miss. Here are some of them:

Daw vs. Raw

The words daw and raw do not have any direct translation in English, but the best match is “it is said” or “they say.”

These words may be composed of only three characters, but they’re among the few Filipino words that cause a lot of confusion to foreign and native speakers alike. The usual question is about which version to use and when. The key lies in the word that precedes them.

You use daw if the word preceding it ends with a katinig (consonant), except in the cases of “w” and “y.”

  • Kumain daw kayo kina Andrew kagabi? (“I heard you had dinner at Andrew’s last night. Is that correct?”)

On the other hand, you use raw if the word preceding it ends with a patinig (vowel) or with a mala-patinig (vowel-sounding “w” or “y”).

  • Nasa Manila na raw sila. (“They said they’re in Manila already.”)
  • Aliw na aliw raw sila sa show ni Jo Koy! (“They said they were so amused with Jo Koy’s show!”)
Boy Scratching His Head

Ano raw? (“What was that?”)

Bukod vs. Maliban

Another word pair that most learners of Filipino get confused with is that of bukod and maliban

Bukod means “in addition to” or “besides.” 

  1. “In addition to a Master’s Degree, he also has a Doctor’s Degree.”

    Maliban sa Master’s Degree, mayroon din siyang Doctor’s Degree. (INCORRECT) ✘
    Bukod sa Master’s Degree, mayroon din siyang Doctor’s Degree. (CORRECT)

Meanwhile, maliban is the equivalent of the expression “except,” so it’s used when the object being talked about in a sentence is the only exception to something.

  1. “All of Alfonso’s children have graduated from college except for Mateo.”

    Lahat ng anak ni Alfonso ay nagtapos na ng kolehiyo bukod kay Mateo. (INCORRECT) ✘
    Lahat ng anak ni Alfonso ay nagtapos na ng kolehiyo maliban kay Mateo. (CORRECT)

Kung vs. Kapag

These are two different words, each with a direct translation in English, and yet, they’re among the Filipino words often used in place of each other. The key to avoiding this error is to become familiar with their meanings. Kung, for instance, is the Tagalog word for “if,” while kapag and its variant pag mean “when” in English.

Now, note that there is a specific situation where you can interchange them: when you’re stating a “what if” question.

For example:

  1. “What if I miss the train tomorrow?”

    Paano kung hindi ko maabutan ang tren bukas?
    Paano kapag hindi ko maabutan ang tren bukas?

If, however, you’re stating a “cause and effect” sentence, then that’s a different story.

If you’re going to use kung, then the verb has to be in the future tense.

  1. “If I miss the train tomorrow, my boss is going to kill me.”

  2. Kung hindi ko aabutan ang tren bukas, papatayin ako ng boss ko.

If you’re going to use kapag, the verb has to be in the past tense.

On the other hand, there are sentences that require the use of kung if you’re using “if,” and kapag if you’re using “when.”

  • Uuwi lang ako kung sasama ka sa akin. (“I’m going home only if you’re coming with me.”)
  • Uuwi ako kapag tinawag na ako ni nanay. (“I’m going home when mom calls me.”)

6. The Biggest Mistake


10 – Not practicing enough

Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make when learning Filipino is not spending an adequate amount of time each day practicing and brushing up on your speaking and writing skills. Language is like mathematics. If you fail to practice on a regular basis — listening to lessons, writing and rewriting, and reciting what you’ve learned—there’s very little chance that you’ll ever master it.

Making mistakes is part of learning, so as you move along in your journey of studying Filipino, always remember that it’s okay to fail. Never allow your blunders to stop you from reaching your goal. And remember, practice makes permanent!

Need more motivation? Watch the video above!

Counselor Comforting a Girl Who’s Crying

Kaya mo ‘yan. May FilipinoPod101 pa. (“You can do it. There is FilipinoPod101 still.”)

7. Minimize Your Filipino Grammar Mistakes with the Help of FilipinoPod101

Do you want to minimize your Filipino errors? Do you want to avoid common Filipino grammar mistakes that most students of Tagalog make? The secret is to sign up with FilipinoPod101, one of the best language-learning systems on the Internet today.

When you first start learning a particular language, committing grammar mistakes is inevitable. It’s all part of the process. So here at FilipinoPod101.com, we want to make sure that you finish strong. That’s why we happily provide unique tools for our students, such as the MyTeacher feature, to ensure that you make the most out of your Filipino-learning pursuit. We also provide special apps that allow you to study Tagalog whenever and wherever. You can also visit our blog page if you want to see more articles like this one.

And speaking of articles, why don’t you share with us in the comments section what you’ve learned in this post? And if you have suggestions or additional thoughts on the subject, don’t hesitate to share them with us, too!

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The 10 Fundamental Filipino Questions and Answers

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Imagine living in a world without questions. 

Questions are an important part of life, and not just because they’re a part of the language we speak. Questions start conversations. Without questions, curiosity would be extinct. Without them, everyone would be trapped in ignorance. 

With this in mind, are you ready to start learning how to ask Tagalog questions? You’re in the right place, because that’s just what we’re going to talk about today! 

Generally, Filipinos are very inquisitive. Sometimes, though, that quality is abused. That’s why we have the terms chismoso and chismosa, which are Tagalog for “tattletale” or “gossip.”

But when used appropriately, the ability to ask the right questions can help you build rapport and establish relationships with the right people. So, without further ado, let’s explore the top ten Tagalog questions with answers that every student of the Filipino language should learn.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. What is your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Do you speak Tagalog?
  4. How long have you been studying Tagalog?
  5. Have you been to ___?
  6. How is ___?
  7. Do you like Filipino food?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. What’s wrong?
  10. How much is it?
  11. Nais Mo Bang Matuto Nang Mas Mabilis?

1. What is your name?

First Encounter

When meeting someone for the first time, the first thing you’d want to ask them is their name, right? Here’s how:

  • Anong pangalan mo?
    “What’s your name?”

You can also say:

  • Pwede ko bang malaman ang pangalan mo?
    “May I know your name?”

Ikaw si? (“You are?”) may be acceptable, although it’s a bit informal.

Responding to the question:

If you’re the one who’s being asked, you can reply by saying either of the following:

  • Ang pangalan ko ay ___.
    “My name is ___.”
  • Ako nga pala si ___.
    “I’m ___, by the way.”

You can also simply state your name.

Important words and their translation:

  • ano (“what”)
  • pangalan (“name”)
  • mo (“you”/”your”)
  • ako (“I”)
  • pala (“by the way”)

Following Up

After asking for a person’s name, Filipinos usually follow up by asking for that person’s age. Unlike in other cultures where it’s inappropriate to ask for someone’s age, in the Philippines, most people don’t mind being asked how “young” they are. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to remain sensitive and simply change the topic if the person doesn’t seem too comfortable answering the question. 

But in most cases, if you’re curious about a person’s age, you can simply ask them one of these Filipino language questions:

  • Ilang taon ka na?
    “How old are you?”
  • Ano ang edad mo?
    “What’s your age?”
  • Pwede ko bang malaman kung ilang taon ka na?
    “May I know how old you are?” / “May I know what your age is?”

Responding to the question:

  • Bente-uno pa lang ho ako.
    “I’m only twenty-one, sir/ma’am.”
  • Ang edad ko po ay trenta’y uno anyos. 
    “My age is thirty-one years.”

In casual conversations, however, most people use the first format.

Important words and their translation:

  •  Ilang taon ka na? (“How old are you?”)

    ilan (“how many”/”how much”)

    taon (“year”)

    ka (“you”)

    na (“already”)
  • Ano ang edad mo? (“What is your age?”)

    ano (“what”)

    ang (“is”)

    edad (“age”)

    mo (“you”/”your”)
  • Pwede ko bang malaman kung ilang taon ka na? (“May I know how old you are?”)

    pwede (“possible”)

    malaman (“know”)

    kung (“if”)

    taon (“year”)

2. Where are you from?

If you want to know where someone’s from, there are two basic ways to ask this question in Filipino: 

  • Taga saan ka?
    “Where are you from?”
  • Saan ka nakatira? 
    “Where do you live?”

And if you want to know where someone is staying, you can say:

  • Saan ka tumutuloy? 
    “Where are you staying?”

Responding to the question:

If you’re the one being asked, you can reply by saying:

  • Taga ___ ako
    “I’m from ___.”

To inform someone where you’re staying, you can say:

  • Sa ___ ako ngayon tumutuloy.
    “I currently stay at ___.”

For example:

  • Sa Muntinlupa ako ngayon tumutuloy. 
    “I currently stay at Muntinlupa.”

Important words and their translation:

  • Taga saan ka? (“Where are you from?”)

    taga – This word denotes one’s origin or residence. The great Filipino general and national hero, Antonio Luna, once used the pseudonym Taga-Ilog, which means “one who is from the river.” Interestingly, Taga-Ilog is also where we get the term Tagalog, which describes the Tagalog people being “people from [along] the river.”

    saan (“where”)
  • Taga ___ ako. (“I’m from ___.”)

    sa – This is a preposition that could mean “to,” “at,” “in,” or “on.” In this context, it’s used as “at.”

    ako (“me”)

    ngayon (“now”/”currently”)

    tumutuloy – from the root word tuloy, meaning to enter or stay in a house

3. Do you speak Tagalog?

Introducing Yourself

There are three ways to ask a person if they speak a certain language. To ask someone if they speak Tagalog, you can say any of the following:

  • Nagtatagalog ka ba? 
    “Do you speak Tagalog?”
  • Marunong ka bang magtagalog? 
    “Do you know how to speak Tagalog?”
  • Nakakaintindi ka ba ng Tagalog? 
    “Do you understand Tagalog?”

Responding to the question:

To respond in the affirmative, you can say:

  • Oo marunong akong magtagalog. / Oo marunong akong magsalita ng Tagalog.  
    “Yes, I know how to speak Tagalog.”
  • Oo, nagtatagalog ako. 
    “Yes, I do speak Tagalog.”
  • Oo, nakakaintindi ako ng Tagalog. 
    “Yes, I can understand Tagalog.”

If you’re not confident with your Tagalog-speaking skills, you can say:

  • Hindi masyado. 
    “Not that much.”

Or:

  • Medyo pulupot pa ang dila ko. 
    “I still get tongue-tied once in a while.”

Important words and their translation:

  • Oo marunong akong magtagalog. / Oo marunong akong magsalita ng Tagalog. (“Yes, I know how to speak Tagalog.”)

    oo (“yes”)

    marunong (“has the knowledge”)

    ako (“me”/”I”)

    magsalita – from the root word salita, which means “speak” or “talk”

    nakakaintindi – from the root word intindi, which means “understand”

    magtagalog – In some cases, the prefix mag– is added to a noun to make it a verb. Magtagalog could mean “do Tagalog” or “use Tagalog” in English.
  • Medyo pulupot pa ang dila ko. (“I still get tongue-tied once in a while.”)

    medyo (“partly”/”a little bit”)

    pulupot (“twisted”/”coiled”)

4. How long have you been studying Tagalog?

Knowing how long someone has been studying a certain language can help you gauge that person’s knowledge of the language, as well as help you formulate your sentences in a way that’s appropriate to that person’s language skills.

  • Gaano ka na katagal nag-aaral ng Tagalog? 
    “How long have you been studying Tagalog?”

Responding to the question:

  • Mag-iisang taon na akong nag-aaral ng Tagalog. 
    “I’ve been studying Tagalog for almost a year now.”
  • Mga ilang buwan pa lang akong nag-aaral ng Tagalog. 
    “I’ve only been studying Tagalog for a few months.”
  • Kakasimula ko pa lang mag-aral ng Tagalog; mga isang linggo pa lang. 
    “I just started studying Tagalog; about a week or so.”

Important words and their translation:

  • Gaano ka na katagal nag-aaral ng Tagalog? (“How long have you been studying Tagalog?”)

    gaano – The word gaano is a Tagalog word used when asking about the extent or degree of how something is done.

    katagal – from the root word tagal, which refers to duration

    nag-aaral (“studying”)
  • Mag-iisang taon na akong nag-aaral ng Tagalog. (“I’ve been studying Tagalog for almost a year now.”)

    mag-iisang taon – This expression means “almost a year now.” In this case, the prefix mag– is added to denote that the action is still about to be completed. To say “almost two years now,” the number is changed from isa to dalawa (mag-dadalawang taon na), and so on, depending on the length of time involved.

    taon (“year”)

    nag-aaral – from the root word aral, meaning “to study”

    ilan – The word ilan is Tagalog for “count,” although in this context, it means “few.”

    kakasimula – This is from the root word simula, meaning “start.” The prefix kaka– in a context like this is often added to an action word to imply that it hasn’t been long since the action was started.

    mga isang linggo – The word mga is often used for estimation. For instance, if you’re not sure of the length of an object, you say, mga ganito kahaba or “about this long.”

    linggo – This is the Tagalog word for “Sunday,” which is the same word used for “week.”

    lang– the shortened form of lamang, which means “only” or “just”

5. Have you been to ___?

Being able to travel to a foreign country broadens your perspective and allows you to discover yourself while learning other people’s cultures at the same time. To ask someone if they’ve been to another country, like Italy, you can say:

  • Nakapunta ka na ba sa Italya? 
    “Have you been to Italy?”

Responding to the question:

If you’re the one being asked, you can respond in a variety of ways.

To respond in the affirmative, you can say:

  • Oo, nakapunta na ako sa Italya. 
    “Yes, I’ve been to Italy before.”

You can also use Oo, nakarating na ako ng Italya, which basically means the same thing.

To respond in the negative, you can say:

  • Hindi pa ako nakapunta sa Italya. 
    “No, I haven’t been to Italy yet.”

You can follow that up with a question of your own: 

  • Eh ikaw, nakapunta ka na ba ng Italya? 
    “How about you, have you been to Italy?”

Important words and their translation:

  • Nakapunta ka na ba sa Italya? (“Have you been to Italy?”)

    nakapunta – This is the past tense of the verb punta, which means “to go to.”
  • Oo, nakarating na ako ng Italya. (“Yes, I’ve been to Italy before.”)

    nakarating – This is the past tense of the verb dating, meaning “arrive.” In this context, the word means that the person speaking has been to Italy.


6. How is ___?

There’s not a single way to use “How is ___?” in Filipino since it could mean one of two things. Basically, though, the word to use here is kumusta.

Asking about someone

  • Kumusta na ang kuya mo? 
    “How is your big brother?”

Responding to the question:

To answer this kind of question, you can say:

  • Ayos naman po siya. Salamat sa pagtatanong. 
    “He’s fine. Thanks for asking.”

Asking about a person’s experience

  • Kumusta ang pamamalagi mo dito sa Pilipinas? 
    “So, how is your stay here in the Philippines so far?”
  • Kumusta ang salu-salo niyo kagabi? 
    “How was your party last night?”

Responding to the question:

To answer such questions, you can say:

  • Maayos naman. 
    “It’s fine.”
  • Masaya! 
    “It was fun!”

Important words and their translation:

  • Kumusta na ang kuya mo? (“How is your big brother?”)

    kumusta – from the Spanish como estas, meaning “How are you?”

    kuya (“brother”)
  • Kumusta naman ang pamamalagi mo dito sa Pilipinas? (“So, how is your stay here in the Philippines so far?”)

    pamamalagi (“stay”/”permanence”)

    dito (“here”)
  • Kumusta ang salu-salo niyo kagabi? (“How was your party last night?”)

    salu-salo (“party”/”get-together”)

    kagabi (“last night”)
Man and Woman Talking Over Dinner Date

Kumusta na ang kuya mo? (“How is your big brother?”)

7. Do you like Filipino food?

Food is an important aspect of the Filipino culture. In fact, it’s an important part of any culture. There’s just something about food that breaks cultural barriers. In Filipino culture, questions and answers about food can help break the ice in any conversation and guide the discussion. 

If you want to ask someone whether they like the food of a particular culture, like the Philippines, for instance, you can say:

  • Gusto mo ba ang mga pagkain dito sa Pilipinas? 
    “Do you like the food here in the Philippines?”
  • Gusto mo ba ng pagkaing Pilipino? 
    “Do you like Filipino food?”

If you’re asking about a person’s experience with food that they’ve tried in another country, you can say: 

  • Nagustuhan mo ba ang pagkain doon sa Japan? 
    “Did you like the food there in Japan?”

Responding to the question:

If you’re the one being asked this question, respond by saying:

  • Oo. Masasarap ang mga pagkain dito sa Pilipinas. 
    “Yes. The food here in the Philippines is all delectable.”

If you don’t like the food, you can be honest and polite at the same time by saying: 

  • Pasensya ka na, pero sa totoo lang, hindi ako masyadong nasasarapan sa mga pagkain dito. 
    “I apologize, but to be honest, I don’t really find the food here that desirable.”

Important words and their translation:

  • Gusto mo ba ang mga pagkain dito sa Pilipinas? (“Do you like the food here in the Philippines?”)

    gusto (“like”)

    pagkain (“food”)
  • Oo. Masasarap ang mga pagkain dito sa Pilipinas. (“Yes. The food here in the Philippines is all delectable.”)

    masasarap – This is from the root word masarap, which means “delicious.” Notice how the second syllable of the root word is repeated. This is done if the adjective refers to plural subjects.
  • Pasensya ka na, pero sa totoo lang, hindi ako masyadong nasasarapan sa mga pagkain dito. (“I apologize, but to be honest, I don’t really find the food here that desirable.”)

    pasensya – This is from the word “patience.” The word is an expression used when asking for an apology.

    pero (“but”)

    sa totoo lang (“in reality”/”the truth of the matter”)

    hindi (“no”/”not”)

    ako (“I”/”me”)

    masyado (“too much”)

    nasasarapan – This is from the word sarap, which means “palatable.” In this context, the word refers to the person’s experience of finding food delicious.


8. What are you doing?

We all love to know what our friends are up to at the moment, and what better way to find out than by asking?

To ask someone what they’re up to, you can say:

  • Anong ginagawa mo ngayon? 
    “What are you doing right now?”
  • Anong ginagawa mo diyan? 
    “What are you doing there?”

To ask someone what they were doing at an earlier time, you can say:

  • Anong ginagawa mo dun sa labas kanina? 
    “What were you doing there outside?”

Responding to the question:

When asked this by a friend, you can respond in several ways, depending on what you’re currently up to. For instance, if you’re just at home watching your favorite films on Netflix, you can say: 

  • Nasa bahay lang ako nanonood ng mga pelikula sa Netflix. 
    “I’m just here at home watching Netflix films.”

If you’re busy in school or at the office, you can say: 

  • Nasa klase ako. 
    “I’m in class.”

Or:

  • May meeting kami ngayon dito sa opisina
    “We’re currently having a meeting here in the office.”

Now, if your buddies are asking what you’re doing at the moment, it’s because they miss you and want to hang out with you. If you’ve got nothing to do and want to spend time with them, too, you can say something like:

  • Nasa bahay lang ako. Kape tayo? 
    “I’m just here at home. Want to grab some coffee?”

You can also say:

  • Wala akong pasok. Gusto mo bang manood ng sine? 
    “I have no work/school today. Do you want to see a movie?”

Important words and their translation:

  • Anong ginagawa mo diyan? (“What are you doing right now?”)

    anong– combination of ano ang, which means “what”

    ginagawa – This is from the root word gawa, meaning “do” or “action.” In this case, the present tense of the word is used: ginagawa, or “doing.”

    diyan (“there”)
  • Anong ginagawa mo dun sa labas kanina? (“What were you doing there outside?”)

    dun – shortened form of doon, meaning “there”

    labas (“outside”)

    kanina (“earlier”)
  • Nasa bahay lang ako nanonood ng mga pelikula sa Netflix. (“I’m just here at home watching Netflix films.”)

    nasa – a preposition referring to one’s location (“in,” “on,” “at”)

    bahay (“house”)

    nanonood – present tense of nood, which means “to watch”

    pelikula (“film”/”movie”)
  • Nasa klase ako. (“I’m in class.”)

    klase (“class”)
  • May meeting kami ngayon dito sa opisina. (“We’re currently having a meeting here in the office.”)

    may – shortened form of mayroon, which means “there is” or “have”

    kami (“us”/”we”)

    opisina (“office”)
  • Nasa bahay lang ako. Kape tayo? (“I’m just here at home. Want to grab some coffee?”)

    kape (“coffee”)

    tayo (“us”)
  • Wala akong pasok. Gusto mo bang manood ng sine? (“I have no work/school today. Do you want to see a movie?”)

    wala (“none”)

    pasok – The meaning of pasok is “enter,” so in this context, it means attending class or work. When one says wala akong pasok, what they mean is that they don’t have school or work, either because it’s a holiday or they’re on leave.

    gusto (“like”/”want”)

    manood – from the root word nood, meaning “to watch”

    sine – the big screen or the movie house
Someone Watching TV with a Bowl of Popcorn

Nasa bahay lang ako nanonood ng mga pelikula sa Netflix. 
(“I’m just here at home watching Netflix films.”)

9. What’s wrong?

There are times when you need to ask someone how they feel, especially when there seems to be something wrong. If you want to confirm if a friend or colleague is in a tough situation, you can say:

  • Anong problema? 
    “What’s wrong?” (Literally: “What’s the problem?”)
  • May problema ba? 
    “Is there a problem?”

Alternatively, you can ask:

  • May problema ka yata? 
    “You seem to have a problem?” / “Something doesn’t seem right with you.”

Responding to the question:

If you’re the one being asked and you don’t want to talk about the problem, you can say:

  • Ayos lang ako. Salamat. 
    “I’m fine. Thank you.”
  • Wala ito. Salamat sa pag-aalala. 
    “This is nothing. Thanks for your concern.”

On the other hand, you can say:

  • Oo, may problema ako. 
    “Yes, I have a problem.”

And then you can begin sharing your problems or concerns with the other person.

Important words and their translation:

  • May problema ka yata? (“You seem to have a problem?”)

    problema (“problem”)

    yata – This is a word that expresses uncertainty and is equivalent to “I think,” “it seems,” and “perhaps.” In this context, “it seems” is the nearest translation.
  • Ayos lang ako. Salamat. (“I’m fine. Thank you.”)

    ayos – This is an expression that implies orderliness. In this context, it means that everything is fine.

    salamat (“thank you”)
  • Wala ito. Salamat sa pag-aalala. (“This is nothing. Thanks for your concern.”)

    wala (“none”/”nothing”)

    ito (“this”)

    pag-aalala (“concern”)

10. How much is it? 

Filipinos are among the best when it comes to haggling, which is why some of the most important Filipino questions and answers for beginners are those about prices. 

In Tagalog, when you want to ask for the price of an item, you say:

  • Magkano po iyan? 
    “How much is it?” / “How much is that?”

If you think you can get the seller to give you a better deal, you can say:

  • Baka pwede pa po babaan ang presyo? 
    “Perhaps the price can still be lowered?”

In cases where there’s only one of a certain item for sale, or if you’re holding the item in your hand, you can simply say:

  • Magkano? 
    “How much?”

Responding to the question:

What if you’re the one selling the item? Then you say:

  • Mura lang. Isang-daang piso lang ang presyo niyan. 
    “It’s not that expensive. It only costs a hundred pesos.”

Alternatively, you can simply inform the buyer of the price: 

  • Singkwenta. 
    “Fifty.”

Important words and their translation:

  • Magkano po iyan? (“How much is it?”)

    magkano (“how much”)

    iyan (“that”)
  • Baka pwede pa po babaan ang presyo? (“Perhaps the price can still be lowered?”)

    baka (“perhaps”/”maybe”)

    pwede (“possible”/”can”)

    babaan (“to lower”)

    presyo (“price”)
  • Mura lang. Isang-daang piso lang ang presyo niyan. (“It’s not that expensive. It only costs a hundred pesos.”)

    mura (“cheap”)

    isang-daan (“one hundred”)

    presyo (“price”/”cost”)
Someone Digging into Their Wallet for More Cash

Baka pwede pa po babaan ang presyo? (“Perhaps the price can still be lowered?”)

11. Nais Mo Bang Matuto Nang Mas Mabilis?

Do you want to learn faster? Well, it’s a good thing that FilipinoPod101 is here. With FilipinoPod101, you can learn not only Filipino questions and answers, but other important topics, as well. For example, how to read in Filipino, how to get around in the Philippines, and most importantly, how to speak more Filipino in 2020.

Yes, it’s very important to learn how to ask and respond to Tagalog questions, but you can only get better at it if you have a strong foundation in basic Filipino expressions and vocabulary

Haven’t signed up yet? Well, signing up is easy, and when you’re done, you can start enjoying benefits exclusive only for FilipinoPod101 members. By upgrading your account, you can also gain access to MyTeacher, an exclusive feature that lets you study Tagalog one-on-one with one of our FilipinoPod101 teachers.

Did you find this article helpful? Don’t hesitate to share it with your friends who also wish to learn more about the Filipino language and culture. And don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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10 Filipino Sentence Patterns You Should Learn By Heart

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Despite the complexity of the Tagalog language, learning it won’t be as difficult if you’re familiar with the most basic Filipino sentence patterns. The best thing about learning Tagalog is that it’s not that different from the English language when it comes to sentence patterns. Tagalog is quite flexible, too, so it’s not that hard to read and understand a simple sentence, as long as you’re keeping brushed up on your Filipino vocabulary.

But why study Tagalog sentence patterns in the first place? Simple: Having this knowledge lets you craft a variety of sentences so that you’re not limited to one or two patterns every time you’re speaking or writing. More importantly, knowing simple patterns helps you have an easier time whenever you come across long sentences when you’re reading or having a conversation with a Tagalog-speaking friend.

Because we want to help you improve your communication skills in Tagalog, we’ve decided to create a guide on basic Filipino sentence patterns. From making requests to asking directions, here are the ten most basic and practical sentence patterns in Tagalog.

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  1. Linking Two Nouns: A is B.
  2. Using Adjectives to Describe: A is [Adjective].
  3. Expressing Want (I Want… / I Want to…)
  4. Expressing Need (I Need… / I Need to…)
  5. Expressing Like (I Like… / I Like to…)
  6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something
  7. Asking for Permission (May I…? / Can I…?)
  8. Asking for Information About Something (What is…?)
  9. Asking About Time (When is…?)
  10. Asking About Location or Direction (Where is…?)
  11. You Can Learn More Than Just Sentence Patterns with FilipinoPod101

1. Linking Two Nouns: A is B.

Sentence Patterns

Simple Filipino sentences are formed in the same manner as English sentences are—with a subject and a predicate. In this section, you’ll learn how to connect two nouns in order to form a sentence that expresses a complete thought. 

When it comes to linking two nouns in Tagalog, there’s only one word you need to remember, and that is the word ay.

As mentioned in our entry on Tagalog Word Order, ay is an inversion marker, and is used when switching from the V-S-O or V-O-S to the S-V-O sentence structure.

Here are several Filipino sentence examples showing how to link two nouns:

  • Si Moon ay ang alaga kong aso. (“Moon is my pet dog.”)
  • Ang asawa ko ay isang flight stewardess. (“My wife is a flight stewardess.”)
  • Si Julienne ay kapatid na babae ni Jay. (“Julienne is Jay’s sister.”)
  • Ang teleponong ito ay Samsung. (“This phone is a Samsung.”)
  • Si Kobe ay kalaro ko dati. (“Kobe was a playmate of mine back in the day.”)

2. Using Adjectives to Describe: A is [Adjective].

When using adjectives to describe nouns, the marker ay is still very much present. Check out the following examples of this Filipino sentence construction:

  • Ang tuta ay makulit. (“The puppy is annoying.”)
  • Si Maria ay matapang. (“Maria is courageous.”)
  • Ang nobyo niya ay tapat. (“Her lover is faithful.”)
  • Si Shirley ay maingay. (“Shirley is loud.”)
  • Si Ted ay tahimik. (“Ted is quiet.”)

3. Expressing Want (I Want… / I Want to…)

Sentence Components

The Tagalog word used to express desire is gusto. It can be used to express the English words “want,” “like,” and “wish.” The word nais can also be used for stronger emotions, such as “longing” and “desire,” although it’s almost exclusively used in formal writing.

1- I want…

  • Gusto ko ng baboy. (“I want some pork.”)
  • Gusto ko ng tubig! (“I want water!”)

2- I want to…

  • Gusto kong kumain ng puto. (“I want to eat some rice cake.”)
  • Gusto kong pumasa sa pagsusulit. (“I want to pass the test.”)
  • Gusto kitang bigyan ng pabuya. (“I want to give you a reward.”)
  • Nais kong makarating sa London balang araw. (“I long to visit London someday.”)
  • Nais kong malaman mong ikaw ang aking iniibig. (“I long for you to know that it’s you I desire.”)

If you wish to convey your hope of doing something, use the word sana, a word that expresses hope.

  • Gusto ko sanang dumalaw sa kanya. (“I was hoping I could visit her.”)
  • Gusto sana kitang makita noong panahong iyon. (“I was hoping I could see you that time.”)

And if you want to convey the opposite message, you simply replace the word gusto with ayaw, which expresses unwillingness.

  • Ayaw ko ng baboy. (“I don’t want pork.”)
  • Ayaw kong dumalaw sa kanila. (“I don’t want to go to their place.”)
  • Ayaw kitang kausap. (“I don’t want to speak with you.”)

4. Expressing Need (I Need… / I Need to…)

The word “need” or “have” can be translated to the Tagalog word kailangan.

1- I need…

  • Kailangan ko ng pagkain. (“I need some food.”)
  • Kailangan ko ng kasama. (“I need a companion.”)
  • Kailangan ko ng payo mo. (“I need your advice.”)

2- I need/have to…

  • Kailangan kong ibigay ito kay Elsa. (“I need to give this to Elsa.”)
  • Kailangan kong makarating doon kaagad. (“I have to reach that place fast.”)
  • Kailangan kong makabili ng bigas. (“I need to buy some rice.”)
  • Kailangan kong gawin ito. (“I need to do this.”)
  • Kailangan kong sundin ang payo niya. (“I have to follow his advice.”)

If you want to say that you don’t need or don’t have to do something, you simply use the word hindi

  • Hindi ko kailangan ng pagkain. (“I don’t need food.”)
  • Hindi ko kailangan ang payo mo. (“I don’t need your advice.”)
  • Hindi kita kailangan. (“I don’t need you.”)
A Girl Studying for Her Exams

Kailangan kong makapasa sa exams. (“I need to pass the exams.”)

5. Expressing Like (I Like… / I Like to…)

“Like” is gusto in Tagalog. The word “love” (not in a romantic sense) can also be translated to gusto. The word hilig can be used to express love, too, especially when referring to something one is inclined to doing. Take a look at the following examples of this Filipino sentence structure in action:

1- I like…

  • Gusto kita. (“I like you.”)
  • Mahilig ako sa mga aso. (“I love dogs.”)
  • Hilig ko ang larong basketball. (“I love the game of basketball.”)

Pinoys also like using “slang” words when showing appreciation.

  • Type ko ang bago mong sapatos! (“I like your new shoes!”) 
    • This is just another way of saying: “Those are my type of shoes!”
  • Bet ko siya para sa’yo! (“I really like him for you!”) 
    • This is just another way of saying: “I’m betting on him for you!”

2- I like/love to…

  • Gusto kitang bisitahin. (“I would like to visit you.”)
  • Gusto kong makita ang ginawa mo. (“I would love to see your work.”)
  • Mahilig akong gumala. (“I love to travel.”)
  • Mahilig talaga akong sumayaw. (“I really love to dance.”)
  • Mahilig akong kumanta habang naliligo. (“I love to sing while taking a bath.”)
A Man in a Business Suit Pointing at Someone across from Him

Gusto kita. Tanggap ka na. (“I like you. You’re hired.”)

6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something

There’s no direct translation for the word “please” in Tagalog. If you want to make a request, you simply add paki- before the verb you’re using. Paki- is a verbal prefix derived from the word pakiusap, which is Filipino for “request.” 

In the English language, the word “please” can be placed either at the beginning or the end of the sentence. In Tagalog, however, the verb used for making a request (paki + verb) is always placed at the beginning of the sentence. There’s no strict rule as to how to attach the affix paki to a verb. In most cases, you simply attach paki to the verb without separating the two with a dash.

  • Pakibigay ng pera kay Daryl. (“Please give the money to Daryl.”)
  • Pakiiwan ng mga gamit ko sa loob ng kwarto. (“Please leave my stuff inside the room.”)
  • Pakibukas ng pinto. (“Open the door, please.”)
  • Pakisabi sa nanay mo na dumaan ako. (“Please tell your mom that I dropped by.”)
  • Pakiabot ng ketchup, Louise. (“Ketchup, please, Louise.”)

It’s also not unusual for Filipinos to attach paki- to English verbs:

  • Paki-delete na lang ng files ko. (“Please delete my files as well.”)
  • Paki-send na lang mga pictures sa e-mail. (“Just send the pictures through email, please.”)
  • Paki-off ng washing machine. (“Turn off the washing machine, please.”)

In other cases, the word maaari (“can” or “may”) is enough to express a polite request.

  • Maaari bang magtanong? (“Can I ask a question, please?”)
  • Maaari ko bang makuha ang susi? (“May I have the keys, please?”)

One more thing. Don’t forget to say salamat (“thank you”) after making a request.

  • Paki-serve na lang ng dessert pagkatapos naming kumain. Salamat! (“Just serve the dessert right after we eat, please. Thanks!”)
A Man Kissing a Woman’s Hand

I said “keys,” not “kiss.”

7. Asking for Permission (May I…? / Can I…?)

Filipinos are known for being courteous. Despite what some people say about how there’s something questionable with the way respect has evolved in the Philippines and the world in general, most Filipinos remain very polite and respectful. 

One way Pinoys show respect is in how they ask for permission through the expressions “may I” and “can I.” Both are expressed in Tagalog using the words pwede or maaari. Keep in mind, though, that maaari has a more formal tone to it.

In Filipino culture, asking permission is very important. Below are some instances that would call for asking permission in the Philippines.

Asking a friend’s mom or dad for permission to invite them someplace:

  • Pwede ko po bang yayain si Lydia na mamasyal? (“May I invite Lydia to go for a stroll?”)
  • Maaari po ba naming isama si Aya sa birthday party ni John mamayang gabi? (“May we take Aya with us to John’s birthday party tonight?”)

Asking for permission to leave:

  • Pwede na ba akong umalis? (“Can I leave now?”)
  • Mauna na po kami. (“We should be running along.”)

*Note: There are some instances where the words pwede and maaari are not used when asking permission, although you’d be better off using them if you want to maintain that polite vibe.

Asking permission to borrow something:

  • Pwede ko bang hiramin ang lapis mo? (“Can I borrow your pencil?”)
  • Maaari bang manghiram ng kaunting barya? (“May I borrow some spare change, please?”)

Here are more examples:

  • Pwede ko bang makita ang loob ng kahon? (“Can I see what’s inside the box?”)
  • Pwede ba akong tumabi sa’yo? (“May I sit with you?”)
  • Pwede na ba kaming pumasok? (“May we come in now?”)
  • Maaari ko bang hingin ang iyong numero? (“Can I have your number?”)
  • Maaari ba kitang dalawin bukas ng gabi? (“May I visit you tomorrow evening?”)

And finally, let’s not forget how a Filipino gentleman asks for the hand of the lady he loves from the lady’s parents:

  • Pwede ko po bang hingin ang kamay ng inyong anak? (“May I ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage?”)
A Man Proposing to His Girlfriend on a Bridge

Pwede ba kitang maging asawa? (“Will you be my wife?”)

8. Asking for Information About Something (What is…?)

When asking for information in Tagalog, we use the word ano, which is Filipino for “what.” 

Let’s start with the most common “what” questions:

  • Ano ang pangalan mo? (“What is your name?”)
  • Anong cellphone number mo? (“What is your phone number?”)
  • Anong problema mo? (“What’s your problem?”)

What if you’re asking about the date?

  • Anong petsa na ngayon? (“What is the date today?”)
  • Anong araw ngayon? (“What day is today?”)

And if you forgot a person’s name?

  • Ano nga ba ulit ang pangalan mo? (“What was your name again?”)

Let’s say you found a bug you’ve never seen before…

  • Anong tawag sa insekto na ito? (“What is this insect called?”)

Want an update on your friend’s love life? 

  • Ano na ang nangyari sa boyfriend ni Jessica? (“Whatever happened to Jessica’s boyfriend?”)

And if you want to clarify things…

  • Anong ibig mong sabihin nung sinabi mong ayaw mo na? (“What did you mean when you said you’re quitting?”)
  • Ano yung sinabi mo tungkol sa akin? (“What was that you said about me?”)

9. Asking About Time (When is…?)

The Tagalog word for “when” is kailan, so when asking for information about when something is going to happen, we start the sentence with kailan. Here are examples of the basic Filipino sentence structure for this kind of question:

  • Kailan ang kaarawan mo? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Kailan nga yung meeting natin kay Bernadette? (“When is our meeting with Bernadette, again?”)
  • Kailan ang uwi ng papa mo galing sa London? (“When is your father arriving from London?”)
  • Kailan ka huling pumunta doon? (“When did you last go there?”)
  • Kailan ang punta mo ng Maynila? (“When will your trip to Manila be?”)

Keep in mind that you can also use the shortened spelling kelan instead of kailan. However, it’s not considered standard and is often used in informal settings, such as in text messages or on social media.

  • Kelan ulit tayo magkakape? (“When are we having coffee again?”)
  • Kelan siya babalik? (“When is she coming back?”)
  • Sabi mo magpapa-party ka. Kelan na mangyayari ‘yon? (“You said you’re throwing a party. When is it happening?”)

10. Asking About Location or Direction (Where is…?)

Location and direction are the two most important things you need to know when traveling or when staying in a different country for the first time. Since Filipinos are naturally accommodating, you won’t need to worry about asking for directions in case you get lost; they’ll be glad to help. The only thing you need to make sure is that you know the exact words to say when asking about a certain location or when asking for directions.

When asking about location or direction in Filipino, we use the Tagalog word saan, which directly translates to “where.” Here are some examples of how to craft a sentence in Filipino to ask for directions with this word:

  • Saan banda ang pinakamalapit na botika? (“Where is the nearest drugstore?”)
  • Saan po may bangko na malapit dito? (“Where is the nearest bank from here?”)
  • Alam niyo po ba kung saan ang klinika ni Dr. Akhunzada? (“Do you know where Dr. Akhunzada’s clinic is located?”)
  • Saan po banda ang National Museum? (“Where can we find the National Museum?”)
  • Saan ka na banda? (“Where are you now?”)
  • Pare, saan ang kotse ko? (“Dude, where’s my car?”)

A Man Lost Somewhere and Talking on the Phone

Where na you? Here na me.

11. You Can Learn More Than Just Sentence Patterns with FilipinoPod101

Now that you’ve learned some basic sentence patterns in Tagalog, there’s no question that you’ll be more confident with your Tagalog speaking and writing skills. But do you know that you can move beyond the basics to more advanced Filipino grammar proficiency? Yes, you can, with FilipinoPod101.com.

FilipinoPod101 is one of the leading Tagalog language-learning systems today, so if you’re looking for resources and tools to help you improve your Tagalog, don’t think twice about visiting us today. With FilipinoPod101, you’ll learn everything from basic Filipino grammar and the Filipino alphabet, to more  practical language lessons. Whether you’re an auditory or visual learner, you can rest assured that there are tools here designed just for you.

Want to know Tagalog inside and out within a shorter time frame? Our MyTeacher feature is exactly what you need. This is a Premium PLUS feature that lets you learn Tagalog with your own teacher, so that you’ll have someone to give you real-time feedback, making sure you’re always improving.

Did you like this article on Filipino sentence patterns? If you did, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section!

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The Adverb in Filipino: The 100 Most Common Filipino Adverbs

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Telling oneself to never use adverbs in speech or writing is like advising a bird to cut off one of its wings—it’s simply preposterous. That’s how important adverbs are. 

Most people think of an adverb as any word that ends with “-ly” (at least in the English language), but in reality, there’s more to adverbs. They’re not always just a single word used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. It’s one of the four core parts of speech, without which one can’t construct a logical sentence. That’s the exact reason we’re studying the adverb in Filipino today.

To begin, what is “adverb” in Tagalog? (Ano ang adverb sa Tagalog?

In Tagalog, an adverb is referred to as pang-abay. And as mentioned, they’re words or phrases that modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. Unlike the commonly used adverbs in English that usually end in “-ly,” however, Filipino adverbs do not have a specific format in terms of spelling or word endings.

There are a dozen types of pang-abay, most of which have an equivalent in the English language. Let’s take a look at the most common types of Tagalog adverbs, shall we? And afterward, you can study our list of Filipino adverbs with examples!

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“I’m so excited to learn about Filipino adverbs!”
Table of Contents
  1. Kinds of Pang-Abay
  2. The 100 Most Practical Tagalog Adverbs
  3. Master Your Tagalog Adverb Skills with FilipinoPod101

1. Kinds of Pang-Abay

1 – Pamanahon (“Time”)

A pang-abay na pamanahon or “adverb of time” describes when, for how long (duration), and how often (frequency) an action happened. There are three types of pang-abay na pamanahon.

May pananda (with a marker). Examples of this type of pang-abay na pamanahon are: noon (“then”), sa (“on”), kung (“when”), tuwing (“whenever”), hanggang (“until”), kapag (“when”), and nang (“when”).

Walang pananda (without a marker). Tagalog adverbs under this category include: kanina (“earlier”), kahapon (“yesterday”), ngayon (“now”), mamaya (“later”), and bukas (“tomorrow”).

Nagsasaad ng dalas (states the frequency). In the English language, these are referred to as adverbs of frequency. Araw-araw (“every day”), tuwing umaga (“every morning”), taon-taon (“every year”), kada minuto (“every minute”), oras-oras (“every hour”), and tuwing pasko (“every Christmas”) are some adverbs that belong to this category. 

2 – Panlunan (“Place”)

A pang-abay na panlunan or “adverb of place” talks about the place where the action has been, is being, or will be carried out. In Filipino grammar, the most commonly used adverbs of place are: sa, kina, and kay. Sa is usually followed by a common noun or a pronoun. 

Kina and kay, on the other hand, are usually followed by a proper noun, particularly a name of a person. For example:

Kay answers the question, “From whom?” So while it seems to function as a preposition here, it actually serves as an adverb.

3 – Pamaraan (“Manner”)

An adverb of manner in Tagalog is pang-abay na pamaraan. These words describe how an action has been, is being, or will be done. These adverbs utilize na, nang, and -ng. Examples of pang-abay na pamaraan are: mabilis (“fast”), malakas (“loudly”), dahan-dahan (“slowly”), mahigpit (“tightly”), and mabuti (“carefully”).

4 – Pang-Agam (“Doubt”)

The word agam is Tagalog for “doubt,” which means pang-abay na pang-agam are adverbs that express a lack of certainty about how an action is done. Examples include marahil (“perhaps”), siguro (“maybe”), tila (“apparently”), and parang (“it seems”).

woman struggling with complex math equation
One thing’s for sure—you’re gonna need help with these adverbs.

5 – Pananggi (“Disagreement”)

A pang-abay na pananggi or “adverb of disagreement” expresses negation or disagreement. Words under this category include hindi (“no,” “not,” “never”), ayaw (“not,” “never”), huwag (“don’t”), and wala (“nothing”).

6 – Pang-abay na Panang-ayon (“Affirmation”)

Pang-abay na panang-ayon is the opposite of pang-abay na pananggi. These adverbs in Filipino include words such as tunay (“really,” “truly”), sadya (“assuredly,” “definitely”), talaga (“really,” “surely,” “certainly”), syempre (“of course,” “naturally”), and sigurado (“undoubtedly,” “surely”).

7 – Pang-abay na Panggaano o Panukat (“Number or Measure”)

A pang-abay na panggaano o panukat answers questions like “How much?”, “How far?”, “How heavy?”, and “How long?” Examples are tatlong litro (“three liters”), limang kilometro (“five kilometers”), marami (“a lot”), and kaunti (“a little”).

8 – Pang-abay na Panulad (“Adverbs of Comparison”)

Pang-abay na panulad or “adverbs of comparison” are used to compare two or more objects in a sentence. It usually involves the adverbs mas (“more”) and kaysa (“than”).

9 – Pang-abay na Ingklitik (“Enclitic”)

These adverbs are words that normally come right after the first word in a Tagalog sentence. They don’t necessarily have direct English equivalents, but are very crucial Filipino adverbs. Some of these words are na, naman, nang, yata, kaya, muna, pala, sana, ba, pa, din/rin, and daw/raw.

10 – Pang-abay na Benepaktibo

These adverbs talk about the benefits of an action done in a sentence. They’re normally formed with the help of the phrase para sa or “for the.”

11 – Pang-abay na Kawsatibo

These adverbs state the reason an action has been done in a sentence. They’re normally formed with the help of the phrase dahil sa or “because of.”

12 – Pang-abay na Kondisyonal

These adverbs state the condition or reason an action was done in a sentence. They’re normally formed with the help of kung (“if”), kapag/pag (“when”), and pagka (“when”).

Now that you know the types of adverbs in Tagalog, let’s check out 100 Tagalog adverb examples in sentences.

2. The 100 Most Practical Tagalog Adverbs

Top verbs

1 – Pamanahon (“Time”)

1

sa 
“on”
Pupunta kami kina Ligaya sa Sabado.
“We will go to Ligaya’s on Saturday.”

2

tuwing
“whenever,” “every time”
Nagluluto si lola ng tinola tuwing bumibisita kami.
“Grandma cooks chicken soup every time we visit.”

3

buhat
“since”
Nag-iba ang ugali ni Ron buhat ng maaksidente siya.
“Ron’s personality changed since he had the accident.”

4

noon
“before”
May ganyang damit din ako noon.
“I also had a shirt like that before.”

5

kapag
“when”
Magsampay ka kapag nakita mong lumabas ang araw.
“Hang the clothes when you see the sun coming out.”

6

kinabukasan
“the following day”
Umuwi na rin si Tiyo Willie kinabukasan.
“Uncle Willie left the following day.”

7

hanggang
“until”
Nanatili sila sa bahay ni Rey hanggang umaga.
“They stayed at Rey’s place until morning.”

8

kanina
“earlier”
Umulan nang malakas kanina.
“It rained hard earlier.”

9

kahapon
“yesterday”
Kahapon sila dumating.
“They arrived yesterday.”

10

bukas
“tomorrow”
Bukas na lang ako papasok sa trabaho.
“I’ll go to work tomorrow instead.”

11

ngayon
“now”
Bakit di ka nalang pumunta doon ngayon?
“Why don’t you just go there now?”

12

mamaya
“later”
Susunduin kita mamaya, ha?
“I’ll fetch you later, okay?”

13

araw-araw
“every day”
Araw-araw mo dapat iniinom ang gamot mo.
“You’re supposed to take your medicine every day.”

14

taon-taon
“yearly,” “every year”
May family reunion kami taon-taon.
“We have a family reunion every year.”

15

kada minuto
“every minute”
Sinisilip niya ang sanggol sa kwarto kada minuto.
“He checks on the baby in the room every minute.”

16

bawat oras
“every hour”
Nagpapalit sila ng guwardiya bawat oras.
“They change guards every hour.”

17

linggo-linggo
“every week”
Nagsisimba si Carmen linggo-linggo.
“Carmen goes to church every week.”

18

tuwing umaga
“every morning”
Tumatakbo si JR tuwing umaga.
“JR runs every morning.”
man studying Filipino on his laptop
Araw-araw kong ginagamit ang FilipinoPod101. (“I use FilipinoPod101 every day.”)

2 – Panlunan (“Place”)

Notice how sa, kina, and kay take on different meanings depending on their use. Also, while some of their equivalents may appear to function as prepositions when translated in English, they actually function as adverbs, or pang-abay, in Filipino. That’s one way in which Filipino grammar is unique!

19

sa
“in”
Buksan mo ang bintana sa kusina.
“Open the window in the kitchen.”

20

sa
“at”
Nanonood sila ng laro ngayon sa plaza.
“They’re currently watching the game at the plaza.”

21

sa
“for”
Ibigay mo ang bayad para sa karne.
“Give the payment for the meat.”

22

kay
“from”
Bumili ako ng bag kay Leni.
“I bought a bag from Leni.”

23

kina
“at”
Doon ako kumain kina Henry.
“I ate there at Henry’s.”

24

kay
“to”
Paki-abot nito kay Karla.
“Please pass this over to Karla.”

25

kina
“at”
Hanapin mo ang nawawalang pusa kina Shirley.
“Look for the missing cat at Shirley’s place.”

3 – Pamaraan (“Manner”)

More essential verbs

26

mahigpit
“tightly”
Hinawakan niya ako nang mahigpit.
“She held me tightly.”

27

malakas
“loudly”
Sinigawan niya nang malakas ang kawatan.
“He shouted loudly at the thief.”

28

madali
“easily”
Madaling nahuli ni MJ si Charles.
“MJ caught Charles easily.”

29

mabilis
“quickly”
Kumain siya nang mabilis upang hindi mahuli.
“He ate quickly so as not to be late.”

30

marahan
“softly”
Marahan niyang ibinulong ang mensahe.
“He softly whispered the message.”

31

tahimik
“silently”
Tahimik siyang pumasok sa silid.
“She entered the room silently.”

32

dahan-dahan
“slowly”
Tumayo siya nang dahan-dahan.
“She got up slowly.”

33

mabuti
“carefully,” “intently”
Tinitigan niya nang mabuti ang papeles.
“She stared intently at the documents.”

34

papilit
“forcefully”
Papilit na hinila ni Diana ang kapatid na babae.
“Diana forcefully pulled her sister away.”

35

pahapyaw
“passingly”
Nag-aral nang pahapyaw si Lorie.
“Lorie only studied passingly.”

36

pabalang
“disrespectfully”
Pabalang niyang sinagot ang ama.
“He answered his father disrespectfully.”

37

padabog
“angrily”
Padabog siyang lumabas sa kwarto.
“He angrily (stomping his feet and slamming the door behind) left the room.”
The verb dabog is an action of anger that involves stomping of the feet or slamming of the door, and is often associated with tampo. Adding the affix pa- transforms it into an adverb of manner, since one of the uses of the affix pa- is to denote how an action is done, as in pabulong (“softly” as in a whisper), pabaliktad (“inversely”), and paatras (“backward”).

4 – Pang-agam (“Doubt”)

38

baka
“perhaps”
Baka hindi tayo umabot.
“We might not reach on time.”

39

siguro
“maybe”
Nakaalis na siguro si papa.
“Maybe dad left already.”

40

tila
“seemingly”
Tila lalakas pa ang bagyo.
“The storm is seemingly getting stronger.”

41

parang
“it seems”
Parang ayaw sumama ni John sa atin.
“It seems John doesn’t want to come with us.”

42

marahil
“probably”
Marahil ay na-traffic sila.
“They probably got caught in traffic.”
a bunch of model toy cars
Hate the traffic? Study from home.

43

wari
“estimate,” “reckon”
Wari ko ay matagal tayong hindi magkikita.
“I reckon we won’t be seeing each other anytime soon.”

44

malamang
“most likely”
Malamang hindi na matutuloy ang programa.
“The show would most likely not push through.”

45

yata
“it seems,” “I think”
Dumating na yata ang mga bisita.
“It seems that the guests have arrived.”

46

mukha
“it looks like,” “it seems”
Mukha yatang wala na tayong pag-asang manalo.
“It looks like we no longer have any chances of winning.”

47

para
“it looks like,” “it seems”
Para ngang uulan, ano?
“Indeed, it seems like it’s going to rain, doesn’t it?”

5 – Pananggi (“Disagreement”)

48

ayaw
“do not,” “would not”
Ayaw niyang sagutin ang tawag ko.
“She doesn’t want to answer my call.”

49

hindi kailanman
“never”
Hindi kailanman nagyabang si Michael.
“Never did Michael boast.”

50

hindi
“not”
Hindi magandang sabihin sa iba na mataba sila.
“It’s not good to tell someone they are fat.”

51

hinding-hindi
“never ever”
Hinding-hindi kita iiwan.
“I will never ever leave you.”

52

huwag
“do not,” “never”
Huwag kang makialam sa kanya.
“Don’t interfere in his business.”

53

huwag na huwag
“do not ever”
Huwag na huwag ka nang magpapakita.
“Don’t you ever show your face again.”

54

wala
“nothing”
Walang kwenta ang buhay kung malayo ka sa akin.
“Life has no purpose if you are far away from me.”

6 – Panang-ayon (“Affirmation”)

55

sadya
“just,” “simply”
Sadyang mabilis magsalita si Aristotle.
“Aristotle just/simply talks fast.”

56

tunay
“really”
Tunay na mabait ang Diyos.
“God is really good.”

57

talaga
“surely”
Talagang masungit si Miss Minchin.
“Miss Minchin is surely ill-tempered.”

58

syempre
“of course”
Syempre, mamamasko kami kina mama.
“Of course, we’ll spend Christmas at Mama’s.”

59

sigurado
“undoubtedly,” “definitely”
Siguradong matatalo tayo sa kanila.
“We will undoubtedly lose to them.”

60

walang duda
“no doubt”
Walang duda na siya yung tumawag sayo.
“No doubt, it was he who called you.”

61

siyanga
“indeed”
In response to a statement:

Siyanga!
“Indeed!”

62

totoo
“truly”
Totoong nagbago na ako.
“I have truly changed.”

63

oo
“yes”
Oo, galit ako!
“Yes, I am mad!”

64

opo
“yes”
Opo, lolo, ako po ito.
“Yes, Grandpa, it’s me.”
grandson giving his grandfather a cup of coffee
Opo, lolo, ako po ito. (“Yes, grandpa, it’s me.”)

7 – Pang-abay na Panggaano o Panukat (“Number or Measure”)

Unlike most types of Tagalog adverbs, pang-abay na panggaano o panukat does not have specific words that belong under its category. These adverbs simply state the weight, distance, length, or price of an object in a sentence.

65

anim na talampakan
“six feet”
Anim na talampakan ang lalim ng hukay.
“The ditch is six feet deep.”

66

tatlong kilo
“three kilos”
Bumili ako ng tatlong kilong bigas.
“I bought three kilos of rice.”

67

tatlong litro
“three liters”
Kaya kong ubusin iyang tatlong litrong tubig.
“I can finish off that three liters of water on my own.”

68

dalawang piso
“two pesos”
Tumaas nang dalawang piso ang presyo ng asukal.
“The price of sugar went up two pesos.”

69

dipa
“an arm’s length”
Isang dipa lamang ang layo ng leon kay Sheila.
“The lion was only an arm’s length away from Sheila.”
depiction of Indian Gaur Mata
“The lion was only an arm’s length away from Sheila.”

70

limang kilometro
“five kilometers”
Nagbisikleta si JD nang limang kilometro.
“JD rode his bike for five kilometers.”

71

apatnapung yarda
“forty yards”
Apatnapung yarda ang tinakbo ni Eddie.
“Eddie ran forty yards.”

8 – Pang-abay na Panulad (“Adverbs of Comparison”)

72

mas marami
“a lot more”
Mas marami siyang alam kaysa kay Ben.
“He knows a lot more than Ben.”

73

higit na magaling
“way better”
Higit na magaling umawit si April kaysa kay Ann.
“April sings way better than Ann.”

74

mas maingay
“noisier”
Mas maingay doon kaysa dito.
“It’s more noisy (noisier) there than here.”
Keep in mind that unlike in the English language, we don’t add -er to comparative and -est to superlative forms of adverbs. Instead, we simply place mas (“more”) before the adverb. If translated literally, “noisier” would be mas maingay. In the same manner, mas maingay in English is not “more noisy,” but “noisier.”
a woman smiling and holding lots of books
Mas marami akong alam na pang-abay kaysa sa’yo. (“I know more adverbs than you do.”)

75

mas mabilis
“faster”
Mas mabilis ang kotse niya kaysa sa kotse ko.
“His car is faster than my car.”

76

mas malayo
“farther”
Ang bahay nila ay mas malayo sa paaralan kaysa sa bahay namin.
“His house is farther from the school than our house.”

77

mas malaki
“greater”
Ang talo niya ngayong taon ay mas malaki kaysa noong nakaraan.
“His loss this year is greater than his loss last year.”

78

mas malakas
“stronger”
Alam kong mas malakas ka kaysa sa kanya.
“I know you are stronger than her.”

9 – Pang-abay na Ingklitik (“Enclictic”)

79

kaya
“that is why, therefore”
Na-traffic ako kaya nahuli ako sa klase.
“I got caught in traffic that’s why I was late in class.

80

yata
“it seems”
Masaya yata si Andrew ngayon ah.
“It seems that Andrew is cheerful today.”

81

muna
“first”
Magmerienda muna kayo bago umalis.
“Have some snacks first before leaving.”

82

pala1. Nandito ka pala?
“Oh, so you’re here?”

2. Kahapon ka pa pala dumating? Akala ko bukas pa ang flight mo.
“So you arrived yesterday? I thought your flight was supposed to be tomorrow.”
Perhaps you’re wondering why pala doesn’t have an English translation. Well, it’s because it’s one of the few untranslatable Filipino words. Based on the examples, however, you can assume that it’s used to express a sense of being surprised by newly learned information.

83

sana
“I hope,” “I wish”
Sana manalo na ako ngayon.
“I hope I win this time.”

84

lang
“just”
Sandali lang akong maglalaro.
“I won’t take long playing.”

85

din
“also”
Marunong din akong tumugtog ng gitara.
“I also know how to play the guitar.”

86

na
“already”
Naayos na ang sasakyan.
“The vehicle has already been fixed.”

87

naman
“again”
Nakatulog ka na naman.
“You fell asleep again.”

88

pa
“yet”
Hindi pa dumadating ang padala ni Ate.
“The parcel from big sister hasn’t arrived yet.”

89

nga
“in fact,” “indeed”
Masipag si Ed. Niligpit nga niya ang mga kalat dito eh.
“Ed is diligent. In fact, he got rid of all the mess here.”

90

man
“whether”
Paglilingkuran ko ang lahat, mayaman man o mahirap.
“I will serve anyone, whether rich or poor.”

91

ba1. Nakarating na ba tayo?
“Are we there yet?”

2. Sinagot niya na ba ang email mo?
“Did he respond to your email already?”

3. Kumain ka na ba?
“Have you eaten already?”
Ba is another untranslatable Tagalog word. It’s often used with questions.

92

tuloyHindi ka nag-aral; hindi ka tuloy pumasa sa exam.
“You didn’t study; that’s why you didn’t pass the exam.”
Just like pala and ba, tuloy in this usage has no equivalent English word. In essence, however, it has a similar function as that of the English word “therefore,” and implies consequence. Take note that this is different from the two other tuloy words that mean “to come in” and “to continue.”

10 – Pang-abay na Benepaktibo

para sa
“for the”
1. Magluto ka ng arroz caldo para sa maysakit.
“Cook some rice broth for the sick patient.”

2. Ang kinolektang  pera ay para sa ikabubuti ng paaralan.”
“The money collected is for the benefit of the school.”

3. Para sa kinabukasan mo ang ginagawa ng tatay mo.
“What your dad is doing is for your future.”
a man deep in thought while studying
Nag-aaral ako ng pang-abay para sa kinabukasan natin. (“I’m studying adverbs for our future.”)

11 – Pang-abay na Kawsatibo

94

dahil sa
“because of”
Naubos ang pera niya dahil sa kawawaldas.
“He lost all his money because of his unnecessary spending.”

95

sanhi ng
“cause of”
Sanhi ng kanyang pagkalungkot ang pagkamatay ng alagang aso.
“The cause of his depression was the death of his dog.”

96

bunga ng
“a result of”
Bunga ng kakulangan sa “human connection” ang pagiging adik sa computer games.
“Computer game addiction is a result of a lack of human connection.”

97

dulot ng
“a result of”
Dulot ng pagkain ng karne ang maraming pinsala sa kalusugan.
“Many human ailments are a result of too much meat consumption.”

12 – Pang-abay na Kondisyonal

98

kung
“if”
Sasama lamang ako kung sasama si Ellen.
“I will go only if Ellen does.”

99

kapag
“whenever”
Masaya ako kapag nandyan ka.
“I feel happy whenever you’re around.”

100

pagka
“once”
Pagka nakita kong tumino ka na, saka lamang ako maniniwala.
“I will only believe you once I see that you’ve changed your ways.”

3. Master Your Tagalog Adverb Skills with FilipinoPod101

There’s no way you won’t master the different kinds of adverbs in Filipino after studying 100 of the most common Filipino adverbs, right? Well, how we wish it were so. But learning a new language takes a lot of time and effort. That’s why FilipinoPod101 is here for you.

With FilipinoPod101, you can easily enhance your vocabulary, improve your Tagalog-speaking skills, and speak Tagalog with confidence. And you can do all that simply by starting your free trial today. Doing so will give you access to a number of fun audio and video lessons you can take with you wherever you are. 

You’ll also have access to several Filipino language-learning resources, as well as FilipinoPod101’s very own mobile app that lets you learn Filipino pronunciation and the Filipino alphabet. It even lets you create your own vocab list to study and master.

That said, learning about adverbs in Filipino is just one of the many things you can do here at FilipinoPod101. If there are more things you wish to know about Tagalog adverbs, or anything about the Filipino language in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments section. Thanks! 

We hope you enjoyed this lesson!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Filipino

Learn the Basics of Filipino Verb Conjugation

Thumbnail

We’ve already talked about how to tell time in Filipino. We’ve studied the verb in Tagalog, as well. If you’re still wondering why you need to learn both, well, this article might be able to enlighten you a little bit. In this lesson, we’re going to explore a subject that deals with both time and action: conjugation.

Conjugation deals with verb tenses. Verb tenses tell listeners what time period a sentence is referring to: past, present, or future. Tagalog conjugation, in particular, can be quite complex, but that’s the reason we’re here—to help you learn about verb conjugation in Filipino in an easy and enjoyable way.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Filipino Table of Contents
  1. What is Conjugation?
  2. Verb Groups
  3. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations
  4. Quiz Time!
  5. FilipinoPod101 Will Help Eliminate any Confusion

1. What is Conjugation?

Top Verbs

In grammar, conjugation refers to the process of how a verb transforms, particularly for the purpose of expressing tense, person, and mood. Unlike in English, conjugating verbs using Tagalog is quite unique in the sense that Filipino verbs are morphologically complex and are conjugated in terms of their progressiveness, rather than their tense. I know that’s a lot to take in right now, but you’ll understand things a lot better once we get deeper into the discussion. 

Before we start studying how to conjugate Tagalog verbs, I would suggest that you first take a look at our post on the 100 most practical Filipino verbs, which covers the basics of pandiwa or “verbs.” 

And now, let’s take a look at how Tagalog verbs are conjugated according to verb groups.

2. Verb Groups

More Essential Verbs

Tagalog verbs can be grouped depending on how they’re conjugated. As mentioned in our Filipino Verbs article, the easiest way to understand and learn Filipino verb conjugation is to memorize the common affixes (panlapi) used in Tagalog grammar. These affixes are mag-, ma-, um-, in-, and i-, and Tagalog verbs can be grouped according to these affixes.

Tagalog verbs can also be distinguished either as actor-focus verbs or object-focus verbs. Don’t worry, because we’ll get to learn and understand these two verb groups, as well, as we go through the verb affixes we mentioned above.

1 – MAG Verbs

MAG verbs are among the most commonly used Tagalog verbs. They are actor-focus verbs, and are so-called because they’re formed by adding the prefix mag- to the beginning of the verb. The prefix mag- is used if the verb is in the future and imperative forms. 

Let’s take a look at some examples of common MAG verbs:

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
aral (“to study”)nag-aral (“studied”)nag-aaral (“studying”)mag-aaral (“will study”)mag-aral (“study”)
basa (“to read”)nagbasa (“read”)nagbabasa (“reading”)magbabasa (“will read”)magbasa (“read”)
salita (“to talk,” “to speak”)nagsalita (“talked,” “spoke”)nagsasalita (“talking,” “speaking”)magsasalita (“will talk,” “will speak”)magsalita (“talk,” “speak”)
sulat (“to write”)nagsulat (“wrote”)nagsusulat (“writing”)magsusulat (“will write”)magsulat (“write”)
saulo (“to memorize”)nagsaulo (“memorized”)nagsasaulo (“memorizing”)magsasaulo (“will memorize”)magsaulo (“memorize”)

Right now, you may be wondering, “How do I conjugate MAG verbs?” Let us show you.

Notice in the table above that in the four different tenses, the root verb changes form simply by adopting affixes.

Let’s take the verb aral, or “study,” for example.

To form the future tense of aral, we simply attach the prefix MAG- to the verb and repeat the first syllable, so that it becomes mag-aaral. Keep in mind that a hyphen or gitling is required between mag– and any verb that begins with a vowel.

For the imperative form of the verb, mag– is attached to the verb, and the original form is retained. 

So if you want to tell someone to study, you say: Mag-aral ka nang mabuti. (“Study well.”)

A Teacher Helping Her Students Study

Mag-aral ka nang mabuti. (“Study well.”)

To form the present tense, replace MAG- with NAG-, and again, repeat the first syllable of the verb. In this case, aral becomes nag-aaral.

The same goes for the past tense, except that you no longer have to repeat the first syllable: nag-aral

2 – MA Verbs

After the MAG verbs are the MA verbs, which are also actor-focus verbs. And just like MAG verbs, MA verbs are formed by attaching a prefix, which in this case is ma-, to the verb.

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
kinig (“to listen”)nakinig (“listened”)nakikinig (“listening”)makikinig (“will listen”)makinig (“listen”)
nood (“to watch”)nanood (“watched”)nanonood (“watching”)manonood (“will watch”)manood (“watch”)
tulog (“to sleep”)natulog (“slept”)natutulog (“sleeping”)matutulog (“will sleep”)matulog (“sleep”)
ligo (“to bathe”)naligo (“bathed”)naliligo (“bathing”)maliligo (“will bathe”)maligo (“bathe”)
pasyal (“to stroll”)namasyal (“strolled”)namamasyal (“strolling”)mamamasyal (“will stroll”)mamasyal (“stroll”)

Conjugating MA verbs is as easy as conjugating MAG verbs since the rules are similar. 

Let’s look at the Filipino conjugation of the verb nood, or “watch.” To conjugate it in the future tense, all you need to do is attach the prefix ma- to the verb and repeat the first syllable no-. Nood will now become manonood.

Simply by attaching ma- to the verb and retaining the original form of the root verb, you’ll be able to come up with the imperative form, which is manood.

For the past and present tenses, na- is added as a prefix. Once again, the first syllable is repeated in forming the present tense, but not in forming the past tense. That said, the present tense of nood is nanonood, while its past tense is nanood.

*Note: For some MA verbs that begin with the letter “p,” “p” is changed to “m” when conjugating. Pasyal, for instance, becomes namasyal (past), namamasyal (present), mamamasyal (future), and mamasyal (imperative). The same goes for the verb patay (“to die”), which is conjugated as namatay (past tense) instead of napatay, which is actually the past tense of the same verb in the IN form.

Speaking of which, some verbs can be both UM verbs and IN verbs, although others can only be MAG verbs and IN verbs, depending on the focus.

3 – UM Verbs

UM verbs are actor-focus verbs. They’re formed with the help of the infix um, which is placed within the verb to construct the past, present, and infinitive forms of the verb. Take a look at the Filipino verb conjugation table below for some examples of UM verbs.

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
kain (“to eat”)kumain (“ate”)kumakain (“eating”)kakain (“will eat”)kumain (“eat”)
kanta (“to sing”)kumanta (“sang”)kumakanta (“singing”)kakanta (“will sing”)kumanta (“sing”)
tawa (“to laugh”)tumawa (“laughed”)tumatawa (“laughing”)tatawa (“will laugh”)tumawa (“laugh”)
higa (“to lie down”)humiga (“laid down”)humihiga (“lying down”)hihiga (“will lie down”)humiga (“lie down”)
sigaw (“to shout”)sumigaw (“shouted”)sumisigaw (“shouting”)sisigaw (“will shout”)sumigaw (“shout”)

The rules for conjugating UM verbs are a bit different. Let’s look at the verb tawa (“to laugh”), for instance. By observing the table above, you’ll see that the past and infinitive forms of the verb are the same—tumawa. The infix is inserted after the first letter of the word.

To form its future tense, the infix is not added, but the first syllable is repeated. In this case, tawa becomes tatawa.

Now, to form the present tense of the verb, take the future tense first and insert the infix um after the first letter of the word. This time, tatawa (future tense) becomes tumatawa (present tense).

Keep in mind that to form the future tense of an UM verb whose first syllable ends in a consonant (such as in the case of kanta, where the first syllable is kan-), only the first two letters are to be repeated. The future tense of kanta, therefore, is kakanta and NOT kankanta.

4 – IN Verbs

Unlike the first three verb groups, which are actor-focus verbs, IN verbs are object-focus verbs. This means that in a sentence, the focus is on the object and not the actor. Let’s take a look at the table below to see how IN verbs are formed:

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
kain (“to eat”)kinain (“ate”)kinakain (“eating”)kakainin (“will eat”)kainin (“eat”)
basag (“to break”)binasag (“broke”)binabasag (“breaking”)babasagin (“will break”)basagin (“break”)
sabi (“to say”)sinabi (“said”)sinasabi (“saying”)sasabihin (“will say”)sabihin (“say”)
pilit (“to insist,” “to force”)pinilit (“insisted,” “forced”)pinipilit (“insisting,” “forcing”)pipilitin (“will insist,” “will force”)pilitin (“insist,” “force”)
tawag (“to call”)tinawag (“called”)tinatawag (“calling”)tatawagin (“will call”)tawagin (“call”)

Conjugating IN verbs isn’t that complicated. Let’s start with the future tense using the verb basag. To conjugate basag to its future tense, simply repeat the first syllable, ba-, and add –in as a suffix so that basag becomes babasagin

In some instances, -hin is added instead of -in, such as in the case of sabi, which in the future tense is sasabihin. The same is true for basa (“to read”), which is babasahin in the future tense.

For the imperative form, the rule is to simply add -in as a suffix, transforming basag to basagin.

To conjugate basag to its present tense, begin with the future tense, which is basagin, and then add IN between the first and second letters. Next, remove the suffix -in, transforming the word to binabasag. You can also get the same result by repeating the first syllable and then inserting IN between the first and second letters.

IN is simply added right after the first letter of the root verb to transform it to its past tense. Basag then becomes binasag.

The rules are different for IN verbs starting with the letter “L” when conjugating in present and past tenses. Take the word linis, for example. To transform this to the present tense, the first syllable is repeated and ni- is attached as a prefix so that linis becomes nililinis. For the past tense, ni- is simply added as a prefix to the root form: nilinis.

5 – I Verbs

I verbs are object-focus verbs like IN verbs, although some of them can be actor-focus verbs, as well. Here’s a table of some common I verbs:

Root VerbPastPresentFutureImperative
inom (“to drink”)ininom (“was drank”)iniinom (“being drunk”)iinumin (“will be drank”)inumin (“drink”)
hinto (“to stop”)inihinto (“was stopped”)inihihinto (“being stopped”)ihihinto (“will be stopped”)ihinto (“stop”)
bigay (“to give”)ibinigay (“was given”)binibigay (“being given”)ibibigay (“will be given”)ibigay (“give”)
guhit (“to draw”)iginuhit (“was drawn”)iginuguhit (“being drawn”)iguguhit (“will be drawn”)iguhit (“draw”)
deklara (“to declare”)idineklara (“was declared”)idinideklara (“being declared”)idideklara (“will be declared”)ideklara (“declare”)

Let’s take a look at how I verbs are conjugated. Let’s use the verb deklara (“to declare”). Like some I verbs, deklara can also be a MAG verb.

Here’s deklara as a MAG verb:

  • Magdedeklara ang punong-guro na walang pasok bukas. 
    “The school principal will declare that classes are suspended for tomorrow.”

In this sentence, the focus is on the actor, which is the punong-guro, or the “principal.”

Now, here’s deklara as an I verb:

  • Idedeklara ng punong-guro na walang pasok bukas. 
    “It will be declared by the school principal that classes will be suspended for tomorrow.”
Principal Standing with Arms Crossed, in Front of Students

“That moment the principal says there are no classes tomorrow.”

This time, the focus is on the object, making the verb deklara both a MAG verb and an I verb.

So, how do we conjugate I verbs? Let’s use the verb guhit (“to draw”). To form the future tense of this word, repeat the first syllable of the root verb and attach the prefix i- so that guhit (“to draw”) becomes iguguhit (“will be drawn”).

    Ang larawan ni Rose ay iguguhit ni Jake. 
    “Anna’s portrait will be drawn by Jake.”

The imperative form is the simplest since you only need to attach i- to the root verb. The imperative for guhit, then, is iguhit.

    Iguhit mo nga ang mukha ng aso sa isang pirasong papel. 
    Draw the dog’s face on a piece of paper.”

3. Irregular Verbs and Their Conjugations

Negative Verbs

So, how do you conjugate Filipino verbs that are irregular?

In the English language, irregular verbs are verbs that don’t follow the simple rule of attaching “-d” or “-ed” to the end of the word to construct its past tense. In Tagalog grammar, verbs are not categorized in such a manner, although most English irregular verbs, if not all, have an equivalent word in Filipino. 

Take the word “drank,” for instance. It’s the past tense of “drink,” and in Filipino, it’s translated either as uminom (“UM” actor-focus verb) or ininom (“IN” object-focus verb). 

With this in consideration, it’s clear that in this case, the irregularity of the verb “drank” in the Filipino language is not simply in the spelling, but in the usage. Let’s use it in a sentence for you to better understand what I mean:

    Uminom ako ng kape. 
    “I drank some coffee.”

Uminom, in this sentence, functions as an actor-focus verb. The same is true for its English equivalent, “drank.”

Let’s compare it to this sentence:

    Ininom ko ang kape. 
    “I drank the coffee.”

Ininom, in this sentence, is an object-focus verb, while its English equivalent “drank” remains an actor-focus verb.

Man Drinking Coffee from the Coffee Pot

“I take my coffee very seriously.”

Here are more examples, using some of the most common irregular English verbs with their conjugation and their equivalent in Tagalog:

1 – Awake

Root VerbSimple PastPast Participle
gising (“awake”)nagising (“awoke”)nagising, ginising (“awoken”)

Simple Past

    Nagising ako nang may tuwa sa aking puso. 
    “I awoke with joy in my heart.”

Past Participle

    Nagising (actor-focus) ako sa mahimbing na pagkakatulog. 
    “I have awoken from a deep sleep.”

    Ginising (object-focus) ako ng ingay. 
    “The noise has awoken me.”

2 – Bite

Root VerbSimple PastPast Participle
kagat (“bite”)kinagat (“bit”)nakagat, kinagat (“bitten”)

Simple Past

    Kinagat ko ang aking mga labi. 
    “I bit my lips.”

Past Participle

    Nakagat siya ng alaga niyang pusa. 
    “She was bitten by her pet cat.”

    Kinagat ako ng ahas. 
    “I was bitten by a snake.”

3 – Break

Root VerbSimple PastPast Participle
sira (“break”)sinira, nasira, sumira (“broke”)nasira, sinira, sira (“broken”)

Simple Past

    Sinira niya ang laruan ni Stephan. 
    “He broke Stephan’s toy.”

    Siya ang sumira ng tablet. 
    “He was the one who broke the tablet.”

    Nasira lang siya nang basta-basta. 
    “It just broke.”

Past Participle

    Nasira ang sasakyan niya dahil sa baha. 
    “His car had broken down because of the flood.”

    Sinira nila ang mga panuntunan. 
    “They had broken the rules.”

    Matagal nang sira iyan. 
    “It’s been broken for some time now.”

4 – Eat

Root VerbSimple PastPast Participle
kain (“eat”)kinain, kumain (“ate”)nakakain, nakain, kakakain (“eaten”)

Simple Past

    Kinain niya ang natirang ulam. 
    “He ate the leftover food.”

    Kumain kami ng halo-halo. 
    “We ate halo-halo.” →Nasira ang sasakyan niya dahil sa baha.

Past Participle

    Nakakain ka na ba nito? 
    “Have you ever eaten this?”

    Nakain si Jonah ng malaking isda! 
    “Jonah was eaten by a huge fish!”

    Salamat! Kakakain lang namin. 
    “Thanks! We’ve just eaten.”

5 – Forget

Root VerbSimple PastPast Participle
limot (“forget”)nakalimutan (“forgot”)nakalimot, nakalimutan (“forgotten”)

Simple Past

    Nakalimutan kong mag-agahan. 
    “I forgot to eat breakfast.”

Past Participle

    Nakalimot ka na ba?
    “Have you forgotten?”

    Nakalimutan ko ang pangalan niya.
    “I have forgotten her name.”

4. Quiz Time!

Here’s a five-item quiz for you to apply what you’ve just learned about Filipino conjugation. You can then refer to the answers and their explanations in the next section.

1.) ___________ ni Joey ang regalong natanggap.
(“Joey opened the gift she received.”)

Choices: a.) Binubuksan b.) Binuksan c.) Bubuksan d.) Buksan

2.) ___________ si Joshua nang limang taon bilang presidente ng paaralan.
(“Joshua will serve as president of the school for five years.”)

Choices: a.) Silbi b.) Magsisilbi c.) Nagsilbi d.) Nagsisilbi

3.) Huwag mong ___________ ang dalawang mama na nag-aaway.
(“Don’t try to pacify the two men who are fighting.”)

Choices: a.) inawat b.) aawatin c.) inaawat d.) awatin

4.) ___________ na lang ako ng sine.
(“I will just watch a movie instead.”)

Choices: a.) Manonood b.) Nanood c.) Manood d.) Nanonood

5.) Si Andrew ay ___________ habang naliligo.
(“Andrew is singing while taking a bath.”)

Choices: a.) kakanta b.) kumanta c.) kanta d.) kumakanta

Man with Hands Up in Victory After Boxing Match

“I don’t always ace my quiz…just kidding, yes I do!”

Now, let’s see how well you did.

1-  “Joey opened the gift she received.”

What was your answer for the first item? If you answered B (Binuksan), then you’re correct! The verb “opened is in the past tense, and its equivalent in Filipino is binuksan, which in this case is an IN verb.

Answer: Binuksan

2- “Joshua will serve as president of the school for five years.”

The auxiliary verb “will” + the verb “serve” indicates that the action is going to take place in the future. It’s also clear that the choices are all MAG verbs because of the prefixes mag- and nag-. But since the verb is in the future tense, nagsilbi and nagsisilbi are out of the question. Silbi is also not a valid choice since it’s in the root form. That leaves us with magsisilbi, or “will serve.”

Answer: Magsisilbi

3- “Don’t try to pacify the two men who are fighting.”

Pacify” in this sentence is awat in Filipino, and is in its imperative form. The choices are inawat, aawatin, inaawat, and awatin, which belong to the IN verb category. 

According to the rules for conjugating an IN verb to its imperative form, we simply add the suffix -in to the root form. In this case, that’s adding -in to awat, which gives us awatin. 

Answer: awatin

4- “I will just watch a movie instead.”

“Will watch” speaks of a future action. To find the correct answer, let’s first check which verb group the choices belong to. In this case, all of the choices are MA verbs: manonood, nanood, manood, and nanonood. 

We’re only interested in figuring out which of these four choices is the future tense of “watch” or nood. Going back to our rules for conjugating a MA verb to its future tense, what we need to do is attach the prefix ma- to the root verb and repeat its first syllable. That would give us ma + no + nood. The answer, therefore, is B, Manonood.

Answer: Mananood

5-  “Andrew is singing while taking a bath.”

The verb “singing” (kanta) is clearly in the present tense, while all the choices are under the UM verb category. All we need to do to find the correct answer is determine the present tense of kanta. Again, to form the present tense of an UM verb, we first conjugate it to its future tense and insert the infix um after the first letter of the word. That means repeating the first syllable ka and then adding um right after the first k. That gives us the word kumakanta.

Answer: kumakanta

5. FilipinoPod101 Will Help Eliminate any Confusion

We admit that learning Tagalog conjugation can be a real challenge, but again, that’s what FilipinoPod101 is here for. There’s still more for you to learn about verb conjugations in Filipino, and we’re here to guide you in your journey.

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