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Filipino Verbs

It should be no surprise that a language with a history as complex as that of Filipino would have complicated grammar. This is definitely the case with Filipino verbs. These verbs can be modified in a wide variety of ways in order to reflect many different grammatical contexts and functions. Understanding these differences is important because they form the structure on which a large portion of the conversational language is built.


The main part of conjugating Filipino verbs is what is known as the “trigger system”. This is the means of marking the verb in order to express voice or focus. There are several triggers that apply different meaning and context to each verb. These include:

• Patient—(-in) (i-) (-an)

• Agent—(-um) (mag-) (man-) (ma-)

• Location—illustrating the location or direction of the action or the locale affected by such action

• Benefactive—demonstrating the person or thing that reaps the benefits of the action

• Instrument—illustrating the specific means by which the action is performed

• Reason—indicating the reason as to why the action was performed or the specific cause of that action

• Direction—demonstrating the direction in which that action will go

• Reciprocal—a generally compound, collective, or plural subject performing the action at the same time


Filipino verbs are not conjugated for tense, rather they are conjugated for aspect. This means that instead of focusing on the past, present, and future, the verbs are conjugated in order to express the four aspects:

• Infinitive—this also includes imperative

• Completed—meaning that the action is finished

• Progressive—meaning that the action is still in an ongoing state

• Contemplated—generally indicating the past, but can also be used to express a non-time restrained thought


Grammatical mood is also expressed through Filipino verbs. These moods provide additional context to the sentence. They include:

• Indicative

• Causative

• Distributive

• Social

• Potential


The word categories of the Filipino and Tagalog languages are fluid, meaning that they can take on the attributes of others when the need arises. When it comes to modifiers, an adverb and an adjective can be interchangeable depending on the word that is being modified. It is important to understand the distinction in order to apply the appropriate conjugations.