Tagalog grammar

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Tagalog grammar is the body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the Tagalog language, the language of the Tagalog region of the Philippines.

In Tagalog, there are eight basic parts of speech: verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions and particles. Tagalog is a slightly inflected language. Pronouns are inflected for number; and verbs, for focus, aspect and voice.


Tagalog verbs are morphologically complex and are conjugated by taking on a variety of affixes reflecting focus, aspect, voice, and others.

Below is a chart of the main verbal affixes, which consist of a variety of prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and circumfixes.

In the chart, CV~ stands for the reduplicated first syllable of a root word, which is usually the first consonant and the first vowel of the word. N stands for a nasal consonant which assimilates to ng, n, or m depending on the consonant following it. means that the verb root is used, therefore no affixes are added.

Punctuation marks indicate the type of affix a particular bound morpheme is; for example, hyphens mark prefixes and suffixes, and um is an infix that is placed between the first consonant and the first vowel of a root word. The word sumulat (sumulat) (actor focus and completed aspect or infinitive) is composed of the root word sulat and the infix um. Its other conjugated forms are susulat (su~sulat) and sumusulat (sumu~sulat).

With object-focus verbs in the completed and progressive aspects, the infix -in- frequently becomes the infix -ni- or the prefix ni- if the rootword begins with /l/, /r/, /w/, or /y/; e.g., linalapitan or nilalapitan and inilagay or ilinagay.

The imperative affixes are not often used in Manila, but they do exist in other Tagalog speaking provinces.


Tenses indicates when do/does action/s is/are/was/were/will be/have been/ had been/ will have been/ and so on happened. Different languages have different grammatical ways of expressing them but surely they have always a common denominator that is the meaning. Some languages lack in tenses, but how they express the same expression as other languages do? Through this question, we will begin to know. For example, Tagalog can express progressiveness using helpers such as time words, time clauses and time phrases today. Although it has initial progressive form, they are, however, rarely used now. Since Tagalog is influenced by Indo-european languages such as Spanish, English, Arabic, Latin, and Hindi and originally a member of Austronesian languages, Tagalog can move to either way. For example , Its verbs can be pluralised or stayed singular without affecting it's meaning. It also has gerunds, infinitives participles, particles, and very flexible sentence structures. Compare the following sentences;

"Ang mga bata ay naglalaro ng basketbol "(it has a singular verb which is the "naglalaro") 
Ang mga bata ay nagsisipaglaro(-an) ng basketbol."(it has a plural verb, the nagsisipaglaro(-an) "). 
This (SOV) pattern is the most preferred when you are writing formal texts or book although it is not always compulsary because you also need to use the next structure.
Naglalaro ng basketbol ang mga bata.
Nagsisipaglaro-(an) ng basketbol ang mga bata.
This (VSO) form is the most frequently and nearly always used in daily conversations.
Ng basketbol ang mga bata naglalaro.
Ng basketbol ang mga bata nagsisipaglaro(-an)
 This (OSV) form is rarely used but it is possible to be used.
Ang mga bata ng basketbol naglalaro.
Ang mga bata ng basketbol nagsisipaglaro(-an).
This (SOV) form is also rarely used but it is also possible to be used.
(OVS), (VOS),... and more combinations are possible as long as the proper particles are placed with their nouns, their meaning never change.

Those sentences above are all gramatically correct and are 100% alike. All of them mean "The children are playing basketball. So lets move on to the very complicated Tagalog verb tenses conjugations and uses.

Present/progressive tense: This tense has many conjugation forms. This tense alone can cover almost any verbs expressing present time. Here are the most common.

A. This tense can be formed by using the infix -UM- and inserting it in the first letter of the simplest future form [ex., root is gawa(work) it's simplest future form is LALAro(lalaro(will work)] of verbs. Some verbs are awkward when you use this form so you have to go to the next form. Native speakers can appreciate awkwardness because the meaning is understood.

Saw/s / is or are sawing;
Tatahi becomes t-UM-atahi / tumatahi
Buy/buys/is or are buying;
Bibili becomes b-UM-ibili / bumibili
Use/uses/is or are using;
Gagamit becomes g-UM-agamit/gumagamit
Dance/s / is or are dancing;
Sasayaw becomes s-UM-asayaw/sumasayaw
Attend/s / is or are attending;
Dadalo becomes d-UM-adalo/ dumadalo
  • This tense and the next one (B) can also be used as past progressive tense when it is added with time indicating the past.

Ang bata ay tumatakbo diyan kahapon.(acceptable)

But, in English it is wrong.

The child is running there yesterday.(wrong)

B.Just add the affix NAG- and connect the future form. Some verbs are also awkward here. So, you have to go to the first form. Native speakers can appreciate that if ever you become awkward.

Wash/es/ is or are washing;
NAG+lalaba = naglalaba
Sell/s / is or are selling;
NAG+titinda = nagtitinda
 Walk/s / is or are walking;
 NAG+lalakad = naglalakad

C. Just add the affix NAGPAPA- to the base form of nouns, adjectives, or verbs. The speaker is simply saying what is happening right now.

Noun: bahay (house)

NAGPAPA-bahay = nagpapabahay
Nagpapabahay ako para mga tao.
(I am hiring men to do the house for the people.)
Meaning= the speaker is the one owning the house being built for the people but he is not the one literally constructing the building. He is not doing anything. He is just talking.

Adjective: Pula or red

NAGPAPA + pula = nagpapapula
Nagpapapula ako ng buhok.
I am waiting for my hair to become red while it is in the process of coloring)

Verb: Sakay or ride

NAGPAPA +sakay = nagpapasakay
Nagpapasakay ang mama ng pasahero sa jeep.
The man is offering a ride to the passenger in his jeep.


This tense can also be formed in many ways.

A. Nag + root (nagluto=cooked)

 Nagluto ako ng kanin.
 I cooked rice.
B. Inserting -UM- to the root (t-um-awa=laughed)
  Tumawa ako ng malakas
   I laughed very loud.

This first two forms are substitute to one another's obsolete verbs.

C. Na + root (natawa or laughed), this past form is almost always used for transitive sentences, however, it can also be used on non-transitive sense but it's very rare.

Transitive sense

Nakita ni Diego ang dyip.--Diego saw the jeep.(It is a casual/semi-formal form of conversation, to shorten the number of words)
Si Diego ay nakita ang dyip. -- Diego saw the jeep.(This form is a very formal. It is commonly used in written script or books.)
 Si Diego ang dyip nakita. (Diego saw the jeep)

The three sentences above conveyed 100% the same meaning or even you wanted to shuffle them whether (VSO, SVO or SOV) provided that you placed the proper particles to point out their roles in.

Simple future tense

This tense has two forms just as in English.

A. The first one is just simply repeat the first syllable up to the first vowel of the root like in the following verbs.

The given roots are takbo(run), akyat(climb), preno(vehicles' break), prito(fry), dreyn(drain), braso(force), laba(wash clothes), and luto(cook). Take note those are not infinitives because their infinitive forms vary on every verbs or modals they will attach.

1. Takbo becomes TATAkbo.
2. Akyat becomes AAkyat.
3. Preno becomes PREPREno or PIPREno.
4. Prito becomes PRIPRIto or PIPRIto.
5. Freym up becomes FREFREym up or FIFREYm up.
6. Dreyn becomes DREDREyn or DIDREyn.
7. Braso becomes BRABRAso or BABRAso.
8. Laba becomes LALAba.
 9. Luto becomes LULUto.
Tatakbo ako sa bukid bukas. (I will run at the field tomorrow.)
 Ako ay aakyat ng puno mamaya. (I will climb a tree later)

Words that I used. Ako= I, Bukid = farm or field, Puno = tree, Bukas = tomorrow, Mamaya = later, Sa = at, on, in (or any preposition) and Ay= copula (serves only as an equatıon.)

Verbs 3 and 4 are borrowed from English and respelled through Filipino style.

This form must be used when the speaker wants to say a fact that something will occur. Just like in other tenses, many verbs becomes odd when they are used in this form.

B. MAG + future A form. This form is more frequently used than the first form. Sometimes form A and B are interchangeable but most in many circumtances they convey different meaning on a single root.

Some verbs can be interchanged such as this; Maglalaba ako ng sapatos. (I am going to wash the shoes.) Lalaba ako ng sapatos. (I will wash the shoes.)

Many verbs can't be interchanged read this; Mag-aakyat ako ng mga malalaking bato. (I am planning/going to/(will) put the big stones up.) Aakyat ako ng mga malalaking bato (I will climb different huge stones.)

Magpriprito or magpiprito,

Next will be Present Perfect Tense but it is not exactly the same how English does like those previously explained.

  Complete Progressive Contemplative Infinitive Imperative
Actor trigger I um








Actor trigger II nag-










Actor trigger III na-








Actor trigger IV nang-










Object trigger I in




CV~ ... -in




-a (or verb root)


Object trigger II iin-








-an (or -i)


Object trigger III in ... -an


CinV~ ... -an


CV~ ... -an






Locative trigger in ... -an


CinV~ ... -an


CV~ ... -an




Benefactive trigger iin-








Instrument trigger ipinaN-








Reason trigger ikinabasa









The aspect of the verb indicates the progressiveness of the verb. It specifies whether the action happened, is happening or will happen. Tagalog verbs are conjugated for time using aspect rather than tense. [1][2]

The complete aspect of a verb indicates the action has been completed. The progressive aspect of a verb indicates that the action has been started but they have not been completed or that the actions are habitual or universal fact. The contemplative aspect of a verb indicates that the action has not happened but is anticipated. Some verbs take a fourth aspect known as the recently completed, aspect which indicates that the action has just been completed before the time of speaking or before a specified time.[3]

  Complete Progressive Contemplative Recently Complete
Tagalog Nagluto ang babae Nagluluto ang babae Magluluto ang babae Kaluluto lang ng babae
English translation The woman cooked

The woman has cooked

The woman cooks

The woman is cooking

The woman will cook

The woman is going to cook

The woman has just cooked


The central feature of verbs in Tagalog and other Philippine languages is the trigger system, often called voice or focus.[4] In this system, the thematic role (agent, patient, or oblique) of the noun marked by the direct-case particle is encoded in the verb.

In its default unmarked form, the verb triggers a reading of the direct noun as the patient of the clause. In its second most common form it triggers the noun as the agent of the clause. Other triggers are location, beneficiary, instrument, reason, direction, and the reciprocal.

There are three main patient-trigger affixes:

  • -in is used for:
    • Objects that are moved towards the actor: kainin (to eat something), bilhín (to buy something).
    • Objects that are permanently changed: basagin (to crack something), patayín (to kill something).
    • Things that are thought of: isipin (to think of something), alalahanin (to remember something).
  • i- is used for objects which undergo a change of state such as being moved away from an actor: ibigáy (to give something), ilagáy (to put something), itaním (to plant something).
  • -an is used for items undergoing a surface change (e.g., cleaning): hugasan (to rinse something), walisán (to sweep something off).

Affixes can be also used in nouns or adjectives: baligtaran (from baligtád, to reverse) (reversible), katamaran (from tamád, lazy) (laziness), kasabihán (from sabi, to say) (proverb), kasagutan (from sagót, answer), bayarín (from bayad, to pay) (payment), bukirín (from bukid, farm), lupaín (from lupa, land), pagkakaroón (from doón/roón, there) (having/appearance), and pagdárasál (from dasál, prayer). Verbs with affixes (mostly suffixes) are also used as nouns, which are differentiated by stress position. Examples are panoorin (to watch or view) and panoorín (materials to be watched or viewed), hangarín (to wish) and hangarin (goal/objective), aralin (to study) and aralín (studies), and bayaran (to pay) and bayarán (someone or something for hire).

The agent-trigger affixes are -um-, mag-, man-, and ma-. The difference between mag- and -um- is a source of confusion among learners of the language. Generally speaking there are two main distinctions among many; mag- refers to externally directed actions and -um- for internally directed actions. For example, bumilí means to buy while magbilí means to sell. However this isn't writ law for these affixes; there are exceptions for example, mag-ahit means to shave oneself while umahit means to shave someone. magbili and umahit are rarely used; in southern dialects of Tagalog na- is used instead of -um-.

ma- is used with only a few roots which are semantically intransitive, for example, matulog (to sleep). ma- is not to be confused with ma-, the potentiative prefix for patient-triggered verb forms.

  • Bumilí ng saging ang lalaki sa tindahan para sa unggóy.
The man bought bananas at the store for the monkey.

Compared with:

  • Binilí ng lalaki ang saging sa tindahan para sa unggóy.
The man bought the banana at the store for the monkey.

The locative trigger refers to the location or direction of an action or the area affected by the action.

  • Binilhan ng lalaki ng saging ang tindahan.
The man bought bananas at the store.

The benefactive trigger refers to the person or thing that benefits from the action; i.e., the beneficiary of an action.

  • Ibinilí ng lalaki ng saging ang unggóy.
The man bought bananas for the monkey.

Compared with:

  • Binilihan ng lalaki ng saging ang tindahan.
The man bought bananas for the store.

The instrumental trigger refers to the means by which an action is performed.

  • Ipinambilí ng lalaki ng saging ang pera ng asawa niyá.
The man bought bananas with his wife's money.

The reason trigger refers to the cause or reason why an action is performed. Ikinagulat ng lalaki ang pagdatíng ng unggóy.
"The man got surprised because of the monkey's arrival."

The directional trigger refers to the direction the action will go to.

  • Pinuntahan ng lalaki ang tindahan.
The man went to the store.

The reciprocal trigger refers to the action being done by the subjects at the same time. The subject is usually compound, plural or collective.

  • Naghalikan ang magkasintahan.

The couple kissed (each other).


Tagalog verbs also have affixes expressing grammatical mood; Some examples are indicative, causative, potential, social, and distributed.

Nagdalá siyá ng liham.
"He brought a letter."

Bumilí kamí ng bigás sa palengke.
"We bought rice at the market."

Kumain akó.
"I ate."

Hindî siyá nagsásalitâ ng Tagalog.
"He/She does not speak Tagalog."

Causative pa-
Nagpadalá siya ng liham sa kaniyáng iná.
"He sent (literally: caused to be brought) a letter to his mother."

Namili kamí sa palengke.
"We went shopping at the market."

Nakikain akó sa mga kaibigan ko.
"I ate with my friends."

Potential naka-
Hindî siyá nakapagsásalitâ ng Tagalog.
"He is not able to speak Tagalog."


While Tagalog nouns are not inflected, they are usually preceded by case-marking particles. These follow an Austronesian alignment, also known as a trigger system, which is a distinct feature of Philippine languages. There are three basic cases: direct (or absolutive, often inaccurately labeled the nominative); indirect (which may function as an ergative, accusative, or genitive); and oblique.

The direct case is used for intransitive clauses. In transitive clauses using the default grammatical voice of Tagalog, the direct marks the patient (direct object) and the indirect marks the agent, corresponding to the subject in English. In the more marked voice the reverse occurs, with the direct marking the agent and the indirect marking the patient. Because the base form of the clause is superficially similar to the passive voice in English, this has led to a misconception that Tagalog is spoken primarily in the passive voice. It is also superficially similar to ergative languages such as those of Australia, so Tagalog has also been analyzed as an ergative language. However, the English passive clause is intransitive, and likewise in ergative languages one of the voices forms an intransitive clause, whereas in Tagalog both voices are transitive, and so align well with neither nominative–accusative languages such as English nor with ergative languages.

One of the functions of voice in Tagalog is to code definiteness, analogous to the use of definite and indefinite articles in English. When the patient is marked with the direct case particle, it is generally definite, whereas when it is marked with the indirect case it is generally indefinite.

The oblique particle and the locative derived from it are similar to prepositions in English, marking things such as location and direction.

The case particles fall into two classes: one used with names of people (proper) and one for everything else (common).

The common ergative marker is spelled ng and pronounced [naŋ]. Mgá, pronounced [maˈŋa], marks the common plural.


  Direct (ang) Indirect (ng) Oblique (sa)
Common singular ang, 'yung (iyong) ng, n'ung (niyong) sa
Common plural ang mgá, 'yung mgá (iyong mgá) ng mgá, n'ung mgá (niyong mgá) sa mgá
Personal singular si ni kay
Personal plural sina nina kina

Common noun affixes[edit]

ka- indicating a companion or colleague
ka- -an collective or abstract noun
pan- denoting instrumental use of the noun


Dumatíng ang lalaki.
(has) arrived the man

"The man arrived."

Nakita ni Juan si María.
saw by (the) Juan (the) Maria

"Juan saw Maria."
Note that in the Philippine languages, even proper nouns require a case marker.

Pupunta sina Elena at Roberto sa bahay ni Miguel.
will go plural nominal article Elena and Roberto to the house of Miguel

"Elena and Roberto will go to Miguel's house."

Nasaan ang mga aklát?
Where the (plural) book

"Where are the books?"

Na kay Tatay ang susi.
Is with Father the key

"Father has the key."

Malusóg iyóng sanggól.
Healthy that baby

"That baby is healthy."


Like nouns, personal pronouns are categorized by case. As above, the indirect forms also function as the genitive.

  Direct (ang) Indirect (ng) Oblique (sa)
1st person singular ako ko akin
1st person dual kita/kata[5] nita/nata[5] kanitá/kanata (ata)[5]
1st person plural inclusive tayo natin atin
1st person plural exclusive kamí namin amin
2nd person singular ikáw (ka) mo iyó
2nd person plural kayó ninyó inyó
3rd person singular siya niya kaniya
3rd person plural silá nilá kanilá
  Direct second person (ang) with Indirect (ng) first person
(to) you by/from me kitá[6]

Sumulat ako.
"I wrote."

Sinulatan ako ng liham.
"He/She wrote me a letter."
Note: If "ng liham" is removed from the sentence, it becomes "I was written on"

Ibibigay ko sa kaniyá.
"I will give it to him/her."

Genitive pronouns follow the word they modify. Oblique pronouns can take the place of the genitive pronoun but they precede the word they modify.

Ang bahay ko.
Ang aking bahay.
"My house."

The inclusive dual pronoun kata/kita has largely disappeared in Manila though it may be used in other Tagalog dialects, particularly those spoken in the rural areas. However kita is used to replace the pronoun sequence [verb] ko ikaw, (I [verb] you).

The 1st-2nd dual pronoun "kata/kita" referring to "you and I" is traditionally used as follows:

Magkaibigan kita. (In Manila, "Magkaibigan tayo.")
"You and I are friends." (In Manila, "We are friends.")

As previously mentioned, the pronoun sequence [verb] ko ikaw, (I [verb] you) may be replaced by kita.

Mahál kitá.
"I love you."

Bibigyan kitá ng pera.
"I will give you money."

Nakita kitá sa tindahan kahapon.
"I saw you at the store yesterday."

Kaibigan kitá.
"You are my friend."

The inclusive pronoun tayo refers to the first and second persons. It may also refer to a third person(s).

The exclusive pronoun kamí refers to the first and third persons but excludes the second.

Walâ tayong bigás.
"We (you and me) don't have rice."

Walâ kaming bigás.
"We (someone else and me, but not you) don't have rice."

The second person singular has two forms. Ikáw is the non-enclitic form while ka is the enclitic which never begins a sentence. The plural form kayó is also used politely in the singular, similar to French vous. (See below)

The nouns are gender neutral, hence siya means either he or she.

Polite or formal usage[edit]

Tagalog, like many languages, marks the T–V distinction: when addressing a single person in polite/formal/respectful settings, pronouns from either the 2nd person plural or the 3rd person plural group are used instead of the singular 2nd person pronoun. They can be used with, or in lieu of, the po/ho iterations without losing any degree of politeness, formality or respect:

  • ikaw or ka ("you" sgl.) becomes kayo ("you" pl.) or sila ("they")
  • mo (post-substantive "your") becomes niyo (post-substantive "your" pl.) or nila (post-substantive "their")
  • iyo(ng) ("yours" sgl. or pre-substantive "your" sgl.) becomes inyo(ng) ("yours" pl. or pre-substantive "your" pl.) or kanila(ng) ("theirs" or pre-substantive "their")

English: "What's your name?"
Casual: Anó'ng pangalan mo?
Respectful: Anó'ng pangalan niyo? or Anó'ng pangalan nilá?

Using such pluralized pronouns is quite sufficient for expressing politeness, formality or respect particularly when an affirmative (or negative) pô/hô iteration isn't necessary.

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

Tagalog's demonstrative pronouns are as follows.

  Direct (ang) Indirect (ng) Oblique (sa) Locative (nasa) Existential
Nearest to speaker (this, here) * iré, aré niré díne nandine ére
Near speaker and addressee (this, here) itó nitó díto/ríto nandíto/nárito héto
Nearest addressee (that, there) iyán niyán diyán/riyán nandiyán/náriyan ayán
Remote (that, there) iyón niyón doón/roón nandoón/nároon ayón

*For the most part, iré/aré has disappeared from the vocabulary of most Tagalog speakers. In its place, itó is used.


Anó itó?
"What's this?"

Sino ang lalaking iyon?
"Who is that man?"

Galing kay Pedro ang liham na itó.
"This letter is from Pedro."

Nandito akó.
"I am here."

Kakain silá roón.
"They will eat there."

Saán ka man naróroon.
"Wherever you are."

Kumain niyán ang batà.
"The child ate some of that."

Ayón palá ang salamín mo!
"So that's where your glasses are!"

Heto isang regalo para sa iyó.
"Here's a gift for you."


Tagalog word categories are fluid and a word can take the role of both an adverb and an adjective depending on the word it modifies.

Adjectives modify nouns by the linker na. However, if na follows a word ending in a vowel or glottal stop or the letter n, then it becomes suffixed to that word as -ng. The adjective can either come before or come after the word it modifies.

Adverbs modify verbs by following the verb and being marked by nang. Optionally, they may precede the verb with the linkers na or -ng. Like adjectives above the end of the word determines whether the linker is na or -ng.

The word mabilís (fast) is used as an example below:
Mabilís ang kabayo.
"The horse is fast."

Ang mabilís na kabayo.
Ang kabayong mabilís.
"The fast horse."

Mabilís na tumatakbó ang kabayo.
Tumatakbó ang kabayo nang mabilís.
"The horse runs fast."

Mabilís na tumakbó ang kabayo.
Tumakbó ang kabayo nang mabilís.
"The horse ran fast."

But note also: Mabilís tumakbó ang kabayo.
"Horse runs fast."

Modifiers can be a stand-alone rootword or the rootword can be affixed: basâ (wet), buháy (alive), patáy (dead), hinóg (ripe), pangit (ugly), pulá (red), putî (white), and itím (black). The most common modifier prefix is ma-: matandâ (old), mataás (high), maliít (little), malakí (big), mabahò (smelly), masaráp (delicious), malakás (strong), and mapulá (reddish).

Other affixes denote different meanings. For example pinaká- is the superlative; pinakamalakás (strongest). Another is nakasalamín (bespectacled, wearing glasses).

Sequence of modifiers in a noun phrase[edit]

Modifiers to the head noun follow the order below.[7]

Marker Possessive Quantity Verbal Phrase Adjectives Noun Head Noun
Example ang kaniyang apat na piniritong mahabang Vigang lumpia
Gloss the her four fried long Vigan spring roll
Translation her four fried, long Vigan spring rolls
Example iyang inyong limang kahong binasag ng batang puting Insik na pinggan
Gloss those your five boxes that the children broke white Chinese plates
Translation those five boxes of yours of white Chinese plates that the children broke

However, the more common approach is to have one modifier before and the rest after.

ang pitong manok na kinain ng pamilya
the seven chickens that the family ate

Enclitic particles[edit]

Tagalog has enclitic particles that have important information conveying different nuances in meaning. Below is a list of Tagalog's enclitic particles.

  1. na and pa
    • na: now, already
    • pa: still, else, in addition, yet
  2. man, kahit: even, even if, even though
  3. bagaman: although
  4. ni and nina: marks personal names that are not the focus of the sentence; indicates possession.
  5. si and sina: marks and introduces personal names
  6. ngâ: indeed; used in affirmations or emphasis. Also softens imperatives
  7. din, rin: too, also
  8. lamang (lang): limiting particle; only or just
  9. daw, raw: a reporting particle that expresses that the information in the sentence is second-hand; they say, he said, reportedly, supposedly, etc.
  10. and : politeness. being the most respectful.
  11. ba: used in yes-and-no questions and optionally in other types of questions, similar to Japanese "ka" and Chinese "ma", but not entirely.
  12. muna: for now, for a minute and yet (in negative sentences).
  13. namán: used in making contrasts; softens requests; emphasis
  14. kasí: expresses cause; because
  15. kayâ: expresses wonder; I wonder; perhaps (we should do something) (also optionally used in yes-and-no questions and other forms of questions)
  16. palá: expresses that the speaker has realized or suddenly remembered something; realization particle
  17. yatà: expresses uncertainty; probably, perhaps, seems
  18. tulóy: used in cause and effect; as a result
  19. sana: expresses hope, unrealized condition (with verb in completed aspect), used in conditional sentences.

The order listed above is the order in which the particles follow if they are used in conjunction with each other. A more concise list of the orders of monosyllabic particles from Rubino (2002) is given below.[8]

  1. na / pa
  2. ngâ
  3. din ~ rin
  4. daw ~ raw
  5. pô / hô
  6. ba

The particles na and pa cannot be used in conjunction with each other as well as and .

(Sabi nila) Dumatíng na "raw palá" ang lola mo. They said that your grandmother had already arrived.

  • "(sabi nila)" or " they said" has been conveyed by "raw pala".

Palitán mo na rin. "You have to change it too." (This sentence is a suggestion or a command)

Note for "daw/raw and rin/din": If preceding letter is a consonant except y and w, the letter d is used in any word, vice versa for r. Although in everyday speech, this rule is often ignored. Example: pagdarasal, instead of pagdadasal.

Walâ pa yatang asawa ang kapatíd niyá.
"Perhaps his brother still doesn't have a wife."

Itó lang kayâ ang ibibigáy nilá sa amin.
"I wonder if this is the only thing that they're going to give us."

Nag-aral ka na ba ng wikang Kastilà?
"Have you already studied Spanish?"

Batà pa kasí.
"It's because he's still young."

Pakisulat mo ngâ muna ang iyóng pangalan dito.
"Write your name here first, please."

The words daw and raw, which mean “he said”/“she said”/“they said”, are sometimes joined to the real translations of “he said”/”she said”, which is sabi niyá, and “they said”, which is sabi nilá. They are also joined to the Tagalog of “you said”, which is sabi mo. But this time, both daw and raw mean “supposedly/reportedly”.

Sabi raw niyá. / Sabi daw niyá.
"He/she supposedly said."

Sabi raw nilá. / Sabi daw nilá.
"They supposedly said."

Sabi mo raw. / Sabi mo daw.
"You supposedly said."

Although the word kasí is native Tagalog for “because” and NOT slang, it is still not used in literary writing. The Tagalog word for this is sapagká’t or sapagkát. Thus, the literary form of Batà pa kasí is Sapagká’t batà pa or Sapagkát batà pa. This is sometimes shortened to pagká’t or pagkát, so Sapagká’t batà pa is also written as Pagká’t batà pa or Pagkát batà pa. In both writing (whether literary or ordinary) and speech, dahil sa (the oblique form of kasí; thus, its exact translation is “because of”) is also synonymous to sapagká’t (sapagkát), so the substitute of Sapagká’t batà pa for Batà pa kasí is Dahil sa batà pa. Most of the time in speech and writing (mostly ordinary and probably literary), dahil sa as the Tagalog of “because” is reduced to dahil, so Dahil sa batà pa is spoken simply as Dahil batà pa.

Word order[edit]

Tagalog has a basic verb-initial word order with the direct noun triggering the verb appearing last: verb - indirect - direct, referred to in Tagalog grammar as Tuwirang Anyo).

Kumantá ang batà.
"The child sang."

Iinumín nilá ang serbesa.
"They will drink the beer."

Magandá ang mga dalaga.
"The young women are beautiful."

Malakás ang ulán.
"The rain is strong."

A change in word order and trigger generally corresponds to a change in definiteness ("the" vs "a") in English:

binasa   ng   tao   ang   aklat.
(patient)read (indirect) person (direct) book
A person read the book. / The book was read by a person.
bumasa   ang   tao   ng   aklat.
(agent)read (direct) person (indirect) book
The person read a book.

Word order may be inverted (referred to in Tagalog grammar as Kabalikang Anyo) by way of the inversion marker ay ( ’y after vowels). Contrary to popular belief, this is not the copula to be as ay does not behave as an existential marker in an SVO structure and an inverted form VSO does not require such since the existentiality is denoted by case marking. A slight, but optional, pause in speech or a comma in writing may replace the inversion marker. This construction is often viewed by native speakers as formal or literary.

Below are the sentences from above but in inverted form.

Ang batà ay kumantá.
Ang batà, kumantá.

Ang serbesa'y iinumín nilá.
Ang serbesa, iinumín nilá.

Ang mga dalaga'y magagandá.
Ang mga dalaga, magagandá.

Ang ulán ay malakás.
Ang ulán, malakás.

May pera ako.
Mayroón akóng pera. (unusual construction)
"I have money."

May aklát sa loób ng bahay niyá.
Mayroóng aklát sa loób ng bahay niyá. (unusual construction)
"There is a book inside his house.

There are two "existentials" that are conjugated: "Magkaroón" (to have): magkaroón, nagkaroón, nagkákaroón, magkákaroón. Magkákaroón na raw ng kuryente bukas. / Magkákaroón na daw ng kuryente bukas. (It is said that there will already be electricity {power} tomorrow.) In some Tagalog dialects, a redundant form combines "mayroón" with the prefix "magka-" (infinitive "magkamayroón" or magkaméron"). The words magkaroón, nagkaroón, nagkákaroón, magkákaroón, and mayroón are derived from roón, the variation of doón, meaning "there."

"Magíng" (to become): magíng, nagíng, nagíging, magíging. Note that the stress is shifted from the ultimate to the penultimate in both the progressive and contemplative. Nagíng gabí ang araw nang pumutók ang Pinatubò dahil sa dami ng abó sa himpapawíd! (Day became night when Mt. Pinatubo erupted because of the quantity of ash in the air!)


There are three negation words: hindî, walâ, and huwág.

Hindî negates verbs and equations. It is sometimes shortened to .

Hindî akó magtatrabaho bukas.
"I will not work tomorrow."

Hindî mayaman ang babae.
"The woman is not rich."

Walâ is the opposite of may and mayroón.

Walâ akóng pera.
Akó ay walang pera.
"I do not have money."

Waláng aklat sa loób ng bahay niyá.
"There are no books in his house."

Huwág is used in expressing negative commands. It can be used for the infinitive and the future aspect.

Huwág kang umiyák.
"Don't cry."

Huwág kayóng tatakbó rito.
"Don't run here."

There are two (or more) special negative forms for common verbs:

Gustó/Ibig/Nais ko nang kumain.
"I would like to eat now." (Positive)

Ayaw ko pang kumain.
"I don't like to eat yet." (Negative)


Coordinating Conjunctions

To show contrasts: "Pero, ngunit and subali't (most formal) are the equivalents of "but" or "yet".

Maganda siya pero masungit naman siya. She is beautiful but she is harsh.

To make additional informations: "At" is the equivalent of " and".

Si Anna ay ngumingiti at si Carlo ay tumatawa. Anne is smiling and Charles is laughing.

To make choices: "O" is the equivalents of "or" or "nor".

Ako ba o siya? Is it me or is it he/she?

To show parallel actions happening at the same time: " Samantala"(more formal) and "habang" are the equivalents of "while".

Naglululundag siya, samantala nagkakakain naman ako ng (mga) mani. He/she is jumping, while I am eating peanuts.

  • " mga" is omitted because peanuts are plural in context.

To show reasons: "Kaya" and "dahil diyan" are the equivalents of "so" and "samakatuwid" is "therefore". Hindi sumunod sa aking payo ang batang iyan, kaya, nawala ang laruan niya. That boy didn't follow my advice so he lost his toy. Nakapatunay ang mga siyentifiko na ang araw ay maraming taglay na lakas samakatuwid walang kailangang ipag-alala. Scientists have proven that the sun has plenty source of energy so we need no worrying.

  • Conjunctions in each category are interchangeable depending to the speaker's choice however the more/most formal should be used on formal conversations or writtings.


To show cause and effect: " Sapagkat" (most formal), "dahil" and "kasi" are the equivalents of "because" and "for"

Napagod siya, sapagkat naglulundag s'ya ng dalawang oras. He/she was exhausted because he/she had been jumping for two hours.

To show time:

"Bago" is "before".

Nakakain na ako ng aking tanghalian"bago" nagsidatingan ang mga bisita. I had eaten my lunch before the visitors arrived.

"Tapos" and "pagkatapos" are "then" and "after". Nagsidatingan ang mga bisita pagkatapos kong kainin ang aking tanghalian. The visitors arrived after I had eaten my lunch.

"Nang" is "when".

Nang dumaan ang sasakyan ng pulis, nakalayo na ng todo ang kotse ng magnanakaw. When the police mobile passed, the thief's car had already been too far .

"(Mag-)buhat nang/pa ", "(mag-/si-/magsi-mula nang/pa" or "noon pa" are "since"

Since we had established our business, we never yet exprienced a problem like this.

"Mula nang" naitatag namin ang aming negosyo, hindi pa namin naranasan ang ganitong problema.

"Hanggang sa" is "until".

"Hanggang sa napagod sa paghihintay ang kanyang puso, minahal niya siya dati.(pero hindi na ngayon.) Until his heart felt tired of waiting, he used to love her.(but he didn't love her anymore.)

To express condition:

"Kung(most used)", "kapag(usually used for threatening)" and "sakali(polite/formal)" are "if".

"Kapag" hindi mo tinupad ang pangako mo, mapapahamak ka.

If you do not fullfill your promise, you would be disgraced.

"Sakaling" matupad ang aming mga plano, siguradong isasama ka.

If ever our plans succeed, you will surely be included.

"Maliban sa/na/kung/" and "pwera (lang) kung/na/sa" are all "unless".

"Maliban na manalo siya sa lotto, tiyak na yayaman siya.

Unless he/she won on the lottery, he would surely become rich.

(More subordinating conjunctions will be entered soon.)

Interrogative words[edit]

Tagalog's interrogative words are: alín, anó, bákit, gaáno, ilán, kailán, kaníno, kumustá, magkáno, nakaníno, nasaán, níno, paáno, saán, and síno.

With the exceptions of bakit, kamustá, and nasaán, all of the interrogative words have optional plural forms which are formed by reduplication. They are used when the person who is asking the question anticipates a plural answer.

Alín means which.

Alín ang punong-lungsód ng Estados Unidos - Washington, D.C. o New York?
"Which is the capital of the United States - Washington, D.C. or New York?"

Alíng palda ang gustó mo?
"Which skirt do you like?"

Alín sa mga iyán ang bíbilhin ni Canuto?
"Which of those will Canuto buy?"

Anó means what.

Anó ang ginagawâ nilá?
"What are they doing?"

Anó ang kumagát sa kaniyá?
"What bit him?"

Anóng oras daratíng si Luisa?
"What time will Luisa arrive?"

Anú-anóng klaseng inumín ang pipiliin ninyó?
"What kind of drink will you guys choose?"

Bakit means why.

Bakit nasa Barcelona silá?
"Why are they in Barcelona?"

Bakit ba sila kumakanta ng Boom Tarat Tarat?
"Why are they singing Boom Tarat Tarat?"

Gaano (from ka- + anó) means how but is used in inquiring about the quality of an adjective or an adverb. The rootword of the modifier is prefixed with ka- in this construction.

Gaanong kalayo ang bahay ni Nicomedes?
"How far is Nicomedes' house?"

Gaano kang katagal sa Montréal?
"How long will you be in Montréal?"

Gaano kayáng kahahabà ang mga ahas na iyón?
"I wonder how long those snakes are?"

Gaanong kabilís na tumatakbó ang kabayo?
"How fast is the horse running?"

Ilán means how many.

Ilán ang anák nina Arsenio at Edilberta?
"How many children do Arsenio and Edilberta have?"

Iláng taón ka na?
"How old are you?"

Kailán (from ika- + ilán) means when.

Kailán uuwî si Victor?
"When will Victor come home?

Mulâ kailán ka nag-aaral ng Tagalog?
"Since when have you been learning Tagalog?

Kanino (from kay + anó) means whom or whose. It is the oblique form of sino (who).

Kanino itó?
"Whose is this?"

Para kanino ang pagkaing iyán?
"Whose food is that?"

Ibibigáy ko ang pera kanino?
"I will give the money to whom?"

Kaninong sapatos iyón?
"Whose shoes are those?"

Kumustá is used to inquire how something is (are). It is frequently used as a greeting meaning How are you? It is derived from the Spanish ¿cómo está?.

Kumustá ang iná ninyó?
"How is your mother?"

Kumustá ang trabaho mo?
"How is your work?"

Kumustá ka?
"How are you?"

Magkano (from mag- + gaano) means how much and is usually used in inquiring the price of something.

Magkano ang kotseng iyón?
"How much is that car?"

Magkano ang mga saging?
"How much are the bananas?"

Nakanino (from na + kanino) means with whom. It is the locative form of sino (who).

Nakanino ang panyó ko?
"With whom is my handkerchief?"

Nakanino raw ang ate ko? / Nakanino daw ang ate ko?
"With whom reportedly is my older sister?"

Nasaán (from nasa + anó) means where but is used to inquire about the location of an object and not used with verbs. In speech it is reduced to asan.

Nasaán si Antonia?
"Where is Antonia?"

Nasaán ang susì ko?
"Where are my keys?"

Nino (from ni + anó) means who, whose, and whom. It is the indirect and genitive form of sino.

Sapatos nino iyón?
"Whose shoes are those?"

Nakita ka nino?
"Who saw you?"

Ginawâ nino?
"Who did it?"

Paano (from pa- + anó) is used in asking how something is done or happened.

Paano mo gagawín?
"How will you do this?"

Paano siyá nasaktán?
"How did he get hurt?"

Papaano ako makakatulong sa mga biktimá?
"How (in what ways) will I be able to help the victims?"

Saán (from sa + anó) means where but it is used to inquire about the location of where an action was performed. It is also the oblique form of anó.

Saán ka nag-aaral?
"Where do you study?"

Saán mamimilí si Estelita?
"Where will Estelita go shopping?"

Taga-saán siyá?
"Where is she from?"

Para saán ba itó?
"What is this for?"

Sino (from si + anó) means who and whom and it is in the direct form.

Sino siyá?
"Who is he/she?"

Sino ang nakita mo?
"Whom did you see?"

Sinu-sino ang mga dating pangulo ng Pilipinas?
"Who were the former presidents of the Philippines?"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://learningtagalog.com/grammar/verbs/aspects/overview.html
  2. ^ http://www.seasite.niu.edu/tagalog/grammar%20activities/Grammar%202/Verbal%20Aspect/Verbalaspect-fs.htm
  3. ^ http://www.seasite.niu.edu/tagalog/tagalog_verbs.htm
  4. ^ Tagalog voice does not correspond well to the terms active and passive, nor to active and antipassive in ergative languages. The term focus, as used in ergative languages, is also an inadequate way of describing the Tagalog voice, therefore the distinct term trigger has become common to describe languages with Philippine-type alignment systems.
  5. ^ a b c Kata, nita and kanita are not widely used. Kita was the alternative pronoun for first person dual.
  6. ^ This is a contraction of "ko ikaw". Neither "ko ka" or "ka ko" are grammatically acceptable.
  7. ^ Ramos, Teresita V. (1971). Tagalog Structures. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press. p. 126. 
  8. ^ Rubino, Carl Ralph. 2002. Tagalog-English, English-Tagalog dictionary / Taláhuluganang Pilipino-Ingglés, Ingglés-Pilipino Taláhuluganang. Conshohocken, PA: Hippocrene Books.

External links[edit]