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Tagalog is an Austronesian language, commonly spoken in the Philippines, and, is the basis for the national language called Filipino. There are an estimated 15 million native speakers of Tagalog and about 50 million others who speak it as a second language.

Due to three centuries of colonization by Spain, a lot of Spanish words have been incorporated into Tagalog. The Tagalog phrase “Kumusta?” (How are [you]?) directly came from the Spanish “¿Como Estas?”. Foreign concepts such as names of the week and months have directly been adopted. In many other cases, there are equivalent Spanish and Tagalog terms, which can be used interchangeably. An example is the Tagalog words for chair which are upuan, and silya. Silya was adopted from the Spanish cilla.

American occupation have also introduced a lot of English words. Some examples are titser (teacher), bus (bus, pronounced boos), dyip (jeep), and restawrant (restaurant).

Table of contents

Tagalog Grammar



Most pronouns or panghalip, in Tagalog have direct translations in English.

Personal pronouns. There are seven personal pronouns in Tagalog. The first person pronouns are ako, kami, and tayo, corresponding to the English I, we (as in “we not including you”), and we (as in “we including you”). The second person pronouns are ikaw, kayo, corresponding to the singular and plural you. The third person pronouns are siya (singular) and sila (plural). Tagalog does not distinguish gender for the singular third person unlike English's he, she, and it. Tagalog pronouns have subjective, objective and possesive forms. The table below lists all of these forms.

Singular Plural
SubjectiveObjectivePossessive SubjectiveObjectivePossessive
First person akokoakin kaminaminamin
Second person ikaw or kamoiyo kayoiyoinyo
Third person siyaniyakaniya silanilakanila

The objective form is actually the form used when the person or thing the pronoun refers to is the one doing the action (the verb of the sentence). For example, the phrase nahanap namin literally translates to found by us or we found. Thus, Nahanap namin ang libro means Found we the book.

When the person or thing the pronoun refers to is the object of a transitive verb (the action acts on the person or thing the pronoun refers to), the correct Tagalog pronoun used is formed by inserting the word sa before the possessive form of the pronoun. Thus, Nakahanap sa amin means found us. For example, the sentence The police found us literally translates to Ang pulis ang nakahanap sa amin, not Ang pulis ang nakahanap namin.

In addition, Tagalog has another personal pronoun, kita, which combines I-you (objective) constructs. I saw you simply tranlates Nakita kita instead of the more formal, Ako ay nakita ka.

Unlike in English, Tagalog does not have intensive or reflexive forms for the personal pronouns (pronouns with the suffix -self, such as myself). These forms are approximated by inserting the word sarili (self) and the objective form into the sentence. For example:

Intensive. I did it myself. Ako, sarili ko, ang gumawa niyan.
Reflexive. He shaves himself. Siya ang umaahit sa sarili niya.

Interrogative pronouns. English who, what, when, where, why, which, and how directly translate to Tagalog sino, ano, kailan (also kelan), saan, bakit, alin, and paano.


Sentence patterns

Sentences in Tagalog are often in the predicate-subject order, reverse that of English. Sometimes, the predicate, if it contains a transitive verb, is split into two with the object of the verb following the subject. Almost all sentences can be transformed into the subject-predicate order, but is rarely done, and usually only for emphasis.

Here are examples with their literal English transalations preserving word order.

Common order: Nagbasa ako ng aklat. Read I a book.
Transformed: Ako ay nagbasa ng aklat. I read a book.

Common order: Binasa ko ang aklat. Read by me was the book.
Transformed: Ang aklat ay binasa ko. The book was read by me.

Common order: Makulay ang mga bulaklak dito sa Baguio City. Colorful are the flowers here in Baguio City.
Transformed: Ang mga bulaklak dito sa Baguio City ay makulay. The flowers here in Baguio City are colorful.

Pronunciation and diacritics

Unlike in English, Tagalog has only five vowel sound, corresponding to the five vowels. The vowel a is pronounced as in hat while u is pronounced as in moon.

Tagalog used to have diacritics in written text to indicate pronunciation, but has gradually been dropped in modern texts. The only diacritic remaining is the tilde (~) in Spanish proper nouns.

The common diacritic used was the circumflex accent (ˆ). It was placed over a final vowel to indicate a stress and glottal stop after that vowel. For example, the verb basâ (to wet) is pronounced bah-SA as opposed to the verb bása (to read), which is pronounced BAH-sah.

The Tagalog script

Before the Spanish came to the Philippines, Tagalog had a script called alibata, which has largely been replaced with a Latin-based script. Unicode encodes this script as Tagalog.

Tagalog words and phrases


    1  isa
    2  dalawa
    3  tatlo
    4  apat
    5  lima
    6  anim
    7  pito
    8  walo
    9  siyam
   10  sampu
   11  labing-isa
   12  labingdalawa
   13  labingtatlo
   20  dalawampu
   30  tatlumpu
   40  apatnapu
   50  limampu
   60  animnapu
   70  pitumpu
   80  walumpu
   90  siyamnapu
  100  daan
 1000  libo

Days of the week

 week       linggo
 Monday     lunes
 Tuesday    martes
 Wednesday  miyerkules
 Thursday   huwebes
 Friday     biyernes
 Saturday   sabado
 Sunday     linggo

Months of the year

 month      buwan
 January    Enero
 February   Pebrero
 March      Marso
 April      Abril
 May        Mayo
 June       Hunyo
 July       Hulyo
 August     Agosto
 September  Setyembre
 October    Oktubre
 November   Nobyembre
 December   Disyembre

Common expressions

 How are [you]?     Kumusta?
 Good morning       Magandang umaga
 Good afternoon     Magandang hapon
 Good evenng        Magandang gabi
 What is you name?  Ano pangalan mo?
 Goodbye            Paalam

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