Last updated 2018-05-20 16:16:55

Note: An accent mark over a vowel indicates that that syllable has stress. It is included randomly, since I don't always explicitly mark it in my notes.


mga (pronounced manga) is used to form plurals, ex. mga restawran:restaurants. Mga is not used when a number is used, ex. limang piso:5 pesos.

kita is the "dual" pronoun, which is used when one expects both a 1sg and a 2sg pronoun. For example, Hindi kita marinig:I can't hear you.

ANG Pronouns

ANG pronouns serve as the topic of a sentence.

sg pl
ako kami/tayo
ka/ikaw kayo
siya sila

kayo can also be used as the 2nd-person singular polite pronoun as well. ikaw differs from ka in that it can be used at the beginning of a sentence or by itself.

tayo is the inclusive 1st person plural.

When ka is followed by a particle like lamang:just or lang:just, it is not followed by ng, ex. maglakad ka lang:just walk!

Demonstrative ANG pronouns are as follows:

NG Pronouns

NG pronouns serve as anything but topic of a sentence, ex. possessive pronoun. That is ang cannot be used with these pronuns.

sg pl
ko namin/natin
mo ninyo
niya nila

namin is exclusive, whereas natin is inclusive.

Demonstrative NG pronouns are as follows:

SA Pronouns

Unlike NG pronouns above, these pronouns can be used with the sa particle (this is not the locative one).

sg pl
akin amin/atin
iyo inyo
kanya kanila

amin is exclusive, whereas atin is inclusive.

Demonstrative SA pronouns are as follows:

The d and r varies based on the preceding word. If it is a vowel, w, or y it will be the r form, otherwise d.


Verbs in Tagalog are formed from a root word plus affixes to change tense, aspect, and occasionally meaning. The two forms of verbs are UM (-um-) and MAG (mag-). Many roots can be conjugated in both forms. In the below sections ro (from root) is used to indicate the first CV pair in the word. When there is no initial C, then only the first V is used. For example, ro for tuma would be tu and ro for iyak would be i. Table examples are taken from Basic Tagalog for Foreigners and Non-Tagalogs, 72-73.

Serial verbs are in the form of verb1 noun+ng verb2, thus gusto ninyong subukan:you want to try.

UM verbs

If the verb starts with a consonant, um is infixed between the first consonant and the first vowel. If the verb starts with a vowel, um is prefixed.

tense conjugation example
root alis (a departure), kain (the consumption of food)
infinitive um + root umalis (to leave), kumain (to eat)
imperative um + root umalis, kumain
past um + root umalis, kumain
present r + -um- + o + root umaalis, kumakain
future ro + root aalis, kakain

MAG verbs

If the verb begins with a vowel, mag is followed by a hyphen, indicating a glottal stop.

tense conjugation example
root aral (a lesson), luto (cuisine)
infinitive mag + root mag-aral (to study), magluto (to cook)
imperative mag + root mag-aral, magluto
past nag + root nag-aral, nagluto
present nag + ro + root nag-aaral, nagluluto
future mag + ro + root mag-aaral, magluluto


Pseudo-verbs are a type of adjective "which have verb-like meaning, but [...] are incapable of inflection to show variation in aspect".TRG, §4.21

pseudo-verb approximate english equivalent
ayaw doesn't like to
kailangan needs to
dapat ought to
gusto wants to
ibig likes to
maaari can, may
nais likes to
puwede can, may


There are three main types of aspect in Tagalog, plus one occasional aspect, depending on the verb. These are:

These are commonly indicated by either in or ni infixed in the root. For example, using sabihin:to say, from sabi:something said.

For more information on aspect in Tagalog, see Tagalog Reference Grammar, 369 or De Vos, 208-209.


switches from Predicate + Topic to Topic + Predicate, ex. Ang pangalan ko ay...:My name is...
topic marker. In rapid speech, it is often dropped, or if the preceding word begins with a vowel, realized as -ng. It is often found after question words.
a partical indicating heresay
existential particle. Indicates something exists, loosely translated as "there is". Ex. May bangko dito:There is a bank here.
"Indicates an action has happened or is happening and its occurance was expected."Mango Languages One of two particles that occur after the first full word in a sentence. Ex. kamusta na po kayo?:How have you been, ma'am?. If there is a single syllable pronoun, then it comes at the end: kamusta ka na?:How have you been? It also had idiomatic emphatic usage – good luck.
on, it. Ex. Nasa mapa ba iyon?:Is it on the map?.
adds politeness or certainty to a response. Ex. Mabuti naman ako:I am fine.
still, more, else
in, through, at. Ex. Diyan lang sa labasa sa kabila:Just there through the exit on the other side.
si is the topic marker for personal names. sina is for multiple people. Ex. kamusta si Juan?:How is Juan?
  1. May pamaypay ba kayo?
    Do you have fans?
  2. Nagbebenta ba kayo ng mga diksunaryo?
    Do you sell dictionaries?
  3. Ano ang sa inyo?
    What will you have/order?
  4. Masarap daw itong kare-kare.
    They say the kare-kare is delicious.
  5. Ano pa?
    What else?


ba is the question particle. It follows pronouns with one syllable. In a sentence without a monosyllabic pronoun, ba follows the first full word, including any "small" words like po. If it comes between an adjective an its noun, it takes the ng linker.

ba is optional in questions using a question word.De Vos, 394

  1. Nagsasalita ka ba ng Tagalog?
    Can you speak Tagalog?
  2. Nasa mapa ba iyon?
    Is it on the map?
  3. May malapit bang ospital dito?
    Is there a hospital near here?
  4. May malapit po ba kayo?
    Are you sick, sir?


Add ng after an adjective that ends in a vowel, when it precedes a noun. Ex. magandang umaga:good morning, but literally "beautiful morning". Maganda is beautiful. When the adjective ends in a vowel, use na instead, ex. apat na sumbrero:4 hats.

an instrumental-like prefix for adjectives. It changes a noun into an adjective with the general of meaning of "used for {noun}", ex. panghimagas:for dessertDe Vos, 256
comparative marker, ex. mas malapit:nearer
  1. Baka gusto ninyong subukan ang aming kakanin panghimagas
    You might want to try our rice pudding for dessert
    literally our for-dessert rice pudding

Question Words

which, functions as an adjective, ex. aling istasyon ng pulis?:which police station?
how much
where, specifically where something moveable (ex. a person) is. Contrast with saan.
where, specifically where an action takes place or something immoveable is. Contrast with nasaan.
  1. Ano ang pangalan mo?
    What is your name?
  2. Paano ako makapupunta roon?
    How can I go there?
  3. Nasaan ang sukil ko?
    Where is my change?
    Since "change" is non-stationary, we use nasaan
  4. Saan ang sakayan ng dyip?
    Where is the jeepney terminal?
    Since the "jeepney terminal" is stationary, we use saan
  5. Taga-saan ka?
    Where are you from?
  6. Sino ang kasama mong nagbiyahe?
    Who traveled with you?
  7. Paano sabihin ang "cat" sa Tagalog?
    How do you say "cat" in Tagalog?


indicates why the subject pefroms an action, ikinagagalak kong makilala ka - by meeting/knowing you, I am pleased.
indicates a likeness to the root, ex. kakanin:like riceDe Vos, 84
politeness prefix, similar to pa, ex. maupo:please sit.
changes a noun into an adjectiveDe Vos, 246
changes a noun into the verb of being able to do that noun, ex. ma + rinig = be able to + hear = to be able to hearDe Vos, 136, ma4
a verb forming prefix used with a noun or adjective, ex. mag-dyip:to take a jeepney.
causing or producing the root wordDe Vos, 251, ex. tawa:laughter, nakakatawa:funny, that is, something that is nakakatawa creates laughter. An alternative form is seen in Tagalog Conjugations, page 17 as naka + first syllable, thus lungkot:depression → nakalulungkot:depressing.
intesifier, ex. napakasakit:hurts a lot. It is always followed by ng when modifying a noun, ex. napakasakit ng tiyan:stomach hurts a lot.TC, 17 Connects directly to root (so when connecting to a ma- adjective, the ma is dropped).De Vos, 259
action prefix, used with verbs to make requests, ex. pabili:I'll get...
request prefix, longer form of pa
superlative, ex. pinakamalapit:nearest
a noun-forming prefix that denotes the origin of something, ex. taga-saan ka?:where are you from?, saan:where.


indicates the verb it is attached to requires an object, ex. subukan:taste {something}De Vos, 109 If an is added, an o in the last syllable is changed to u, ex. suboksubukan (will taste {something}).
indicates the verb it is attached to requires an object, ex. kainin:eat {something}De Vos, 120 If in is added, an o in the last syllable is changed to u, ex. inomiinumin (will drink {something}).
links between two verbs, ex. pwedeng magtanong:can (I) ask?, where pwede is the standalone form. It also links two adjectives, noun+adj, qp+adv, noun+adv. Pretty much it links everything together constantly. Put it between every word, it'll be fun! Without doing much research, it looks like it marks the phrase which is modified by the following word, cf. bang in May bangko bang malapit dito?:Is there a bank near here?. It is often assimilated to m in casual speech.


Politeness is marked with po at the end of a sentence or phrase, ex. magandang umaga po:good morning (sir/ma'am).

comes after na in a sentence, converts commands into polite requests. Ex. Ano nga ulit ang pangalan mo?:What is your name again?

Sentence Structure

The basic structure of a Tagalog sentence is PREDICATE TOPIC, ex. Kamusta ka?. Kamusta is the predicate (how are) and ka (you) is the topic. De Vos describes a sentence as having two general types of information: the point of departure (POD) and the news.De Vos, 35 This is more commonly described as a topic (POD) and comment (News) structure. Basically, there is something the sentence is about and something that describes the thing being spoken about. It often corresponds to English's subjects (topic) and object (comment), but it is not strictly true, ex. verbs may be topics.

The POD is either preceded by ang or unspoken (a contextually relevant topic, such as a person already spoken about). The News is preceded by ng (pronounced nang).

Question words and hindi:not invert the PREDICATE TOPIC structure, ex. Hindi kami tumatanggap ng credit cards:We do not accept credit cards. Notice that kami follows hindi, rather than the predicate, tumatanggap.

  1. Ano ang kakainin mo?
    What will you be eating?
    ang indicates the verb "to eat" is the topic
  2. Gusto ko ng panghimagas.
    I want dessert.
    simplest equivalent of an SVO sentence in English: VERB + NG-Pronoun + ng + OBJECT


hindi negates sentences. Additionally, the pronoun comes before the verb. Ex. Hindi ako nagasaslita:I do not speak.

Predicative Adjectives

Tagalog has predicative adjectives.WALS, chp. 118, ex. 8 This means that adjectives can stand by themselves in sentences (i.e. as predicates), without the need for overt verbs. For example, Medyo masakit ang ulo ko:My head hurts a bit. There is no equivalent to "hurts", rather medyo masakit is closer to "a little painful". Thus, "a little painful, my head".


The linker ng is used when combining numbers, such as isang daan:100.
When a tens has a ones place, the linker is 't (an abbreviation of at:and), ex. dalawampu't lima:25. Only the first number before the item being counted will contain the linker.

The tens are merged form of number + sampu. In the case of 40, it is apat + na + sampu.

Teens are formed by labing + number. When number begins with a vowel, it is labing- (labing-isa:11), when it is a consonant, it is labin (labindalawa:12), and when it is 17, it is labimpito.

In many cases (telling time, randomly), Spanish numbers are used instead of the native Tagalog. In these cases, rather than 't as and, 'y is used.

  1. Apatnapu't anim na piso sitenta'y sinko sentimas
    46 pesos and 75 cents
    notice both that only one linker (na) is used and that the cents are in Spanishified numbers



le flaneur's tagalog dictionary