Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. More or less the standard version of Tagalog, based on Tagalog (which in turn is partially based on the Malay language), Sanskrit, Arabic, Spanish, and English, Filipino is spoken by about 90 million people worldwide. Due to European influence in the Philippines, Filipino is one of the few languages in East Asia to use the Latin alphabet, others countries in the region that have languages using the same alphabet include Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, East Timor, Malaysia as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau in China. Baybayin, the pre-colonial writing system is usually taught in schools but not commonly used in everyday life though the use of the script is growing in popularity and efforts are being made to revive it.
The main difference with its grammar is that it is not word-order transitive like English. For example, the sentence Jill gives the book to Tom in Tagalog can't tell who is giving to whom without the personal markers si and ni. If an actor focus verb is used, Jill becomes si Jill (the subject), and Tom becomes ni Tom (the object). If a non-actor focus verb is used, then si and ni are reversed. This works something like active and passive voice in English, but neither form would seem passive in Tagalog.
People learning Filipino should take note that translations for the to be verbs, such as am, are, is may be confusing. This can be overcome in one of several ways:
Use "ay" or "ay mga"
This is may or may not be a verb depending on each person, but means "is equal to" but some Filipinos may consider this as a linking verb. Use "ay" for before singular nouns and use "ay mga" to indicate noun plurality.
Use "may" or "may mga"
This is a verb which can mean "there is/are" or "has/have" (beginning of sentence only). Use "may" for before singular nouns and use "may mga" to indicate noun plurality.
Where not absolutely needed for meaning, it can be omitted--even though this sounds awful in English. Sino siya? literally who he? (or who she?)
The good news regarding word order in Filipino is that you can juggle the words just about any which way and still be understood (assuming the personal markers are attached to the correct person). Also, it's easy to substitute similar words within simple sentences like those found in this phrasebook. However, the bad news is that proper word order has a steep learning curve and can be affected even by the number of syllables. Also, Filipino is notorious for its large number of complicated verb forms which require several words in English.
The vast majority of Filipinos are either bilingual (Filipino and English) or trilingual (Filipino, English, and the native language of the speaker). English is one of the official languages of the Philippines and is overwhelmingly used as the main language of government, commerce, and education. Filipinos use Philippine English, an English dialect based largely on American English, though it might be spoken with a distinct accent and it contains certain colloquialisms and slang unique to it (e.g. the most common word for "toilet" or "bathroom" in the Philippines is the Philippine English "comfort room", usually shortened to the initials "CR").
Code-switching is also common in everyday speech, with most conversations incorporating both English and Filipino to a certain extent. Some English words are even used exclusively when the Filipino equivalent is nonexistent (e.g. "mall", "computer", "internet", "highway", "hotel", and "taxi"). If you are having trouble finding the correct word or phrase in Filipino, don't hesitate to switch to English. For example: instead of saying "Saan ang labasan?" (Where is the exit?), you can say either "Saan ang exit?" or "Where is the labasan".
Abbreviation (ng and mga)
Two very common words are always abbreviated:
pronounced nang, genitive marker like English "of" Republika ng Pilipinas → Republic of the Philippines
pronounced mangá, plural marker like English "-s" mga magulang → parents
Although Filipino words may seem long and tongue-twisting at first, pronunciation is easier than in many other languages. Long words are almost always based on smaller root words. The only foreign sound is an initial ng on a few words such as ngiti (smile). Unlike its neighboring languages (e.g. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese) Filipino is not tonal. However, stressing the wrong syllable can often change the meaning of a word. Only very rarely does this occur in English (such as desert/dessert). Meanings in such cases can be closely related such as buhay (alive or life) or totally unrelated such as hapon (afternoon or Japan). You have also the use of the glottal stop, which makes a pause between two vowels. The glottal stop is used much in Filipino language. A space will be provided for the glottal stop.
like 'a' in "arrive"
like 'e' in "ten"
like 'i' in "fin"
like 'o' in "dog"
like 'oo' in "hoop"
These are pronounced as in English.
like 'b' in "bed"
like 'k' in "kid"
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'g' in "go"
like 'h' in "help" (this letter must be pronounced in Filipino even if it is often silent in some English dialects)
like 'l' in "love"
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "nice"
like 'ng' in "fang", but pronounced 'nang' as a stand-alone word (though most English-speakers might classify is as two letters, it is considered as a single letter in Filipino as well as in other Asian languages)
like 'p' in "pig"
like 'r' in "row", like 'r' in "feather" (this letter must be pronounced in Filipino even if it is often silent in some English dialects)
like 's' in "sun", like 'z' in "haze"
like 't' in "top"
like 'w' in "weight"
like 'y' in "yes", like 'ie' in "pie", like 'ee' in "flee"
Therse are pronounced differently from English.
like 's' in "supper", 'k' in "kid"
like 'f' in "fine"
like 'dg' in "edge", 'h' in "ham"
like 'ny' in "canyon"
like 'q' in "quest" (almost always with 'u')
like 'v' in "victory"
like 'cks' in "kicks", like 'z' in "haze" (at beginning of a word)
like 'z' in "haze"
like 'i' in "high": tatay, father
like 'ow' in "cow": kalabaw, carabao/water buffalo
like 'ay' in "say": reyna, queen
like "eew": baliw, crazy
like 'oy' in "boy": apoy, fire
as the 'ch' in "chip"
as the 'j' in "jeep"
Stress:Many Filipino words are stressed on the second to last syllable
Two ways to state yes and no: In Tagalog, the question "Are you married?" is answered very differently from the question "Do you have children?" The key is the word "have" in the second question. Questions with "is/are there?" are also answered in this second way.
Yes, I'm married.
No, I'm not married.
Yes, I have children.
No, I don't have children.
Negative tag questions are answered in the opposite way compared to English
Are you not married?
Hindi (No, I am married.)
Oo (Yes, I am not married.)
In a full and complete sentence, "mayroon" can be shortened to may (sounds like English "my"). Most often this means have/has/there are rather than a direct yes.
May mga bata sa paaralan.
There are kids in the school.
May barya ka ba para sa piso?
Do you have change for a peso?
Add po at (or near) the end of a sentence or question to make it formal and polite. An exception is after an interrogative word, po immediately follows. Sino po siya? Who is he/she? (formal) It is important to note that "opo" (po) and "oho" (ho) are used only to be polite to one's elders.Ho (not used in this phrasebook) is a dialectal version of po and can virtually always be interchanged with it. Although its use is very limited in Manila and the Northern Katagalugan (The Tagalog Homeland), many people use it in Southern Luzon, especially in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna. Po (or Ho) and Opo (or Oho) is most commonly heard to show respect to elders or superiors. Po (and ho) are incompatible with ka and ikaw (use kayo) and with mo (use nila).
Oo (OH oh) (informal) Opo (OH-poh) (formal)
Hindi (HEEN-dee) (informal) Hindi po (HEEN-dee poh) (formal)
Yes (to have or there are some)
Mayroon (MAI-roh ohn) (informal, also 'Meron') Mayroon po (MAI-roh ohn poh) (formal)
No (to not have or there is none)
Wala (WAH-lah) (informal) Wala po (WAH-lah poh) (formal)
I don't know
Hindi ko alam. (HEEN-dee koh AH-lahm) or Di ko alam. (Dee koh AH-lahm)(informal) Hindi ko po alam. (HEEN-dee koh poh AH-lahm) (formal)
Teka! (teh-KAH!) or Sandali (lang)! (sahn-dah-LEE (lahng)!)
Can I speak to ____ ? (on the phone)
Pwedeng makausap si _____? (PWEH-dehng mah-kah-OO-sahp see____?)
Sandali lang. (sahn-DAH-lee lahng)
Saan? (sah AHN?)
Paano? (pah ah-NOH?)
Like English, there is no gender assigned to common nouns, including those of Spanish origin. The only exception is Spanish-origin words refering to a type of person or occupation. But even here, the article (ang, ng, etc.) is gender neutral. Example: Ang abogado/a The lawyer or attorney (m/f). Ironically, Tagalog-origin words can even be more gender-neutral than English. Example: kapatid brother or sister.
For plurals, add mga immediately before the noun. Example: Mga hayop Animals. Adding s does not make anything plural and is sometimes done on Spanish nouns regardless of whether the topic is plural or not. Example: mansanas apple; mga mansanas apples (from Spanish manzana).
One point of confusion is the word Filipinas. It can mean either The Philippines (the country) or a group of Philippine females.
Babae (bah-BAH eh)
Lalaki (lah-LAH-kee or also pronounced as lah-LAH-keh)
Paaralan (pah ah-RAH-lahn)
Kaarawan (kah ah-RAH-wahn)
Anak (AH-nahk)(refers to son/daugther)/Bata (BAH-tah) (refers to young child)
Separate adjectives are sometimes used to describe things and people (e.g. tall building, tall person). Adjectives without a noun are often ended with the article na, which roughly translates as "already" or "now." This is usually dropped when translating back into English. Madumi na. [It's] dirty (now/already). In Tagalog, an article such as na or pa is required when no noun follows the adjective. Na is a bit more immediate (i.e. shorter time than expected) than pa, but both have similar usage.
Many nouns can become adjectives by adding the prefix Ma, such as Dumi (dirt) becoming Madumi (dirty).
Adjective-noun pairs must be linked. Na (not the same na as above) is used if the adjective ends in a constant, and ng is used if it ends in a vowel. Magandang babae (beautiful girl). Malinis na kusina (clean kitchen).
Maliit (mah-LEE eet)
Mainit (mah EE-neet)
Sa labas (sah LAH-bahs)
Sa loob (sah LOH-ohb)
Sa itaas (sah ee-TAH-ahs)
Sa ibaba (sah ee-BAH-bah)
Sa likod (sah LEE-kohd)
What's the matter/problem?
Anong problema? (ah-NOHNG proh-bleh-MAH?)
Are you ok?
Ayos ka lang? (ah-yohs kah lahng?)
Leave me alone.
Lumayo ka sa akin. (loo-MAH-yoh sah AH-keen)
Don't touch me!
Huwag mo akong hawakan. (HOO-wahg moh AH-kohng hah-WAH-kahn)
Let go of me!
Bitawan mo ako! (bee-tah-wahn moh ah-KOH!)
I'll call the police.
Tatawag ako ng pulis. (tah-TAH-wahg AH-koh nahng POO-lees)
There's an accident
May aksidente. (mai ahk-see-DEHN-teh)
There's a fire!!
May sunog!! or Sunog!! (lit. "burning") (mai SOO-nohg) or (SOO-nohg)
Note: Tagalog always refers to what's burning and not the flames. Fire (controlled or in abstract) : Apoy (AH-poy)
Tigil! Magnanakaw! (TEE-geel! mahg-nah-NAH-cow!)
I need help.
Kailangan ko ng tulong. (kah ee-LAHN-gahn koh nahng TOO-lohng)
It's an emergency.
Ito ay isang emergency. (EE-toh eye EE-sahng eh-mehr-JEHN-see)
Nawawala ako. (nah-wah-WAH-lah AH-koh)
Pagod ako. (PAH-gohd AH-koh)
I'm not feeling well.
Masama ang pakiramdam ko. (mah-SAH-mah ahng pah-kee-RAHM-dahm koh)
I can't sleep
Hindi ako makatulog. (AH-koh mah-kah-TOO-lohg)
I can't eat
Hindi ako makakakain. (HEEN-dee AH-koh mah-kah-kah-KAH een)
I have a headache
Sumasakit ang ulo ko. (soo-mah-SAH-keet ahng OO-loh koh)
Gutom na ako. (GOO-tohm nah AH-koh)
Nauuhaw ako. (nah OO oo-how AH-koh)
I ran out of money
Naubusan na ako ng pera. (nah oo-BOO-sahn nah AH-koh nahng PEH-rah)
I lost my bag.
Nawala ang bag ko. (nah-WAH-lah ahng bahg koh)
I lost my wallet.
Nawala ang pitaka ko. (nah-WAH-lah ahng pee-tah-ka koh)
May sakit ako. (mai SAH-keet AH-koh)
I've been injured.
Nasugatan ako. (nah-soo-GAH-tahn AH-koh)
I need a doctor.
Kailangan ko ng duktor/mangagamot. (kah ee-LAHNG-tahn koh nahng DOOK-tor/mahn-gah-GAH-moht)
Can I use your phone?
Pwedeng makigamit ng telepono? (pweh-DEHNG mah-kee-gah-MEET nahng teh-leh-poh-NOH?)
Where's the hospital?
Saan ang ospital? (SAH-ahn ahng ohs-pee-TAHL?)
I need to get you to the hospital.
Kailangan kitang dalhin sa ospital. (kah-ee-LAHN-gahn KEE-tahng DAHL-heen sah ohs-PEE-tahl)
Do you know how to speak English?
Marunong ka ba mag-Ingles? (mah-roo-NOHNG kah bah mahg-een-GLEHS?)
Numbers and currency
Note: In some cases Spanish numbers (with Filipino spelling) are used.
isá, uno (ee-SAH, OO-noh), piso(for currency, not isang piso)(pee-so)
dalawá, dos (dah-lah-WAH, dohs), dalawang piso(for currency)
tatlo, tres (taht-LOH, trehs), tatlong piso(for currency)
apat, kuwatro (AH-paht, koo-wah-TROH) apat na piso(for currency)