Before we proceed to the discussion of simple sentences, we first discuss a bit about nouns.
Unlike in English, a noun is not preceded by an article (i.e., "the", "a", "an" in English). There are no articles in Tagalog. For example, the word pusà means "cat", "a cat", or "the cat", depending on the context.
To form the plural, precede the noun by mgá (pronounced mangá). For example, "cats" in Tagalog is mgá pusà.
Every sentence has something or someone to talk about. We call it the focus of the sentence. Basically, a focus can be a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun.
- In general, a focus is preceded by the particle ang. So if you want to talk about a cat, you say "ang pusà". If you want to talk about houses, you say "ang mgá bahay". If you want to talk about the United States, you say "ang Estados Unidos".
- If the focus is someone in particular, you use si instead of ang. So if you want to talk about Judy, you say "si Judy". On the other hand, if the focus is a list of people's names, use siná instead of si, and join the last two names with the word at ("and"). For example, if you want to talk about Judy and Mitch, you say "siná Judy at Mitch". If you want to talk about Judy, Mitch and Ralph, you say "siná Judy, Mitch at Ralph".
- If the focus is one of the pronouns listed below, then it is never preceded by a particle. The pronouns are:
- akó (I)
- ka (you, singular)
- siyá (he, she)
- kamí (we, excluding the listener)
- kitá (we, including the listener, referring to only two people)
- tayo (we, including the listener, referring to three or more people)
- kayó (you, plural)
- silá (they)
- itó (this)
- iyán (that)
- iyón (that)
The pronoun ka is actually a special form of the pronoun ikáw. Use ikáw instead when it begins a sentence or when it is preceded by the particle ay in an "equation sentence" (a sentence of the general form A is B, where A and B are nouns, noun phrases or pronouns) expressed in the ay-form.
For the difference between iyán and iyón, see the topic Itó, Iyán at Iyón (This and That).
Adjectives: Describing The Focus
If you want to describe the focus, you can use adjectives. The format of the Tagalog sentence is shown below:
<adjective> <particle> <focus>
Where <particle> is the appropriate particle for the focus, if applicable (see the topic Focus above).
For example, if you want to say that a certain house (bahay) is big (malakí), you can say
Malakí ang bahay.
If you want to say that Albert is kind (mabaít), then you can say
Mabaít si Albert.
In addition, if he (siyá) is tall (matangkád), then you can say
Finally, if you want to say that roses (rosas) are beautiful (magagandá, plural), then you can say
Magagandá ang mgá rosas.
To negate an adjective in the sentence, place the word hindî before the adjective. For example, if you want to say that Albert is not tall (matangkád), then you can say
Hindí matangkád si Albert.
However, if the sentence has a pronoun focus, then you cannot just negate the adjective by placing hindî before the adjective. There is an additional rule to follow in this case: Place also the pronoun after the word hindî.
For example, to say that you (ka) are beautiful (magandá), you can say
However, to say that you are not beautiful, it's not yet correct to say
Hindí maganda ka.
The focus is ka, which is a pronoun. Therefore, you perform the additional rule, that is, place ka after hindî. The Tagalog sentence now becomes
Hindí ka maganda.
The above sentence is now correct.
To say that she is not quiet (tahimik), you must say
Hindí siyá tahimik.
For more details about adjectives, see the topic Mgá Pang-urì (Adjectives).
Equation Sentences: A Focus Is Something
Equation sentences in English are usually of the form A is B, where A and B are nouns, noun phrases or pronouns.
In Tagalog, to say that "Focus is Something", you use the following format:
<something> <particle> <focus>
Where <particle> is the appropriate particle for the focus, if applicable (see the topic Focus above). This type of sentence is also called a nominal sentence.
For example, the sentence "A dog (aso) is an animal (hayop)" in Tagalog is
Hayop ang aso.
If you want to say that Albert is a carpenter (karpintero), then you can say
Karpintero si Albert.
If you want to say that you (ka) are a visitor (bisita), then you can say
If you want to say or emphasize that the focus is something or someone in particular, you must put an appropriate focus particle in front of <something>. In other words, the sentence format becomes
<particle> <something> <particle> <focus>
For example, if the thief (magnanakaw) is that man (lalaki) (e.g., the man sitting beside you, and not any other man), then you can say
Ang lalaki ang magnanakaw.
Or if the driver (drayber) is Andy (and not your friend John, for example), then you can say
Si Andy ang drayber.
Or if the cleaner (tagá-linis) is you (ka) (because you're the one in charge of cleaning today), then you can say
Ikáw ang tagá-linis.
Ikáw is used instead of ka. See the topic Focus for the explanation.
To negate an equation sentence, follow the rules stated in the topic Adjectives: Describing The Focus, only this time the word hindî is placed in front of a noun, not an adjective . So if you want to say that a human (tao) is not an animal, then you can say
Hindí hayop ang tao.
To say that birds (ibon) are not humans (tao), you can say
Hindí mgá tao ang mgá ibon.
However, if you want to say that you (ka) are not a visitor (i.e., the focus is a pronoun), then you must say
Hindí ka bisita.
Relationship Between Two Nouns: The Particle Ng
Before we proceed to the rest of the lesson, let's discuss first how to express the relationship between two nouns in Tagalog.
In Tagalog, two related nouns are connected by the particle ng (pronounced nang). The syntax is as follows:
<specific-word> ng <general-word>
Where <specific-word> is the more specific of the two nouns, and <general-word> is the more general of the two.
Some relationships that use this syntax are:
- Part <==> Whole
- gulóng ng kotse (the wheel of a car)
- gulóng - wheel, kotse - car
- bubóng ng bahay (the roof of a house)
- bubóng - roof, bahay - house
- Member <==> Group
- kawaní ng kompanyá (employee of a company)
- kawanî - employee, kompanyá - company
- lider ng grupo (leader of the group)
- lider - leader, grupo - group
- Thing owned <==> Owner
- kuwaderno ng estudyante (a student's notebook)
- kuwaderno - notebook, estudyante - student
- kotse ng pangulo (the president's car)
- kotse - car, pangulo - president
- Specific location <==> Place or Object
- tuktók ng bundók (the top of a mountain)
- tuktók - top, bundók - mountain
- ibabaw ng mesa (on the table)
- ibabaw - on, mesa - table
- Agent <==> Patient or Field
- manggagawa ng sapatos (maker of shoes)
- manggagawa - maker, sapatos - shoes
- diyosa ng pag-ibig (goddess of love)
- diyosa - goddess, pag-ibig - love
If <general-word> is a person, then use ni instead of ng. On the other hand, if <general-word> is a list of persons, then use niná and separate the last two names with at ("and").
- kotse ni Anthony (Anthony's car)
- bahay niná Angel, Lucy at David (the house of Angel, Lucy and David)
Location Sentences: Where The Focus Is
To state the location of the focus, you use the following pattern:
Nasa <location> <particle> <focus>
Where <location> is a noun or a noun phrase indicating a location, and <particle> is the appropriate particle for the focus, if applicable (see also the topic Focus). The particle nasa signals the relationship of the focus to <location>: that the focus is located at <location>.
For example, if you want to say that Anthony is in the office (opisina), you can say
Nasa opisina si Anthony.
If you want to say that the car (kotse) is in the garage (garahe), you can say
Nasa garahe ang kotse.
Or if she (siyá) is in the market (palengke), then you can say
Nasa palengke siyá.
If you want to be more specific about the location, you can use a noun phrase consisting of a location word and a more general location, joined by the particle ng (see also Relationship Between Two Nouns: The Particle Ng). Here are some location words:
- tuktók (top, summit)
- itaás (above, top)
- ibabá (below, bottom)
- ibabaw (on)
- ilalim (under,beneath)
- loób (in, inside)
- labás (outside)
- haráp (front)
- likód (back, behind)
- gilid (side)
- tagiliran (side)
- tabí (beside)
- paligid (around)
- palibot (around)
- kaliwâ (left)
- kanan (right)
- gitnâ (middle, center)
In English, most of the location words are prepositions, but in Tagalog, all of them are nouns.
- ibabaw ng mesa (on the table)
- ilalim ng mesa (under the table)
- loób ng opisina (inside the office)
- haráp ng aklatan (in front of the library)
- tabí ng silya (beside the chair)
Here are some example sentences:
- Nasa ibabaw ng mesa ang kutsara. (The spoon is on the table.)
- Nasa ilalim ng mesa ang bola. (The ball is under the table.)
- Nasa loób ng opisina si Wilma. (Wilma is inside the office.)
- Nasa haráp ng aklatan ang opisina ng prínsipal. (The principal's office is in front of the library.)
- Nasa tabí ng silya ang laruán ni Tommy. (Tommy's toy is beside the chair.)
However, if <location> is a noun phrase and the focus is a pronoun, then there is an additional rule to follow: Place the pronoun beside the location word.
If you want to say that she (siyá) is in the office (opisina), you can simply say
Nasa opisina siyá.
However, if you want to say that she is outside the office (labas ng opisina), then you cannot simply say
Nasa labás ng opisina siyá.
You must perform the additional rule: Place the pronoun siyá beside the location word labás. Then the Tagalog sentence now becomes
Nasa labás siyá ng opisina.
The above sentence is now correct.
If you want to say that that (iyón) is behind the house (likód ng bahay), then you must say
Nasa likód iyón ng bahay.