Filipino Verbs and Tenses

Updated on August 3, 2018
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Filipino verbs may not be as appetizing when it comes to learning the language specially for beginners. But despite that it is a vital part of learning to speak Filipino as verbs describe all the actions we all do in a day to day basis. Conquering the challenge of learning how to conjugate Tagalog or Filipino verbs could be rewarding. It is a step closer to speaking Filipino.

In learning another language, learning with something that interests you is always a good start, or with something that will likely come in handy. And that includes learning verbs. There's a wide range of Filipino verbs to learn but it is always a good start to learn something that you'll likely encounter and use in everyday conversation. And with that said, commonly used Filipino verbs is a good choice to start with.

Different types of Filipino verbs are formed with the help of Tagalog affixes to indicate the tenses of verbs. Unlike English sentences, Tagalog or Filipino verbs are often seen at the start of a sentence. There are also actor-focus verbs and object-focus verbs. To add to that, there are verbs that can only be an actor-focus verbs and verbs that are object-focus verbs but can't be the other way around.

It may be a challenging part of learning the Filipino language but in this post, let's tackle different types of Filipino verbs starting with the most commonly used Filipino or Tagalog verbs with their tenses along with their basic and imperative forms.

The Mag Verbs

One of the most used verbs in Filipino or Tagalog are the MAG verbs. Mag verbs as the prefix used with these verbs is MAG, found at the begining of the verb. MAG helps in indicating what the tense of verb is. MAG is used in forming the future tense of these verbs as well as the basic and imperative form of the verb.

What is an imperative form? This is the verb form you use when you want to command or order someone to do something. Below is a table of MAG verbs in their tenses. MAG verbs are actor-focus verbs and conjugation of these Tagalog verbs are explained next.

Mag Verbs

Root Verb
Future Tense
Present Tense
Past Tense
Imperative
lakad (walk)
maglalakad
naglalakad
naglakad
maglakad
laba (wash clothes)
maglalaba
naglalaba
naglaba
maglaba
salita (talk/speak)
magsasalita
nagsasalita
nagsalita
magsalita
hugas (wash)
maghuhugas
naghuhugas
naghugas
maghugas
linis (clean)
maglilinis
naglilinis
naglinis
maglinis
luto (cook)
magluluto
nagluluto
nagluto
magluto
dilig (water plants)
magdidilig
nagdidilig
nagdilig
magdilig
tanim (plant)
magtatanim
nagtatanim
nagtanim
magtanim
tupi (fold clothes)
magtutupi
nagtutupi
nagtupi
magtupi
tago (hide)
magtatago
nagtatago
nagtago
magtago
hain (setting table ready)
maghahain
naghahain
naghain
maghain
basa (read)
magbabasa
nagbabasa
nagbasa
magbasa
suklay (comb)
magsusuklay
nagsusuklay
nagsuklay
magsuklay
sipilyo (brush)
magsisipilyo
nagsisipilyo
nagsipilyo
magsipilyo
laro (play)
maglalaro
naglalaro
naglaro
maglaro
mumog (gurgle)
magmumumog
nagmumumog
nagmumog
magmumog
bihis (change clothes)
magbibihis
nagbibihis
nagbihis
magbihis
benta (sell)
magbebenta
nagbebenta
nagbenta
magbenta
laro (play)
maglalaro
naglalaro
naglaro
maglaro
Examples of MAG verbs tenses in Tagalog/Filipino.

Conjugating MAG Verbs

MAG verbs are easy to form and so you don't have to worry on how to conjugate MAG verbs in Tagalog in this easy to follow steps.

Using the table above as your guide, let's start forming with the future tense of MAG verbs. MAG is used in forming the future tense, it is placed at the beginning. The first syllable of the root word is repeated before the root verb. The future tense maglalakad is a perfect example. Mag is the prefix used la (is the first syllable of the root word) lakad ( is the root word).

In forming the present tense, NAG took the place of MAG - naglalakad. It means walking. Nothing changed aside from that. The first syllable of the root verb is still repeated followed by the root verb.

In forming the past tense, NAG is used followed just by the root verb - naglakad. For the imperative form, just in case you need to order someone to do any of these verbs, MAG is used as a prefix followed by the root verb. Maglakad is the imperative form.

The Ma- Verbs

The Ma- verbs are another actor-focus verbs. And when it comes on how to form the tenses of Filipino Ma- verbs, they aren't that hard either.

With the table of Ma- verbs below as a guide, the future tense is formed using the ma- prefix. The first syllable of the root verb comes next. The root verb follows. Let's take the first one on the table as an example - maliligo. Ma is the prefix which is found at the beginning of the word, li comes next and is the first syllable of the root verb, ligo is the root verb.

On how to form the imperative of Tagalog ma- verbs, the prefix ma is used with the root verb. Maligo is the imperative form.

Ma- Verbs

Root Verb
Future Tense
Present Tense
Past Tense
Imperative
ligo (bath)
maliligo
naliligo
naligo
maligo
tulog (sleep)
matutulog
natutulog
natulog
matulog
galit (angry)
magagalit
nagagalit
nagalit
magalit
nood (watch)
manonood
nanonood
nanood
manood
huli (catch)
mahuhuli
nahuhuli
nahuli
mahuli
lito (confuse)
malilito
nalilito
nalito
malito

The Um- Verbs

Adding to the group of actor-focus verbs are the UM verbs. UM is an infix used in forming the tenses of these verbs. An infix is placed in between the letters.

Starting with the future tense and using the table below as a guide, the future tense is formed by repeating the first syllable of the root verb. The root verb follows after such as kakain. It is the first on the table below.

To form the present tense of an UM verb, here's why UM is used as an infix. Referring to the table below, UM is placed between the first letter which is a consonant letter k, and letter a which is a vowel - kUMakain. It is in the present tense which in English is 'eating.'

To form the past tense of an UM verb in Tagalog, take the root verb, in this example our root verb is kain. Place infix UM in between the first letter, letter k and the first vowel letter a - kUMain.

The imperative form of an UM verb is the same as the past tense - kumain.

Um Verbs

Root Verb
Future Tense
Present Tense
Past Tense
kain (eat)
kakain
kumakain
kumain
takbo (run)
tatakbo
tumatakbo
tumakbo
tawag (call)
tatawag
tumatawag
tumawag
higa (lie down)
hihiga
humihiga
humiga
kaway (wave)
kakaway
kumakaway
kumaway
ngiti (smile)
ngingiti
gumungiti
ngumiti
tawa (laugh)
tatawa
tumatawa
tumawa
ngisi (smirk)
ngingisi
ngimingisi
ngumisi
sigaw (shout/yell)
sisigaw
sumisigaw
sumigaw
gapang (crawl)
gagapang
gumagapang
gumapang
talon (jump)
tatalon
tumatalon
tumalon
lundag (jump)
lulundag
lumulundag
lumundag
kanta (sing)
kakanta
kumakanta
kumanta
lipad (fly)
lilipad
lumilipad
lumipad
kahol (bark)
kakahol
kumakahol
kumahol
bili (buy)
bibili
bumibili
bumili
pili (choose)
pipili
pumipili
pumili
takas (scape)
tatakas
tumatakas
tumakas
tango (nod)
tatango
tumatango
tumango
tawid (cross)
tatawid
tumatawid
tumawid
bulong (whisper)
bubulong
bumubulong
bumulong
Examples of UM verbs with their tenses. This isn't a complete list.

For verbs where the first syllable ends in a consonant, such as lundag, the first syllable is lun- and the second syllable is dag, only the first two letters are repeated followed by the root verb when forming future tense - lulundag.

There are verbs that can be both UM and IN verbs. Some can only be MAG and IN verbs. It depends on the focus of the sentence.

The IN Verbs

In verbs are opposite of the above. In verbs are object focus-verbs, which means in a Filipino sentence, when these verbs are used, the focus is in the object of the sentence and not in the actor or doer.

How to form or conjugate Tagalog IN verbs? Let's use the table below as a guide starting with the future tense. The future tense of an IN verb is formed by repeating the first syllable, followed by the root verb. Some verbs used a suffix at the end of the root verb such as in or hin. The verb 'kakainin' is a perfect example with the suffix in. Ka is the first syllable of the root verb kain, root verb kain comes next and suffix in is used, ka-kain-in. Kakainin.

Write down the future tense of an IN verb to form the present tense. Place IN between the first consonant and the first vowel - kINakainin. Remove the suffix in. Now you have your present tense form kinakain.

Take the root verb to form the past tense. In this example our root verb is kain. Make a space between the first letter which is a consonant and the first vowel to place the infix IN - kINain. Kinain is the past tense.

The imperative and basic form is formed with the suffix in after the root verb. Kainin is the imprative form.

IN Verbs

Root Verb
Future Tense
Present Tense
Past Tense
Basic/Imperative Form
kain (eat)
kakainin
kinakain
kinain
kainin
tawag (call someone by name)
tatawagin
tinatawag
tinawag
tawagin
hiwa (slice/cut)
hihiwain
hinihiwa
hiniwa
hiwain
init (heat up/warm up)
iinitin
iniinit
ininit
initin
banggit (mention)
babanggitin
binabanggit
binanggit
banggitin
pitas (pick/harvest)
pipitasin
pinipitas
pinitas
pitasin
sira (destroy)
sisirain
sinisira
sinira
sirain
nguya (chew)
ngunguyain
nginunguya
nginuya
nguyain
bura (erase)
buburahin
binubura
binura
burahin
sipa (kick)
sisipain
sinisipa
sinipa
sipain
sabi (say)
sasabihin
sinasabi
binanggit
banggitin
walis (sweep)
wawalisin
winawalis
winalis
walisin
linis (clean)
lilinisin
nililinis
nilinis
linisin
yakap (hug)
yayakapin
niyayakap
niyakap
yakapin
sipsip (sip)
sisipsipin
sinisipsip
sinipsip
sipsipin
gupit (cut)
gugupitin
ginugupit
ginupit
gupitin
sipat (aim)
sisipatin
sinisipat
sinipat
sipatin
agaw (snatch/grab something from someone)
aagawin
inaagaw
inagaw
agawin
Filipino/Tagalog IN verbs with tenses.

IN becomes a prefix for verbs starting in a vowel when forming the present and past tenses.

Verbs With O's Changed to U's

It is also worth adding that root verbs with letter o as their last letter needs to be changed to letter u when forming their tenses. Same goes with verbs with letter o at their end just before the last letter which is a consonant. Turo as a root verb is a good example of a verb ending in a vowel, letter o, that needs to be changed to letter u. 'Habol' is another example where letter o comes before the last letter that is a consonant, like letter l on the word habol. It has to be changed to letter u as well in forming its tenses.

Refer to the table below for more examples of these verbs. These are IN verbs. After the letter o's were changed, the tenses were conjugated just like the rest of the other IN verbs.

Example of Filipino Verbs Where Letter O Changes To Letter U

Root Verb
Future Tense
Present Tense
Past Tense
Imperative
halo (stir)
hahaluin
hinahalo
hinalo
haluin
sagot (answer)
sasagutin
sinasagot
sinagot
sagutin
bunot (pluck/pull out/uproot)
bubunutin
binubunot
binunot
bunutin
ayos (fix)
aayusin
inaayos
inayos
ayusin
habol (run after someone)
hahabulin
hinahabol
hinabol
habulin
sundo (fetch/pick up someone)
susunduin
sinusundo
sinundo
sunduin
lunok (swallow)
lulunukin
nilulunok
nilunok
lunukin
simot (entirely consume)
sisimutin
sinisimot
sinimot
simutin

Some IN verbs can be a little bit confusing when it comes to forming the tenses because the rule of repeating the first syllable of the root verb isn't applied to these verbs.

Referring on the table above, with the sixth verb, take the root verb sundo as an example which has two syllables, sun-do. With root verbs like this where the first syllable of the root verb has three letters, ending in a consonant, only the first two letters are repeated. Taking the mentioned root verb as an example, only the first two letters are taken to form the future tense. The third letter which is a consonant is left behind, giving us the future tense susunduin. The rule of changing letter o to letter u before the suffix IN is applied.

If a verb starts with a vowel, take the root verb ayos for example, which is fourth on the table above, IN becomes a prefix when forming the present and the past tense - inaayos and inayos.

Notice that with the present and past tenses, the vowel letter o was kept just before the last letter and wasn't changed to letter u. But looking at the future tense, the rule of changing the letter o to letter u was applied. The suffix -in was used.

When the conjugation process of how to form Filipino verb tenses when it starts in a vowel becomes frustrating and confusing, practice writing down the verb and chop it by pieces. Let's take the same root verb ayos as an example.

Our root verb has two syllables, a-yos. Either starting with a vowel or with a consonant, the rule of repeating the first syllable applies. Repeating the first syllable will give us a-ayos when forming the future tense. Now let's apply the rule of changing letter o to letter u before attaching our suffix IN. This will give us a-a-yus and placing the IN suffix as the last piece, we finally have the future tense a-a-yu-sin.

When it comes to forming the present tense and past tense, letter o remains. IN becomes a prefix when forming the present tense, the first syllable of the root is repeated followed by the root verb. In is the prefix and a is the first syllable while ayos is the root, giving us inaayos. IN remains a prefix when forming the past tense followed by the root - inayos. When it comes to forming the imperative form, letter o needs to be changed to letter u and the suffix IN is used - ayusin.

The I- Verbs

I verbs are object-focus verbs. A lot of these root verbs can also be actor-focus verbs depending on the affixes used of course. Affixes can either be placed at the begining of a word which is called a prefix. When placed in the middle of a word it is called an infix and a suffix which is placed at the end of a word.

Let's take the first root verb on the table below which is luto. Luto means cook and it can be both an I verb or a MAG verb.

Iluluto ng babae ang isda para sa hapunan. The fish will be cooked by the woman for dinner. The actor or doer here is the woman but the focus is in the object which is the fish. This is an example of an object-focus verb. The sentence literally means 'Will be cooked by the woman the fish for dinner.' Filipino sentences usually start with verbs or adjectives.

Magluluto ang babae ng isda para sa hapunan. The woman will cook fish for dinner. The focus here now is in the actor or doer which is the woman. By making the root verb luto into a MAG verb future tense, the focus of the sentence was switched from the object which is the fish, to the actor which is the woman.

I- Verbs

Root Verb
Future Tense
Preset Tense
Past Tense
Basic/Imperative Form
luto (cook)
iluluto
iniluluto
iniluto
iluto
sulat (write)
isusulat
isinusulat
isinulat
isulat
hain (set table for meals)
ihahain
inihahain
inihain
ihain
inom (drink)
iinumin
iniinom
ininom
inumin
tago (hide)
itatago
itinatago
itinago
itago
labas (take out/show)
ilalabas
inilalabas
inilabas
ilabas
sampay (hang dry)
isasampay
isinasampay
isinampay
isampay
taas (raise)
itataas
itinataas
itinaas
itaas
sara (close)
isasara
isinasara
isinara
isara
suot (wear)
isusuot
isinusuot
isinuot
isuot
saulo (memorize)
isasaulo
isinasaulo
isinaulo
isaulo
subo (put something in the mouth)
isusubo
isinusubo
isinubo
isubo
bigay (give)
ibibigay
ibinibigay
ibinigay
ibigay
tapon (throw/get rid of)
itatapon
itinatapon
itinapon
itapon
tama (correct)
itatama
itinatama
itinama
itama
tulak (push)
itutulak
itinutulak
itinulak
itulak
salin (transfer/translate)
isasalin
isinasalin
isinalin
isalin
Examples of I verbs in Filipino or Tagalog. I verbs are object-focus verbs.

Tips

Keep an eye on ang and ng is a little trick I would like to share. These two will help you on how to know which one is the focus of the sentence. Let's call these two as markers. Ang marks the focus. Ng marks the object. The noun that comes after ang is the focus. The noun that comes after ng is the object.

Taking our previous examples again, let's apply the little trick. Keep an eye on the nouns that comes after ang and ng on these two sentences.

Iluluto ng babae ang isda para sa hapunan. The noun 'babae' or woman comes after ng letting you know that the focus of the sentence is babae. Add to it that iluluto is an I- verb which is an object-focus verb.

Magluluto ang babae ng isda para sa hapunan. The ng now comes before 'isda' or fish letting you know the object here is the fish. Ang now comes before 'babae' or woman letting you know that the focus is on babae, the actor. Looking at the verb used, it is a MAG verb which is an actor-focus verb.

These isn't a complete list of Filipino or Tagalog verbs. If you have a verb in mind that you need help with forming the tenses and would like to see added here, let me know in the comment section below. As to what verbs is an IN or an I, UM or MAG, there is no clear rule to follow so I advice to familiarize the verbs starting with the commonly used Filipino/Tagalog verbs.

Questions & Answers

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      • Gregory Probst profile image

        Gregory Probst 

        2 weeks ago

        Thank you for all of your hard work. I have learned so much from your videos and articles. Maraming salamat.

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