Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino language. She also speaks Ilocano.
When learning phrases in another language, adjectives are essential for being able to describe everything from the things you see to the people you meet to the food you eat. Whether you want to describe a beautiful view or compliment a tasty dish, adjectives are important to know.
Facts About Tagalog Adjectives
- Adjectives are known as pang-uri.
- They are typically placed before nouns.
- Most—but not all—start with the prefix -ma.
- There is no rule for which adjectives start with -ma or not. The best approach is to familiarize yourself with which ones have the prefix.
- For the -ma adjectives, dropping the -ma prefix will give you the noun form. For example, maaraw means sunny, whereas araw means sun.
Common Filipino Adjectives
Let's begin with some of the most commonly used adjectives that you will hear being used. These are the ones you will hear most in typical, day-to-day language.
tall (as in a person's height)
salable, easily sold
raw fish that's no longer fresh; stale
old (used with things and not with age)
wrinkled (used when referring to the skin, leaves of plants as well as fruits)
Adjectives That Describe Taste and Smell
an astringent taste, like from raw or unripe fruits and veggies
pungent (like the smell of goat cheese)
the smell of urine
the smell associated with covered-up things; often wet/damp clothes
hot and humid
Feelings and Emotions
Appearance, Character and Personality
well built (body)
matigas ang ulo
matangos (ang ilong)
having a pointy nose
a person who is disorganized and careless with things
Let's look at an example from the table above. We will use the proper name marker si.
- Tuso si Connor.
- Translation: Connor is cunning.
Notice si before the name Connor. Si is placed before proper names. Now, let's use a few more adjectives to describe Connor in greater detail.
- Tuso, matigas ang ulo at pihikan si Connor.
- Translation: Connor is cunning, hard-headed and picky.
Now that you know how to use si before proper names, let's use the pronoun "he" for Connor instead of repeating his name for the third time. The Tagalog pronoun for either he or she is siya. It is gender-neutral.
- Tuso, matigas ang ulo at pihikan siya.
- Translation: He's cunning, hard-headed and picky.
Add a Tinge of Color
The prefix -ma, which was previously mentioned, can be used with some of the colors, as well.
Let's use pula (red) as an example. If we attach the prefix -ma to the beginning of the word and then repeat the word a second time, we have mapula pula. This word now means slightly red or being reddish in color.
The same technique can be applied to the colors berde, puti, dilaw, itim and asul. Now you try: How would you say bluish or greenish?
Here's an example:
- Manipis at medyo maasul asul and mga talulot ng bulaklak.
- Translation: The petals of the flower are thin and tinged with blue (or are bluish/slightly blue).
Using Adjectives With Nouns
Adjectives in Tagalog are often used before nouns. If the adjective ends in a vowel, we add -ng to the end of the word.
Let's take the color berde (green) as an example. Since this adjective ends in the letter "e," which is a vowel, the -ng will give us a hand connecting it to the noun kotse (car).
Example of an adjective ending in a vowel placed before the noun:
- berdeng kotse (green car)
Sometimes, however, the adjective can be placed after the noun. Let's take a look at the same example above, but this time we'll switch the order.
Example of a noun ending in a vowel placed before the adjective:
- kotseng berde (green car)
Although the noun came first and the adjective followed after, the meaning didn't change at all. Let's have another example from another list but this time with an adjective ending in a consonant.
Example of an adjective ending in a consonant placed before the noun:
- maalat na isda (salty fish)
This time, notice that the word na takes the place of -ng to link the adjective to the noun. This happens when the adjective ends in a consonant, just like our adjective maalat (salty) with the letter "t."
Shape, Size and Texture
short (in length)
Rarely Used Adjectives
having a good ambiance/roomy
young and unripe fruit
having a strong smell/pungent
prying/a woman who's too inquisitive
prying/a man who's too inquisitive
thick (as in the consistency of sauce/soup)
thin (as in the consistency of sauce/soup)
fluent (in speaking a language)
You may have noticed that some English adjectives have more than one Tagalog counterpart. One good example is the English adjective famous or popular. You can either use the Tagalog adjective sikat, which appears in the table of simple adjectives, or you can also use kilala, which appears on the table of rarely used adjectives. These two words are synonymous, but the former one is more commonly used.
Happy Language Learning!
This isn't a complete list of Tagolog adjectives, but it represents at least those that are most commonly used, as well as a few that you probably haven't heard of. With these helpful adjectives at your fingertips, you should be able to describe nearly anything you encounter! Best of luck to you.
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John on August 03, 2019:
Wow these are so helpful