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Tagalog Words and Phrases for Beginners

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Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino and Ilocano language. She also writes about Filipino culture.

Start learning Tagalog with these essential words and phrases for beginners.

Start learning Tagalog with these essential words and phrases for beginners.

If learning how to speak Filipino/Tagalog is on your bucket list, but just the thought of how and where to start is overwhelming, just begin with something that interests you the most and go from there—or you can also just start with the basics. Words used in daily conversations are a great start in learning Tagalog, as they're easier to remember and you'll get to use these every day.

But first, let's tackle the difference between Filipino and Tagalog, since many find this confusing. You have probably heard "NagTatagalog ka?" instead of "NagFifilipino ka?" Filipino is the official language of the Philippines, which evolved from Tagalog, a language spoken in Manila and nearby areas—this is derived from the word taga-ilog, as ilog means river and taga-ilog means "from the river" or "dwellers of the river," the people who originally spoke Tagalog. Although Tagalog and Filipino are considered two different languages, keep in mind that the official language, Filipino, is based in Tagalog and Filipinos use these two interchangeably.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

For sure.

Sigurado.

I'm here.

Andito ako.

Let's eat now.

Kain na tayo.

Have you eaten?

Kumain ka na?

I'm already home.

Bahay na ako.

Today.

Ngayon.

Tomorrow.

Bukas.

Yesterday.

Kahapon.

Later.

Mamaya.

Starting your day with a "Good morning" in Filipino/Tagalog is a great way to practice with the basics. Filipinos even have a greeting specifically used during noon time, which is the third on the table below.

Time of Day Greetings

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

Good morning.

Magandang umaga.

Good day.

Magandang araw.

Good noon.

Magandang tanghali.

Good afternoon.

Magandang hapon.

Good evening.

Magandang gabi.

Yes/No/Maybe in Tagalog

These three are probably some of the first words to learn in Tagalog. Maybe you've heard of oo which means yes and hindi which means no. There are two words used in Tagalog to mean maybe, these are baka and siguro.

The Cardinal Directions in Tagalog

Driving around and sightseeing is fun—until you get lost. And although it looks like it might not be necessary to learn the cardinal directions, since all you need is to ask for help, it will still come in handy. Imagine asking for help and you are told sa hilaga, or sa silangan. Find out what these cardinal directions are on the table below along with the intercardinal directions. I also included a video I made below for pronunciations.

The cardinal and intercardinal directions in Tagalog.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

North

Hilaga

East

Silangan

South

Timog

West

Kanluran

Northeast

Hilagang Silangan

Southeast

Timog Silangan

Southwest

Timog Kanluran

Northwest

Hilagang Kanluran

Condiments and Spices in Tagalog

Condiments are something we can't live without. From fish sauce to soy sauce, here are other names of condiments in Filipino/Tagalog.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

soy sauce

toyo

fish sauce

patis

ketchup

ketsup

salt

asin

pepper

paminta

vinegar

suka

Nouns

Of course nouns will be present, and these Filipino nouns are the most common. You will likely hear these nouns (or mga panggalan) every day, so they are a good start to learning some nouns in Filipino.

25 of the most common Filipino/Tagalog nouns.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

home

tahanan

house

bahay

food

pagkain

drink

inumin

pet

alaga

dog

aso

cat

pusa

chair/seat

upuan

vegetable

gulay

flower

bulaklak

land

lupa

plant

halaman

tree

puno

paper

papel

pencil

lapis

school

paaralan

water

tubig

flip flops

tsinelas

shoes

sapatos

toothbrush

sipilyo

television

telebisyon

light

ilaw

socks

medyas

mirror

salamin

clothes

damit

Pluralization

Mga is placed before a noun in Filipino/Tagalog as a way to to pluralize Filipino nouns or pangngalan. Mga sipilyo means toothbrushes. Mga puno means trees.

Filipino Adjectives

Start describing those nouns above with these most common Filipino/Tagalog adjectives. Adjectives are called mga pang-uri, and below are 25 common and simple adjectives in Tagalog.

Connecting an adjective and a noun is done by adding -ng at the end of an adjective ending in a vowel. For example, look at the first adjective on the table below and the first noun on the table above: magandang tahanan means a beautiful home. Poging lalaki means handsome guy. For adjectives ending in a consonant, na is used instead. Malawak na lupa means a huge land. Mainit na inumin means hot drink.

Examples of adjectives or mga pang-uri in Filipino/Tagalog.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

beautiful/pretty

maganda

handsome

pogi/gwapo

kind/nice

mabait

huge/vast

malawak

brave

matapang

clean

malinis

delicious

masarap

hot

mainit

cold

malamig

tasty

malasa

quiet

tahimik

light

magaan

slippery

madulas

strong

malakas

dusty

maalikabok

messy

makalat

innocent

inosente

raw

hilaw

cheap

mura

expensive

mahal

wet

basa

shiny

makintab

thin

manipis

slow

mabagal

long

mahaba

diligent

masipag

Honorifics

Different honorifics are used in Filipino to express respect, and it helps indicate relationships. There are Filipino honorifics between siblings and family members, kuya and ate are two examples. Kuya is used to address an older brother, ate is used to address an older sister. Both are used with or without the person's name. Ate Precy is an example with the older sister's name.

Relatives such as the siblings of parents are also addressed in Filipino as auntie and uncle. A grandfather is addressed as lolo, and lola means grandmother. There are even honorifics used for non-relatives before their names, such as the neighbors. I used to addressed our neighbors back in the province Mang Goreng and Aling Mher. Mang is used before the name of an older male that isn't a relative and aling is the female counterpart.

Kitchen and Eating Utensils

Continue learning even while preparing food at home and even over breakfast with these kitchen and eating utensils. If you noticed, there are many Spanish-derived words too like kutsara, tasa, platito and plato.

More Tagalog words for beginners with these kitchen and eating utensils.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

Spoon

Kutsara

Fork

Tinidor

Teaspoon

Kutsarita

Glass

Baso

Mug/Cup

Tasa

Plate

Pinggan/Plato

Chopping board

Tadtaran

Spatula

Syanse

Ladle

Sandok

Casserole

Kaserola

Pan

Kawali

Saucer

Platito

Bowl

Mangkok

Don't forget to learn how to say the days and months in Tagalog, as these will always come in handy, especially when scheduling appointments and planning your to-do list for the week.

Months and Days of the Week in Filipino

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

Monday

Lunes

Tuesday

Martes

Wednesday

Miyerkules

Thursday

Huwebes

Friday

Biyernes

Saturday

Sabado

Sunday

Linggo

January

Enero

February

Pebrero

March

Marso

April

Abril

May

Mayo

June

Hunyo

July

Hulyo

August

Agosto

September

Setyembre

October

Oktubre

November

Nobyembre

December

Disyembre

Parts of the House

These tables of Filipino/Tagalog for beginners wouldn't be complete without having the parts of the house in Filipino/Tagalog, so here they are below. These are easy to remember as well.

EnglishFilipino/Tagalog

living room

salas

bedroom

silid/kwarto

kitchen

kusina

restroom

banyo

garage

garahe

backyard

likod bahay

front yard/porch

harapan ng bahay

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on March 28, 2021:

I'm going to start working on Tagalog a little bit at a time. You've presented a helpful tutorial Thank you.

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