Basic Tagalog For English Speakers

A friendly reminder to tourists and foreigners visiting or planning to visit the Philippines:

One part of the Philippines does not represent the whole country. Some mistakenly believe Manila to represent the whole country; its language, culture, and history to be the country’s whole, but that is not the case.

Since the Philippines is separated into 7,107 islands, each place in the country hosts different cultures, beliefs and traditions, history and languages. Some may be similar with those of the capital, only differing in accents or having a tinge of dialect but all are different as a whole.

If you are planning to visit the NCR region or Manila, here are some common expressions you would typically hear:


Note: Tagalog is usually read as it is written, differing only in speed and impit (sounds at the end of the vowel) . 

Kumusta? How are you?

        – from the Spanish como esta?

Kain    – literally means eat

        – It is used as an invitation for others to eat along with them.

Eating is considered as a social event and is generally believed to strengthen the bond of those eating together. “The family that eats together, stays together.”

Po      -similar with the Japanese term desu and the Korean equivalent of -yo

        – It is used sa a sign of respect for older people, people with authority, or people they admire

Oo. = Yes.

Hindi. = No. Not.

Salamat. = Thank you.

Paalam. = Farewell.


Common compliments:

Guwapo- handsome

Maganda- root word: ganda meaning pretty or beautiful

Masarap- root word: sarap meaning delicious

Magaling- root word: galing amazing or cool

Matalino- root word: talino meaning smart


(ma- is a prefix used to adjectives to describe a person, thing, or event)


I believe it is important for one to know whether they are being insulted or not therefore, I have provided some of the negative terms:


Pangit or Panget- ugly

Mabaho- root word: baho meaning smelly

Bobo or Tanga- stupid or idiot


Asking questions:

Bakit- Why?

Sino- Who?

Ano- What?

Kailan- When?

Saan- Where?

Paano- How?

Magkano- How much (price)?

Gaano- How much (extent of something)?; To what extent?



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