Speak Filipino Page: Words and Phrases Plus Reading Guide

Most commonly used Filipino Words and phrases (most but not ALL you can’t find in the dictionary because they are slang or street language):

The Filipino word (syllabication)
Pronunciation (exemplified in English sounds and words to correctly read each term/phrase)
Meaning (English equivalent/translation)
Example (sentence)

(read as ‘na’ in Narnia or as ‘nah’)
denotes at this very moment; now.

tara na  (ta-ra)
Read as ‘ta’ in taxi/ ‘ra’ in ramble
Literally means ‘let us go now’

muna (mu-na)
Read like the English words ‘moon-nah’
means ‘prior’ or ‘must be done first’

sandali lang (san-da-li lang) / teka lang (te-ka lang)
Read like the English words ‘sun-doll-lee lung’
In English it means ‘wait a minute’

sige (si-ge)
Read as ‘see-geh’
Means positive approval of something or  allowed.

ewan  (e-wan)
Read as ‘e’ in elephant and ‘-wan’ sounds like number ‘one’ (e-one)
‘I don’t know’

siguro (si-gu-ro)
Read as ‘si-’ in silk/ ‘gu’  like the English ‘goo-’ sound (see-goo-rho)
 ‘I suppose…’or ‘maybe’

mahal kita (ma-hal ki-ta)  or  Iniibig kita
Means 'I love you'
It is NOT ‘mey-hal kaytey’, it should be read as ‘ma’ in Math/’hal’ in the English adjective hallow/ ‘ki-‘ as in the English noun key/ ‘ta-’ in tablet.

Mahal may also mean expensive, the opposite of cheap which is ‘mura’ (read as moo-rah)

TIP:  Always remember, we do not have the long vowel sounds of a, e, i, o or u in the Filipino Language.

bilis na (bi-lis na)
Read like the English words ‘bill-lease’ ‘nah’
Means ‘make it faster’

para (pa-ra)
Read as ‘pa-rah’
 Means 'pull over' (ask the jeepney/bus driver to stop)
That same word (as it is spelled may also mean ‘for’ in the English language)

sukli  (suk-li)
(sook-li NOT‘lih’)
Change (sometimes loose coins)from something you paid for  (referring to money NOT ‘alter’)

Read as bar-yah
Loose coins or smaller bill

Read like the English syllable and words pa-key-bee-guy

bawal (ba-wal)
read as ‘bah’ and ‘a’ in -wal like in ‘part’ 
prohibited/ not allowed or do not

mama (ma-ma)
Read as mah (in Masassachussettes) and the syllable second ‘-ma’ is uttered abruptly like you’re tongue burned by a spoon hot rice.

Read with stress on the second syllable means middle-aged man.  If your age is around mid-20’s up and you are a stranger to someone talking about you, you will be called this way, mama.

Spells the same with ‘mama’ (mah-mah) as mother.  Difference only in how it is said or pronounced.

ingat  ka (i-ngat ka)
(you) take care

tawad (also patawad) naman po…
read as tah-wad
give me some discount (bargaining on an item’s price)

read as abrupt 'po' not 'poh'
Is a polite expression in Filipino. Used when talking to someone older (mother/father) or higher ranks (boss/teacher). Usually added at the end of the sentence or preceding a pronoun.

“Pupunta po ako (pronoun ‘I’ in English) diyan.” Translated it means I will go there.
Omit ‘po’ when talking to your peers or friend.

“Paki-kuha po yung bag ko...” Translated “Please, get my bag...”
If you are asking favor from an older person like an old house-helper to pay respect.

ulam (u-lam)
Read as ooh-lam  with ‘a’ in –lam as ‘a’ in ‘cam’
Means viand (main course in a meal usually partnered with rice (Filipinos’ staple food)

Snacks usually after lunch at 3pm
Read as in ‘mer-‘  as in merchant’ / ‘-yen’ like Japanese Yen/ ‘-dah’

Read as ‘bah-on’  ‘on’ in on and off
Snacks or packed food/snacks for a trip or school recess

pasyal(pas-yal)/gala (gah-la)/libot (lih-bot)
Stroll or go for a leisure walk or travel
Read as ‘pas-yal’ / gala in ‘gah-la’/as ‘lee-bot’  in ‘both’ without the ‘h’ sound

bente (ben-te)
Read like the name Ben and ‘-teh’
Means twenty pesos sometimes used too in counting too but mostly in money and pricing matters.

singkuenta (sing-kuen-ta)
Read like (sing-quen (‘e’ in elephant-tah)

Means fifty pesos, like ‘bente’ it can also be used in counting people and objects but is mostly used in the country to imply amount of money or price

isandaan (i-san-da-an)
 a hundred peso-bill (two words ‘isang’ one  and ‘daan’ , ‘g’ is omitted on the 1st word )

Ninoy (Ni-noy)
Read like ‘neeh-noy’
People had been used to calling five hundred pesos as ‘Ninoy’ being the person in it is ‘Ninoy Aquino’ the father of the current President that is celebrated as a Filipino Hero.

manhid ka (man-hid ka)
Read like ‘man-‘ in the English Language and ‘-hid’ like past tense of hide and ‘ka’ in karma’ .
 you don’t feel anything, insensitive, cold, hardhearted

Read as ‘bah’
is an expression that is used to ask a question. It does not have an English equivalent, it just denotes question.

i. e.
Aalis ka ba? (Are you leaving/going?)

Darating ka ba? (Are you coming?)

Meron ba? (Is there?)

 Hindi ba(‘Is it not?’)

It does not need 4W’s = Ano (what), bakit (why), kailan (when), saan (where), and 1H (how) in asking questions or ‘ba’ acts as substitute for them.

teka lang (teka lang)
Read like teh-cah-lung in the English language.
 Wait in English. Restraining somebody

akyat ng ligaw (ak-yat ng li-gaw)
Read like ‘ak’ in ‘action’  ‘-yat’  sounds like ‘yacht’
‘akyat’ means literally ‘climb’, ‘ligaw’ on the above phrase means ‘to woo’.
Means to visit and woo a girl

Means 'to attend to someone’s need or fix things or secure documents'

brunch (brunch)
Read like brunch, English origin
Means breakfast + lunch in one (if you eat around 10am, you can call that a ‘brunch’)

okay (o-kay)
Read like ‘oh-cay’ as in in decay
Is an expression that means something is approved

aray (ko –optional to put) (a-ray ko)
means ‘ouch’ in English.

ikaw na (i-kaw na)
Read like the English sounds of  ‘ee-cow- nah’
This means you are asked to do something that is supposed to be done by somebody else. May also mean ‘it is your turn’

basta (bas-ta)
Read as is ‘bus-tah’
Expression that means choosing something for a reason NOT willing to disclose or divulge or say. May also mean ‘just’.

syempre (syem-pre)
read as ‘shem-pre’ as the both ‘e’ sounds like in elephant
‘of course’ is English equivalent/translation. It implies a positive response to a question, similar to a ‘yes’ but may mean more as if there is no reason not to favor that idea.

I hope to help improve your Tagalog/Filipino language proficiency to communicate well with us and to help you if you are studying or living here in my country.  Just wait for my video uploads on speaking the language.

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Family, Daily Living & Style by Angelita Galiza-Madera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.