Friday, March 30, 2007

Tagalog verbs

I've been wanting to do a post about Tagalog verbs for a while now. I've brought my notes together to give you all this entry. Currently, modern Tagalog verb conjugation is as outlined in the following chart.
Contemplative (future actions)
Progressive (past and present actions)
Completed (past actions)
Actor Focus 1-um- (gumawa)CV- (gagawa)CumV- (gumagawa)-um- (gumawa)
Actor Focus 2mag- (magbigay)magCV- (magbibigay)nagCV- (nagbibigay)nag- (nagbigay)
Object Focus 1-in (kainin)CV-...-in (kakainin)CinV- (kinakain)-in- (kinain)
Object Focus 2i- (isulat)iCV- (isusulat)iCinV- (isinusulat)i- -in- (isinulat)
Object Focus 3-an (tawagan)CV-...-an (tatawagan)CinV- ... -an (tinatawagan)-in- ... -an (tinawagan)
I hope you all will find this chart easy to understand, but I think it's simple enough. The dashes represent the position of the affix in relation to the rootword. CV stands for consonant and vowel and represents the first consonant and the first vowel of the rootword, hence reduplication. For those who are learning Tagalog, the root words used are gawa (do), bigay (give), kain (eat), sulat (write), and tawag (call). So if you look at the proper column, you can tell that if you add the infix -um- to the rootword gawa you'll get gumawa (did). And if you attach the infix -in- with the suffix -an to tawag, you'll get tinawagan (called [someone]). Got it? Please also keep in mind that these are the basic affixes, so none of the potentive, causative, reason, etc. affixes are included. However, Tagalog verbal conjugation was not quite as it was as early as a century ago. I have consulted two Tagalog grammar books from the Spanish era; Francisco Blancas de San José's 1610 Arte y Reglas de la lengua tagala and Fr. Sebastián de Totanes's 1745 Arte de la lengua tagala. During those times, Tagalog's verbal affixes looked more like the following.
Contemplative (future actions)
Progressive (past and present actions)
Completed (past actions)
Actor Focus 1-um- (gumawa)CV- (gagawa)CungmV- (gungmagawa)-ungm- (gungmawa)
Actor Focus 2mag- (magbigay)magCV- (magbibigay)nagCV- (nagbibigay)nag- (nagbigay)pag- (pagbigay)
Object Focus 1-in (kainin)CV-...-in (kakainin)CinV- (kinakain)-in- (kinain)0 (kain)
Object Focus 2i- (isulat)iCV- (isusulat)iCinV- (isinusulat)i- -in- (isinulat)-an (sulatan)
Object Focus 3-an (tawagan)CV-...-an (tatawagan)CinV- ... -an (tinatawagan)-in- ... -an (tinawagan)-i (tawagi)

Imperative affixes

One major difference is that the Tagalog spoken over two centuries ago had an additional verb category, the imperative which is used for commands and requests (i.e., Matulog ka na - Go to sleep). Even then, the imperative and the infinitive were used side by side in expressing commands, but apparently the infinitive became used exclusively in standard Tagalog. Now, I emphasize standard because in certain dialects of Tagalog, it still exists. In certain dialects of Batangas Tagalog, it has been said that one says buksi mo instead of buksan mo for "open it." And in the Eastern Marinduque dialect, the imperative affixes are very much alive. Since Tagalog is a Central Philippine language, does this mean that other Central Philippine languages have imperative affixes too? The answer is yes and they are widely used in the languages spoken in Bicol and in the Visayas. Though, in the "Actor Focus 1" category, all these languages have the suffix "-a" for the imperative. The languages of the Northern Philippines like Pangasinan, Kapampangan, and Ilokano do not have imperative affixes. In light of this fact, my guess is that Tagalog lost the affixes due to speakers of Northern Philippine languages who migrated to Manila and imposed their respective native languages' grammatical rules onto Tagalog. This caught on when their children, assimilated Tagalog speakers, began to use the language. So this could explain why the dialects that tend to be further from Ilokano and Kapampangan speaking regions tend to preserve the affixes. Though because of the influence and prestige of Manila Tagalog, they are also disappearing.

The infix -um- and its derivatives

Another noticeable difference is the infix -um- which has also undergone a process of simplification since the Spanish era. The infix -ungm- which has disappeared from virtually all contemporary Tagalog dialects. In modern Tagalog, -um- serves as the infinitive, imperative, and completed (past) forms. So what distinguishes the phrase kumain ka (either "eat" or "you ate") is context and tone). This infix is cognate with similar infixes in other Philippine languages. They, too, also make a distinction between the infinitive the past forms:
Infinitive affix
Completed/Past affix
Old Tagalog-um--ungm-
Modern Tagalog
Waray-Waray-um--inm-, -in-, -um-
Old Bikol-um--umin-
Apparently the infinitive form comes from Proto-Philippine *-um- and the past one from Proto-Philippine *-umin-. Furthermore, there were variants of -um- that had to do with phonetic environment. For example, if the first vowel of a rootword was /i/, then -um- would optionally change to -im-. This is called vowel harmony. For comparison's sake, I'll use the rootword tingin as an example:
Modern TagalogOld Tagalog
to looktumingintimingin
I lookedtumingin akotingmingin ako
I am/was lookingtumitingin akotingmitingin ako
I will look
titingin ako
Now when did this conjugation cease to exist? I am guessing sometime in the middle of the last century. I was able to find a mention of the -ungm- infix in the Pedro Serrano Laktaw's 1929 Estudios gramaticales sobre la lengua Tagálog. He remarks on page 83:
"... que el um del imperativo tenga ng intercalada entre sus dos letras componentes, de modo que resulte ungm para el pretérito y presente, a fin de distinguir el pretérito perfecto del imperativo, como se nota en las antiguas gramáticas, y tal como aún pronuncian la mayor parte de los tagalogs puros, si bien se ve igualmente en muchos libros impresos, como también se oye en Manila a los tagálogs pronunciar el pretérito y el presente con solo el um." (... that the um of the imperative has a "ng" inserted between its two component letters, in a way that it results in ungm for the preterite and the present, in order to distinguish the preterite perfect from the imperative, as is noted in the older grammars. And it is pronoounced such by the majority of pure Tagalogs, it's also seen in many printed books. The Tagalogs in Manila also pronounce the preterite and the present with just um.)
It makes me wonder if there are still older Tagalog speakers - people in their 90s and 100s - who speak this way. Another phonological change was that verbs beginning with certain sounds took on different affixes. This would usually happen to verbs beginning with /b/ and /p/. The infix -um- would assimilate with those consonants. There were some exceptions to the /p/ and /b/ rule as in the verbs kuha (get), uwi (return home), inom (drink), ihi (urinate), and others. According to the grammars, verbs fitting in this category may also be conjugated the regular way (i.e., unassimilated). Below is a comparison outlining the modern Tagalog forms and the two ways of conjugating the verb in old Tagalog. I use the rootword pasok (enter) as an example.
Modern TagalogOld Tagalog (unassimilated conjugation)Old Tagalog (assimilated conjugation)
to enter
I enteredpumasok akopungmasok akonasok ako
I am/was enteringpumapasok akopungmapasok akonanasok ako
I will enter
papasok ako
It's also worth nothing that a similar process of assimilation happens in Tausug and Kapampangan languages.

Verbal affixes in other Tagalog dialects

One thing I heard growing up was that Tagalog speakers from southern Luzon (Batangas, Quezon, etc.) would say "nakain ka ba ng pating?" To a Manileño, this means "were you eaten by a shark?" But in those regions, it means "are you eating shark?" - nakain is the equivalent of kumakain. The Tagalog dialects of Marinduque are the most divergent, especially the Eastern Marinduque dialect - perhaps due to the relative isolation from the Tagalogs of Luzon and also perhaps due to the influence of the Visayan and Bikol migrants. Linguist Rosa Soberano's 1980 The Dialects of Marinduque Tagalog goes into great depth concerning the dialects spoken there. The following is a verb chart which outlines the conjugation of the Eastern Marindique dialect of Tagalog:
Contemplative (future actions)
Progressive (past and present actions)
Completed (past actions)
Actor Focus 1-um- (gumawa)má- (gawâ)ná- (gawâ)-um- (gumawa)0 (gawa)
Actor Focus 2mag- (magbigay)(ma)ga- ([ma]gabigay)naga- (nagabigay)nag- (nagbigay)pag- (pagbigay)
Object Focus 1-in (kainin)a- (akainin)ina- (inakain)-in- (kinain)-a (kaina)
Object Focus 2i- (isulat)a- (asulat)ina- (inasulat)i- -in- (isinulat)-an (sulatan)
Object Focus 3-an (tawagan)a-...-an (atawagan)ina- ... -an (inatawagan)-in- ... -an (tinawagan)-i (tawagi)
What I find interesting is that some of these affixes, particularly "a-" and "ina-," are affixes used in Asi (Bantoanon), a Visaya language spoken in Romblon, just south of Marinduque.

Some final thoughts

I hope you found this informative. It's fun sometimes for me to use the Old Tagalog or Eastern Marinduque Tagalog verbal affixes in my conversations with other Filipinos. Some have not noticed them at all (particularly when I use -ungm-) while others will think I'm weird and attempt to correct me. In some ways, I think it would have been wonderful for Tagalog to have preserved them - to have preserved the richness. But I guess these things happen for a reason.


Habla Chabacano said...

I think the study of Philippine languages is such a huge challenge. No wonder so many linguists and language enthusiasts all over the world are drawn to this field. I think you're doing a good job with this blog. But I wonder, is there a lot of interest in the Philippine languages among Americans of Filipino descent?

ИвαN said...

Wow! Thanks! This is awesome :}
salamat po

Anonymous said...

I made a copy of your excellent article. Such information is really hard to find. I very much appreciate it...

I am currently learning Hawai'ian and, of course, Esperanto...

Christopher Sundita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Sundita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Estas neniu problemo.

Aldrin said...

"One thing I heard growing up was that Tagalog speakers from southern Luzon (Batangas, Quezon, etc.) would say "nakain ka ba ng pating?" To a Manileño, this means "were you eaten by a shark?" But in those regions, it means "are you eating shark?" - nakain is the equivalent of kumakain."

I can definitely relate. I'm from Cavite and we say "nakain" a lot. "Madalas kaming nakain sa may Makati."

Katsu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katsu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katsu said...

nakain became nakakakain and kumain.

Anonymous said...

actually in ancient Tagalog mythology there is a mischievous deity or spirit called Tumanog or sometimes Timanog, and the Zambal deity named Dumangan the protector of farmers possibly related to the Tagalog Dimangan god of good harvest.

Anonymous said...

Arte Poetico Tagalo
Fr. Francisco Bencuchillo

"Poon yaring aquing loob


puso co po, i, LUNGMOLOHOD

nag hahai't, naghahandog

cahirapan mong sumacop

pag-a adya mong tibubus

sa capalmong balaquiot."

Anonymous said...

Magandáng Hapon,

Is your Baybayin script shown Sa le ta?

I was reading about Baybayin. It appears both basic and complex esp for reading. I guess the process of changing the way you think and process the scripts while reading.

I've just recently started to study asawa is Pinoy, and has been bugging me for years now to get serious about it. Our sons are almost finished with there BSN and she and I spent the last 7 months at our home in Antipolo. She's still in Antipolo but I'm now back in New Jersey and so I've decided to use the time to study.

My goal is to first develop a database of all the root words and unterstanding of as my phrases as possible. Then to concentrate on the grammar structure/root word modification etc etc. I want to be able to think in Tagalog not translate/switch between English-Tagalog.

I brought back a copy of Tagalog-English Dictionary by Reverend Father Leo James English, C.Ss.R. which I find much more detailed and complete compared to the first book I purchased Tagalog-English/English Tagalog by Carl R. Galvez Rubino. I found way to many errors in Rubino's book but I continue to use it as a secondary source(just to ask questions about errors).

I am also thinking about purchasing RosettaStone's Tagalog Language Course as another learning tool. I'm not sure how extensive a vocabulary it has or if it even allows you to expand the provided vocabulary list.

Based on what I have you have any suggestion or recommendations that would help me develop a strong base of understanding? I would also like to find a formal college program in Tagalog...once I've developed a better foundation.

Maraming Salamat!


Bryce Wesley Merkl said...

I agree with the others: this is such a rare jewel when trying to find blogs and websites that explain the Tagalog language.

Here's another great site that I found that you might want to check out:

Tagalog wiki browser

Ishi Global said...

Wow! There are something here which we can never find in many references. I like this article a lot.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I love how you were able to simplify Filipino conjugation! Especially in times like this, when there's a fast becoming trend of conjugating Tagalog words this way: nikain, nitago, nibuhos, nisapak, etc. etc. etc. ... (PEOPLE THAT IS JUST SO WRONG!) -_- Keep it up! :)

~ Camsy

Anonymous said...

I don't think Eastern Marinduque Tagalog is the Old Tagalog.

Anonymous said...

Isa kang bag-ak! Old Tagalog originates in Southern Tagalog!

cheap cocktail dress said...

God-a-mighty, this is a detailed post!!! As someone on the "outside looking in", so to speak, attempting to learn a language this diverse seems insurmountable. But, as with most other languages, proper immersion and a lot of listening to native speakers can really provide some insight.

asdfjkl; said...

I am now taking the second part of an introductory filipino class. but i'm having some trouble with object focus and irregular verbs. but this was very useful! salamat po!

Anonymous said...

What does Object Focus mean?
What great information!! Thank you so much :)

Philwebservices said...

wow!!thank you for posting..keep it up!

Anonymous said...

There's a free Q and A session tonight at 8pm-930pm.

This includes Facebook Marketing and Virtual Assistant Life Questions for Jomar Hilario, the author of Social Mentoring Club.

Anonymous said...

Salamat Po! My parents speak fluent tagalog (to an extent, there aren't many native speakers who speak it all the time) but this chart definitely helped me speak with them!

If you ever see this post, I have just one question:
How do you know when to use which conjugation? Could you use TAKBO in the second row of conjugations? What does actor focus mean?

Joseph Maza said...


Your blog has been an inspiration. I think I'll resume mine as well. It will/does deal with language, but more on the difficulties I have had translating software into Iloko.

-- Joe

Weight Loss R' Pills said...

nakakainspired naman ang blog mo..i want to be a real FIlipino at heart, i should post about pinoy in Weight Loss R' Pills blog..

Thank you very much for great inspiration..


Pedro said...

Nice blog entry.

Just to add. There is actually a slight difference on how people from Quezon/Batangas/Marinduque would say nakain (progressive) with nakain (past) and other similar words. Progressive has a stress on 'na'. While past tense's is on 'ka' or second to the last syllable, which is what Metro Manila Tagalog speakers use.

Using your example, i just marked the stressed syllable:

"kain ka ba ng pating?" (Are you eating shark?/Do you eat shark?)
"Nain ka ba ng pating?" (Were you eaten by a shark?)

mataripis said...

. I Stayed in Cavite near alfonso for more than 3 years. When you say " Nakain ako ng pating" it pronounced as " Naka-en ako ng pating"(an answer to a question)but when no one ask, it is "Kumakain ako ng pating". This statement is different from the way Manilanon speaks, nakain is pronounced as one straight word.

richo said...

New to Tagalog - American with Filipino girlfriend. Trouble with binigay. I'm having trouble with the difference between binigyan and binigay. I understand that these are past tense and object focused as opposed to nagbigay which is subject focused). However, what is the difference between binigyan and binigay?