word Tagalog language printed on paper macro

How to Speak Tagalog for Beginners

There are different ways and methods to learn Tagalog for beginners. Perhaps you are considering to learn Tagalog because you are planning to visit the Philippines or you know someone who is a Filipino. Maybe you just want to have an understanding of this language in general. 

Whatever your reason may be, learning Tagalog will still give you an extra edge not only because it will help you look smarter, but because Filipinos are present in different countries as well. You will leave a good impression on Filipinos as they adore a foreign person who took an effort to learn their language. 

Introduction to Tagalog Language

As much as the English language is essential to Americans, Tagalog, on the other hand, is also vital to Filipinos. According to Investopedia, the survey conducted by the Philippine National Statistics Office shows that 96.4% of Filipinos speak Tagalog.

Although there are almost 200 different kinds of dialects in the Philippines, Tagalog is the standardized language of the Filipinos; thus, it is considered as their national language.

Tagalog is a language that is simple and easy to learn. It only has a small vocabulary with words that are greatly influenced by the Spanish and English. To share a brief history, the Philippines was under the Spanish settlement and rule from the late 1500s to 1898, and the American government from 1898 to 1946.

That is also the reason why most Filipinos are fluent in the English and Spanish languages. In fact, there are about 63.7% of Filipinos who know how to speak English, making it the second language of the Philippines.

Philippines National flag flying in the wind

Useful Tagalog Words and Phrases

Now let’s start learning some Tagalog words or phrases and what they mean. 

First and foremost, we must learn the essential and commonly used Tagalog words or phrases. These are everyday words or phrases used by Filipinos. As a beginner, you must learn about this to start a simple conversation.

How do you greet someone in Tagalog? 

There are many ways you can greet someone using the following words or phrases:

“Magandang araw,”  “Magandang umaga,” “Magandang tanghali,” “Magandang hapon,” “Magandang gabi”

These are different greetings varying with the time of the day. Let’s start with the generic day greeting, “Magandang araw.”

“Maganda” or “magandang” means beautiful, but in this phrase, “maganda” also means goodin English, while “araw” means “day.” Thus, “Magandang araw” means “Good day.”

“Magandang umaga” means “Good morning.”

“Magandang tanghali” means “Good noon.”  

“Magandang hapon” means “Good afternoon.”

“Magandang gabi” means “Good evening” or “Good night.”

“Kamusta” or “Musta” (shortened version)

“Kamusta” is a general greeting. This word is used to ask someone how they are (“Kamusta” or “How are you?” in English). However, Filipinos also use the word “kamusta” to say “hi” or “hello.”

“Kamusta” came from the Spanish phrase “Como estas,” which means “How are you?” in English. This is an example of the Spanish influence in the Tagalog language.

So, when you tell someone “kamusta,” you will expect a response on how they are currently doing or what their current situation is. 

The common Tagalog reply to this answer is “mabuti” or “Mabuti naman” which means “good” in English.

How do you introduce yourself in Tagalog? 

Now that you are familiar with the different greetings you can use. Let’s now conduct your introduction.

“Ang pangalan ko ay” or “Ako si” (shortened version)

When someone is asking for your name, or if you want to let someone know your name, you will say:

Ang pangalan ko ay .” (“My name is .”)

Or

Ako si .” (“I am .”)

You can also add your greeting before you introduce yourself. For example, if you want to say,

“Good morning! My name is . How are you?”

You will say:

Magandang umaga! Ang pangalan ko ay (or ako si) . Kamusta?

Filipino male with copy space on the left

How to answer Yes or No in Tagalog? 

“Oo” and “Hindi”

These are Tagalog words that you can use to give an affirmative or negative response, and also, if you are willing to accept or refuse to do something. 

“Oo” means “yes.” 

“Hindi” means “no.”

“Po” and “Opo”

Part of the Filipino culture is showing respect to elders or those in the older generation, as well as superiors or authorities (bosses, teachers, royalties, etc.). One of the Filipinos’ trademarks or practice in communicating to show respect to these people is by saying “po” and “opo,” which basically means “yes.” 

Take note that the informal way of saying “yes” is “oo” and the formal way is “po” and “opo.” Also, “po” often occurs after a verb or at the end of a statement or sentence, and not at the beginning of a sentence. “Opo,” on the other hand, is often used at the beginning of a sentence and can be used as a standalone.

An example of how to use “opo”:

When someone asks you, “Have you eaten lunch?” [in Tagalog: “Kumain ka na ba ng tanghalian?”] and you already had your breakfast, you will say “opo,” which means “yes” in English.

Examples of how to use “po”:

You can use “po” in most conversations by adding it in your sentence or statement, whether it is in question, declarative, command, or exclamatory form.

Magandang umaga po.

Hindi po.

Ako po si .”

How to say thank you in Tagalog? 

“Salamat,” “Maraming Salamat” and “Walang anuman”

You will say “salamat” or “Maraming salamat.

“Salamat” means “Thank you.”

“Maraming salamat” means “Thank you so (or very) much.” 

“Marami” or “maraming” means “many,” “much,” or “a lot” in English.

“Walang anuman” means “You’re welcome.”

How to say goodbye in Tagalog? 

Paalam” and “Ingat”

You can use these words when parting or after a conversation.

Paalam” means “Goodbye.”

While, “ingat” means “Take care.”

How to count 1-10 in Tagalog? 

Counting numbers (1-10) in Tagalog

Isa” – One

Dalawa” – Two

Tatlo” – Three

Apat” – Four

Lima” – “Five”

Anim” – “Six”

Pito” – “Seven”

Walo” – “Eight”

Siyam” – “Nine”

Sampu” – “Ten”

There are a lot more words and phrases you can learn as a beginner. A fun and easy way to study Tagalog is through Tagalog online courses, where you can quickly cover the basics to become a good Filipino conversationalist in no time. I hope this article inspired you to start learning Tagalog.  

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