Essential Tagalog for the Foreigner Married to a Filipina

“Essential Tagalog for the Foreigner Married to a Filipina”: I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but I keep wanting to make it perfect, so it never gets done.  So instead of making it perfect, I’m going to make it fun and random — I’m going  do this first installment as a speedpost — almost stream of consciousness, putting whatever comes into my head.  I have poured myself a nice vodka and buko juice (there’s one word, “buko”), and it is now 7:15 PM.  I promise to post this at exactly 7:45.  So …. 30 minutes to do this.  I hope I don’t offend anyone.  These are things you will actually hear around the house if you just listen, and if you learn them you can use them pretty much one word or one small expression at a time — i.e. you don’t have to string together long sentences.  Just sprinkle this in like spices……

Here goes:

First, I’m going to skip the two things that every foreigner learns even if they learn nothing else:  “Mahal Kita” and “Maganda ka”.  You already know these two.

So, here goes.

oo — (oh-oh) — yes

hindi — (hin – deh) no.  (the more emphatic you want it to be, the shaper the “deh” part of it.

hindi pwede — can not, more like “no way”

pera (pera) money

puti (puti) white (also you, as in a white person)

kano (kano) American (as in Amerikano)

wala  (wala) none, it doesn’t exist

wala ng pera (there is no money, I have no money

ayoko — I don’t like

ayaw —  “he/she  doesn’t like”

huwag! — (whag!) — don’t!

bakit?  why

bakit naman?  why in the world?

bakit ayaw?  why don’t you like?

hiya … (hiya) shame, embarrassment

nahiya ako … I feel ashamed, embarrassed

talaga .. (sounds like dalaga) — really

lalaki — (lalaki) man

babae — (baba-eh) woman

anak — (anak) child

pwet — butt

ikaw — you  (at the beginning of a sentence)

ikaw eh? — you’re too much

ka — you (at the end of a sentence)

_______ ka — you are ________

bastos ka! — you’re being rude/vulgar!

Si …. (goes before a proper name … Si Rena)

Ang … (goes before a regular noun — Ang bulaklak — the flower)

ni lo loko mo ako …. you are driving me crazy (you don’t say it, just understand it when she says it to you)

napagod … (napagod)  tired

ma–  the beginnng of all adjectives

mayabang — (mayabang)  arrogant (foreigners often are; you won’t be if you learn some Tagalog)

chedeng (chedeng)  Mercedes (as in, she deserves one .. from Mercedes pronounced “merchedez” hence “chedeng”)

matalino — (matalino) smart

magulo — (magulo) confused, also confusing

makulit — (makulit) annoyingly persistent (as in your three year old wanting something, or you if you are feeling frisky and she’s not)

masipag — (masipag) industrious

mayaman — (mayaman) wealthy

matanda — matanda) old

madaling — (madaling) easy

4M — you, probably…(matandana, mayaman, madaling, mamatay — literally old, rich, and soon to die…..someone’s probably saying it behind your back so better to learn it and use it, as in “I know I’m 4M”…)

matigas — (matigas)  hard (as in you know what on a good night)

malambot — (malambot) soft (as in you know what on a bad night)

bastos — (bastos) rude, vulgar (as in what I wrote above about matigas and malambot)

malibog (malibog) horny (you will be accused of this often if you are not dead yet)

“matadana ako, madaling napagod”  I’m old, it’s easy to get tired   (your excuse for occasional malambot)

mataray — (mataray)  stern pain in the ass, ballbuster

puso — heart

pagibig — love

pasalubong — (pasalubong)  — gift you bring back from a trip (and don’t dare forget it, one for everybody!)

pamasahe — (pamasahe) — money for transportation (phonetic, not sure how it’s spelled)

baon — (baon)  food you take with you, like a lunchbox, also the money for food you’ll need at work, also just money you’ll need when you go anywhere … as in “I need some baon, honey”.

sakit (sakit) pain (physical, but also emotional)

masakit — it hurts

masakit ng loob — I’m hurting inside (as in, you hurt my feelings)

utot — (utot) fart

meron?  (meron?)  do you have/do we have?

meron! (meron!) we have

masarap .. (masarap) tasty (you better know that and say it often!)

matamis (matamis) sweet

gusto ko …  I like

gusto mo? … do you like/want?

pero … but

aso  (aso)… dog

sige (sigeh)…go ahead, or okay let’s do it, or okay i agree

sige na … go ahead (as  go ahead, make my day)

biro (sounds like beeroh) joke

Okay, time’s up.  Ha….this was like taking a 30 minute quiz. Not sure how I did.  A shrink could probably have fun with this.


kain (kain)  food (very important)

kain na! — let’s eat! or ‘have you eaten’?



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