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Filipino Adjectives and Intensifiers

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Precy loves reading about Filipino folklore. She also enjoys helping others speak and appreciate the Filipino and Ilocano language.

commonly-used-filipino-adjectives

Learning Filipino Adjectives

Adjectives is one of the vital aspects of learning another language. Familiarizing yourself with Filipino adjectives is a good way of starting your Filipino language learning journey. It's one of the most important part you will need as you take the first few steps in studying and learning to speak Filipino.

Knowing some Filipino adjectives is not only an easy way to start learning but is also a great way as you will be able to put it in practice as you carry on everyday conversations. These adjectives will be of use as you describe how your day went, colors and tastes of food, how you feel and a lot more.

With that said, let's start having Filipino adjectives starting with the ones that are commonly used as well as ways on how to intensify Filipino/Tagalog adjectives.

Commonly Used Filipino Adjectives

FilipinoEnglish

mabait

kind

maganda

beautiful

masaya

happy

masungit

grumpy

matangkad

tall

maliit

small

mataba

overweight

malayo

far

malapit

near

malungkot

sad

masarap

delicious

maalat

salty

matamis

sweet

maasim

sour

matabang

bland

matigas

hard/firm

magulo

messy

maayos

neat/tidy

malikot

frisky/perky

matino

sensible

madulas

slippery

malamig

cold

malakas

strong

maikli

short

makunat

chewy/tough

malasa

tasty

mapili

picky

mabaho

smelly

maputik

muddy

maalikabok

dusty

matao

crowded

malinaw

clear

makapal

thick

malago

bushy

matangos

pointy nose (opposite of flat nose)

matanda

old

masinop

frugal/orderly

malagkit

sticky

masukal

dense

madawag

dense

malago

bushy

mabenta

a product/item that is making a hit on sales/popular to customers

makitid

narrow

malasa

tasty

The Ma- Prefix

If you haven't noticed yet, most Filipino adjectives begins with ma. Ma- is one of many affixes used in the Filipino language to alter the meaning of a word giving it a new meaning or to state a verb tense. Ma- here is found at the beginning of most Filipino adjectives. It also transforms a Filipino noun into an adjective. A good example of this is the adjective mabango which means fragrant. Without the ma, it will give us bango which means fragrance, a noun.

More About Filipino Affixes

More Examples of Ma- Turning Nouns to Adjectives

NounAdjectiveMeaning

araw (sun)

maaraw

sunny

ulan (rain)

maulan

rainy

hangin (air/wind)

mahangin

windy

alikabok (dust)

maalikabok

dusty

ulap (cloud)

maulap

cloudy

Simple Adjectives

Althought most Tagalog adjectives has the affix ma at the beginning to turn root words or nouns into adjectives, not all Tagalog adjectives has the ma- in them. These are called simple adjectives. What are simple adjectives? These said adjectives function as adjectives without any affix attached to them. Take a look at the table below as examples of simple adjectives in Tagalog.

Simple Filipino Adjectives

Examples of commonly used simple adjectives in Filipino/Tagalog.

FilipinoEnglish

gwapo

handsome

pogi

handsome

payat

skinny

singkit

chinky eyes

kulot

curly

panis

spoiled

pangit

ugly

tuwid

straight

basa

wet

tuyo

dry

pandak

short (in height)

tamad

lazy

mahal

expensive

mura

cheap

gusot

wrinkled

kupas

faded

kuripot

stingy

suplada

snobbish (female)

suplado

snobbish (male)

tahimik

quiet

sarat

flat nose

pango

flat nose

kayumanggi

brown

hinog

ripe

hilaw

raw

wais

wise

pihikan

picky

Simple Adjectives

Intensifying Filipino Adjectives

Intensifying adjectives in Filipino is done by using intensifiers. Ang, napaka and sobrang are often used to intensify adjectives. Ang is commonly used and napaka is used often in means of extremity. These are the Filipino counterparts of the English too, very and so which are used in intensifying English adjectives.

The ma- in the beginning of an adjective is dropped off to intensify an adjective in Filipino/Tagalog, leaving just the root word and either ang, napaka or sobrang is used. Let's have an example using ang which is a commonly used intensifier.

Example - Maganda ang babae. The woman is beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda ng babae. The woman is so beautiful.

Also notice how the ang changed to ng once the adjective was intensified. Ng in Filipino is used as a marker and here as a substitute to ang for intensified adjectives.

When it comes to intensifying simple adjectives, there are no changes to be made with the adjective. There is no ma- affix to drop off but notice the ng taking the spot of ang once again.

Example - Pogi ang bata. The kid is handsome.

Intensified - Ang pogi ng bata. The kid is so handsome.

Examples of Intensified Adjectives

Examples of intensifiying Filipino ma- adjectives and simple adjectives using ang, napaka and sobrang.

Filipino/TagalogEnglish

Ang ganda mo.

You're so beautiful.

Ang gwapo niya.

He's so handsome.

Sobrang bait.

Too kind.

Sobrang linis.

Very clean.

Ang kyut.

So cute.

Word Repetition in Intensifying Adjectives

Using repetition of the root word isn't uncommon in Filipino to extremely intensify Filipino/Tagalog adjectives. It is often done with ang used as an intensifier and the root word is repeated.

Example - Ang ganda ganda niya. She is extremely beautiful.

Using -ng and Na When Intensifying Adjectives

Another way adjectives are intensified in Tagalog aside from the ways mentioned previously is by using -ng at the end of an adjective ending in a vowel then the adjective is repeated.

Example - Malaking malaki. Too big.

The adjective is 'malaki' which means big. It ends in a vowel which is letter i. The -ng is attached and the adjective is repeated. Attaching -ng at the end of an adjective like the example above is another way of intensifying adjectives in Tagalog.

With an adjective that ends in a consonant, na is used in between repetition of an adjective.

Example - Kulot na kulot. Too curly or wavy.

Not every adjective intensifier works with all Filipino adjectives. Some intensifiers works best on some adjectives while another intensifier just isn't a perfect fit. One good example is the adjective 'mahal' which means expensive. Ang is often used as an intensifier and fits well with the adjective 'mahal' - Ang mahal. But using 'na' as an intesifier and say 'Mahal na mahal' just wouldn't deliver the message that something is so expensive. Saying so would give the meaning that someone is being loved so much as 'mahal' also means love.

Example - Mahal na mahal ka nila. They love you so much.

Ma Adjectives and Repetition of the Root Word

It is also not uncommon for the root word to be repeated after a ma- adjective to indicate the idea or degree of the adjective. It is used to either mean it is a little bit less, not to that extent or a little bit over.

Example - Maliit liit. A little bit smaller in size.

Another example is 'Malaki laki' which means a little bit bigger. Malaki is the adjective here which means big. Laki is the root word. With the root word repeated after the ma- adjective which is malaki, it means a little bit bigger in size. These are usually done when comparing two things.

Example - Malaki laki ng konti kaysa dyan. A little bit bigger than that.

Using Pronouns

Yes the article focuses on how to intensify Filipino adjectives but it is important to cover pronouns as well. Not only ng takes the spot of ang when intensifying adjectives but switching pronouns happen as well once an adjective is intensified. Let's check the table below for pronouns used with unintensified adjectives and intensified adjectives.

Pronouns Used With Unintensified and Intensified Adjectives

Pronouns used in unintensified Filipino/Tagalog adjectives and pronouns used when the adjectives were intensified.

Pronouns Used With Unintensified AdjectivesPronouns Used With Intensified Adjectives

ka (you)

mo (you)

siya (she/he)

niya (she/he)

sila (they)

nila (they)

kami (we, excluding you)

namin (we, excluding you)

Let's take the pronoun 'you' from the table above and have examples of both unintensified and intensified adjectives. Notice the switching of pronouns used with the unintensified and intensified adjectives. The ma- affix is dropped off and ang is used as an intensifier.

Example - Mabait siya. She is kind.

Intensified - Ang bait niya. She is so kind.

The following example is a simple adjective which is pogi. Again, the intensifier used is ang which is a commonly used Filipino adjective intensifier. Notice the ng taking the spot for ang once intensified and a common noun comes after - bata.

Example - Pogi ang bata. The kid is handsome.

Intensified - Ang pogi ng bata. The kid is so handsome.

Si and Ni

Si and ni are both markers used in Filipino that has no English equivalent. Both goes before a personal name. While si is used with unintensified adjectives, ni is used with intensified adjectives.

Example - Maganda si Angel. Angel is beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda ni Angel. Angel is so beautiful.

Sina and Nina

Sina is the plural form of si and the plural form of ni is nina. If there are two or more than two personal names involved in an unintensified adjective, sina is used.

Example - Maganda sina Angel at Mary. Angel and Mary are beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda nina Angel at Mary. Angel and Mary are beautiful.

The Filipino adjectives listed above is a good start in learning the language although it isn't a complete list. Nouns are another part of learning to speak Filipino or Tagalog and that would be on the next article.

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Comments

Francisco Call on February 06, 2020:

Thank you very very much i love it . gusto matuto tagalog.. maraming salamat

PATRICK RENÉ HENRI JOUANNÈS from LACHAPELLE SAINT PIERRE on July 16, 2019:

Always instructive !