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Filipino - How to Use Ang and When to Use Ng and Nang

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Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino and Ilocano language. She also writes about Filipino culture.

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Falling in love with another language and learning it takes time and patience. Some takes the first step learning through valuable phrases and go from there simply by wanting to learn the language. Some has to learn by profession while to some, the language became a part of life as falling in love with a native speaker comes the need to learn the language. But with all the different reasons for learning is one common hurdle. Learning Filipino can be quite a struggle at times that even the seemingly easy and simple words can be confusing when it comes to usage. Ang isn't an exemption as well as ng and nang as how to use these three is one of the questions I often get. Knowing when to use ang, as well as learning the difference between ng and nang will not only give you the confidence of using them correctly but will make learning smoother as well.

What is Ang and How to Use Ang

To be simple and easy, ang in Filipino/Tagalog is the English determiner the. But aside from that, there are other uses of ang. That we will go through in this article along with examples to answer one of the most commonly asked questions by learners which is "How to use ang?"

Ang as the English 'the'

Filipino sentences often start with verbs and adjectives, unlike in English, sentences start with 'the.' One good example is 'The boy smiled.' Saying this in Filipino, the verb is found at the beginning which would be 'Ngumiti ang batang lalaki.'

This may take time for Filipino language learners to get used to and following the English pattern starting the sentence with ang or the in English might be a lot easier to start with - Ang bata ay ngumiti. This is correct as well and appears easier but again, often it starts with a verb or an adjective.

Ang as Adjective Intensifier

Ang is used as an intensifer. It is often used to intensify Tagalog adjectives in place of so, very or too. Let's have few examples of intensifying adjectives using ang.

To say that something or someone is so, very, or too nice for example, ang is an intensifier often used. But you might want to know first how to intensify Filipino/Tagalog adjectives. Most Filipino adjectives start with the ma- prefix such as maganda which means beautiful and malakas means strong. Let's cross out the prefix ma and use ang to intensify an adjective. Without the ma prefix it will also give you the noun ganda or beauty and lakas which means strength.

Examples of using ang as an adjective intensifier.

FilipinoEnglish

Ang cute.

So cute.

Ang bait.

Very kind.

Ang sarap.

So delicious.

Ang tagal.

Taking too long.

Ang saya.

Very happy.

More on Intensifying Adjectives

  • Filipino Adjectives and Intensifiers
    Different ways of intensifiying Filipino adjectives is covered in an easy to understand way with examples for both ma- adjectives and simple adjectives . Commonly used Filipino or Tagalog adjectives are here as well.

Ang As the Actor Marker

Another used of ang in Filipino is as a marker. Take it as the guide pointing you out the actor and the focus in a sentence. But first, there are different kinds of verbs such as the MAG and UM which are actor-focus verbs. I and IN on the other hand are object-focus verbs. These are just four examples. It is good to know and familiarized one's self with these verbs as well. These I discussed more on one of my previous article Filipino Verbs - Types of Filipino Verbs and How to Form Filipino Tenses of Verbs.

In the sentence 'Kumain ang babae ng fried rice,' notice the noun that follows right after ang. Babae or woman is the actor here and in the focus while ng comes before fried rice which is the object in the sentence. In English, 'The woman ate fried rice.'

Another example - Nagbebenta ang tindera ng mga halaman. The seller is selling plants.

With the above example, it is easy to spot the focus which is the tindera or seller (woman) as it comes after ang. Add to it that the verb used focuses on the doer.

Ng As the Object Marker

In addition to ng pointing out the object in a sentence just like the example above, there are other ways that you will encounter ng being used which is another challenge as this could get confusing to decide when to use ng in Tagalog or Filipino properly.

With the given example above together with using ang, ng serves as your marker for the object in a sentence. If that is still a bit confusing to understand, the trick is to think of ng answering one of the 5W questions - what.

Let's look at the given example again. But let's have a question to answer. What is being sold by the seller? Reading the example sentence again will give the answer that plants are being sold by the seller - Nagbebenta ang tindera ng mga halaman. Another example is 'Kumain ang businessman ng sandwich.' The businessman ate a sandwich. What did the businessman eat? He ate a sandwich. In both examples, not only that ng answered the 'what' question but served as the marker as well this way for the object in these actor-focus verbs sentences.

While the previous examples are actor-focus verbs, let's have another example but with an object-focus verb this time.

Example - Sinipa ng driver ang gulong. The tire was kicked by the driver.

Sinipa or kicked is in the past tense and is an object-focus verb. It has the IN affix for IN verbs which are object-focus verbs. Remember that the word that follows after ng is the object. The driver takes the spot light in the example above since the verb used is an object-focus verb. It is marked by ng as ng comes before the word driver.

Ng as Possessor Marker

Another way of using ng in Tagalog is as a possessor noun marker. The noun that follows after ng is the possessor noun, or let's say the owner of whatever item is being mentioned.

Example - Cellphone ng technician.

With the example above, ng comes after the item or object owned and the owner or the possessor noun comes after ng. This corresponds to 'of the' in English such as 'Cellphone of the technician.' Also while in English saying 'Technician's cellphone,' is so common to denote ownership, saying it using the above example is how it is in Tagalog/Filipino.

More examples on how to use ng as possessor marker in Tagalog/Filipino.

FilipinoEnglish

Kotse ng technician

Car of the technician

Bahay ng mag-asawa

House of the couple

Libro ng bata

Book of the kid

Dahon ng bayabas

Leaf of the guava tree

Meryenda ng lalaki

Snack of the guy

Bulaklak ng sampaguita

Flower of the sampaguita

Nobya ng lalaki

Girlfriend of the guy

Pera ng tindera

Money of the (lady) seller

Laruan ng aso

Toy of the dog

Anak ng mag-asawa

Daughter/Son of the couple

Nang

Nang and ng are easy to confuse with specially with usage. While ng is used with the mentioned ways above and pronunciation is hard to distinguish the two, it still gets confusing on how to use nang. A trick to remember when to use nang is that, nang answers the question how in a sentence.

Example - Nagluto nang mabilis ang lalaki. The guy cooked fast.

In the above example, mabilis means fast. It answers the question how - How did the guy cook? He cooked fast. The lalaki or guy is the actor which is marked by ang. Nagluto means cooked. It is in the past tense and is a MAG verb.

Another example - Binasa nang malakas ng titser ang kwento. The story was read loudly by the teacher.

In the second example above, malakas or loudly answers the question how the reading was done. The story was read loudly by the teacher.

Nang for Repeated Actions

Nang is used as well for actions repeatedly done or actions the actor keeps on doing. While in English we say, 'The dog keeps running' or 'The kid keeps running,' to say that the action is continuously being done, nang is used in Filipino. One example is takbo nang takbo which means (someone) keeps on running.

Example - Takbo nang takbo ang bata. The kid keeps on running.

More examples of using nang to say an action is continuously done.

FilipinoEnglish

Kanta nang kanta ang bata

The kid keeps on singing

Laro nang laro ang bata

The kid keeps on playing

Salita nang salita ang tindero

The (man) seller keeps on talking

Kahol nang kahol ang aso

The dog keeps on barking

Nang as When

Adding to the usage of nang is as the conjunction when. Often you'll see or hear nang used linking two clauses.

Example - Kalilinis lang ng bahay nina Rex at Precy nang dumating ang bisita. Rex and Precy had just cleaned the house when the visitor arrived.

Looking at the example above, the first clause 'Kalilinis lang ng bahay nina Rex at Precy' is linked to the second clause using nang.

Understanding the rules on using nang and ng as well as ang through this article along with given examples hopefully will ease the confusion. A good way of keeping on track and getting the hang of it with the right usage is focusing on just one of these three, moving on to the next two and using this article as a guide as needed.

Wrapping up this easy Filipino language lesson, let's take a look at the table below with the rules on when to properly use ang, ng and nang for a quick reference.

Summary of using ang, ng and nang.

AngNgNang

As the English 'the'

Object marker

Answers the question how

Intensifies adjectives

Marks the possessor noun

For actions repeatedly or continuously done

Mark's the actor/focus in a sentence

 

As a conjunction

Comments

Arjay5b on June 10, 2020:

@elemaner. Maybe you have worked out the answer yourself by now but if not the clue is in the verb used which is object focus. To reverse the ang and ng in the sentence an actor focus verb like magdala could be the one to use.

elemaner on February 20, 2020:

Can you then please explain why "The woman took the child to the station" is translated as "Inihatid ng babae ang anak sa istasyon"? Isn't the object in this sentence the child? Who was taken? The child. Who is doing the taking? The woman. The actor is the woman, therefore I would think it would be ANG babae and NG anak. But I am told that is incorrect by my Filipino girlfriend (who obviously knows Tagalog better than me, but can't explain why). Can you explain why? SALAMAT!

Marie on November 28, 2019:

SUPER CLEAR thankss

precy anza (author) from USA on August 29, 2019:

@Raj

Glad to hear the way I did it made learning as easy as possible. Thank you for leaving a comment. :) It's helping boost up my confidence to continue sharing the Filipino language.

Raj on August 26, 2019:

You are indeed a great teacher. Each and very thing explained in a very effective manner. Nakakatalino Guro

Cecile on July 03, 2019:

This is a wonderful article with excellent charts and useful examples to illustrate the language principles being taught. Thanks so much. I have missed your videos and writing, and was so happy to find this article. You are a very gifted teacher and writer, and I am so grateful to you for all that you have shared. Agyamanak.