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How and When to Use Po and Opo

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Use po and opo to show respect.

Use po and opo to show respect.

Filipinos use po and opo to give that appropriate respect specially when speaking to an elderly, or to someone of authority. This is in addition to other titles of respect such as ate and kuya or uncle and auntie amongst others. These two are hard not to notice as they're commonly used but still, to language learners using po and opo can get confusing sometimes. And this is where this article will focus on as I will tackle how to use po and opo and when. Learning the proper placement of these two in sentences, will not only boost your confidence to keep learning the language but this will allow you to finally engage in conversations as well with politeness.

Use Po With the 5W Questions

To be more respectful, add po when asking a question. It goes with the 5W questions such as 'Bakit po?' Asking 'Bakit?' is just simply 'Why?' while asking 'Bakit po?' is asking politely specially when speaking to someone of authority or to someone older than you are, like a grandfather or a grandmother for example.

Examples of asking politely using po with the 5W questions.

5W Questions in English5W Questions in TagalogAsking Politely - 5W Questions With Po

What

Ano

Ano po?

Who

Sino

Sino po?

Why

Bakit

Bakit po?

When

Kailan

Kailan po?

Where

Saan

Saan po?

Use Po After a Yes or No Answer

In addition to the 5W questions above, I might as well add that po is used with questions that require a yes/no answer. One example is 'Meron po' when answering the question 'Do you have an appointment next week?' Responding 'Meron po' is a polite way rather than just responding 'Meron' which simply means 'Yes I have.'

Use Po After Nouns and Adjectives

It isn't uncommon for po to get misplaced in simple sentences such as 'Mabait siya po' as it could get confusing indeed. But a tip I could give is that po often, if not always, comes right after a noun or an adjective.

Example - Mabait po siya. She/He is kind.

Mabait is the adjective that means kind/nice. Po comes after the adjective and before the pronoun siya or he/she but not after the pronoun. Also remember that omitting po simply means 'He/She is kind' while adding po is saying it respectfully. Saying it without using po is perfectly fine specially when talking to someone of the same age range as you are such as a classmate or a friend of the same age.

Another correct way of using po is after a noun and before a pronoun. Let's have bahay or house as noun.

Example - Bahay po namin. Our house.

Bahay is our noun with the above example and namin as the pronoun which means our. Notice where po is placed. It is placed after the noun. Also notice that this answers the question 'Whose?'

Another example is 'Bahay po nila' which means 'Their house.' The two examples given have something in common, the property is owned not only by one but more. The pronouns used were our and their. But if the pronoun used is my when answering the 'Whose?' question, po comes after the pronoun.

Example - Bahay ko po. My house.

Also, to add to this, when denoting ownership, there are two ways to answer the question 'Whose?' such as 'Whose house is this?' as an example. Some will respond 'Amin po' which means 'Ours' and some may respond 'Bahay po namin' or 'Our house.' Both answers are polite but notice po placed after the pronoun amin while it was placed right after the noun bahay on the second one. Remember that when giving an answer starting with a noun, po follows after. But when giving an answer starting with a pronoun, po comes after the pronoun.

Examples of Po After Pronouns

Add po after these Tagalog pronouns to show politeness when answering the question 'Whose?'

EnglishTagalog with Po

Mine

Akin po

Theirs

Kanila po

His/Hers

Kanya po

Ours

Amin po

Yours

Inyo po

Use Po With Verbs

Po is used after Tagalog verbs and it is used with all the verb tenses and with any type of verb. So, whether it's a MAG verb, an IN verb, an UM verb or maybe an I verb for example, it doesn't matter as po will work with just any verb.

Table above shows examples of po used after verbs.

EnglishTagalogWith Po - Polite Way

I'm cleaning.

Naglilinis ako.

Naglilinis po ako.

They're eating.

Kumakain sila.

Kumain po sila.

She/He's writing.

Nagsusulat siya.

Nagsusulat po siya.

We're going to play.

Maglalaro kami.

Maglalaro po kami.

They're cooking.

Nagluluto sila.

Nagluluto po sila.

They're going to take a bath.

Maliligo sila.

Maliligo po sila.

She cooked it.

Iniluto niya ito.

Iniluto po niya ito.

More on Tagalog Verbs

When to Use Opo

The proper usage of opo and opo confuses some because both means yes. Since the question of how to correctly use po is already answered above, let's tackle the correct way of using opo next.

Both means yes as mentioned but the diference is that, po is used to acknowledge being called by name, just as the same in English when you answer 'Yes?' when your name is called. Opo also means yes, but use it to answer a question with a yes.

Example - Kumain ka na ba? Have you already eaten?

Use opo to respond to the question above if it's a yes. What about if it's a negative response? If your answer to the above question is a no, po should be used. 'Hindi pa po' is a good example which translate to 'Not yet,' the polite way.

In addition, opo is used to respond or acknowledge commands. One example is from kids or children acknowledging commands from parents like 'Sleep early,' or 'Study first, ok?' with 'Opo.' Another example is 'Opo sir.' Again in both examples opo is used as the equivalent of yes.

More Examples of Responding With Opo

Examples of using opo as yes.

EnglishTagalog

Yes mom

Opo mama/nanay

Yes dad

Opo papa/tatay

Yes sir

Opo sir

Yes boss

Opo boss

Yes ma'am

Opo ma'am

Yes uncle

Opo uncle/tiyo

Yes auntie

Opo auntie/tiya

Reading this easy to understand article, I hope that it help ease the confusion of using po and opo. Use the tables as well as reference as you go with learning Filipino, take your time and focus on either just one to get the hang of it while putting it to use.