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Ilocano Words and Phrases for Beginners

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

Start learning to speak Ilocano with these words and phrases for beginners.

Start learning to speak Ilocano with these words and phrases for beginners.

Learning another language, or dialect isn't easy and it always has to start somewhere. Ilocano isn't an exception, and being spoken throughout the Philippines, nothing beats being able to understand and communicate in Ilocano when visiting any of the Ilocano speaking provinces.

From adjectives, to forming simple sentences, here's another article where I will be covering more Ilocano lessons to help you start speaking the third most spoken language in the Philippines. Here are words and easy phrases for beginners to help you take that first step in learning how to speak Ilocano.

Below are just some of the most commonly used words and phrases to help you start with. The Filipino translations are included as well for Filipino/Tagalog speakers who prefer learning Ilocano with the national language.

Words and Phrases

Words and phrases you'll often hear in Ilocano.

EnglishIlocanoFilipino/Tagalog

I'm here now!

Adadtoyakon!

Andito na ako!

I already ate.

Nanganakon.

Kumain na ako.

Not yet.

Haan pay.

Hindi pa.

Done.

Nalpasen.

Tapos na.

I already did it.

Naaramid kon.

Nagawa ko na.

I'm done cooking now.

Nakaluto akon.

Nakaluto na ako.

All gone/Nothing left.

Awanen.

Wala na.

I'm going out.

Rumuarak.

Lalabas ako.

She/He already went home.

Nakaawiden isuna.

Nakauwi na siya.

I'm waiting for you.

Ur-urayen ka ket.

Hinihintay kita eh.

Morning.

Bigat.

Umaga.

Noon.

Aldaw.

Tanghali.

Afternoon.

Malem.

Hapon.

Evening.

Rabii.

Gabi.

Introducing yourself in Ilocano is easy and here are two ways to say your name as the first two on the table below.

Also notice that the pronouns used are the same in Ilocano and Tagalog. The Ilocano and Tagalog pronoun for the English pronoun my is ko while ako is the equivalent of the English pronoun I, except that it has the -n attached to it which is the adverb now/already.

Introduce Yourself in Ilocano

English Ilocano Filipino/Tagalog

I am (insert name).

Siak ni (insert name).

Ako si (pangalan).

My name is (insert name).

Ti nagan ko ket (name).

Ang pangalan ko ay (pangalan).

I'm (insert age) years old.

(Insert age) akon.

(Edad) na ako.

I'm staying at (insert place).

Aggaganiak dyay (insert place).

Nakatira ako sa (place).

I'm still studying.

Agad-adalak pay.

Nag-aaral pa ako.

I'm studying at (name of school).

Agad-adalak dyay (name of school).

Nag-aaral ako sa (school).

I love to cook.

Kaykayat ko ti agluto.

Mahilig akong magluto.

I am learning to speak Ilocano.

Agad-adalak ag-Ilocano.

Nag-aaral akong mag-Ilocano.

Yes/No in Ilocano

Responding to questions with yes or no is easy and you have probably heard of the words wen which means yes and haan for no. Another word used in Ilocano to mean no is saan.

Ilocano Adjectives

Next are some of the most commonly used adjectives in Ilocano to get you started with adjectives.

Ilocano adjectives.

EnglishIlocanoFilipino/Tagalog

fragrant

nabanglo

mabango

delicious

naimas

masarap

beautiful

napintas

maganda

clean

nadalos

malinis

dirty

narugit

marumi

big

dakkel

malaki

small

bassit

maliit

hot

napudot

mainit

cold

nalam-ek

malamig

happy

naragsak

masaya

Nouns

These nouns are next so you can practice these with the Ilocano adjectives from the table above.

Linkers are used with adjectives and nouns in Ilocano. These are nga and a. However, there's a regional difference regarding preference on which one to use. Coming from Central Luzon where most, if not all, Ilocano speakers prefer using nga when linking adjectives to nouns, it is somewhat odd to hear a being used as it is for another speaker from another region to hear nga being used. Let's have examples of these after the table of nouns below.

Commonly used nouns in Ilocano.

EnglishIlocanoFilipino/Tagalog

house

balay

bahay

seat

tugaw

upuan/silya

room

kwarto

kwarto

plant

mula

tanim

vehicle

lugan

sasakyan

clothes

bado

damit

school

eskwela

paaralan

sibling

kabsat

kapatid

friend

gayyem

kaibigan

money

kwarta

kwarta

When describing a noun, the noun follows after the adjective linked by either nga or a. An example of an adjective and a noun linked together is dakkel nga balay. Big house. But some Ilocano speakers, depending on their province, will prefer using a, so you'll also likely hear dakkel a balay instead.

Commonly Asked Ilocano Questions

Understanding and knowing even some of the 5W questions (what, who, when, why, and where) will also come in handy. Knowing these will not only allow one to have a little bit of an understanding of what was asked but also being able to say some of these questions is essential specially when the need to ask for help, direction and such comes up.

On the table below are commonly asked questions often asked in Ilocano.

EnglishIlocanoFilipino/Tagalog

What is this?

Ania/Inya daytoy?

Ano ito?

What is that?

Ania/Inya dayta?

Ano iyun?

What is your name?

Ania/Inya ti nagan mo?

Ano ang pangalan mo?

What did you cook?

Ania/Inya ti nilutom?

Ano ang niluto mo?

What did you do?

Ania/Inya ti inaramid mo?

Ano ang ginawa mo?

What did she/he say?

Ania/Inya ti imbaga na?

Ano ang sinabi niya?

What did you plant?

Ania/Inya ti iminulam?

Ano ang itinanim mo?

What's for our dish today?

Ania/Inya ti sida ta tatta?

Ano ang ulam natin ngayon?

What did you buy?

Ania/Inya ti ginatang mo?

Ano ang binili mo?

What did you tell her/him?

Ania/Inya ti imbagam kenyana?

Ano ang sinabi mo sa kanya?

Who is that?

Sino dayta?

Sino iyan?

Who is he/she?

Sino isuna?

Sino siya?

Who did you talk to?

Sino ti kinasaritam?

Sino ang kinausap mo?

Who did you call?

Sino ti tinawagam?

Sino ang tinawagan mo?

Who called you?

Sino ti tumawag kenyam?

Sino ang tumawag sa 'yo?

Who is your friend?

Sino ti gayyem mo?

Sino ang kaibigan mo?

Who is/was with you?

Sino ti kadwam?

Sino ang kasama mo?

Who is your sibling?

Sino ti kabsat mo?

Sino ang kapatid mo?

Who are you talking to?

Sino ti kapatang mo?

Sino ang kausap mo?

Who is your mom and dad?

Sino ni nanang ken tatang mo?

Sino ang nanay at tatay mo?

Where are you?

Ayan mo?

Asan ka?

Where is (insert name)?

Ayan na ni (insert name)?

Asan na si (insert name)?

Where is the (insert item)?

Ayan na dyay (insert item)?

Asan na 'yung (insert item)?

Where did you put it?

Pinangikabilam?

Saan mo inilagay?

Why are you like that?

Apay kasta ka?

Bakit ganyan ka?

Why are you still awake?

Apay nakariing ka pay?

Bakit gising ka pa?

Why are you here?

Apay adadtoy ka?

Bakit andito ka?

Why are you looking for me?

Apay birbirukennak?

Bakit hinahanap mo ako?

Why is it cold?

Apay nalam-ek?

Bakit malamig?

why are you still here?

Apay adadtoy ka pay?

Bakit andito ka pa?

Word preference differ according to regions or provinces. Two examples from the table above are the Ilocano words nalam-ek and inya. Nalam-ek means cold but another word for it is nalamiis. The word for what is ania and inya. Some prefer inya while some prefer ania, and with the pronunciation, it is almost hard to distinguish the two.

Learning Ilocano requires patience and time, just like any other languages and dialects. Practice what little you know and keep on learning more.

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