Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino language. She also speaks Ilocano.
While learning phrases is essential and is one of the topic that is often search for online, learning adjectives starting from the most commonly used Filipino adjectives is just about as important. Adjectives are often the first words that people learn when studying another language. From asking what the word is for beautiful to compliment the lady you met, to knowing the word masarap to compliment a dish, you're learning adjectives. I, myself first learned a few adjectives from different languages in addition to nouns and phrases. Adjectives help us describe places, people's feelings, features and more and makes learning fun and easy specially when starting out with the ones that you are interested the most.
Known as pang-uri, Filipino/Tagalog adjectives are often placed before nouns. It may sound like an easy topic for some, but for the rest it can be a bit of a challenge. Adjective related questions are also one of the questions I usually get so for that, I decided to write this article, an easy to browse examples of Tagalog adjectives starting with the most commonly used ones that you will most likely encounter in a day to day basis. I've also included some examples of usage as a beginners guide.
Examples of Commonly Used Filipino Adjectives
Before you take the plunge with the rest of the adjectives, let's warm up first with some of the most commonly used ones that you will hear a lot being used.This will be a good start for you if you're just starting with Filipino/Tagalog adjectives.
tall (as in a person's height)
salable, easily sold
Above are examples of pang-uri or adjectives that one will often hear used and usually one of the first words that beginners learn. Looking at the table above, notice the first syllable of words except for the first one. Most Filipino adjectives start with the prefix -ma.
You can learn more about -ma prefix along with other affixes in my article Tagalog Affixes: Examples and Usage of Commonly Used Tagalog Affixes.
Not all adjectives though have the ma- prefix at the beginning, the next set of adjectives below is a good example of what is called as simple adjectives. A question that will most likely come up is, how to know which of these used the prefix ma? Well, there is no clear rule to this so it is better to familiarize which of the Filipino/Tagalog adjectives have the prefix.
Examples of Simple Adjectives
raw fish that's no longer fresh/stale
old (used with things and not with age)
wrinkled (used when referring to the skin, leaves of plants as well as fruits)
There are a lot more to get familiar with and to add more, the adjectives below are not only easy to remember but will come in handy when describing taste and smell. Again, to help with remembering words, I suggest to start with something you're more interested to learn before going through the rest of them. Wouldn't you want to learn first what the word for crunchy is since you love crunchy food?
Adjectives That Describe Taste and Smell
an astringent taste, like from raw or unripe fruits and veggies
pungent (like the smell of goat cheese)
the smell of urine
the smell associated with covered up things often wet/damp clothes
To add more to the adjectives above, take a look at the table below. Starting with your favorite weather, describe the weather each day until you familiarize all of them.
Also crossing off the ma- prefix will give you the noun form. Taking the first adjective maaraw which means sunny, crossing off the ma will give you araw which means sun.
hot and humid
It is also essential to learn how to say different feelings and emotions to describe how you feel. Are you happy, calm or irritated today? These adjectives will help you to say how you feel.
Feelings and Emotions
While some character adjectives are already in the first two lists under commonly used adjectives and simple adjectives, here's more to add for you to learn and put to use. Find that adjective that fits someone you have in mind using the list below.
Adjectives Describing Appearance, Character and Personality
well built (body)
matigas ang ulo
matangos (ang ilong)
having a pointy nose
a person who is unorganized and careless with things
Using few adjectives from the table above, let's have examples of using these adjectives that you can take as a guide when describing a person's appearance, character or personality even as a beginner. Let's use the pronoun siya and the personal topic marker si.
Tuso si Connor. Connor is cunning.
Notice si before the name Connor. Si is placed before proper names. Now, let's have two or more adjectives to describe Connor more.
Tuso, matigas ang ulo at pihikan si Connor. Connor is cunning, hard headed and picky.
Now that you know how to use si before proper names, let's use the pronoun he for Connor instead of repeating his name for the third time. The Tagalog pronoun for either he or she is siya, it is gender neutral.
Tuso, matigas ang ulo at pihikan siya. He's cunning, hard headed and picky.
The prefix ma- which was previously mentioned, is used with some of the colors as well and the color is repeated. Let's use pula or red as an example. The prefix ma- is attached at the beginning of the word, let's repeat the color after - mapula pula. This word now means slightly red or being reddish in color. Some other colors where ma- is used for the same reason are berde, puti, dilaw, itim and asul. Referring to the table above, try and use the ma- prefix on your own with the colors mentioned. How would you say bluish or greenish? Let's have an example below.
Manipis at medyo maasul asul and mga talulot ng bulaklak. The petals of the flower are thin and tinged with blue/bluish/slightly blue.
Using Adjectives With Nouns
Adjectives in Filipino/Tagalog are often used before nouns with the -ng attached to adjectives ending in vowels. Taking one from the table above, let's use the color green or berde with a noun. Since our adjective ends in letter e which is a vowel, the -ng will give us a hand connecting it to the noun kotse or car.
Example - Berdeng kotse. Green car.
It isn't uncommon though to have them placed after nouns. Let's have a second example below by switching the adjective and noun.
Kotseng berde. Green car.
Although the noun came first and the adjective followed after, the meaning didn't change at all. Let's have another example from another list but this time with an adjective ending in a consonant.
Maalat na isda. Salty fish.
This time, notice na taking the place of -ng linking the adjective to the noun. This happens when the adjective ends in a consonant, just like our adjective maalat or salty with the letter t.
More on Adjectives - Intensifying Tagalog 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.
Shape, Size and Texture
short (in length)
Rarely Used Adjectives
having a good ambiance/roomy
young and unripe fruit
having a strong smell/pungent
prying/a woman who's too inquisitive
prying/a man who's too inquisitive
thick (as in the consistency of sauce/soup)
used to refer to the thin consistency of soup/sauce)
fluent (in speaking a language)
You probably noticed that some English adjectives have more than one Tagalog counterpart. One good example is the English adjective famous or popular. You can either use the Tagalog adjective sikat, which is added on the list above under simple adjectives, or you can also use kilala which is on the list under rarely used Filipino adjectives. They are synonymous but between the two, you will most likely hear the first one being used.
This isn't a full list but it offers not only the commonly used adjectives but the ones as well that you probably haven't heard of. I will be updating the lists when I come up with more adjectives.
John on August 03, 2019:
Wow these are so helpful