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Tagalog Markers: Si, Ni and Kay and Their Plural Forms Sina, Nina and Kina

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Precy enjoys sharing Filipino legends. She also helps in learning to speak & appreciate the Filipino language & Ilocano through writing.

Tagalog markers si, ni, and kay and their plural forms explained along with easy to understand examples.

Tagalog markers si, ni, and kay and their plural forms explained along with easy to understand examples.

Tagalog markers are short, often two to three letter words that you have been using. Si, ni, and kay are Tagalog markers placed before nouns. They are placed before names. Here, I will cover each of these markers and give examples on how to use them. It can be confusing when to use them but they are easy to learn and I will include a table of examples for each. I will also include how and when to use their plural forms sina, nina, and kina.

Si

Si is a marker placed before names. In a simple sentence such as Lira is smart, when translated, si comes after the adjective, placed before the name —Matalino si Lira.

Adjectives with Si

Examples of adjectives and using si before personal names.

TagalogEnglish

Tuso si Rex.

Rex is cunning.

Masipag si Precy.

Precy is hardworking.

Mabuting tao si Paolo.

Paolo is a good person.

Mabait at masipag na tao si Rose.

Rose is a kind and hardworking person.

Questions such as "Kumusta si Gia?" or "How is Gia?" and "Where is Rio?" which translates to "Nasaan si Rio?" are just two examples of using si as well when asking how and where questions, specially about a person's whereabouts.

Sina - The Plural Form of Si

Sina is also a marker, the plural form of si, used before names. Let's have the same examples used with si from the table above.

TagalogEnglish

Tuso sina Rex at Precy.

Rex and Precy are cunning.

Masipag sina Precy at Jane.

Precy and Jane are hardworking.

Mabuting tao sina Paolo at Rannie.

Paolo and Rannie are good people.

Masipat at mabait na tao sina Rose.

Rose (and her companion/and the rest) are kind and hardworking people.

From the table above, sina is used with more than one name. But notice the last one where sina precedes just one name. It isn't uncommon as even with just one name being mentioned, having sina placed before a single name makes it clear that there are more than one person involved in the topic.

The same goes with the what and how questions previously mentioned above as well. Asking "Kumusta sina George at Greg?" or "Kumusta sina George?" are both acceptable.

Si and Sina As Focus Markers

Si and sina are the markers used in actor-focus verb sentences. While ang is placed before common nouns marking the focus of the sentence, si and sina are the markers placed before names.

Examples of using ang before common nouns are ang lalaki (man), ang doktor (doctor), and ang aso (dog). Si takes the place of ang — si Mr. Santillan, si Dr. Ayala, and si Hiro (the dog's name). Use sina if there are more than one person — sina Dr. Ayala, sina Mrs. Rita Santillan and Mrs. Belle Realin.

In the sentence, "Tumawag ang babae ng pulis," which translates to "The woman called a cop," ang comes before babae or woman since it's a common noun. But if the woman was given a name, let's say as Mrs. Rita Santillan, si will have to replace ang as the marker. It will be "Tumawag si Mrs. Rita Santillan ng pulis."

Ni

Ni precedes a personal name showing ownership. Place ni after the item being owned and before the owner's name. Example of this is — Cellphone ni Angel. But ni is used with personal names not only to show ownership, look at the table below for more examples.

More examples of using the Tagalog marker ni.

TagalogEnglish

Relo ni Mr. Anza.

Mr. Anza's watch.

Utang ni Dannie.

Dannie's debt.

Sasakyan ni Precy.

Precy's vehicle.

Bahay ni Karen Lireo.

Karen Lireo's house.

Therapist ni Lola Kalia.

Grandma Kalia's therapist.

Kaibigan ni Dean.

Dean's friend.

Ni is also placed before a name when showing relationship. Tiyahin ni Aliana. In Filipino/Tagalog it translates to "Aliana's aunt." Pinsan ni Rose — another example which translates to "Rose's cousin."

Ni is also the marker used with a name in regards to traits. An example is "Nakakatakot ang katapangan ni Sarah." Translated, it means "Sarah's bravery is scary." Katapangan means bravery, a trait that Sarah possess.

Ni With Intensified Adjectives

Ni is also the marker used with intensified adjectives. Take a look at the following examples on how ni is used below when the adjective is intensified compared to si.

Masaya si Hana. Hana is happy. But when intensified, ni is used in place of si along with some changes with the adjective. Ang saya ni Hana. Hana is so happy. When intensified, the prefix ma was dropped leaving just the root saya. Ang is used to intensify the adjective.

Nina

Nina is the plural form of ni. Use the Tagalog marker ni before two or more personal names. It is also not uncommon to encounter nina used just before a single name. Placing it before a name already implies that there are more than one person being talked about. Use nina before a name or names to show ownership.

Mga damit nina Rose at Riza. Rose and Riza's clothes. An example of using ni with two names mentioned. Refer to the table below for more.

Examples of using ni showing relationship and ownership.

TagalogEnglish

Kaibigan nina Dean at Sol.

Dean's (and the others) friend.

Utang nina Dannie.

Dannie's (and the others) debt.

Sasakyan nina Precy at Rex.

Precy and Rex's vehicle.

Bahay nina Karen at Alena Lireo.

Karen and Alena Lireo's house.

Ni and Nina As Focus Markers

These are the opposite of focus markers si and sina. While the two are used in actor-focus verb sentences, ni and nina are used in object-focus verbs. Ni is placed before a name that is the focus in the sentence. Let's have the same example above about Mrs. Santillan calling a cop, but let's switch the focus this time — Tinawag ni Mrs. Rita Santillan ang pulis. The cop was called by Mrs. Rita Santillan. This time the focus is on the cop and no longer Mrs. Rita Santillan.

Types of verbs in Filipino and how to distinguish actor-focus and object-focus verbs is another topic that I already covered on my other article How to Conjugate Filipino Verbs: Types and Tenses so I wouldn't go into a much more detailed explanation here as this is a seperate subject but would rather continue with the next markers.

Kay

In English we say — For Anna. For Jake. This is done in Tagalog by using kay, placed before the name. Para kay Anna. Para kay Jake. Who's the chocolate for? Para kay Anna. For Anna. Refer to the table below for more examples of using kay.

Examples of using the Tagalog marker kay.

EnglishTagalog

Is this for Lina?

Para kay Lina ito?

Is this for Mom?

Para kay Mama ito?

Is this for Grandpa Nick?

Para kay Lolo Nick ito?

Is this for Engr. John Ayala?

Para kay Engr. John Ayala ito?

Is this Lina's?

Kay Lina ito?

Is this Mom's wallet?

Kay Mama itong wallet?

Is this Engr. John's money?

Kay Engr. John itong pera?

Kina

The plural form of kay, where it precedes two or more names. To say that the chocolate isn't just for Anna, but for both of them, Anna and Jake — Para kina Anna at Jake. Or just pick one name as using kina will imply that the chocolate isn't only for one person. Tsokolate para kina Jake. Chocolate for Jake (and the others).

EnglishTagalog

Is this for Lina and Drake?

Para kina Lina at Drake ito?

Is this for Mom and Dad?

Para kina Mama at Papa ito?

Are these for Grandpa Nick and Gio?

Para kina Lolo Nick at Gio ang mga ito?

Are these for Engr. John Ayala and Angel?

Para kina Engr. John Ayala at Angel ito?

Is this Lina and Luke's car?

Kina Lina at Luke itong kotse?

Are these mom and dad's?

Kina Mama at Papa ang mga ito?

Are these Engr. John and Engr. Sol's hats?

Kina Engr. John at Engr. Sol itong mga sumbrero?

More on Kay And Kina

Kay and kina are also the markers used to answer "whose" questions. "Whose coffee is this?" Kay Lita. Or if there are more than one cup of coffee and it's Lita's and her friends — Kina Lita.

Now on the table below, I also included examples of using kina with verbs specially with some that you'll likely encounter. Some of them are imperatives.

On the English translations where kina is used with just a name, I just placed and the others, or and friends. When you use kina with just a single name, you are already including the other unnamed person/s. It could be a friend, a relative, co-workers, etc.

EnglishTagalog

Ask Jerry and Jimmy.

Magtanong ka kina Jerry at Jimmy.

Talk to Captain Aries (and the others).

Makipag-usap ka kina Kapitan Aries.

Give it to older brother Josh (and his friends).

Ibigay mo kina Kuya Josh.

Did you go to Mr. Anza's place (and his family)?

Nagpunta ka kina Mr. Anza?

These two are also the markers used to mark the receiver of an action done by someone else. Example is "Binili ko ito para kay Leah," which tanslates to "I bought this for Leah." When the item bought is for Leah and someone else, use kay instead of kina.

Need More Help and Examples?

The examples for each aren't much but I hope that it will ease the confusion on how these Tagalog markers are used. If you still need help on any of these markers specially on which one to use, or just want to share your own example, the comment section is open.

Practice With A Short Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. If you're going to translate "This is for Rita," which one is correct?
    • Para kina Rita ito.
    • Para kay Rita ito.
    • Para kay Rita ang mga ito.
    • Para kay Rita ito?
  2. Which one is correct for "Dani and Wil's teacher" if translated in Tagalog?
    • Titser nina Dani.
    • Titser nina Dani at Wil.
    • Guro ni Wil.
    • Titser ni Dani at Wil.
  3. The plural form of si is?
    • Ang.
    • Kina.
    • Nina.
    • Sina.
  4. Si and Sina takes the place of ng. They are used in object-focus verb sentences.
    • Only sina takes the place of ng.
    • Depends on the sentence.
    • True.
    • False.
  5. Which of these markers you will use to show relationship?
    • Kay and kina.
    • Ni and nina.
    • Nina.
    • Kay and kina.
  6. Which one correctly translates to "Hana is so happy" in the choices below?
    • Ang saya ni Hana.
    • Masaya si Hana.
    • Ang saya kay Hana.
    • Masaya sina Hana.
  7. Si marks common nouns.
    • False.
    • True.
    • Si marks adjectives.
    • Si is a marker used with names.
  8. Which one translates to "Vickie called a plumber?"
    • Tumawag sina Vickie ng tubero.
    • Tumawag kay Vickie ang tubero.
    • Tumawag si Vickie ng tubero.
    • Tinawag ni Vickie ang tubero.
  9. Someone asked "Whose bottled water are these?" Which marker will you use without saying all the names?
    • Sina.
    • Kina.
    • Nina.
    • Kay.
  10. Ni is used with intensified adjectives.
    • It's si and sina.
    • Only nina.
    • False.
    • True.

Answer Key

  1. Para kay Rita ito.
  2. Titser nina Dani at Wil.
  3. Sina.
  4. False.
  5. Ni and nina.
  6. Ang saya ni Hana.
  7. False.
  8. Tumawag si Vickie ng tubero.
  9. Kina.
  10. True.