April 3, 2020

Go Filipino - 20. Let’s Describe Them (Adjectives, Part 1)

A pseudo breakdown transcript of the podcast Go Filipino Lesson 20 by Kris Andres. For more information about Kris and his podcast check out his Patreon!

This episode brought to you today by the Tagalog word sibol.

Sibol - Germination. The process of growth from a seed to a plant.


An adjective is used to modify or describe a noun. Whether it is a physical or inner attribute. In the Tagalog language there are 3 degrees of adjectives: neutral, comparative, and superlative. We will fist go over neutral adjectives first. Neutral adjectives are the most standard form of adjectives are the most standard form of adjectives. They tell the nouns as they are without having strong opinions or supporting a particular opinion. The Tagalog adjectives consist of two types. Simple adjectives and the ma adjectives.

Simple Adjectives

The simple adjectives are root words. Meaning they are descriptive words at it's barest, nothing else needs to be added.


Pangit - Ugly, something that you may see as offensive.

  • Remember in our previous lesson about root words, most of them function as nouns. But some of them soley as adjectives. Just like the word pangit.

Tagalog neutral adjectives can either before the noun or after the noun.

Pangit na basura - Ugly trash.

  • Pangit - Ugly
  • na - In this context, na acts a linker between the adjective that ends with a consonant, in this case t, and the noun being modified. Linking the two words together indicate that they work as a single element in a Tagalog sentence.
  • basura - Trash, Garbage.

You can also say the same sentence as:

Basurang pangit - Ugly trash. But this time with the adjective after the noun.

  • Basurang - Trash with the included ng linker. This uses the ng linker to the word because the adjective ends in a vowel.
  • pangit - Ugly


payat - Thin


pandak - Short, in stature.


mura - Cheap, or inexpensive.


mahal - Expensive.

Ma Adjectives

These are nouns that come with a ma prefix to turn them into adjectives.


maganda - Beautiful

  • ganda - Root Word - Beauty
  • Then by adding the ma prefix, which means full of, it becomes beautiful or full of beauty.

Just like simple adjectives, the ma adjectives can be placed before or after the noun.

Magandang buhay - Beautiful life.

  • Magandang - Beautiful, with the ng linker
  • buhay - Life.

You can also say:

Buhay na maganda - Beautiful life.

  • Buhay - Life
  • na - In this context na is a linker with a noun that ends in a consonant, in this case y, and the adjective.
  • maganda - Beautiful


mataba - Fat, like a fat pig. It comes from the root word, taba. Which means fat, like pork fat. Then by adding the ma prefix it becomes fat, or full of fat.


Matangkad - Tall. Like a tall tree. It comes from the root word, tangkad. Which means height. Then we had the ma prefix to become matangkad or full of height.


Mahirap - Poor, or impoverished. It comes from the root word, hirap. Which means hardship. Then by adding the ma prefix it becomes mahirap. In the Tagalog culture, being poor means you are full of hardships.


Mayaman - Rich, or wealth. It comes from the root word, yaman. Which means wealth. Then we add the ma prefix to become mayaman which means full of wealth.

Continuing on, the ma adjectives mostly consist of root words that are nouns in form. But what if you want to create adjectives out of action words? There are two ways to work on that. First is by adding the mapag prefix.


Mapagdasal - Prayerful. Someone who prays a lot. It comes from the root word, dasal. Which means to pray. Then adding the prefix mapag prefix combination, which indicates something that is performed out of habit, we get mapagdasal. Mapagdasal literally means habitually praying.

The second ways is by adding the ma prefix and the in suffix.


Madasalin - Prayerful, someone who habitually prays. We take the root word, dasal and add the ma prefix at the beginning and the in suffix at the end. To indicate a habitual action. Some Tagalog speakers even drop the ma and it becomes dasalin.

Note: The intonation of the root words changes in both rules. With just the mapag rule, it is the last syllable that is stressed. While in the ma - in rule, all syllables or the rule root are stressed.

Some verbs favor one rule over the other. For example:


Aral - To study. This is it's root form.
Mapag-aral - Studious. Someone who studies a lot.
Maaralin - Studious. This form of the word is almost never used.


Antok - To yawn. This is it's root form.
Maantokin - Sleepy. Or someone who habitually becomes drowsy.
Mapagantok - Sleepy. This form of the word is almost never used.

Adjectives as Adverbs

Adjectives in the Tagalog language also serves as adverbs. Which means they can also describe verbs or actions. They can be placed in the beginning, middle or the end of a sentence.

At the beginning of a sentence:

Mabagal kumain si Kris - Kris ate slowly, or Kris eats slowly. In a habitual sense.

  • Mabagal - Slow. Full of slowness.
    • Bagal - Root word - Slowness
  • Kumain - Ate, or the act of eating has happened.
  • Si - Focus name marker

In the middle of the sentence:

Kumain ng mabagal si Kris - Kris ate slowly.

In the middle of the sentence:

Kumain si Kris ng mabagal - Kris ate slowly, or Kris ate in a slow manner.


Tagalog Proverb

Bagong hari bagong ugali - New King, new attitude. New leadership will being new ways, how you want your future to become depends on the leaders you choose.