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Filipino Adjectives and Intensifiers

Updated on October 6, 2018
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Learning Filipino Adjectives

Adjectives is one of the vital aspects of learning another language. Familiarizing yourself with Filipino adjectives is a good way of starting your Filipino language learning journey. It's one of the most important part you will need as you take the first few steps in studying and learning to speak Filipino.

Knowing some Filipino adjectives is not only an easy way to start learning but is also a great as you will be able to put it in practice as you carry on everyday conversations as these adjectives will be of use as you describe how your day went, colors and tastes of food, how you feel and a lot more.

With that said, let's start on having Filipino adjectives starting with the ones that are commonly used as well as ways on how to intensify Tagalog or Filipino adjectives.

Commonly Used Filipino Adjectives

Filipino
English
mabait
kind
maganda
beautiful
masaya
happy
masungit
grumpy
matangkad
tall
maliit
small
mataba
overweight
malayo
far
malapit
near
malungkot
sad
masarap
delicious
maalat
salty
matamis
sweet
maasim
sour
matabang
bland
matigas
hard/firm
magulo
messy
maayos
neat/tidy
malikot
frisky/perky
matino
sensible
madulas
slippery
malamig
cold
malakas
strong
maikli
short
makunat
chewy/tough
malasa
tasty
mapili
picky
mabaho
smelly
maputik
muddy
maalikabok
dusty
matao
crowded
malinaw
clear
makapal
thick
malago
bushy
matangos
pointy nose (opposite of flat nose)
matanda
old
masinop
frugal/orderly
malagkit
sticky
masukal
dense
madawag
dense
malago
bushy

The Ma- Prefix

If you haven't noticed yet, most Filipino adjectives begins with ma. Ma- is one of many affixes used in the Filipino language to alter the meaning of a word giving it a new meaning or to state a verb tense. Ma- here is found at the beginning of most Filipino adjectives. Ma transforms a Filipino noun into an adjective. Let's take the first adjective in the table as an example. Mabait means kind.
Without the ma- affix it will give us bait which means kindness, a noun.

More Examples of Ma- Turning Nouns to Adjectives

Noun
Adjective
Meaning
araw (sun)
maaraw
sunny
ulan (rain)
maulan
rainy
hangin (air/wind)
mahangin
windy
alikabok (dust)
maalikabok
dusty
ulap (cloud)
maulap
cloudy

Simple Adjectives

Althought most Tagalog adjectives has the affix ma at the beginning to turn root words or nouns into adjectives, not all Tagalog adjectives has the ma- in them. These are called simple adjectives. What are simple adjectives? These said adjectives function as adjectives without any affix attached to them. Take a look at the table below as examples of simple adjectives in Tagalog.

Simple Filipino Adjectives

Filipino
English
gwapo
handsome
pogi
handsome
payat
skinny
singkit
chinky eyes
kulot
curly
panis
spoiled
pangit
ugly
tuwid
straight
basa
wet
tuyo
dry
pandak
short (in height)
tamad
lazy
mahal
expensive
mura
cheap
gusot
wrinkled
kupas
faded
kuripot
stingy
suplada
snobbish (female)
suplado
snobbish (male)
tahimik
quiet
sarat
flat nose
pango
flat nose
kayumanggi
brown
hinog
ripe
hilaw
raw
wais
wise
Examples of commonly used simple adjectives in Filipino/Tagalog.

Intensifying Filipino Adjectives

Intensifying adjectives in Filipino is done by using intensifiers. Ang, napaka and sobrang are often used to intensify adjectives. Ang is commonly used and napaka is used often in means of extremity. These are the Filipino counterparts of the English too, very and so which are used in intensifying English adjectives.

The ma- in the beginning of an adjective is dropped off to intensify an adjective in Filipino/Tagalog, leaving just the root word and either ang, napaka or sobrang is used. Let's have an example using ang which is a commonly used intensifier.

Example - Maganda ang babae. The woman is beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda ng babae. The woman is so beautiful.

Also notice how the ang changed to ng once the adjective was intensified. Ng in Filipino is used as a marker and here as a substitute to ang for intensified adjectives.

When it comes to intensifying simple adjectives, there are no changes to be made with the adjective. There is no ma- affix to drop off but notice the ng taking the spot of ang once again.

Example - Pogi ang bata. The kid is handsome.

Intensified - Ang pogi ng bata. The kid is so handsome.

Examples of Intensified Adjectives

Filipino/Tagalog
English
Ang ganda mo.
You're so beautiful.
Ang gwapo niya.
He's so handsome.
Sobrang bait.
Too kind.
Sobrang linis.
Very clean.
Ang kyut.
So cute.
Examples of intensifiying Filipino ma- adjectives and simple adjectives using ang, napaka and sobrang.

Word Repetition in Intensifying Adjectives

Using repetition of the root word isn't uncommon in Filipino to extremely intensify Filipino/Tagalog adjectives. It is often done with ang used as an intensifier and the root word is repeated.

Example - Ang ganda ganda niya. She is extremely beautiful.

Using -ng and Na When Intensifying Adjectives

Another way adjectives are intensified in Tagalog aside from the ways mentioned previously is by using -ng at the end of an adjective ending in a vowel then the adjective is repeated.

Example - Malaking malaki. Too big.

The adjective is 'malaki' which means big. It ends in a vowel which is letter i. The -ng is attached and the adjective is repeated. Attaching -ng at the end of an adjective like the example above is another way of intensifying adjectives in Tagalog.

With an adjective that ends in a consonant, na is used in between repetition of an adjective.

Example - Kulot na kulot. Too curly or wavy.

Not all Filipino adjectives can be intensified using na and -ng and some is intensified best with na but not ang. And not every adjective fits well with ang as an intensifier.

Not every adjective intensifier works with all Filipino adjectives. Some intensifiers works best on some adjectives while another intensifier just isn't a perfect fit. One good example is the adjective 'mahal' which means expensive. Ang is often used as an intensifier and fits well with the adjective 'mahal' - Ang mahal. But using 'na' as an intesifier and say 'Mahal na mahal' just wouldn't deliver the message that something is so expensive. Saying so would give the meaning that someone is being loved so much as 'mahal' also means love.

Example - Mahal na mahal ka nila. They love you so much.

Ma Adjectives and Repetition of the Root Word

It is also not uncommon for the root word to be repeated after a ma- adjective to indicate the idea or degree of the adjective. It is used to either mean it is a little bit less, not to that extent or a little bit over.

Example - Maliit liit. A little bit smaller in size.

Another example is 'Malaki laki' which means a little bit bigger. Malaki is the adjective here which means big. Laki is the root word. With the root word repeated after the ma- adjective which is malaki, it means a little bit bigger in size. These are usually done when comparing two things.

Example - Malaki laki ng konti kaysa dyan. A little bit bigger than that.

Using Pronouns

Yes the article's focus are Filipino adjectives but it is important to cover pronouns as well. Not only ng takes the spot of ang when intensifying adjectives but switching pronouns happen as well once an adjective is intensified. Let's check the table below for pronouns used with unintensified adjectives and intensified adjectives.

Pronouns Used With Unintensified and Intensified Adjectives

Pronouns Used With Unintensified Adjectives
Pronouns Used With Intensified Adjectives
ka (you)
mo (you)
siya (she/he)
niya (she/he)
sila (they)
nila (they)
kami (we, excluding you)
namin (we, excluding you)
Pronouns used in unintensified Filipino/Tagalog adjectives and pronouns used when the adjectives were intensified.

Let's take the pronoun 'you' from the table above and have examples of both unintensified and intensified adjectives. Notice the switching of pronouns used with the unintensified and intensified adjectives. The ma- affix is dropped off and ang is used as an intensifier.

Example - Mabait siya. She is kind.

Intensified - Ang bait niya. She is so kind.

The following example is a simple adjective which is pogi. Again, the intensifier used is ang which is a commonly used Filipino adjective intensifier. Notice the ng taking the spot for ang once intensified and a common noun comes after - bata.

Example - Pogi ang bata. The kid is handsome.

Intensified - Ang pogi ng bata. The kid is so handsome.

Si and Ni

Si and ni are both markers used in Filipino that has no English equivalent. Both goes before a personal name. While si is used with unintensified adjectives, ni is used with intensified adjectives.

Example - Maganda si Angel. Angel is beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda ni Angel. Angel is so beautiful.

Sina and Nina

Sina is the plural form of si and the plural form of ni is nina. If there are two or more than two personal names involved in an unintensified adjective, sina is used.

Example - Maganda sina Angel at Mary. Angel and Mary are beautiful.

Intensified - Ang ganda nina Angel at Mary. Angel and Mary are beautiful.

The Filipino adjectives listed above is a good start in learning the language although it isn't a complete list. Nouns are another part of learning to speak Filipino or Tagalog and that would be on the next article.

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