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Tagalog Affixes: Examples and Usage of Commonly Used Tagalog Affixes

Updated on June 10, 2020
precy anza profile image

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

Affixes play their part in the Filipino language as they help carry out meaning of words they are attached to. There are many affixes used in the Filipino language attached either at the beginning - a prefix or at the end of a word - a suffix. And of course an affix squeezing itself in the middle of the word is an infix.

Affixes in Filipino/Tagalog is called mga panlapi. They can make a noun into an adjective, indicate tenses of verbs, and help in indicating the focus of the sentence. There are also some affixes that shows relationship when used with nouns, and affixes indicating an action isn't intentional. It sounds somehow complicated so let's unveil some of the most used Filipino affixes or mga panlapi as I explain them the easy way with examples.

Tagalog affixes mostly used.
Tagalog affixes mostly used. | Source


When attached to a noun, it makes a noun into an adjective. It is also a prefix that is used in some verbs to create the infinitive and future tense form.

Ma + noun
lakas (strength)
ma + lakas
malakas (strong)
ganda (beauty)
ma + ganda
maganda (beautiful)
ingay (noise)
ma + ingay
maingay (noisy)
kulay (color)
ma + kulay
makulay (colorful)
dumi (dirt)
ma + dumi
madumi (dirty)
bango (fragrance)
ma + bango
mabango (fragrant)
talino (wit/intelligence)
ma + talino
matalino (intelligent)

Ma As Prefix Forming Infinitive & Imperative As Well As Future Tense

Root Verb
Infinitive & Imperative Example
Future Tense With Ma-
Tulog (Sleep)
Matulog/Matulog ka. (Go to sleep)
Matutulog siya. (She's going to sleep)
Ligo (Bath)
Maligo/Maligo ka. (Take a bath)
Maliligo ako. (I'm going to take a bath)

Most adjectives have the prefix ma, but there are also those that don't have the prefix such as pogi (handsome) and singkit (having chinky eyes).


A prefix used in a way to ask a favor without being in a form of a question such as starting it with "Can you/I"? Let's say it allows you to ask a favor or request in a subtle way, not sounding bossy or being in an imperative form or command.

Pa + Verb
pa + text = patext
letting someone know you want to borrow their phone to send a text message
pa + sakay = pasakay
when asking for a hitch
pa + kain = pakain
when visiting a home and you want to join in a meal or asking for food

Pa when used as a prefix to some root verbs indicates that the action is about to be done, or the actor is just about to do the action. It also gives direction on how to specifically do a certain action - patagilid (sideways) and patayo (in a standing position) are just two examples.

Root Verb
Pa + Root Verb
Alis (leave)
Just about to go or leave
Sakay (Ride)
Just about to ride
Punta (Go)
Just about to go

Pa is also used as a contraction of "paki" or please.


Kindly hand me over (whatever item).

Paabot ng baso. (Kindly hand me over the glass)


Please read/Kindly read.

Pabasa ng mensahe. (Please read the message)


Please tell/Kindly tell

Pasabi kay auntie kilala ko si Angel. (Kindly tell auntie I know Angel)

More About Using Pa


When not being used as a prefix, pa is used to indicate that the action is still "on going" or "currently happening" along with a verb in a present tense.

In addition, it is also the Tagalog equivalent of the English "yet." More about using pa as an untranslatable Tagalog word tackled on the video.


Na can mean now or already, but it is also used as a prefix to state that an action is unintentional.

Na + root verb
Meaning/Unintentional Action
na + tapon = natapon
(something) was thrown away and wasn't intentional
na + basa = nabasa
got wet (unintentional)
na + basag = nabasag
broke (unintentional)
na + salo = nasalo
when you (unexpectedly/unintentionally) caught something (a ball, a vase, a glass, a key etc.)

In and An

Suffixes attached to root verbs where -an indicates the purpose of the word created or what the word is for. While suffix -in when attached to root verbs forms imperative form or command pertaining to the verb it was attached to. But it isn't always the case. The meaning of the word also changes depending which suffix is used.

Also root verbs ending in letter o need to be changed to letter u before attaching the suffix. Same goes with nouns - letter o needs to be changed to letter u when the next and last letter is a consonant.

Root Verb
Root Verb + An
Root Verb + In
Kain (Eat)
Kainan (a place specifically for eating)
Kainin (To eat)
Kainin mo 'yan. (Eat that)
Luto (Cook)
Lutuan (a place or appliance specifically for cooking)
Lutuin (To cook)
Gusto kong lutuin mo ito. (I want you to cook this)

In is also used as an infix to form present tense of an IN verb.

Root verb: kain (eat)

Kinakain (eating)

Root verb: sabi (say)

Sinasabi (saying)

Root verb: gawa (do)

Ginagawa (doing)

Notice how infix in squeezes itself between the first consonant and the vowel. If the root verb starts in a vowel, infix in becomes a prefix.

Root verb: isip (think)

Iniisip (thinking)

IN verbs are object-focused verbs.

When -an is used as a noun suffix, it creates a word with a new meaning - often denotes that an area or place is specifically for that noun it is attached to.

Noun + An
palay (rice)
rice field
mais (corn)
corn field
saging (banana)
banana farm
gulay (vegetable)
vegetable garden/farm
manok (chicken)
chicken/poultry farm
niyog (coconut)
coconut farm
damit (clothes)
closet/a spot or place at home where the clothes are

Mag and Nag

Mag is used in some Tagalog verbs in forming the infinitive form, its future tense and the imperative form (giving an order) as well while nag is used in forming the present tense.

Root Verb
Infinitive & Imperative Form
Future Tense Example
Present Tense Example
Luto (cook)
Magluto/Magluto ka. (You cook)
Magluluto ako. (I'm going to cook)
Nagluluto ako. (I'm cooking)
Linis (clean)
Maglinis/Maglinis ka. (You clean)
Maglilinis ako. (I'm going to clean)
Naglilinis ako. (I'm cleaning)

There are verbs where either prefix in or infix um can be used depending on the focus of the sentence. There are verbs as well which can only use one of the prefixes such as the infix in but never the prefix mag or um. And there are verbs where mag and um can be used but not in infix.

How to use the prefix mag on verb conjugation? More on Tagalog verb formation explained on the video lesson.

Prefix Mag + Nouns

Affix mag is also used as a prefix with nouns to show relationship.

Mag + Noun
mother and daughter/son

For nouns starting in a vowel such as ina, a hyphen is used between the affix and the noun. (See last example above on the table) More about the affix mag on the video lesson.

Using Tagalog Affix Mag


Another infix used in forming present and past tenses of Tagalog verbs. Like mag, the infinitive form and imperative form is the same.

Root Verb
Infinitive & Imperative
Present Tense
Past Tense
Kain (Eat)
Kumain/Kumain ka. (You eat)
Kumakain ako. (I'm eating)
Kumain ako. (I ate)
Tawa (Laugh)
Tumawa/Tumawa ka. (You laugh)
Tumatawa siya. (He's laughing)
Tumawa siya. (He laughed)

Prefix mag and infix um are both used in actor-focused verbs.


A prefix that when attached to a noun, implies that the word pala is attached to is frequently done or habitual, also creating an adjective this way.

Pala + Noun
Pala + ihi (urine)
A person who tends to always use the restroom (urinate).
Pala + ngiti (smile)
A person who always smile
Pala + tawa (laugh)
A person who always laugh
Pala + kaibigan (friend)
Pala + biro (joke)
A joker, a person who always have a joke to say
Pala + utang (debt)
A person who has the habit of asking to be lent money

Using the word just by itself and not being used as an affix can mean pala - shovel. Intonation matters as it can mean something else as well.

Pala is also used to express being surprise of a found information different than what the speaker is expecting.


A prefix that is used with nouns to make a description. Whatever is being describe has the characteristic, likeness or resemblance of the noun where the prefix is attached to.

Mala + Noun
Anghel (Angel)
Palasyo (Palace)
A home big enough like a palace/has similarity to a palace
Hayop (Animal)
Ibon (Bird)


A prefix used with items. Pang indicates that the use of a specific item is specifically for the noun pang is attached to.

Pang + Noun
sabon (soap)
Soap for the hand/Hand soap.
sabon (soap)
Soap for taking a bath/Bath soap.

Of course there are some more affixes to tackle but let's save them for later shall we? As to how to know what affixes to use with Tagalog verbs, there's no clear rule on that. Best thing is to familiarize the verbs starting with the most commonly used ones.


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    • profile image

      Kweli Nzito 

      5 weeks ago

      The most comprehensive and clear treatment of Tagalog affixes. Ms. Anza seems to enjoy every lesson with the same enthusiasm. By the way, does the word pang-uri meaning adjective fall in the same category for the other examples using the affix pang? Maraming salamat po.

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Great question by Morty.

      I have used a site at called seasite which gives a good list of verbs with the tenses, but still not complete, but very helpful.

      Precy, do you have a more complete list of verbs and the different affixes and when to use which affix as Morty mentioned.

      From what I understand, we need to decide first what is the subject, is it, a noun or an object or a person receiving an action (correct me Precy if I got it wrong..

      Thanks again Precy for this and do hope we can see more of your work soon.

      All the best, Dee

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Can we use any affix on any root word?

      How can we know what type of affix to use for a root word?


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