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Words & Phrases



Officially the national language of The Philippines is Filipino. This language is based on Tagalog which is the most widely used of the over 70 languages within the country, and we have listed some useful phrases below.

When you listen closely to Tagalog you will recognise the evolving nature of language as it contains both Spanish and Chinese words and has many similarities to some Malay and Indonesian languages. This is a reflection of both the migratory and colonial history of this region.

Fortunately for the less linguistic, the use of English is also prevalent throughout the country and especially in tourist destination. Signs are written in English and the vast majority of labelling is also done in English. This makes it a very easy country to travel and stay in.

You may well come across a kind of combo-language (particularly in the cities) where people will speak Taglish a combination of Tagalog and English. Incredibly you will overhear conversations when the language is often switched backwards and forwards mid-sentence!

As ever, when speaking English to those around you, please remember that it may not be someone’s first (or even second) language so please speak slowly and coherently. And remember, always with a smile.

A Few Basic Words

If you can remember the following words and phrases, your stay in the Philippines will be even more interesting:


Really? - Talaga?
Okay - Sige
Thank you (formal, with respect) - Salamat po
Thanks - Salamat
Lets eat! - Kain tayo!
Are you coming? - Kasama ka ba?
Do you want to come with me? - Gusto mo ba sumama s'akin?
Do you want to come with us? - Gusto mo ba sumama s'amin?


Air - Hangin
Water - Tubig
It’s hot - Maiinit na
It’s cold - Malamig na
Ocean, Sea - Dagat
Outrigger - Banca
Boat - Barko
Fish - Isda
Shark - Pating
Knife - Kutsilyo


Money - Pera
I want that / I would like that - Gusto ko
How much? - Magkano ba?
How many? - Ilan ba?

Greeting People

Good morning - Magandang umaga po
Good afternoon - Magandang hapon po
Good evening - Magandang gabi po
How are you? (formal) - Kumusta na po kayo?
How’s it going? - Kumusta na?
My name is John - Si John po ako

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