Basic sentence structure


For English speakers, as well as speakers of most European languages would know that the sentence structure of those languages is mainly.

Subject – Verb – Object

I (Subject) am (verb) a man (object).

In Tagalog however, one needs to become accustomed to the structure when he/she practises the language. The sentence structure is not unique however strange to native English speakers. These are the most common structures in Tagalog:

Verb – Subject – Object OR Verb – Object – Subject

As you can see, the verb goes before either the object or the subject. This form is common in speech. Let’s analyse some examples:

   Lalaki (male) si Juan ==> Juan is male

NOTE: There is no “to be” word but we’ll discuss this later. Here are some examples with verbs.

   Kumain (ate) ang aso (dog) ng buto (bone) ==> The dog ate a bone.

   Nakita (saw) ko (I) siya (him/her) ==> I saw him/her.

 Subject – Verb – Object

This is another structure common in the language where the subject goes before the verb. Usually, this form is considered formal.

   Si Juan ay lalaki ==> Juan is male

Notice that unlike the VSO example (Lalaki si Juan), the SVO example has the word “ay” between the subject and the object. Ay is a particle in a sentence that can be used as either a copula, linking verb, “to be” verb or an equal sign. Some sources may say that the particle is not a copula or a linking verb but like the “=”. If it makes things easy for you, you can try using it as the verb “to be” in SVO sentences. One of the reasons why the particle is not considered a verb because it can be in a sentence with other verbs. Ay is also not considered an auxiliary verb.

   Ang aso ay kumain ng buto  ==> The dog ate a bone.

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