Tayo and Kami

One of the most confusing things for us foreigners learning Tagalog is the two personal pronouns tayo and kami.

They both mean we but, while the first includes the person you are talking to, the second does not.

This means, for example, that if I am with one person and I am saying to a third person “umalis kami” that means that me and the person I am with are leaving but the third person isn’t coming. If I said “umalis tayo” that would mean “let’s go” (the third person is coming as well).

Mistaking tayo for kami can therefore create big confusion.

Imagine that one was praying to God for forgiveness and he or she said “patawarin Mo tayo“. That would mean that God has to forgive not only the people praying but also himself. So “kami” is the pronoun to use in this case.

Tagalog has a relatively simple structure, compared to most European languages, but you have to be precise and not mistake tayo for kami for example (or ba’ka with baka’ and so on and so forth).

This is just one of the many examples where a slight mistake can convey a totally different meaning in Tagalog.

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