Accents in Tagalog

As I mentioned in my previous posts about the Tagalog language, Tagalog has a relatively simple structure, mostly because there are only three verbal aspects to learn and not too many tenses like in many other languages.

One of the tricky parts is where to place accents in Tagalog, because, by misplacing the accent in a Tagalog word, one could convey an entirely different meaning.

Here are few examples of why learning to properly place accents in Tagalog matters:

Ba’ka (meaning “cow”) has nothing to do with baka‘ (“perhaps, maybe”)…..and much less with bak(l)a’….

Pu’no (meaning “tree”) has nothing to do with puno‘ (“full”). This means that a forest is puno’ ng mga pu’no and not puno’ ng mga puno’ or pu’no ng mga pu’no.

Makati’ (the adjective meaning “itchi”) is not to be confused with Maka’ti City in Metro Manila.

Buka’s (“open”) must not be confused with bu’kas (“tomorrow”), therefore if a shop is closed today and will open tomorrow you should say “bu’kas ay magbubuka’s ang tindahan” not “bu’kas ay magbubu’kas ang tindahan“.

So accents in tagalog are extremely important.

While Tagalog has a relatively simple structure, accents in Tagalog can make a huge difference and misplacing them can cause a Tagalog learner to convey a totally different meaning, even though Filipinos usually dismiss these blunders with a smile and just laugh away at them and, perhaps, will offer you a bottle of Red Horse (kabayong pula’……not pu’la) beer if you misplace the accent…..

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