How I Learned Tagalog: Verbs in Tagalog

I’ve already mentioned that being able to speak Tagalog is, in my opinion, not essential to have quality communication in an intimate relationship with a Filipina.

English gives you more word choices and allows you to express more nuanced and profound ideas than Tagalog does.

However, I decided to learn Tagalog for a number of reasons.

One is simply because the idea of being able to speak an Asian language is kind of something that allows me to rise above the “common masses” in a sense.

When somebody asked me if I spoke any foreign languages my response was: “I can speak English” and they looked at me as if to say “so what?”. Being able to speak English is not seen as that much of an accomplishment.

Now, when somebody asks me the same question I say: “I can speak English and Tagalog”. When they hear it, their response is: “Taga-what? What is Tagalog? How come you learned that language?” And this leads to interesting conversations, as you can imagine.

Being able to speak English as a foreign language is pretty common and normal, while being able to speak an Oriental language is something that arouses curiosity and impresses people, not just Filipinos but also Westerners.

Another good reason is because learning Tagalog is a powerful rapport builder and shows to your Filipino wife’s family and friends that you are willing to go to great lengths to build a connection.

Is it hard to learn Tagalog?

When I set out on my journey to learn the language it looked like a tall order but pretty soon I realized that Tagalog is, in reality, a lot easier than many other, more complex languages.

Consider for example verbs: in my language verbs are full of tenses that convey, in a very nuanced way, when an event happened, so there are several past, present and future tenses.

In Tagalog there is basically only past, present and future but these are not tenses in the real sense of the word. Rather they are ‘aspects‘ that are not concerned with when an event happened but rather just with if it happened or not, it doesn’t matter when.

If, for example, I say “kumain ako” what I am saying is that I have completed the action of eating and I am not giving the listener any clues about whether the action just happened or happened a few days ago or a long time ago.

“Kumain ako” is the completed aspect, “kumakain ako” is the incompleted action (I am eating) and “kakain ako” is the contemplated action.

In my language learning verbs is a headache and even many highly educated people struggle.

At least, as far as verbs are concerned, I found out that the Tagalog grammar is easier than what I initially thought, it is surely much easier for an Italian to learn the Tagalog grammar than it is for a Filipino to learn the Italian grammar.

Tagalog grammar is, of course, more complex than what I am briefly glossing over here but this bit of information that I just shared proves that learning the structure of the Tagalog language is definitely doable because there is not an infinite series of rules to learn like in Italian or other extremely complicated Western languages.