Tagalog Expressions: 16 Easy Terms You Should Know

Tagalog expressions

One of the best ways to establish an authentic connection is by learning the fun everyday language the locals use. If you plan to visit the Philippines, adding Tagalog expressions and slang words in your discourse can significantly help you understand the traditions and history of the country and its people.

In today’s article, we will walk you through the basic Filipino expressions with direct translations and their meanings to further expand your Tagalog language learning. If that fits the bill, off we go!

What Are Tagalog Expressions?

Indeed, learning Tagalog expressions isn’t just about speaking the language. It’s about immersing yourself in the Filipino culture. In essence, Tagalog expressions are phrases that are a mix of everyday slang, classic sayings, and cultural nuances. They express emotions or humor that make conversations lively and heartfelt. Getting familiar with the everyday language will help you feel more connected with the locals.

Additionally, it opens a fascinating window into their way of life. For many, learning the Tagalog language is a first step into a deeper understanding of Philippine society and lifestyle. So, whether you’re learning Tagalog for fun, travel, or study, this article will help you pick up some basic expressions and vocabulary.

Please note that we didn’t include offensive or Tagalog swear words in this post to ensure that there will be no misinterpretation on both sides. Our list here was cross-checked with native speakers of the Tagalog language. So sit back, learn, and use these without any worry.

List Of The Most Basic Tagalog Expressions?

If you have Filipino friends online, I bet you commonly hear or read specific words like charot, petmalu, lodi, and chika. These terms are fun, catchy, and a staple in daily Filipino conversations. They reflect the enjoyable, vibrant spirit of the local culture and language.

1. Son Of A Sweet Potato/Tofu/Smoked Fish (Anak Ng Kamote/Tokwa/Tinapa)

This Tagalog expression is often used as a figure of speech to vent out disbelief in a situation. Filipinos often say this when they’re annoyed or frustrated about something. It’s a funny way to express those feelings without swearing.

Example Sentence:

  • Son of a sweet potato! I got caught in a terrible traffic jam on EDSA again! – Anak ng kamote! Inabot na naman ako ng malalang traffic sa EDSA!

2. I Like It So Much! (Bet Na Bet!)

This expression basically means you don’t just like something – you really, really like it – to the point where it bubbles up enthusiasm and excitement. So, if you like something so much, you can simply use bet na bet ko yan (I really, really like it!) to sound like a native speaker!

Example Sentence:

  • Guys, Jillian’s new cellphone is so cool, I really, really like it! – Mga bes, ang astig ng bagong cellphone ni Jillian, ‘bet na bet’ ko talaga!

3. Right? Is It Not? (Di ba?)

The word di ba? is a shortened version of the phrase hindi ba, which translates to “Isn’t it?” or “Right?” in English. This word is commonly used at the end of the sentence to ask for clarification or affirmation. It’s like saying, “We think the same way, right?” or “You understand me, right?”

Example Sentence:

  • This ice cream is delicious, right? – Ang sarap ng ice cream na ‘to, di ba?

4. It’s Eating Time! (Chibugan Na!)

This Tagalog expression is usually used to signify that it is time to eat. It’s a friendly call telling everyone that the food is ready and it’s time to grab a plate and dig in! It’s like the version of itadakimasu in Japanese.

Example Sentence:

  • The pizza is here; it’s eating time! – Andito na ang pizza, chibugan na!

5. Oops! / OMG! (Hay Naku!)

Hay naku is one of the most handy Tagalog expressions commonly used by Filipinos. It translates to intense exasperation, annoyance, or disappointment. Think of it as a spoken sign of a sigh, shrug, or shake of the head. Additionally, you can simply use the word hay (pronounced like high), the Tagalog version of sighing.

Example Sentence:

  • Opps! I forgot my keys again! – Hay naku! Nakalimutan ko nanaman ang susi ko!

6. What? / What The… (Ano Ba? / Ano Ba Yan?)

This Filipino expression is not actually a question. It is often used to express annoyance when someone says/does something rude. It’s a very human way of reacting to unexpected or frustrating situations. This expression is somewhat similar to the English phrases “What in the world?” or “What the heck?”.

Example Sentence:

  • What the heck, Jay? Can’t you see I’m trying to work? – Ano ba yan, Jay? Di mo ba nakikita, nagtratabaho ako?
Tagalog Expressions Ling App Lodi Kita

7. You Are My Idol (Lodi Kita!)

Filipinos like using funny Tagalog phrases in their daily conversations, including the word Lodi. When spelled backward, it basically means idol. So, the Tagalog expression Lodi kita simply means “you are my idol.” Filipinos use it in a fun, light-hearted way to express admiration and respect for someone who particularly impresses them.

Example Sentence:

  • You’re so good! You’re my idol! – Ang galing mo! Lodi kita!

8. Just Because! (Ah Basta! / Ah Basta Ganon!)

This word was roughly born out of the Spanish word ¡Basta!, which is used to signify that you do not want to explain further. You can also say this Filipino expression if you don’t really know what to say and you don’t want to be asked about it.

Example Sentence:

  • Just because, don’t ask anymore! – Ah basta, wag ka na magtanong!

9. Come What May (Bahala Na)

This Tagalog expression is like telling the universe, “I’ve done my best. Now it’s up to you!” This means you are letting go of the responsibility. Usually, this phrase is used when you don’t know what will happen next or when you’re done worrying and leaving everything to nature/fate to take charge.

Example Sentence:

  • I’m super scared, but come what may! Let’s see what happens. – Sobrang kinakabahan ako pero, bahala na! Tingnan natin kung ano ang mangyayari.

10. Just Joking / I Am Kidding (Charot Lang! / Chos Lang!)

This is one of the most common Tagalog expressions that came from Filipino gay lingo. And this term is often used to pull off a joke. Usually, the Pinoys use this to soften the blow of a statement.

Example Sentence:

  • I’ll eat all the snacks, just kidding! – Uubusin ko lahat ng meryenda, charot lang!
Tagalog Expressions Ling App native speakers

11. I Have Gossip (May Chika Ako)

This lively Tagalog expression is your inner chismosa (gossiper), ready to share the juiciest tidbit with close friends. It’s the same delightful feeling you get when you’re about to spill some tea and make everyone perk up with curiosity and excitement! While the English versions refer to “news,” please note that in the Filipino context, the word chika is for gossip.

Example Sentence:

  • Let’s meet for coffee later. I have gossip to share with you! – Magkape tayo mamaya. May chika ako sa’yo!

12. Awesome! (Petmalu!)

This playful Tagalog expression came from street lingo, where words are reversed to form surprising new ones! Petmalu is the reversed version of the Tagalog word malupet or malupit, which is synonymous with the English words “amazing” or “awesome.” Use it to express amazement or admiration, and watch eyebrows raise in surprise!

Example Sentence:

  • I’ve watched you skate, and all I can say is that you’re awesome! – Pinanood kita mag-skate, at ang masasabi ko lang ay and petmalu mo!

13. What A Waste! (Sayang Naman!)

This is one of many Tagalog expressions reflecting frustration over negative incidents. It’s the typical way that Filipinos express frustration or disappointment when things don’t go as planned, opportunities are missed, or resources are not used efficiently. Whether it’s about forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day, missing the last serving of your favorite food, or spoiling a surprise — this phrase perfectly fits the bill!

Example Sentence:

  • Oh no, I dropped the cake! What a waste of my effort! – Ay naku, nalaglag ko yung cake! Sayang naman yung effort ko!

14. That Thing (Yung Ano)

This is your best friend when suddenly your memory fails, and you can’t quite spit out the exact word you’re thinking of. It’s like playing a game of charades, and the guessers are your listeners, and you can’t say or express what you have in mind.

Example Sentence:

  • Babe, could you please pass me… that thing… the one for slicing bread? – Babe, paabot naman ng… yung ano… yung panghiwa sa tinapay!

15. What Did He/She Say? What Happened? (Ansabe? / Anyare?)

These are rhetorical types of questions often used by the Millenials and do not necessarily call for a response. But sometimes, depending on the situation, the person being asked needs to give an explanation, especially when the person asking the question is showing body language that he/she needs an answer.

Example Sentence:

  • What a day! What happened? – Grabeng araw ‘to! Anyare?

16. Jesus, Mary And Joseph! (Susmaryosep!)

This is a versatile interjection that can be used in diverse situations. For Filipinos, this is a catch-all expression and can also be shortened to sus and maryopsep. But remember, the Philippines has many Christian people, and they know that using the name of Jesus in nonsense conversation is against the teachings of the BIble.

Example Sentence:

  • Jesus, Mary And Joseph! Can my day get any worse? – Susmaryosep! May ilalala pa ba ang araw ko?

Other Filipino Slang Words And Tagalog Expressions

When you want to learn a language, it’s not just about knowing dictionary definitions of words and phrases. A huge part of learning is becoming fluent by speaking like a local. This doesn’t mean copying their accent, but rather, you need to know their local lingo or expressions.

Now, if you are planning to visit the country or have met a colleague/friend from the Philippines, perhaps you are scrambling to look for updated resources with the hopes of learning the Tagalog language. Fortunately, there are language-learning apps like the Ling app to help you navigate your way through the basics of the language. The app is available for download on both Android and iOS devices. This makes learning Tagalog accessible and convenient no matter where you are.

Moreover, to create a sense of belongingness in the Filipino community, you must learn the real meaning behind local words, phrases, and expressions like the examples below:

Why You Should Learn Tagalog Expressions

Of course, learning Tagalog expressions will allow you to learn new words. But it also means that you’re diving deeper into the Philippines and the way Filipinos live. Here’s why it’s so important for anyone learning the language:

  • Understand Filipino Culture: These expressions hold secrets about Filipino traditions, what people believe in, and how they see the world. Learning them is like getting a special pass to understand the true spirit of the Philippines.

  • Real Conversations: Sure, you can survive with common Tagalog vocabulary or even simple English. But if you want those true, meaningful talks with people, expressions are the key. They show you care about connecting, not just getting by as a tourist.

  • Stronger Language Skills: Textbooks only teach you so much. Expressions add color and life to your Tagalog! You learn how Filipinos really talk, with all the special phrases and informal words they use.

  • Becoming Part of the Community: Using a Tagalog expression at the right moment makes people smile. It shows you’re trying hard to fit in, which Filipinos really appreciate. Expressions break down barriers and help you make friends.

  • Everyday Survival: Whether you’re shopping at the market, asking for directions, or making a polite request, expressions make everything easier. They help you get things done and show you respect for the local way of life.

In short, learning Tagalog expressions is how you become more than just a visitor. It’s about truly experiencing the Philippines – the people, the laughter, the unique way of life. Get ready to dive in, try those expressions, and see how they bring the Philippines to life for you!

As I conclude this article, I hope I enlightened you with the most useful English translation of the Tagalog expressions used for everyday conversations. If you liked this post, please share it on social media to help us reach more language enthusiasts worldwide interested in learning Tagalog.

Updated By: Jefbeck

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