13 Tagalog Prepositions Perfect For Learners

Tagalog Prepositions - A photo of a sitting person.

Are you mastering Filipino/Tagalog grammar? Then, Tagalog prepositions are one of the essential parts of speech to learn. These little words, like sa, ng, and para, act as connectors, linking nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence. Prepositions are essential words in learning a language’s grammar.

In learning the grammar of the English language, prepositions are some of the first lessons that you will learn. This is also true in Filipino or Tagalog grammar. So, let’s explore more than just Tagalog vocabulary, and let’s learn about Tagalog prepositions to help you in writing a Tagalog sentence.

What Are Tagalog Prepositions?

Let’s first understand what prepositions are. A preposition connects a noun, pronoun, or phrase (after the preposition) to a different portion of the sentence. It’s a word or set of words that come before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to indicate direction, time, place, location, or spatial relationships, or to introduce an object.

In Tagalog, prepositions are needed in forming coherent and meaningful sentences for a better flow of conversation and ideas. If you’re looking for in-depth lessons about Tagalog prepositions and curious to learn about the Filipino language, the Ling app can help you. It’s a fun but comprehensive language-learning app available for free on Google Play and App Store.

Understanding Tagalog Prepositions

If you can still recall how you have learned prepositions in the English language, most of you will remember it as a challenging lesson, especially if you’re not a native speaker. In the Filipino language, it’s the other way around.

The Filipino word for prepositions is pang-ukol, and it is often taken for granted by the students. That is maybe because they integrate more naturally into the sentence structure, making them seem less complex than their English counterparts.

The Role Of Prepositions In Tagalog Sentences

Tagalog prepositions are pretty straightforward in Tagalog sentences. They serve as important connectors, linking ideas and clarifying relationships between words. It is very different from demonstrative pronouns, which I will explain shortly.

For Filipino native speakers, it’s easy to identify which preposition to use in a sentence. However, for learners, understanding the context and usage is a must. In English, they usually get confused about when to use the prepositions in, on, and at.

Prepositions Vs. Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns in Tagalog, like ito (this), iyan (that), and iyon (that over there), are used to point out or indicate specific things or people. Unlike prepositions that show relationships between words, demonstrative pronouns directly refer to and identify nouns. This makes them essential for clarity and precision in communication.

Prepositions In Spoken Vs. Written Filipino

Another reason is that some prepositions and prepositional phrases are not used in daily conversations. This difference is often because of the informal nature of spoken Filipino, where some prepositions may be implied instead of explicitly stated.

Most of the time, their written and spoken languages are different. They tend to be more formal in written form and casual in spoken form. In fact, Filipinos sometimes use Taglish, which is a Tagalog-English combination. It’s a blend of two languages that can lead to innovative uses of prepositions that reflect the evolving nature of Filipino speech.

What Are The Types Of Tagalog Prepositions?

Some of the prepositions you’ll learn below are very uncommon in daily conversations. You’ll just hear them on the news, in school, on TV shows, and at other formal events. Some also appear to be noun markers, but they are actually part of a prepositional phrase.

So, here is one of the essential Tagalog lessons when you are learning the Tagalog language – Tagalog prepositions.

Tagalog prepositions sa - A photo of Dr. Jose Rizal statue in Luneta Park.

1. Sa (To, In, On, Through, Into, From, Etc.)

You might be confused as to why the preposition sa has different translations in English. This is because of the fact that it’s the most versatile preposition in the Tagalog language. This is also the reason Filipinos do not see the need to spend more time learning about pang-ukol (preposition) because most of what they want to say can be expressed using sa. Let’s have some examples:

Sa (for marking the location)

Sa (for marking the direction)

Sa (for marking the future time)

2. Ng (Of)

Perhaps one of the most confusing prepositions, ng and nang, are often interchanged by Tagalog learners and, surprisingly, even by Filipinos. Just remember that ng is used for possession, like in libro ng guro (the teacher’s book), or as an object marker, as in Kumain ako ng mansanas (I ate an apple).

On the other hand, nang is used with adverbs or for time, similar to “when” in English, as in Nang dumating siya (When he arrived). But let’s focus on the Tagalog preposition ng. Here are some examples:

Did you notice the last example? The word ng doesn’t directly translate to “of” in English, right? This is a perfect illustration of how versatile prepositions can be across different languages.

In Tagalog, ng is not limited to indicating possession. It’s also used as an object marker, linking the verb to its object. In this case, ng mahabang liham (a long letter) is the object of the verb sumulat (wrote). This usage is distinct from how Filipinos typically use “of” in English and showcases the unique structure of Tagalog grammar.

3. Kay/Kina (To)

The Filipino prepositions kay and kina are mostly used to indicate the direction of action towards a person or group of people and function similarly to the English preposition “to.”

Kay is specifically used when the action is directed towards a single individual. It sets the direction of the action to that particular person, which clearly identifies the recipient of the action.

Kina, on the other hand, is employed when the action involves multiple individuals. It serves the same purpose as kay but is used in the context of a group to ensure that the action is understood to be directed towards all mentioned parties. Let me give you some examples:

You will only use kay or kina when you are referring to a specific person or people. You will use kay for singular and kina for plural.

Tagalog prepositions nina - A photo of people watching a movie inside a cinema.

4. Ni/Nina (Of)

For expressing possession or association in Tagalog, you will use ni and nina prepositions. They are the Tagalog counterparts of the English “of” when referring to people.

Ni is used for linking something to a single individual. It is your way of attributing ownership or association to one person. For example, when you say a movie belongs to or is associated with someone, you use ni.

Use nina when referring to multiple people. It serves the same purpose as ni but extends the ownership or association to a group. Therefore, for a movie featuring two persons, you need to use nina. Take a look at the examples below:

Remember to use ni when talking about a single person and nina for multiple people. This distinction is very important to accurately convey possession or association in Tagalog, especially when you are talking about people.

5. Para Sa/Para Kay (For)

When expressing the idea of “for” in Tagalog, you have two options: para sa and para kay. You can use these prepositions to indicate the beneficiary or receiver of an action or object.

Para sa is versatile. You can use it when talking about objects or people in general, while para kay is more specific and should be used when referring to a specific person or even a pet with a name. Let’s have examples for these Tagalog prepositions below:

Sa, in this case, can be used for objects or people in general, while kay is for specific individuals or named pets or other specific Tagalog nouns. Interestingly, the English counterpart remains the same in both cases. This is one of the unique aspects of the Filipino language that makes it intriguing and fun to learn.

6. Tungkol Sa/Tungkol Kay (About)

When you want to talk about the topic of conversation in Tagalog, tungkol sa and tungkol kay are your phrases. They are the equivalent of “about” in English and are used to specify the subject of discussion.

Use tungkol sa when the subject is an object, event, or idea, and when the subject of discussion is a specific person, switch to tungkol kay. Basically, tungkol kay highlights an individual in your conversation. For example:

Remember that tungkol sa is used for non-personal subjects like objects, events, or ideas, while tungkol kay is for specific individuals. This distinction helps to clearly tell who or what the conversation is about and adds preciseness and clarity to your Tagalog communication.

7. Hinggil Sa/Hinggil Kay (About)

Yes, hinggil sa and hinggil kay might sound a lot like tungkol sa and tungkol kay, but there’s a subtle difference. While both sets mean “about,” hinggil sa/kay often carries a slightly more formal or serious tone. Something like choosing between having a casual talk or a more in-depth discussion.

Hinggil sa is your pick for telling topics like events, ideas, or objects. It’s perfect for when you’re setting the scene for a detailed explanation of broader subjects. Meanwhile, hinggil kay focuses on individuals. It’s the phrase you use when your focus is squarely on a specific person that adds a little formality or emphasis to your conversation or writing.

So, while hinggil sa/kay is similar to tungkol sa/kay in function, remember that both of them add a layer of formality or depth. They help you emphasize the tone and depth of your discussions in Tagalog.

8. Alinsunod Sa/Kay (In Accordance With/To)

These prepositions are used for those moments in Tagalog when you need to express alignment or adherence. In English prepositions, they can mean “in accordance with” or “according to.”

Use alinsunod sa to match up with guidelines or rules and when syncing with a set of standards. On the other hand, alinsunod kay steps in when you’re aligning with the views or directives of authoritative figures.

While alinsunod sa fits for objects or concepts, alinsunod kay is proper to use when referring to people in authority. This nuance in usage is important for showing respect and compliance in the Philippines, especially when talking about authoritative figures or established norms.

Tagalog prepositions ayon sa ayon kay - A photo of Filipino children with face masks.

9. Ayon sa/Ayon kay (According To)

Ayon sa and ayon kay are Tagalog prepositions, which are the same as “according to” in English. These phrases are used to point out where information comes from.

Use ayon sa when you are mentioning sources like groups, TV channels, or any organization. It’s like saying, “Hey, this information comes from a big name.”

Now, when you are talking about what a person says, ayon kay is your choice. It’s more personal. It’s as if you’re pointing directly to someone and saying, “This person said it.”

Keep in mind that ayon sa is for when you are talking about a source that’s not a person. And ayon kay is for when you are referring to individual people’s words or opinions. This way, you make sure everyone knows exactly who or what you’re talking about.

10. Tungo Sa (Towards)

Tungo sa is a Tagalog preposition which means heading towards something. It shows direction or aim. You can use it for physical places or for goals, and it helps when talking about where someone or something is going.

Tungo sa is useful for showing movement or effort towards something and tells the path or direction taken. This phrase is key in conversations about progress or plans.

11. Labag Sa (Against)

Labag sa translates to “against” in English. It is commonly used when something goes against rules or principles. You can use this term when talking about laws or guidelines and how actions can break them.

As you can see, using labag sa points out when actions do not follow what is expected or allowed. Remember this when you talk about right and wrong, especially in legal or moral situations. This phrase also helps you to highlight issues that need addressing or correcting.

12. Laban Sa/Laban Kay (Against)

Laban sa and laban kay translate to “against” in English, but they are used slightly differently. Laban sa is used when opposing actions, concepts, or situations, like fighting against injustice. On the other hand, laban kay is used when the opposition is directed towards a person, like in competitions or disagreements.

13. Mula sa/Mula Kay (From)

Mula sa and mula kay both mean “from,” yet they cater to different contexts. Mula sa is for places, origins, or non-personal sources, while mula kay specifies that something comes from a particular person, making it personal and direct.

How Do You Say Prepositions In Tagalog?

The Tagalog word for prepositions is pang-ukol

More Example Sentences For Tagalog Prepositions

Do you want to practice more? Here is a list of Tagalog sentences containing Tagalog prepositions. Do take note of the sound and the Tagalog vocabulary that you can memorize on your own!

EnglishTagalogSound
This movie is about the national heroes of the Philippines.Ang pelikulang ito ay tungkol sa mga bayani ng Pilipinas.
According to experts, these plants are good for health.Ayon sa eksperto, ang mga halamang ito ay nakakabuti sa kalusugan.
Did the pot fall at the stairs?Nahulog ba sa hagdanan ang paso?
These flowers are for mother/mom.Ang mga bulaklak na ito ay para kay inay.
The newly-built building is for this town.Para sa bayang ito ang bagong tayong gusali.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tagalog Prepositions

Can Tagalog Prepositions Be Used To Express Emotions Or Abstract Ideas?

Yes, Tagalog prepositions like para sa (for) and laban sa (against) can express emotions or abstract ideas. For instance, para sa kalayaan (for freedom) conveys a concept or cause, while laban sa kahirapan (against poverty) expresses opposition to an abstract idea.

Are There Any Unique Tagalog Prepositions Without Direct English Equivalents?

Tagalog has unique prepositions like nang, which is used for time expressions or to link verbs with Tagalog adverbs and doesn’t have a direct English equivalent. For example, nang mabilis (quickly) or nang umaga (in the morning).

How Do Context and Sentence Structure Affect the Use of Prepositions in Tagalog?

In Tagalog, context and sentence structure greatly influence preposition use. The same preposition can have different meanings based on context. For example, sa can mean “at,” “in,” or “on” depending on its usage in a sentence, such as sa bahay (at home), sa loob (inside), or sa ibabaw (on top).

Final Thoughts

Learning Tagalog prepositions really helps you connect with the language. These small words are important for joining your ideas and speaking more naturally. Every preposition you learn brings you closer to understanding Filipino culture and language. Keep exploring these words, as each one opens up more of the vibrant Tagalog world to you.

As you continue improving your Tagalog, consider how each preposition enhances your grammar and enriches your conversations. They are language tools that open windows into the nuances of Filipino thought and expression. Try to embrace these subtleties, and you will find yourself speaking Tagalog and connecting with the heart of the Filipino culture.

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