Filipino Verb Structure and Back Translation

Filipino verb structure is composed of the root word plus one or more affixes. The root word hints at the meaning while the affixes give the verb's focus or semantic relationship with the subject or noun. Depending on their function in the predicate part of the sentence, Filipino verbs may:

1) Point to the actor in the sentence

    Kinalmot /ng pusa/ ang mukha/ ng estranghero.
    Clawed/ the cat/ the face/ of the stranger
    The cat clawed at the face of the stranger.

2) Point to the object/s of the action

    Namili/ sila/ sa Boracay/ ng mga kuwintas/ na kabibe.
    Bought/ they/ in Boracay/ the necklaces/ of shells.
    They bought necklaces made of shells in Boracay.

In the examples above, the verb is followed by a phrase introduced by "ng".

3) Point to the receiver of the action

    Nagpasadya/ si Mang Juan/ ng entablado/ para sa mga artistang/ darating.
    Makeshift/ Mang Juan/ the stage/ for the actors/ coming.
    Mang Juan built a makeshift stage for the visiting actors.

4) Point to the place of action

    Nagsayawan/ ng twist/ sa quadrangle/ ng munisipyo/ ang mga matatandang/ panauhin.
    Danced/ the twist/ in quadrangle/ of city hall/ the old people/ guests
    The oldies danced the twist at the city quadrangle.

5) Point to an instrument used in the action

    Binutingting/ ni Boyet/ ang mga kawad/ ng radyo/ sa pamamagitan/ ng aspile.
    Tinkered/ Boyet/ with wires/ of radio/ by means of/ a pin.
    Boyet tinkered with the radio wires using a pin.

6) Point to a reason for the action

    Nagpatiwakal/ ang makata/ dahil sa/ naunsiyaming/ pag-ibig.
    Committed suicide/ the poet/ because of/ thwarted/ love.
    The poet committed suicide because of a thwarted love.

7) Point to the direction of the action

    Tumuloy/ sila/ sa bukid.
    Proceeded/ they/ to farm.
    They proceeded to the farm.

In the examples above, the verb is followed by a phrase introduced by "sa" or "para sa" or "dahil sa".

Focus of Filipino Verbs

    1) Focus on the actor-when the topic of the sentence is the actor of the verb.
    2) Focus on the object-when the object is the subject or is given emphasis in the sentence.
    3) Focus on the place of action - when the subject is a place or place of action.
    4) Focus on the receiver - when the object of the action is the subject of the sentence.
    5) Focus on the means of the action-when the instruments used to do the action of the verb is the subject of the sentence.
    6) Focus on the reason/cause of the action-when the subject talks about the cause or reason for the action.
    7) Focus on direction-when the subject shows the direction of the action of the verb.

In translation, translators may vary in their word order but the meaning remains the same as long as they are clear about the focus of the verb.

    The laborer put on a raincoat and a hat.
    Three Translations:
  • Nagsuot ng kapote at sumbrero ang manggagawa.
    Put on a raincoat and a hat the laborer.
  • Nagsuot ang manggagawa ng kapote at sumbrero.
    Put on the laborer a raincoat and a hat.
  • Ang manggagawa ay nagsuot ng kapote at sumbrero.
    The laborer put on a raincoat and a hat.

Filipino verb structure with affixes