English and Tagalog Idiomatic Transfer

With literal back translation that reflects natural word order in Tagalog

In English 'Like' can be used as a verb or as a preposition. There are a number of common questions with 'like' that are easy to confuse.

• What's he like? - 'What … like?' is used to ask about a person's or object's character and is general in nature.

Anong masasabi mo tungkol sa kanya?
What say you about her?

Paano mo siya madedescribe?
How you her/him describe? [taglish]

Paano mo siya ilalarawan>
How you her/him describe? [literary]

Anong ugali niya?
What character he/she?

Mabait ba siya?
Kind is she? (positive concrete)[common way of asking a person's character trait - idiomatic]

Suplada ba siya?
Brat is she? (negative concrete) [sometimes a way of asking a person's character trait - with context]

• What does he like? - This use of the verb 'like' is for general preferences. 'Like' as a verb is generally followed by the 'ing' form of the verb (I like playing tennis).

Anong gusto niya?
What like he/she ?

Anong hilig niya?
What fond of he/she?

• What does she look like? - 'Like' is used as a preposition to express physical appearance. In this case, 'like' can also mean 'similar to' if you are making a comparison to other people.

Anong hitsura niya?
What appearance he/she?

• What would you like to drink? - Another common use of 'like' is in 'would like' to express wishes. Note that 'would like' is followed by the infinite form of the verb NOT the '-ing' form.

Anong gusto mong inumin?
What like you to drink?

We say that an expression is "idiomatic" in the sense that it is how the people of a certain locality would normally and commonly say that expression. Note that most of these idiomatic uses of "like" in English will not translate to "gusto - like" in Tagalog except in one instance. Note also the variations in translation of at least the first sentence. Because it is idiomatic and general, it is also open to more interpretation. Finally, note that the neutral "siya" will back translate to both "he and she".

Here are some more translations that feature other English and Tagalog Idiomatic phrases.


alon-along buhok
naturally curly hair

a bit younger



mixed /dessert of mixed fruits on ice and milk

one by one


opponents/against each other


every hour

a wooden paddle for washing clothes


move a little


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