Tagalog Polite Talk

You will hear polite Tagalog spoken everywhere in the Tagalog region, unless you are speaking to a Filipino-American, or to a resident from the Visayan region. Politeness is a feature of the Tagalog language.

In written Tagalog, the plural pronouns (kayo [you], atin [ours], inyo [yours], tayo [us/we]... do not always mean that more than one person is referred to; rather, these pronouns are used as polite markers. This nuance may get “lost in translation” especially in technical transfers.

For example, in "Dear Translators", the literal translation is "Mahal na mga Tagapagsalin" with the plural marker "mga" capturing the number of addressee. However this translation is incomplete. Lost here is the polite nuance which should make the translation inclusive and intimate. "Mahal naming mga Tagapagsalin" will back translate literally to "Our dear translators".

Many will argue that "Mahal" (Dear) does not need a "polite" pronoun to go with it, but "mahal" without the polite marker will sound technical and detached. However, inserting "naming" (our) will register inclusivity and acceptance.  

In the Tagalog polite conversation below, note the use of po and opo and the plurals that denote this tone of politeness.

Hello po. Magandang araw po. Hello, good day to you.

Tuloy po kayo sa aming maliit na bahay. Ano po ba ang sa atin? Come inside our small house.  What can we do for you?

Salamat po. Meron lamang po sana akong gustong ibalita sa inyo.

Thank you. I would just like to give you some news.

Mukhang importante po yata yan ano po?

 It seems important, isn’t it?

Opo, meron po tayong bagong livelihood program at gusto namin kayong imbitahan na sumali dito. Yes, we have a new livelihood program and we’d like to invite you to join it.

Ah maganda po yan. Paano po ba sumali dyan? Ah, that’s good.  How do we join?

Una po, paki-fill out po nitong form. First, please fill out this form.

Ano po ba itong form na ito? Ano pong gagawin namin pagkatapos? What is this form all about? What do we do after filling out this form?

Sensus lang po yan, pagkatapos mag-fill out ng form, pumunta po kayo sa opisina para sa interbyu. It’s just a name count, after you’ve filled out the form, go to the office for an interview.

Madali po ba yung interview? Will the interview be easy?

Sigurado pong kayang-kaya n’yo yun. Gusto lang po ng mga isponsor na mas lalo pa kayong makilala. You can do it. The sponsors want to know more about you.

Tutulungan n’yo po ba kami sa problema namin? Are you going to help us with our problem?

Susubukan po natin. We will try.

Kayo po ba ang hahanapin namin? Are you our contact person?

Opo, ako yung kakausapin ninyo. Yes, I will be your contact person.

Sige po. Pupunta kami sa opisina ninyo. Salamat po sa pagdalaw ninyo. Ok. We will go to the office. Thank you for visiting us.

Wala pong anuman. Sa uulitin po. You're welcome. Till next time.

Sige po. Yes, see you.

In formal documents, politeness apply more in situations where parties aim to reach out to each other with sensitivity. In Tagalog polite talk especially, among strangers, politician-constituents, authority-subject relationships conversation aims at an instant connection without the ties that bind.   

There are of course other tones, especially in informal conversation with same-age group individuals. 

Listen to a Tagalog speak

When on the streets of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Mindoro, and Palawan, you will hear the Tagalog asking for directions, paying their jeepney fares, talking to the store vendors, and ordering in restaurants often using po and opo, saying the most endearing "please" (pasuyo naman po)  and addressing the people as Ate (elderly sister), Kuya, (elderly brother), Tita (aunt), Tito (uncle), Nanay (mother), and Tatay (father). Listen to this Tagalog polite talk and learn how this way of conversation easily puts one at ease.