Plurality in Tagalog


The Plural Marker MGA

In English when we want to indicate that there is more than one of something, we usually add the letter -s to the end of the word. For example, the word cars (car + s) in English means that there is more than one car.  But note that adding an -s is not the only way that English pluralizes a word. For example, the word mouse means there is only one mouse, while the word mice means there is more than one mouse. In this case, changes in the structure of the word show plurality.

Regardless of which approach a language takes, the act of indicating that there is more than one of something is called pluralization. Tagalog is a language that does not use the letter "s" to pluralize. Instead, Tagalog pluralizes by using the marker MGA.

The marker
MGA is always placed directly before the word that is to be pluralized. For example, the Tagalog word bato means a stone, but if I want to say that there is more than one stone  I add the marker MGA:

bato 'stone'  (singular)          mga bato 'stones'  (plural)

Here are some more examples:

   Titser ang mga magulang namin.     Our parents are teachers.
   Estudyante sa UP ang mga kasama ko.     My companions are students at UP.
   Masaya ang mga bata sa park.     The kids at the park are happy.
   Mabait ang mga kapitbahay niya.     Her neighbors are nice.
   Dumating ang mga kamag-anak ni Fe.     Fe's relatives came.
   Nandito ang mga kaklase ni Raymond.     Raymond's classmates are here.


Other Indicators of Plurality

Though the use of  MGA is the easiest and most common way of expressing plurality, there are other indicators of plurality which   make the use of MGA redundant. The obvious one is the use of numbers, as in these examples:

    May dalawang kapatid si Rudy.

    Rudy has two siblings.

    May limang estudyante sa klasrum.     There are five students in the classroom.
    Kakanta ang tatlong artista.     The three actors are going to sing.
    Lilipad ang sampung ibon mula sa
     tore.
    The ten birds will fly out from the tower.


There are words that inherently express plurality of nouns which make the use of MGA unnecessary. Here are some examples:

    May grupo ng aktibista sa EDSA.    There is a group of activists at EDSA.
    Bumili kami ng isang piling ng saging.    We bought a bunch of bananas.
    Nagdala siya ng isang bigkis ng kahoy.    He brought a pile of wood.
    Binigyan niya ako ng isang dosenang
     rosas.
   He gave me a dozen roses.

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