Verbal Sentences

These are sentences that contain a verb or verb form in the predicate position. Some verbs require a complement(s); others do not. The verbal form of the predicate determines the role of the noun(s) following it.   Depending on what the marker in the verb is (e.g. um, in, an, etc.) the nouns that follow are marked as being the actor, object, instrument, etc. (For a detailed discussion of the verb forms, go to the grammar section on verbs.)

Active Sentences

These are sentences that have the actor (doer) as the focus. The most common verbal affixes for this type of sentence are -um-, mag-, and ma-. Here are a few examples where the focused actor is italicized, and the verb forms are in bold. All verbs are in the perfective/completed form or "past tense". The verbal affixes are underlined.

Tumakbo si Jose. (Jose ran.)
Bumili ng kendi ang bata. (The kid bought a candybar.)
Nag-aral si Lisa sa aklatan. (Lisa studied in the library.)
Nagluto ng adobo ang nanay. (Mother cooked adobo.)
Natulog siya sa sopa. (He slept on the sofa.)
Nakinig ang mga estudyante sa guro. (The students listened to the teacher.)

The noun phrases (NPs), subject and complement(s), following the verb may be rearranged without changing the meaning of the sentence. Tagalog does not follow a very strict word order in this sense.

If you are unsure, keep the following guidelines in mind:
1) PCS = Predicate + Complement(s) + Focus

2) ProNP = Pronouns + Noun Phrases; and

3) Shorter pronoun(s) and/or particles before longer ones.

Non-active Sentences

There are a number of  non-active sentences in Tagalog.  The verb takes certain verbal affixes (um, in, etc.) to mark the focus of the sentence, i.e., either object, location/ beneficiary/ recipient, or instrument. Though a lot of linguistic literatures refer to these structures as "passives", they are not really passive in the true sense of the word, and the use of the term passive is confusing since the English equivalents of these sentences are not necessarily expressed in passive by speakers of English. Most of the time, the focus of a sentence in English is expressed not through markers but through emphatic vocal stress on the words in focus. Below are some examples of "non-active" sentences  where the focus is italicized and the verb form in bold, all of which are in the completed or "past" form:

O b j e c t - F o c u s

Binasa ni Noel ang libro. (Noel read the book.)
Ininom ni Henry ang kape sa kusina. (Henry drank the coffee in the kitchen.)
Sinulat niya ang tulang Buhay. (She wrote the poem Life.)



Binilhan ni Fidel ng bulaklak si Imelda.

Fidel bought flowers for Imelda.
Binigyan niya ako ng regalo. She gave me a gift.
Pinuntahan ng pasyente ang doktor. The patient went to the doctor.


I n s t r u m e n t a l - F o c u s
Ipinambili niya ng damit ang pera. She used the money to buy clothes.
Ipinansulat ni Lita ang lapis. Lita used the pencil for writing.