Instrumental-Focus (IF) Verbs.

Attaching the affix IPANG- to a root word always means that the focus of the verb is the instrument of the action. IPANG- indicates that the focus of the sentence is a tool that is used to accomplish the action of the verb. Here is an example:

I opened the can with the can opener.

In this sentence the can opener was the instrument that was used to open the can.

This affix may also be shortened to I-. A beginning learner would be advised to use IPANG- so as not to confuse it with other I-verbs that express different focuses. IPANG- is a prefix and is always placed in the front of the word. Here are some examples:

Root Instrumental F. Verb Instrumental Focus Sentence Converted Actor Focus Sentence
hampas ipanghampas
to use something to hit something
Ipanghampas mo ng langaw ang papel.
Use the paper to hit the fly.
Humampas ka ng langaw sa pamamagitan ng papel.
Hit the fly with the paper.
linis ipanlinis*
to use someting to clean something
Ipanlinis mo ng sahig ang basahan.
Use the rag to clean the floor.
Maglinis ka ng sahig sa pamamagitan ng basahan.
Clean the floor with the rag.
talop ipantalop*
to use something to peel something
Ipantalop mo ng kamote ang kutsilyo.
Use the knife to peel sweet potatoes.
Magtalop ka ng kamote sa pamamagitan ng kutsilyo.
Peel the sweet potatoes with the knife.

*These form have undergone other morphological changes that are not discussed here.

Note that when the instrument is the focus, it is marked by ang, etc. (as is the case with all words in focus). However, if the instrument is not in focus, it is marked by SA PAMAMAGITAN, as can be seen in the converted actor focus sentences.

 

Putting the pieces together

Part A

Let's take a look at some more examples of verbal focus.

Pumatay ng elepante ang dentista.
Killed (Actor focused) the elephant the dentist.

translation: The dentist killed the elephant.

This is an actor focused sentence. The ang tells you that dentista is the focus, and the -um- in pumatay tells you that the focus is the actor in the sentence.

Notice that if I switch the markers in this sentence, I change the meaning

Pumatay ang elepante ng dentista.
Killed (Actor focused) the elephant the dentist.

translation: The elephant killed the dentist.

Now the elephant is in focus and the affix -um- tells you that the elephant is doing the action.

Let's say that you want to keep the focus on the elephant, but you don't want the meaning of your original sentence to change (the dentist killed the elephant). What you need to do is to keep elephant as the focus but make the verb an object focus verb. That way the elephant will still be in focus, but it will still be the one getting killed (and not the one doing the killing).

Pinatay ng dentista ang elepante.
Killed (Object focused) the dentist the elephant.

translation: The dentist killed the elephant.

The elephant is the focus, and the in in pinatay is an object focus affix that tells you that the focus is the one receiving the action of the verb.

Now let's take another look at the first sentence we looked at and the most recent sentence above:

Pumatay ng elepante ang dentista.        The dentist killed the elephant.

Pinatay ng dentista ang elepante.           The dentist killed the elephant.

Notice that the translations of these sentences in English are both the same. If the meaning that I want to convey is that the dentist killed the elephant why would I need two different ways to say the same thing? Why would I ever want to change the focus of my sentence? What difference does it make?

This is good chance to learn more about focus in Tagalog. As has been mentioned, the word that is in focus in Tagalog is the most prominent word in the sentence. You can think of it as being in the spotlight. That this use of focus is very important in Tagalog can be seen from the following:

If I were asked the question:

Who killed the elephant?       Sino ang pumatay ng elepante?

I would need to answer with the first sentence:

Pumatay ng elepante ang dentista.  (Or, using the same format: Ang dentista ang pumatay ng elepante).

You see that because you want to know who did the killing, you must therefore have the word doing the killing in focus.

If I were asked the question:

What did the dentist kill?         Ano ang pinatay ng dentista?

I would need to answer with the second sentence:

Pinatay ng dentista ang elepante.

Here you are talking about what it was that was killed, therefore the elephant should be in focus.

Q. Sino ang pumatay ng elepante? (Who killed the elephant?) Q. Ano ang pinatay ng dentista? (What did the dentist kill?)
A. Ang dentista ang pumatay ng elepante.                               (The dentist killed the elephant.) A. Pinatay ng dentista ang elepante.                               (The dentist killed the elephant.)

To answer the question Sino ang pumatay ng elepante? with the answer Pinatay ng dentista ang elepante is awkward and perhaps even grammatically incorrect. It sounds like you misunderstood the question.

The same is true for answering the question Ano ang pinatay ng dentista? with the answer Ang dentista ang pumatay ng elepante.

 

Part B

Let's take a look at a sentence that will be used as an example to show changes in focus. Please note that for the purposes of illustration we have crafted some artificial sentences. Do not expect to hear this kind of sentence outside of laboratory conditions. In addition to the fact that the event in this sentence would be (at least) fairly unlikely to occur in real life, Tagalog verbs tend to shift their meaning a little when they take on a different focus affix. These sentences are merely meant to help demonstrate the way Tagalog focus works.

Actor Focus

This first sentence is an Actor Focus sentence. The bold section in the English translation represents that part of the sentence that the English speaker would emphasize by way of vocal stress. Although it might be structured differently in real life, the format used in this sentence would be a good answer to the question Who hit the cow for the governor?

Nagbanat ng baka ang polis sa pamamagitan ng guantes para sa gobernador.
Hit (Actor Focused) the cow the policeman with a glove for the governor.

translation: The policeman hit the cow with a glove for the governor.

 

Object Focus

Now let's change the focus to Object Focus. You would see a sentence in this focus for a question that asked What did the police hit?

Binanat ng polis ang baka sa pamamagitan ng guantes para sa gobernador.
Hit (Object Focused) the policeman the cow with a glove for the governor.

translation: The policeman hit the cow with a glove for the governor.

 

Location/Direction Focus

Now let's change this to Location Focus. This sentence would be a good answer to the question: Where did the policeman direct his hit?

Binanatan ng polis ang baka sa pamamagitan ng guantes para sa gobernador.
Hit (Location Focused) the policeman the cow with a glove for the governor.

translation: The policeman hit (on) the cow with a glove for the governor.

 

Beneficiary Focus

Now let's change this sentence to Beneficiary Focus. This sentence would be a good answer to the question: For whom did the policeman hit the cow? (Or, more commonly nowadays Who did the policeman hit the cow for?)

Ipinagbanat ng polis ng baka sa pamamagitan ng guantes ang gobernador.
Hit (Beneficiary Focused) the policeman the cow with a glove for the governor.

translation: The policeman hit the cow with a glove for the governor.

Notice in this sentence that you must tell from context (although admittedly with my sentences it might be hard) that the policeman was the one who hit the cow.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the policeman hit the governor in this sentence. It sounds that way to the English speaker. But remember that the affix Ipag- comes packaged with the idea that the action of the verb is being done for the focus of the sentence.

 

Instrumental Focus

Now let's change this sentence to Instrumental Focus. This sentence would be a good answer to the question: What did the policeman hit the cow with?

Ipinangbanat ng polis ng baka ang guantes para sa gobernador.
Hit (Instrumental Focused) the policeman the cow the glove for the governor.

translation: The policeman hit the cow with a glove for the governor.

Again, please don't make the mistake of translating this sentence as The policeman of the cow hit the glove for the governor, or some other horrific thing like that. We know that ang guantes comes packaged with the idea of it being used as a tool because of the affix Ipang-.

Once again, you must tell from context that the police was the one who hit the cow, and not the other way around.