Nagbabasa ang bata ng libro.
Binabasa ng bata ang libro.
In a Tagalog sentence, a Tagalog
speaker will pick out a word that they most want to emphasize. This word could be the most
important word in the sentence, or it could have some special sense of prominence. This
chosen word of special emphasis is said to be the focus of the sentence.
Focus is the key to the Tagalog language. Once you understand focus, much of
the rest of the language will fall into place.
Lola si Ben ng kuwento.
Nagbabasa sina Ben at Lola.
Binasa ni Lola ang kuwento kay Ben.
How does Tagalog
indicate which word is the focus of the sentence?
Tagalog indicates which
word is the focus of the sentence by placing a marker in front of the
word that is the focus. This marker is like a little sign that grabs your attention and
shouts out to you: "Hey! the word that comes after me is the focus of the
Let's look at the following English
sentence as an example:
The dog bit the
If this sentence were in Tagalog, I
would choose one of the nouns to be the focus of the sentence. How do I know which word to
choose to be the focus? It all depends on what I as the speaker want to emphasize.
It might be helpful to ask myself "why am I saying this?," or "what is the
point of this sentence?"
Let's say that I want to emphasize
what the dog is biting. In other words, my main point is to tell you what it was that the
dog bit. Because I want to tell you that the dog bit the man (and not
something else), I would choose man to be the focus of the
On the other hand, let's say that I
want to emphasize the dog. Perhaps I was surprised to see that a normally friendly
dog bit a man. Here the word dog would be in focus: The dog bit
In spoken English we indicate
something similar to focus by emphasizing the word with our voice, using stress. If the
big deal in the sentence was that it was the dog that bit the man, then I
would emphasize the word dog with my voice:
bit the man.
Or if the important point is what the
dog bit (the man in this case), then I would emphasize the word man with
The dog bit the man.
The concept of focus is extremely
important in Tagalog grammar. It is vital that you know which word is the focus of the