TO HAVE OR NOT TO HAVE
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In Tagalog, may and mayroon (shortened to meron in spoken
Tagalog) are used to indicate either possession or existence of something, while wala is the word used to indicate that one does not possess
something or that something or someone does not exist. However, their usage may be
different depending on the context.
To indicate possession of something inanimate, one has to use either may or mayroon. For example: _________. (Do you have a pencil?); _________. (Do you have a paper?); _________.(Do you have a car?); _________. (I have a pencil and a paper, but I don't have a car).
May and mayroon could also indicate existence of something or someone. For example: _________.(Is there someone who will cook today?); _________. (Someone will cook breakfast, but none for lunch and dinner); _________. (There is rice in the pot); _________. (There is a banana on the table, but there is no glass of water).
It must be noted that existence and presence in Tagalog use different markers, respectively. While existence uses may/mayroon, presence uses narito, nariyan, naroon. Wala is also used to indicate absence of something or someone.
For example: _________.(Jose is here already, but Mario is still not here); _________.(Maria is not in her room); _________. (The farmer is over there in the field); _________.(Your book is there on the table); _________. (Your shoe is not here under the bed); _________. (Your clothes are over there in the closet).
Tagalog speakers often use verbal enclitics with these markers in order to soften the "negativity" implied by statements where they are used. For example, instead of saying _________. (I don't have money) to someone who wants to borrow money, he can say _________. (I ran out of money). The first statement creates an impression that the person simply does not want to lend money, while the second statement implies that he wants to lend money but that he simply ran out of it. The use of the enclitic na somehow softens the "rejection" or "negativity of the statement.
In another context, the use of enclitics with these markers could change the meaning of a statement, either in a more positive way or simply lessening the negative impact of the statement. For instance, if a person asks, _________. (Is Pedro here?), and the one being asked wants to cover for Pedro. Instead of saying _________. (He is not here), she can then either say _________. (He already left) or _________.(He has not arrived yet). The use of na and pa alters sense of the original statement.
In Filipino culture, the first statement "He is not here" creates an impression that the speaker is not too friendly, unaccommodating, or is antagonistic to the person who is asking about Pedro. It could also be interpreted as an evasive answer, with the speaker feigning innocence as to the whereabouts of Pedro. Thus, the enclitics na and pa significantly changes the meaning of the statement into a more positive tone.