10 Tagalog slangs that you need to know. Sometimes when hanging out with Filipino friends, it’s inevitable to feel out of place when you’re the only one in the group who doesn’t get references. Learning the Tagalog language is difficult as it is, but familiarizing yourself with its slangs is a whole other challenge. But, fret not! This article is your friendly guide to making yourself sound like a native Tagalog speaker. It’s time to surprise your friends with these Tagalog slangs!
Tagalog Slangs Every Foreigner Should Learn
Hay nako is a phrase used to express annoyance or disappointment. There is no direct English translation, but this phrase is closest to a sigh. It originates from the phrase nanay (mother) ko (my). And hay is like an “oh” expression. So it’s literally oh my mother!
Example: Hay nako! You are always late!
This expression is used when you know you or someone is in trouble. A rough translation in English would be: “You’re a dead meat!”. You can use this word when you did something wrong. If you’re directing it to another person, you can say, “lagot ka (you)!”
Example: I forgot our anniversary today! Lagot ako (me)!
Sayang translates to “What a waste!”. This phrase can be used in any situation, may it be in the eating, playing or talking about other things.
Example: Sayang, I can’t celebrate your birthday with you because of this business trip.
This is a word that you probably hear all the time if you stay for a long time in the Philippines. It’s usually at the end of a sentence that seeks affirmation. Diba translates to “right?” in English. Its root words are hindi ba which means “is it not?”.
Example: You’re the girl from last night’s party, diba?
Naks is an expression conveying awe. When a person says “naks naman!” it basically means that something is awesome or nice. This expression is only used for a situation and not to describe a person.
Example: Naks naman! You got a new dress! It suits you!
When someone is telling you a story, you can say “ganon” to confirm what happened. It translates to “is that so?” in English. You can also say “ganon pala” which means “Oh I see. That’s what happened.”
Example: *After your friend tells you a story* Ganon? I never knew that this was what truly happened!
This phrase is used when giving up responsibility for doing something. In English, it’s actually the expression: “Screw it!”. Filipinos love to use this phrase. Sometimes, it’s comically used with Batman, like “Bahala na si Batman!” which means Batman is in charge of the repercussions of what he’s gonna do.
Example: I’m going to confess to her tonight. Bahala na (si Batman)!
Anak ng _____!
This is another slang to use when you want to express annoyance or anger. This literally means son of a ______. The most famous one would be Anak ng Teteng! where Teteng is a Filipino name. This phrase is very flexible as you can add any word to it. You can use tokwa (tofu), tinapa (fish), etc. It’s like the English expression “Son of a gun!”.
Example: Anak ng Teteng! Who broke my glasses?!
Huwag ka nga!
This slang is a bit on the modern side. It just surfaced around the 2000s and young adults are the ones who usually use it. “Huwag ka nga!” roughly translates to “don’t mind my business!”. You can use it in situations where your friends are trying to persuade you about something or when they’re contradicting you.
You: This shirt looks good on me! Friend: Not! You: Huwag ka nga!
Yan tayo eh!
Just like number 9, this expression is a bit “millennial”. Yan tayo eh is used when you’re expressing acceptance of something negative. It’ like saying “Ugh, I knew it.”
Friend: I’m going to take my ex back. You: Ugh. Yan tayo eh!
Read more articles in our Tagalog learning series. Most useful phrases when traveling The Philippines or Why you should learn Tagalog.
What Tagalog slang do you often use?