Same Words, Different Meanings

There are a lot of words in Tagalog that have the same spelling but have different pronunciation and meaning. This poses a big problem to language learners as the meaning can sometimes be hidden behind the context. In addition, Tagalog does not use any marks in the written form to point out how the word should be pronounced. Native speakers have intuitive understanding of the meaning of those words and without thinking automatically catches the correct concept being pointed to. It pays to have some realization of this fact so that you will not get lost in the conversation. So here are some examples of words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently and consequently have different meanings.

Audio: Click on the Play button below to hear the native
Filipino speaker read the sentences correctly.

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bagay - something
Nagkalat ang ang mga bagay sa kwarto. Things are scattered in the room.
bagay - suited to each other
Bagay kayo sa isa't-isa. You are suited to each other.

bukas - tomorrow
Itutuloy ko ang ginagawa ko bukas. I will continue what I'm doing tomorrow.
bukas - open
Naka bukas ang pinto nang ako ay dumating. The door was open when I arrived.

buhay - life
Masaya ang buhay kapag merong nagmamahal. Life is happy when somebody loves you.
buhay - alive
Buhay pa ba ang lolo at lola mo? Are your grandparents still alive?

dating - former
Siya ay dating boksingero. He is a former boxer.
dating - to arrive
Ang ate ko ay bagong dating. My older sister has just arrived.

basa - to read
Nagbabasa ako ng diyaryo paminsan-minsan. I read the papers once in a while.
basa - wet
Ang damit niya ay basang-basa. Her dress is totally wet.

banda - band
Nagtatayo kami ng isang banda. We are organizing a band.
banda - this or that side
Ang kotse ay tumama sa bandang hulihan ng truck. The car hit the rear side of the truck.

lamang - only
Ang mansanas ay tigsampung piso lamang. The apple sells for ten pesos only.
lamang - advantage
Ang aming pangkat ay may lamang na anim na puntos nang matapos ang laro. Out team had a six points advantage when the game ended.


amin - ours
Ang nakaparadang sasakyan ay sa amin. The vehicle that is parked is ours.
amin- admit
Inamin ng salarin na siya ang nagnakaw ng mamahaling alahas. The wrongdoer admitted that it was he who stole the expensive jewelleries.

tanda - age
Gaano ka na katanda? How old are you?
tanda - sign
Iyan ay tanda ng pagmamahal ko sa iyo. That is a sign of my love for you.

pasa - swollen
Ang kanang braso niya ay may pasa. There is a swollen part on his right arm.
pasa - to pass
Dapat ay ipinasa mo sa akin ang bola. You should have passed the ball to me.

tayo - stand up
Mangyaring tumayo ang lahat ng mga magulang. The parents are requested to stand up.
tayo - us
Dito tayo gagawa ng pansamantalang tuluyan. Here we will build a temporary shelter.

tama - correct
Tama lang ang ginawa niya. What he did was just right.
tama - to be hit
Tinamaan ako ng bato sa likod. I was hit by a stone on my back.

bilang - number
Dumarami ang bilang ng mga walang trabaho. The number of unemployed is increasing.
bilang - as or for
Kami ay naghanda bilang pasasalamat sa magandang kapalaran. We served food as a token of appreciation for our good fortune.


tala = star
Ang kislap ng kanyang mga mata ay parang mga tala sa langit. The sparkle in her eyes is like the stars in heaven.
tala - record
Bumaba daw ang insidente ng krimen ayon sa tala ng pulisya. It is said that the incidence of crime went down according to records of the police.

tila - something like
Tila yata tumigil ka na ng paninigarilyo. It looks like you have stopped smoking.
tila - stopping of the rain
Kailan kaya titila? I wonder when the rain would stop.

pala - so I thought
Tama pala ang hinala ko na may tinginan ang dalawa. I was right so I thought that the two had something between them
pala - spade
Gamitin mo ang pala para madali ang trabaho natin. Use the spade so we will finish our job early.

mura - cheap
Mas mura ang presyo ng prutas sa lalawigan. The price of fruits is cheaper in the provinces.
mura - to scold
Hindi dapat minumura ang bata. The child should never be scolded.

handa - to be ready
Handa na ang lahat para sa pagdiriwang ng araw ng kalayaan. Everything is ready for the Independence Day celebrations.
handa - food served during celebrations
May handa sa kanilang bahay kahapon. There was food served in their house yesterday.

parang - farmer's field
Ang magsasaka ay nagtatabas ng damo sa kanyang parang. The farmer is cutting the grass on his field.
parang - looks like
Siya ay parang bula na naglaho. He disappeared like a bubble.

So those are examples of words that are spelled the same but differ in meanings when pronounced differently. This is just to let you know that these words exist and that most of them are frequently used by the native Tagalog speakers. Hope you learned something from this lesson. Thanks for listening and have a good day.


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