Tagalog Sounds: Consonants

Beginning Tagalog 1 Grammar

Consonants

The Tagalog consonants are b, d, k, g, h, l, m, n, ng, p, ( ‘ ), r, s, t,
w, 
and yNg represents the velar nasal, and the apostrophe (  ) represents the glottal stop. The charts below show the articulatory description of the consonant sounds.

Sounds/Positions Labial Dental Palatal Velar  Glottal
Stops, voicelessptk
Stops, voicedbdg
Fricatives, voicelesssh
Nasals, voicedmnng
Lateral, voicedl
Flap, voicedr
Semi-vowels, voicedwy

Consonant Sounds – Examples:

Click on the audio icon to listen to the consonant sounds in the following pairs of words:

p / b  lapis(pencil)labis(too much)
t / d  kutkot(scratch)kudkod(scrape)
k / g titik(letter)titig(stare)
k /  ‘ balik(return)bali’(broken)
  h / ‘ hipon(shrimp)‘ipon(save)
  s / h sipag(diligence) hipag(sister-in-law)
  m / n masa(masses)nasa(desire)
  n / ng nayon(town)ngayon(now)
  n / l nayon(town)layon(purpose)
  d / r dilis(kind of fish)rilis(railroad)
  l / r balat(skin)barat(stingy)
  w / y wari’(seems)yari’(finish)

The Glottal Stop:

The glottal stop is produced when the glottis (the opening between the vocal chords) is tightly closed, stopping the air coming from the lungs. It contrasts with other consonants in Tagalog as shown by the following examples (click on the audio icons to listen):

 bata
(bathrobe) 
 bata’
(child)   
 batay
(based on something)
 baga
(ember)
 baga’
(lungs)
 bagay
(object)

The glottal stop is generally not indicated in conventional spelling. Words beginning with a vowel in written form, when pronounced in isolation, actually begin with the glottal stop. A sequence of vowels actually has the glottal intervening between them, as in aalis [‘a’alis] “will go.”  When the stop occurs between a consonant and a vowel, conventional spelling represents it with a hyphen, as in nag-aaral [nag’a’aral] “studying.”

The Consonant Ng:

Ng occurs in word-initial, -medial, and -final positions. English also has the consonant ng, but it only occurs at the end of words like sing and ring. On the other hand, in Tagalog ng can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. Because English speakers are only accustomed to ng in the word-final position, they may have difficulty pronouncing ng when it occurs at the beginning or middle of a word. Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:

 word-initial       word-medial        word-final
ngayon 
(now) ngiti 
(smile) ngipin 
(tooth)
langit 
(heaven) hangin 
(air) bangin 
(cliff)
magaling 
(good) singsing 
(ring) kinang
(sparkle)

P, T, and K:

These consonants are never aspirated in Tagalog, even in word-initial position. Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:


Sounds
word-initialword-medialword-final
 p ulap
(clouds)
lapis 
(pencil)
palay
(rice)
 t guhit
(draw)
bata’
(child)
tatay
(father)
 k balik
(return)
bakal
(iron)
kamay 
(hand)

The Consonant R:

This sound in Tagalog is a tap. It is produced with the tip of the tongue slightly tapping the alveolar ridge (the area above the teeth or the gum ridge). Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:

 word-initial  word-medial  word-final
rito
(here)roon
(there)riles
(railway)
aral
(to study)pera
(money)pero
(but)
lugar
(place)andar
(to run)altar
(altar)

The Consonant L:

This sound in Tagalog is produced with the tongue flat from the tip to the back with the tip touching the back of the upper teeth. Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:

word-initial word-medial word-final
langit
(heaven)lupa
(earth)limot
(forget)
alay
(offering)kaluluwa
(soul)balot
(to wrap)
bukal
(spring)sanggol
(baby)butil
(grain)

T, D, N, and S:

These sounds in Tagalog are produced with the tongue tip at the back of the upper teeth.  Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:

   Sounds  word-initial  word-medial  word-final
 t tayo
(we)
atay
(liver)
apat
(four)
 d dahon
(leaf)
duda
(doubt)
tulad
(similar)
 n nayon
(village)
sana
(hoping)
saan
(where)
 s sulat
(letter)
asin
(salt)
landas
(path)

Other Tagalog Consonants:

The consonants h, b, g, m, y, and w are similar to the corresponding sounds in English.  Click on the audio icons to listen to the following examples:

Soundsword-initialword-medialword-final
 h hangin
(air)
bahay
(house)
 b buhay
(life)
taba’
(fat)
alab
(fire)
 g guhit
(drawing)
bago
(new)
hulog
(fall)
 m mula
(since)
kamay
(hand)
alam
(to know)
 y yari
(made of)
saya
(skirt)
kulay
(color)
 w wari
(seem)
awa
(pity)
ikaw
(you)