Tagalog Non-Active Focus: Object-Focus (OF) Verbs

Beginning Tagalog 2 Grammar

Object-Focus (OF) Verbs

There are several affixes that indicate that the focus of the sentence is the object (receiver of the action). The most common ones are discussed in this section, -INI--AN, and MA-. Attaching any of these affixes on to a verb indicates that the focus of the sentence is the receiver of the action (object). Be aware however that -IN is the only affix that is used solely to mark the focus as the object. In a sense, it is the prototypical object focus affix. The other affixes can indicate object focus, but they can also be used for different purposes. I- may also mark beneficiary- or instrumental-focus, -AN locative- or beneficiary-focus, and MA- actor-focus. A learner would be advised to memorize the functions of the different affixes. The table of verbs provided in this site should be a helpful introduction.

The -IN Verb

The affix -IN is the only “real” object-focus affix. That is, an -IN verb is always object-focus. When -IN is attached to a verb that ends in a vowel, an H is needed between it and the affix. Here are some examples, all of which are in the imperative or command form:

Root Word Object Focus Verb Sentence
to buy
Bilhin mo ang sapatos.
(You) Buy the (pair of) shoes.
kain kainin
to eat
Kainin mo ang lumpiya.
(You) Eat the egg roll.
basa basahin
to read
Basahin mo ang diyaryo mamaya.
(You) Read the newspaper later.
luto lutuin
to cook
Lutuin mo ang isda sa kusina.
(You) Cook the fish in the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at the last example:

Lutuin mo ang isda sa kusina.

cook   you         fish     kitchen

The -IN affix tells you that the focus is to receive the action of the verb. The focus is isda (fish), so you know that it is the fish that is to be cooked, and not you (mo).

The I- Verb

I– verbs are the second most common Object Focus verbs next to -IN.  I- is a prefix, and thus it goes in front of the word.The prefix I- is typically used to mark Object Focus, but I- can also be used to mark beneficiary and instrumental. However, these uses occur less frequently.

Here are a few examples that are in the imperative or command form:

Root Word Object Focus
luto iluto
to cook
Iluto mo ang isda sa kusina.
(You) Cook the fish in the kitchen.
sulat isulat
to write
Isulat mo ang pangalan mo sa papel.
(You) Write your name on the paper.
tago itago
to keep
Itago mo ang sulat.
(You) Keep the letter.
sara isara
to close
Isara mo ang pinto.
(You) Close the door.

The -AN Verbs

The –AN affix is not used in very many verbs as an object focus marker. There are however a few specific verb roots that use -AN for this purpose. A learner would be advised to memorize the verb roots that take this affix to mark object focus. The most common use of -AN is to mark location/direction-focus.

-AN is suffix, and thus should be placed at the end of a word. When -AN follows a verb root that ends in a vowel, the affix takes the form -HAN.

Here are a few examples:

Root Object F.
Object Focus
 Actor Focus
bukas buksan*
to open
Buksan mo ang bintana.
Open the window.
Magbukas ka ng bintana.
Open the window.
takip takpan*
to cover
Takpan mo ang bibig mo.
Cover your mouth.
Magtakip ka ng bibig mo.
Cover your mouth.
laba labhan*
to wash
Labhan mo ang damit ni Monica.
Wash Monica’s dress.
Maglaba ka ng damit ni Monica.
Wash Monica’s dress.

*These verb have undergone other form changes that are not discussed here.

The MA- Verb

There are certain verbs that use MA- as an object focus marker. These verbs (kita, pansinalam, etc.) form a special set of verbs because they are always object focused. They can never be actor focused. In some grammar books, these verbs are said to express abilitative and/or accidental mode. Thus, these verbs do not have imperative forms (in other words, they can never be used as commands). Membership of this set is not very large, so learners would be advised to memorize the verb roots that take the MA– affix to indicate object focus. Here some of the most common MA– verbs:

RootObject Focus
to see
Nakita ng bata ang titser.
The child saw the teacher.
to hear
Narinig ni Ana ang boses ni Noel.
Ana heard Noel’s voice.
to notice
Napansin ko ang bagong sapatos ni Maria.
I noticed Maria’s new shoes.
alam malaman*
to learn/know about something.
Nalaman ko ang pangalan niya.
I learned his name.