Tagalog Verbal Aspect: Introduction

Beginning Tagalog 2 Grammar

Introduction

Tagalog verbs are concerned with aspect rather than tense. Tense deals with time. Aspect on the other hand, is a different way of looking at things. Aspect is not concerned with when an event happened (like past, present, or future). Instead, aspect is concerned with whether or not an action has been completed.

To picture the difference, imagine that you are working for a company and that you have been given a specific job to do. Then imagine that there are two different people in the company who want to ask you a question about the job. The first person to ask you a question is the record keeper. He wants to know exactly when you worked on the task you were given. He will ask you if you worked on Friday, or Wednesday, etc. He isn’t concerned with anything else. You can imagine that on his T-shirt are big letters that say TENSE.

On the other hand, the other person who asks you a question is your immediate boss. He has a different way of looking at things. He wants to know if you finished the job or not. He doesn’t care what day or when you did it. You can imagine that on his T-shirt are big letters that say ASPECT.

Like your boss, Tagalog is concerned with aspect, not tense.

Tagalog verbs have three different aspects:

1. Completed (or perfective),  (for translation purposes this is similar to English past tense [e.g. ran]).

2.  Incompleted (or imperfective), which is similar to English present tense (e.g. running).

3.  Contemplated, which is similar to English future tense (e.g. will run).

The completed aspect refers to an action that has started and has finished; the incompleted aspect refers to an action that has started but has not yet been finished; and the contemplated aspect refers to an action that has not started yet.

This page will present the aspectual inflections of the basic verbal focuses.

The stanza of a poem on this page uses some verbs. Listen and take note of their different aspectual forms.

Walang Hanggan
ni Benigno R. Ramos

Nakikipagkamay ang lupa sa langit
sa pamamagitan ng mga bunduking
pagkatarik-tarik;
Hininga ng lupa'y ating namamasid
sa nagkakapalang ulap na sa hangin ay
napapabitbit;
Dagat na payapa'y laging may pahatid
sa kaitaasan ng singaw na siyang
nagbabalik;
Ang iyong dalangi'y aking naririnig
na dala ng alon, kahit magkalayo kita sa
daigdig.....

Use the links below to learn about these verb forms in Tagalog and proper use of verbal aspect (Completed, Incompleted , Contemplated)