You can see this at work through the examples below.
In some lesser-common cases, though, there are Tagalog words that function as standalone adjectives instead of the usual +ma prefix combined with a noun.
Take for example the case of “mahal” (expensive) vs. “mahaba” (long). “Mahal” is a standalone adjective while “mahaba” is an adjective that came from the combination of the noun “haba” (length) and the prefix “ma.”
Tagalog Adjectives and Their Plural Forms
An interesting thing about Tagalog adjectives that you may want to take note of is, unlike English adjectives that only have one form regardless of whether they’re describing one or two things or one or two, or more people, Tagalog adjectives have separate singular and plural forms.
For example, you were describing two different things: the first is a book, and the second is a pile of books.
In English, you would say something like, “The book is heavy” in the first example and something like, “The books are heavy” in the second one.
Notice that only the verb changes when the number of things being described increased. The adjective remained constant.
In Tagalog, it’s slightly different. When you’re describing two or more things, there are also two things that change: the noun and the adjective.
For example, if we’re going to say “The book is heavy” in Tagalog, we will say, “Mabigat ang libro,” but if we’re going to say, “The books are heavy” in Tagalog, we’re going to say, “Mabibigat ang mga libro.”
Notice that the noun (libro) changed to reflect the transition from singular to plural (mga libro), as did the adjective which changed from “mabigat“(singular) to “mabibigat” (plural).
See additional examples of how this is done below.
Note: Tagalog adjectives are changed from their singular to their plural form by placing the prefix “ma” at the beginning of the word, putting the first syllable of the root word after it, then ending it with the root word.
When these types of adjectives are turned from their singular to plural forms, they go through the standard procedure (i.e. take the first syllable of the root word then combine it with the root word); however, instead of having “ma” placed before the first syllable of the root word + the root word), “ang” is added before them instead.
The word “ang” is a standalone word that is usually used as an article; however in some cases, it can be used as part of an exclamatory phrase to express strong feelings or sentiment (like how when you add the word “How” before an adjective, it has a stronger connotation. Like in “How pretty!” for example).
Let’s take for example the word “laki.” “Laki” means “size.” On it’s own, it’s just a noun, but when paired with “ang” to make it “Ang laki” (which means “How big”) it turns into something descriptive.
Normally, when turning adjectives from their singular to their plural forms, you can use both the first method (ma+ first syllable of the root word + root word) and the second method (ang + first syllable of the root word + root word), but in some cases, you can only use the second one.
I honestly don’t know the original rule or reason for this, other than in daily usage, it wouldn’t sound right — like if you omit the “ang” part, it would sound like the phrase is broken.
Below are some examples to help illustrate it better.
On an additional note, if you noticed, there’s another example that looks a bit different than the rest. I’m referring to the word “marurumi.” As you know by now, we convert a noun (dumi) into an adjective by taking the first syllable of the root word then adding the prefix “ma” before it.
Going by that pattern, normally, we would have the word “madudumi” as the final product.
In Tagalog, however, when the first syllable of a word that starts with the letter “d” is repeated, it changes into the letter “r” if it’s followed by a vowel. In this case, “dumi” changes into “rumi” (root word). When we’re using it to describe a single object, we’ll use “marumi,” but if we were describing more than one object, then we will use, “marurumi.”