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"um" or "mag"

Some verbs use "um" or "mag" and others use both, how do you know when a verb takes which one?

For learning: Filipino (Tagalog)
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Um- is used for verbs that already happened and is currently happening. It can only be used with verbs that begin with a vowel when used as prefix.

    Past tense: Um + verb (root word)
    Progressive: Um + first syllable of verb + verb (root word) <<< repeating the first syllable of the verb only applies when um- is used as a prefix

    Umalis = left, Umaalis = leaving
    Umiyak = cried, wept; Umiiyak = crying
    Umakyat = climbed, Umaakyat = climbing
    Umikot = turned, Umiikot = turning

    *The words below involves a different set of rules but I gave this example just to show how um- affects the tense. I'll explain more about this form in another topic if you want.

    Kumain = ate, Kumakain = eating
    Kumilos = moved, Kumikilos = moving

    Mag- is usually used for verbs in the present or future tense. May be used with verbs that begin with a vowel or a consonant. Mag- can only be used as a prefix.

    Present tense: Mag + verb (root word)
    Future tense: Mag + first syllable of verb + verb(root word)

    Mag-alis = remove, Mag-aalis = will remove
    Maghugas = wash, Maghuhugas = will wash
    Mag-isip = think, Mag-iisip = will think
    Magsalita = speak, Magsasalita = will speak

    Note: Adding um- or mag- to the same root word completely changes the meaning of the word.

    Root word: alis = go
    Umalis = left (went), Mag-alis = remove

    Root word: akyat = climb
    Umakyat = climbed, Mag-akyat = carry (bring, transport to a higher place)

    I'd be happy to elaborate further if you want to know more.


    The easiest way to think about this is that mag- verbs describe actions which involve an exterior object, while actions described by um- verbs don't.


    Ngumiti ka na! = Smile!
    Umiisip ako = I am thinking
    Lalakad na kami = We will leave now

    Nagtanong siya sa guro = He asked the teacher
    Nag-aahit ang barbero sa kanya = The barber is shaving him
    Magbabayad ako ng kuryente mamaya = I will pay the electric bill later

    Additionally, mag- verbs express deliberate action, whereas um- verbs can express actions that involuntary. This is usually done with adjective roots to show the actor taking on a given attribute.


    Lumalaki na ang bata = The child is growing / getting bigger
    Gumanda na siya = She became more beautiful
    Lalakas ka pa kung tuloy-tuloy ang training mo = you will get stronger if you continue your training

    Hope that helps!

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