Cebuano language: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in  Philippines
Region Visayas and Mindanao
Total speakers about 20,000,000 and second most spoken language in the Philippines.[1]
Ranking 55
Language family Austronesian
Writing system Latin (Cebuano or Filipino variant);
Historically written in Baybayin.
Official status
Official language in Regional language in the Philippines.
Regulated by Visayan Academy of Arts and Letters and Commission on the Filipino Language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 ceb
ISO 639-3 ceb

Cebuano is an Austronesian language spoken in the Philippines by about 20,000,000 people. It is the most widely spoken member of the Visayan languages. Cebuano is given the ISO 639-2 three letter code ceb, but has no ISO 639-1 two-letter code.



Cebuano-speaking regions in the Philippines.

Cebuano is spoken in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, western parts of Leyte, some parts of Samar, Negros Occidental, Palawan, Biliran islands, southern region of Masbate island and Mindanao. Some dialects of Cebuano have different names to the language. Ethnic groups from Bohol may refer to Cebuano as Bol-anon while Cebuano speakers in Leyte identify their dialect as Kana. Speakers in Mindanao and Luzon refer to the language simply as Bisaya.


Cebuano has 21 phonemes. There are sixteen consonants: p, t, k, ʔ (the glottal stop), b, d, g, m, n, ng, s, h, w, l, r and y. There are five vowels: i, e, a, o and u.


During the pre-colonial and Spanish period, Cebuano had three vowel phonemes: /a/, /i/ and /u/. This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish words. The vowels o and u are still mostly allophones, however, with u always being used when it is the beginning of a syllable and o always used when it ends a syllable. But there are some exceptions, like kamatuoran (truth) and hangtúd (until). "E" originally appeared only in a few words such as "babaye" (girl/woman), "dayeg" (praise, compliment), "parayeg" (loving), and "pangadye" (prayer) and only in last syllables as "E" was mostly an allophone of "I" in final syllables. Under the influence of Spanish, more words with e have been added with the introduction of loanwords.

The vowels are:


Below is a chart of Cebuano consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.

Bilabial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive Voiceless p t k ʔ
Voiced b d ɡ
Fricative s h
Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Approximant w j


Stress accent is phonemic, so that dápit means "to invite", while dapít means "near" or "nearby place". Consonants [d] and [ɾ] were once allophones, but cannot interchange, like kabungturan (uplands) [from bungtód, mountain] is correct but not *kabungtudan and tagadihá (from there) [from dihá, there] is correct but not *tagarihá.


Cebuano is a language with the Verb Subject Object sentence order. Nouns and adjectives are joined by the nga connector with their order arbitrary as long as the nga connector is in between them.


While Cebuano nouns are not inflected, they are usually preceded by case markers. There are three types of case markers: kinsa (nominative), tag-iya (genitive) and gitagan'an (oblique).

Unlike English or Spanish which are nominative-accusative languages, Cebuano is an ergative-absolutive language. This may have led to a misconception about Cebuano as being often spoken in a passive voice.

Kinsa or nominative markers mark the topic of most sentences and both the topic and complementary predicate of an equational sentence. Tag-iya or genitive markers mark the owner of the thing or the doer of an action. Gitagan'an markers are similar to prepositions in English. They mark things such as location and direction. Furthermore, noun markers are divided into two classes: one for names of people (personal) and the second for everything else (general).

Below is a chart of case markers. Mga (pronounced [maˈŋa]) marks the plural.

  Kinsa Tag-iya Gitagan-an
general singular ang sa sa
general plural ang mga sa mga sa mga
personal singular si ni* kang
Personal plural sila si/ silang nila ni/ nilang* kanila ni/ kanilang

*Tag-iya case functions like an adjective. Sometimes an adjective acts as a complementary predicate. When a tag'iya case noun is a complementary predicate it uses kang in singular and ila ni/ilang in plural.


Cebuano: Mga gobernador sa Filipinas.
Governor of the Philippines.
"The governor of the Philippines."

Tagalog: Mga gobernador sa Pilipinas.

Cebuano: Init ka'ayo ang adlaw karon.
The weather is hot today.
"The weather is very hot today."

Tagalog: Ma-init ang klima nga-yon.

Cebuano: Hain/Asa ang mga libro?.
At-where the those book?.
"Where are the books?."

Tagalog: Nasaan ang mga libro?.

Cebuano: To'a kang Presidente ang yawe.
At with the President has the keys.
"The President has the keys."

Tagalog: Naan doon ang susi ni Presidente.


Like nouns, personal pronouns are categorized by case.

  Kinsa Tag-iya(primary) Tag-iya(modifier) Oblique
1st person singular ako akoa nako kanako
2nd person singular ikaw imoha nimo kanimo
3rd person singular siya / sya iyaha /iya niya kaniya
1st person plural inclusive kita atoa / ato nato kanato
1st person plural exclusive kami amoa / amo namo kanamo
2nd person plural kamo inyoha ninyo kaninyo
3rd person plural sila ilaha nila kanila

*The two sets of tag-iya case function similarly except that the primary tag-iya would need the unifying linker nga and the modifier tag-iya cannot be used as complementary adjective.
**The final syllable of a primary tag-iya pronoun is mostly dropped.

When the pronoun is not the first word of the sentence, the short form is more commonly used than the full form.

  Kinsa Tag-iya(primary) Tag-iya(modifier) Oblique
1st person singular ko ako ko nako
2nd person singular ka imo mo nimo
3rd person singular siya iya niya niya
1st person plural inclusive ta ato nato nato
1st person plural exclusive mi amo namo namo
2nd person plural kamo inyo ninyo ninyo
3rd person plural sila ila nila nila

*When the object is a second person pronoun, use ta instead of ko.


Nisulat ko.
"I wrote."

Nag basa ko.
"I'm reading."

Nag trabajo ko
"I'm working."

Modifier tag-iya pronouns follow the word they modify. Primary tag-iya pronouns can take the place of the modifier tag-iya pronoun but they precede the word they modify.

Ang akong sakyanan.
Ang akong sakyanan.
"My vehicle."

Especial attention should be given to the short form ta. When the subject is second person it means first person singular.

Taga'an ta ka.
"I will give you"

Nakit'an ti ka gahapon sa dagat.
"I saw you at the beach yesterday."

Amigo ti ka.
"You are my friend."

The inclusive pronoun kita refers to the first and second persons. It may also refer to a number of persons.

The exclusive pronoun kamí refers to the first and a number of persons in a group.

wa ta'y klase karon
"We don't have school today."

wa mi'y libro para basahonon karon "We don't have a book to read today."

The short form is often used when the pronoun is not the first word in the sentence.

The pronouns are gender neutral, hence siyá means either he or she.

Demonstrative pronouns

Cebuano demonstrative pronouns are as follows.

  Kinsa Tag-iya Gitagan-an
Nearest to speaker (this, here) kiri(ri) niiri ngari
Near speaker and addressee (this, here) kini(ni) niini nganhi
Nearest addressee (that, there) kana(na) niana nganha
Remote (yon, yonder) kadto(to) niadto ngadto

*The nga- form can be replaced with the di- form so instead of ngari, nganhi, nganha, ngadto one can use diri, dinhi, dinha, didto.
**The one in parenthesis is the short form which is often used when a pronoun is not the first word in the sentence.


Unsa ni?
What is this?.
"What's this?."

Kinsa na?.
Who's that?.
"Who is that?."

Gikan ni sa Presidente sa Filipinas, ning sulata.
From (ni=adjective) President this letter.
"This letter is from the President of the Philippines"

Mangaon sila didto.
We will eat they there.
"They will eat there."

Ni kaon na ang mga ta'o ug mga bata didto sa fiesta.
The people and children have already eaten in the festival.
"The people and children have already ate some of that in the festival."


Cebuano verbs are morphologically complex and take on a variety of affixes reflecting focus, aspect, mode and others.


Cebuano verbs conjugate for aspect rather than for tense. Cebuano verbs indicate whether you are still going to start the act or not going to start it anymore. There are three types of aspect: imperative, incepted and incepting.

  1. imperative aspect - for giving commands.
  2. incepted aspect - past actions and present actions that are not habitual. While habitual may have been started somewhere in the past or the present, the fact that you are still have to start it again in the future make it in the incepting aspect.
  3. incepting aspect - future actions and habitual actions.


Past actions
The festival was fun.
The act had been started in the past therefore the Cebuano translation is:
Alegre kaayo ang fiesta.

Present actions
I'm going to the festival in San Fernando.
The act has been started before the statement is spoken therefore the Cebuano translation is:
Mo adto ko sa fiesta sa San Fernando.

Examples of Incepting Aspect

Future actions
My friend and I are going to Europe.
The act has not happened yet; therefore it has not yet started:
Ako ug ako'ang amigo mo'adto mi sa Europa.

Habitual actions
We feast on delicious food and drink on beer.
Although the act had already happened she will still have to start the same act again and again (every morning) so the act itself is still to be started or pagasugdan pa and therefore:
Ni ka'on mi ug maayo sa lami nga pagkaon ug ni inom sad mi ug beer.


An interesting feature of verbs in Cebuano and in other Philippine languages is its orientation (forms) system. This means that the role or relationship of the topic (marked by the absolutive marker) is reflected in the verb.

There are nine common orientation types: um verbs, pag verbs, pang verbs, ka verbs, magka verbs, on verbs, an verbs, i verbs and reciprocative.

um verbs
  • Form
imperative incepted incepting wala base
-(um)- mi- mo- mo-
  • Function - this form is used for either of the following conditions.
  1. one is emphasising that the action happen in an instance.
  2. one is emphasising that the doer willed the act.
  • Type of topic - the doer is the topic.
pag verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
pag- nag- mag- mag-
  • Functions - expresses actions that either.
  1. happen for a duration of time.
  2. do not imply doer intention.
  • Type of topic - talks about the doer.
pang verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
pang- nang- mang- mang-
  • Function - pluritive form of um verbs.
  • Type of topic - talks about the doer.
ka verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
ka- na- ma- ma-
  • Function - talks about changes.
  • Type of topic - the topic is the one who undergoes the change.
magka verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
none nagka- magka- magka-
  • Function - talks about a slow but steady change.
  • Type of topic - the topic is the one who undergoes the change.
reciprocating verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
pag-in-ay nag-in-ay mag-in-ay mag-in-ay
  • Function - reciprocating actions.
  • Type of topic - at least two persons/things doing reciprocating actions to each other.
on verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
-a gi- -on -a
  • Function - the direct object is often the topic, mostly misunderstood as similar to English passive voice.
an verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
-i gi-an -an -i
  • Function - the indirect object is often the topic, mostly misunderstood as similar to English passive voice.
i verbs
  • Forms
imperative incepted incepting wala base
i- gi- i- i-
  • Function - the instrument used is often the topic, mostly misunderstood as similar to English passive voice.


There are several grammatical mood in Cebuano: intuitive, non-intuitive and aptative.

  1. intuitive - the intuitive subject is the normal word of the verb, the one whose form you have just learned.
  2. non-intuitive - the non-intuitive aspect is used to express unexpected or unintended actions. It has no imperative aspect.
NON_INTUITIVE incepted aspect incepting aspect wala form
um verbs nahi- mahi- mahi-
pag verbs nahi- mahi- mahi-
pang verbs nahipang- mahipang- mahipang-
ka verbs naha- maha- maha-
magka verbs none none none
reciprocating verbs nagka-in-ay magka-in-ay magka-in-ay
on verbs na- ma- ma-
an verbs hing-an mahi-an hing-i
i verbs nai- mai- mai-
  1. aptative - the aptative aspect expresses the possibility of an action. Like the non-intuitive aspect, it has no imperative aspect. In the incepted aspect it implies the English perfect tenses or the have form. In the incepting aspect it implies the English can/could form.
APTATIVE incepted aspect incepting aspect wala form
um verbs naka- maka- maka-
pag verbs naka- maka- maka-
pang verbs nakapang- makapang- makapang-
ka verbs none none none
magka verbs none none none
reciprocating verbs none none none
on verbs na- ma- ma-
an verbs na-an ma-an ma-i
i verbs gika- ika- ikaw


Cebuano adjectives (and also nouns) are linked to the word they modify by the unifying linker nga. However if nga follows a word ending in a vowel or glottal stop or the letter N, then it becomes suffixed to that word as -ng. The adjective often come before the word it modifies but it can also come after it.

maayong buntag = a good morning
daghang ta'o = a large crowd
kosoga sa Uwan = The rain is raining very hard.

A noun however always comes after the word it modifies.

balay nga nipa = straw/bamboo house
hangin nga habagat = southeast monsoon

Superlative are expressed by adding the affix kina—an or the particle labing. Ex:
kina'maayohan = best
kinadak'an = largest
pinaka'guapa = the most pretty

Comparative are express by adding the particle mas or labawng.

Enclitic particles

Cebuano has enclitic particles that have important information conveying difference nuances in meaning.

Below is a list of some enclitic particles.

  1. na and pa
    • na - now, already, yet
    • pa - still, else, in addition, yet
  2. man - particle used for disregarding reasons or results; even, even if, although
  3. pud, sad - too, also
  4. lamang (lang) - limiting particle; only or just
  5. daw, kuno - a reporting particle that expresses that the information in the sentence is second-hand; they say, he said, reportedly, supposedly, etc.
  6. gyud - politeness particle
  7. ba - used in yes-and-no questions and optionally in other types of questions.
  8. sa - for now, for a minute and yet (in negative sentences).
  9. kaha - expresses wonder; I wonder; perhaps (we should do something) (also optionally used in yes-and-no questions and other forms of questions).
  10. kay - expresses cause; because
  11. diay - expresses that the speaker has realized or suddenly remembered something; realization particle.
  12. tingali - expresses uncertainty; probably, perhaps, seems
  13. unta - expresses hope, unrealized condition (with verb in incepting aspect), used in conditional sentences.


1) equational ( topic = predicate ) ~ in this sentence type you can interchange the topic and the predicate without changing the thought of the sentence.

a) "Ma'o kini ang Kabisay'an". = This is the Visayas.
b) "Mag binisaya mi diri" = We speak Cebuano in here.
c) "Ma'o ’na ang amo'ang balay" = That is our house.

2) non-equational ( topic < predicate ) ~ in this sentence type the topic and the predicate are not interchangeable.

a) "Filipino ang mga Bisaya." = Visayans are Filipinos.
b) "Ka'ma'o'ka mo binisaya?." = Do you know how to speak Cebuano?.
c) "Mo simba mi karon." = We are going to church now.

3) existential sentence of presence ~ sentences of this type tells the existence of a thing or idea.

a) "Adunay Diyos sa langit." = There is God in heaven.
b) "Didtoy halas sa kahoy/Naay bitin sa kahoy." = There was a snake in the tree.

4) existential sentence of possession. ~ sentences of this type tell about someone or something possessing something.

a) "Ang mga anghel sa langit adunay Diyos." = The angels in heaven have a God.
b) "Na'a[2] koy ilimnon sa balay." = I had a drink at home.

5) locative sentence ~ this type of sentence tells the location of a thing.

a) "Ani'a/Na'ara ang kwarta." = Here is the money.
b) "’To'a siya sa bukid." = He/She is in the mountain.

6) meteorologic sentence ~ this type of sentence tells about weather condition, noise level, etc., of a place.

a) "Tugnaw dinhi sa Baguio City." = It is cold here in Baguio.
b) "Hilom kaganiha sa plaza/Minga'o ka'ayo dadto sa plaza." = It was calm in the square.

7) exclamatory remark ~ praises and unexpected discoveries belong here.

a) "Kadaghan man nimo og sakyanan!" = You have a lot of cars.
b) "Guapa'ha nimo." = You are pretty.
c) "Kasaba ba ninyo." = You are so noisy.

8) imperatives ~ commands and requests.

a) "Isugba kanang isda." = Grill that fish.
b) "Ako nang gi sugba." = I already grilled it.

9) interrogatives ~ questions that are not answerable by yes or no.

a) "Kinsa ka?." = Who are you?.
b) "Unsay imong ngalan?" = What is your name?.

10) confirmation ~ questions that are basically answered by yes or no. Constructed sentence like the first 6 sentence type with the insertion of the particle "ba" as a second term.

a) "Kini ba ang Kabisay'an?." = Is this the Visayas?.
b) "Unsa ba ang imohang kinahanglan?." = What do you want?.
c) "Na unsa ba ang Politica?." = What is wrong with politics?.
d) "Isugba ba kining isda?." = Shall this fish be grilled?.


There are three negation words: dili, wala and ayaw.

Dili negates adjectives, nouns and incepting verbs.

Dili ko mo trabajo ugma.
"I will not work tomorrow."

Mano roy mi.
"Were are going out."

Wala negates existentials and incepted verbs.

Init ka'ayo.
"Its hot."

Wala ko mo trabajo tibuok adlaw. "I did not work the whole day."

Ayaw is used in expressing negative commands.

Ayaw og hilak.
"Don't cry."

Ayaw mo pagdagan'dagan dinhi.
"Don't run here."


  • Unsa? What?
  • Asa? Where? (for a place or person - present, future)
  • Diin?, Dis'a? Where? (past)
  • Hain?, Saa? Where? (for an object- present)
  • Kinsa? Who?
  • Ngano? Why?
  • Kangkinsa? To whom?
  • Giunsa? How?
  • Kanus'a? When? (past)
  • Anus'a? When? (future)
  • Pila ka buok?, Pila? How many?
  • Tagpila? How much?
  • Diay ba? Really?
  • The use of asa and hain

Asa and hain—both mean where—have distinct uses in formal Cebuano usage.

Asa - is used when asking about a place.

    • Asa ka padulong? - Where are you going?
    • Asa ta molarga? - Where are we traveling to?

Hain is used when asking about a person or thing.

    • Hain na ang gunting? - Where is the pair of scissor?
    • Hain na ang papel? - Where is the paper?

In spoken Cebuano, however, asa is commonly used to replace hain. You rarely hear hain being used, except by older generations of Cebuano-speakers. This phenomenon is analogous to Tagalog-speakers not distinguishing between saan (asa) and nasaan (hain) in colloquial speech and instead using saan for both.


Cebuano has been influenced by thousands of words from Spanish, such as krus [cruz] (cross), swerte [suerte] ("luck"), gwapa [guapa], ("beautiful"), merkado [mercado] ("market") and brilyante [brillante] ("brilliant"). It has several hundred loan words from English as well, which are altered to conform to the limited phonemic inventory of Cebuano: brislit (bracelet), hayskul (high school), syápin (shopping) and dráyber (driver). There are also words from other languages like Arabic like Salámat ("thanks"), [Hukom or Hukm] ("judge") and Islamic words used in Mindanao like Imam, Syarip, dyihad and Islam and Sanskrit Mahárlika ("nobility") and Karma.


Cardinal Ordinal
1 usà / uno úna
2 duhà / dos ika-duhà
3 tulò / tres ika-tulò
4 upàt / quatro ika-upàt
5 limà / cinco ika-limà
6 unòm / seis ika-unòm
7 pitò / siete ika-pitò
8 walò / ocho ika-walò
9 siyàm / nueve ika-siyàm
10 napú'ô / napulo / diez ika-napú'ô / ika-napulo
11 napú'ô'g usá / napulo'g / napulo ug usá /once ika-napú'ô'g usá / ika-napulo'g usá / ika-napulo ug usá / ika-once
20 kawhaan / veinte
30 katlo-an / treinta
100 usa ka gatos / ciento
1000 usa ka libo / mil
100,000 usa ka gatos ka libo / ciento mil
500,000 lima ka gatos ka libo / tunga sa milyon / cinco ciento mil
1000000 usa ka milyon / milliones

Note: Shorter terms are the one mostly used.


  • How are you? - Kumusta?
  • Good morning - Ma'ayong buntag
  • Good afternoon - Ma'ayong hapon
  • Good evening - Ma'ayong gabi'i
  • Good bye - Adios
  • Thank you - Salamat
  • Where are you from? - Asa ka gikan?
  • How do you say... in Cebuano? - Unsa'un ni pag sulti sa Binisaya.
  • How do I get to ...? - Unsa'un ko pagadto sa...
  • Do you understand - 'Naka sabot ka
  • How is the weather? - Unsa na'ang panahon?
  • What is that? - Unsa nâ?/Unsa man na?
  • What time is it? - Unsa nang orasa?
  • Stop - Hono'nga na.
  • Don't - Ayaw
  • Yes - Oo
  • No - Dili
  • O.k. - Sige
  • Great - Ayos

See also


  1. ^ Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000
  2. ^ Naa often replaces aduna/’duna.

External links

Cebuano language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simple English

Cebuano is a type of language spoken in the Philippines. About 20,000,000 people speak this language. Cebuano is a member of the Visayan language family.

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