"Naka-" vs "nakaka-": a Common Mistake that many Native Filipino Speakers Make

When I deeply immersed myself into the study of the Tagalog grammar I came across the abilitative forms of Tagalog verbs being maka- and makapag-.

These forms convey the idea of ability.

If, for example, I use the verb tumawa that verb means to laugh.

If, instead of using the infix -um- (that goes between the first consonant and the first vowel of the root word tawa), I use the prefix maka- I am communicating the idea of being able to make someone laugh.

So, whenever I use maka- or makapag-, I am conveying the idea of ability.

Now, the mistake most native Filipino people make is that they use nakaka- as prefix (or unlapi) whenever they use the verb in the incompleted aspect (more or less the equivalent of the present tense in English, but to be precise there is no such thing as tenses in Tagalog, there are only aspects).

Is that correct?

Let's take for example the verb tumawa.

We said that the abilitative form is makatawa.

Now, because the incompleted aspect is formed by repeating the first pantig or syllable of the root word tawa, the right form should be nakatatawa, because the root word is tawa and the first syllable is ta: so ta becomes tata.

Yet most Filipinos use (quite incorrectly) the nakaka- affix instead of using naka- and repeating the first syllable of the root-word and so they say nakakatawa instead of nakatatawa, nakakatuwa instead of nakatutuwa, nakakainis instead of nakaiinis, nakakalungkot instead of nakalulungkot and so on.

I used to ask my wife why she used the nakaka- and she would reply that that's the way they say it (which is not quite what the Tagalog Grammar textbooks I have studied say).

This example teaches me that one who is trying to learn a foreign language shouldn't rely too heavily on native speakers.... unless they are language professors


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