Is the "Ay" Marker in Tagalog the Same as the English Verb "To be"?

One of the most common markers in the Tagalog language is ay. It may appear as if ay  is the equivalent of the English verb "to be", because, for example, the literal translation of a phrase like ako ay Pilipino is "I am  Filipino". However, in reality, far from being a verb, let alone the verb "to be", which doesn't really exist in Tagalog, the function of ay is simply to invert the order of a phrase, and in the example above ako ay Pilipino is merely the inverted form of Pilipino ako. In other words, because in Tagalog there is no such thing as the verb "to be", such phrases as "I am Italian", "she is beautiful" or "Mario is a doctor" in Tagalog have no verb and are literally rendered as "Italian I" ("Italiano ako"), "beautiful she" ("maganda siya") and "doctor Mario" ("doktor si Mario"). The "ay" marker simply switches the order of such phr

Italian for Filipinos (and Foreigners in General)

L'Italia è un bel paese (Italy is a beautiful country)

Here in Italy we have a population of over 300,000 Filipinos.

What makes communication difficult between Italian employers and their Filipino domestic helpers is the language barrier, as few Italians, including highly educated ones, are fluent in English and Filipinos (who, generally speaking are rather fluent in English) really struggle to learn Italian.

I have published a few posts, both in Tagalog and in English, about Tagalog (for the benefit of foreign expatriates in the Philippines, Western husbands of Filipinas or Filipinos who want to learn their own language in a more systematic way).

I also have a post about the Tagalog grammar written in Italian (which I haven't completed yet).

In this post I will attempt to introduce the Italian language to Filipinos (or other foreign expatriates) who live here or are planning to come here.

Italian is a very tricky language, very very tricky.

One of the things that make Italian rather hard is the fact that nouns, pronouns, articles, adjectives or even verbs can be masculine, feminine, singular or plural.

Here are few examples:

In a sentence like:

Il (article) professore (noun) ha raccontato (verb) che quando lui (pronoun) era giovane (adjective) era bello (adjective) e mentre lo raccontava io ridevo

(The prof told us that when he was young he was beautiful and while he was telling us that I was laughing)

I can switch the whole thing to the feminine gender:

La (feminine definite article) professoressa (feminine noun) ha raccontato che quando lei (feminine pronoun) era giovane era bella (feminine adjective) e mentre lo raccontava Maria rideva

The prof (feminine) told us that when she was young she was beautiful and when she was telling us that Maria was laughing (the masculine verb ridevO becomes ridevA)

All of that can be switched to the plural gender:

I professori hanno raccontato che quando loro erano giovani erano belli e mentre lo raccontavano i ragazzi ridevano

Le professoresse hanno raccontato che quando esse erano giovani erano belle e mentre lo raccontavano le ragazze ridevano (in the plural number the verb doesn't change).

It takes months to talk about the Italian grammar in a complete and systematic way. Here I will just be glossing over a couple of things.



il, l', lo


Il 🐕 cane

Il 🐈 gatto

L'uccello (the bird)

Lo squalo (the shark)


gli, i

Gli uccelli

I cani

I gatti


La, l'

La gatta

La cagnolina

L'edera (ivy)



Le gatte

Le cagnette

Le rose



Un, uno (masculine) una, un' (feminine)

Un 🐈 gatto

Un 🐕 cane

Uno squalo

Una gatta

Un'incredibile storia (an incredible story: here the noun story is feminine).


Nouns can be both feminine and masculine or only feminine or masculine.

For example the Italian word for "machine" is feminine and it's "macchina. There is no masculine counterpart like macchinO, but you could use the affix ONE to turn the word into a masculine but, in this case it is as if I were using the adjective"big". In fact the masculine noun "macchinONE" means big machine or, more precisely, car.

The word "🌲 albero" is only masculine

Words like professor, teacher and others can be switched from masculine to feminine:

MASCULINE: professore, maestro

FEMININE: professoressa, maestra

In English all you have to do to form the plural is to add an "s" to the noun.

In Italian nouns end with a vowel and you have to use a different vowel to form the plural

Examples (singular/plural):




Tenda (courtain)/tende

This is it for now.

If someone is interested I might consider publishing more articles about Italian for immigrants in future posts.


Popular posts from this blog

"Isang Kahig Isang Tuka"

Grammatica Tagalog (Tagalog Grammar Explained in Italian)

Salitang Ugat at Panlapi sa Wikang Tagalog