How to Say Hello in Tagalog (Filipino) Language

The Philippines is home to some of the friendliest people in the world. Filipinos are very hospitable, and they’ll show it from the moment they greet you. That’s why it’s important to learn how to greet them back, and you can start by learning how to say hello in Tagalog in case you may visit the Philippines at Christmas or other occasions.

How to Say Hello in Tagalog

Tagalog is the most widely spoken language in the Philippines (along with English). It has many different dialects across various provinces, but the country’s official language — Filipino — is based on the most commonly spoken version.

So, how do you say hello in Tagalog?

It’s easy, just say hi or hello!

Most Filipinos greet each other that way since there is no direct translation of the word hello in Tagalog. But if you really want to, you could greet someone by saying these Tagalog words.

Kumusta ka? (ku‧mus‧ta ka?)

The formal version, used mostly in writing and official documents.

Kamusta ka? (ka‧mus‧ta ka?)

Used in informal conversation. That is how it is commonly pronounced in Tagalog.

Both phrases are direct translations of the English phrase “how are you?”, and it is how Filipinos usually greet each other. Ka, on the other hand, means ‘you’.

You can also use the words kamusta or kumusta by themselves, and ignore the word ‘ka’. However, it is more polite if you say the whole phrase, especially if you’re talking to strangers.

In case you didn’t know, the word kumusta is derived from the Spanish phrase cómo está, which also means “how are you?”.

How to Use ‘Po’ and ‘Opo’

When talking to someone in Tagalog, you might hear the words ‘po’ or ‘opo’ being said at the end of a sentence. These are words that are used to make the speaker seem more polite. Usually, they are used when someone is speaking with an older person, or someone with authority- like the police.

Let’s use the previous phrase we’ve learned as an example. To greet someone more politely in Tagalog, you can say:

Kamusta ka po?


Kamusta po?

Similarly, ‘po’ and ‘opo’ are the polite Tagalog equivalent of ‘yes’ in English.

Different Ways to Greet Someone in Tagalog

Just like other Asian countries, politeness is heavily emphasized in the Philippines, and it’s reflected in the many polite words in Tagalog. Here is one example of a polite greeting in Tagalog.

Mano po (ma‧no po)

While there is no direct translation for this phrase, it essentially has the same function as ‘hello’. However, the only time you should use this is when greeting an elderly person that you are being introduced to -or greeting an elder that you already know.

The phrase should also be spoken along with a hand gesture that is similar to kissing the hand of a lady. But instead of kissing, you take the hand and touch it with your forehead. Be careful who you do it to though, as someone who still wants to feel young might take offense (jokingly).

How to Greet Someone at Different Times of the Day

There are also Tagalog words that are used to greet someone at different times of the day. Let’s look at how you greet someone in Tagalog during the morning. Before saying ‘kamusta ka’, you can greet them first by saying:

Magandang umaga (ma‧gan‧dang u‧ma‧ga)

The word ‘maganda’ means ‘beautiful’, while ‘umaga’ means ‘morning’. So it’s direct translation would be ‘a beautiful morning’. What a way to start the day, right?

Now let’s look at how you greet someone in Tagalog during the afternoon:

Magandang hapon (ma‧gan‧dang ha‧pon)

The direct English translation of this phrase is ‘a beautiful afternoon’, and functions the same way as saying ‘good afternoon’. If you use the polite words that we talked about earlier, you can greet someone like this:

Magandang hapon po. Kamusta ka? Or Magandang hapon. Kamusta ka po?

You don’t have to use polite words in every sentence. In fact, you shouldn’t, because that would be seen as weird by the locals.

During the evening, you can say this:

Magandang gabi (ma‧gan‧dang ga‧bi)

Like the other two, the phrase means ‘a beautiful evening’. You can also use this phrase for either ‘good evening’ or ‘good night’.

Polite Words for Greeting Someone Based on Gender

There are a lot more polite words in Tagalog that you might hear when talking to a Filipino. While most of them are gender-neutral, some are used specifically for a certain gender. Let’s take a look at the polite word for men.

Kuya (ku‧ya)

This Tagalog word is used when talking to a guy who is older than you. Although if you really want to be more polite, you can also use it even when talking to a younger guy. When greeting someone, you can either say this first before saying hello, or do it the other way around. Here’s an example of how you greet someone using this polite word:

Kuya, kamusta po? Or Kamusta po, kuya?

Of course, there is also a polite word for greeting women. Similarly, you can also use this Tagalog word when talking to older or younger women if you want to be more polite.

Ate (a‧te)

Here’s an example of how you greet someone using this polite word.

Ate, kamusta po? Or Kamusta po, ate?

These gender-specific polite words aren’t just used for greetings only. They can be used whenever you’re addressing someone and you want to be polite.

Saying Goodbye in Tagalog

Saying goodbye to someone can be a really sad affair, no matter what language you’re using. It’s no different with Filipinos, that’s why they rarely use the Tagalog word for goodbye. Instead, they prefer to use the English word ‘goodbye’ or ‘bye’. The reason for this is some Tagalog words are seen as having a deep emotional connection with their meaning.

That’s why when saying goodbye, you should use this Tagalog word sparingly:

Paalam (pa‧a‧lam)

More often than not, Filipinos use this Tagalog word when cutting ties with someone, or when they’re not expecting to see each other for a long time.

Learning the Tagalog Language

Now that you’ve learned the many ways to greet someone in Tagalog, you’re going to be prepared when you talk to a Filipino. They’re very easy to remember, and as long as you use the polite words correctly, you’re ready to take the next step in learning the Tagalog language.

Once you have reasons to learn more about Tagalog, you can use the Ling Tagalog app. You’ll be better prepared and ready to converse with the locals when you decide to travel to the Philippines.

Originally published at on August 7, 2020.



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