Filipino Problems in English Grammar

Manila Bulletin, June 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Filipino Problems in English Grammar


Although most Filipinos are not native English speakers, they have little difficulty in speaking grammatically correct English. Fifty percent of the problems in English grammar are because of changes in the ending of words. This is because Filipino languages do not have words that change their endings. We change the beginning syllable or reduplicate a middle syllable but not the last syllable. This is in contrast to Latin and Spanish where verbs all change endings.

This was an advantage of Ateneo boys who were made to learn Latin. They learned to conjugate and change the endings of the words. When teaching Spanish you start with Spanish songs which Filipinos already sing. But the first verb to conjugate "AMO" meaning : "I LOVE". "YO AMO, TU AMAS. EL AMA, NOSOTRO AMAMOS, VOSOTROS AMAIS, ELLOS AMAN" (I love. You love. He loves. We love. You love. They love.) As you see all the Spanish verbs change their endings but in English only the third person singular changes (He loves).

But in Tagalog or Bisaya or any of the local languages that I know, the endings do not change, Accordingly the Filipino speaker has a problem with third person singular present, which adds an "s."

Other English forms that change the ending are English nouns in the plural. They add an "s" or "as" ("Ball" becomes "balls"; "field" becomes "fields," etc., in the plural.) As was mentioned 50 percent of the mistakes of Filipino writers and speakers in English grammar consists of these two additional "s" at the end of words. Imagine correcting 50% of potential problems in two simple rules.

Another 10 percent comes from the propositions because in most local languages there is only one preposition, namely "sa. …

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