I train people who like to work in call centers. I came up with this list because I noticed that most Filipinos translate Filipino words to English literally. It’s called direct translation or transliteration.
I got these transliterations from my former trainees. I tried my best to correct them here.
Feel free to comment (or correct).
Filipino expressions are italicized, the transliterations are in brackets, and the suggested expressions are in bold letters.
• Word choice/ Use of Nouns and Adjectives
Nababato na siya.
[He is boring.]
He is bored.
He is boring means “Nakakabato sya”
[He is confused.]
He is confusing.
He is confused means “Nalilito siya.”
Maraming trabaho ang nurse
[A nurse has many works]
Say ‘A nurse has a lot of tasks’ or ‘A nurse has a lot to do’
Naiwan ko sa bahay namin.
[I left it at our house.]
“I left it at home” sounds natural.
Ang laki mo na ha?
[You’re so big]
You’ve grown since the last time I saw you.
(Use the Present Perfect to talk about change
that has happened over a period of time.) You can even add, “Last time I saw you, you were about this high.”
Binabarat nya ko
[He was bargaining me]
He wants to get the item at an unreasonable price.
or (He’s being a cheap ass.LOL Thanks to @asnallar for this)
Alisin mo nga yan dito
[Remove that here]
Keep that away from me. Or Put that away.
Nasa lalagyan ng plato
[It’s in the container of the plates.]
It’s on the dish rack.
Ano ka ba? Nakakaloko ka na ha?
[You’re fooling me around ha]
You’re pulling my leg. I’m not that dumb.
Saan ka galing?
[Where are you from?]
Say, “Where have you been?” “Where are you from?” means “Where were you born?”
Nanood ako ng sine
[I watched the cinema]
I watched a movie. or I went to the movies.
Hinaan mo yung aircon
[Can you lower down? / Can you decrease the temperature?]
Lower down? Can you lower up?
Can you adjust the AC? It’s too cold.
Medyo malamig dito
[It’s quite cold here]
Quite actually means wholly or completely.
Say “It’s a bit cold here. if you mean medyo or slightly.
Paki ayos lang ang pila
[Please fix your line]
Please stand in line.
• Replacing “sa” with “to”
Most Filipinos always replace “sa” with “to”
The preposition “Sa” in Filipino can mean in, on, at, with etc.
Malapit sa mall
[Near to mall]
Near the mall
Near is a preposition. It can stand alone. It doesn’t need any other preposition.
If there’s reciprocity(meaning 2 or more people will benefit from it), communicate with is used.
Sabi ko sa kanila
[I said to them]
Say “I told them”
Nagpunta ako sa abroad
[I went to abroad]
I went abroad just like I went home.
• Filipino Slang/Idioms
These are English words but the meaning is not standard. If you use these expressions when talking to native English speakers, they won’t understand. Gets? (This is, of course, an example of a Filipino slang term.)
Sound trip – say listening to music
Eyeball – say meet new friends or go out on dates
Bonding– say spend time with…
Nosebleed– say it’s too difficult to understand
These expressions are said differently in English.
Masyado kang feeling
[You’re so feeling]
You’re such a know-it-all. (feeling matalino)
You’re not that pretty, you know. (feeling maganda)
Bad trip ka ba?
[Are you bad trip?]
Say “Are you mad?” or “I don’t think you’re in a good mood.”
• These statements/translations are awkward. I’m not saying they’re wrong but there are better ways to say these.
Ako yung nag-aasikaso ng mga aplikante
[I was the one who attended the applicants.]
K.I.S.S – Keep it short and simple. I assisted the applicants.
Doon tayo kumain sa Jollibee.
[Let’s eat there in Jollibee.]
Omit ‘there’. Simply say Let’s eat at Jollibee.
Pwede mo ba ako samahan?
[Can you accompany me?]
Can you come with me?
Anong silbi nun?
[What is the purpose of that?]
What’s that for?
[There are many memorization.]
There are a lot to memorize or There are too many things to memorize.
Nakita ko sya kahapon
[I was able to see him yesterday.]
(Duh, of course you have eyes unless you’re blind.)
Besides, you use the expression “able to”, to express ability
E.g. I was able to pee while texting.
I saw him yesterday.
Kahit fair siya o hindi siya fair
[Even he’s fair or not fair]
Even if he’s fair or not
• Funny Literal Translations
These are hideous. You don’t want people to laugh at you, do you?
Kung kaya mo, kaya ko din.
[If you can, I can also.]
“ If you can do it, I can do it, too” is better.
Wag ka maniwala sa kanya, pinapaikot ka lang nya
[Don’t believe to him, he’s just turning you around]
Don’t believe him; he’s just messing with you.
[Can you turn it to coins?]
Magician? David Blaine?
I made this exaggerated so that the trainees would realize that this is how it sounds when you translate literally.
Say “Can you break this (500-peso bill)? Or Do you have loose change?”
Kung ako sa’yo, di ako aasa
[If I was you, I will not expect]
If I were you, I would not expect
This sentence construction is called conditionals. “If” should always be with “were” (whether the subject is he/she/they) and “would” should be in the independent clause.
Pagdating natin dun, gabi na
[Day here, night there]
LOL. A native speaker might think the destination has a different time zone.
Say “We’ll arrive at night time” or better yet say “It will take 14 hours to get there”
Naghahagilap pa ako ng pera.
[I’m still looking for money.]
Say “I’m still trying to come up with funds.”
Isang taon na sila.
[They’re one year.]
They’re one year what? This sentence is bitin.
They’ve been together for a year.
[I got a perfect.]
Not even [I am perfect in the exam.]
I got a perfect score. or I aced the test.
Si Bob yan, pinsan ko sya
[It’s Bob. She is my cousin.]
That’s Bob, he is my cousin.
Since “siya” sounds like “she”, most likely trainees use this. Good example of carelessness.
Use he for masculine and she for feminine.
Di nya ko pinansin. Anong ibig sabihin nun? Anong gusto nya palabasin?
[She didn’t hi to me. What is the meaning of that?]
LMAO. Say ‘She ignored me, so what is she implying?’ or ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
Puso mo malaglag
[Your heart might fall down]
Calm down. It’s as simple as that.
• Use of Very, also, already and first
For most Filipinos, the words on the left column are automatically replaced with the words on the right which most of the time is inappropriate.
na – already
Grabe sobrang laki naman nyan
[It’s so very, very big]
One “very” is enough. Better yet use another word to express intensity,
E.g. It’s huge.
Member lang ako kaya tinanong ko muna yung lider
[I was just a member so I asked the leader.]
I consulted the leader before I decided on anything. No need for “just”
Meron din ako nyan.
[I have that also.]
Here, put “also” before the verb. You can also use “too.”
I also have that.
I have that, too.
Kain muna tayo
[Let’s eat first]
The issue here is using “first” for “muna”. Don’t end the sentence with first.
Tell the listeners what will happen.
e.g. Let’s eat first before we watch the movie.
Ako tsaka mga kaibigan ko
[Me and my friends]
Use My friends and I. Me is an objective pronoun. E.g. “The gift was for me.”
• Issues with Tenses
Nagtitinda kami nun dati.
[We are selling that before]
“dati” denotes the past tense, so don’t use “are selling” which is present progressive.
Say “We used to sell that.”
Hinawakan ko sya
[I touch her]
Say “I touched her.”
Tapos ka na?
[Did you finished?]
Say Are you done?
“Did you finish?” means “Natapos mo ba?”
• Common Errors
Thank God. Just like Thank you. It’s actually short for I thank God. The subject “I” always takes a plural verb.
Its hurt. That’s hurt.
It hurts. That hurts.
Will going or will gonna
Gonna means going to. Choose one will or going to
It’s just walking distance
It’s within walking distance.
I hope this helps. I’d appreciate if you could add more to these so I can tell future trainees.