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Tagalog Grammar Lite Appendix F Aspect
Appendix F –Infinitive and Aspect
The infinitive form of a verb, sometimes known as basic form or dictionary form, is the form a verb has before it’s conjugated.
To conjugate a verb means to change its form. In English conjugating a verb can change its aspect, voice, mood, tense, person, number, gender, etc. In Tagalog conjugation only changes the aspect. Aspect indicates the state of completion of an action. There are three aspects that occur in all Tagalog verbs.
Completed aspect, sometimes known as perfective, indicates the action has been completed.
Uncompleted aspect, sometimes known as imperfective, incompleted or habitual, indicates the action has started but hasn’t been completed.
Contemplated aspect, sometimes known as unstarted, indicates the action has not yet begun.
Note – there is another aspect, the recently completed, that occurs in certain verbs, but it’s a bit advanced and won’t be covered in this book.
Here are some examples for the infinitive magluto = to cook.
Ex: Nagluto si Maria ng manok. = Maria cooked chicken. Nagluto (cooked) is a completed aspect; the cooking has been completed.
Ex: Nagluluto si Maria ng manok. = Maria is cooking chicken. Nagluluto (cooking) is an uncompleted aspect; the cooking has started but hasn’t been completed.
Ex: Magluluto si Maria ng manok. = Maria will cook chicken. Magluluto (will cook) is a contemplated aspect; the cooking has not yet begun.
Aspect vs Tense
At first glance it may appear that the three aspects are just the past, present and future tenses, and they do often correspond. But that’s not always the case.
In English tense is used to indicate when an action happens.
In Tagalog aspect is used to indicate the state of completion of an action.
There are no tenses in Tagalog so it’s best not to think of it that way. If you do, you will be ok in some situations, but here are some examples of where the correspondence breaks down.
Ex: Maria was cooking chicken yesterday. If you try to rely on tense when creating this sentence you’d be tempted to use completed aspect. But if you rely on aspect, it’s clear that cooking is uncompleted.
Translation: Nagluluto si Maria ng manok kahapon.
The previous example is pretty straight forward because you go through the same thought process as English. The following is an example of a sentence that will really mess you up if you don’t think in terms of aspect.
Ex: Maria would have cooked chicken yesterday. Again, if you try to rely on tense when creating this sentence you’d be tempted to use completed aspect. But if you rely on aspect you will be able to logic out that the action had not yet begun in the past, so contemplated must be used.
Translation: Magluluto dapat si Maria ng manok kahapon.
Granted, that example is beyond the scope of this book. I brought it up to show you that you can run into situations where English translation doesn’t bail you out very well, and thinking about verb conjugation in terms of aspect rather than tense is your only hope.
Some Useful Tables
Table 1: Simple
Infinitive and Aspects
Table 1 shows the infinitive and aspects of magluto. Notice that the infinitive can mean either “to root” or “root” which is “to cook” or “cook” in this case. Notice also that uncompleted aspect can mean either “rooting” or “roots” which is “cooking” or “cooks” in this case.
Table 2: Infinitives and Aspects of All Verb Types in this Book
Table 2 is a quick reference for infinitives and aspects of the verb types covered in this book, although there are many more in Tagalog. Notice the column for whether the imperative exists with the given verb type. Also note that while paki can be used with other aspects, it’s only used with imperative in this book.