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Filipino Lessons » Filipino Language Pronunciation & Spelling » Stress and Accent Marks in Filipino Words

Stress and Accent Marks in Filipino Words

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When you listen to Filipino words, you should pay attention not only to the sounds of each letter, but also to where the stress or emphasis lies in a word.

This is an essential part of learning the Filipino language for two reasons:

 
1.) Changing where the stress is in a word will sometimes change the meaning of the word.

 
2.) By putting the stress on the wrong syllable, you make it a lot harder for native Filipino speakers to understand what you're saying.


How the Accent Marks Work:

Accent marks written over vowels are used to indicate the syllable that is stressed in each Filipino word, so you can learn how to say the a properly. The rest of this page will explain how to interpret those accent marks correctly.

The accent mark system explained here is the official accenting system of the Tagalog/Filipino language for educational materials. Other resources may use a different accent mark systems, but we feel the official system is the best and most practical for students to learn.

This website also underlines stressed vowels to make things especially clear, even though this is not part of the standard accent mark system.

Please note that accent marks are not used most in non-educational Filipino written materials. If you pick up a newspaper or a novel written in Filipino, for example, you won't see these accent marks. Language students need accent marks, but fluent Filipino speakers do not.

As a side note: you really shouldn't try to learn the Filipino language from educational materials that don't include accent/stress marks! If you do, you'll end up learning how to pronounce words incorrectly, and you'll have to endure the unpleasant task of unlearning and relearning all the words you thought you once knew.


The Default Stress Syllable

According to standard Filipino accent mark rules, accent marks are not written if the 2nd-to-the-last syllable is the one that is stressed. This is referred to as the Default Stress Syllable. The marks are omitted in this case because the 2nd-to-the-last syllable is the one that is most commonly stressed, and by leaving the mark off in those cases it simplifies the writing of stress marks significantly. So, if we talk about the "Default Stress", we're talking about stressing the 2nd-to-the-last syllable; and in that case, the accent mark is usually omitted / not written.


The Three Types of Accent Marks:

The ˊ Accent Mark
Trivia:
The root word of pahilís is “hilís,” which means “slanted”

This accent mark is known as a pahilís and is a slanted accent mark that leans up and to the right. It is written above vowels, and indicates that the syllable under the mark should be stressed.

If you don't see a pahilís mark on a word on this web site, you should assume that the "Default Stress Syllable" is the one that is stressed (the 2nd-to-last syllable).

Markup
Examples:
malamíg Play audio
malamíg (stress on last syllable)
hapág Play audioPlay audio
hapág (stress on last syllable)
Sábado Play audio
Sábado (stress on first syllable)
magandá Play audio
magandá (stress on last syllable)
kuya Play audioPlay audio
kuya (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
+ more examples
Hunyo Play audio
Hunyo (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
kapatíd Play audioPlay audio
kapatíd (stress on last syllable)
ate Play audioPlay audio
ate (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
bahay Play audio
bahay (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
pribiléhiyo Play audio
pribiléhiyo (stress on third syllable)
Markup
Examples:
malamig Play audio
malamig (stress on last syllable)
hapag Play audioPlay audio
hapag (stress on last syllable)
Sabado Play audio
Sabado (stress on first syllable)
maganda Play audio
maganda (stress on last syllable)
kuya Play audioPlay audio
kuya (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
+ more examples
Hunyo Play audio
Hunyo (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
kapatid Play audioPlay audio
kapatid (stress on last syllable)
ate Play audioPlay audio
ate (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
bahay Play audio
bahay (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
pribilehiyo Play audio
pribilehiyo (stress on third syllable)
The ˋ Accent Mark
Trivia:
Paiwà came from the word “iwa” or “hiwa” that literally means “cut” or “slash”

This accent mark is known as a paiwà and is a slanted accent mark that leans down and to the right.

This mark signifies two things: 1.) That the vowel the accent mark is over should not be stressed but that it should be "cut short." This is known as a "stop" (or "glottal stop"). It's the same sound you make between syllables in English when you say "uh-oh". This is really best understood by listening to example audio clips included below. 2.) This accent mark also means the vowel immediately before the paiwa mark is the stressed syllable.

Markup
Examples:
pu Play audioPlay audio
puno` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
ba Play audioPlay audio
bata` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
lu Play audioPlay audio
luto` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
tu Play audioPlay audio
tuta` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
kandi Play audioPlay audio
kandila` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
diwa Play audioPlay audio
diwata` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
la Play audioPlay audio
labi` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
su Play audioPlay audio
susi` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
si Play audioPlay audio
sipa` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
mala Play audioPlay audio
malabo` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
Markup
Examples:
puno Play audioPlay audio
puno (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
bata Play audioPlay audio
bata (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
luto Play audioPlay audio
luto (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
tuta Play audioPlay audio
tuta (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
kandila Play audioPlay audio
kandila (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
diwata Play audioPlay audio
diwata (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
labi Play audioPlay audio
labi (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
susi Play audioPlay audio
susi (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
sipa Play audioPlay audio
sipa (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
malabo Play audioPlay audio
malabo (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
The ˆ Accent Mark
Trivia:
Pakupyâ is derived from the word “kupya*” which is a type of traditional hat in the Philippines

The pakupyâ stress mark indicates that the last syllable of a word must both be stressed and have a stop.

Markup
Examples:
punô Play audioPlay audio
punô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tulâ Play audioPlay audio
tulâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
pulô Play audioPlay audio
pulô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
hindî Play audioPlay audio
hindî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
tukô Play audioPlay audio
tukô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
matandâ Play audioPlay audio
matandâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
parihabâ Play audio Play audio
parihabâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
mulî Play audioPlay audio
mulî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
labî Play audioPlay audio
labî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
talâ Play audioPlay audio
talâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
Markup
Examples:
puno Play audioPlay audio
puno (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tula Play audioPlay audio
tula (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
pulo Play audioPlay audio
pulo (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
hindi Play audioPlay audio
hindi (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
tuko Play audioPlay audio
tuko (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
matanda Play audioPlay audio
matanda (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
parihaba Play audio Play audio
parihaba (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
muli Play audioPlay audio
muli (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
labi Play audioPlay audio
labi (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tala Play audioPlay audio
tala (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)

Definitions Change When The Stress Is Changed

There are many Filipino words that have the same spellings, but have different meanings depending on where the stress is located.
Markup
Examples:
pu - tree Play audioPlay audio
punô - full Play audioPlay audio
basa - read Play audioPlay audio
basâ - wet Play audioPlay audio
ta - star Play audioPlay audio
talâ - to record Play audioPlay audio
+ more examples
uhaw - thirst Play audioPlay audio
uháw - thirsty Play audioPlay audio
pito - whistle Play audioPlay audio
pitó - seven Play audioPlay audio
Markup
Examples:
puno - tree Play audioPlay audio
puno - full Play audioPlay audio
basa - read Play audioPlay audio
basa - wet Play audioPlay audio
tala - star Play audioPlay audio
tala - to record Play audioPlay audio
+ more examples
uhaw - thirst Play audioPlay audio
uhaw - thirsty Play audioPlay audio
pito - whistle Play audioPlay audio
pito - seven Play audioPlay audio

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Next: Stress and Accent Marks Multiple Choice

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