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Stress and Accent Marks in Filipino Words

Mark Complete

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:

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

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
malamíg (stress on last syllable)
hapág
hapág (stress on last syllable)
Sábado
Sábado (stress on first syllable)
magandá
magandá (stress on last syllable)
kuya
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
Hunyo (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
kapatíd
kapatíd (stress on last syllable)
ate
ate (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
bahay
bahay (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
pribiléhiyo
pribiléhiyo (stress on third syllable)
Markup
Examples:
malamig
malamig (stress on last syllable)
hapag
hapag (stress on last syllable)
Sabado
Sabado (stress on first syllable)
maganda
maganda (stress on last syllable)
kuya
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
Hunyo (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
kapatid
kapatid (stress on last syllable)
ate
ate (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
bahay
bahay (stress on first syllable. Note that the pahilis mark is missing because the accented syllable is the 2nd-to-the-last syllable.)
pribilehiyo
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
puno` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
ba
bata` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
lu
luto` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
tu
tuta` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
kandi
kandila` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
diwa
diwata` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
la
labi` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
su
susi` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
si
sipa` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
mala
malabo` (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
Markup
Examples:
puno
puno (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
bata
bata (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
luto
luto (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
tuta
tuta (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
kandila
kandila (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
diwata
diwata (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
labi
labi (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
susi
susi (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
sipa
sipa (stress on 2nd-to-last syllable + glottal stop on last syllable)
malabo
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
punô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tulâ
tulâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
pulô
pulô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
hindî
hindî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
tukô
tukô (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
matandâ
matandâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
parihabâ
parihabâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
mulî
mulî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
labî
labî (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
talâ
talâ (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
Markup
Examples:
puno
puno (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tula
tula (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
pulo
pulo (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
hindi
hindi (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
+ more examples
tuko
tuko (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
matanda
matanda (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
parihaba
parihaba (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
muli
muli (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
labi
labi (stress and glottal stop on last syllable)
tala
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
punô - full
basa - read
basâ - wet
ta - star
talâ - to record
+ more examples
uhaw - thirst
uháw - thirsty
pito - whistle
pitó - seven
Markup
Examples:
puno - tree
puno - full
basa - read
basa - wet
tala - star
tala - to record
+ more examples
uhaw - thirst
uhaw - thirsty
pito - whistle
pito - seven

Mark Complete

Next: Stress and Accent Marks Multiple Choice

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