Philippines Spelling 101 (Country & People)
Before we get to the general pronunciation and spelling rules of the language, let's quickly go over some fundamentals about the spelling of words used when referring to the Philippines (the country) and Filipinos (the people).
Spelling isn't everyone's strong suit, but getting the spelling of the Philippines and related terminology right should be a top priority for those new to the country, language, and culture.
Spelling the country's name incorrectly is a very common mistake made by people who are new to the culture or language, and will cause you to lose respect from those you're speaking with. (Imagine what you would think if someone from another country wrote to you spelling the "United States" as "Yoonited Stats", or "Canada" as "Kannada"!)
This seems very basic, but hang in there as we go over it quickly...
THE COUNTRY: "The Philippines" in English:
The name of the country in English is spelled starting with a "Ph", then a single "L" in the middle, and double "PP"'s toward the end. Officially "The Republic of the Philippines," people typically use "The Philippines" for short. Typically you will add the word "the" before the country name in a sentence, in the same way you would do with "the United States."
THE COUNTRY: "Pilipinas" in the Filipino language:
When the people of the Philippines speak in their own language, they refer to their country as "Pilipinas". This is just the local word for the English word "Philippines".
CASUAL USAGE: "Pinas" in the Filipino language:
The people of the Philippines may also refer to their country as "Pinas," which is a casual and shortened word for the country name "Pilipinas".
THE PEOPLE: "Filipinos, Filipinas" in English:
The people of the Philippines are "Filipinos" in English. That is, the word starts with an "F", and has only one "L" and one "P" toward the end (in contrast to the country name, which has two "P"'s toward the end). The generic term is "Filipino" for one person and "Filipinos" for multiple people. You can use the word "Filipina" for a female Filipino. The word "Filipino" can also serve as an adjective as in: "Filipino food" or "Filipino culture".
THE PEOPLE: "Pilipino, Pilipina" in the Filipino language:
When the people of the Philippines refer to themselves in their own language, they use the word "Pilipino" and "Pilipina". This is just the local word for the English words "Filipino" and "Filipina". You can use the word "Pilipina" to refer to a female Filipino person.
CASUAL USAGE: "Pinoy, Pinay"
These words are shortened forms of the words "Filipino / Pilipino" that can be used to refer to Filipino people; and can also be used as an adjective. For example, there is a singing competition TV show named "Pinoy Idol," similar to the USA's TV show "American Idol." The usage of "Pinoy" is typically restricted to casual or informal situations. You can use the word "Pinay" to refer to a female Filipino.
THE LANGUAGE: "Filipino"
The language of the Philippines is "Filipino". Many times you'll see the term "Tagalog" used for the name of the language. Although the terms "Filipino" and "Tagalog" are often used interchangeably, they are different. Technically, Filipino is a language based on the Tagalog language with some minor changes, and Filipino (not Tagalog) is the official language of the country.
Sometimes people write with the spellings "Philipino" and "Philipina" -- these are always spelling errors. "Philipino" and "Philipina" are not real words, so avoid using them!
Below you can listen to audio for the various terms discussed here: