Cebuano language

Cebuano language

name = Cebuano
nativename = Sinugboanon
familycolor= Austronesian
states = Philippines
region = Central Visayas and most of Mindanao
speakers = first language: 20 million (ethnologue)
second language: 11 million (est.)
rank = 47
fam2 = Malayo-Polynesian
fam3 = Borneo-Philippines
fam4 = Central Philippine
fam5 = Bisayan
fam6 = Cebuan
script=Latin (Cebuano variant);
"Historically written in Baybayin"
nation=Regional language in the Philippines
agency=Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
(Commission on the Filipino Language)
iso2 = ceb
iso3 = ceb
: "Cebuano" redirects here. For the inhabitants of Cebu, see Cebuano people"

Cebuano (Cebuano: "Sinugbuanon", "language of the Cebuanos") is an Austronesian language spoken in the Philippines by about 20,000,000 people (according to Ethnologue). It is a member of the Visayan languages, and is thus also commonly referred to as Visayan (Cebuano: "Binisaya", "language of the Visayans"). The name came from the Philippine island of Cebu, the site of the second-largest metropolitan area in the country. Cebuano is given the ISO 639-2 three letter code "ceb", but has no ISO 639-1 two letter code.

Geographic distribution

Cebuano is spoken natively by the inhabitants of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, western parts of Leyte and Biliran islands, southern third of Masbate island and throughout the most of Mindanao. It is also spoken in a few towns and islands in Samar. Until 1975, Cebuano surpassed Tagalog in terms of total number of speakers, but Cebuano still has more native speakers than Tagalog. Migrations from Cebu, Bohol, and Negros Oriental mostly to Mindanao and vice versa increase the Cebuano-speaking population of the Philippines. Some dialects of Cebuano give different names to the language. Residents of Bohol may refer to Cebuano as "Bol-anon" while Cebuano-speakers in Leyte may call their dialect "Kana". Speakers in Mindanao and Metro Manila refer to the language simply as "Binisaya" or "Bisaya".

Cebuano is also spoken by Warays in Samar and Leyte, Porohanon in Poro, Ilonggos in Negros Oriental, Eskaya in Bohol, and by native (like Atas, Bagobos, Butuanons, Maranaos, and Tausugs) and migrant Filipino ethnic groups (like Ilocanos and Ilonggos), foreign ethnic groups (like Spaniards, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans), and other peoples in Mindanao as second language. Cebuano is a language with the Verb Subject Object sentence order, in which the first term in the sentence is the term given emphasis. Nouns and adjectives are joined by the nga connector with their order arbitrary as long as the nga connector is in between them.

Orthography and phonology

Cebuano has 21 phonemes. There are sixteen consonants: p, t, k, IPA|ʔ (the glottal stop), b, d, g, m, n, ng, s, h, w, l, r, and y. There are five vowels: i, e, a, o, and u.


Before the arrival of the Spanish, Cebuano had three vowel phonemes: IPA|/a/, IPA|/i/, and IPA|/u/. This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish words. The vowels o and u are still mostly allophones, however, with u always being used when it is the beginning of a syllable, and o always used when it ends a syllable. But there are some exceptions, like "kamatuoran" (truth) and "hangtúd" (until). "E" originally appeared only in a few words such as "babaye" (girl/woman), "dayeg" (praise, complement), "parayeg" (loving), and "pangadye" (prayer) and only in last syllables as "E" was mostly an allophone of "I" in final syllables. With the influence of Spanish, more words with e has been added with the introduction of loanwords.

The vowels are:
* an open front unrounded vowel similar to English "father"
* an open-mid front unrounded vowel similar to English "bed"
* a close front unrounded vowel similar to English "machine"
* a close-mid back rounded vowel similar to English "forty"
* a close back unrounded vowel similar to English "flute"


Below is a chart of Cebuano consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.

*"There are two sets of tag-iya case and they function similarly except that the primary tag-iya would need the unifying linker nga and..."
**"the modifier tag-iya cannot be used as complementary adjective."
***"The final syllable of a primary tag-iya pronoun is mostly dropped."

When the pronoun is not the first word of the sentence, the short form is more commonly used than the full form.

*Function - this form is used for either of the following conditions
# one is emphasising that the action happen in an instance
# one is emphasising that the doer willed the act
*Type of topic - the doer is the topic.

pag verbs

*Function - talks about changes
*Type of topic - the topic is the one who undergoes the change

magka verbs

*Function - the direct object is often the topic, mostly misunderstood as similar to English passive voice

an verbs

# aptative - the aptative mood expresses the possibility of an action. Like the non-intuitive mood, it has no imperative aspect. In the incepted aspect it implies the English perfect tenses or the have form. In the incepting aspect it implies the English can/could form.


Cebuano adjectives (and also nouns) are linked to the word they modify by the unifying linker "nga". However if "nga" follows a word ending in a vowel or glottal stop or the letter N, then it becomes suffixed to that word as "-ng". The adjective often come before the word it modifies but it can also come after it.

maayong buntag = a good morning
dakong panon = a large crowd
mga matang malulot = beautiful eyes

A noun however always comes after the word it modifies.

balay nga bato = stone house
hangin nga habagat = southeast monsoon

Superlative are expressed by adding the affix "kina--an" or the particle "labing"Ex:
kinamaayohan = best
kinadak-an = largest
labing malulot = the most pretty

Comparative are express by adding the particle "mas" or "labawng".

Enclitic Particles

Cebuano has enclitic particles that have important information conveying difference nuances in meaning.

Below is a list of some enclitic particles.

#"na" and "pa"
#*"na": now, already, yet
#*"pa": still, else, in addition, yet
#"man": particle used for disregarding reasons or results; even, even if, although
#"pud,sad": too, also
#"lamang" ("lang"): limiting particle; only or just
#"daw, kuno": a reporting particle that expresses that the information in the sentence is second-hand; they say, he said, reportedly, supposedly, etc.
#"gyud": politeness particle
#"ba": used in yes-and-no questions and optionally in other types of questions
#"sa": for now, for a minute and yet (in negative sentences).
#"kaha": expresses wonder; I wonder; perhaps (we should do something) (also optionally used in yes-and-no questions and other forms of questions)
#"kay": expresses cause; because
#"diay": expresses that the speaker has realized or suddenly remembered something; realization particle
#"tingali": expresses uncertainty; probably, perhaps, seems
#"unta": expresses hope, unrealized condition (with verb in incepting aspect), used in conditional sentences.

Ten types of sentences

1) equational ( topic = predicate ) ~ in this sentence type you can interchange the topic and the predicate without changing the thought of the sentence a) "Mao kini ang Kabisay-an". = This is the Visayas. b) "Siya si Oscar." = He is Oscar. c) "Mao ’na ang amoang balay" = That is our house.

2) non-equational ( topic < predicate )~ in this sentence type the topic and the predicate are not interchangeable a) "Pilipino ang mga Bisaya." = Visayans are Filipinos. b) "Pula ang iyang gisul-ob." = The one he wears is red. (He is wearing red.) c) "Gipalitan ka niya og balay." = (He buys a house for you.)

3) existential sentence of presence~ sentences of this type tells the existence of a thing or idea a) "Adunay Diyos sa langit." = (There is) God in heaven. b) "Didtoy halas sa kahoy." = (There was) a snake in the tree.

4) existential sentence of possession~ sentences of this type tell about someone or something possessing something a) "Ang mga anghel sa langit adunay diyos." = (The angels in heaven have a God.) b) "Naa"Naa" often replaces "aduna"/"duna".] koy ilimnon sa balay." = (I had wine at home.)

5) locative sentence~ this type of sentence tells the location of a thing a) "Ania ang kwarta." = Here is the money. b) "’Toa siya sa bukid." = S/he is in the mountain.

6) meteorologic sentence~ this type of sentence tells about weather condition, noise level, etc., of a place a) "Tugnaw dinhi sa Baguio." = (It is) cold here in Baguio. b) "Hilom kaganiha sa plasa." = (It was) calm in the square.

7) exclamatory remark~ praises and unexpected discoveries belong here

a) "Kadaghan man nimo og sakyanan!" = (Wow! You have a lot of cars.) b) "Gwapaha nimo oy!" = (You are pretty!) c) "Kasaba ba ninyo!" = (You are so noisy!)

8) imperatives~ commands and requests a) "Isugba kanang isda." = (Grill that fish.) b) "Umari ka." = Come here. c) "Ayaw mo pagkinopyahay." = (Do not share your answers among yourselves.)

9) interrogatives~ questions that are not answerable by yes or no a) "Kinsa ka?" = Who are you? b) "Unsay imong ngalan?" = What is your name? ""

10) confirmation~ questions that are basically answered by yes or no. constructed like the first 6 sentence type with the insertion of the particle "ba" as a second term a) "Kini ba ang Kabisay-an?" = Is this the Visayas? b) "Pula ba ang iyang gisul-ob?" = (Does he wear red?) c) "Aduna bay Diyos?" = (Does God exist?) d) "Isugba ba kining isda?" = Shall this fish be grilled?


There are three negation words: "dili", "wala", and "ayaw".

Dili negates adjectives, nouns, and incepting verbs.

Dili ko motrabaho ugma.
"I will not work tomorrow."

Dili dato tong babayhana.
"The woman is not rich."

Wala negates existentials and incepted verbs.

Wala koy kwarta.
"I do not have money."

Wala ko motrabaho tibuok adlaw."I did not work the whole day."

Ayaw is used in expressing negative commands. Ayaw og hilak.
"Don't cry."

Ayaw mo pagdagan-dagan dinhi.
"Don't run here."

Interrogative Words

*"Unsa?" What?
*"Asa?" Where? (for a place or person)
*"Diin?", "Dis-a?" Where?
*"Hain?", "Saa?" Where? (for an object)
*"Kinsa?" Who?
*"Ngano?" Why?
*"Kangkinsa?" To whom?
*"Giunsa?" How?
*"Kanus-a?" When?
*"Pila ka buok?", "Pila?" How many?
*"Tagpila?" How much?
*"Diay ba?" Really?

*The use of "asa" and "hain"

Asa and hain&mdash;both mean "where"&mdash;have distinct uses in formal Cebuano usage.

Asa is used when asking about a place.
**"Asa ka padulong?" (Where are you going?)
**"Asa ta molarga?" (Where are we traveling to?)

Hain is used when asking about a person or thing.
**"Hain na ang gunting?" (Where is the pair of scissors?)
**"Hain na si Arsenia?" (Where is Arsenia?)

In spoken Cebuano, however, "asa" is commonly used to replace "hain". You rarely hear "hain" being used, except by older generations of Cebuano-speakers. This phenomenon is analogous to Tagalog-speakers not distinguishing between "saan" ("asa") and "nasaan" ("hain") in colloquial speech and instead using "saan" for both.

Vocabulary and borrowed words

Cebuano has long borrowed words from Spanish, such as "krus" ["cruz"] (cross), "swerte" (originally "suerte", meaning "luck"), "guapa" (meaning "beautiful"), "merkado" (originally "mercado", meaning "market"), and "brilyante" (originally "brillante", which translates as "brilliant"). It has several hundred loan words from English as well, which are altered to conform to the limited phonemic inventory of Cebuano: "brislit" (bracelet), "hayskul" (high school), "syápin" (shopping), and "dráyber" (driver). There are also words from other languages like Arabic like "Salámat" (meaning "thanks"), or "Hukom" (originally from "Hukm", meaning "judge") and Islamic words used in Mindanao like "Imam", "Syarip", "dyihad", and Islam, and Sanskrit "Mahárlika" "(from "Mahardikka", meaning "nobility") and "Karma".


Note: Shorter terms are the one mostly used.

Common expressions

* I am Sean. "Ako si Sean."
* May I ask a question? "Mahimo bang mangutana?" or "Puwede ko mangutana?"
* How are you? "Kumusta ka?"
* Good. (I am well.) "Maayo."
* How old are you? "Unsay edad nimo?"
* How much? "Pila?" or "Tagpila?"
* How many? "Pila?"
* I don't know. "Wala ko kahibalo." or "Ambot."
* Good day! "Maayong adlaw!"
* Good morning! "Maayong buntag!"
* Good noon! "Maayong udto!"
* Good afternoon! "Maayong hapon!" or "Maayong palis!"
* Good evening! "Maayong gabii!"
*Who are you? "Kinsa ka?" (Informal)
* When is "Anus-â ang"
* Where do you live? "Asa ka nagpuyô?"
* Where are you from? "Taga-asa ka?"
* Where are you going? "Asa ka paingon?"
*Where are they going? "Asa sila paingon?"
* Where is "Asa ang"
* Where is the bathroom? "Asa man ang banyo?"
* Where is the toilet? " Asa man ang kasilyas?" or "Asa man ang CR?" (CR = English "Comfort Room")
* Where is the market? "Asa man ang merkado?"
* What "Unsa"
* What's this? "Unsa ’ni?"
* What's that? "Unsa ’nâ?"
* What was that? "Unsa ’to?"
* What should we do? "Unsay among buhaton?" or " Unsay atong buhaton?" or "Unsay angay namong buhaton?" or "Unsay angay natong buhaton"
* What is your name? "Unsay ngalan nimo?" "Unsay imong ngalan?", or colloquially, "Kinsay ngalan nimo?"
* What number of child are you in your family? "Ikapila ka sa imong pamilya?" (Firstborn, secondborn, etc.; common expression in Cebuano, not English)
* I would like to buy that. "Gusto ko mopalit anâ."
* I would like two of those. "Gusto ko’g duha anâ."
* Hello, my name is Miguel. "Kumusta, Miguel akong ngalan.", or colloquially, "Ako si Miguel."
* Shut up "Hilom!" or "Saba!" although "saba" means loud and sometimes people ridicule this word by being louder instead of being silent.
* Help Me! "Tabangi ko!"
* Help! "Tabang!"
*Please, help me! "Palihug tabangi ko!" or "Palihug tabangi ako!"
* Wait a minute "Kadiyot lang" or "Huwat sâ"
* What time is it? "Unsa nang (namang) orasa?"
* It's five o'clock "Alas singko na"
* I love you. "Gihigugma ko ikaw." or "Nahigugma ko nimo." or "Gihigugma tika." or "Gimahal ko ikaw"
* Take care. "Pag-ayo-ayo!" or "Pag-amping"
* Take that! (slang) "Usapa ’na!" (literally "Chew it!")
* Ouch! "Agay!"
* Don't! "Ayaw!"
* Yes "Oo"
* No "Dili"
* What does "x" mean? "Unsay pasabot sa" x"?"

Prayers in Cebuano

Our Father

Amahan namo
Nga anaa sa mga langit
Pagdayegon ang imong ngalan
Umabot kanamo
Ang imong gingharain
Matuman ang imong pagbuot
Dinhi sa yuta
Maingon sa langit

Ang kalan-on namo sa matag adlaw
Ihatag kanamo karong adlawa
Ug pasayloa kami sa mong mga sala
Maingon nga kami nagapasaylo
Sa nakasala kanamo
Ug dili mo kami itugyan
Sa mga pagsulay
Hinunoa luwasa kami sa kadaotan

Kay imo man
Ang ginghrian
Ang gahom ug ang himaya
Hangtod sa kahangtoran



The use of Tagalog as a basis for Filipino drew criticism from other Philippine linguistic groups. To some extent, there was active resistance shown against its usage. For instance, the Philippine national anthem is sometimes sung in Cebuano and not in Filipino in the island province of Cebu. This resistance does not aim to threaten the country's national sovereignty and in fact is often done as a patriotic act by Cebuano-speaking Filipinos.

# Historically, Cebu is the first and oldest Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Long before Manila fell into the hands of the Spanish Conquerors in the 16th century, Cebu was already an established trading and military post for the Spaniards.
# Linguistically, Cebuano is recently, the country's second most widely used language. During the independence, it was the first largest linguistic group. Cebuano, though originally spoken only in the islands around Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor and several enclaves in the northern shore of Mindanao is now being spoken in many parts of Mindanao as well and in the western half of the islands of Leyte and Biliran and the eastern half of the island of Negros.
# Strategically, due to its geographical location, Cebu is the alternate gateway to Manila adding significance to its language. Cebuano is the native language of more regions than Tagalog, being the language with the most native speakers in Region VII (Central Visayas), Region IX (Western Mindanao), Region X (Northern Mindanao), Region XI (Davao Region), Caraga Region, and Region XII (Southern Mindanao), and lingua franca speakers in latter 5 regions and even Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). There are also significant number of speakers in Region VI (Western Visayas, mostly in San Carlos City and neighboring areas) and Region VIII (Eastern Visayas, mostly in western Leyte and Southern Leyte). By comparison, Tagalog is the language of the majority in the NCR, Region IV-A, Region IV-B, and Region III (Central Luzon, where Kapampangan and Ilocano also dominate some areas).

ee also

* Cebuano grammar
* Boholano dialect
* Visayan languages
* Bisalog
* Bislish
* Cebuano literature
** Vicente Sotto, the "Father of Modern Cebuano Journalism, Literature & Language"
* Languages of the Philippines

External links

* [ Ethnologue report for Cebuano]
* [;cc=seap;view=toc;subview=short;idno=seap085a A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan] by John U. Wolff, Cornell SEAP, 1972. 2 vols.
* [ English to Cebuano Dictionary Online]
* [ Bisaya Expat Forum]
* [ Free Cebuano Lessons Online]

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