Paul's Blog

Native Language Guide Series: Filipino

Filipino speakers have what they often refer to as a, “Filipino Accent,” which can often be very difficult for native English speakers to understand. The reason behind this confusion is that people from the Philippines mix up several consonants and vowels in English words when they speak, making it exceedingly difficult for native listeners to understand.


People from the Philippines  often substitute the /p/ in a word for an /f/. This becomes especially tricky when those sounds occur close together. For example: perform, helpful, cup, perfect.


Filipino speakers also commonly make the mistake of mixing up the /v/ and the /b/ confused.

For example, the words November and very big.

Many a Filipino person often goes to the, “moo bees,” on a Friday night instead of the movies.


Another sound that Tagalog speakers struggle with is the /th/, which they substitute with /t/ or a /d/ sound.

How many of you Filipino people, “tank” your “mudder” instead of, “Thank your mother?”


Lastly, many people native to the Philippines confuse the /s/ sound with the /z/ sound, meaning that they often say a /s/ sound where there is commonly a /z/ sound in English.


Here is a list of commonly mispronounced words and the correct phonetic way to spell them so that you can practice:


These words have an /s/ sound: piece, face, bus, price

These words have a /z/ sound: peas, phase, buzz, prize


But wait, there’s more! Filipino speakers don’t just have a difficult time with consonants, there are several vowel sounds that they struggle with, as well. The most problematic ones are the /I/ sound and the difference between it and the /i/ sound and the /a/ sound and the difference between it and the /ē/ sound.

For example: sit and seat, live and leave, fill and feel

Also shot and shut, lock and luck, cop and cup.


Can you correctly pronounce these words?


Tagalog speakers have an exceedingly difficult time due in part to the acceptance of speaking “Filipino English” with each other, but if you want to be more clearly understood when speaking to a native English speaker, work on these sounds to be more confident in your English.


Are you a Tagalog speaker? Which words give you the most trouble?

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