Ilokano particles

Ilokano particles

Ilokano particles are an aspect of Ilokano grammar.

Particles, themselves, lack a meaning independent of a phrase or clause. For the most part, they shade the meaning of the phrase or clause in which they occur.

Iloko has two morphological types: Enclitic and Independent.


Enclitic particles are very similar to the Enclitic pronouns, in that they are tightly "bound" to the previous word with which they have a close relation. And, similar to the pronouns, their form depends on the last sound of the preceding word. These particles occur primarily with the "Predicate" of the sentence or clause.


The punctual particle lends the meaning of "completion" and "punctuality". The speaker asserts that the idea expressed in the predicate is completed, or to emphasize that it is currently underway.

* Forms:
** -en - After consonants and diphthongs
** -n - After simple vowels

* With Verb PredicatesThe particle lends the meaning of "now", "presently", with progressive formations.

Mapmapanen "He's going now!"

In the negative, the particle has the meaning of "any more".

Saanen nga agtudtudo. "It is not raining any more."

Or, that a decision was made. Saandan nga umay. "They aren't coming any more. (They changed their minds.)"

With the perfective, the idea is that the action had completed before the speech event.

Napanen "He's already gone" Immayen "He came already"

When used in conjunction with the "Future Particle" -(n)to, the idea is that the action will have been completed some time in the future, in other words, a "future perfect". Mapanton "He will have left" Umayton "He will have come"

* With Noun PredicatesNouns do not show aspect, in other words, completion or non-completion. Nevertheless, noun predicates with "-(e)n" express some form of perfective aspect and assertion of a fact. Also, "-(e)n" can impart the speaker's surprise that the fact is contrary to previous assumptions.

1) Balayen! "It's (now) a house!" 2) Balasangen ni Julia. "Julia is (now) a young lady."

In example 1, the speaker is amazed. The speaker could have assumed that it was going to be another type of building. In example 2, the speaker had not visited Julia for a long time.

* With Adjective PredicatesSimilar to nouns, "-(e)n" imparts perfectiveness.

Atiddogen ti buokna. "Her hair is already long"

The perfective particle commonly accompanies the "Nag-" formation and adds further emphasis.

Naglab-ayen! "How bland!" Naddakkelen dayta a balay! "My gosh, that is a big house!", "That house is so big!"


The Speculative particle lends the meaning of "speculation" and "wonderment" on behalf of the speaker.

** -nsa - After simple vowels
** -sa - After consonants and diphthongs

Pinataydansa ni Osama bin Laden. "Osama bin Laden might have died." "Osama bin Laden might be dead." "I think Osame bin Laden died."

When used with "-(e)n", the speculation is about something that may have occurred in the past, but the speaker is not sure about the validity of the statement. Natayensa ni Elvis. "Elvis might have died." "I think Elvis has died."


Unlike Tagalog, Iloko does not have an cojugated form for the future. Instead, the future is is expressed with "-(n)to" attached to the "Neutral" form of the verb.

It has two forms:
* -nto - After simple vowels
* -to - Elsewhere: consonants and diphthongs (e.g., -ay, oy, etc.)

Examples: Mapanakto I will go. Makitanto It will be seen.


Independent particles are words in their own right and do not attach to the previous word, but cannot be used alone.


Respect particle. Used in addressing superiors or strangers. It can be used with titles of family members, their names or titles of authority.

Wen, apo. "Yes, ma'am/sir." Adda tao, apo. (Announcement that you have arrived and are entering the house, lit. "There are people.")


Particle used in questions expressing wonder. Ammom aya ti maipapanna? "Do you know what that means?"


An adjective in its own right, it means "small". But, as a particle, it is used to express a very short period of time. It can also be used in a polite way.


Used to express a short period of time. Similar to "bassit", it can be used in requests and softens the tone.


Used to express surprise when the situation or fact is contrary to the speakers previous notions. Kasta gayam! "So, it's that way!"


Used in questions that implore the listener. Ikkannak ti pirak kadi? "Will you please give me money?"

Posible kadí daytóy? "Is it possible?"

When used in a contrary fashion, it comes close to sarcasm. Napanka kadi idiay eskuela. "You went to the school (so you say...)"


Hearsay. Reporting particle that expresses that the information is second-hand; he said, she said, they said, it was said, reportedly, supposedly, allegedly. Ania a kita ti prutas ti kayat ni Boboy? Kayatna ti saba, kano. "What kind of fruit does Boboy want?" "He said, he wants bananas."

Awán kanótayó maaramid.
"Supposedly, we have nothing to do"

The word "kano", which means, “he said/she said/they said”, is sometimes joined to real translations of “he said/she said”, which is "kunana", and “they said”, which is "kunada". It is also joined to the Ilokano of “you said”, which is "kunam". But this time, "kano" means “supposedly, reportedly, or allegedly.”

Kunana kano. "He/she supposedly said." Kunada kano. "They supposedly said." Kunam kano. "You supposedly said."


Particle used in expressing similarity: like, as. Agsassao kasla Tagalog. "He speaks like a Tagalog."


Inclusive particle, adds and ends to what was previously said: and.

Sika ken siák. "You and I."

Marian Rivera ken Dingdong Dantes. "Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes." Nalamiis ken presko ti angin. "The wind is cold and fresh."


Used to express something contrary or in disregard of the present circumstances. Uray bassit laeng ti pirakna, ginatangna ketdi diay sapatos. "Although she had little money, she bought the shoes anyways."


Condition particle, expresses the unexpected condition to happen, if.

koma (kuma)

Used to express hope or necessity. Pinilim 'ta nalabbaga koma. "You should have chosen the red one (instead)."

la, laeng

A limitative particle: only, just. Kayatna ti makan iti paria laeng. "He like to only bitter melon."


Another limitative particle usually with a shade of disregard by the topic. Napan latta. Dinak pay inasikaso. "He went on ahead. He didn't even pay any attention to me."


Used with imperatives. Softens the tone to a request.

Manang Biday, ilukatmo man 'ta bintana. "(Older sister) Biday, please open the window."


The inclusive particle, adds what is being said to what was previously mentioned: also, too. Kayatko met ti agbuya ti sine. "I want to watch a movie, too." Sika met? "What about you?"

In negative sentences, the addition of "met" compounds the speaker's pessimism towards the situation. Dida met immay. "They didn't even come."

Also, it can be used in contrary statements. Tallo met dagiti bituen ti watawat ti Pilipinas. "But, there are three stars on the Philippine flag."

Kastóy met. "Like this too."


Expresses completion, punctuality, or perfectiveness: already, anymore, now. This is similar to -"(e)n", which is its shorter form.

Mapmapan na. "He is going now."

Nalawag na. "It’s already bright."

In the negative, it means "anymore".

Saan na nga agtutudo. "It’s not raining anymore."

Nouns do not show aspect, in other words, completion or non-completion. Nevertheless, noun predicates with "na" express some form of perfective aspect and assertion of a fact. Also, "na" can impart the speaker's surprise that the fact is contrary to previous assumptions.

Balay na! "It’s (now) a house!"

Nadalus na ti karayan! "The river now is clean!"


Asserts the speaker's attitude toward the cause of some action: because. In fact, the speaker is has a negative attitude towards the consequences. It is as if the speaker is saying, "If only you did not..."

Nabuong dagitoy baso, ta saanmo inkabilda idiay lababo, ngamin. "The glasses broke, because you didn't put them in the sink" Nalipatam, ngamin. "That's because you forgot it." Napintás ngamín. "It’s because she is beautiful."

Although "ngamín" is native Ilokano for “because” and NOT slang, it is still not used in literary writing. The Ilokano word for this is "gapú (ta)." Thus, the literary forms of "Nabuong dagitoy baso, ta saanmo inkabilda idiay lababo, ngamín", "Nalipatam, ngamín", and " Napintás ngamín" are "Nabuong dagitoy baso, gapú ta saanmo inkabilda idiay lababo", "Gapú (ta) nalipatam", and "Gapú (ta) napintás."


Used to express a result or affirmation: indeed. Intan ngaruden. "Well, let's go then"

Notice the use of "-(e)n" for emphasis.

Ilukatmó ti ridaw ngarúd. "You open the door indeed."


Used in questions to solicit the opinion of the listener. Nangabak ngata ni Juan? "Do you think Juan won?"


Used in questions when the speaker encourages the listener for a response. Nabuyam ngay diay sine idi rabii? "Did you watch the movie from last night?"


Used when the speaker expresses a statement contrary to what he/she said previously: but.


"Pay" can be considered the opposite to "-(e)n". It has the meaning of continuation, whereas "-(e)n" denotes punctuality.

Matmaturog pay ni manong. "Older brother is still sleeping."


Used to express pity. Piman, saan a nangabak ni Juan. "Juan didn't win, what a pity."


Expresses uncertainty, possibility, and wonderment: perhaps, possibly, probably, seems. This is almost similar to -"(n)sa."

Pinatayda ni Osama bin Laden samet. "Perhaps, Osama bin Laden is dead." "Perhaps, Osama bin Laden died."

Nadalusen samet. "Probably, it’s already clean."


Used when the facts are disregarded: even (if), although, nevertheless. Uray saan a nangabak ni Juan, naasikasuanda ti TV. "Even if Juan did not win, he got attention from TV."

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