Using Filipinisms: A native English speaker’s pet peeve

The term “Filipinisms” is something what we can’t call “proudly Pinoy” or consider as a plus factor in experiencing “more fun in the Philippines”. Filipinisms refer to words that are loosely translated from common Tagalog expressions and cause confusion when applied in conversations with native English speakers. Such mistakes are taken as a big no-no in business communication, especially by corporations with staff dominated by foreigners who are exceptionally fluent in American or British English (e.g. call centers, five-star hotels and international banks).

We have compiled a number of popular Filipinisms that will guide Pinoy employees of foreign-owned entities (and even students enrolled in international schools) when it comes to minimizing errors and being more familiar with how the Americans and Brits express the same thoughts in English for a more professional approach.




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Preposition use

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Come again?

Mistaken as a sexually explicit term (‘cum again’)

I’m sorry I didn’t get quite get that / Excuse me? / I’m sorry would you please say that again?

It’s for free

Inappropriate word use (for)

It’s free. / It’s free of charge. / We’re sending it to you for free.

Hold your line/For awhile…

Sounds absurd (Hold your line), Caller would expect a longer waiting time (for awhile)

Would you mind if I put you on hold for a second? / Please hold

Open/close (for appliances, office equipment and lights)

It’s like referring to an item for repair

Turn on/off

Yes, I’ll wait. (in response to “Do you mind waiting?”)

Confusing mainly because of the “YES” word

No, not at all. / No, I don’t mind at all.


Sounds vague

Is there anything I can do for you? / How may I help you?

I’ll ask her an apology.


I’ll apologize to her. / I should make an apology.

We accept repairs.

Sounds unprofessional, too inviting

This shop repairs cars/cellphones.

Tuck out

Term not recognized in American/British English


He was salvaged.

Misuse of the word “salvaged”, which means saving something from being destroyed

He was assassinated.

She delivered her baby yesterday.

Subject-verb confusion

She had her baby yesterday. / Dr. Smith delivered her baby.

Xerox (action word)

It’s a brand of photocopying machine



Term not recognized in American/British English

Opposition member

Hand carry

Term not recognized in American/British English

Carry-on luggage

It’s traffic today.

Misuse of the word “traffic”

Traffic is heavy.


Term not recognized in American/British English

Senatorial candidate

I failed in Accent training.

Inappropriate use of “in”

I failed accent training.

My brother is taking up law.

Use of “up” – too casual

My brother is taking law. / My brother is studying law.

Where are you studying?

Word choice (“studying”) is too casual

Where do you go to school? / What school do you go to?

Pass by my office before you go.

Inappropriate word choice (“pass”)

Drop by my office before you go.

We have one participant only.

Redundant term (“one only”)

We have one participant.

I talked to her already.

Misplaced adverb, used as filler and “talked” sounds too informal

I already spoke with her. / I have already spoken to her.


Commonly used filler, or used as an answer to replace “yes”

Word should be used to explain a justification of a different thought or a known fact – The boss is actually very lenient. / Nobody knows what actually caused the fight at the party.

As per Paul, all request forms should be signed by him.

Incomplete sentence

As per Paul’s instructions, all request forms should be signed by him.


Term not recognized in American/British English

Tailor (male) or seamstress (female)

Dine in/Take home (when ordering food)

Term misuse

For here/To go

I felt kind of tired.

Inappropriate term (“kind of”)

I felt rather tired.

As to the project…

Inappropriate term (“as to”)

Regarding the project…

Thank you for that/this one.

Sounds confusing and impolite

Thank you for the information. / Thank you.

Currently, I live there right now.

Redundant (“currently” and “right now”)

Currently, I live there. / I live there right now.

Could you repeat that again, please?

Redundant (“repeat” and “again”), inappropriate use of “please” in a sentence that is obviously a command

Could you repeat that?


Term not recognized in American/British English


C.R. / comfort room

Word not found in the English dictionary

restroom, powder room, bathroom, shower room, toilet

I commute to work every day. Getting a car is just too expensive, not to mention fuel too.

Misuse of the word “commute”, which means to travel to a certain place on a regular basis regardless of the vehicle

I commute to work either by car or bus.

Fall in line

Term not recognized in American/British English

Get into line / Line up / Make a line

Fll up this form

“Fill up” means pouring something until completely filled

Fill out this form

(12) Comments

  • grace l. August 12, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    i learned so much.. thank you. it helps me to improve my grammar.

  • Cam March 22, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

    Most of these are correct but some are acceptable. like “for a while”, fall in line, it’s for free, taking up. I did a research as I am going to have a report about filipinism.hope this helps.

  • “Hand-carry” might have used to be wrong. However, since English continues to develop or evolve, this has already been acceptable. This link proves it.

    I guess, I recommend you update this post. Great article though. Keep it up!

  • Comms Trainer Myself December 7, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    Myron, though the term hand-carry exists in the dictionary, it is the PInoys’ misuse of the word that is being addressed here.

    The dictionary definition is to carry by hand. But this article refers to how FIlipinos misuse it as an airline term. It is still not proper to call it hand-carry luggage. Carry-on luggage parin, sir. 🙂

  • Comms Trainer Myself December 7, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

    Btw, I would like to contribute. 🙂

    -next, next week / last, last, week
    -belated happy birthday (happy belated birthday)
    -‘supposed to be’ used as ‘supposedly’

  • Usisera June 8, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

    “Could you repeat that again, please?”

    You say it’s obviously a command but doesn’t the word “could” imply a request? Also, in some contexts, this could be acceptable. Let’s say the speaker is requesting someone to repeat something that has been previously repeated–ergo, “repeat that again.”

  • Pedro September 2, 2015 @ 9:46 pm

    Except for the clearly improper use of words, wrong prepositions, redundant words, etc., some of these will be acceptable over time. Language is evolving and it is a reflection of differences in culture. The problem I found in this article is how Filipinos, for crying out loud, always look up to foreign standards as the correct versions. One has to think, how come British English and American English have differences? CR, dine in/take out? Personally, I find CR to be more sensible than powder room! Even salvage has a history, read Martial law stories and know why this use of word come to fruition. Also in this page, senatoriable is an unacceptable word, but recently, the word presidentiable has been added to the Oxford English dictionary. So it’s just a matter of time this word will be added.

  • usisera November 25, 2015 @ 4:51 am

    Um. My boyfriend is American, and he says “last week, last Tuesday, last weekend, etc.” All the time. I even asked him about it, and he says that’s native usage. Sometimes, you guys are so picky.

  • Penelope Pitstop July 26, 2016 @ 11:44 pm

    @cam – ugh. where do i begin… looking up a couple of webpages without comprehending the content properly does not qualify as “research”.

    @pedro – perhaps the evolution of English will eventually arrive at the inclusion of more Pinoy colloquialisms. as it stands to date, however, the greater majority of the English speaking population of the world will find them incomprehensible. if you are talking to a fellow Filipino, it’s all well and good to use them, but if your intention is to make yourself clearly understood on a global level, language neutrality is paramount.

    you imply that we ought to force the rest of the world to conform to your local version of a language Filipinos didn’t invent. why lower your standards just because the bar has been set a little higher than your reach?

    of course we “look up to foreign standards”–1, the English invented English; 2, English is the primary language of the United States (although Spanish is catching up fast); 3, and we have the Americans to thank for setting up a decent school system on the islands that were technically their territory until about 1934–thereby transplanting their knowledge of English to your grandparents/great grandparents. where else would you look for “standards”? do tell.

    i think u sorta missed the point of this article.

    also, “salvaged” as Pinoys use it is a typo of “savaged”, which means “to harm or maim”. since most of the broadsheets were inoperative during the martial law years, a careless error in one of the few sources of news at the time spread like herpes.

    @usisera – read more carefully, please. OP contributed the repeated word “last” in expressions like
    “LAST LAST week/month/etc”
    because indicating time in this manner can often be unclear. alternatives like “the week after next” or “in a couple of months” are vastly easier to understand.

    • filipino_stranger September 16, 2017 @ 2:16 am

      very well said penelope. i agree to all of it 🙂

  • badet September 24, 2016 @ 7:53 pm

    We all have different perspective about Filipinism but we have to update oursleves of the modification and changes when it come to English language. As to world Englishes perspectives all those Filipinism terms are features and acceptable. Its just the attitude towards acceptance on English change seems our best debate. Yes, it is true we look up American English as a standard English but even American English have differences and even the native speakers have variations. We should not shut down our selves in welcoming New variety of English such as this Filipinism, and as long as it is intelligible it is acceptable.

  • Eliza August 25, 2017 @ 11:06 am

    Please add “In fairness” OMG. That phrase annoys the heck out of me.

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