The Tagalog POD and the English Subject

In many cases, the Tagalog POD corresponds to the English subject. Examples:

Kumain ng ice cream si Mary.

Mary ate ice cream.

Pumunta sa teacher si Mary.

Mary went to the teacher.

However, there are also many cases in which the Tagalog POD does not correspond to the English subject. Examples:

Kinain ni Mary ang ice cream.

Mary ate the ice cream.

Lit. The ice cream was eaten by Mary.

Pinuntahan ni Mary ang teacher.

Mary went to the teacher.

Lit. The teacher was gone to by Mary.

Some of the main differences between the Tagalog POD and the English subject:

1. The Tagalog POD generally comes after the News. The English subject comes before the predicate.

Kumain ng ice cream si Mary.

Mary ate ice cream.

Pumunta sa teacher si Mary.

Mary went to the teacher.

2. The English subject is usually the doer or “experiencer”* of the action. The Tagalog POD may be the doer/experiencer, object, direction etc. of the action.

Kumain ng ice cream si Mary.

(POD – doer)

Mary ate ice cream.

Kinain ni Mary ang ice cream.

(POD – object)

Mary ate the ice cream.

Lit. The ice cream was eaten by Mary.

Pumunta sa teacher si Mary.

(POD – doer)

Mary went to the teacher.

Pinuntahan ni Mary ang teacher.

(POD – direction)

Mary went to the teacher.

Lit. The teacher was gone to by Mary.

* Example of a Tagalog POD and English subject as experiencer of the action:

Nagulat si Mary.

Mary was startled.

3. The Tagalog POD is usually either definite (e.g. the dog, your dog, that dog, John) or generic (e.g. dogs in general).

Pinsan ni Mary si John.

John is Mary’s cousin.

Mammal ang balyena.

Whales (in general) are mammals.

Masarap ang ice cream.

The ice cream is delicious.

Ice cream (in general) is delicious.

It is not uncommon for an English subject to be indefinite (e.g. a dog, some dogs).

A bridge will be built here.
A wallet has been found.

The Tagalog equivalent is generally expressed using a POD-less sentence indicating existence (There’s a…).

May tulay na itatayo’ dito.

A bridge will be built here.

Lit. There’s a bridge that will be built here.

May wallet na nahanap.

A wallet has been found.

Lit. There’s a wallet that has been found.

See also: Sentences with no POD (p. 371), May, mayroon/meron, marami, wala’ (p. 334)

4. If the object of an action in a basic sentence is definite, it becomes the POD in Tagalog. But it does not have to be the subject in English.

Kumain ng ice cream si Mary.


Mary ate (some) ice cream.

(ice cream – indefinite object)

Kinain ni Mary ang ice cream.


Mary ate the ice cream.

Lit. The ice cream was eaten by Mary.

(the ice cream – definite object)

5. Certain other English subjects have no equivalent Tagalog POD.

Umuulan.


It’s raining.

Lit. Raining.

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