Difference Between Tagalog and Filipino

Difference Between Tagalog and Filipino

Despite both languages having very similar grammatical structures, Tagalog and Filipino have a lot of differences. It can be quite confusing to know which language is more appropriate according to the occasion.

And if you are not a native speaker, it might also be hard for you to decide which language out of two you should learn first, as both languages will definitely sound similar to a naïve ear.

Hence, to help you understand the difference between Tagalog and Filipino, we’ve written this in-depth comparison article.


Tagalog VS Filipino: An Overview

Tagalog has only 20 letters, while the Filipino alphabet has 28 letters as the latter language borrows extra alphabets from Latin originated alphabet. In rural regions of the Philippines, Tagalog, which translates into river dweller, is commonly used. Filipino is more commonly is used among urban areas and in recent generations.

Back in 1937, Tagalog was used as the official language, despite not being declared the national language title. Many considered Tagalog to be less pleasing to be considered one.

Later, Filipino was developed to be a more sophisticated version of the language and declared as the official language of the Philippines. As it was developed relatively later, the language is more commonly used among younger generations and urban locations.

And despite the similar grammatical structure, both languages sound completely different at times due to Filipino having more letters.


What is Tagalog?


Tagalog had been chosen as a strong contender to be the national language of the Philippines. However, due to other strong candidate languages that are commonly used in the Philippines, the language was not chosen.

As the language remains widely popular, most elderly people still use Tagalog often. The language is also commonly used on formal or legal documents. It is a rich language that sounds very formal and quite poetic due to the wide range of words.

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What is Filipino?


Ever since the ’80s, a developed version of Tagalog was named Filipino, which was later declared the national language. It is perfectly suited for conversations.

Filipino has many alphabets derived from other Latin-derived languages such as English, Spanish, and so on. The language sound quite easy on the ears, as it was built for having casual conversations. Though you can use it for formal purposes, it would ill-advised of you to use Filipino if you already know Tagalog.


Main Differences Between Tagalog and Filipino

  • Tagalog has 20 letters while Filipino has 28 letters.
  • Tagalog has been used for a longer period of time than Filipino.
  • Tagalog has 20 authentic letters, while Filipino uses 8 additional letters derived from other languages.
  • Tagalog is more popular among older generations, while Filipino is commonly used among younger generations.


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Comparison Table Between Tagalog and Filipino

Below is a comparison table that helps you understand the differences between Tagalog and Filipino at a glance.

Parameters of Comparison Tagalog Filipino
Alphabet 20 letters 28 letters
Target Audience Older audience Younger audience
Documentation Formal Mostly used for conversation
Location Central and Southern regions Metro and Urban regions


Final Words

The decision of which language to use relies more on the occasion. After going through our Tagalog vs Filipino comparison, you can now easily figure out by yourself which language to use out of the two and when to use it.

And when in doubt, you can use Tagalog as it is the base of the development of Filipino, and the majority of the natives are required to study this language as part of their curriculum.

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