Tenses, Gender, Singular-Plural, Negatives



In Chavacano there are only the simple present, past and future tenses. We do not have perfect or past perfect, or future perfect tenses as in Spanish or English.

 To indicate tenses, the expression “ta”  is used for present, “ya” for past, (and)  “el”  or “ay” for future tense.  The ”ay” in  used in informal situations , as in the family, etc. The expression “pa” refers to something that is  “on going”. The repetition of the last syllable of a verb also indicate an on-going activity.



I  am drinking coffee.  Ta toma yo café.



I will drink coffee tomorrow.

           El (Ay) toma yo cafe mañana.



I  drank coffee yesterday.  Ya toma yo cafe ayer.


Progressve/ On going         

I am still drinking cofee.      Ta toma pa yo cafe.


This is a pineapple fruit.

           Este fruta de piña.


 I am eating pineapple. Ta come yo piña.


I will eat pineapple tomorrow.

               El come yo piña mañana.


I ate pineapple yesterday.    

           Ya come yo piña ayer.

On going;      

I am still eating pineapple. 

           Ta come pa yo piña.





Gender is not emphasized or clearly defined in Chavacano. . The pronoun “el” can mean he, she, or it. Similarly, all nouns are generally expressed in the masculine form. The word “la” to designate the feminine gender has fallen into disuse in Chavacano who are fond of shortcutting words/sentecnes.


Thus: El maestro, El maestra, El Nana, El tata, El hermana, el hermano. El santo, El santa ,  El demonio, El demonia , ,etc…


Gender is also indicated  by the last letter of the word, “o” for male, and “a” for female.

brother  hermano   

sister  hermana        

grandfather  abuelo   

grandmother    abuela

uncle  tío                   

auntie  tía

nephew  sobrino 

niece  sobrina

godfather   padrino 

godmother madrina

grandson  nieto        

granddaughter nieta



Singular & Plural                    

The plural forms for nouns in Chavacano usually   follow the Spanish or English rule on numbers.

To make a noun plural in Chavacano, add “S” more so if the noun ends with a vowel. So un gato (a cat) becomes dos gatos (two cats). The word for month -(mes)- becomes plural  by adding  es. Note also that the plural forms of most  nouns are indicated by the  modifier  “maga” or “mana” before the word.     Maga is Tagalog word for “some” or indicating the plural form of a noun.  Thus: the singular mesa is used as a plural with maga mesa,  maga ventana, maga libro,  maga zapatos, maga gente, maga ojos.  Some Chavacanos use “mana.”


Negatives  Hende


The Chavacanos use the word “hende”  meaning “not” as a negative.  The origin of this word is “hindi” which is Tagalog for ‘not’. Unlike the rule of muting the setter “h” in words, the “h” in hende is not muted.

not clear         hende claro o oscuro

not ripe           hende maduro  o jilaw

not happy       hende alegre o triste

not tall            hende alto o bajo

not sad            hende triste o alegre

For those used to spelling Hindi in Tagalog, the spelling of “hende” in Chavacano come natural. The H here is pronounced, although some would spell the word as ”jendeh”.




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