Philippine English is any variety of English (similar and related to English) native to the Philippines, including those used by the media and the vast majority of educated Filipinos. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino (Tagalog). Code-switching is prevalent in informal situations.

Orthography and grammar

Philippine laws and court decisions, with extremely rare exceptions, are written solely in English. English is also used in higher education, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business. Most educated Filipinos are bilinguals and speak English as one of their languages. For highly technical subjects such as nursing, medicine, computing and calculus, English is the preferred medium for textbooks, communication, etc. Very few would prefer highly technical books in the vernacular.[1][2] Movies and TV shows in English are usually not dubbed in most cable channels[3] except a few such as Tagalized Movie Channel.[4]

Because English is part of the curricula from primary to secondary education, many Filipinos write and speak in fluent Philippine English, although there might be differences in diction and pronunciation.[5] Most schools in the Philippines, however, are staffed by teachers who are speakers of Philippine English and hence notable differences from the American English from which it was derived are observable.

Philippine English traditionally followed American English spelling and grammar,[6] except when it comes to punctuation as well as date notations. For example, a comma almost never precedes the final item in an enumeration (much like the AP Stylebook and other style guides used in the English-speaking world). Except for some very fluent speakers (like news anchors), even in English-language media, dates are also often read with a cardinal instead of an ordinal number (e.g. "January one" instead of "January first") even if the written form is the same. This is mostly because educated Filipinos were taught to count English numbers cardinally, thus it carried over to their style of reading dates. In military-style (or sometimes officialese) date notation (e.g. 1 January) the American standard is mostly followed, that is "one January".

Tautologies like redundancy and pleonasm are common despite the emphasis on brevity and simplicity in making sentences; they are common to many speakers, especially among the older generations. The possible explanation is that the English language teachers who came to the Philippines were taught old-fashioned grammar, thus they spread that style to the students they served. Examples are "At this point in time" and ".. will be the one ..." (or "... will be the one who will ...") instead of "now" and "... will ..." respectively - e.g., "I will be the one who will go ...", rather than "I will go ...".[7]


Philippine English is a rhotic accent due to heavy American English influence, contrary to most Commonwealth English variants. Therefore, /r/ phonemes are pronounced in all positions. Native speakers and well-educated speakers may also feature flapping and vowel sounds resembling the California vowel shift due to the influence of Hollywood movies.

For non-native speakers, Philippine English phonological features are heavily dependent on the speaker's mother tongue, although foreign languages such as Spanish also influenced many Filipinos on the way of pronouncing English words. This is the main reason why approximations are very common and so are hypercorrections. The most distinguishable feature is the lack of fricative consonants, particularly /f/, /v/ and /z/. Another feature is the general absence of the schwa /ə/, and therefore pronounced by its respective full equivalent vowel.


The following consonant changes apply for most non-native speakers of the language:

  • The rhotic consonant /r/ may vary between a trill [r], a flap [ɾ] and an approximant [ɹ]. The English approximant [ɹ] is pronounced by many speakers in the final letters of the word or before consonants, while the standard dialect prefers to pronounce the approximant in all positions of /r/.[8]
  • The fricatives /f/ and /v/ are approximated into the stop consonants [p] and [b], respectively.[8]
  • Th-stopping: The consonants /θ/ and /ð/ becomes /t/ and /d/, respectively. This can be also observed from speakers of Hiberno-English dialects and a number of American English speakers.
  • Yod-coalescence: Like most Commonwealth English variants, the [dj], [tj] and [sj] clusters becomes into [dʒ], [tʃ] and [ʃ] respectively. This makes the words dew, tune and pharmaceutical are pronounced as /ˈ/, /ˈn/ and [pärmɐˈʃuːtikäl], respectively. For some cases, the yod-dropping is an approximation for aspirated consonants which Philippine languages lack in general.
  • The fricative [ʒ] may be devoiced into [ʃ] in words such as measure or affricated into [dʒ] in words such as beige.
  • The /z/ phoneme is devoiced into an /s/. This also includes intervocalic /s/ which is usually pronounced as a [z] in most other accents of English.[8]
  • Older speakers tend to add an i or e sound to the cluster st- due to Spanish influence, so the words star and lipstick sounds like (i/e)star and lipistick respectively.
  • Like most non-native speakers of English elsewhere, the "dark l" ([ɫ]) is merged into the usual "light" /l/ equivalent.


Vowels in Philippine English are pronounced according to the letter they symbolize, so that ⟨a, e, i, o, u⟩ are generally pronounced as [a, ɛ, i, o, u], respectively.[8] The schwa /ə/, which has various interpretations in English, is somewhat rare in Philippine languages and usually exists in minority languages such as Kinaray-a or the Abagatan (Southern) dialect of Ilocano.

  • The following are the various approximations of the schwa:
    • Words that end in -le that succeeds a consonant (such as Google) are generally pronounced with an [ɛl], except for words that end -ple, -fle or -ble (apple, waffle and humble), which are pronounced with an [ol].
    • The [ɨ] in words such as knowledge or college, it is pronounced as a diphthong [eɪ], making it rhyme with age.
    • The r-colored vowel [ɚ] may be pronounced as an [ɛr] (commander), [ir] (circle) or an [or] (doctor), usually by non-native speakers outside urban areas or the elderly.
  • The ⟨a⟩ pronunciations [æ, ʌ, ɑ] are pronounced as central vowels [ä] and [ɐ]. In the standard dialect, the open front [a] may be pronounced as a variant of the near-open [æ].
  • The [ɪ] phoneme may be merged or replaced by the longer /i/ for some speakers. The words peel and pill might sound the same.[8]
  • The [ɒ] may be pronounced as an [o] or an [ɐ].
  • The u sound from the digraph qu may be dropped before e and i in some words such as conquest and liquidity.

Other features

  • Emphasis or stress is usually put on the wrong syllable of a word. For example, the words ceremony and Arabic are pronounced on the second syllable as another result of Spanish influence. The words mentioned above are pronounced as [sɛˈɾɛmoni] and [aˈɾabik] respectively.

Non-native pronunciation

Monolingual Filipino-language-speakers often have non-standard pronunciations; a number of other indigenous languages, employ phonemes such as [f], [v], and [z]. This form of mispronunciation, caused by the limited sound inventories of most Philippine languages compared to English (which has more than 40 phonemes), is generally frowned upon by Anglophone Filipinos, in particular, and businesses dealing with international clients.

Some examples of non-native pronunciation include:

  • Awry = [ˈari]
  • Filipino = [piliˈpino]
  • Victor = [bikˈtor]
  • Family = [ˈpɐmili] or [ˈpamili]
  • Varnish = [ˈbarnis]
  • Fun = [ˈpɐn] or [ˈpan]
  • Vehicle = [ˈbɛhikel] or [ˈbɛhikol]
  • Lover = [ˈlɐber]
  • Find = [ˈpɐjnd]
  • Official = [oˈpisʲɐl] or [oˈpiʃɐl]
  • Very = [ˈbɛri] or [ˈbejri]
  • Guidon = [ɡiˈdon]
  • Hamburger = [ˈhɐmburdzʲɛr]
  • High-tech = [ˈhajtɛts]
  • Hubcap = [ˈhabkab]
  • Margarine = [mɐrɡɐˈrin]
  • Seattle = [ˈsʲatel]
  • Shako = [sʲaˈko]
  • Daniel/Danielle = [ˈdeɪnjel] or [ˈdanjel]
  • February = [(f/p)ebˈwari] or [(f/p)ebˈrari]
  • Janice = [dʒaˈnis]
  • January = [dʒanˈwari]
  • Rachel/Rachelle = [ˈreiʃel]
  • Stephen, Stephen- in Stephens, Stephenson = [(i/ɛ)ˈstifɛn] or [(i/ɛ)ˈstipɛn]
    (the ph digraph has an eff sound rather than a vee, even in standard Philippine English)
  • Special (some speakers) = [(i/ɛ)ˈspeɪʃal] or [ˈspeɪʃal] rhymes with spatial
  • Twenty- (one, two, etc.) (many speakers) = [ˈtweɪnti]
  • -ator in senator, predator = [ˈejtor] (by analogy with -ate)


Philippine English has evolved tremendously from where it began decades ago. Some decades before English was officially introduced, if not arguably forced, to the Philippines, the archipelagic nation has been subject to Spanish rule and thus Spanish was the language of power and influence. However, in 1898, when the Spanish gave the United States control of the nation, the English language, although initially disfavored, became widely used in a matter of years, which was catalyzed by the coming of American teachers called ‘Thomasites’ (Bolton & Bautista, 2004). Before gaining independence, language policy makers have already started discussing formation of a common language for the Philippines — Filipino. Filipino became the national language, and English was given the status of an official language of the Philippines; English is more or less the dominant superstrate language, as it is perceived by many as a symbol of status and power, replacing Spanish. With the English language highly embedded in Philippine society, it is only a matter of time before the language is indigenized to the point that differentiates from English in the United States or the United Kingdom. This, along with the formal introduction of the World Englishes (WE) framework to English language scholars in the Philippines by renowned linguist Braj B. Kachru in a conference in Manila (Kachru, 1997), has opened the floodgates to research on this new emerging English, ever since branded as Philippine English.

Industries based on English

The abundant supply of English speakers and competitive labor costs have enabled the Philippines to become a choice destination for foreign companies wishing to establish call centers and other outsourcing.[9][10][11] English proficiency sustains a major call center industry, and as of 2005, America Online (AOL) has 1,000 people in what used to be the US Air Force's Clark Air Base in Angeles City answering ninety percent of their global e-mail inquiries. Citibank does its global ATM programming in the country, and Procter & Gamble has over 400 employees in Makati, a central Manila neighborhood, doing back office work for their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing.

An influx of foreign students, principally from South Korea, has also led to growth in the number of English language learning centers,[12] especially in Metro Manila, Baguio City, Metro Cebu and Metro Bacolod.[13]

Recently, the Spanish Ministry for External Affairs and the Japanese government decided to hire speakers of the Philippine English as Language Assistants for their own respective nations.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Author David Crystal remarks that English is used in technical contexts for intelligibility, and Taglish is used in social contexts for identity, noting that similar situations exist in other countries (e.g., as with Singlish). See Crystal, David (2003). English as a Global Language (2, illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-521-53032-6 
  2. ^ Espinosa, Doray (1997). "English in the Philippines". Global Issues in Language Education. Language Institute of Japan (26): 9. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Rowthorn, Chris; Bloom, Greg (2006). Philippines. Lonely Planet Country Guide (9th ed.). Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74104-289-4. 
  4. ^ "Tagalized Movie Channel on SKY". philstar.com. The Philippine Star. 23 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Isabel Pefianco Martin (April 12, 2008). "Fearing English in the Philippines". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ Gonzalez, A. (2009) The Transplantation of American English in Philippine Soil, in A Companion to the History of the English Language (eds H. Momma and M. Matto), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi:10.1002/9781444302851.ch31
  7. ^ Examples: . "So if they see policemen about to conduct a security survey, they should ask me first because I will be the one who will know about it. They will have to talk to me,", "Security survey for Lapu banks suggested". Philippine daily Inquirer, citing Cebu Daily News. March 17, 2008. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved 2008-09-03 ; . "If I will be the one who will talk and explain, that will be self-serving,", Anselmo Roque (January 18, 2007). "Ecija school faculty bares university exec's mess". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-03 ; . "Whoever wins on the issue of secret balloting will be the one who will win the speakership,", Norman Bordadora (July 22, 2007). "Arroyo can deliver SONA sans Speaker—Salonga". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-03 .
  8. ^ a b c d e Bautista, L. and Bolton, K. (2008). Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary Aberdeen, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  9. ^ Carl Marc Ramota (2004). "Economic Woes Drive Bright Graduates to Call Centers". Bulatlat, http://www.bulatlat.com/. Retrieved March 13, 2011.  External link in publisher= (help)
  10. ^ Diana G Mendoza (October 1, 2010). "Philippines: Call Centre Boom Breeds New Culture – and Risky Behaviour". Global Geopolitics & Political Economy, http://globalgeopolitics.net/. Retrieved March 13, 2011.  External link in publisher= (help)
  11. ^ Carlos H. Conde (August 13, 2007). "English getting lost in translation in Philippines". The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/. Retrieved March 13, 2011.  External link in publisher= (help)
  12. ^ Jonathan M. Hicap (September 13, 2009). "Koreans Flock to the Philippines to Learn English". Korea Times, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr. Retrieved March 13, 2011.  External link in publisher= (help)
  13. ^ "Korean students to study English in Bacolod schools". Manila Bulletin. May 3, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 

Further reading

External links