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May 30, 2019
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As travellers, we know how much locals appreciate tourists attempting to speak their language. It’s an endearing way to appreciate the country’s culture through smiles from the locals. While it is a known fact that almost everyone in the Philippines speaks English, the country has Filipino (casually referred to as Tagalog, but they’re not meant to be confused from one another) as its national language. However, the Philippines has over 185 dialects spoken in the different regions and provinces the country. With its geographical setup and rich culture, you will expect to hear different tones and phonetics as you travel around. Try to notice how locals talk as you go along – it varies. Although you will be able to converse with Cebuanos in English, we’ve translated some of the most useful phrases from English to Cebuano for you to use soon as you land in Cebu. Remember that this is only applicable in Cebu. As soon as you step foot on Siargao Island, Boracay, or Nacpan Beach, it’s a different dialect altogether. Read along (or bookmark for later!) so you’re ready for your visit!


local cebu jeepney

Local jeepney © Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano:
A Few Tips

The official language of the Philippines is Filipino. However, there are over 185 dialects in the country and each province / region will be speaking something different. Regardless of dialect however, reading anything that’s written in Filipino (or any dialect) is straightforward – read just as how it is spelt, with every syllable pronounced. For example, a greeting that is on the wall saying, “maayong adlaw,” meaning “good day,” is read as ma-a-yong ad-lao. The country was once colonised by Spain, too, so do not be surprised if you come across some words that sound like Spanish. An interesting thing to note is that “hi” and “hello” don’t exactly have a translation in Cebuano and Filipino. Instead, locals ask you how you are, or otherwise just greet you based on the time of day. A more formal welcome greeting would be, “Mabuhay!” which indirectly translates to “long live!”


street food cebu

Local street food stall © Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano:
The Basics

Good dayMaayong adlaw (the last syllable in adlaw is read as if you want to say “loud”)
Good morningMaayong buntag (long ‘u’ as in the word “put”)
Good noonMaayong udto (long ‘u’ as in the word “put”)
Good eveningMaayong gabii (short ‘a,’ all syllables are pronounced in gabii with the last syllable read as the letter ‘e’ – gabi-e)
How are you?Kumusta ka? (same as in Filipino / Tagalog; see the Spanish resemblance?)
I’m fineMaayo ra ko
YesOo (say two O’s)
Thank youSalamat
Thank you very muchDaghang salamat


Palihug (‘u’ is long, like an O)

Sorry / Excuse me

Pasayloa ko

I don’t understand

Wa ko kasabot

I don’t know

Ambot / ambot lang

Do you speak English?

Kahibaw ka mu English?



How much is this?

Tagpila ni?



What’s your name?

Unsa ang imong ngalan?

My name is _____

Akong ngalan ay _____

What time is it?

Unsa na orasa karon?


escario st cebu city road

N. Escario St., Cebu City © Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano:
Restaurant Phrases 

SpicyHalang / hang
I am hungryGigutom na ko
I am a vegetarianDi ko puwede mukaon ug karne (literally, I’m not able to eat meat)
One water, pleaseUsa ka tubig, palihug
 One beer, please

Usa ka beer, palihug

The check, please

Akong bill, palihug


English to Cebuano:
Giving Directions

Where is…?.Asa ang ___ ?
I want to go to…Ganahan ko moadto sa ..
Go straightDiretso ra
Turn leftAdto sa wala
Turn rightAdto sa tuo
Stop here, pleaseLugar lang / hunong na dinhi
I’m lostNawala ko



coconut vendor in cebu

© Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano:
Dating/Romantic Phrases

I am singleWala koy uyab (literally, I don’t have a boyfriend / girlfriend)
I have a boyfriend/girlfriendNaa koy uyab
I’m marriedMinyo na ko
What’s your number?Unsa imong number?
You are beautifulGwapa ka
You are very beautifulGwapa kaayo ka
I love youGihigugma tika
I miss youGimingaw ko nimo
Term of endearmentHinigugma (directly translates to “beloved”)


Want a few more Cebuano tips?
Then watch this video!


More information about English to Cebuano and Useful Cebuano Phrases

Did this article get you excited to learn Cebuano? If you’re heading to Cebu soon or already here, check out these articles and you’ll be speaking like a local in no time!


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English to Cebuano

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