Maranao is a language spoken by nearly 800,000 people living in the island of Mindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur Provinces. It belongs to the Southern Philippine subbranch of the Western Austronesian language family, and is most closely related to the Ilanun language spoken in Sabah, Malaysia and Maguindanaon, spoken in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kuderat, and Zamboanga del Sur provinces.




Letters in Maranao alphabet (dictionary letters, not standardized): A B D AE E G H I K L M N NG O P R S T W Y. AE represents the pepet (central high) vowel, Philippine schwa


Word Classes




  Set I Set II Set III Set IV
I ako aken raken saken
you (sg.) ka ngka/ka reka seka
he/she/it sekaniyan niyan/iyan rekaniyan sekaniyan
we (excl) kami mi/ami rekami sekami
we (incl) tano tano rektano sektano
we dual ta ta rekta sekta
you (pl) kano niyo/iyo rekano sekano
they siran ran/iran kiran siran


Common Particles:

anda ‘where’, peman ‘again’, imanto ‘now’, den ‘emphasis’, di’ ‘no’, ba ‘interrogative marker’, a go ‘and’, ka ‘because’, kagia ‘when’, o ‘if’, anday ‘as soon as’.

Ligatures: a (links appositives); na (links subject and predicate)

Determiners: Common: so, o, sa, ko; Personal: si, I, ki.


Verb Type Actor Object Referent Instrument
Active so sa ko  
Objective o so ko ko
Referential o sa so ko
Instrumental o sa/ko ko/sa so





Voice: active –om- (so phrase actor); objective –en; referential –an; instrumental I-.

Mode: indicative (unmarked); obligatory –a or –I; aptative ka-; causative paka-, paki-; aptative causative kapaki-

Aspect: distributive pang-

Tense: 4 tenses: past/completed –iy-; immediate future = replacive ae; present progressive pe- + immediate future; neutral (unmarked)


Verbal Paradigms




  General Aptative Distributive
Neutral -om- maka- maN-
Past -omiy- miyaka- miyaN-
Immediate Future #-ae- paeka- #paeN-


  Emphatic Distributive Causative Aptative-Causative
Neutral mamaN- ma#ki- ma#paki-
Past miyamaN- miya#ki- miya#paki-
Immediate Future #paemaN- #paeki- #mapaeki
Present Progressive pepaemaN- #pepaeki-  
Obligatory pamaN- paki-  




  General Aptative Distributive Emphatic Distributive
Neutral -en ma-# paN- -en pamaN- -en
Past -iy-# miya-# piyaN-# piyamaN-#
Immediate Future -ae- -en kae-# paeN- -en paemaN- -en
Present Progressive pe- -ae- -en pekae-# pepaeN- -en pepaemaN- -en
Obligatory -a ka- -a paN- -a pamaN- -a
Oblig. Immed. Future -ae- -a kae- -a paeN- -a paemaN- -a
Oblig. Pres. Prog. pe- -ae- -a pekae- -a pepaeN- -a pepaemaN- -a


  Causative Causative 2 Aptative/Causative
Neutral paki- -en paka- -en mapaka- #
Past piyaki-# piyaka-# miyapaka-#
Immediate Future paeki- -en paeka- -en mapaeka-#
Present Progressive pepaeki- -en pepaeka- -en  
Obligatory paki- -a paka- -a  
Oblig. Immed. Future paeki- -a paeka- -a  
Oblig. Pres. Prog. pepaeki- -a pepaeki- -a  




  General Aptative Distributive
Neutral i- mi- ipaN-
Past ini- mini- inipaN-
Immediate Future i- -ae- k#i- ipaeN-
Present Progressive ipe- -ae- pek#i- ipepaeN-
Obligatory -en    


  Emphatic Distributive Aptative-Causative
Neutral ipamaN- kipaki-
Past inipamaN- minipaki-
Immediate Future   k#ipaeki-




  General Aptative Distributive
Neutral -an ka- -an paN- -an
Past -iy- -an kiya- -an piyaN- -an
Immediate Future -ae- -an kae- -an paeN- -an
Present Progressive pe- -ae- -an pekae- -an pepaeN- -an
Obligatory -i ka- -i paN- -I
Oblig. Immed. Future -ae- -i kae- -i paeN- -I
Oblig. Pres. Prog. pe- -ae- -i pekae- -i pepaeN- -i


  Emphatic Distributive Causative Aptative/Causative
Neutral pamaN- -an paki- -an kapaki- -an
Past piyamaN- -an piyaki- -an kiyapaki- -an
Immediate Future paemaN- -an paeki- -an kaepaki- -an
Present Progressive pepaemaN- -an pepaeki- -an pekaepaki- -an
Obligatory pamaN- -i paki- -i kapaki- -I
Oblig. Immed. Future paemaN- -i paeki- -i kaepaki- -I
Oblig. Pres. Prog. pepaemaN- -i pepaeki- -i pekaepaki- -i


Example Sentences (From McKaughan and Macaraya 1996)


1)                  Patot a di’ ka manalipenda’an dapay o kena’ a ka pagari so tebangan. It is proper for you not to neglect him even if it is not your brother who needs help.

2)                  Tomininda’ so manga baebay si’i ko pagapoyan. The women cooked in the fireplace.

3)                  Di’i ako iran paganta’an. They are gossipping about me.

4)                  Si’i gomegenek so mala’ a seda’ sa laod. The big fish is living far from the shore.

5)                  Saken i miyakailap ko pirak aken. I myself lost my money.

6)                  Balilisa ngka siran oto a manga rarata’ i ongar. Beat those who are misbehaving.

7)                  So taw a malowig na di’ paeka’awid sa mapened. A weak person cannot carry something heavy.

8)                  Aya antap iyan ko pirak iyan na dado. He aims to use his money for a plow.

9)                  Kamolo’a ngka a piyak anan ago ngka raken began. Snatch that chick quickly and give it to me.

10)              Manginon ako den a kasasakitan ako na asar a di’ kasakitan so wata’ aken. I will endure pain as long as my child does not suffer.

11)              Tingel aken sekaniyan ka kagiya piyagonaronar ako niyan. I slapped him because he insulted me.

12)              Di’ ako mata’o pikir. I do not know how to think.

13)              Da’ir o lopa’ aken so lopa’ iyan. His land is adjacent to mine.

14)              Miyakaleseb so garangan o kiping ko tolan. The blade of the knife penetrated to the bone.

15)              Mata’an sekaniyan a paekaoma imanto. It is certain that he will arrive today.



References on the Maranao Language:



Laubach, Frank. 1933. English-Maranaw dictionary. Dansalan City, unpublished ms.

Laubach, Frank. 1948. English-Maranao dictionary. Marawi City, unpublished ms.

Macaraya, Batua A. with David and Mazie Hamm. 1959. Maranao texts. Marawi City, unpublished ms.



Hamm, David L., Batua Al-Macaraya, and Hadji Pambaya Bayabao. 1952. The Dansalan Junior College Maranao-English Dictionary. Dansalan City, Philippines: Madrasa Press.

Macaraya, Batua A. and Engracia Macaraya. 1991. Maranao words and phrases. Iligan City: Mindanao State Univ. Research Center.

McKaughan, Howard P. 1958. Inflection and syntax of Maranao verbs. Manila: Bureau of Printing.

----. 1959. Semantic components of pronoun systems: Maranao. Word 15:101-102.

----. 1962. Overt relation markers in Maranao. Language 38:47-51.

----. 1970. Topicalization in Maranao – an addendum. Pacific Linguistic Studies in honor of Arthur Capell, ed. S. A. Wurm and D. C. Laycock. Canberra: Australian National University.

Mc, Kaughan, Howard, and Batua A. Macaraya. 1965. Maranao Plant Names. Oceanic Linguistics 4(1-2):48-112.

----. 1967. A Maranao Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

----. 1996. A Maranao Dictionary. Manila: De la Salle University Press.



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