Filipino Concoctions, Philippine English, And Standard American English

Caveat: The purpose of this series is neither to proclaim myself as a grammarian nor to despise people who are still unfamiliar with common grammar mistakes. It is to serve as a reminder that there are rules in English that refute those mistakes. I am well aware that I still have a lot to learn in English and I will not stop digging those rules to share them here. If you happen to be a guilty party, please remember that I shared these blog posts in the spirit of constructive criticism.

Four days ago, my ever divisive blog post “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions” received an interesting comment from a fellow blogger, Aldrin–the man behind the blog “Under Two Trees“. The comment is actually in the form of a tough question: “Where do we draw the line between a “Filipino concoction” and a dialectal difference between two varieties (in this case, Standard American English and Philippine English)?

With that, I had to revisit the entries I included in that blog post, which was posted more than a couple of years ago yet it still receives comments, not to mention copious number of shares on Facebook and Twitter. Anyway, the rush back was pivotal; it made me reconsider four of the entries therein that paved the way for my enlightenment. I am talking about the birth of this blog post, which will throw light on the question.

After ruminating on the question and acquainting myself more about Philippine English, I could say that “masteral”, “advices”, “equipments”, and “trainor” remain as perfect entries for the very subject concoctions. So this is where we can draw the line for a Filipino concoction: when a supposed English word is nowhere to be found in the English dictionaries.

That is why I cut four of those supposed Filipino concoctions from the controversial blog post to use them as entries and/or examples for our next topic, Philippine English.

Philippine English is a variety of English used by the media and vast majority of educated Filipinos in the Philippines (wikipedia,com) and the very English used by Filipinos ( It goes without saying those concoctions are within the bounds of Philippine English. One of them is found in its examples: “fill up”, which is spelled as fill–up. (Do not forget to make a note of the minuscule hyphen there.) The list of its most common words and phrases does not include the rest but the same are qualified because they are, as stated earlier, used both by the media and vast majority of educated Filipinos.

  • advices for pieces of advice or some advice (Update: When I was doing my research on “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions”, the word “advices” did not show up in any of the online dictionaries I use. But a few months back, I already saw it on Its usage is not yet acknowledge by Standard English though.)
  • cope up for cope with 
  • fill-up for fill out 
  • USB for flash drive

If you want to familiarize yourself with Philippine English’s various words and phrases, check this: biodata for resume, bold for nude, colgate for toothpaste…As to the four concoctions above, you will have to pay a short visit to the blog post “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions” to know how they made it to my list of common grammar pet peeves.

For our last topic, Standard American English (SAE), I decided to use the two words that recently fell into said list: response and requestor. SAE is the form of the English language widely accepted as the usual correct form.

Note that the Philippines follow the Standard American English in general. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is the standard reference to SAE usage. The general rules governing the SAE are all defined in and are discussed online at

Let us have a sort of side trip to understand better why we have followed Standard American English and not Spanish nor Nihongo. According to the article titled “What Asia Can Learn From Philippines About English” posted on, Filipinos have the foresight to understand the value of keeping the language imposed on them during the sometimes brutal U.S. occupation of the Philippines from 1898-1946. The US helped plant the seeds for learning English, it was the country itself that took enough interest to dedicate resources and attention to maintaining the language after the Americans left.

Back home, the response is more commonly used in verbal communication. The majority tend to use response to mean respond (the verb form) as in, “Mag-response ka naman sa mga text ko.” In English, “Please respond to my text messages.” In Taglish grammar, “mag-respondis still considered the correct form of the word.

In the case of the word “requestor, it is generally used instead of “requester”. This particular usage is not only common in the Philippines but in the place where I currently work here in the Middle East. Based on Standard American English, through “ and englishforums.comrequester should be used when referring to someone who requests something. It also has a larger number of Google hits than requestor–which is more used in the context of law and technical senses like a part of a program.

It is true that most, if not all, of the grammar pet peeves I have presented in this humble series (i.e., Common Grammatical Errors [CGEs]) are accepted in Philippine English regardless of their grammatical quirks. In the end though, they will remain as mere parts of this English variant, Philippine English.

When it comes to the three major English proficiency exams (Test of English as a Foreign Language, International English Language Testing System, and the hot of the press Pearson Test of English, Academic), Standard English sets the record straight not the English variants. Therefore, the grammatical pet peeves on the list remain nonstandard and unaccepted.

For us Filipinos, it takes a certain amount of determination to be exceptionally good in English because it is just our second language. Learning English as a subject in school is definitely not enough. We need to treat English as a working language and a means of communication in accordance with Standard English, and should consider better ways to learn it.

Related Blog Posts

Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions at

Pluralization of Initialisms at

Stock Phrase, Mail, and Emails at

Stop Saying Thanks God When at

Tagalog Prefixes Interfused with English Verbs at

The Correct Punctuation for Salutations that Begin with Hi or Hello at

The Seven Lethal Grammar Sins of Email Users in the Office at

My First Lazada Philippines Shopping Experience (


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Bebekoh says:

    It can be quite frustrating… and sometimes, Filipinos think you’re a snob or know-it-all when you correct their grammar or pronunciation. Having foreign friends helped me with pronunciation but not with spelling.. 😛 Like you, I am not a grammar police but learning the correct English words helped me with my writing. Kudos to you!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I get that kind of impression from people (the ones outside my circle) around me. I never ever corrected someone’s incorrect grammar directly. I believe these articles are what fuel their impression towards me.

      The truth is, I just love finding those pieces of grammatical mishaps. My compositions are no exception. This explains why I constantly edit my blog posts (i.e., from 2013 to date). I spared those that came up during my first and second year of blogging because they should be. They now serve as reminders of how I used to write. I knew I wasn’t perfect then, and I will never be. But, I won’t stop at learning and digging what the online dictionaries, style manuals, and the like have to offer.

      Thank you for saying that I’m like you. You’re not a grammar police yet you won’t stop learning correct English.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cheesecake says:

    This post gave me a chuckle. We don’t realize it but somehow, it became standard.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I’m glad it did then. There’s nothing wrong with succumbing to “variant English” (in this case Philippine English) but not at the expense of Standard English. That kind of attitude is what get into my nerves.


  3. 019 says:

    Standard English sets the record straight because it is the language of the privileged white man.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I respect your view. And, I can’t deny how good you are–Standard English wise–with that single statement.

      Thank you.


      1. Kira says:

        this is such a good read, thank you!


      2. You are welcome, Kira.


  4. renxkyoko says:

    Common Filipino mistake…… on March, instead of in March…. on 2014, instead of in 2014.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Oh, yes. That’s also really common here in our workplace.

      Thanks a lot for pointing those out, Ren.


  5. Bisaya says:

    In my view, raising our intellectual standards, especially in English communication skills, remains as an important aspect of our virtuous competency. Language, after all, or the quality of language defines the qualitative success of a people. The average Filipino youth of today are already ill-disciplined when it comes to expressing themselves in their ways of communication, oftentimes resorting to shortcuts or crass and lazy pidgin. Such attitudes undermine the importance of discreteness in the accuracy of their own messages; and these people implicitly demand undue effort from their listeners or readers to understand what they are trying to say. Filipinos should realize the value of precision in language and subsequently learn how to communicate properly, correctly and effectively.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      It’s really saddening how the youth of today speaks or writes English. I was a witness to this during my almost three years of being an instructor in college. I came to a point where I wanted to devote an hour of teaching grammar in every subject I taught. But, of course, it didn’t happen. It’s against the school’s policy.

      The only time I can correct the students’ grammar was whenever I check their essays in every major exam. I really devoted time to write notes about a particular incorrect usage or grammar mishap on their papers. I also tackled some important stuff about grammar from time to time during a discussion or when time permits. Glad that all of them appreciated my efforts.

      I wish the DepEd will put more efforts into addressing the apparent decline of English proficiency in the country. They should reconsider the capacity of English teachers, the English content of tv programs, the proliferation of jejemon language, and so forth.


  6. Shofar says:

    Hi Sony, it is amazing how adaptive we have become in communicating in English in the world today. As a former teacher of American Standard English I’ve found that through the years of working with different ages and races of people and their cultures, the English language has continued to create and recreate itself. The result is that new dictionaries are published as quickly as the number of idioms and colloquialism grows, with new words popularized by television and entertainment, technology, journalism, fiction writers, etc. sprouting up in our ever-changing society. It is an almost impossible feat to keep abreast with informal and formal ways of speaking and writing. Suffice to say, communication of ideas and being able to understand one another should be our highest goal in language learning. When I’ve worked among Filipino youth I always say to focus on communicating ideas in order to encourage their oral skills in English. Because of the British/English influence upon the American English language as well as many words of foreign origin that have been adapted into American English, it is difficult to standardize English. Therefore I conclude that American Standard English, or Standard American English as you prefer, is really a misnomer. The reality is that English is spoken and used with tonal and dialectical differences and creatively used or ‘made up’ as we see fit for our communication needs. However, I will conclude that there are some very basic, fundamental grammar skills that everyone ought to have, but not foisted upon them unless there can be proven a need to do so. Your friend in Hawaii,


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      This comment is very enlightening, Liz. With your unparalleled teaching experience, I succumb, to your conclusion: there are some very basic, fundamental grammar skills that everyone ought to have, but not foisted upon them unless there can be proven a need to do so. I will make a note of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. rommel says:

    Profession-wise, I try my best to be exact with words I use. I really do. I often correct other people’s grammar when it comes to work esp. when making a report or sending out an email. Other than that, sorry to say, I don’t want to be always grammatically correct. I type as if I’m speaking. With dot dot dot’s, overuse of commas, exclamation points, etc. I don’t use the very right words and grammar to a tee. I do get a little annoyed when people make mistakes on the basics (like its and it’s, their, there, and they’re), but nothing that will make me a grammar police. Getting the message across, that’s the right focus.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      That makes the two of us, Rom. I never corrected someone directly and I have no plans to change that. I created this series to keep my former students informed and in accordance with their request. They find it informative if not educational.


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