• Clarice A.

How to say "No" in Tagalog



How do you say no to a toddler? Isabelle is at the age were she wants to assert control, so every day is a battle. I say 'no' to this, 'no' to that...it’s exhausting. These days I try to focus on the positive and instead of telling her what NOT to do, I tell her want I want her to do and why. Toddlers can actually understand explanations, and it’s better to tell her WHY instead of always saying no. I also give her choices. This makes her feel like she’s in control and gives her confidence. There are many ways to say “no” in Tagalog. “Huwag!” Literally means don’t, its a negative command. So for my toddler “huwag” or “wag” can be combined with a number of action words:

“Huwag mong isubo yan sa bibig” Don’t put that in your mouth. “Huwag mong kainin yan.” Don’t eat that. “Huwag mong hawakan yan.” Don’t touch that.

“Huwag kang malikot.” Don’t be naughty/rowdy/loud “Huwag kang tumakbo, dahan dahan” Don’t run, be careful slow down.

Another way to say no is “hindi”, this as a negative answer.

"Gusto mo ng tubig? Hindi"

Do you want water? No.

I also use "hindi" for saying, "Hindi maganda ang ginagawa mo" this is like a euphemism for What you're doing is not good.


When I’m vacuuming and Isabelle wants to bug me, and she wraps herself around my leg, I say:

“Alis! Umalis ka diyan.”

Move! Move away from there.

“Alis, doon ka sa Daddy”

Move, go to daddy.

She is still learning the word “alis.” I think she understands it, because she actually moves away when I tell her "alis."


When I want to say “No more rice” I can use the word “wala” for nothing.

“ Wala ng kanin.”

No more rice.

“Wala ng gatas”

No more milk.


Isabelle kind of understands this word, she just says “oh ok” in response.

When I give her choices, I say

“Anong gusto mo? Ito o ito?”

Which one do you want, this one or this one?


She can say “ito”. Even though Isabelle is 2 years and 1 month, she can really understand a lot. Now is really the best time to teach her Tagalog because she just repeats everything I say. She is very good at mimicking the sounds, especially the NG sounds.


I hope you will join me in this project and teach your child Tagalog. As Filipino-Americans this is one way we can preserve our culture and be more connected to the people of the Philippines. Maraming salamat!



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