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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!


English to Cebuano - Local Jeepney in Cebu
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!”


English to Cebuano: A Few Tips - Street Food Cebu
Local street food stall © Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano: The Basics


Good day Maayong adlaw (the last syllable in adlaw is read as if you want to say “loud”)
Good morning Maayong buntag (long ‘u’ as in the word “put”)
Good noon Maayong udto (long ‘u’ as in the word “put”)
Good evening Maayong 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 fine Maayo ra ko
Goodbye Paalam
Yes Oo (say two O’s)
No Dili
Thank you Salamat
Thank you very much Daghang 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?


English to Cebuano: The Basics - Escario St. Cebu City Road
N. Escario St., Cebu City © Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano: Restaurant Phrases 


Restaurant Kan-anan
Delicious Lami
Spicy Halang / hang
I am hungry Gigutom na ko
I am a vegetarian Di ko puwede mukaon ug karne (literally, I’m not able to eat meat)
One water, please Usa 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 straight Diretso ra
Turn left Adto sa wala
Turn right Adto sa tuo
Stop here, please Lugar lang / hunong na dinhi
I’m lost Nawala ko


English to Cebuano: Giving Directions - Coconut Vendor in Cebu
© Courtesy of Mykee Dizon/Mad Monkey Hostels


English to Cebuano: Dating/Romantic Phrases


I am single Wala koy uyab (literally, I don’t have a boyfriend / girlfriend)
I have a boyfriend/girlfriend Naa koy uyab
I’m married Minyo na ko
What’s your number? Unsa imong number?
You are beautiful Gwapa ka
You are very beautiful Gwapa kaayo ka
I love you Gihigugma tika
I miss you Gimingaw ko nimo
Term of endearment Hinigugma (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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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.