Very casually, however, people might just use "saan" in place of "nasaan".
@quarter in this case, it's native speakers shortening nasaan to saan. Kinda like how some native speakers shorten ako to 'ko. Punta na 'ko doon. For a learner, this sounds like the native speaker is using the ko pronoun
This can be very confusing for learners, and I think some awareness of these informal speech can make learners less confused.
jkos May 01 2021, 9:46am CST ~ 2 weeks, 3 days ago.
Good point. When a learner is at a certain level of proficiency and is ready, they should work through the “Clips” section of this website to get a good feel for all the ways that words are commonly shortened or slurred in everyday speech. It will help a lot for understanding speech “on the streets.” But you’ll probably want to be at an intermediate level for it to be worth the effort, otherwise it may be too difficult.
pear May 04 2021, 11:08pm CST ~ 1 week, 7 days ago.
Both words (i.e. Nasaan and Saan) basically mean the same thing and that is to ask "where". However, in real life Filipino conversation, they are used in different context. The question word "saan" is basically used for asking places or location of an action. For example:
• Saan tayo kakain? (Where shall we eat?) • Saan pumunta si Brian? (Where did Brian go?) You can simply answer these "saan" questions by using the word "sa" added with the place that is being asked.
• Sa canteen (tayo kakain) • Sa paaralan (pumunta si Brian)
Although in conversational Filipino, you don't have to complete the sentence. The question "saan" can also be answered by demonstrative pronouns in Filipino like: dito, diyan, doon.
On another note, the question word "Nasaan" is generally used for asking location of a person or thing. I should emphasize that this question word is for asking where a person is or the location of the person or thing. Nasaan is usually followed by a noun or pronoun and is being introduced by articles "si" and "ang" (i.e. si and ang for singular) or "sina" and "ang mga" (i.e. sina and ang mga for plural). • Nasaan ang aking libro? (Where is my book?) • Nasaan si Amy? (Where is Amy?) • Nasaan ang lapis ko? (Where is my pencil?)
It's more of like Tagalog having "two wheres", whereas English only has one
It's a bit like "we". Tagalog has two "we"
I'd like to note that there is one use of "saan" that does not translate to "where". Tungkol saan? roughly translates to "about what". As in Tungkol saan ang takdang-aralin? What was the homework about?
Although I think that the use of 'nasaan' vs 'saan has been clearly addressed, I am sometimes, haha, too curious for my own good. I went down a rabbit hole following the "na" part of the OP's question. What is the "na" in "nasaan", and similarly, in nasa, narito, etc. It seemed that na kay/sina was related but with "na" as a separate word. I did not discern an appropriate meaning for the standalone 'na' in 'na kay' in the Tagalog dictionaries. I've seen 'na kay' translated as '(is) with' or '(is) in the possession of' where apparently '(is)' is represented by 'na' similar to the '(is)' given for 'na' in 'nasa' - '(is/are/was/were) in/on/at...', 'narito/nandito' - '(is) here', 'nariyan/nandiyan'- '(is) there, 'naroon/nandoon'- '(is) over there'. And, if 'nasa' is the opposite of 'wala sa.', 'narito' is the opposite of 'wala rito', etc. , then 'na' would be the opposite of 'wala'? And if 'wala' indicates non-existence then 'na' would indicate existence?
I. S&O Tagalog Reference Grammar (TRG) (note copyright 1972): Some relevant findings : A. in Section 4.19 "Locative adjective phrases (see Section 6.9 for Locative adverbial phrases) * states that locative adjective phrases normally consist of na plus a sa phrase and in certain cases na and sa are conventionally written as a single word". * for personal pronouns, sa is replaced by kay/kina * for deictic pronouns, na is combined as in narito, naryan, naroon * example(s) of 'na nasa' implying to me that the 'na' in 'nasa' is not a linker B. in Section 7.8 * examples of 'nasa ano' and 'sa ano' * interrogative subtitutes [question words?] are more usual than the adjectival/adverbial phrase, e.g., 'nasaan' for 'nasa ano' C. in Section 7.10 * interrogative words are substitutes for adjectival/adverbial phrases : nasaan with nasa ano; bakit with dahil sa ano; and saan with sa ano. The one-word interrogatives are more often used than the ano phrases D. I did not find within TRG (yet) a meaning for "na" itself.
Curiouser II. A Grammar of the Tagalog Language (GTL) (note copyright 1925) : Some findings: A. The section entitled "The Particles NA and WALA, paragraph 224 begins "The particle na and its negative wala followed by the oblique case express the idea of 'to be in a place temporarily'. * example "na sa bahay ang bata" * discusses the use of narito, nariyan, etc. B. Para. 226 states " 'Where is?' is expressed by na saan, saan naroon, rarely by na hadan. The element 'an' of saan seems to be ultimately identical with ano 'what?', hence saan means literally 'in what?' "
Even though there was more I pulled myself out of that rabbit hole but then I saw the section entitled "The Particles MAY and WALA" and my eye caught para. 229 stating "The particle may and its negative wala are used to express the possession or non-possession of something indefinite. Instead of may, its compounds with the adverbs of place dini, dito, diyan, doon, viz., maydini, maydito, maydiyan, mayroon may be employed: mayroon is the most common, meaning simply 'have;' the others have an added idea of locality 'have here,' 'have there.'
Curiouser and curiouser. What? Maydito and maydiyan? I almost went down that rabbit hole...
It seems that at one time the standalone use of 'na', meaning 'existence' expressing the idea of 'to be in a place temporarily' was more freely used than now?
One other nugget retrieved from the rabbit hole is regarding 'saan' in 'para saan?' - 'for what?' and 'tungkol saan' - 'about what?'. Specifically why is 'saan' used as 'what'? If 'saan' is 'sa ano', 'para sa' is 'for' and 'tungkol sa' is 'about/pertaining to' then it makes sense, i.e., 'para sa ano?', 'tungkol sa ano?', di ba?