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How to Introduce Yourself in Indonesian Like a Native

Out of the many, many countries that I’ve been to, Indonesia is one that I can describe as the “friendliest.”

People just want to talk to you, in a real and genuine way that doesn’t happen in some other countries where foreigners are either too commonplace or too much of a curiosity.

And although a lot of younger people in big cities can hold conversations in English, there are also quite a few people who would love to chat and find out more about you—if only you knew how to introduce yourself in Indonesian. So, must you learn how to introduce yourself to learn Indonesian? Yes!

When you learn Indonesian, how to introduce yourself can’t be skipped over! That’s where we come in, as we’ll teach you how to introduce yourself (English to Indonesian).

The Indonesian language has been called easy to pick up, but it’s opaque enough that a helping hand is always welcome. With this guide to introducing yourself in Indonesian, you’ll hit the ground running and make a marvelous first impression.

By the way, before we begin, make sure to check out our video on Self-introductions in Indonesian in Three Minutes for a quick summary of what we’ll go over here!

Table of Contents

  1. Start with Hello
  2. What’s Your Name? (Siapa Nama Anda?)
  3. Where are You From? (Dari Mana?)
  4. Why are You Learning Indonesian? (Mengapa Anda Belajar Bahasa Indonesia?)
  5. Why are You Visiting? (Mengapa Anda Ke Sini?)
  6. What Do You Do? (Apa Pekerjaan Anda?)
  7. What Do You Like to Do? (Apa Yang Anda Suka Lakukan?)
  8. Do You have Siblings? (Apakah Anda Punya Saudara?)
  9. Conclusion

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1. Start with Hello

When learning how to speak Indonesian when introducing yourself, keep in mind that any good interaction begins with a greeting. Though the borrowed word “hello,” or even “hey guys,” is pretty common in Indonesia, you can’t go wrong with a slightly more formal greeting.

Indonesian has four different greetings that are used throughout the day, based on the Islamic prayer calls that are easily audible from any point in a city.

Fortunately, they translate pretty easily to greetings in English!

English Indonesian
“Good morning!” Selamat pagi!
“Good afternoon!” Selamat siang!
“Good evening!” Selamat sore!
“Good night!” Selamat malam!

Just like in English, the first word of these can be—and is—often dropped, leaving you with an exchange like: Pagi! Pagi! Essentially, this is how to introduce yourself in Indonesian language informally.

2. What’s Your Name? (Siapa Nama Anda?)

Two People Introducing Themselves

Talking about your name in Indonesian is a must. Above is a simple question, and one that you’re likely to hear a number of times. Truly, it’s the backbone of any self-introduction in Indonesian. When learning to introduce yourself in Indonesian, lessons will always include this phrase.

  • Nama saya Dilan.
    “My name is Dilan.”

Indonesians are known for having very short names at times, and very long names at others. For instance, the first president of Indonesia was called Soekarno, and a famous Indonesian poet goes by Sapardi Djoko Damono.

If you happen to have a long and difficult name, there’s one common way that you can ease the burden for others.

  • Nama saya Alexander. Panggil Al saja.
    “My name is Alexander. Just call me Al.”

Incidentally, this happens all the time when Indonesians introduce themselves in a formal context—except the phrasing is different.

    Perkenalkan, nama saya Rinawati, singkatnya Rini.
    “Let me introduce myself, my name is Rinawati, Rini for short.”

3. Where are You From? (Dari Mana?)

You’ll definitely learn to recognize this question no matter how quickly it’s spoken. It may be the most common question asked to foreigners anywhere, and is essential when learning how to introduce yourself in Bahasa, Indonesia. In certain contexts in the West, asking this of a visitor may seem a little rude, but that’s certainly not the case in Indonesia.

Since dari simply means “from,” it’s not a stretch to come up with the answer:

  • Saya dari Rusia.
    “I’m from Russia.”
  • Saya dari Amerika Serikat.
    “I’m from the US.”

Maybe the person you’re speaking to is familiar with the place, so they ask for more specifics.

  • Dari mana di Amerika?
    “Where in America?”
  • Dari Kalifornia!
    “From California!”

If you’re giving some kind of lengthier introduction, there’s another acceptable phrase. However, it sounds a little stilted coming as a response to the simple question dari mana:

  • Saya orang Jepang.
    “I’m from Japan.” (Literally: “I’m a Japanese person.” )

The Globe

4. Why are You Learning Indonesian? (Mengapa Anda Belajar Bahasa Indonesia?)

The Indonesian language isn’t a particularly common one to study. And Indonesians know this.

So at some early point in a conversation with a curious local, expect to explain yourself: Why would you choose to study a language like this? And, possibly, how are you doing it?

Of course, there are as many correct answers to this as there are people in Indonesian classes. Here are some possible ones:

  • Karena saya mau pindah ke Bali.
    “Because I want to move to Bali.”
  • Karena saya sedang belajar hubungan internasional.
    “Because I’m studying international relations.”
  • Karena pacar saya dari Indonesia.
    Because my girlfriend/boyfriend is from Indonesia.
  • Karena saya suka Indomie!
    “Because I like Indomie!” (a very popular brand of instant noodles)

After you’ve explained, you might get this follow-up:

  • Apakah bahasa Indonesia sulit?
    “Is Indonesian difficult?”

Maybe yes, maybe no. I personally answer something like this:

  • Tidak terlalu sulit. Tetapi kosakata susah diingat.
    “Not too hard. But the vocabulary is hard to remember!”

If you’re from a country where English isn’t the official language, you can get some smiles by saying:

  • Lebih mudah daripada bahasa Inggris!
    “Easier than English!”

5. Why are You Visiting? (Mengapa Anda Ke Sini?)

Two Women Traveling Together

In English, you could render this question as “Why are you here?” but it’s nowhere near as brusque in Indonesian.

Every Indonesian knows that Bali is a tourist magnet for people from all over the world. Perhaps that’s why you’re visiting?

  • Karena saya mau lihat pantai-pantai di Bali.
    “Because I want to see the beaches on Bali.”

Or perhaps it’s because you’re really into traditional music—such as gamelan, a musical style made up of bells and gongs of different sizes, played by several people at once. Or you’re simply there to see the sights.

  • Karena saya suka musik gamelan.
    “Because I like gamelan music.”
  • Pariwisata saja. Saya sudah ke Jakarta dan Yogyakarta.
    “Just tourism. I’ve already been to Jakarta and Yogyakarta.”

People that are into cultures and languages and travel just for that cultural experience may have a different answer…

  • Saya belajar bahasa Indonesia karena saya mau ke Indonesia. Saya mau ke Indonesia karena saya belajar bahasa Indonesia!
    “I’m studying Indonesian because I want to go to Indonesia. I want to go to Indonesia because I’m studying Indonesian!”

6. What Do You Do? (Apa Pekerjaan Anda?)

Now, this question is likely to come as a guess. In my own experience, people tend to try their luck guessing your job first, then asking.

  • Apakah Anda mahasiswa?
    “Are you a student?”

In Indonesian, it’s technically possible to formulate your answer explicitly in this way:

  • Saya bekerja sebagai dokter.
    “I work as a doctor.”

But nobody talks like that in English, and few people would talk like that in Indonesian.

  • Saya dokter.
    “I’m a doctor.”

That’s better!

That verb, though, bekerja meaning “to work,” is very flexible. Perhaps the question-and-answer goes like this:

  • Anda bekerja di mana?
    “Where do you work?”
  • Saya bekerja di restoran tiongkok Wok & Pan.
    “I work at the Wok & Pan Chinese restaurant.”

7. What Do You Like to Do? (Apa Yang Anda Suka Lakukan?)

Here’s when you can begin talking about your hobbies in Indonesian—probably quite different from your work!

  • Saya suka nonton sinetron.
    “I like to watch sinetrons (Indonesian soap operas).”

Watching TV isn’t a bad hobby. Plenty of Indonesians these days are interested in art, and even social media stuff like vlogging:

  • Saya mau menjadi vlogger.
    “I want to be a vlogger.”

Finally, Indonesia has a ton of nature to explore. Quite a few younger Indonesians join hiking clubs or simply go it on their own.

  • Saya sangat suka naik gunung.
    “I really like hiking on mountains.”

Man Chilling on Mountain Ledge

By the way, you might think that it could be hard to find the necessary things for these hobbies in a developing country like Indonesia. But once you see the lines of camera shops and outdoor equipment shops on main streets, you’ll see why I chose these examples!

8. Do You have Siblings? (Apakah Anda Punya Saudara?)

This is a question that young people (in their twenties, usually) tend to get asked. It’s a way to show polite curiosity about someone’s life back in their home country, and to place you in their own social framework. Talking about your family in Indonesian is a wonderful way to keep the other party interested.

Indonesian, like many other Asian languages, has separate words for older and younger brothers and sisters.

  • Saya punya adik perempuan.
    “I have a little sister.”

Here’s a quick table for reference:

Older Younger
Brother Kakak laki-laki Adik laki-laki
Sister Kakak perempuan Adik perempuan

As you may have noticed, there’s a word for “sibling,” saudara. While people will certainly understand it, it’ll probably come across as a little evasive, because from the point of view of an Indonesian, why not be more specific?

If you offer more info about your sibling, they’ll enjoy it! Family is important in Indonesian culture, and chatting—even briefly—about your own is a nice way to keep the conversation moving forward.

  • Dia baru lulus dari SMA.
    “He/she just graduated from high school.”
  • Saya mau dia datang ke Indonesia!
    “I want him/her to come to Indonesia!”

9. Conclusion

IndonesianPod101 Image

So, reader, how do you feel about introducing yourself when studying Indonesian? More comfortable? Or are you still fuzzy on something? Let us know in the comments!

As you may have noticed, you can simply string together your own answers to these questions and come up with a fairly robust self-introduction. If you’re taking classes as a student abroad, this kind of mini-monologue is sure to appear at least once in your assignments!

And outside of self-led self-introductions, these questions really do get asked pretty frequently. It’s a wonderful feeling to be practiced enough that you can rattle off your answers with zero preparation.

Not only does it make you feel super fluent, but whoever you’re talking to is likely to be quite impressed at your level!

These phrases are just jumping-off points for your actual conversation. You’ll have to do the work of coming up with interesting things to say and questions to ask in return. But once you do, you’ll enjoy a wonderful chat in excellent Indonesian.

To help you reach this point, offers a variety of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, podcasts, and even a MyTeacher program for Premium Plus members. If you found this article helpful, you’re sure to find even more by exploring our site.

Your hard work will pay off, and with enough practice and studying, you’ll be speaking Indonesian like a native before you know it!

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