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Archive for the 'Indonesian Culture' Category

Learn Indonesian: YouTube Channels You’ll Love


These are beautiful times for language learners.

Even ten years ago, language learning materials on the Internet were nothing like they are today.

We’ve had YouTube for a decade and a half, and only in the last several years has it become possible—or even likely—that someone could learn a language mostly through YouTube.

If you’ve set out to learn Indonesian, YouTube may have you feeling left out at this point. Why should other language learners get all the fun?

Never fear, though. Today’s article is going to introduce you to the top ten YouTube channels for Indonesian learners! Later, we’ll show you why IndonesianPod101’s channel is the best source for learners at every level.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Think Bahasa
  2. Titan Tyra
  3. Mastering Bahasa
  4. KOMPAS Tekno
  5. EpicVice
  6. Pijaru
  7. Minute to Win It Indonesia
  8. Net Media
  9. The IndonesianPod101 YouTube Channel
  10. How You Can Learn a Language with YouTube
  11. Conclusion

1. Think Bahasa

Category: Educational

Level: Beginner

Think Bahasa is one of the best Indonesian YouTube channels for people who have just started learning Indonesian, especially in terms of coming to grips with the spelling and pronunciation. There are quite a few videos that focus on listing vocabulary for certain situations, as well as videos with lists of phrases that beginners might want to know. 

Additionally, you’ll find videos with short stories, each a couple of minutes in length. Listen to a native speaker recite a story and see how well you can follow along! This is a great type of video to put on repeat in the background as you’re washing the dishes or doing the laundry. An extra three to five minutes of Indonesian listening every day can make a surprising amount of difference!

2. Titan Tyra

Category: Vlogger

Level: Advanced

Titan is a vlogger from Jakarta with several wide-ranging tastes. Here’s just one shopping video, where she tries out and explains a bunch of different things she bought during a trip to Korea. You’ll also find travel and dance videos, as well. 

What sets her apart from the large number of vloggers out there? Subtitles! On most of her recent videos, she’s got English and Indonesian subtitles to help you follow along. 

You’ll definitely need them, too, since she speaks very quickly and fluidly switches between English and informal Indonesian. This is excellent practice material for advanced learners wanting to get totally immersed in Indonesian as it’s really spoken.

3. Mastering Bahasa

Category: Language

Level: Beginner-Intermediate

If you’ve ever Googled any questions related to Indonesian, you’ve definitely seen results from Mastering Bahasa in addition to IndonesianPod101. It’s one of the most in-depth resources you can find online for articles explaining the Indonesian language—but did you know they have a YouTube channel, too?

Not only do they have the classic grammar explanation and phrase videos, but they also have some interesting out-of-the-box videos like this one about Indonesian-speaking celebrities!

4. KOMPAS Tekno

Category: News, Tech

Level: Intermediate-Advanced

On YouTube, Indonesian news site Kompas—one of the most popular websites in Indonesia for news and general lifestyle articles—has a thriving presence. This channel is their tech outlet, where they publish reviews and analyses of the latest gadgets. 

The great thing about review videos like these is that you can quickly get a feel for the style. After you’ve seen five or ten of them, you know exactly what to expect and they’re easier to follow. The hosts also speak clearly and slower than vloggers, and they use a casual style but don’t use much slang.

    → Check out this vocabulary list for Technology to learn some words in advance!

5. EpicVice

Category: News, Interest

Level: Intermediate

This one has the general feel of a light magazine you’d see at the grocery store. EpicVice’s videos cover human interest or general news stories from around the world, as well as Buzzfeed-esque topics like the “top 10 most powerful animals.”

Aside from the easily digestible content, we recommend you go through the videos and click on some of the ones made before 2018. Back then, they had subtitles in Indonesian! They’ve unfortunately stopped going forward, but that archive is definitely valuable.

6. Pijaru

Category: News, Media

Level: Advanced

Example video:

Pijaru is a wonderful example of the kind of internet show possible nowadays with YouTube. They have vlogs, webseries, cartoons, and more, all in easily digestible clips of ten minutes or less. For some reason or another, podcasts haven’t really taken off in Indonesian culture – but that hasn’t stopped Pijaru from creating PisPod, a comedy podcast.

Only a handful of the webseries have subtitles, but fortunately they’re the soft kind as well, and they can be turned on or off. The webseries, by the way, are excellent because of the way they depict different points of view of Indonesian society, like those of housekeepers or marketing department employees.

7. Minute to Win It Indonesia

Category: Game Show

Level: Intermediate-Advanced

If you don’t have the luxury of living in Indonesia as you learn, you might be unwittingly creating gaps in your vocabulary due to only exposing yourself to certain parts of the language. Particularly, what some language learners call “tiny verbs” like “tie, stack, lift, twist,” and so on.

This is where watching Indonesian TV on YouTube can benefit you. 

Fortunately, the worldwide game show Minute to Win It has put all of their Indonesian episodes online, and they’re absolutely perfect for advanced learners to fill in these vocabulary gaps. If you’re not familiar with it, participants have to complete challenges with household objects in sixty seconds, like in this one where they have to throw ping-pong balls and knock other ping-pong balls out of a small hoop. No subtitles unfortunately, but each plot is simple to understand without them.

8. Net Media

Category: Talk Show

Level: Advanced

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with Minute to Win It, since both are the kind of things that Indonesian people tend to watch in everyday life. If you go into any little warung (a small restaurant), you’ll probably see the TV showing either sepak bola (“football”) or talk shows like these. 

This one is challenging because there are no subtitles in either English or Indonesian. Therefore, it’s definitely best to wait until you’re at an advanced level before tackling this stuff. 

However, the repetitive format of the Indonesian talk show means that you’ll quickly get used to what you’re seeing. This channel also has general entertainment news like award shows, which is great because it also strengthens your general knowledge of Indonesian pop culture. 

9. The IndonesianPod101 YouTube Channel

Category: Educational

Level: All Levels

IndonesianPod101 probably puts out the most content on YouTube in the Indonesian learning space. With just a glance at this channel, you’ll understand how valuable it can be for your learning, especially when it comes to building your listening practice.

Our short listening comprehension videos are broken up from the Absolute Beginner level to Advanced, and they all have an excellent flow to them—dialogue with animation, comprehension questions, and dialogue again with English and Indonesian subtitles. That’s extremely valuable and not something available everywhere, making us the top Indonesian YouTube channel for learners.

10. How You Can Learn a Language with YouTube

It might be hard to believe, but you can actually make enormous strides in your language abilities using YouTube alone.

The easiest way is to watch, watch, and watch some more. As long as you keep looking up unknown Indonesian words as they come up, you’ll slowly get exposed to them more and more over time, and their meanings will stick in your brain.

After all, this is how a lot of young Indonesians have such good English—they find vloggers and TV shows in English on YouTube and watch them over and over until they don’t even realize they’re becoming fluent.

However, the best kind of videos just happen to be the ones that exist on the IndonesianPod101 page, where you can follow along with English and Indonesian subtitles at the same time in situations that slowly get more difficult as you improve. 

11. Conclusion

As you can see, the IndonesianPod101 YouTube channel is definitely one of the best. As it turns out, the website is too!

When you sign up with, you immediately get access to a treasure trove of lessons on hundreds of different topics. You’ll find vocabulary lists, articles about pronunciation, and of course the award-winning podcast that you can take with you and listen to at any time.

The best way forward for your Indonesian is a combination of a high-quality course like IndonesianPod101’s and real-life content for native speakers (like you can find on the video channels above).

As you learn new words and concepts with our podcast, you’ll run into them again and get those memories reinforced. Before you know it, you’ll be finding new Indonesian YouTube channels on your own and learning faster than ever before.

Before you go, let us know which of these Indonesian YouTube channels interests you the most and why. Are there any good ones we missed? If so, let us (and your fellow Indonesian learners) know in the comments.

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Your Complete Guide to the World of Indonesian Pronouns


Is Indonesian easy or hard?


It’s hard because the structure and organization of the language is quite different from that of English or other European languages.

But it’s easy because you don’t have to remember a lot of complicated rules—you can pick up most of the differences just by looking at examples.

Take Indonesian pronouns for example. You can actually get further in Indonesian without pronouns than you might imagine. When people talk to you, though, this is something you’ve really got to know.

And Indonsian language pronouns are different from those in English, by a wide margin.

 Is that going to be hard? Only one way to find out.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. The Standard Indonesian Personal Pronouns
  2. Using Ordinary Words as Personal Pronouns
  3. Using Pronouns as Affixes
  4. This, That, and the Other
  5. Question Words
  6. Yours and Mine
  7. Conclusion

1. The Standard Indonesian Personal Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

All right, Indonesian personal pronouns is the trickiest part, and we’re going to jump right in. There are a lot of pronouns in Indonesian. Not quite as many as, say, Vietnamese or Korean, but it’s a whole different ball game compared to English.

The first personal pronoun that everybody learns is saya. Now, Indonesian pronouns don’t change according to the case, so there’s no difference between “I” and “me.” Saya does the trick every time.

  • Saya dari Melbourne.

“I’m from Melbourne.”

  • Mau pergi dengan saya?

“Want to go with me?”

Saya is slightly formal, but really quite neutral in tone. It would definitely sound weird for Indonesian kids or close friends to say it when talking to one another, but you’ll very often hear it on TV shows or in real-life situations when the conversation partners have some distance between them.

The informal version of saya is aku. You’ll hear this all the time in media as well, and if you become friends with Indonesians, you’ll be able to beraku, or “use aku in speech” with them pretty soon.

  • Aku tidak tahu.

“I don’t know.”

The formal second-person pronoun is Anda. This is actually the only one that’s always capitalized.

  • Apakah Anda punya mobil?

Do you have a car?”

Silver Car

The informal version is kamu. Many times, it will be truncated to kau in writing and speech. This is also the short form of engkau, a literary or poetic form not often used in speech.

  • Masa itu, kau belum tahu aku sudah tinggal di Jakarta.

“At that time, you didn’t yet know that I was living in Jakarta.”

Some learning resources will pair saya and Anda, and aku and kamu, but others will mix saya and kamu. Go with what you’re hearing other people use in real life, and be prepared to be flexible!

 The third-person pronoun is relatively simple: in most cases, it’s dia for people of all genders.

  • Dia sudah makan belum?

“Has he/she eaten yet?”

Only in particularly formal contexts would you use beliau as a third-person pronoun. It’s used for talking about people whom you respect greatly, like a public figure.

  • Saat itu, beliau belum menjadi presiden.

“At that time, he/she had not yet become the president.”

In writing, you’ll also see the form ia. This is actually quite an old word, and it can only be used as the subject of a sentence, never the object. Dia used to be the object form, but nowadays it’s used as both subject and object.

 We’re nearly through! Now we have the plural pronouns to think about.

For first-person pronouns, Indonesian distinguishes between inclusive plural (you and me) and exclusive plural (me and somebody else but not you). Kita is the inclusive word, and kami is the exclusive. Since English doesn’t make this distinction, be careful to understand the nuances when you see a translation!

  • Ayo kita pulang sekarang.

“Let’s (including you) go home now.”

  • Kita ada acara hari ini.

“We (including you) have an event tonight.”

  • Kami akan bertemu denganmu besok.

“We’ll meet with you tomorrow.”

  • Kami akan berangkat dulu.

“We’ll (not you) head out first.”

The second-person plural form is kalian, and the third-person is mereka. No extra levels of formality here!

  • Kalian mau makan apa hari ini?

“What do you all want to eat today?”

  • Mereka lahir di Surabaya.

“They were born in Surabaya.”

Although many people still disapprove, mereka is being used more and more to refer to animals. Before, the tradition when referring to animals was to omit pronouns entirely or simply use the actual noun.

2. Using Ordinary Words as Personal Pronouns

Don’t worry, it’s not like every word in Indonesian is going to turn into a pronoun on you. Only a few of them!

The words ibu, or “mother,” and bapak, or “father,” are usually shortened to bu and pak. Then they get used as the second-person (and sometimes the first-person) pronoun when you’re speaking to someone who’s older than you and/or in a higher position. For example, this could be an immigration officer, an administrator, or a friend’s parents.

  • Apakah sudah melihat emailnya, Pak?

“Have you seen the email already, sir?”

This, then, is the most common way for people to speak formally, instead of using saya and Anda with everybody.

When young people talk with people their own age in a polite context, with restaurant employees for example, they’ll use a different set. Here, mas refers to men and mbak refers to women.

  • Permisi Aas, minta air putih.

“Excuse me sir, some water please.”

Calling Waiter’s Attention

You’ll note that mb at the start of a word is a pretty unusual sound combination. These words are actually borrowed from the Javanese language.

Although people might not use them in some of Indonesia’s more far-flung islands, they’ll be understood everywhere. Kakak is a gender-neutral version, seen most everywhere shortened to kak.

  • Permisi Kak, sudah selesai?

“Excuse me, are you already finished?”

And did you know that Indonesians even borrow pronouns from other languages?

In Jakarta slang (which is very popular on TV), the most informal pronouns are gue for “I” and lu for “you.” These actually come from Hokkien, a Chinese language spoken by the first Chinese immigrants to Indonesia and Malaysia. Since they’re so informal and unstandardized, you’ll also see them written as gua/wa and lo/lue.

 Also borrowed from Chinese are koko and cici, the equivalents of mas and mbak in Jakarta. These meant “older brother” and “older sister” in Hokkien, and so the feelings of societal standing continue into Indonesian.

  • Maaf ya Cici, gua nggak lihat lu.

“Sorry miss, I didn’t see you there.”

The English translations of these phrases can sound a little stilted. That’s because in Indonesian, the pronoun is used far more than in English. This creates a feeling of respect and politeness, and if you don’t use the pronoun as much, you might be seen as a little bit rude.

Indonesian has no special forms for object or possessive pronouns. As for reflexive pronouns, there’s just one: sendiri.

You can add sendiri after any pronoun to include the specific meaning “that person and nobody else,” or to add emphasis like we do in English.

  • Dia sendiri membuat kuenya.

“She herself made the cake.”

3. Using Pronouns as Affixes

Fitting Puzzle Pieces Together

An affix can show up in Indonesian as either a prefix (before a word), suffix (after a word), or circumfix (both before and after a word).

In informal Indonesian, you can attach aku to tons of words as the suffix -ku, and kamu as the suffix –mu.

  • Mau pergi denganku?

“Want to go with me?”

  • Jangan berbicara dengan anakku.

“Don’t talk to my child.”

  • Apakah itu tasmu?

“Is that your bag?”

  • Ayo kita naik mobilmu.

“Let’s go in your car.”

You can also attach ku as a prefix to various verbs. This usage is a little tricky—you won’t see it in every novel, but it does appear in some poetic or old-fashioned writing

However, it’s certainly not formal enough to show up in speech. As a foreigner, you’re unlikely to hear it in conversation unless you’re already used to shooting the breeze with Indonesian friends.

  • Dia masih belum kutemukan.

“He still hasn’t found me.”

  • Nanti kujelaskan.

“Later on I’ll explain.”

How about kamu? As a prefix, it takes the form kau-. This is used less commonly these days, as most people tend to simply use the independent form instead of the prefix.

  • Beritahu aku apa yang kaulihat.

“Tell me what you see.”

4. This, That, and the Other

Just like English, Indonesian distinguishes object pronouns by distance from the speaker. Ini corresponds to “this” and itu corresponds to “that.”

  • Itu desa tempat bapakku lahir.

“That’s the village where my father was born.”

  • Apakah ini rusak?

“Is this broken?”

You might think that these words would get reduced in fast speech, but actually that almost never happens. They stay ini and itu instead of being shortened to ni and tu.

We just talked about attaching pronouns to words, and we can sort of do the same thing with ini and itu. However, the form changes drastically.

  • Di meja ada mangkuk hitam. Mangkuk itu milik kakek saya.

“There’s a black bowl on the table. The bowl belongs to my grandfather.”

This particular usage of the -nya suffix and the pronouns ini/itu are the closest thing Indonesian has to definite articles. They point out references to exact things in the world so that we know which bowl we’re talking about.

5. Question Words

Basic Questions

Indonesian has the same question words as English does. Check it out:

apa – what

  • Apa yang sedang kamu lakukan?

“What are you doing?”

di mana – where

This literally means “at which.” Di is one of the most commonly used prepositions, and in fact, it combines with many more words to form the other prepositions. As a set phrase, though, it takes on the meaning of “where.”

  • Di mana orang tuamu?

“Where are your parents?”


  • Siapa yang sedang mengobrol di luar?

“Who’s chatting outside?”

So why have we introduced question words here in this article about pronouns? Because in English, we use them as relative pronouns: “That’s the place where I was born.” “I don’t like what he’s doing.” “She’s the person who is most important here.”

In Indonesian, though, we have to use the relative marker yang for some of these. It’s complicated to actually explain how yang works, but with a few examples you’ll pick it right up, guaranteed.

  • Itu tempat  saya dilahirkan.

“That’s the place where I was born.”

  • Aku tidak suka dengan apa yang dia sedang lakukan.

“I don’t like what he’s doing.”

  • Dia adalah orang yang paling penting di sini.

“She’s the person who’s most important here.”  

Let’s look at a few more examples that are often translated with the English relative pronoun “that.”

  • Ini kotak yang saya perlu.

“This is the box that I need.”

  • Ayo makan di resto yang baru dibuka.

“Let’s go eat at the restaurant that was just opened.”

6. Yours and Mine

Kids Eating Ice Cream

Talking about possession in Indonesian can be easy or hard, based on how you look at it. On the one hand, it’s easy because you don’t have to change many words. On the other hand, it’s hard because you often have to rely on the context to tell you the relationship between things and their owners.

To cut a long explanation short, there are no Indonesian possessive pronouns like “yours” or “mine.” Here’s how we express that concept anyway.

We can say the noun again:

  • Motor keren itu motor saya.

“The cool motorbike is mine.”

Or we can use the words kepunyaan (belonging to) and milik (property):

  • Kamera yang paling besar kepunyaan jurnalis yang paling penting.

“The biggest camera belongs to the most important journalist.”

  • Dompetnya milik dia.

“The wallet belongs to him.” (Literally: “Wallet [is] property he.”)

7. Conclusion

Improve Listening

In a grammar-heavy article like this one, you can easily get confused.

That’s why Indonesian in particular is a great language to read lots of examples about. Don’t rack your brains trying to get your mind around which pronouns can be used when; read the example sentences and intuit it yourself.

That natural acquisition process ends up working really well. If, at the end of this article, you’re feeling like you’re ready to take the next step, check out the lessons right here on IndonesianPod101. They’re full of clear explanations with real Indonesians providing examples.

It won’t be long at all before this stuff comes totally naturally to you!

Happy Indonesian learning! 🙂

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Relax Into Easy-Peasy Indonesian Word Order


There’s a sort of balance between the different languages of the world.

Some have extremely complex systems of verb changes and noun changes, requiring you to think about every last little detail of who does what in the sentence so that you can get all the endings right.

Others say to themselves, “You know, all those extra grammatical endings aren’t for me.” So they simply put their words in a line and never change them.

The tradeoff is that these “simpler” languages have very inflexible word order. So what does this look like in Indonesian word order? 

Well, if you switch the position of a few words in a sentence in, say, Russian, the grammatical endings will keep you informed about what you need to know. If you do the same in Indonesian, it starts getting hard to understand very quickly.

So Indonesian grammar is simple in some ways, but rigid in others. Fortunately for you, it never really gets that difficult!

With the examples in this guide, you’ll soon feel perfectly confident when you create your own Indonesian sentences. 

Let’s get started with our lesson on Indonesian word order, and more essential grammatical points!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Overview of Indonesian Word Order
  2. Adjectives and Adverbs in Indonesian
  3. Prepositions and Their Phrases
  4. Verbs That Absorb Other Words
  5. Word Order in Indonesian Questions
  6. Conclusion

1. Overview of Indonesian Word Order

Improve Pronunciation

Indonesian belongs to the Austronesian language family, sharing roots with languages as diverse as Tagalog (in the Philippines), Malagasy (in Madagascar), Amis (in Taiwan), and Hawaiian. 

Austronesian languages in general have very complex grammar and tenses, with lots of different particles attaching to the front, middle, and end of verbs to express very specific ideas.

Lucky for you, Indonesian is radically different from most other Austronesian languages, and in fact, it’s quite similar to European languages (at least on the surface)!

It belongs to the SVO group of languages, meaning that the order of the subject, the verb, and the object in the sentence is exactly that. First the subject, then the verb, and finally the object.

Let’s try a very simple sentence with all three elements.

A Woman Writing on a Typewriter
  • Cici menulis buku.

“Cici writes a book.”

It’s clear from the word order that the book is absolutely not writing Cici. In Indonesian as well as English, there are plenty of sentences that don’t require objects.

  • Cici berlari.

“Cici runs.”

  • Gloria berdiri.

“Gloria stands up.”

Verbs that start with me– usually, but not always, have an object; verbs that start with ber- never have an object.

Indonesian was actually designed to be quite regular in this regard, but over the decades (Standard Indonesian dates back to Indonesian independence in 1945), many people have gotten used to dropping the me- prefix. Crucially, the word order remains constant!

Like other Asian languages, Indonesian uses classifiers for its nouns. It’s just like saying “a pair of scissors” in English. You can’t just say “scissors” without the classifier “pair,” and in Indonesian, saying any noun without its classifier sounds equally weird.

Classifiers always appear before the noun, like they do in English (but opposite of how it’s done in some other Southeast Asian languages like Lao). There’s one general classifier that you can use for most things: buah. Whenever you say “one of something,” you add se- to the beginning of the classifier.

  • Saya punya sebuah ponsel.

“I have a phone.”

2. Adjectives and Adverbs in Indonesian

The Adjective

In Indonesian, there’s not really a distinction between adjectives and adverbs. For one, both usually go after what they modify.

  • Aku punya buku baru.

“I have a new book.”

  • Aku membaca buku bahasa Inggris.

“I read English books.”

Suppose you have two adjectives you want to line up in a sentence? It’s imperative then to use the word dan, meaning “and,” to connect them. You’ll see at the end of the article what it means if we just say one adjective after the other.

  • Buku ini murah dan berat.

“This book is cheap and heavy.”

Since Indonesian verbs can’t conjugate, we can’t use verb endings to show tense. Instead, that happens through time-marking adverbs, which, it just so happens, come before the verb.

  • Aku akan membaca buku bahasa Jerman.

“I’m going to read German books.”

  • Dia sedang membaca buku baru.

“She’s reading a new book.”

  • Saya sudah membaca buku bahasa Inggris.

“I already read the English book.”

As you can see, the word “the” is implied from the context. These are artificial sentences, but when you’re actually speaking Indonesian with others, you’ll generally know if you should interpret buku as “the book” or “books.”

Another very common type of Indonesian adverb is dengan, meaning “with,” plus an adjective. It’s a little bit like saying that someone does something “with style” in English.

  • Kamu menulis dengan indah.

“You write with beauty.” (“You write beautifully.”)

3. Prepositions and Their Phrases

A Man Chopping Vegetables in the Kitchen

The prepositional phrases in Indonesian are made with the locative particle di. This is combined with location words to create proper prepositional phrases.

In Indonesian language word order, all the prepositional phrases are placed after the main verb in the sentence.

  • Aku memasak di dapur.

“I cook in the kitchen.”

Here, di gets translated to “in” because that’s the best way to describe the concept in English. It’s only implied in Indonesian, since without a location word, di doesn’t specify whether it’s “in,” “at,” or another preposition.

  • Gloria berdiri di depan pintu.

“Gloria is standing in front of the door.”

  • Pohon itu terletak di belakang rumah.

“The tree is located behind the house.”

This is a good time to introduce the word yang. You’re lucky that you can understand English, because yang is a perfect equivalent of the English words “that,” “which,” and “who.” Some languages don’t have a word for this concept, and their Indonesian textbooks have got to be a lot thicker!

  • Pohon yang terletak di belakang rumah adalah pohon pinus.

“The tree that is located behind the house is a pine tree.”

Look carefully at the words in this last example and the one that came right before. You can see that the insertion of yang functioned syntactically just like “that” in English, giving us the opportunity to describe the tree in greater detail.

4. Verbs That Absorb Other Words

A Man Getting Punched in the Face

One very interesting thing about the Indonesian language is that verbs can absorb pronouns. If you know any Arabic, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement. And if you don’t (learning Arabic is not a prerequisite for learning Indonesian!), stay with us. It’s not that bad.

The pronouns in Indonesian are numerous and rather complex to explain here. In any case, just three of them can attach to verbs: aku, kamu, and dia. These are the informal versions of “I” and “you” respectively, and the neutral version of “he/she/they/it.”

  • Dia memukul aku.

“He hit me.”

Here, the word order is just as we’ve been seeing in previous examples, with the subject first, then the verb, then the object. But let’s collapse that verb and object together:

  • Dia memukulku.

“He hit me.”

It still has the exact same meaning! It can feel a little artificial sometimes to spell out or say the full pronoun, so most people tend to just use these pronouns as endings. Here are some more examples.

  • Aku tidak melihatmu.

“I don’t see you.”

  • Aku sedang memakannya.

“I’m eating it.”

5. Word Order in Indonesian Questions

A Woman Holding a Mug of Tea

If everything else has seemed pretty approachable, you’re now on the home stretch of easy street.

Simple yes-no questions in Indonesian are formed just like they are in English!

In English, we use “do” or “does” as a “dummy subject” for questions. The word apakah fills the same function in Indonesian, down to a T.

  • Saya suka teh. Apakah kamu suka teh?

“I like tea. Do you like tea?”

It’s a word-for-word translation of the English, and it’s natural in both languages.

On top of that, there’s an alternate way to ask questions in Indonesian, this time using a suffix. See that  -kah at the end of apakah? You can actually add that to a whole mess of verbs and adverbs.

  • Sudahkah proyek selesai?

“Has the project finished already?”

Sudah is the adverb of time showing that something has “already” happened, and so you can add -kah to ask about the completeness of a particular action.

Again, these question words move to the front.

Indonesian also has the standard question words that you’ll remember from English, such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why.”

  • Mengapa kamu suka sepeda besar?

“Why do you like big bicycles?”

  • Karena sepeda besar nyaman.

“Because big bicycles are comfortable.”

Look at that last sentence. Literally, you’re saying “because bike big comfortable.”

This is what we were talking about earlier. You’re not saying “because bikes are big and comfortable” because there’s no dan, or “and,” connector. Because of this word order, it absolutely has to be “because big bicycles are comfortable.”

6. Conclusion

Improve Listening

Lots of people find that Indonesian word order is something that ends up just coming naturally to them. How about you? 

By first reading and listening to a lot of natural Indonesian and following along with the English translation, you can see how Indonesian sentences really get formed.

Be patient with yourself, and don’t try to speak before you’re ready.

It just so happens that the easiest place to do this is right here on There’s nothing standing in your way, stopping you from picking up real, natural Indonesian without even thinking about it.Listen, read, and speak when you’re ready. That’s the core principle, and that’s how you end up a master of Indonesian!

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Waduh! Come Up with the Perfect Indonesian Compliments


Indonesia is a beautiful place filled with wonderful people.

If you’ve ever been, you’ve probably felt the same way. But have you told them so?

Foreigners aren’t expected to make any effort to learn Indonesian, particularly not in international hotspots like Jakarta and Bali. However, learning just enough of the language to complete everyday interactions and compliment your hosts is a very doable goal that will make your time in Indonesia much more special.

Further than that, though, you also need to learn about the culture of Indonesian compliments. How do things work? What might be considered going too far, and what might be expected of you in various interactions?

Learning this information and using it well will not only grease the wheels of your social interactions—motorcycle rental prices will go down, extra fried bananas will appear on your plate, and so on—but it will also make you fit in more during longer stays, so much so that people will feel comfortable with you and treat you as a social equal, not an “other.”

If that sounds like a good goal to you, follow along!

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Table of Contents

  1. Complimenting Looks
  2. Complimenting in the Office
  3. Complimenting Achievements
  4. Complimenting Skills
  5. Sincere Compliments and Responses
  6. Conclusion

1. Complimenting Looks

Positive Feelings

The first thing you probably think of complimenting is a person’s looks. In the United States, people compliment each other’s looks all the time.

One huge cultural difference is that men complimenting women, or vice-versa, can actually be seen in Indonesia as far more forward than it is in the United States.

Men and women who want to avoid flirting accidentally should keep their Indonesian compliments simple and away from appearance.

  • Mantap bro!
    “Keep it up, man!”

The word bro has fully entered the Indonesian language. People know it’s slangy and English, but where it may bring to mind frat boys on college campuses for English speakers, it simply means “man” in Indonesian.

But let’s say you do want to be forward. Something as crude as catcalling is strongly frowned upon in Indonesia, but outright flirting, of course, still happens among younger people.

  • Kamu kelihatan bugar!
    “Looking fit!”

In Indonesia, men and women don’t normally wear tight-fitting clothes or show off their bodies. If you say this to someone, it means that you’re paying attention to what’s normally kept hidden.

  • Cantik sekali!
    “Beautiful!” (to a woman)
  • Kamu lucu! (or just Lucu!)
    “You’re cute!”

Note that this one is rather ambiguous and it’s quite possible for it to simply mean “funny.” “Cute” in English has a bit of a flirty connotation, but around most of Asia, that connotation isn’t always attached.

  • Aku merasa aman ketika bersamamu.
    “I feel safe when I’m with you.” (to a man)

Men in Indonesia are expected to be providers for and protectors of women, and so when a woman says that she feels safe, it means he’s doing the right thing.

2. Complimenting in the Office

Office Workers

Not too many Indonesian companies hire foreign staff, but it might very well transpire that your company from overseas opens up an office or a partnership with an office in Indonesia.

Lots of Indonesians in international companies speak English relatively well, at least in Jakarta. But whether you have another shared language or not, complimenting the work of your Indonesian coworkers in Indonesian will be a very welcome surprise.

When it comes to the workplace, you could start by simply saying that you’re pleased with the results of the work.

  • Semuanya berhasil dengan sempurna.
    “Everything worked out perfectly.”
  • Proyek ini sudah baik sekali.
    “This project is already very good.”

However, another aspect of Indonesian culture is the desire, at least professionally, to never rest on one’s laurels. Therefore, it’s a good idea to show that you’re satisfied with the work by encouraging new work of the same standard in the future.

  • Tetaplah membuat kemajuan!
    “Keep making progress!”
  • Kerja bagus, maju terus dengan kliennya!
    “Good job, keep making progress with the client!”
  • Luar biasa, semangat terus!
    “Outstanding, keep the pace strong!”

Some of these Indonesian compliments are easier than others to break down! The root maju means “progress.” In the first phrase, it came with the affixes ke…an to specifically mean the noun form. In the second one, the root was left bare.

That’s a very typical colloquial shortening, and you can seem more down-to-earth with colleagues in the same organizational level if you leave off some affixes like that.

The word terus is also very useful, as it means “straight ahead” or “continue.” As you can imagine, it’s also quite useful when giving directions in Indonesian.

3. Complimenting Achievements

Smiling Woman Holding Plaque and Trophy

Much like the last section, the overall sentiment for achievements is “Keep it up!”

You can also use the word semoga (“hope for” ) to outline a specific outcome, fitting for the situation. Suppose someone had a good job interview?

  • Luar biasa! Semoga kamu mendapatkan pekerjaannya.
    “Outstanding! I hope you get the job.”

Congratulations may also be in order if we’re talking about a major life event.

  • Selamat atas pernikahanmu.
    “Congratulations on your wedding.”

Here’s another chance to bust out specific vocabulary so that you can say what, in particular, you liked about something.

  • Bunga-bunganya indah sekali!
    “The flowers were gorgeous!”

And finally, in order to compliment someone who’s working very hard at school, you can return to the word semangat.

  • Kamu pintar banget! Semangat!
    “You’re super smart! Keep it up!”

Semangat is hard to translate in a Western context, but it makes perfect sense to people from Eastern cultures. It’s an all-purpose “Let’s go!” “Keep it up!” “Yeah!” kind of encouraging word, meant to give energy and spirit to whoever’s on the receiving end.

4. Complimenting Skills

Man Playing Guitar

If you ever walk around a university town or near a university campus in Indonesia in the evening, you might notice that lots of people are singing or playing music out in public with their friends. This seems to happen more in Indonesia than it does in the West.

Your high-quality Indonesian skills will almost certainly land you in a music circle at some point, though of course, there will be no pressure to play. Here’s the perfect place for a well-timed compliment about the music.

  • Saya mau bermain gitar dengan sebaik kamu.
    “I want to play the guitar as well as you.”

Is someone a good conversationalist over dinner? Compliment their knowledge.

  • Kamu tahu banyak tentang ….
    “You know a lot about…”

Let’s now say that you’ve stopped into a warung and gotten a plate of nasi goreng telur (“fried rice with egg” ) that was so good you want to write home about it. Compliments to the chef are unexpected yet very warmly appreciated in Indonesia. Here’s a phrase you can use to offer the chef a compliment in Indonesian.

  • Wah, ini enak banget!
    “Wow, this is super-tasty!”

Here, we’re using wah as a way to say “wow,” but the waduh in the title of this article works just as well. These little nuances are very important for coming across as authentic!

The word banget here is another intensifier just like sangat or sekali. It’s rather informal, though, so using this phrase in a fancy restaurant to impress the waiter might make them stifle a chuckle. Save it for the warung.

5. Sincere Compliments and Responses

Indonesian Oxtail Soup

One thing that we can’t stress enough here is to be genuine when you give compliments to others. This is true for every culture, but particularly so for Indonesian.

Indonesian communication relies a great deal on what’s unsaid. Failing to give expected compliments is one thing, but when the situation doesn’t match what you’re saying, a compliment can fall flat.

Imagine you’re back in that host family’s house and you’re trying to choke down something bony and gristly. Obviously, they’ll be able to tell you don’t like it, and you’re not expected to immediately love every bit of Indonesian cuisine.

If you say something like…

  • Makanan ini terbaik di Indonesia, Bu.
    “This meal is the best in all of Indonesia.”

…then it’s painfully obvious that you’re lying.

All you need to do is be honest and say “I’m not quite used to it yet.”

  • Saya belum terbiasa dengan makanan Indonesia.
    “I’m not yet used to Indonesian food.”

Direct and clear, shifting the responsibility on yourself and making yourself humble in front of your guests. Perfect!


6. Conclusion

How great would it feel to get complimented in Indonesian by native speakers?

To be honest, you’ll probably hear one last compliment all the time:

  • Bahasa Indonesiamu sudah lancar!
    “Your Indonesian is already fluent!”

Some people can start hearing beautiful words like that after just a couple of months. Others give up and never get there.

You’re probably already aware of how easy it can be to learn Indonesian through lots of examples. Did you know that with, you can get lessons in Indonesian with transcripts in both Indonesian and English?

By listening to the lesson, studying the transcript, and listening again a few more times, you’ll build that base of vocabulary and grammar that you need to be a comfortable, confident speaker of Indonesian.

A free basic lifetime account is waiting for you. Sign up today and feel your Indonesian rise to dazzling heights in no time!

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Celebrating Pancasila Day in Indonesia


Everyone has certain values, ideologies, or principles which guide them and help them be the best person they can be. Whether this is a certain religious code, a philosophy, or just a general mindset, these values are an important part of being human.

Well, countries are founded on values and principles, too!

In Indonesia, this is the Five Principles of Pancasila, which we’ll discuss in this article. You’ll also learn about Pancasila Day in Indonesia, how Indonesians observe this holiday, and some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Pancasila Day?

The Five Principles of Pancasila Emblem

Pancasila Day, though not a public holiday, is a day of peringatan (“commemoration” ) for the Lima Asas Pancasila (“Five Principles of Pancasila” ). These principles are the cornerstone of Indonesian government and society, and they are:

1. Belief in the One True God
2. A just and civilized humanity
3. The unity of all Indonesians
4. Democracy under the wisdom of a popular collective of representatives
5. Social justice for all Indonesian people

These are the principles that were laid down by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, in 1945, right before the country gained its freedom and independence. This ideologi (“ideology” ) was a way of ensuring kerukunan (“harmony” ) amongst the diverse groups of people all throughout Indonesia.

The thread of monotheism that runs through the Five Principles of Pancasila helped maintain greater peace amongst Christians and Muslims, and the other four principles promised equal rights and representation for all Indonesians.

On Pancasila Day, Indonesians are encouraged to commemorate and reflect on their dasar negara (“national principle” ).

2. When is Pancasila Day?

A Man Thinking with His Hand to His Chin

Every year, Indonesians celebrate Pancasila Day on June 1. This is the date on which Sukarno gave his speech in 1945.

3. Indonesian Pancasila Day Traditions

Flower Wreaths at a cemetery

In Indonesia, Pancasila Day is not a public holiday, so many people still need to work on this day. But this doesn’t mean that Indonesians forego celebrations altogether!

There are usually flag-raising ceremonies in honor of the negara (“country” ) and its founding principles. During these ceremonies, there may be speeches or demonstrations concerning the role of the Pancasila in modern-day Indonesia. Some cities in Indonesia may hold special Pancasila parades, such as the one Ende held in 2017.

Due to the unifying nature of the Pancasila, Indonesians often utilize this holiday to remind their fellow citizens of how important it is to be civil with each other. This can take the form of a vigil or prayer night with members of various religions joining together, or perhaps a poetry reading (like the one held in 2019 in Semarang).

4. The Garuda Pancasila

Do you know what Indonesia’s national emblem is?

It’s called the Garuda Pancasila. This emblem features a shield that depicts the Five Principles of Pancasila, protecting the body of a Javan hawk-eagle (called a garuda). The garuda is holding a strip of paper that reads: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity” from Javanese). These words are the national motto of Indonesia.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Pancasila Day

Indonesia Highlighted on a Map

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Kebangsaan — “Nationality” [n.]
  • Negara — “Country” [n.]
  • Ideologi — “Ideology” [n.]
  • Sarasehan — “Gathering” [n.]
  • Lima Asas Pancasila — “Five Principles of Pancasila”
  • Pedoman — “Guidance” [n.]
  • Peringatan — “Commemoration” [n.]
  • Kerukunan — “Harmony” [n.]
  • Berjuang — “Battle” [v.]
  • Penjajahan — “Colonization” [n.]
  • Dasar negara — “National principle”

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase listed above, be sure to visit our Indonesian Pancasila Day vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Pancasila Day with us, and that you took away some valuable information about Indonesian culture.

What are the Five Principles of Pancasila? Do you remember? Leave us your answer in the comments, and let us know your thoughts on this holiday!

If you want to continue learning about Indonesian culture and the language, has several free resources for you:

This only scratches the surface of everything that can offer the aspiring Indonesian-learner. To make the most of your study time, create your free lifetime account today; for access to exclusive content and lessons, upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans!

We want to help you reach your language-learning goals, and we’ll be here with you every step of the way there.

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Hari Idul Fitri: Celebrating Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia

Islam is the number-one religion in Indonesia, with roughly eighty-seven percent of the country’s population identifying as Muslim (as of 2010). In addition, Indonesia is known to have more Muslims than any other country in the world! This means that Muslim holidays are a pretty big deal here.

A major Muslim holiday, the Eid ul-Fitr celebration in Indonesia is a festive occasion with a variety of traditions. In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of Eid ul-Fitr, Indonesian observances for this holiday, and some new vocabulary words!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Eid ul-Fitr?

Eid ul-Fitr is an important Muslim holiday, marking the end of Ramadan fasting. This holiday was initiated by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Traditionally, Eid ul-Fitr was celebrated in Medina following the Prophet Muhammad’s journey out of Mecca. Here, he found people having a massive celebration; he told them that there were two other days on which they should be celebrating instead (this holiday along with Eid ul-Adha).

Considering Indonesia’s huge Muslim population, it’s no surprise that Eid ul-Fitr is a major celebration each year!

2. When is Eid ul-Fitr This Year?

The Quran Lit by a Candle

Each year, the date of Eid ul-Fitr varies on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: May 24
  • 2021: May 13
  • 2022: May 3
  • 2023: April 22
  • 2024: April 10
  • 2025: March 31
  • 2026: March 20
  • 2027: March 10
  • 2028: February 27
  • 2029: February 15

Note: The holiday actually starts the evening before the dates given here, and then lasts until the end of the given dates. Dates can also vary a little based on the moon’s cycle in a given year.

3. The Eid ul-Fitr Celebration in Indonesia

A Woman Visiting Her Parents with Her Child

The night before the Eid celebration, Muslims gather in the mosques to proclaim Allah as the Great God (an act which is called takbir in Indonesian). On Eid ul-Fitr, Indonesian Muslims get up early in the morning in order to perform ablution (called wudhu in Indonesian). After this, they put on baju baru (“new clothes” ) and visit mosques for the Eid prayer. Before they enter the mosque, however, Muslims are obligated to give an Eid ul-Fitr donation to the poor and other people who are in need.

Many Indonesians have a mudik (“homecoming” ). They visit their family members and offer each other Eid ul-Fitr greetings. One of the most common Eid ul-Fitr wishes in Indonesian is Selamat Idul Fitri (“Happy Eid Mubarak”). This mudik is unique because many Indonesians actually begin this visit a couple of days before the holiday begins.

Earlier, we mentioned an Eid ul-Fitr donation that Muslims are obligated to offer. Well, in Yogyakarta, this takes the form of an event called Grebeg Syawal. During this event, Indonesians fight over a mound of local produce offered by the sultan. It’s believed that receiving this produce is a sign of special blessings.

Pontianak employs the use of cannon fire to enliven its Eid ul-Fitr celebrations. A jumbo-sized wooden cannon mounted on the bank of the Kapuas River blasts throughout the holiday, accompanying the sound of chants and drums. Traditionally, Indonesians used this cannon fire as a means of repelling an evil female ghost called kuntilanak.

4. Holiday Food for Eid ul-Fitr

A dish called ketupat is served on Eid ul-Fitr. This is a glutinous rice dish wrapped in coconut leaves and cooked in coconut milk for a distinct savory flavor. Other popular dishes for this holiday include:

  • Rendang
  • Gulai ayam (“gulai chicken” )
  • Opor ayam

What’s your favorite Indonesian food? Check out this list, and let us know in the comments!

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia

A Bedug, a Drum in Java for Religious Use

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia!

  • Kereta api — “Train” [n.]
  • Idul Fitri — “Day after Ramadan” [n.]
  • Rendang — “Rendang” [n.]
  • Baju baru — “New clothes” [n.]
  • Bedug — “Bedug” [n.]
  • THR (Tunjangan Hari Raya) — “The Religious Holiday Allowance”
  • Oleh-oleh — “Souvenir” [n.]
  • Ketupat — “Ketupat” [n.]
  • Opor Ayam — “Opor Ayam” [n.]
  • Mudik — “Homecoming” [n.]
  • Gulai Ayam — “Gulai chicken” [n.]
  • Kurma — “Date” [n.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to check out our Indonesian Eid ul-Fitr vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you discovered something new about Indonesian culture in this article, and that we’ve fueled your desire to keep learning!

Do you celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in your country? If so, are celebrations there similar to those in Indonesia, or maybe a little different? We look forward to hearing from you! has more free learning resources for you, such as the following blog posts:

This only scratches the surface of what you can expect from! By creating your free lifetime account today, you’ll gain access to even more detailed lessons and materials! And for access to more exclusive content, you can upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans, as well.

Anyway, we’re glad you joined us today to learn about the Indonesian take on this Muslim holiday. Happy learning! 🙂

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Indonesian Phrases to Use When You’re Angry


Getting angry in Indonesian is a difficult subject to talk about.

Indonesians are, by and large, well-known for not getting very angry. The country often seems to tourists like a literal land of smiles.

A very important word in Indonesian is santai, meaning “relaxed” or “at ease.” If you’re stressed or frustrated, and very clearly not santai, then you’re probably going to alienate others.

How about on TV, though?

Have you ever seen Indonesian sinetron soap operas? They’re filled with angry outbursts and furious rants at the world.

So even though you might not see or hear it much in real life, Indonesian angry words and phrases definitely exist. If you want to take your Indonesian to the next level, you’d better learn them.

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Table of Contents

  1. Discussing Your Angry Feelings
  2. Telling Others to Scram
  3. Sending Warning Signals
  4. Ordering Others Around
  5. Play the Blame Game
  6. Everybody Calm Down
  7. Put Up Your Dukes
  8. Say You’re Sorry
  9. Conclusion

1. Discussing Your Angry Feelings

Two Men Arguing

When you want to talk about your feelings in Indonesian, you can use the word merasa, meaning “to feel.” The root rasa by itself means “feeling” or “flavor,” so when you add the verbal prefix to it, it describes experiencing such a feeling.

If you haven’t yet, take a look at our vocabulary resource for talking about feelings in Indonesian.

As a cultural note, Indonesians are alright with talking about angry feelings, but actually going beyond that to blaming others or even rebuking them is rarely seen.

This is the most basic way to say you’re angry in Indonesian:

  • Aku merasa marah.
    “I feel angry.”

To tell the truth, you don’t even need merasa. This works too:

  • Aku marah.
    “I’m angry.”

That’s definitely a less formal way of putting things, but it’s not rude either. It’s simply a shortened version of the first phrase, just in the same way that the Indonesian verb adalah doesn’t always need to be explicitly said.

The Indonesian language allows us to be a little more creative with that root word marah. We can turn it into verbs, like so:

  • Aku memarahi dia.
    “I was angry with him.”

The word memarahi (“to anger” ) is a little bit formal, so in colloquial speech and writing, you’ll hear the following sentence structure which is rather similar to the English version.

  • Itu membuat aku marah.
    “That makes me angry.”

You can also come up with questions and explanations for this feeling, depending on how much detail you want to go into. It all comes from that single word!

  • Mengapa kamu begitu marah?
    “Why are you so angry?”
  • Aku marah karena kamu memukulku.
    “I’m angry because you hit me.”

Interestingly, there are only a couple of synonyms for “angry” in Indonesian. Marah covers pretty much everything. There are some words that come from Malay, such as bergelora or geram, but those are totally unused in everyday language.

2. Telling Others to Scram


This is one of the few times it’s reasonably acceptable to raise your voice and publicly get angry at someone in Indonesia. Just like in every country, there are some people who will harass others and refuse to take no for an answer.

If there’s somebody being pushy, you can use this first phrase. The actual feeling conveyed is going to be totally different with a different inflection. Speak seriously and firmly just like you would in English.

  • Aku tidak mau.
    “I don’t want (it).”
  • Pergilah dari sini!
    “Get out of here!”
  • Aku tak mau lagi mendengar keluh kesahmu!
    “I don’t want to hear you complain!”

3. Sending Warning Signals

Warning Someone

  • Awas kau!
    “Watch out, you!”

The word awas usually appears on warning signs. Kau is another way to say kamu, and it’s a very familiar variant. If you don’t know a person well, calling them kau is pretty weird and perhaps even insulting.

  • Sini, aku layani!
    “I’m ready to fight!”

Melayani is simply the verb “to fight” in Indonesian, and so this is a way to say “I’m ready for action.”

  • Sudah selesai?
    “Are you done talking?”
  • Sudah kubilang berkali-kali.
    “I’ve already said it several times.”

This is an interesting feature of Indonesian called “reduplication.” The word kali by itself means “time,” as in “one time, two times.” If we add the ber- prefix and reduplicate it, it gives the word a sense of “countless times,” including the implication of exasperation.

  • Cukup! or Sudahlah!
    “That’s enough!”

The word sudah fills several grammatical functions in Indonesian. It literally means “already,” and so it functions often as a past tense marker. Here, adding the -lah suffix shows that we’ve really had it, and that there’s absolutely nothing else we want to hear!

  • Aku tidak akan memaafkanmu.
    “I’m not going to forgive you.”

In Indonesian culture, “forgive and forget” is the way things get done. If you come out and directly say that you’re not going to forgive what someone else has done, that might scare them straight.

As luck would have it, Indonesian has an idiom about getting angry that’s awfully close to what’s said in English.

  • Awas, dia akan naik darah.
    “Watch out, he’s going to blow up.”

Naik means “to raise” and darah means “blood.” “Raising your blood” seems quite similar to “raising your temper,” or perhaps something about high blood pressure. In either case, it should be easy to remember.

4. Ordering Others Around

Woman being Bossy

We’ve already seen how, in Indonesian, you can make a verb into a polite or neutral request by adding -lah to the end.

  • Berdirilah.
    “Stand up, please.”

Now is not the time for polite requests. Now is the time for demands.

By simply saying the verb in a forceful tone of voice, you’re communicating exactly the same thing you would with a request, just much ruder.

Here are a couple more great Indonesian angry phrases—normally if you’re shouting at someone like this, there are only a couple of things that you’re likely to say.

  • Tutup mulutmu!
    “Shut your mouth!”
  • Jangan bicara! Dengar!
    “Don’t talk! Listen!”
  • Dengar kataku!
    “Listen to what I’m saying!”

5. Play the Blame Game

Anger usually has a reason behind it. With these phrases, you’ll let people know exactly what they did to cause your frustration.

If you say these strongly enough, then they might feel so bad that they back down and apologize by themselves.

  • Kamu tidak pernah menghargaiku.
    “You never appreciate me.”
  • Semuanya adalah kesalahanmu.
    “Everything is your fault.”

Now here are some good rhetorical questions. If you hear these, there’s not really any explanation you can give—just try and ride out the storm.

  • Mengapa kau begitu?
    “Why are you like this?”
  • Apa maksud semua ini?
    “What’s the meaning of this?”

6. Everybody Calm Down

Two People Arguing

There’s one last chance for things not to get crazy. When tempers are flaring, you can use a couple of well-timed phrases to remind everyone to take deep breaths and maybe set aside the issue.

The word for “calm” is tenang. When you’re trying to calm somebody down who’s upset, especially if you don’t know them, you should absolutely use polite pronouns when you address them.

  • Tenang dulu, Pak!
    “Take it easy, mister!”

In Indonesian culture, offering a refreshment is one of the most basic fundamentals of hospitality. If there’s a water cooler nearby or even an unopened bottle, you can offer that to the affronted party.

  • Ini diminum dulu, ya.
    “Here, drink this.”

There are a few more tricks going on with language here. The word dulu literally means “first,” and so by saying “drink first” or “calm down first,” you’re acknowledging that their complaint is valid and that you want to hear about it—once they’re in a better state of mind.

  • Oke, saya dengar.
    “Alright, I’m listening.”
  • Saya mengerti ada kesalahan.
    “I understand there’s a mistake here.”

Again, these phrases make it easy for the other person to feel respected and valid, and that takes a lot of the force out of somebody’s anger.

7. Put Up Your Dukes

Negative Verbs

Now it’s time for the real meat of this topic: the insults. You couldn’t calm down the situation, so instead you’ve got to bring it down to their level.

It might be surprising, but Indonesian doesn’t have an incredibly rich variety of swear words. There are some that we won’t print here because they’re too vulgar in English. But the list as a whole isn’t actually too long.

The most common insult in Indonesian might surprise you.

  • Anjing!

That’s…not really an insult in English. Maybe in a movie about pirates? But not these days. It’s vaguely rude, sure, but it’s just not used!

Not so in Indonesian. As a majority-Islam country, Indonesian people believe dogs are unclean. You won’t see many pet dogs or stray dogs in Indonesia for that reason. And that’s why calling somebody a dog is taken so seriously. In some situations, you might even see it self-censored, like anj*ng.

  • Anak haram!
    “Illegitimate child!”

In Indonesian culture, specifically in Islam, having a child out of wedlock is a strong taboo. Therefore, calling somebody an anak haram is extremely serious as it insults their entire family.

  • Bajingan!

Literally, bajingan is a street criminal, a petty thief, or a pickpocket. Crimes like that don’t happen often in Indonesia, and people are likely to take offense if you call them this word.

The rest of these are pretty standard and interchangeable—insults that work in English and Indonesian. As you can see, these normally wouldn’t be used in complete sentences.

  • Gila kau!
    “You’re crazy!”
  • Sialan!
    “You’re trash!”
  • Bodoh sekali!
    “So stupid!”
  • Kurang ajar!
    “You’re losing it!”

One thing to note here, on a social level: Learning insults in other languages is a lot of fun.

But that’s only because you lack the social upbringing to really know what it feels like to be called sialan or kurang ajar. You might know intellectually that they’re serious words, but you don’t really hold that feeling in your heart.

So the advice here is to rarely, if ever, joke around with insults or angry words in another language. Even if you’ve been immersed for years, all it takes is just one mistake for people to think you’re too touchy and rude to be friends with.

By the way, if you’re wondering “Is that it?” then, no, it’s not. There are other things that go beyond the severity of what we’ve discussed here, but they’re too obscene to print (in this article, at least).

Keep your eyes peeled for a special members-only offering of the juiciest Indonesian curse words, here at IndonesianPod101!

8. Say You’re Sorry

Child Apologizing to Someone

So did you end up going too far? It’s probably going to be alright. Indonesians are tolerant and forgiving of people’s mistakes, and you should definitely learn to be the same if you want to fit in.

In fact, we have a whole lesson on how to say sorry in Indonesian, so we won’t repeat everything here. But imagine yourself all heated up after having traded insults back and forth.

  • Aku minta maaf.
    “I’m very sorry.”
  • Aku salah.
    “I was wrong.”
  • Aku tidak akan melakukan ini lagi.
    “I won’t do this again.”
  • Aku minta maaf karena membuat kamu marah.
    “I’m sorry for making you mad.”
  • Aku harap kamu bisa memaafkanku.
    “I hope you can forgive me.”

If you didn’t screw things up too badly, and your apology was genuine, then you may be lucky enough to hear these phrases.

  • Ayo kita lupakan saja.
    “Let’s just forget about it.”
  • Tidak apa-apa.
    “It’s alright.”

9. Conclusion

Hopefully by this point, you’ve gotten a satisfying glimpse into the dark side of Indonesian anger. Keep in mind that so much of how these words are used and received has to do with the tone of voice.

If you turn on a TV show (or more likely, a web series, thanks to broadcast regulations), you’ll probably hear words like this thrown around very frequently between friends.

You have to read the room and know your audience well if you want to speak like them—and that goes far beyond just insults.

At IndonesianPod101, we give you that extra insight into Indonesian culture to give you a sense of understanding. With our lessons, articles, and flagship podcast, you’ll naturally learn what’s right and wrong to say, every time.

Before you go, drop us a comment and let us know which of these Indonesian angry phrases is your favorite. What are common angry phrases in your language? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Indonesian & Beyond


There’s a lot to be said for being able to make good small talk in another language. Conversations can start up and keep going indefinitely with the right people.

But what can you talk about? Perhaps you’ve tried talking about the weather and didn’t end up getting terribly far.

Or perhaps you’ve already met someone in Indonesia and gotten along with them, but you don’t know what to talk about whenever you hang out.

When something big happens in their life, you’ve got the perfect opening. For example, wishing them a happy birthday in Indonesian is a good way to open up new conversation topics (like what they want to do during this next year of their life, if they have special plans, etc.).

Well-wishes, or ucapan in Indonesian, are an important part of any culture. Knowing the right thing to say, whether it’s good news or bad, is the cornerstone of any interesting conversation.

In this article, you’ll learn about phrases of congratulations in Indonesian, as well as how to offer Indonesian condolences when they’re needed. Let’s get started.

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Table of Contents

  1. Birthdays
  2. Holidays
  3. Christmas
  4. Babies
  5. Graduation
  6. Weddings and Anniversaries
  7. Bad News in General
  8. Good News in General
  9. Conclusion

1. Birthdays

Happy Birthday

Indonesians definitely celebrate birthdays, meaning that wishing someone a happy birthday in Indonesian is much appreciated. The word for “birthday” is hari kelahiran (literally “day of birth” when translated), but instead of using that construction, there’s a set phrase you should use.

  • Selamat ulang tahun!
    “Happy Birthday!”

In very formal contexts, like when an important person is celebrating their birthday as a large public event, the word dirgahayu is used. Generally, dirgahayu is used for Indonesian Independence Day—so it has the same connotation as the birth of a country!

If you’re writing a card, you should also include some of these excellent phrases for wishing long life, happiness, and success.

  • Semoga permohonanmu terkabul.
    “May your wishes be granted.”
  • Semoga selalu sejahtera.
    “Keep staying prosperous.”
  • Semoga panjang umur.
    “May your life be long.”

In English, we have one typical birthday song that everybody knows (perhaps two, if you count He’s a Jolly Good Fellow). In Indonesian, though, people don’t really sing the song. Only in the case of celebrating a foreigner’s birthday would a song be sung, and then it would just probably be the same tune as the English Happy Birthday to You.

2. Holidays

Basic Questions

Wishing someone a happy holiday in Indonesian can be a bit uncertain if you’re new to the country.

For example, when you’re living in Indonesia and everything starts closing up early during the holy month of Ramadan, if you’re not a Muslim you may not be clear on how to wish other people a “Happy Ramadan.” To be honest, it’s not really done with the kind of fervor that, say, Americans tend to use when they wish every stranger in sight “Merry Christmas.”

That said, a holiday greeting in Indonesian is normally appreciated. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Selamat menunaikan ibadah puasa.
    “Wishing you a blessed Ramadan.”
  • Selamat Idul Fitri. Minal aidin wal faidzin.
    “Happy Eid Mubarak. Please forgive any wrongdoing.”

These two phrases can function as a sort of conversation, in that if somebody greets you with one, you can reply with the other.

From dawn to dusk, Indonesian Muslims fast during Ramadan. As the word for “fast” is puasa, you can say Selamat puasa! to others to wish them a happy fasting period.

After the month of Ramadan is over, the fasting period is broken with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, or as it’s known in Indonesian, Hari Raya Idul Fitri. During this time, there are public holidays known as Lebaran, where everybody takes time off to be with family.

3. Christmas

Christmas Tree in Firelight

When it gets past November, the Christmas spirit is alive and well in big shopping centers and near churches. (You’ll get past the incongruity of seeing Christmas trees next to palm trees.) But because most people you meet aren’t likely to celebrate Christmas, it’s a good idea to refrain from sending out season’s greetings to ordinary people on the street.

With people you know better, you can certainly tell them Merry Christmas in Indonesian:

  • Selamat Hari Natal!
    “Merry Christmas!”

In a casual context, the ubiquitous word selamat can be shortened to simply met.

Lastly, for a holiday greeting in Indonesian that says both Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Indonesian, you can do exactly what we do in English:

  • Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru!
    “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

The New Year isn’t the largest holiday of the year, by far, but you’ll definitely hear fireworks. People celebrate all through the country. If you can, try to get up to the top of a building in a residential area and watch the fireworks go off all around you. A great way to ring in the new year!

4. Babies

Talking about Age

The arrival of a new baby is a joyous time for anyone. In Indonesia, the equivalent of a “baby shower” can take many forms. In some places, it’s held in the seventh month of a woman’s pregnancy, and is a time for a woman’s closest friends and relatives to give their blessings.

In other places, there’s no ceremony until after the baby is born, at which time they’re welcomed into the world with an enormous feast and party.

No matter what the ceremony looks like, you can’t go wrong by wishing the mother or the father congratulations with this phrase:

  • Selamat atas kelahiran bayi!
    “Congratulations on the birth of a new baby!”

Naturally, you can be more specific with your Indonesian congratulations by being more descriptive with your words.

  • Selamat atas kelahiran sosok yang begitu menakjubkan.
    “Congratulations on finding something so magical.”
  • Nikmatilah petualangan sebagai orang tua!
    “Enjoy your journey into parenthood!”
  • Aku sangat bahagia dengan kelahiran si kecil dalam keluarga kalian.
    “I’m overjoyed at the arrival of the little one in your family.”

A quick note on Indonesian usage: That little word si is actually kind of like a title. Here it’s being used in a very cute way to say “the little one,” but it could just as easily fit before any adjective: si gemuk, meaning “the plump one,” or si manis, meaning “the sweet one,” for example.

5. Graduation

Parents with Graduate

More and more students are graduating from Indonesia’s top schools every year. But that doesn’t mean graduating isn’t a big deal. If you know someone who’s graduating (or if you yourself are), then you should definitely study up with these phrases.

  • Selamat wisuda!
    “Happy graduation!”

In a card, you can send these more formal wishes for the future:

  • Aku bangga denganmu.
    “I’m proud of you.”
  • Saya berharap kamu selalu sukses.
    “I hope you achieve success.”

The word berharap here implies both a hope and an expectation—so no pressure!

  • Kamu sudah bekerja keras untuk lulus.
    “You’ve worked hard for this graduation.”

One interesting thing is that, since a lot of young people are studying English or speak it very well, plenty of Indonesians will just use English to congratulate each other on graduating. It’s almost seen as more formal than Indonesian.

6. Weddings and Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to an Indonesian wedding, you should make your best effort to be present. Unlike in the West, where you can send a gift or card if you’re unable to make it, people in Indonesia generally give out invitations to their close friends with the expectation that they’ll be able to come.

There are two very common wedding congratulations or set phrases in Indonesian.

  • Selamat ulang tahun pernikahan!
    “Happy Wedding Day!”
  • Semoga bahagia sampai tua.
    “Wish You Happiness Until Old Age”

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in English, but it will be very well appreciated, particularly if you know the bride or groom well.

In addition to these set phrases, you can use some of these example sentences to create your own more personalized Indonesian wedding congratulations.

  • Selamat, dan harapan yang indah untuk kalian berdua di hari pernikahan ini.
    “Congratulations, and warm wishes to both of you on this wedding day.”
  • Selamat untuk kawanku! Semoga selalu bahagia dan keluargamu sehat.
    “Congratulations my friend! I wish you happiness and good health for your family.”

As many weddings are held within religious traditions, it’s very common to send spiritual blessings or doa, which are “prayers,” during a wedding as well.

  • Aku berdoa agar Tuhan memberkati kalian berdua dengan pernikahan yang indah.
    “I wish to God to bless the two of you with a beautiful wedding day.”
  • Semoga Allah memberi berkah kepadamu dan atasmu serta mengumpulkan kamu berdua dalam kebaikan.
    “May Allah bring blessings upon you and gather the two of you together in kindness.”

Those are just two examples of the highly formal style of language you can expect for doa (and in Islamic weddings, these prayers are often delivered in Arabic outright). Many people actually consult religious scholars to provide them with prayers that fit the situation, and the bride and groom, exactly.

7. Bad News in General

Not every life event is all sunshine and roses. If somebody’s going through a tough time or has received bad news, you should extend some heartfelt words of sympathy.

Many Indonesians use the word “sorry” in English (some spell it sori). To foreign ears, this can sound rather dismissive, but it’s not rude. Even for relatively serious things, you might hear someone say sori ya but mean it with respect and gravity.

However, this is somewhere where you can’t totally rely on simple set phrases. If somebody thinks that you’re not sincere in your words—just reciting something memorized—then it’ll hurt more than if you hadn’t said anything. And as a foreigner learning Indonesian, using just your own language might seem like a bit of a cop-out.

So keep that in mind as you look at these following phrases, and if you ever have to use them, do your best to speak more specifically about the actual situation.

1- Death or Funerals

Funerals are a bit complicated here, as they’re highly personal events that are still celebrated in literally hundreds of different ways throughout Indonesia. Remember, the Indonesian language, as a national language, is only about two or three generations old, and cultural roots go way deeper than that.

First, the basic phrase for expressing sorrow is turut berduka.

  • Turut berduka atas ayahmu.
    “I’m very sorry about your father.”

When giving condolences in Indonesian, it’s common to refer to someone’s death in a sensitive way, just as in English we might say that someone “passed away.”

  • Saya sangat kaget mendengar bahwa dia telah tiada.
    “I am very sorry to hear that she has passed away (literally: that she is not here).”

The most common condolence messages for funerals in Indonesia take the form of reminders about the person’s afterlife. Although not all Indonesians are devoutly religious, the vast majority believe strongly in a creator and an afterlife, and these thoughts are very comforting for someone who has lost a loved one.

  • Semoga Tuhan memberinya tempat yang terbaik.
    “May God give them the finest place.”
  • Dia akan mendapatkan tempat terbaik di surga.
    “He will receive the finest place in heaven.”
  • Ingatlah kebahagiannya untuk bertemu dengan Sang Pencipta.
    “Think of her happiness in meeting the Creator.”

Aside from that, condolences often come with gifts of flowers. You should deliver them personally if possible, along with words like these:

  • Tetap kuat dan ingat bahwa kamu memiliki banyak orang yang peduli denganmu.
    “Remain strong and remember that you have a lot of people who care about you.”
  • Kami selalu mendoakanmu.
    “We’re always praying for you.”

2- Poor Health

Man Sick in Bed

If you were suffering from an illness, wouldn’t it feel great to know that your friends and family were thinking of you? It’s always a great gesture of kindness to send nice thoughts to someone who’s feeling under the weather, whether it’s serious or just an ordinary bug.

First, the all-purpose phrase:

  • Semoga cepat sembuh!
    “Get well soon!”

But when you’re really feeling awful (think day three or four of tropical fever), the concept of “getting well” might seem awfully far away. In that case, you’ll want to hear encouraging messages of support, both from the perspective of friendship and of spirituality.

  • Jangan merasa sendiri. Aku akan selalu bersamamu.
    “Don’t feel alone. I’m always with you.”
  • Jangan pernah menyerah!
    “Never give up!”
  • Doaku selalu untukmu.
    “My prayers are always with you.”

10. Good News in General

And in order to end on a happy note, let’s look at just a few more quick phrases you can use for any kind of catch-all good stuff. Someone’s cat had kittens? Promotion’s coming up? These are perfect responses.

  • Keren!
  • Bagus sekali!

What about when somebody’s about to take on a challenge, or they’re not sure whether the outcome will be good or bad? In that case, you can quite literally “wish them success” with this phrase:

  • Semoga sukses!
    “Best of luck!”

11. Conclusion

Now that you’re armed with all of these great phrases, you should be able to connect with other people on a totally different level than before.

Seriously, there’s a big difference between letting some foreigner know about your upcoming graduation and getting into an interesting conversation with them about it. If you can make yourself into a foreigner who’s capable of having that kind of conversation, your life in Indonesia will be all the richer for it.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Indonesian life event messages, and that you took away something valuable from this article. Before you go, let us know how you feel about holding conversations in Indonesian using these phrases! Are there any life event messages you still want to know about? We look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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Jumat Agung: Celebrating Good Friday in Indonesia

Good Friday in Indonesia, called Jumat Agung, is a major holiday for the country’s Christian population—it’s an even bigger holiday here than Easter! In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of certain Good Friday celebrations in Indonesia, what those celebrations look like today, and much more.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Good Friday?

Good Friday is a Christian holiday celebrated in many countries around the world, by both Protestants and Catholics. This holiday commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross, as well as his suffering beforehand, before finally celebrating his Resurrection on Easter. Catholics know this holiday as Trihari Suci, or “Easter Triduum.”

In Indonesia, Good Friday is a time of mati raga, or “mortification,” in commemoration of Jesus’ own suffering. It’s also a time of celebration in honor of his Resurrection three days later.

So, is Good Friday a public holiday in Indonesia?

Yes, it is! Due to the large number of Christians in the country, the Good Friday holiday in Indonesia is considered a public holiday. Most people have the day off from work and school to attend the festivities. Interestingly, Indonesians do not consider Easter a public holiday, though.

2. When is Good Friday in Indonesia?

Someone Offering a Plate Filled with Ashes, in Which a Cross Is Drawn

Because the date of Good Friday varies from year to year, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 10
  • 2021: April 2
  • 2022: April 15
  • 2023: April 7
  • 2024: March 29
  • 2025: April 18
  • 2026: April 3
  • 2027: March 26
  • 2028: April 14
  • 2029: March 30

3. Celebrating Good Friday in Indonesian Culture

Holding a Cross During a Procession for Good Friday

On Good Friday, Indonesians re-internalize the suffering of Jesus and commemorate his death on the cross. To do so, they attend church services for the three days of the Triduum, where celebrations culminate on Easter Sunday. Another popular tradition is the Drama penyiksaan Yesus, or “Stations of the Cross play,” in which Jesus’ suffering while bearing the cross is depicted.

The Holy Week in Larantuka

In Larantuka, there’s a special Pekan suci, or “Holy Week,” tradition—the only one of its kind in Indonesia. The Good Friday portion of the celebration draws crowds from the island of Flores, Australia, and around the world.

For this Good Friday tradition, thousands of people dress in black, parading statues of Jesus and Mother Mary from one point to another. While parading, these people sing Gregorian songs.

This tradition began about five centuries ago when a statue depicting a woman showed up on the shore. On the side of it, there was writing that no one at the time was able to read. They called it Tuan Ma, and locals worshipped it in the hope of receiving blessings.

A century later, a missionary from Portugal arrived in Indonesia and found that the writing on the statue said Reinha Rosario Maria. He also noticed that its face resembled that of Mother Mary. In 1650, the king of Larantuka was baptized, handing over his kingdom to Mother Mary.

The Cathedral Church in Jakarta

On Good Friday, Jakarta is also abuzz with religious traditions and festivities. Perhaps the most popular are those taking place at the Jakarta Cathedral. A couple of years ago, this cathedral in Jakarta needed to employ the use of online registration to avoid becoming too crowded!

During these celebrations, Jesus’ suffering is portrayed, and worshippers can be found mencium kaki salib, or “kissing the foot of the cross.” Because celebrations are so large in this cathedral, and in other churches in this area, it’s not uncommon for police to be around, keeping the celebrations secure and worshippers safe.

4. Christianity in Indonesia

Children Attending a Church Service

When and where did the spread of Christianity begin in Indonesia?

The Christian religion had left its trace in Sumatra Island in the seventh century AD. However, its continuous dissemination did not happen until the sixteenth century through Portuguese missionary work in Maluku, and then it spread to Flores and Timor Island. Apart from the religious mission, the Portuguese came to Indonesia to trade spices.

5. Essential Indonesian Vocab for Good Friday

Easter Triduum

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Good Friday!

  • Mati raga — “Mortification”
  • Ibadah penghormatan salib — “Veneration of the cross”
  • Drama penyiksaan Yesus — “Stations of the Cross play”
  • Trihari Suci — “Easter Triduum”
  • Pekan suci — “Holy Week”
  • Pra-Paskah — “Lent”
  • Prosesi — “Procession”
  • Katedral — “Cathedral”
  • Pengakuan dosa — “Penance and Reconciliation”
  • Jalan Salib — “Station of the Cross”
  • Mencium kaki salib — “Kissing the foot of the cross”
  • Jumat Agung — “Good Friday”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Indonesian Good Friday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Good Friday in Indonesia with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information!

Do you celebrate Good Friday in your country? We would love to hear from you in the comments, and learn about this holiday in your culture.

If you want to learn even more about Indonesian culture and holidays, has much more where this came from:

Whatever your reasons or goals for wanting to learn Indonesian or become acquainted with its culture, know that is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. With tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone!

Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us.

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The Best Netflix Indonesia Movies to Learn Indonesian


Read a couple of pop culture articles in English, and you’ll notice right away that Netflix is a pretty indelible part of Western entertainment these days.

It’s almost like if you take a break from catching up on shows and movies, everybody will be speaking a totally different language when you come back.

When you study a language, you’re going to be hard-pressed to avoid the pop culture that goes along with it. And on Netflix, Indonesia has tons of movies and TV series for you to enjoy already.

But one of the biggest obstacles to people teaching themselves languages is convenience. Try to sign up for an Indonesian streaming service using an American bank card (and with shaky knowledge of Indonesian, at that) and you might want to just throw up your hands in despair.

Fortunately for you, and for millions of people around the world, Netflix is already well on its way to capturing the streaming market worldwide. And of course, that includes Indonesia.

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Table of Contents

  1. Does Netflix Work in Indonesia? Is it Worth the Netflix Indonesia Price?
  2. Netflix Indonesia Film List: The Best Indonesian Stuff on Netflix
  3. Experience Your Favorite Show Through Indonesian Eyes
  4. Using Audio Descriptions to Get More Indonesian Per Show
  5. Conclusion

1. Does Netflix Work in Indonesia? Is it Worth the Netflix Indonesia Price?

Best Ways to Learn

So, does Netflix work in Indonesia? If you happen to be in Indonesia at this very moment, you may have noticed an uncomfortable fact: some Indonesian ISPs straight-up block Netflix.

They’re within their rights to do so under Indonesian law, but it’s a total pain for people who are used to the particular selection that Netflix has to offer.

In that case, it may be worth it to shell out for a VPN, or do some research on which ISPs or mobile providers in your area don’t have this block.

Otherwise, whether in-country or out, you may also notice that there isn’t a whole lot of diversity when it comes to Netflix Indonesia content available. That’s because the Indonesian market is one that Netflix is currently expanding into—meaning that the selection is certain to grow with time. So, the answer to “Does Netflix work in Indonesia?” is “Sometimes, and hopefully more in the future.”

2. Netflix Indonesia Film List: The Best Indonesian Stuff on Netflix

Movie Genres

1- Kuntilanak

Do you like horror movies? I sure hope so, because Indonesians definitely do. Kuntilanak is the name of a ghost in traditional Indonesian and Malay folklore, and this is one of the best Indonesian horror movies on Netflix at the moment.

A young woman named Samantha moves to a creepy old boarding house in Jakarta. Even though the landlady specifically tells her the ghost stories related to the house, and that nobody is allowed to go to the second floor, Samantha doesn’t mind.

As the supernatural events unfold, you’ll get a great rundown of Indonesian spiritual folklore, specifically Javanese folklore related to ghosts.

2- Merantau

Remember that iconic moment in The Matrix when Morpheus fought Neo to test his skills? Everyone, on and off the screen, gets such a thrill from seeing a teacher prove their excellence. In Merantau, a martial arts teacher does just that—at least at first.

Soon after arriving in the big city, he’s thrown into a criminal underworld where he must use his wits and his fists to fight for justice, and to save his own skin. Here, you’ll learn a ton of fast-paced street slang in Indonesian—just don’t try it out in the classroom unless you’re as good at fighting as he is! If you’re looking for an excellent Indonesian action movie, Netflix has you covered with this one.

3- Surga Yang Tak Dirindukan

This is one of the best Indonesian dramas on Netflix in the past few years, both critically and in terms of audience reception. That may be due to the way it treats love and marriage—with a challenging and unique viewpoint for a country that largely maintains conservative social values.

Arini and her husband Pras have a healthy, trusting, and happy marriage. But one day, Pras unexpectedly encounters a woman trying to end her own life after finding out about her fiance’s infidelity. What can Pras do when this woman starts making advances toward him, at the same time that he learns about the infidelity issues in Arini’s family?

4- Soekarno

Indonesia, in case you weren’t aware, was a colony of the Netherlands for more than a century. Thanks largely to a spirit of nationalist unity in the early twentieth century, the Dutch ended up recognizing Indonesia as an independent country in 1949.

That process, many argue, would not have been possible without the leader Soekarno (spelled Sukarno after orthographic reform). This Netflix Indonesian film tells his story. Since it’s an Indonesian film and Soekarno is still very widely revered in the country, you can imagine that it’s a very positive portrait.

Interestingly enough, the film was briefly banned from showing in Indonesia due to criticisms about creative liberties taken with historical accuracy. Open Netflix in Indonesia, watch the film to practice your Indonesian, but check out a textbook if you want to really learn what happened!

5- 3 Srikandi

It’s 1988 and the world of sports is gearing up for the 24th Olympics in Seoul. Do you remember who won silver in women’s team archery? Take a wild guess based on what language you’re reading about.

It was, in fact, Indonesia’s first-ever Olympic medal, obtained by a truly outstanding effort on the part of the contestants and their coach. This Indonesian Netflix movie tells the story of a coach brought out of retirement to turn these women into world-class athletes, despite the pressures they face from their communities and the world stage. Not a whole lot of sports films come out of Indonesia, but this is one of the best, so open Netflix in Indonesia and start watching!

6- Cahaya Dari Timur: Beta Maluku

Another one of the best Indonesian movies on Netflix and very highly-regarded, this drama and sports film stands out by being centered far from the urban nexus of Jakarta.

Ambon is a relatively small island in Maluku Province, in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago. There, religious conflicts are liable to erupt between the Christian and Muslim populations, as well as ethnic conflicts between different migrant groups. It is there that one youth soccer coach had the idea to bring young people together through sports. Is that idea destined for success, or doomed for failure?

7- Laskar Pelangi

Though this might count as an “older” film by modern streaming standards, this 2008 film still holds up extremely well. Every Indonesian knows it, and it even sparked an explosion in tourism to the shooting locations.

This too is an inspiring story about changing the lives of children in need. A small school in rural Belitung (eastern Sumatra) is about to close due to lack of enrollment. When one more student arrives, the ten students and their teacher become close friends and all earn each other’s respect over the course of the school year. Many people see this film as a love letter not only to rural Indonesia, but also to young people persevering in adverse circumstances.

8- Filosofi Kopi

Indonesia is a rapidly developing country, and no matter what city you go to, you’ll see little coffee shops and bakeries opening up all over the place.

This Indonesian film on Netflix captures that spirit while also putting an edge on the importance of friendship and money on it. It was well-received, too—just like how Laskar Pelangi fueled tourism to Belitung, if you go to Yogyakarta today and ask around for the places where they shot Filosofi Kopi, there’ll still be people taking selfies.

A businessman places a wager on a struggling coffee shop that could prove an amazing boon. But when two friends are running a business together, it’s not always a great idea to bring either crazy ideas or big winnings into the mix. Spoiler alert—things work out well enough for there to be a Filosofi Kopi 2.

9- Single

Young people all over the world can sometimes feel an enormous pressure on them to find a relationship. Once you reach a certain age, if it hasn’t happened yet, it can become all-consuming.

Ebi is a young man in Jakarta, relatively aimless in life and without any elements of support. When his successful younger brother announces his wedding day, Ebi realizes that to appear without a girlfriend at the wedding would be to invite ridicule from everyone he knows. What does it mean for him to start looking for love, and will he find it in time?

10- The Night Comes for Us

If you wanted a marker of how seriously Netflix takes the Indonesian market, look no further than this. Netflix acquired the distribution rights in Asia shortly after its premiere, and for good reason. This Netflix Indonesian action movie is yet another brilliantly done film set in Southeast Asia.

Action superstars Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim star as elite fighters for a notorious drug triad. After a moral dispute, things get heated and stay heated. It’s not a movie for the squeamish, but connoisseurs of Asian action cinema will go wild.

3. Experience Your Favorite Show Through Indonesian Eyes

Improve Pronunciation

So, you’ve looked into Netflix Indonesia prices, VPNs, and our list of great Netflix Indonesian movies. But how can you actually use this to learn Indonesian?

Some people like dubbed foreign films, and others go for subtitles every time. In general, Indonesians tend to only dub media for children. It’s tough to find imported DVDs with Indonesian audio tracks—pretty much the only way is to catch the broadcasts on the kids’ TV channels.

But you’re in luck—tons of international Indonesian Netflix series for kids have audio tracks.

If you’re familiar with these shows from having watched them in another language before, then you’ve just found one of the smoothest and easiest ways to get started with watching native-level content in Indonesian.

And it’s not necessarily because kids’ shows are “simpler.” Often, the wordplay and fast-paced banter can be just as complex as a show meant for adults.

Instead, dubbed shows are easier because they were probably written by people from a cultural background that you’re more familiar with. The overall plot and storyline is likely to resonate with you more than something from a purely Indonesian cultural background.

When it comes to optimizing Netflix for language learning, things definitely don’t stop with dubbing.

4. Using Audio Descriptions to Get More Indonesian Per Show

Ever tried turning on those audio descriptions in the audio/subtitles menu?

They’re originally meant for vision-impaired people. These audio tracks simply use the space between dialogue lines to let you know what’s going on in the scene through additional narration.

In case you run off and check right this instant, keep in mind that they only show up in whatever language you have your Netflix interface set to. Change that to Indonesian in your profile settings—in fact, you should probably do that anyway! Definitely a smart addition to your Indonesian Netflix series-watching!

So what difference does this extra audio track make for learning Indonesian?

You get to hear how Indonesians would describe scenes naturally, for other Indonesians. You might have a scene of two guys talking over coffee, and one of them takes a long drink.

Anybody knows how to say “he takes a long drink” in their own language, but that kind of specific wording isn’t something you’re likely to pick up from a textbook or from watching shows.

Right now, audio description in Indonesian is only available for a handful of movies, and, apart from The Night Comes for Us, they’re all Indonesian horror on Netflix. But the more you watch with it on, the more Netflix’s algorithms report that it’s in demand—and the more you’ll get in the future! So do be sure to start using this whenever you can while binging your favorite Indonesian Netflix series or movies!

5. Conclusion

Ready to watch Netflix in Indonesian? As a very last resort, you can still use subtitles in Indonesian to improve your language ability.

Switch the audio track to something you don’t understand (or turn it off completely) and try to follow the plot just from reading the Indonesian dialogue. It’s not as great a solution as the other stuff on this list, but it sure beats not learning Indonesian at all.

And that’s really the main point here. You don’t have to rearrange your life around studying Indonesian (though that would certainly be an interesting challenge), but as long as you’re doing something in Indonesian whenever you can, you’re going to be making progress.

The fastest way, in fact, would be to use this sort of immersive learning as a healthy supplement to a regular course of study. When you learn a new word or phrase through ordinary lessons and then run across it immediately in “real-life Indonesian,” it supercharges that memory. Plus it’s a great feeling!

Language just requires some getting used to. The more relaxed you make your journey, the more permanent your knowledge will be.

So, reader, which of these Netflix Indonesia movies do you want to watch first, and why? Are there any other Netflix Indonesian movies we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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