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Explore the Inner Workings of Indonesian Language Grammar

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You might have heard that Indonesian is an easy, accessible language, but have you ever wondered why?

Since you’re considering learning Indonesian, you probably want to know what’s involved with the process. Are you going to have to memorize long declension tables, write out conjugations a zillion times, or cram adjective endings into your memory?

None of the above.

Indonesian grammar doesn’t require you to think in the ways that European grammar does. Instead, it’s a different challenge that people find refreshing and stimulating.

In this article, we’ll break down some of the major Indonesian grammar rules that make it particularly interesting to learn (and not particularly challenging!). You’ll soon see that understanding Indonesian grammar just takes a bit of time and dedication.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Pronouns
  3. Levels of Formality
  4. Measure Words
  5. Active and Passive Affixes
  6. The Relative Pronoun Yang
  7. Particles
  8. Conclusion

1. General Rules

A Man in Business Attire Reading a Newspaper

Although Indonesian vocabulary is hard to remember sometimes, Indonesian grammar is generally easy to pick up.

In fact, you can often translate Indonesian sentences into English word-for-word.

That’s because Indonesian word order is nearly identical to English word order, at least in most cases. There’s also nothing like conjugation or declension to worry about—even plural forms of nouns go unmarked more often than not.

Indonesian verbs? You don’t have to worry for a moment about complex conjugations. Instead, there are creative, interesting prefixes and suffixes that let you explore new ways of thinking about sentences.

And even complex Indonesian sentences start to make sense after just a bit of dissection. As long as you know the vocabulary, you’re going to be able to read Indonesian newspaper articles and participate in text message conversations with equal ease.

So don’t be intimidated by the fact that Indonesian comes from the other side of the globe. Let’s jump in and see what Indonesian language grammar has to offer.

2. Pronouns

When you look at a language from a totally different branch than English, you can’t take anything for granted at first. For example, Indonesian has more pronouns than you probably expected!

First, Indonesian makes a distinction between inclusive and exclusive first person plural. In other words, there’s one word, kita (“we: you and me”) and kami (“we: me and somebody else, but not you”). Grammatically, they function identically, but if you’re not used to making this distinction, there’s a bit of a mental leap to overcome as you suddenly have to be more specific in your thoughts when speaking.

Next, there are different pronouns based on politeness. Plenty of languages have a “formal you,” but Indonesian has casual, formal, and respectful pronouns for several different grammatical persons.

Let’s look at the “I-You” pair. In super-casual Jakarta slang, that’s gue/lu. Casually with friends (outside Jakarta), you’d likely say aku/kamu. In formal speech and with strangers, you’d use saya/Anda (note that Anda is always capitalized).

Many Indonesians don’t even use these pronouns, though—they’ll use your name or your title, or Bu/Pak (“Ma’am”/”Sir”), in place of the pronoun.

These formality levels don’t stop at pronouns!

3. Levels of Formality

A Man and Woman Talking with a Shop Owner

Many languages spoken in Asia have quite complex levels of language, ranging from “street slang” to special dialects spoken only by royalty. Since the Indonesian language isn’t that old, there’s nothing like a “royalty dialect,” but that does exist in local languages such as Javanese and Balinese.

Indonesian people tend to be multilingual, and “proper” Indonesian is seen as more formal than their local language. Therefore, informal slang terms often have a flavor of the local language.

Take the word ingin (“want”) in Standard Indonesian. In Java, you’ll hear people say kepengin or pengin—a related Javanese word—from time to time. This is considered much less formal.

Unfortunately for you, there’s not really a great way to tell a word’s formality level from its sound or spelling. Another word for “want” is hendak, an older word from Malay that’s considered relatively formal.

Learning the differences between closely related synonyms is one of the most time-consuming tasks in learning Indonesian, but after enough study, you’ll start to get a feel for the differences. It’s also recommended that you expose yourself to more of the language through literature, newspapers, and TV.

4. Measure Words

Two Slices of Rye Bread Cut Off from a Loaf

Grammar in Indonesian, like that of every language around the world, has the concept of “countable” and “uncountable” nouns. In English, you can have “one book” but you can’t have “one rice.” The first is countable, and the second is uncountable. English requires that you use measure words, or counters, for uncountable nouns: “one grain of rice.”

Indonesian requires counters for all nouns instead. It’s much like Mandarin in this regard, though perhaps a bit less strict.

The default measure word for inanimate objects is buah, meaning “fruit.”

  • Di kamar ada tiga buah meja. / “There are three tables in the room.”

This can be used for pretty much all objects, though to speak perfectly correct Indonesian you’ll need to memorize the correct counters for different shapes of objects, like potong for pieces of things.

  • Aku punya dua potong roti. / “I have two pieces of bread.”

Other than that, you’ll need orang for people and ekor for animals.

  • Aku mau setengah ekor ayam. / “I want half a chicken.”
  • Dia seorang guru yang baik. / “She’s a good teacher.”

Confusing these measure words or using sebuah sounds strange or even insulting in some cases, so make these measure words your top priority.

5. Active and Passive Affixes

A Large Book in a Library

Adding affixes to verbs is a complicated part of Indonesian grammar, but we’ll just focus on two prefixes for now: the active prefix and the passive prefix.

In a nutshell, Indonesian verbs take prefixes and suffixes to show not who did the action, but in what way the action was performed. Therefore, there is a prefix to show a verb with an object, and that prefix takes the form of me- or men-.

  • Dia sedang menonton televisi. / “She’s watching TV.”
  • Kapan kamu akan menulis bukumu? / “When are you going to write your book?”

In the same way, adding di- to a root verb instead of me– flips things around and marks the passive voice.

  • Televisi sedang ditonton olehnya. / “The television is being watched by her.”
  • Buku saya akan ditulis tahun depan. / “My book will be written next year.”

These examples seem a bit off in English, and indeed, they’re not particularly common phrases in Indonesian. However, when you compare the active sentences to the passive sentences, it’s clear to see how the prefix changes the meaning of the verb.

That’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible with Indonesian verbs. To find out more, check out our Indonesian Verbs page!

6. The Relative Pronoun Yang

Whenever you learn a new language, there’s always something that marks a transition from being a “total beginner” to being a little bit more capable. In many languages, that’s the ability to make relative clauses, bringing your sentences to a new level of expression.

Fortunately, with Indonesian you can start to form relative clauses extremely quickly. All it takes is one connecting word: yang.

  • Ini buku yang dibeli Amron. / “This is the book that was bought by Amron.”

You can use this for animate and inanimate objects—no need to choose between “that” and “who,” as you would in English.

  • Dia guru yang mengajar bahasa Inggris di sekolah waktu saya kecil. / “She’s the teacher who taught English at school when I was a kid.”

7. Particles

A Motorcycle against a White Background

Instead of tenses, Indonesian takes after other Asian languages and uses particles to convey time aspects. Sudah marks completed actions, sedang marks in-progress actions, and akan marks future actions.

  • Apakah kamu sudah membersihkan kamarnya? / “Have you already cleaned the room?”

In many cases, though, these particles are used once or twice at the beginning of the topic and then dropped, and the context is enough to maintain the temporal consistency.

Lastly, several particles are extremely common in informal Indonesian, and they’re notoriously hard to translate.

  • Kok motor parkir di sana? / “Why is the motorbike parked (there) on the sidewalk?”
  • Jangan begitu dong! / “Don’t be like that, man!”

In these examples, you can see the particles kok, expressing surprise, and dong, expressing that what you’re saying is rather obvious. Kok can be considered the casual version of kenapa (“why”).

These particles only rarely appear in writing, and even then, only in casual online writing such as magazine articles or comment sections. Reading through comment sections under YouTube videos might be a bit mind-numbing, but it’s a great way to get a feel for super-informal Indonesian that you won’t find in textbooks.

8. Conclusion

As you can see, Indonesian really isn’t that far off from English in a lot of places. When you look at a list of Indonesian sentences with their English translations, you can really start connecting the dots all on your own.

But how much time do you want to spend connecting the dots, and how much time do you want to spend speaking Indonesian?

With IndonesianPod101, you can choose the perfect blend of resources for your learning style. You can follow along with entertaining podcasts from beginner to advanced level, and also take it slower and read through grammar and pronunciation guides aimed at learners of every level.

In no time, you’ll feel yourself picking up Indonesian words and phrases left and right, naturally assimilating the grammar in a totally effortless way. Soon you won’t have to even think about word order or verb prefixes—they’ll just come to you.

Sign up now for IndonesianPod101 and experience this effect for yourself!

Before you go: Which of these Indonesian grammar rules are new to you, and which ones seem the most difficult so far?

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20 Indonesian Quotes to Make an Excellent Impression

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When you start learning Indonesian, being able to read popular books or watch famous speeches might seem a lifetime away. 

All those words you have to learn! All that new grammar to wrap your head around! 

Fortunately, there’s a shortcut. 

By studying interesting Indonesian quotes with English translations and equivalents, you’ll start to see the connections between the two languages. (Not to mention that you’ll also start to sound very well-read!)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Family
  6. Quotes About Friendship
  7. Quotes About Food
  8. Quotes About Health
  9. Quotes About Language Learning
  10. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Success

Silhouette of Three People on the Top of a Mountain

Let’s begin with some Indonesian language quotes that touch on success and hint at how to achieve one’s goals.

  • Keberhasilan bukanlah milik orang yang pintar. Keberhasilan adalah kepunyaan mereka yang senantiasa berusaha. / “Success is not possessed by educated people. It belongs to those who try everlastingly.”

The third President of Indonesia, B.J. Habibie, was in office for less than two years. But in this short time, he had such a powerful effect and came to be so well-loved by his people that a number of well-known quotes in Indonesian come from him. Interestingly, Habibie was very well-educated, speaking fluent German and English as well as Indonesian.

  • Berhenti berharap, mulailah bertindak. / “Stop wishing, start doing.”

This quote provides a great example of the suffix -lah, used to encourage people to do something. You don’t see it on berhenti (“stop”), but you do see it attached to mulai (“start”). You can read more about Indonesian suffixes on this dedicated page from Northern Illinois University

  • Kelemahan terbesarmu adalah ketika kamu menyerah dan kehebatan terbesarmu adalah ketika kamu mencoba sekali lagi. / “Your biggest weakness is when you give up and your greatest power is when you try one more time.”

The use here of the two opposites lemah (“weak”) and hebat (“awesome” / “powerful”) is a beautiful example of the way Indonesian can create new words using prefixes and suffixes. By adding the noun affixes ke-an, these words become “weakness” and “power” respectively.


2. Quotes About Life

Are you feeling stuck or unsatisfied in life? Read these two Indonesian quotes about life and see if they don’t make you feel a little better!

  • Masa lalu saya adalah milik saya. Masa lalu kamu adalah milik kamu. Tapi, masa depan adalah milik kita. / “My past belongs to me. Your past belongs to you. But the future belongs to us.”

Here’s Habibie again with another excellent quote about life and love. The word milik (“to belong to”) tends to give learners trouble from time to time, because English speakers expect a preposition like in the English phrase “belongs to.” No preposition needed, folks—just follow milik with whoever owns the thing!

  • Cintai hidup yang Anda jalani. Jalani hidup yang Anda cintai. / “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”

For a country not particularly inclined toward Rastafarianism, this Bob Marley quote appears on a surprising number of café decorations and T-shirts in Indonesia. Unfortunately, this is an example of alliteration in English that doesn’t carry over particularly well (if at all) into Indonesian. 

3. Quotes About Time

Jakarta History Museum

Time is always fleeting, isn’t it? Here are some Indonesian life quotes concerning time to inspire and motivate you!

  • Jas Merah – shortened from: Jangan sekali-kali melupakan sejarah. / “Never forget history.”

This quote features some wordplay that’s almost impossible to attain in any language but Indonesian. On the surface, jas merah simply means “red jacket.” However, look at the first letters of each word in the full quote, and the last letters of the final word: JAngan Sekali-kali MElupakan sejaRAH. It’s extremely clever, and that kind of singkatan (“shortening”) appears a lot in popular Indonesian culture.

  • Persiapkan hari ini sebaik-baiknya untuk menghadapi hari ésok yang baru. / “Get ready for today to be the best it can in order to expect a new tomorrow.”

Here we can see a great example of reduplication, where the word baik (“good”) is doubled to increase its strength. The additional affixes se-nya add another level of emphasis, so the full meaning expressed in English is “the best possible.” 

4. Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think these Indonesian love quotes will warm your heart!

  • Aku ingin mencintaimu dengan sederhana. / “I want to love you simply.”

This quote by Sapardi Djoko Damono is from his work Aku ingin (“I Want”). It’s a famous poem that every Indonesian knows of, even if they can’t recite any more of it than this line. Indonesian doesn’t have a unique grammatical form for adverbs, so here, “simply” is translated more poetically as dengan sederhana (“with simplicity”).

  • Walaupun raga terpisah oleh karena kematian, namun cinta sejati tetap di relung hati. / “Even though our bodies are separated by death, our love is eternal in our deepest heart.”

Habibie one more time—that man could speak! The grammatical structure here is walaupun…namun (“even though…”). In Indonesian, like in Chinese and other Asian languages, the “even though” structure requires a “but” to set up the next clause. This isn’t required in English, but lots of English learners make this mistake by adding “but” in English anyway.  


5. Quotes About Family

A Mother Holding Her Baby for a Nap

Family is a major cornerstone of any society. The following quotes in the Indonesian language touch on the significance of family in everyday life.

  • Jangan pernah melupakan orang-orang yang sudah membantu saat kita sedang mengalami masalah yang besar. Mereka itu ialah keluarga. / “Never forget the people who have helped when we were solving big problems. Those are our family.”

By adding pernah (“ever”) to jangan (“don’t”), we get the set phrase jangan pernah (“never”). From this, we can deduce the correct English tenses even though the only markers of tense in Indonesian are: 1) the particle sudah, showing completion, and 2) the adverb saat (“when” / “while”). As you can see, time is quite flexible when speaking Indonesian!

  • Berterimakasihlah pada segala yang memberi kehidupan. / “Be grateful to those who gave (you) life.”

Indonesian isn’t really known for its long words, but berterimakasihlah has got to be up there as one of the longer words in regular usage. As you’ve probably noticed, the root is terima kasih (“thank you”), which is literally “bring thanks,” but smashed together as one semantic unit. The ber- prefix implies possession, and as we’ve discussed, the –lah suffix is a suggestion. Thus: Have thanks!


6. Quotes About Friendship

Two Women Walking in the Snow

Friends are one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Read these Indonesian friendship quotes and see if you can relate!

  • Persahabatan adalah hadiah terbesar dalam hidup, dan saya telah mendapatkannya. / “The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”

Indonesian doesn’t make the distinction between “big” and “great” as English does—they’re both besar. Adding the prefix ter- makes it the most extreme, the “biggest,” gift. One more thing to learn from this sentence is telah, a word roughly equivalent to sudah in that it also marks a completed action.

  • Teman baikku adalah seseorang yang menghasilkan yang terbaik dalam diri saya. / “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

Here we have a different way of showing possession in Indonesian. Teman baikku (“my best friend”) has the –ku ending, meaning “belonging to me.” However, we could also say teman baik saya, which has exactly the same meaning. The subtle difference in feeling between the two is something practically impossible to explain—but the more Indonesian you study, the better you’ll be able to tell the difference!


7. Quotes About Food 

Who doesn’t enjoy sitting down for a nice meal now and then? Read these Indonesian food quotes to gain perspective on the role food plays in Indonesian culture. 

  • Tertawa itu paling riang di tempat makanan tersedia. / “Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is.”
  • Makanan untuk tubuh tidak cukup. Harus ada makanan untuk jiwa. / “Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”

If you take out the articles in the English example sentence, you pretty much have a word-for-word translation of the original Indonesian. This shows how easy the sentence structure can be, even if you have to learn a ton of new words.

8. Quotes About Health

A Stethoscope Hanging Around a Doctor’s Neck

One should always prioritize their health, because only in good health can one achieve other important goals. Here are some Indonesian quotes that touch on this topic.

  • Peliharalah kesehatan Anda, karena ia yang akan mewadahi umur panjang Anda. / “Take care of your health, because it will accompany you through your whole life.”

The relative pronoun yang (“which”) here is actually a little superfluous. More literally, this translation could mean: “It is the one which will accompany.” 

  • Waktu dan kesehatan adalah dua aset berharga yang tidak dikenali dan hargai sampai keduanya hilang. / “Time and health are two valuable assets that are ignored until they’re both gone.”

The word hilang (“disappear”) is one of those words you don’t realize your native language is missing until you learn it in another one. Although it can be translated to English and be understood, it has the more specific sense of vanishing completely and leaving people confused in its absence.

  • Karena nila setitik, rusak susu sebelanga. / “With a drop of indigo dye, a pot of milk is ruined.”

Nobody wants to drink milk with a hint of blue! Nila is the Indonesian word for “natural indigo dye,” which was commonly used to dye fabric blue. Therefore, “indigo” is a more evocative metaphor than the English equivalent, “One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel.”

9. Quotes About Language Learning

A Man Studying on the Bus

To close, let’s look at a couple of Indonesian quotes that talk about learning. What better way to motivate you in your language studies? 

  • Lakukan yang terbaik di semua kesempatan yang kamu miliki. / “Do your best at every opportunity that you have.”

Here we see milik used again, not as a possessive marker but as a verb. You can tell this by the –i suffix, which can turn certain roots into active verbs

  • Orang bijak belajar ketika mereka bisa. Orang bodoh belajar ketika mereka terpaksa. / “Clever people study when they can. Stupid people study when they’re made to.”

Before, we saw the prefix ter– used as a superlative (“the most” / “the best”), but here it’s actually showing the passive. Indonesian distinguishes between two types of passive voice: one where the object expected or wanted the action to happen, and one where it didn’t. This example shows the second type. 


10. Conclusion

At this point, you’ve been exposed to a great deal of Indonesian culture, packed into twenty quotes. Would you like to delve even deeper?

The best step for you is to sign up with IndonesianPod101.com, where you can access a wealth of resources in audio, video, and podcast formats. Each lesson is produced by experts and designed to help you learn Indonesian as fast and as easily as possible. Take the first step and sign up with IndonesianPod101 to see how easy it can really be!

In the meantime, let us know in the comments which of these Indonesian quotes is your favorite, and why!

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Don’t Waste Another Minute in Indonesian: Talk about Time

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*ring ring*

That’s your alarm clock. It’s time to learn Indonesian!

Hey, do you know how to say that phrase—or, really, any phrases about time in Indonesian? You should!

If you’re learning Indonesian for travel, you’re definitely going to want to know how to ask about time. Good luck getting on buses or trains at the right time if you don’t know how to ask when they leave!

And if you’re planning on a longer stay there, well, that’s even more of a reason to learn how to tell time in Indonesian. Imagine making a restaurant reservation or calling to ask when a store closes if you don’t know how to talk about time.

Pretty tricky, right? This article is definitely for you.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Asking for the Time
  2. Talking about Hours
  3. Talking about Minutes and Seconds
  4. How Long Does it Take?
  5. When Did it Happen?
  6. Time Zones in Indonesia
  7. Adverbs and Phrases about Time
  8. Conclusion

1. Asking for the Time

Man Checking His Watch

There’s just one phrase for telling the time in Indonesian that you need to know.

  • Jam berapa?

“What time is it?”

Interestingly, this sentence doesn’t really correspond to its translation word-for-word. Literally, what you’re saying is “Hour how many?” Yes, that’s the same berapa that we covered before when we talked about buying and selling things in Indonesian.

If you wish, you can add the word sekarang to make this sentence:

  • Jam berapa sekarang?

“What time is it now?”

The exact same phrase works for asking when a certain thing will happen. Just take a look at the syntax.

  • Acara ini mulai jam berapa?

“What time does this event begin?”

We can also use the word akan to explicitly mark future tense.

  • Jam berapa kamu akan sarapan besok?

“What time are you going to eat breakfast tomorrow?”

However, since the event hasn’t happened yet, it’s always going to be the future! So that means akan isn’t necessary.

As I mentioned, jam berapa is used for asking specifically about the time. It’s also good to mention here, though, that there is a general word for “when” in Indonesian: kapan.

  • A: Kapan dia mulai membersihkan kamar? 

A: “When did she start cleaning the room?”

B: Jam dua.

B: “Two o’clock.”

In just a little bit, we’ll talk about some alternatives to kapan. For now, though, let’s focus more on clock time.

2. Talking about Hours

Time

As you’ve just learned, the word for “hour” in Indonesian is jam. And since there’s no plural marking for hours, we can say dua jam or “two hours,” empat jam or “four hours,” and so on.

But when we’re specifically talking about the time displayed on a clock, we have to switch the word order.

  • Sekarang jam dua.

“It’s two o’clock.”

Indonesians always use the twenty-four-hour clock when posting signs or writing timetables. In speech, though, it’s a little cumbersome to say something like jam dua puluh satu, meaning “21:00 (9 PM).”

So we simply divide the day up into pagi meaning “morning” or before twelve, and sore meaning “afternoon” or after twelve.

  • Mari bertemu jam enam sore.

“Let’s meet at six o’clock in the evening.”

While to express the hour in English, you use the preposition “at,” in Indonesian, just mentioning the time is adequate.

  • Saya akan berangkat jam lima sore.

“I’m going to arrive at five PM.”

3. Talking about Minutes and Seconds

Times for Flights

So we’re prepared to talk about time in Indonesia, but only for things that happen on the hour. Fortunately, learning the rest is a breeze. Indonesian is very much like English in this case!

  • Sekarang jam enam tiga puluh empat menit.

“It’s six thirty-four.”

Did you see the difference? Although the word order is the same, you have to specify jam, or “hour,” and menit, or “minute.” And jam goes before the number, while menit goes after! Let’s practice a little more.

  • Kereta api tiba di stasiun jam tiga sebelas menit.

“The train arrives at the station at three eleven (3:11).”

  • Dia terlihat masuk toko buku jam empat lewat tiga puluh satu menit.

“He was seen entering the book shop at four thirty-one (4:31).”

There’s an optional word here: lewat. It doesn’t change the meaning at all—it’s simply like saying “one twenty” compared to “twenty minutes past one.” It’s considered a little more proper and correct to say lewat.

It’s possible that you may hear something like these phrases for fractions of an hour:

  • Aku beli alpukat  jam sembilan kurang seperempat.

“I bought avocados at fifteen minutes to nine (eight forty-five).”

  • Sekarang jam setengah lima.

“Now it’s half five (half past four).”

Kurang literally means “missing” or “short of,” so you can think of “eight forty-five” as meaning “nine short of fifteen minutes.” And note too that setengah is sometimes pronounced without the first e, so it comes out more like stengah.

4. How Long Does it Take?

Improve Listening

The most common way to say that something “takes time” is to literally say that it “eats” time: memakan waktu. A little more formal and less idiomatic is membutuhkan waktu, which simply translates to “need time.”

Let’s look at some examples. Note that in questions, the passive form (dibutuhkan) is more often used, while in statements, the active form (membutuhkan) is more common.

  • Berapa lama waktu yang dibutuhkan untuk fasih bahasa Korea?

“How much time is necessary to be fluent in Korean?”

This phrase, berapa lama waktu yang dibutuhkan untuk… is a little bit hard to roll off the tongue, but you see it a lot in written materials. Using it is a surefire way to communicate your message accurately.

  • Berapa lama saya harus belajar agar saya bisa menyetir bus?

“How long do I have to study until I can drive a bus?”

Much more simple is berapa lama… agar…?, which translates to “how long… until…?”

  • Sinar matahari membutuhkan delapan menit sepuluh detik untuk masuk ke bumi.

“The sun’s rays need eight minutes and ten seconds to travel to the earth.”

Here we can see the active verb form membutuhkan in action. We could replace this with memakan, or “to eat,” and it would have the same meaning.

5. When Did it Happen?

Penciling Something on Calendar

At the beginning of the article, we saw that kapan is the question word “when.” How about expressing other ideas, like “when” as an adverb of time? We need new words for that.

First, let’s use an old word in a new way: waktu, or “time,” can act as an adverb.

  • Waktu saya melihat ke dia, dia berhenti berbicara.

“When I looked at him, he stopped talking.”

We can use a new word, ketika, in almost exactly the same way. In this next example, both ketika and waktu are fine.

  • Ketika saya di Indonesia, saya banyak makan mi goreng.

“When I was in Indonesia, I ate a lot of fried noodles.”

The difference comes when talking about the future. When we talk about something that’s definitely going to happen, we use waktu; when we’re speaking hypothetically or generally, we say ketika.

  • Waktu saya menyelesaikan tugas ini, saya akan menonton televisi.

“When I finish this assignment, I’m going to watch TV.”

  • Ketika kamu sakit, jangan mandi dengan air dingin.

“When you’re sick, don’t bathe with cold water.” 

6. Time Zones in Indonesia

Although most people might have a hazy view in their mind’s eye of Indonesia as a handful of sandy beaches, as a language-learner, you should know that it’s actually quite a large country, spanning three “time zones” or zona waktu.

So just as the U.S. has words like “Mountain Time,” “Pacific Time,” and so on, Indonesia has words for its time zones that you’ll see on news reports or other nationwide announcements.

  • Waktu Indonesia Timur or “Eastern Indonesian Time” is used mostly on the island of Papua, and also in the relatively sparse Maluku province. It’s abbreviated as WIT.
  • Waktu Indonesia Tengah or “Central Indonesian Time” covers Sulawesi, much of Kalimantan, and Bali. Since WIT was taken, they call it WITA.
  • Finally, Waktu Indonesia Barat or “Western Indonesian Time” covers all of Sumatra, Java, and the western part of Kalimantan. 

This is the one you’ll probably see the most, as it covers the largest proportion of Indonesia’s population. Most news reports out of Jakarta come with WIB on the date line, and now you know what it stands for!

Besides, on Indonesian religious TV channels, some channels like to schedule their shows based on Mecca Time/Arabian Standard Time, which technically follows Saudi Arabia’s time zone.

7. Adverbs and Phrases about Time

Hourglass

All right, you can tell the time in Indonesian. But to really take your Indonesian to the next level, you’ll also need to have a good stock of phrases related to time.

In English, a lot of people have their own set phrases for “in a little while.” That’s the one I use, but many people might say “in a moment” or “in a few minutes.” It all means about the same thing, right?

In Indonesian, most people tend to say sebentar, occasionally shortened to bentar.

  • Aku datang sebentar lagi.

“I’ll be there in a moment.”

  • Maaf, tunggu sebentar.

“Sorry, please wait a minute.” 

Indonesia is a patient country, though you might not be. If you ask again about something which you’ve already been told sebentar, you may hear sebentar lagi, which means “a little longer.”

In English, we have a ton of different expressions with prepositions to talk about time. If you’re a native speaker, you probably never noticed; if you’re an English learner, you might be getting flashbacks to long worksheets right about now!

In time, on time, time’s up, time out…it’s a lot to wrap your head around. Fortunately, we’ve got a good list of example sentences right here that should cover a lot of the time expressions you’d want to use in Indonesian. 

Here are some idioms to talk about how time goes by. The first one literally means “Time walks fast.”

  • Waktu berjalan cepat.

Time flies.

  • Dia tidak mau membuang waktu dengannya.

“She didn’t want to waste time with him.”

  • Aku harus menghabiskan banyak waktu dalam perpustakaan.

“I have to spend a lot of time in the library.”

Habis literally means “finished,” so you can think of menghabiskan waktu as kind of like “make your time finished.”

  • Mereka tiba di waktu yang tepat.

“They arrived at the correct time.”

  • Saya kehabisan waktu.

“I was out of time.

  • Seiring berjalannya waktu, Indonesia menjadi lebih berkembang.

“As time goes by, Indonesia becomes more developed.”

  • Aku tidak dengar nama itu sejak waktu yang lama.

“I haven’t heard that name in a long time.”

8. Conclusion

Basic Questions

Telling time in Indonesian is simply a skill you can’t live without. And as you can see, it’s both flexible and very similar to how it’s done in the English language!

You can take the example sentences you’ve seen in this article and switch out all kinds of things to make your own time expressions.

The great thing about a concept like time is that it’s woven so deeply into the language that you’ll get words and phrases reinforced naturally, just so long as you’re regularly reading and listening to Indonesian.

That’s why our main focus here at IndonesianPod101 is our fantastic podcasts and lessons that let you absorb the details of the language naturally. Before too long, you’ll be a master of time words in Indonesian! 

Now that you have a better idea of how to talk about time, you may find the following pages useful as well:

How do you feel about telling time in Indonesian now? Feel free to let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns!

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Indonesian Etiquette: Table Manners in Indonesia and More!

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As many guidebooks will tell you, Indonesia is a happy country. The locals look on visitors with warmth and welcoming.

But what happens when you get on their wrong side?

To be honest, not much. It takes something really severe to bring Indonesians to confrontation. The worst thing that happens is that you get passed up for opportunities and friendships because people think you’re not that pleasant to be around. But that’s still awful!

So to avoid a scenario like that, it’s important that you become familiar with etiquette in Indonesia. To help you out, we’ve put this article together for you, outlining everything you need to know about table manners in Indonesia and more. You may be surprised to know how far knowing just a little etiquette in Indonesian culture can get you!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Make Polite Suggestions
  2. Saying “Let’s Not”
  3. Proper Table Etiquette in Indonesia: Etiquette While Dining
  4. Etiquette While Sightseeing
  5. Etiquette for Greetings
  6. Etiquette for Visiting Others
  7. Getting Around with Transportation
  8. Business Etiquette in Indonesia
  9. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

1. How to Make Polite Suggestions

Let’s start with one of the biggest cultural hurdles to overcome in Indonesia: Making suggestions to other people, or telling them that they’re wrong.

Put simply, the western approach will not treat you well. Telling someone directly that their idea is bad, or even that you’re offended by their behavior, will go over very poorly and may cause a very painful, awkward silence.

If you want to do this more in line with the etiquette and customs in Indonesia, we can add the particle ya at the end of a sentence to soften the blow of asking someone to do something.

  • Ingat menulis pekerjaan rumahmu, ya.
    “Remember to do your homework, won’t you?”

And when the listener is to be included in whatever you’re suggesting, you can try using mari:

  • Mari kita pergi sekarang.
    “Let’s leave now.”

This is more polite than the same structure with Ayo:

  • Ayo, kita pergi sekarang.
    “C’mon, let’s go now.”

Two Girls Running in Field

How about not doing things?

2. Saying “Let’s Not”

As you walk around Indonesia, you’ll see one word pretty heavily represented on signs around town. That word is jangan, and since it’s often seen with a big red X over a stick figure, it’s not hard to figure out that it means “don’t.”

And though it may sound a bit strange that it’s the same word, the polite way to make a negative suggestion is to simply say the equivalent of “Let’s don’t do this.”

  • Jangan kita pergi sendirian.
    “Let’s not go alone.”

3. Proper Table Etiquette in Indonesia: Etiquette While Dining

Hygiene

Table manners and eating etiquette in Indonesia are an essential aspect of general good etiquette of Indonesia. For the most part, in Indonesia you’ll be provided with a fork and a spoon for your meal. Some nicer restaurants will give you a knife as well, but even in Chinese-style places, you’ll generally have to ask for chopsticks.

  • Permisi, bisa minta sumpit?
    “Excuse me, can I have some chopsticks please?”

As for dining etiquette in Indonesia, know that Indonesians generally eat quietly without any chomping or munching sounds. Do your best to finish all your food, as it’s bad manners to waste it.

Sushi and Chopsticks

Once you finish eating, you’ve got a choice to make. Here’s where there’s a bit of a confluence between table etiquette in Indonesia and in Western cultures.

In smaller places, you simply get up from the table and go over to the register to pay when it’s time to leave. Larger places will have waiters ready to hand you the bill if you desire to pay from your seat.

It’s polite to address waiters as mas and waitresses as mbak, particularly on the island of Java (these are Javanese words, after all).

  • Permisi Mas, minta bill.
    “Excuse me, waiter, I’d like the bill.”
    • It sounds rude in English to address a waiter as “waiter,” so you can think of it more like “sir.”
  • Permisi Mbak, mau bayar.
    “Excuse me, miss, I’d like to pay.”

But they’ll also be totally ready and willing to receive you at the register. Once they hand you the receipt, they’ll invariably ask you to look it over first.

  • Mohon dicek dulu…
    “Please check it over first.”

All these instances of mohon or “requests” being thrown around is a signal that this is all very polite language. Feel free to use these sentence structures in other situations, too!

Though you may see a modest tip jar at the register, most people don’t tip for meals. Gratuities and city taxes are often automatically added anyway for big parties.

4. Etiquette While Sightseeing

Thanks

Whether you hop on a tour bus or take your motorbike to a remote mountain, you should have a general idea of what kind of behavior is expected from tourists around Indonesia. Or, in other words, basic social etiquette in Indonesia.

Although Indonesia receives countless tourists from all over the world, it still maintains a reputation for being very warm and welcoming to each and every one. That doesn’t mean you should test it, though. Every local of a well-touristed city has anecdotes of some group of boorish visitors that drank too much and left the beach a mess.

Man Drinking Too Much

So even though you might not get publicly reprimanded (for Indonesians are loath to call someone out in public), any reckless behavior you do indulge in has an effect. Better avoid it.

The number-one polite phrase for travelers is this one:

  • Boleh saya ambil foto?
    “Can I take photos?”

You also can’t go wrong with the flattering phrase:

  • Semuanya di sini cantik sekali!
    “Everything is so beautiful here!”

5. Etiquette for Greetings

Now, let’s go over the basic customs in Indonesia for greeting and introducing yourself.

The most polite way to introduce yourself is to literally say “introduction” or perkenalkan before you tell people your name. It might sound a bit odd if you’re not used to it, but after a little practice, it rolls right off the tongue.

  • Perkenalkan, nama saya Veni…
    “Let me introduce myself, my name is Veni…”

There are two particular body gestures that immediately reveal that someone is Indonesian. The first is touching your hand to your heart after shaking hands.

A visitor should be aware that many conservative Muslims prefer not to have physical contact with members of the opposite sex. Although this belief isn’t held as strongly for many young Indonesians, be aware of this possibility and don’t be offended if someone simply places their hand to their heart directly instead of accepting a handshake.

  • Senang bertemu dengan Anda.
    “Nice to meet you.”

With these phrases, you can’t go wrong, and you’ll be able to follow the cultural etiquette in Indonesia for greetings like it’s nothing.

6. Etiquette for Visiting Others

Bad Phrases

If you get the chance to be received as a guest in an Indonesian home, you’d better get ready to eat. First, your host will bring out food, usually sweet tea and small finger foods such as fried tofu.

It’s considered rude to refuse this offering, and you really don’t have to eat much to be polite. However, if you have a medical condition or allergy, you could say:

  • Maaf, saya tidak bisa makan (jamur).
    “Sorry, I can’t eat (mushrooms).”

Once you do eat something, though, you’d better follow up with thanks or a compliment.

  • Enak sekali!
    “Very tasty!”

7. Getting Around with Transportation

Man Getting Out of Car with Ubrella

By far, the most common way for locals to get around is with one of the two ubiquitous ride-sharing apps, Grab and Go-Jek. These apps are almost entirely interchangeable, but everybody has both of them so they can compare prices and availability.

The typical transaction goes like this: You open the app and select the destination you want, then when the driver arrives, they send you a text or give you a call. Here are some useful polite phrases for that call:

  • Maaf, tunggu sebentar.
    “Sorry, please wait a moment.”
  • Saya sudah sampai.
    “I’m already here.”
  • Mohon tunggu dua menit lagi.
    “Please wait another two minutes.”

Then you get in the car or on the motorbike and zip off. When you arrive, it’s considered polite to give a small tip. This is easy when paying in cash, as you simply say:

  • Tidak usah kembalian.
    “I don’t need the change.”

Or more explicitly:

  • Ini tips untuk Anda
    “This is a tip for you.”

Yes, the word for “tip” in Indonesian is just tips!

By the way, the best Indonesian conversations you can have are those with taxi drivers. You’re paying for their time, and they’re happy to chat with a visitor!

8. Business Etiquette in Indonesia

Business

Here’s an interesting thing about formal address in Indonesian. It’s important to use the proper pronouns when necessary, but you’ll also find that people tend to address others by a title plus their first name.

  • Mr. Andy sudah makan?
    “Have you eaten yet, Mr. Andy?”

This business meeting etiquette in Indonesia makes plenty of sense in a society where a significant proportion of people only have one name to begin with.

Furthermore, one of the more subtle differences between Indonesian and Western culture is that, in Indonesia, you don’t always tell someone when you don’t understand. This can lead to some problems in the boardroom, as you can probably imagine.

  • Apakah Anda punya pertanyaan apapun?
    “Do you have any questions?”

This is a good way to avoid the potential embarrassment of having someone admit they don’t understand.

You can also be a little bit more direct. Review what you’ve gone over and say:

  • Apakah Anda mengerti apa yang saya sedang bilang?
    Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

Lastly, you should always keep in mind the concept of jam karet, literally “rubber time.” Things simply may not happen when you want them to, or even when you agreed on them being done.

There’s nothing in Indonesian culture to drive them to stick to deadlines when there’s life to live. One of the most dreaded signs for an expat to see at a government office is ISTIRAHAT, otherwise known as “break time!”

Person Relaxing on Beach

9. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

By now, you should be equipped to use the Indonesian language not only correctly, but politely as well.

If, for some reason, you make mistakes, don’t sweat it. Many Indonesians shrug off some pretty rude behavior from foreigners, simply reasoning that they’re ignorant (and not malicious).

Now you have the chance to be neither!

Using etiquette correctly is something that has very subtle benefits. It’s like raising your charisma score in a video game. People treat you better and things go easier for you—and it’s all because you had the presence of mind to consider the culture of wherever you went.

Are any of the etiquette and customs in Indonesia we went over similar to those in your own country? Or very different? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

Dates in Indonesia: Indonesian Calendar with Holidays and More

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It’s 9 AM.

You drive your motor scooter up to your favorite noodle soup place for breakfast, but with a cry of despair you find that it’s tutup—”closed.”

Scrawled on the sign is a phrase that you manage to make out as being “closed for national holiday.” A national holiday? How were you supposed to know?

This kind of situation is pretty common in Indonesia for foreigners. And one major cause can be traced to simple ignorance—not knowing how to talk about dates in Indonesian.

It’s an easy skill to overlook when you’re juggling a bunch of Indonesian resources to get a handle on the different vocabulary words that seem to fill the air wherever you go. But it’s no less important for day-to-day life, and as it turns out, just a little bit of studying can get you everything you need.

So without further ado, let’s look at a crash course for mastering dates in Indonesian. By the end of this article, you’ll be a step closer to giving the date in Indonesian like it’s nothing.

Table of Contents

  1. Dates on Paper
  2. Reading Years
  3. The 13 Most Important Months in Indonesian
  4. Days of the Week in Indonesian
  5. Saying Dates in Their Entirety
  6. Special Days
  7. How to Use Dates in Conversation
  8. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

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1. Dates on Paper

Numbers

Before we concern ourselves with actually reading the dates aloud, let’s make sure that we know how to recognize dates when we see them, and how to write dates in Indonesian.

Indonesia is host to an enormous variety of local languages, many of them with elaborate traditional scripts like Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese. You’ll see these scripts around town, but you can rest easy knowing that most Indonesians are significantly more comfortable with the Latin-based Indonesian alphabet, and by extension, its Arabic numerals.

So unless you’re a specialist, you don’t have to worry about learning dates in several alphabets. (Though you should, because they’re beautiful!)

Instead, dates are written day-month-year in Indonesian, like so:

  • 10-10-1910
    October 10, 1910
  • 3-12-2014
    December 3, 2014

Just knowing these basic formats will significantly help you with dates in Bahasa, Indonesia and elsewhere!

2. Reading Years

Any year is read out as if it’s a large number. This may be one of the most challenging things about reading dates out loud—they’re long words!

The way you end up differentiating between numbers and dates is pretty simple. It’s mandatory to say the word tahun, or “year,” to let your listener know you’re talking about dates.

So the dates below end up being pronounced as follows:

  • 1970
    tahun seribu sembilan ratus tujuh puluh
  • 2015
    tahun dua ribu lima belas

Also, you may notice that tahun, or “year,” is a noun and not a preposition. Indonesians rarely add prepositions before mentioning years, like English speakers would. But when they do, they would use pada which roughly translated to “on”:

  • Saya lahir tahun 1992.
    “I was born in 1992.”
  • Saya lahir pada tahun 1992.
    “I was born in 1992.”
  • Tahun itu Olimpiade diadakan di Barcelona.
    “In that year, the Olympic games were held in Barcelona.”
  • Pada tahun itu, Olimpiade diadakan di Barcelona.
    “In that year, the Olympic games were held in Barcelona.”

To talk about certain decades, Indonesians simply add -an (a suffix that turns words into nouns) to the year.

  • Saya anak 90-an (sembilan puluhan).
    “I’m a child of the 1990s.”

And what about talking about ancient history? Well, you’ll find that a lot of Indonesian texts use the acronyms CE/AD and BCE/BC. Those are read out just like normal letters—see our page on the Indonesian alphabet for that.

However, there are also common phrases for these eras, called Masehi for “AD/CE” and Sebelum Masehi for “BC/BCE.” The word Masehi is related to the word “messiah” in English, so it’s just another way of expressing the same concept.

  • 250 BC
    tahun dua ratus lima puluh sebelum Masehi

3. The 13 Most Important Months in Indonesian

Months

Thirteen? Yes, actually. It’s not on the calendar, but there’s one month here that’s very important in Indonesian culture. I bet you’ll be able to recognize it right away.

Here are the months in Indonesian.

English           Indonesian
January           Januari
February           Februari
March           Maret
April           April
May           Mei
June           Juni
July           Juli
August           Agustus
September           September
October           Oktober
November           November
December           Desember
Ramadan           Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan occurs at slightly different times each year because it’s based on the Islamic lunar calendar. But no matter your religion, in Indonesia you’ll know when it’s Ramadan, thanks to the prominent advertisements, banners, and TV specials. Not to mention the fact that so many places close down!

Silhouette of Woman Praying on Ramadan

By the way, don’t let the similarity of these months lure you into thinking you don’t need to learn them. If you say “August” instead of Agustus, no matter how loudly and slowly, it’s probably going to take the other person a little while to understand you, since the sounds and rhythms of the two words are different. Don’t ignore accent here!

In English and many European languages, we have to specify an ordinal number when we’re saying a day of the month. Not so in Indonesian—simply say the day and then the month, and you’re good to go. However, just like with the year, you’ll want to say tanggal, which means “date,” to specify you’re not just talking about a number.

  • Saya pergi pada tanggal enam Agustus.
    “I’m leaving on the sixth of August.”

4. Days of the Week in Indonesian

Weekdays

Days of the week are next in our guide to dates in Indonesian. The Indonesian names for the days of the week are based on the Arabic names, so if you’ve ever studied Arabic in the past, these will be a breeze.

Naturally, the names of the days have short forms for ease of writing—better have a look at those too.

English           Indonesian           Calendar Abbreviation
Sunday           Minggu           Min
Monday           Senin           Sen
Tuesday           Selasa           Sel
Wednesday           Rabu           Rab
Thursday           Kamis           Kam
Friday           Jumat (also spelled Jum’at)           Jum
Saturday           Sabtu           Sab

The word minggu also means “week” itself. The days are always capitalized, so you know that it’s just the ordinary noun if it appears in lowercase.

There are two commonly used words for “the weekend.” First we’ve got akhir minggu, which makes a lot of sense because it’s literally “the end of the week.” But people also use akhir pekan, for a reason you might not find in your Indonesian dictionary.

Pekan is interchangeable with minggu nowadays, but it originally came into use because in traditional Javanese and Balinese culture, a minggu wasn’t always fixed at seven days. With pekan, you always knew how many days you were dealing with.

5. Saying Dates in Their Entirety

Instructions on Putting Something Together

Let’s briefly review by putting what we’ve learned all together in one phrase.

We’ll start with the day, and we’ll add the word hari meaning “day” for the sake of clarity. The word pada is the equivalent of the English word “on” when referring to dates.

  • Pada hari Sabtu…
    “On Saturday…”

Then the date, the month, and then finally the whole year.

  • Pada hari Sabtu, lima belas Februari, tahun dua ribu enam belas.
    “On Saturday, the fifteenth of February, in the year 2016.”

All that gets written out numerically as 15-2-2016.

6. Special Days

As we’ve seen, the word for “day” is hari. Whenever there’s a special date on the Indonesian calendar, it’s likely to be called hari something-or-other. Here are a handful of examples:

  • Hari libur
    “Vacation day/day off”
  • Hari raya
    “Day of celebration/holiday”
  • Hari kemerdekaan
    “Independence Day”
  • Hari Kartini
    Kartini’s Day” (a famous fighter for women’s rights in Indonesia)

Whether you’re in school, on vacation, or at work in Indonesia, these days will affect you in some way. Businesses are often closed, for example, and it’s tough to know exactly when that’ll happen unless you’ve got an idea of when the libur days are on the calendar.

You can use these phrases to figure things out more precisely:

  • Apa ada hari libur bulan ini?
    “Are there days off this month?”
  • Apa toko ini buka pada hari kemerdekaan?
    “Is this shop open on Independence Day?”

During Ramadan, many shops have reduced hours, so you’d better find out:

  • Jam berapa tutup di bulan Ramadan?
    “What time do you close during Ramadan?”

7. How to Use Dates in Conversation

Two Women Chatting

So how do people end up talking about dates in real life? What are the situations and phrases you’ll need?

  • Hari ini hari apa?
    “What day is it today?”

Note with the above example that you might want to use the word mana meaning “which,” but instead, it’s correct to say apa meaning “what?”

  • Hari kelahiran saya tanggal satu April.
    “My birthday is April 1.”
  • Idul Fitri hari apa tahun ini?
    “What day is Eid al-Fitr this year?”

Lastly, let’s briefly discuss talking about “this,” “next,” and “previous” days and weeks. It’s a total piece of cake.

Essentially, the words besok meaning “tomorrow,” and kemarin meaning “yesterday,” also function as markers for days in the future and past, respectively. So by saying “Thursday tomorrow,” depending on the context, you could also mean “next Thursday.”

  • Boleh kita bertemu pada hari Jum’at besok?
    “Can we meet next Friday?”

For months and weeks in general, we’ll use the words depan meaning “future” and lalu meaning “already past.”

  • Saya lihat dia di sekolah minggu lalu.
    “I saw her at school last week.”

The word besok has a particular meaning in Indonesian culture. Much like if a child wants something and the parent says “we’ll see,” saying that an activity can happen besok is kind of shorthand for “who knows when it’ll happen.”

  • A: Boleh kita pergi ke Bali?
    B: Mungkin besok.

    A: “Can we go to Bali?”
    B: “We’ll see.”

8. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

There’s simply no better way to learn something tough than to practice it. Frequently making yourself actually sound out the dates that you see written on paper is the number one thing that will rocket your learning to the next level.

One little tip for when you can work date-study into your everyday life: when you’re handling money. Glance at the date on the bill or the coin and think “What year is this in Indonesian?” You’ll be an expert in no time.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in this lesson? Let us know, and how you plan to use it! And to practice, write today’s date in Indonesian. 😉

And as always, check out our Indonesian Blog for more resources coming out regularly! Also keep in mind that by upgrading to Premium Plus, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program and learn Indonesian with your own personal teacher!

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Top Indonesian Phrases for Travelers

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Everybody knows about the beautiful beaches and temples of Bali. Millions of people flock there every year, and the island is developing at an incredible speed.

Did you know, though, that there’s a whole lot more to Indonesia—frequently referred to as the country of 1,000 islands—than just Bali?

And the beautiful thing for the tourist who wants to see it all is that the effort to promote the national Indonesian language has been enormously successful. The vast majority of Indonesians are perfectly bilingual in at least one local language as well as standard Indonesian.

So the visitor with Indonesian phrases for travelers under their belt gets to avoid the hassle of learning multiple local languages, and instead gets to experience the benefit of using the national language wherever they go.

And the benefits of knowing basic Indonesian travel phrases are many.

Table of Contents

  1. What it’s Like Speaking Indonesian in Indonesia
  2. Top Useful Travel Phrases to Get You All Around Indonesia
  3. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Indonesian

1. What it’s Like Speaking Indonesian in Indonesia

Basic Questions

Before you learn travel phrases in Indonesian, there are a few things you should know.

Many language learners tend to complain that the locals switch to English instead of speaking their native language. Nobody wants that—it’s embarrassing and makes you feel like you don’t know anything at all.

It’s true, though, that if you’re in Jakarta or Denpasar and you approach someone in a Starbucks and speak broken Indonesian to them, they’re probably going to use English with you just to save time and effort on your part. Can’t blame them.

English ability is considered very trendy in Indonesia. Not only are a lot of people actively studying English at school, but popular culture in English is commonplace.

You may be wondering, then, why you should learn travel phrases in Indonesian at all! But hope isn’t lost for the learner of Indonesian. Venture outside of a built-up area and you’re likely to meet plenty of people who are far more comfortable speaking Indonesian than English.

Even in Bali, a quick motorbike ride outside the cities will bring you to small towns where you’ll have to speak Indonesian to ask for directions or get a bite to eat.

And if you speak Indonesian confidently and competently, even fluent speakers of English are likely to continue in Indonesian with you from small topics to big ones.

In particular, if you can speak some Indonesian in touristy cities, you’ll set yourself apart from the crowds of English-only visitors and bring a smile to some faces.

Now that you know a little background and context on the topic, let’s get to our list of essential travel phrases in Indonesian!

2. Top Useful Travel Phrases to Get You All Around Indonesia

1- Greetings

Survival Phrases

Naturally, when you’re going around Indonesia, you won’t want to just barge into a conversation without starting it off politely.

The most common greetings in Indonesia are based on the time of day, or more accurately, the times between different calls to prayer (known as azan, which change very slightly month to month). However, they line up pretty nicely with English equivalents, and are some of the most useful Indonesian travel phrases (everyone’s happier after a nice greeting!).

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

Once you’ve met someone multiple times, the selamat gets dropped, and just saying the time of day is adequate. You’ll notice that the vowel sound usually gets stretched out for this.

  • “Good eveniiiiing!”
    Soreeeee!

Woman Grabbing Someone's Attention

When you’re just trying to get someone’s attention, the greeting isn’t necessary—just say “excuse me” and add the correct pronoun.

  • “Excuse me, sir…”
    Permisi, Pak…
  • “Excuse me, ma’am…”
    Permisi, Bu…

Pak and Bu are short forms of bapak and ibu, meaning “father” and “mother” respectively. The short forms are used as polite pronouns for people older than you.

If you and the other person are both young (or you’re much older), then you should use mas for men and mbak for women.

  • “May I ask…”
    Bolehkah saya tanya…
  • “Goodbye!”
    Sampai jumpa!

2- Shopping

Indonesia is developing fast, and in any city you go to, you’ll have a choice between shopping at smaller markets and shopping at enormous malls. Generally speaking, people working in malls have better English, but definitely don’t count on it.

In any case, it’s incredible how far you can get with just a few simple words.

  • “This one, please.”
    Yang ini.
  • “Thank you! Thanks!”
    Terima kasih! Makasih!
  • “Thank you very much!”
    Terima kasih banyak!

Two Women Examining Clothes

Seriously, the phrases and Indonesian words for travellers above are the bare bones of any commercial interaction. What if you want to expand a little bit on what you’re trying to say?

  • “I really like this!”
    Saya sangat suka yang ini.
  • “This is so beautiful!”
    Ini cantik sekali!
  • “Do you have a bigger size? / Do you have a smaller size?”
    Apakah Anda punya yang lebih besar? / Yang lebih kecil?
  • “I’m looking for jeans size 32/34.”
    Saya mau jeans dengan ukuran tiga puluh dua/tiga puluh empat.
  • “Can you make it any cheaper?”
    Boleh sedikit lebih murah?
  • “Okay, I’ll take it!”
    Oke, saya ambil yang ini.

3- Dining Out

The same general advice about English ability applies to restaurants as well as other shops. The smaller and more out-of-the-way the place—and the older the person behind the counter—the less likely it is that they’ll be able to speak English to you.

You may be glad to hear that lots of menus actually have English on them, even outside of tourist areas; this fits with English being a trendy language.

The simplest way to order is to simply point at the menu. Indonesians like to put pictures on their menus, so even locals are used to pointing. When you do so, say something like this:

  • “One of these, and two of these.”
    Ini satu, dan ini dua.
  • “Do you want it spicy? / Do you want peppers? / How many (peppers)?”
    Mau pedas? / Pakai cabe? / Berapa?

I enjoy spicy food, but I strongly recommend that you try one or even “half” (setengah) before confidently saying that you want several peppers. The Indonesian peppers are something else!

The word pakai here is occasionally pronounced as paké, especially in Javanese-speaking areas. It literally means “to wear” and it’s used when you’re asking or answering a question about what you’d like included with your food. You’ll often hear it with the yes-no tag question, like so:

  • “Add rice, right?”
    Pakai nasi, nggak?

One of the biggest tests of your listening skills is the following question, usually delivered at breakneck speed on account of its frequency:

  • “For here or to go?”
    Makan di sini atau dibungkus?

After you order, the most common thing is for the cashier to simply say the price, instead of saying, for example, “the price is…” beforehand.

  • “Twenty-three thousand.”
    Dua puluh tiga ribu.

Here’s an all-purpose compliment you can use after your meal, practically guaranteed to win a smile:

  • The food was excellent!”
    Makanannya enak sekali!

Man Full After Good Meal

Suppose it wasn’t so good, though? Lots of Indonesian food isn’t far from what’s normal in Western countries, but sometimes you may be offered a particular concoction of hot peppers and marinated eggs that you’d prefer to pass on. The polite way to decline is as follows:

  • “Maybe next time.”
    Mungkin lain kali.

Some people might also say Mungkin besok, where besok literally means “tomorrow.” But it’s important to know that Indonesians more often than not use it to mean “any time in the future.” This is also true of its counterpart kemarin meaning “yesterday.”

  • “The restaurant that we went to yesterday (or before) was better!”
    Resto yang kita pergi kemarin lebih bagus!

4- Transportation

Preparing to Travel

Taxis are becoming less and less common in Indonesia as more and more people use ride-sharing apps.

Instead of Uber, the two main ride apps are called Grab (a Singaporean company) and Go-Jek (a homegrown Indonesian venture). Both offer car rides as well as much cheaper and faster motorbike rides.

Foreigners can easily download these apps and simply pay with cash instead of using an e-wallet.

However, you may not be comfortable ordering a ride by yourself with a new app and having to communicate with the driver. In that case, simply ask someone nearby to order one for you on their phone. Better do this politely!

  • “Can you help me order a Grab/Go-Jek?”
    Bolehkah Anda membantu saya memesan Grab/Go-Jek?
    • The word Grab is written the same as its English counterpart, but pronounced gréb.
  • “I want to go to the Hotel Omah.”
    Saya mau ke Hotel Omah.

If you’re going back to a place you know well, but your driver does not, then you’ll have to direct them a little bit.

  • “Turn left here, then make a U-Turn.”
    Di sini belok kiri, terus putar balik.

Taking a Taxi

There’s a great line dance song, actually, which is perfect for memorizing kiri (left) and kanan (right). It’ll stay in your head for a loooong time!

Public transit is, unfortunately, not as developed as the rideshare economy. Many bus stops are poorly marked, and it can be quite uncomfortable to wait in a bus while an endless stream of motorbikes cuts your driver off.

But they sure are cheap! Long-distance bus rides can take advantage of the new highways that are frequently being opened across Java, cutting transit time to big cities to a fraction of what it used to be.

  • “Does this bus go to…?”
    Apakah bis ini pergi ke …?
  • “Where can I buy a ticket?”
    Di mana bisa beli tiket?
  • “I want two tickets to … please.”
    Saya mau dua tiket ke …

Remember to include a “thanks” (makasih) after even little transactions like this one!

5- Emergencies

Indonesian cities usually have a “police station” (kantor polisi) in every district, as well as police boxes on major intersections. Officers don’t tend to patrol, though speed traps are pretty common. “Private security” (satpam) is pretty common, and they may be able to help you contact authorities in times of need.

  • “Where is the police station?”
    Di mana kantor polisi?
  • “I have to call the police.”
    Saya harus menelepon polisi.

Each medium-sized city will have a number of “hospitals” (rumah sakit) and “clinics” (klinik), and usually at least one “International” hospital, which generally has some English-speaking staff or translators. Don’t count on this in smaller cities, though.

  • “I’ve got to get to the hospital!”
    Saya harus ke rumah sakit!

At “pharmacies” (apotek) you can describe your symptoms and get “over-the-counter medicine” (obat), no problem. The most important word is sakit which means “pain,” or “painful.”

  • “My head hurts.”
    Saya sakit kepala.
  • “Do you have medicine for a sore throat?”
    Ada obat untuk sakit tenggorokan?

In the case of asking for things in a shop, you wouldn’t use the construction apakah Anda punya or “do you have,” but instead the construction ada…? which means “is there…?”

6- Compliments

Why are you in Indonesia, why are you learning Indonesian, and how come you speak it so well?

You’re definitely going to get questions like these. Fortunately, you can use the same stock answers every time and nobody will ever know—plus, you’ll get so good at delivering them that people will be more and more impressed!

  • “I really like Indonesian food.”
    Saya sangat suka makanan Indonesia.
  • “I’m interested in the culture of Indonesia/Southeast Asia.”
    Saya tertarik dengan budaya Indonesia/Asia Tenggara.

Remember that, in Indonesian, you’re interested “with” something instead of interested “in,” as in English. What would interest you so much that you’d want to learn the language?

  • “I like learning languages.”
    Saya suka belajar bahasa-bahasa.
  • “Indonesian is very beautiful!”
    Bahasa Indonesia indah sekali!

To be honest, compared to other Asian languages, Indonesian isn’t particularly difficult to pick up the basics in.

Two Women Having a Chat

For that reason, locals don’t tend to lavish praise on foreigners who can speak it. Instead, the foreigner with some linguistic ability will often hear this phrase:

  • “Have you been in Indonesia long?”
    Sudah lama di Indonesia?

To which you can answer:

  • “No, only a few weeks.”
    Tidak, hanya beberapa minggu.

3. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Indonesian

World Map

And for those few weeks, it’s amazing what you can end up learning to say in Indonesian!

Do you feel more prepared to travel in Indonesia with these Indonesian travel phrases? Or are there still some you’re struggling with? Let us know in the comments!

Why stop here with these simple phrases? You’ll absolutely be welcomed if you stop at a little warung or “small restaurant” and ask about the food—particularly if you tell them it’s delicious.

There are plenty of foreigners who have lived in Indonesia for a long time, and just slowly picked up the language without the need for much study.

Of course, if you’re into puzzles, learning the nuances of the prefixes and suffixes hinted at in this article is a challenge for anyone.

All that goes to show that travel phrases are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to language knowledge.

There’s no time like the present to dive deeper, especially if you commit to a reliable and engaging language-learning program such as IndonesianPod101.

Log

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter, and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

How to Say Happy New Year in Indonesian & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Indonesian New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join IndonesianPod101 for a special Indonesian New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Indonesian

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March – December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Indonesian? Let a native teach you! At IndonesianPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Indonesian New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in Indonesia
  2. Must-Know Indonesian Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Indonesian
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Learn Indonesian

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Indonesian New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in Indonesia

New Year’s Day, which falls on January 1, is the day that marks the turning of the solar year in Indonesia. Like in other countries, New Year’s Day is celebrated in various ways in Indonesia.

Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-

Do you know how many times in one night the Indonesian people count down to the New Year?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. So, keep reading.

On New Year’s Eve, most Indonesian people love to be outside of the house, in Indonesian rumah, gathering together in centers of activity. There are also many who like to drive, which means that road congestion is often inevitable. In Jakarta, vehicles have great difficulty passing through roads near the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout as it’s always a hotspot for people to gather. Ancol Beach is also a favorite place to wait for the last seconds of the turning of the year, or tahun. In Yogyakarta, Malioboro is a very popular spot to hang out while eating gudeg, a sweet-savory dish consisting of rice, vegetables, and poultry all cooked in coconut milk. Trumpets, or terompet, sell well on New Year’s Eve, and when the year changes, the trumpets blare.

More traditional communities celebrate the new year with spiritual activities, gathering at home with family to pray. Christians begin the new year by worshiping at their church, or gereja. The turning of the solar year is especially important for Christians, who begin the new year with a special mass or church service.

Various year-end event packages are also offered by hotels and tourist spots at extravagant prices. More economical enjoyments may take place in an empty field with an offering of dangdut music, a genre of music originating from the Arabic gambus, and which is played with a single organ and a female singer. With this single organ, the public dances dangdut into the early morning while enjoying a type of savory fried food, instant coffee, and Indonesian ginger tea provided by street vendors, in Indonesian called pedagang kaki lima.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

Do you know how many times in one night the Indonesian people count down to the New Year?

The answer is three times. Indonesia has three different time zones. Jakarta, the capital of the country, is located in the last time zone to enter the new year.

Happy New Year!
Selamat Tahun Baru!

2. Must-Know Indonesian Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Indonesian Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year

tahun

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Indonesia could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

tengah malam

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

hari tahun baru

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

You can do it!

4- Party

pesta

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

dansa

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

sampanye

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

kembang api

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

Happy Near Year!

8- Countdown

hitung mundur

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts – a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

Liburan Tahun Baru

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday – to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

konfeti

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

Malam Tahun Baru

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

bersulang

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

resolusi

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

parade

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At IndonesianPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Indonesian New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the Indonesian word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at IndonesianPod101 – what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Indonesian friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

Lebih banyak membaca.

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Indonesian in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Indonesian language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

Meluangkan waktu lebih banyak dengan keluarga.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

Menurunkan berat badan.

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

Menabung.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to IndonesianPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year – it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

Berhenti merokok.

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

Mempelajari sesuatu yang baru.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess – no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

Mengurangi minum-minum.

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

Berolahraga secara teratur.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

Makan makanan yang sehat.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Indonesian with IndonesianPod101

Belajar bahasa Indonesia dengan IndonesianPod101.com

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Indonesian, especially with us! Learning how to speak Indonesian can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. IndonesianPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Indonesian new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Indonesian, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Indonesian incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with IndonesianPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Indonesian could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Indonesian – it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Indonesian – learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with IndonesianPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Indonesian! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that IndonesianPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Indonesian at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Indonesian that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Indonesian with IndonesianPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian

How to Say Merry Christmas in Indonesian

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian? IndonesianPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Indonesian Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Indonesian speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, IndonesianPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Indonesia
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Indonesia

Christmas Words in Indonesian

Christmas, or the birthday of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on December 25 in almost all parts of the world, including Indonesia. The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree, decorating the house, pilgrimages to ancestral graves, and visiting family are all traditions commonly observed by Christians all over Indonesia.

Let’s talk about the massive Christmas celebrations in the province with a Christian-majority population. The North Sulawesi province.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-

What percentage of the Indonesian population celebrates Christmas?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. So, keep reading.

During the month of December, the government of Manado City in North Sulawesi holds a Christmas safari, or Safari Natal. During the Christmas safari, they visit different cities to have meet-and-greet events and worship with members of the community. As preparation for Christmas, residents of Manado also parade through the city and carry out the tradition of visiting family graves, in Indonesian called ziarah, in which family graves are cleaned and decorated with Christmas lights. Christmas festivities end in the first week of January with the Kunci Taon tradition, in which people parade around town wearing funny, socially themed costumes, or in Indonesian, kostum.

In South Sulawesi, in the area of Toraja, local authorities hold Lovely December, an annual festival of culture and tourism. The event starts at the beginning of December and is characterized by the slaughter of spotted buffalo, or kerbau. This series of festivals includes a carnival, a Christmas bazaar, buffalo contests, artistic performances, exhibitions, handicrafts, and culinary exhibitions. The festival culminates on December 26 with a procession called lettoan, a parade contest of pigs dressed with Toraja Tribe cultural symbols.

In Kampung Tugu, an area located in Jakarta, the locals perform Rabo-rabo, a tradition passed down from soldiers of Portuguese descent who settled in Jakarta. Not exactly on Christmas Day, but right at the beginning of the year, residents will visit homes singing songs in keroncong, a music genre that originates from Portuguese music. The songs sung are Christmas songs, but what is unique is that those who are visited will usually join in the singing and accompany the singers to the next house.

Sending parcels, or hantaran, is a tradition of the Indonesian people in times of celebration. During the time of Eid, Muslims traditionally send diamond-shaped packed rice to neighbors. Around Christmas time, Christians return the gift by sending parcels in the form of pastries.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What percentage of the Indonesian population celebrates Christmas?

Around ten percent of Indonesia’s population is Christian. Thus, there are only a few places that hold big celebrations.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Selamat hari Natal!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Selamat Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Selamat Tahun Baru, semoga bahagia selalu!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Selamat Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Selamat berliburan musim dingin!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Sampai jumpa tahun depan!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Salam hangat!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Indonesian Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Selamat liburan!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Indonesian, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Nikmatilah liburan!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Indonesian, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Semoga sukses di tahun yang baru!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Indonesian! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At IndonesianPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Hari Natal

This is the Indonesian word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Indonesian will include this word!

2- Snow

salju

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

bunga salju

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

manusia salju

As you guessed – a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

kalkun

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

rangkaian bunga bundar

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

rusa kutub

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Sinterklas

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

peri

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph si rusa kutub berhidung merah

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

Kutub Utara

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

kereta luncur

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

hadiah

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

lonceng

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

cerobong asap

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

perapian

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

Hari Natal

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

hiasan

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

stoking

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

holly

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

rumah gingerbread

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

permen tongkat

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

mistletoe

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Indonesian, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Indonesian! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. IndonesianPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit IndonesianPod101!

We don’t just say this – we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Indonesian for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Indonesian, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, IndonesianPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Indonesian. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in IndonesianPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

How To Say ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian

How to Say Thank You in Indonesian

In most cultures, it is custom to express gratitude in some way or another. The dictionary defines gratitude as follows: it is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. Giving a sincere, thankful response to someone’s actions or words is often the ‘glue’ that keeps relationships together. This is true in most societies! Doing so in a foreign country also shows your respect and appreciation for the culture. Words have great power – use these ones sincerely and often!

Table of Contents

  1. 12 Ways to say ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian
  2. Video Lesson: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’ in 3 Minutes
  3. Infographic & Audio Lesson: Survival Phrases – Thank You
  4. Video Lesson: ‘Thank You’ in 31 Languages
  5. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You

So, how do you say ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian? You can learn easily! Below, IndonesianPod101 brings you perfect translations and pronunciation as you learn the most common ways Indonesian speakers say ‘Thanks’ in various situations.

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1. 12 Ways to say ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian

1- Thank you.

Terima kasih.

The magical words that can bring a smile to any face. For one day, truly mean it whenever you say these words, and see how this lifts your spirit too!

2- That’s very kind of you.

Anda sungguh baik hati.

This phrase is appropriate when someone clearly goes out of their way to give good service, or to offer you a kindness.

3- Thanks for your kind words!

Terima kasih untuk kata-kata baik Anda!

Someone paid you a compliment and made you feel good? That is kind of him/her, so express your gratitude!

4- Thank you for coming today.

Terima kasih sudah datang hari ini.

This welcoming phrase should be part of your arsenal if you’re conducting more formal meetings with Indonesian speakers. If you’re hosting a party, this is also a good phrase when you greet your Indonesian guests!

5- Thank you for your consideration.

Terima kasih atas pertimbangan Anda.

This is a more formal, almost solemn way to thank someone for their thoughtfulness and sensitivity towards you. It is also suitable to use when a native speaker has to consider something you submit, like a job application, a project or a proposal. You are thanking them, in essence, for time and effort they are about to, or have spent on your submission.

6- Thanks a lot!

Terima kasih banyak!

This means the same as ‘Thank you’, but with energy and enthusiasm added! It means almost the same as ‘thank you so much’ in Indonesian. Use this in an informal setting with your Indonesian friends or teachers.

7- Teachers like you are not easy to find.

Guru seperti Anda tidak mudah untuk ditemukan.

Some phrases are compliments, which express gratitude by inference. This is one of them. If you’re particularly impressed with your IndonesianPod101 teacher, this is an excellent phrase to memorize!

8- Thank you for spending time with us.

Terima kasih sudah meluangkan waktu dengan kami.

Any host at a gathering with Indonesian speakers, such as a meeting or a party, should have this under his/her belt! Use it when you’re saying goodbye or busy closing a meeting. It could also be another lovely way to thank your Indonesian language teacher for her time.

9- Thank you for being patient and helping me improve.

Terima kasih sudah bersabar dan membantu saya untuk menjadi lebih baik.

This phrase is another sure way to melt any formal or informal Indonesian teacher’s heart! Teaching is not easy, and often a lot of patience is required from the teacher. Thank him/her for it! It’s also a good phrase to use if you work in Indonesia, and want to thank your trainer or employer. You will go a long way towards making yourself a popular employee – gratitude is the most attractive trait in any person!

10- You’re the best teacher ever!

Anda adalah guru terbaik!

This is also an enthusiastic way to thank your teacher by means of a compliment. It could just make their day!

11- Thank you for the gift.

Terima kasih untuk hadiahnya.

This is a good phrase to remember when you’re the lucky recipient of a gift. Show your respect and gratitude with these words.

12- I have learned so much thanks to you.

Saya telah belajar banyak berkat Anda.

What a wonderful compliment to give a good teacher! It means they have succeeded in their goal, and you’re thankful for it.

2. Video Lesson: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’ in 3 Minutes

Wherever your destination may be, manners are a must! And in this respect, Indonesia is no different.

1- Terima kasih.
In Indonesian “Thank you.” is Terima kasih. The first word of the phrase, terima, means “to accept.” This is followed by kasih, which in Indonesian means “love.” And the entire expression again is terima kasih. Literally, you are saying “it is accepted with love.”

2- Makasih.
In Indonesian the informal way of expressing gratitude, like “thanks” in English, is makasih. This phrase, which is a shortened form for terima kasih, is used among friends, in other informal situations, and in more relaxed business situations such as shopping at the market, riding in a taxi, and so on. In Indonesian, shortened versions of expressions such as this are usually good indicators of informal language.

3- Terima kasih banyak.
For very special occasions when someone goes above and beyond the call of being kind, when someone is extremely generous, or for any other time you’re extremely grateful, we have the following phrases to express extreme gratitude: Terima kasih banyak. We’ve already gone over the first two words of this expression—the first word terima means “to accept.” And the second word kasihmeans “love.” These two words are then followed by a new word banyak, which means “many” or “much.”

4- Makasih banyak.
The informal way of expressing extreme gratitude, like “Thanks a lot” in English is Makasih banyak. We’ve already gone over the two words of this expression — the first word makasih is the shortened informal form for terima kasih. And the second word banyak, means “many” or “much.”

Cultural Insights

Quick Tip 1
In Indonesia, there are a few ways to say “thank you”, but all of them incorporate some form of the Indonesian idiom terima kasih, which literally means “it is accepted (with) love.”

The informal versions (makasih/makasih banyak) may be used not only with friends and family, but also in a number of relaxed business situations, such as buying something in the market or after a ride on a taxi.

By the same token, the formal versions (terima kasih/terima kasih banyak) should be used in more official situations, such as conducting business at an office, making a speech at a formal event such as a wedding, or writing a letter to anyone outside your circle of friends or family. These should also be used when one is talking with a stranger who is noticeably older or who has a higher professional title than the speaker.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using the formal forms in all situations, and many speakers do opt for this strategy.

Quick Tip 2
There are also slang versions of “thanks” and “thanks a lot,” which are trims (another way of shortening terima kasih), makasih banget, and trims banget. The words trims and banget (which means “very” or “extremely” ) are typical of the slang spoken around Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. Nowadays, many young people from urban centers throughout Indonesia use these most informal forms. These are to be used only in casual conversations with close friends and family, preferably with those who are closest in age with the speaker.

On the run to Indonesia? Wait! You can’t go without some basic language phrases under your belt! Especially if you’re heading to meet your prospective employer! Either in person or online, knowing how to say ‘Thank you’ in the Indonesian language will only improve their impression of you! IndonesianPod101 saves you time with this short lesson that nevertheless packs a punch. Learn to say ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian in no time!

3. Audio Lesson: Survival Phrases – Thank You

5 Ways to Say Thank You in Indonesian

Perhaps you think it’s unimportant that you don’t know what ‘Thank you’ is in Indonesian, or that it’s too difficult a language to learn. Yet, as a traveler or visitor, you will be surprised at how far you can go using a little bit of Indonesian in Indonesia!

Click Here to Listen to the Free Audio Lesson!

At IndonesianPod101, we offer you a few ways of saying ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian that you have no excuse not knowing, as they’re so simple and easy to learn. The lesson is geared to aid your ‘survival’ in formal and informal situations in Indonesia, so don’t wait! You will never have to google ‘How do you say thanks in Indonesian’ again…!

4. ‘Thank You’ in 31 Languages

For the global traveler in a hurry, here are 31 ways to say ‘Thank you’! These are the first words you need to learn in any foreign language – it is sure to smooth your way with native speakers by showing your gratitude for services rendered, and your respect for their culture! Learn and know how to correctly say ‘Thank you’ in 31 different languages in this short video.

5. Why would IndonesianPod101 be the perfect choice to learn Indonesian?

However, you need not stop at ‘Thank you’ in Indonesian – why not learn to speak the language?! You have absolutely nothing to lose. Research has shown that learning a new language increases intelligence and combats brain-aging. Also, the ability to communicate with native speakers in their own language is an instant way to make friends and win respect! Or imagine you know how to write ‘Thank you’ to that special Indonesian friend after a date…he/she will be so impressed!

Thank You

IndonesianPod101 Has Special Lessons, Tools and Resources to Teach You How to Say Thank You and Other Key Phrases

With more than a decade of experience behind us, we have taught thousands of satisfied users to speak foreign languages. How do we do this? First, we take the pain out of learning! At IndonesianPod101, students are assisted as they master vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation through state-of-the-art and fun online learning methods. A library replete with learning resources allows for you to learn at your own pace and in your own space! Resources include thousands of video and audio recordings, downloadable PDF lessons and plenty of learning apps for your mobile devices. Each month, we add benefits with FREE bonuses and gifts to improve your experience.

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We accommodate all levels and types of learners, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, and IndonesianPod101 is free for anyone to sign up. However, you can choose to fast track your fluency with lesson customization and increased interactive learning and practicing. Upgrade to Premium, or Premium PLUS to enhance your experience and greatly expedite your learning. With this type of assistance, and pleasurable effort on your part, you will speak Indonesian in a very short period of time!

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Best of all is that you’re never alone! We believe that practice is the holy grail of learning any new language, and we gear our courses to ensure lots of it. Enroll with us, and you gain immediate access to our lively forum where we meet and greet, and discuss your burning questions. Our certified teachers are friendly and helpful, and you are very likely to practice your first ‘Thanks!’ in Indonesian on him/her, AND mean it! Hurry up, and sign up now – you will thank us for it.