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Archive for the 'Indonesian Grammar' Category

The 100 Most Commonly Used Indonesian Verbs


Indonesian verbs are both very different from English verbs and very easy to learn.

How can that be? Well, it turns out that Indonesian syntax is pretty close to English syntax, and the verb complications simply add extra shades of meaning—we’re not dealing with huge differences here.

Since verbs are indisputably important to everything you want to say in Indonesian, here’s a list of the most common Indonesian verbs, divided into categories based on both grammatical function and meaning.

We’re not even going to explain very much here about the grammar. By the time you get to the end, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve picked up!

Ready to learn Indonesian verbs? Let’s get to it.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Warmup: Common No-Prefix Verbs
  2. Part 1: Ber- Verbs
  3. Part 2: Me- Verbs
  4. Part 3: Ter- Verbs
  5. Conclusion

1. Warmup: Common No-Prefix Verbs

Top Verbs

The majority of Indonesian verbs have prefixes that sort of guide the meaning. You’ll see more details on Indonesian verb prefixes soon, but here are some very common and important verbs that simply don’t come with prefixes at all.

1. duduk – to sit

Jangan duduk di kursiku.
“Don’t sit on my chair.”

2. ingat – to remember

Ingatlah apa yang saya akan laporkan.

“Remember what I’m going to report.”

3. masuk  – to enter

Mari, masuk!
“Welcome, enter!”

4. lupa  – to forget

Kok aku lupa membawa air.
“Oh gosh, I forgot to bring water.”

5. mulai  – to begin

Acaranya tidak akan mulai hari ini.
“The event won’t begin today.”

6. tahu  – to know

Dia tidak tahu apa pun.
“He doesn’t know anything.”

7. minum – to drink

Anda harus minum lebih banyak teh.
“You have to drink more tea.”

8. selesai – to finish

Rere belum selesai tugasnya.
“Rere hasn’t finished her work yet.”

9. tidur – to sleep

Aku akan tidur di luar.

“I’m going to sleep outside.”

10. kembali – to return

Fitri sudah lama belum kembali dari Cina.
“Fitri hasn’t come back from China for a long time.”

2. Part 1: Ber- Verbs

Woman Wearing Scarf

Verbs in Indonesian beginning with the prefix ber- are always intransitive.

Let’s start out this section on Indonesian intransitive verbs with some of the easiest to grasp. If you add ber- to concrete nouns, such as an article of clothing or a mode of transportation, it simply means “to wear or use that thing.”

11. bertopi – to wear a hat

Dia laki-laki yang bertopi.
“He’s a man with a hat.”

12. bersepeda – to go by bike

Kalau bersepeda, jam berapa kita akan sampai?
“If we go by bike, what time will we arrive?”

13. berkapal – to travel by boat (not common)

14. berkuda – to ride a horse

Saya bisa melihat tiga orang berkuda.
“I can see three people on horses.”

15. berkacamata – to wear glasses

Bapakku tidak berkacamata di rumah.
“My father doesn’t wear glasses at home.”

16. berjas – to wear a jacket

Harus berjas di restoran itu?
“Do you have to wear a jacket in that restaurant?”

17. bertubuh kurus/gemuk – to be thin/fat (literally to have a thin or fat body)

Tidak sehat bertubuh terlalu kurus.
“It’s not healthy to be too skinny.”

18. bercelana pendek – to wear shorts

Banyak orang di California bercelana pendek pada musim dingin.
“Many people in California wear shorts in the winter.”

Other ber- verbs are based on more abstract roots. There’s no good reason for why some roots can stand alone, like those in the last section, while other verbs require ber- to sound acceptable. You simply have to memorize these:

19. berubah – to change; to alter oneself

Cinta tidak berubah.
“Love does not change.”

20. berdiri – to stand

Berdiri! Jangan duduk!
“Stand up! Don’t sit!”

21. belajar – to study

Di mana Anda belajar bahasa Inggris?
“Where did you study English?”

22. berjalan – to walk

Aku lebih suka berjalan daripada naik motor.
“I like walking rather than riding a motorbike.”

23. berenang – to swim

Ibuku berenang di laut setiap hari.
“My mother swims in the ocean every morning.”

24. bekerja – to work

Orang muda tidak suka bekerja di sawah.
“Young people don’t like working in rice fields.”

25. berpikir – to think

Aku berpikir kamu tidak tahu jawabannya.
“I think you don’t know the answer.”

26. bertemu – to meet with somebody

Saya sangat senang bertemu dengan Anda.
“I’m very happy to meet with you.”

27. berbicara – to speak a language

Apakah kamu bisa berbicara bahasa Arab?
Can you speak Arabic?”

28. berlari – to run

Saya tidak bisa berlari secepat kamu.
“I can’t run as fast as you do.”

29. berarti – to mean

Kata “pisau” berarti “alat masak yang digunakan untuk memotong.”
The word ‘knife’ means ‘kitchen implement used for cutting.’”

30. bernyanyi – to sing

Apakah kamu suka bernyanyi di kamar mandi?
“Do you like to sing in the shower?”

31. berjudi – to gamble

Anak perempuan saya suka berjudi setiap akhir minggu.
“My daughter likes to gamble every weekend.”

3. Part 2: Me- Verbs

Newlyweds in Field of Flowers

Virtually all of the Indonesian language verbs in this section are transitive, but there are a few very common ones that aren’t necessarily transitive. Let’s get those out of the way first.

32. menikah – to marry

Mungkin dia tidak akan menikah.
“Maybe he won’t get married.”

33. menginap – to stay overnight

Apakah kalian sedang menginap di kota?
“Are you all staying in the city?”

34. menangis – to cry

Bayi itu mulai menangis.
“The baby started to cry.”

35. mendidih – to boil

Kalau airnya sudah mendidih, masukkan mi ke dalam panci.
“If the water is boiling, put the noodles in the pot.”

36. mendaftar – to register

Di mana gedung untuk mendaftar?

“Where is the building to register?”

As me- otherwise indicates transitivity, there are a lot of verbs we can choose from here. Let’s break it up into a few helpful topics.

By the way, in colloquial Indonesian speech, you’ll often hear these words with the m sound omitted, beginning instead with the ng– sound or without the prefix at all.

Moving Things Around

Here are some Indonesian verbs about actions in physical space. You’ll see these on signs all around Indonesia, like “push,” “pull,” and so on.

Club Sandwich

37. membuat  – to make

Saya tidak tahu bagaimana membuat sandwich.
“I don’t know how to make a sandwich.”

38. membangun – to build

Mereka sedang membangun hotel baru di pusat kota.
“They’re building a new hotel in the city center.”

39. membuka – to open

Dia membuka kotak dan melihat di dalam.
“He opened the box and looked inside.”

40. menutup – to close

Apa kamu yakin kamu sudah menutup pintu gudang baik-baik?
“Are you sure you closed the storage room door properly?”

41. mendorong – to push

Anak itu dimarahi karena mendorong temannya pada waktu pelajaran olahraga.
“That kid was scolded for pushing his friend during P.E.”

42. menarik – to pull

Di jalan ada sebuah kuda yang sedang menarik kereta.
“There’s a horse pulling a cart in the street.”

43. melemparkan – to throw

Apakah kamu bisa melemparkan bola basket?
“Can you throw a basketball?”

44. menjatuhkan – to drop

Adik menjatuhkan telur sampai pecah lagi.
“Little brother dropped and broke the eggs again.”

45. menghentikan – to stop

Apakah kamu bisa menghentikan suara itu?
“Can you stop that sound?”

46. menggeser – to slide

Kamu harus menggeser pintunya karena itu pintu geser.
“You have to slide the door because it is a sliding door.”

47. memotong – to cut

Saya kurang hati-hati dan memotong jariku.
“I wasn’t careful and I cut my finger.”

48. menyetir – to drive

Aku tidak suka menyetir mobil kecil.
“I don’t like driving small cars.”

Interacting with People and Things

More essential Verbs

Now for some slightly more abstract transitive verbs. A few of these appear mostly in respectful addresses, but in a society like Indonesia’s, there’s a lot of respectful addresses flying around.

49. menjaga – to watch

Apakah kamu mau menjaga anjingku?
“Do you want to watch my dog?”

50. mengenal – to know somebody

Mereka pasti tidak mengenal kamu.
“They definitely don’t know you.”

51. menolong – to help

Denny menolong anaknya dengan pekerjaan rumah.
“Denny helps his child with homework.”

52. mengajar – to teach

Guru mengajar anak-anak kalkulus.

The teacher teaches children calculus.”

53. memberi – to give

Rudi memberi botol air yang terakhir kepada Rina.
“Rudi gave the last bottled water to Rina.”

54. meminjam – to lend; to borrow

Setiap hari Sabtu saya meminjam sebuah buku dari perpustakaan.
“Every Saturday, I borrow a book from the library.”

55. menghormati – to honor

Hari raya itu untuk menghormati pahlawan Indonesia.
“The holiday is for honoring Indonesia’s heroes.”

56. menghargai – to appreciate; to respect

Aku menghargai persahabatan kita.
“I value our friendship.”

57. mengobrol – to chat

Mereka sedang mengobrol dan tidak bekerja.
“They’re chatting and not working.”

58. mengerti – to understand

Maaf, saya tidak mengerti.
“Sorry, I don’t understand.”

59. melaporkan – to report

Dia akan melaporkan berita secara langsung.

“She’s going to report the news live.”

60. menjelaskan – to explain

Mungkin Anda bisa menjelaskan hal ini?

“Maybe you can explain this situation?”

Spare-Time Activities

You’ve learned before how to talk about your hobbies in Indonesian. But did you discuss all of the activities on this Indonesian verbs list?

Man Writing with Typewriter

61. menulis – to write

Bapakku masih sedang menulis bukunya.
“My father is still writing his book.”

62. mengetik – to type

Seberapa cepat Anda bisa mengetik?

“How fast can you type?”

63. menonton – to watch

Apakah Anda mau menonton film baru?
“Do you want to watch the new film?”

64. mendengarkan – to listen to

Dia suka mendengarkan lagu romantis.
“He likes listening to romantic songs.”

65. mencuci – to wash

Aku harus mencuci sepatu.
“I have to wash my shoes.”

66. menggambar – to draw

Saya bisa menggambar apa saja.
“I can draw anything at all.”

67. membaca – to read

Aku belum membaca buku bapakku karena dia belum selesai menulisnya.

“I haven’t yet read my father’s book because he hasn’t finished it yet.”

68. memainkan – to play

Aku tidak bisa memainkan Fortnite malam ini.

“I can’t play Fortnite tonight.”

69. membeli – to buy

Di mana Anda membeli tas ini?
“Where did you buy this bag?”

70. menjual – to sell

Di sana ada toko yang menjual helm motor.

“There’s a shop that sells motorcycle helmets.”

71. memasak – to cook

Apakah kamu tahu bagaimana memasak mi goreng?
“Do you know how to cook fried noodles?”

72. mencium – to kiss

Aku melihat dia mencium pacarnya.
“I saw them kissing their partner.”

73. membayar – to pay

Ada diskon 50% kalau Anda membayar dengan kartu kredit.
“There is a 50% discount if you pay with credit card.”

74. mencetak – to print

Di mana saya bisa mencetak skripsi?

“Where can I print my thesis?”

75. mengecat – to paint

Kamu masih belum mengecat gedung itu, benar?
“You still haven’t painted the building, right?”

Changing Something

The –i and -kan suffixes have many meanings. Among them is a sense of changing something’s state, such as making something “clean” or “dark.”

76. mengotori – to make dirty

Kalau kamu pakai sepatu di dalam rumah, kamu akan mengotori lantai.
“If you wear shoes indoors, you’ll make the floor dirty.”

77. membersihkan – to clean up

Kapan kamu akan membersihkan kantormu?
“When are you going to clean your office?”

78. menerangi – to illuminate

Lampu menerangi jalan pada sore hari.
“The lamps light up the street in the evening.”

79. mengisi – to fill

Ibu itu mengisi kaleng bekas minyak goreng dengan tepung.
“That woman filled an empty cooking oil tin with flour.”

80. membasahi – to dampen

Hujan akan membasahi Bumi.
“The rain will wet the earth.”

81. mengeringkan – to dry

Aku akan mengeringkan pakaian dengan hairdryer.

“I’m going to dry my clothes with a hair dryer.”

82. memanaskan – to heat

Ovennya memanaskan rumah.

“The oven is heating the room.”

83. melengkapi – to complete

Rina melengkapi penampilannya dengan seulas lipstik merah.
“Rina completed her look with a stroke of red lipstick.”

84. memperbaiki – to fix; to repair

Siapa di sini bisa memperbaiki pesawat?

“Who here can fix a plane?”

If you’re interested in why some of these have an -i ending and others have a -kan ending, well, that’s a subtle distinction beyond the scope of this article. You can find many more grammar explanations on our website! Also be sure to keep on the lookout for our upcoming article on Indonesian verb conjugation!

4. Part 3: Ter- Verbs

Ter- verbs usually describe a state or an accidental action. They can also describe “having an ability,” but those verbs aren’t particularly common, so you don’t have to learn about them yet.

States of Being

Checking in at a Nice Hotel

85. terletak – to be located

Hotel Matahari terletak di pusat kota Jakarta.
“The Matahari Hotel is located in the center of Jakarta.”

86. terbuat – to be made of

Pintu terbuat dari kaca.

“The door is made of glass.”

87. terbatas – to be limited

Waktu untuk mendaftar terbatas.
“The time for registration is limited.”

88. terbuka – to be open

Pintu terbuka dan kucing keluar.
“The door opened and the cat went out.”

89. tersedia – to be available

Sarapan Barat tersedia setiap hari.
“A Western breakfast is available everyday.”

90. tersebut – to be mentioned

Hukum tersebut tidak adil.

“The aforementioned law is not fair.”

91. terhormat – to be honored

Wakil yang terhormat, mohon untuk duduk.
“Honored representative, please sit.”

92. terkenal – to be known

Dia terkenal di negara Asia Tenggara.
“He is well-known in Southeast Asian countries.”

93. tertarik – to be interested

Aku tidak tertarik dengan sejarah.
“I’m not interested in history.”

Oops, accident!

Negative Verbs

In English, passive verbs are used for both accidental and intentional actions. In Indonesian, they work differently. 

You can take any one of the hundreds of men- verbs and change the affix to di– to indicate the passive voice. But if you change it to ter– instead, it usually picks up the meaning of “doing something unintentionally.” Let’s have a look.

94. tertidur – to doze off

Mengapa kamu selalu tertidur dalam kelas?

“Why do you always fall asleep in class?”

95. terkejut – to be startled

Aku terkejut waktu aku melihat laba-laba itu.
“I was startled when I saw the spider.”

96. terjadi – to happen

Apa yang akan terjadi kalau dia tidak datang?
“What will happen if she doesn’t arrive?”

97. tertabrak – to crash

Motor tertabrak dengan truk.
“A motorcycle crashed into a truck.”

98. terjatuh – to fall

Gelas terjatuh dari meja.
“The glass fell from the table.”

99. tersenyum – to smile

Dia tersenyum pelan-pelan.
“She smiled slowly.”

100. tertawa – to laugh

Mereka semua tertawa.
“They all laughed.”

5. Conclusion 

What a list! Congratulations, you’re one hundred verbs richer! And beyond that, if you read through the whole list, you’ve also read the equivalent of several pages of Indonesian text from the example sentences alone.

If you’re comfortable with Indonesian pronunciation, you could go back and read some of your favorite ones aloud. That would stick them in your mind much better than just passively absorbing them through text would!

No matter how long our lists of verbs are, though, it’s not the same as experiencing the full language. For that, you’ll need an audio or video program like IndonesianPod101, where you can get your hands on tons of fascinating, instructive Indonesian content.

You’ll probably even find verbs that aren’t on this list!

Before you go, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you have in the comments section. Are there any verbs you still want to know? We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Indonesian

Your Complete Guide to the World of Indonesian Pronouns


Is Indonesian easy or hard?


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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Standard Indonesian Personal Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

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

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

  • Saya dari Melbourne.

“I’m from Melbourne.”

  • Mau pergi dengan saya?

“Want to go with me?”

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

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

  • Aku tidak tahu.

“I don’t know.”

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

  • Apakah Anda punya mobil?

Do you have a car?”

Silver Car

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dia sudah makan belum?

“Has he/she eaten yet?”

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

  • Saat itu, beliau belum menjadi presiden.

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

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

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

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

  • Ayo kita pulang sekarang.

“Let’s (including you) go home now.”

  • Kita ada acara hari ini.

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

  • Kami akan bertemu denganmu besok.

“We’ll meet with you tomorrow.”

  • Kami akan berangkat dulu.

“We’ll (not you) head out first.”

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

  • Kalian mau makan apa hari ini?

“What do you all want to eat today?”

  • Mereka lahir di Surabaya.

“They were born in Surabaya.”

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

2. Using Ordinary Words as Personal Pronouns

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

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

  • Apakah sudah melihat emailnya, Pak?

“Have you seen the email already, sir?”

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

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

  • Permisi Aas, minta air putih.

“Excuse me sir, some water please.”

Calling Waiter’s Attention

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

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

  • Permisi Kak, sudah selesai?

“Excuse me, are you already finished?”

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

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

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

  • Maaf ya Cici, gua nggak lihat lu.

“Sorry miss, I didn’t see you there.”

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

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

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

  • Dia sendiri membuat kuenya.

“She herself made the cake.”

3. Using Pronouns as Affixes

Fitting Puzzle Pieces Together

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

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

  • Mau pergi denganku?

“Want to go with me?”

  • Jangan berbicara dengan anakku.

“Don’t talk to my child.”

  • Apakah itu tasmu?

“Is that your bag?”

  • Ayo kita naik mobilmu.

“Let’s go in your car.”

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

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

  • Dia masih belum kutemukan.

“He still hasn’t found me.”

  • Nanti kujelaskan.

“Later on I’ll explain.”

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

  • Beritahu aku apa yang kaulihat.

“Tell me what you see.”

4. This, That, and the Other

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

  • Itu desa tempat bapakku lahir.

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

  • Apakah ini rusak?

“Is this broken?”

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

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

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

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

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

5. Question Words

Basic Questions

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

apa – what

  • Apa yang sedang kamu lakukan?

“What are you doing?”

di mana – where

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

  • Di mana orang tuamu?

“Where are your parents?”


  • Siapa yang sedang mengobrol di luar?

“Who’s chatting outside?”

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

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

  • Itu tempat  saya dilahirkan.

“That’s the place where I was born.”

  • Aku tidak suka dengan apa yang dia sedang lakukan.

“I don’t like what he’s doing.”

  • Dia adalah orang yang paling penting di sini.

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

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

  • Ini kotak yang saya perlu.

“This is the box that I need.”

  • Ayo makan di resto yang baru dibuka.

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

6. Yours and Mine

Kids Eating Ice Cream

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

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

We can say the noun again:

  • Motor keren itu motor saya.

“The cool motorbike is mine.”

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

  • Kamera yang paling besar kepunyaan jurnalis yang paling penting.

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

  • Dompetnya milik dia.

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

7. Conclusion

Improve Listening

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

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

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

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

Happy Indonesian learning! 🙂

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


*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


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


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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List of Indonesian Nouns: 100 Words You Need to Know


When it comes to parts of speech that you ought to know, you never see nouns ranked super high. If you don’t know a verb, the conversation might grind to a halt as you figure out how to talk around that.

If you don’t know a noun, though, it’s not the end of the world. You can probably say something similar, or maybe even the English word.


That philosophy might work for some things. But try describing an electrical outlet, or your knee, without resorting to pointing. Tough work!

This is a no-fluff list of common Indonesian nouns, and lots of them. Fill up those lexical gaps and hit the ground running!

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Table of Contents
  1. What Makes Indonesian Nouns Tick?
  2. Time
  3. The Body
  4. The Family
  5. Working Life
  6. School Days
  7. At the Restaurant
  8. Food and Drink
  9. Mealtimes
  10. Transportation
  11. Technology
  12. Around the Home
  13. Conclusion

1. What Makes Indonesian Nouns Tick?

Nouns 1

A very quick note before we begin: Indonesian nouns are easy for English-speakers. They never change form, and they don’t even have to mark their plurals.

You can explicitly mark plurals by reduplication. That is, writing or saying the word twice in a row (it’s written with a hyphen). So if anak is “child,” then it can also possibly refer to “children.” To make that pluralization clear, though, you can say anak-anak and leave no room for error.

Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, here are the most common nouns in Indonesia by category.

2. Time

Man Pointing to Wrist Watch

One of my biggest mistakes when learning languages for travel has been ignoring time. If you hear that there’s “one bus a day” but you don’t know the word for “day,” you’ve got a big task ahead of you figuring that out from context.

Today (hari ini)

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

Tomorrow (besok)

Besok saya sibuk.
“I’m busy tomorrow.”

Yesterday (kemarin)

Saya di bioskop kemarin.
“I was at the movies yesterday.”

Day (hari)

Hari mana lebih baik untuk Anda?
“What day is best for you?”

Week (minggu)

Saya sakit sepanjang minggu.
“I’ve been sick all week.”

Month (bulan)

Bulan depan saya di Medan untuk bekerja.
“I’ll be in Medan next month for work.”

Year (tahun)

Rumah saya dibangun bertahun-tahun lalu.
“My house was built many years ago.”

Time (waktu)

Apakah kamu punya waktu untuk berbicara sekarang?
“Do you have time to talk now?”

3. The Body

Nouns 2

At the doctor or at the clothing store, you’ll want to be able to talk about your body. Here are the most useful Indonesian nouns to do so with.

Foot (kaki)

Kaki Anda sudah baik-baik saja belum?
“Is your foot all better now?”

Leg (kaki)

Saya terganggu dengan kaki saya.
“My leg has been bothering me.”

Head (kepala)

Ada laba-laba di kepalamu.
“You have a spider on your head.”

Arm (tangan)

Apa tangan yang satu lebih panjang dari tangan lainnya?
“Is one arm longer than the other?”

Hand (tangan)

Seorang laki-laki dengan tangan yang besar butuh sarung tangan yang besar.
“A man with big hands needs big gloves.”

Stomach (perut)

Hari ini perut saya terasa tidak enak.
“My stomach feels terrible today.”

Back (punggung)

Saya memiliki tato di punggung saya.
“I have a tattoo on my back.”

Chest (dada)

Apakah dada Anda sakit?
“Does your chest hurt?”

Waist (pinggang)

Letakkan tanganmu di pinggang.
“Put your hands on your waist.”

Size (ukuran)

Ukuran berapa sepatu ini?
“What size are these shoes?”

4. The Family

Family Photo for Christmas

How big is your family? That might be a strange question where you come from, but in Indonesia, people love asking and answering questions about their families. If you have kids, get ready for even more questions!

Family (keluarga)

Ada berapa orang di keluarga Anda?
“How big is your family?”

Mother (ibu)

Ibu saya tinggal di Solo.
“My mother lives in Solo.”

Father (bapak)

Bapak saya orang yang baik hati.
“My father is a kind man.”

Parent (orang tua)

Orang tua saya bekerja di rumah sakit.
“My parents work at a hospital.”

Child (anak)

Apakah kamu punya anak?
“Do you have any children?”

Daughter (anak perempuan)

Anak perempuan saya bekerja sebagai supir truk.
“My daughter is a truck driver.”

Son (anak laki-laki)

Anak laki-lakinya mendapatkan penghargaan.
“Her son got an award.”

Aunt (bibi; tante)

Pernahkah dia bertemu dengan bibi saya?
“Has he met my aunt?”

Uncle (paman)

Pamanku dulu bekerja di Tiongkok.
“My uncle used to work in China.”

Husband (suami)

Pria itu bukan suami saya.
“That man is not my husband.”

Wife (istri)

Istri saya punya lebih banyak uang daripada saya.
“My wife makes more money than I do.”

5. Working Life

Nouns 3

We briefly touched on jobs in the last section, but let’s look now and see some names for job titles in Indonesian.

Salesman (penjual)

Penjual datang ke rumah saya setiap hari.
“A salesman comes to my house every day.”

Teacher (guru)

This term is used for school and kindergarten teachers, as well as music and language teachers. In contrast, dosen refers to college or higher-education teachers.

Dengarkan pidato guru.
“Listen to the teacher’s speech.”

Teacher (pengajar)

This is a more general term for a teacher.

Apa Anda mau menjadi pengajar?
“Do you want to be a teacher?”

Manager (manajer)

Mereka punya terlalu banyak manajer.
“They have too many managers.”

Doctor (dokter)

Dokter saya tidak mengerti masalahnya.
“My doctor doesn’t understand the problem.”

Cook (koki)

Kokinya dari mana?
“Where is the cook from?”

Employee (karyawan)

Siapa karyawan terbaik?
“Who is the best employee?”

Writer (penulis)

Apakah kamu punya penulis kesukaan?
“Do you have a favorite writer?”

Driver (sopir/supir)

Loh, di mana sopirnya?
“Hey, where’s the driver?”

Cleaner (tukang bersih-bersih)

Tukang bersih-bersih akan datang ke kantor besok.
“The cleaner will arrive at the office tomorrow.”

Painter (pelukis)

Siapa pelukis lukisan itu?
“Who was the painter of that picture?”

6.School Days

Woman Sitting in Class

Lots of foreigners are able to find jobs teaching abroad in Indonesia, and quite a few others are able to get scholarships to study abroad there, too. Whichever the case may be, words for school are important!

Book (buku)

Buku apa itu?
“What book is that?”

Pen (pulpen)

Saya punya satu pulpen merah.
“I have a red pen.”

Pencil (pensil)

Kenapa pensilmu?
“What happened to your pencil?”

University (universitas)

Saya lulus dari Universitas Indonesia di Jakarta.
“I graduated from the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.”

Notebook (buku catatan)

Apakah saya harus membawa buku catatan besok?
“Should I bring my notebook tomorrow?”

School (sekolah)

Apakah ada sekolah bagus dekat rumahmu?
“Are there good schools near your house?”

Student (mahasiswa)

Saya punya mahasiswa yang luar biasa.
“I have excellent students.”

Homework (PR [pekerjaan rumah])

Tidak ada PR hari ini.
“No homework today.”

Exam (ujian)

Kemarin ada ujian, di mana kamu?
“There was an exam yesterday, where were you?”

Scissors (gunting)

Saya kehilangan gunting lagi.
“I lost my scissors again.”

7. At the Restaurant

Indonesian restaurants abroad usually only have a sampling of the great cuisine of Indonesia. And as far as I’ve found, nobody does mi goreng properly outside the country.

Plate (piring)

Piring ini kotor.
“This plate is dirty.”

Bowl (mangkuk)

Minta satu mangkuk lagi.
“Could we have another bowl, please?”

Knife (pisau)

Pisau ini berat.
“This knife is heavy.”

Fork (garpu)

Aku menjatuhkan garpuku.
“I dropped my fork.”

Spoon (sendok)

Sendokmu untuk hidangan pencuci mulut.
“Your spoon is for dessert.”

Cup (cangkir)

Saya mau cangkir baru.
“I want a new cup.”

Teapot (teko)

Tekonya kosong.
“The teapot is empty.”

Waiter (pelayan)

Pelayan kami luar biasa.
“We have an excellent waiter.”

Order (pesanan)

Pesanannya salah.
“The order was wrong.”

Bill; check (bil)

Maaf, minta bil.
“Excuse me, the check please.”

8. Food and Drink

The plates are one thing, and the food on them is something else. Here’s what you’ll find yourself eating at restaurants in Indonesia.

Water (air)

Minta satu botol air putih.
“I want a bottle of water.”

Coffee (kopi)

Saya lebih suka es kopi.
“I prefer iced coffee.”

Tea (teh)

Teh di Indonesia biasanya manis.
“The tea in Indonesia is usually sweet.”

Beef (sapi [daging sapi])

Daging sapi lebih murah di Super Indo.
“Beef is cheaper at Super Indo market.”

Chicken (ayam)

Sudah pernah mencoba ayam geprek?
“Have you ever tried ayam geprek (a special kind of fried chicken with peppers)?”

Avocado (alpukat)

Ini pertama kali saya minum jus alpukat.
“This is my first time drinking avocado juice.”

Passionfruit (markisa)

Maaf, markisa sudah habis.
“Sorry, we’re all out of passionfruit.”

Pineapple (nanas)

Pizzanya ada ananas tidak?
“Does the pizza have pineapple?”

Fruit juice (jus buah)

Berapa harga jus buah?
“How much is fruit juice?”

Milk (susu)

Kamu ada susu segar?
“Do you have fresh milk?”

9. Mealtimes

Porridge with Butter & Orange Juice

Finishing up the food theme here, we have a couple of important names for eating meals at different times of the day.

Breakfast; to have breakfast (sarapan)

Saya biasanya tidak sarapan.
“I don’t usually eat breakfast.”

Lunch (makan siang)

Apa kamu makan untuk makan siang?
“What did you eat for lunch?”

Dinner (makan malam)

Sudah makan malam belum?
“Have you eaten dinner yet?”

Snack (kudapan)

Saya seharusnya tidak makan banyak kudapan.
“I shouldn’t eat so many snacks.”

Feast; party (pesta)

Ayo makan di pesta.
“Let’s have food at the party.”

10. Transportation

By far, the most common mode of transportation is the motorbike, followed closely by the car. You might be surprised to find how easy it is to ride a motorbike in Indonesia, but if you rent one, be sure to follow the rules of the road!

Street (jalan)

Aku tidak suka menyetir di jalan-jalan kecil.
“I don’t like driving on small streets.”

Car (mobil)

Dia tidak suka membersihkan mobilnya.
“He doesn’t like to clean his car.”

Bus (bus/bis)

Apakah kamu suka naik bis?
“Do you like riding the bus?”

Motorcycle for hire; motorbike taxi (ojek)

Apakah kamu punya nomor telepon ojek?
“Do you have the number of a motorbike taxi?”

Bus station (halte bus)

Apakah ada banyak terminal bus di kota ini?
“Are there a lot of bus stations in this city?”

Plane (pesawat)

Pesawat saya tidak sampai tepat waktu.
“My plane didn’t arrive on time.”

Bicycle (sepeda)

Di sini boleh menyewa sepeda?
“Can I rent a bicycle here?”

Motorcycle (sepeda motor)

Apakah sepeda motor mahal?
“Are motorcycles expensive?”

Taxi (taksi)

Boleh Anda membantuku memanggil taksi?
“Can you help me call a taxi?”

Train (kereta api)

Kereta api saya jam delapan.
“My train is at eight o’clock.”

Train station (stasiun kereta api)

Apakah ada stasiun kereta api di Bandung?
“Is there a train station in Bandung?”

11. Technology

Woman on Tablet

Time for all the gadgets we see around us. For a lot of these words, Indonesian simply uses the same word as English, but pronounce it according to Indonesian rules. So if you don’t see “laptop” or “wi-fi,” well, congratulations, you already know them!

Television (televisi) [device]

Sekarang televisi lebih besar dan lebih murah.
“Televisions are now bigger and cheaper.”

Password (kata kunci)

Apa kata kunci WiFi-nya?
“What’s the wifi password?”

Phone (telepon / HP / ponsel)

Kamu merusakkan HPku!
“You broke my phone!”

Camera (kamera)

Kamera ini lebih murah di Jepang.
“This camera is cheaper in Japan.”

Keyboard (papan ketik)

Bagaimanacaranya mengganti papan ketik?
“How can I change the keyboard?”

Button (tombol)

Tekan tombol merah untuk keluar.
“Press the red button to quit.”

Screen (layar)

Warna-warna di layar aneh.
“The colors on the screen are strange.”

12. Around the Home

Nouns 4

It’s good to know about different appliances in Indonesian, particularly if you’re visiting someone else’s home or considering renting a flat.

Refrigerator (kulkas)

Apakah itu makananmu yang di kulkas?
“Is this your food in the refrigerator?”

Washing machine (mesin cuci)

Mengapa Anda tidak punya mesin cuci?
“Why don’t you have a washing machine?”

Water heater (pemanas air)

Apakah pemanas air mahal?
“Is a water heater expensive?”

Fan (kipas)

Saya hanya punya sebuah kipas.
“I only have one fan.”

Air conditioner (AC)

Kapan kita bisa membeli AC yang lebih bagus?
“When can we buy a better air conditioner?”

Stove (kompor)

Ya ampun, kompornya kotor.
“Goodness, the stove is dirty.”

Table (vmeja)

Kapan kamu membersihkan meja ini?
“When did you clean this table?”

Chair (kursi)

Dia tidak punya kursi apapun di apartamennya.
“He has no chairs in his apartment.”

Shoe rack (rak sepatu)

Rak sepatu kosong.
“The shoe rack is empty.”

Door (pintu)

Apa warna pintu depannya?
“What color is the front door?”

Window (jendela)

Bagaimana kejadiannya jendela Anda pecah?
“How did your window break?”

13. Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve just read 100 sentences (or about five book pages) of Indonesian! That’s quite an accomplishment, but you shouldn’t stop here. Instead, come back to this article as you keep practicing your Indonesian, and you’ll notice that you’ll start being able to come up with example sentences for these words with little or no effort.

This isn’t our only vocab-heavy lesson, either. Although it’s important to get input from a variety of sources when you learn any language, you can’t ignore vocabulary. At, you’ve come to the right place!

Are there any nouns in Indonesian you still want to know that we didn’t cover here? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Happy learning!

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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Indonesian & Beyond


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

1. Birthdays

Happy Birthday

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

  • Selamat ulang tahun!
    “Happy Birthday!”

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

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

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

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

2. Holidays

Basic Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Christmas

Christmas Tree in Firelight

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

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

  • Selamat Hari Natal!
    “Merry Christmas!”

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

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

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

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

4. Babies

Talking about Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Graduation

Parents with Graduate

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

  • Selamat wisuda!
    “Happy graduation!”

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

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

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

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

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

6. Weddings and Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Bad News in General

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

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

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

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

1- Death or Funerals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2- Poor Health

Man Sick in Bed

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

First, the all-purpose phrase:

  • Semoga cepat sembuh!
    “Get well soon!”

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

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

10. Good News in General

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

  • Keren!
  • Bagus sekali!

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

  • Semoga sukses!
    “Best of luck!”

11. Conclusion

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

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

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

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The 100 Most Useful Indonesian Adjectives in Every Category


Right now, in just five minutes, you can give your Indonesian vocabulary a super-size boost.

In just one regular-sized article, we’ve prepared for you a fantastic overview of popular Indonesian adjectives, plus the top 100 Indonesian adjectives you need for any situation. Looking for an example of Indonesian adjectives at work? We have plenty of those, too.

With the isolating grammar of the Indonesian language, simply reading a lot of example sentences with these popular Indonesian adjectives is a great way to naturally assimilate syntax and vocabulary.

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Table of Contents

  1. A Quick Overview of Indonesian Adjectives
  2. List of the Top 100 Indonesian Adjectives
  3. Modifying Adjectives
  4. Conclusion

1. A Quick Overview of Indonesian Adjectives

Improve Pronunciation

If you haven’t already realized it by now, the way adjectives work in Indonesian grammar couldn’t be easier. The words simply don’t change at all. The adjectives simply come directly after the noun phrase, the opposite of where they go in English.

There’s also no word to directly connect an adjective to a noun like “is” can be used in English. You either directly say the adjective or use a ber-verb.

  • Gedung ini besar.
    “This building is big.”
  • Kopi saya berwarna hitam.
    My coffee is colored black.” (My coffee has-the-color-of black.)

However, one potential downside of this is that, because there’s no such thing as “adjective endings” or declension in Indonesian, it may be hard at first to figure out which words in the sentence are adjectives to begin with.

Take a sentence like this for example:

  • Saya bekerja di kapal besar.
    “I work on a big boat.”

The adjective there is besar, meaning “big,” but that just has to be memorized.

Fortunately, the more example sentences you read and internalize, the better your sense will be for how adjectives work syntactically in Indonesian, and the more you’ll start to remember as well.

Ready to learn Indonesian describing words? Let’s get started with our list of the top Indonesian adjectives.

2. List of the Top 100 Indonesian Adjectives

Most Common Adjectives

1- Describing Colors

Gleaming Colors

The most basic adjectives you can learn in any language are the words for different colors. For some reason, a lot of textbooks leave out “gray” and “brown”—two of the most common colors anywhere! Here’s our list of the Indonesian top adjectives for colors.

1. putih – white

  • Tas ini putih atau abu-abu?
    “Is this bag white or gray?”

2. hitam – black

  • Matanya warna hitam.
    “Her eyes are black.”

3. merah – red

  • Langitnya merah, dan aku takut.
    “The sky is red, and I’m scared.”

4. biru – blue

  • Anda harus membawa pulpen biru atau hitam.
    “You have to bring a blue or black pen.”

5. hijau – green

  • Di sana semua pohon hijau.
    “All the trees are green there.”

6. kuning – yellow

  • Apakah kamu suka ayam kuning?
    “Do you like yellow chicken (a Javanese dish)?”

7. coklat – brown

  • Rambutku berwarna coklat.
    “My hair is brown.”

8. merah muda – pink

  • Aku tidak suka pakai pakaian merah muda.
    “I don’t like wearing pink clothes.”

9. abu-abu – gray; ash-colored

  • Waktu hujan, langit berwarna abu-abu.
    “When it rains, the sky is gray.”

10. oranye – orange

  • Jeruk sunkist biasanya berwarna oranye.
    “Orange juice is usually orange.”

2- Describing Taste

Indonesians love flavorful food. Go into any restaurant, from the smallest warungs to the biggest restos, and you’ll find people who are experts at making food taste great, making it essential to know words for taste when you learn Indonesian adjectives.

11. asin – salty

  • Orang Tiongkok suka telur asin.
    “Chinese people like salted eggs.”

12. manis – sweet

  • Kamu suka es teh manis?
    “Do you like sweet iced tea?”

13. hambar – bland

  • Nasi putih hambar.
    “White rice is bland.”

14. segar – fresh

  • Di mana susu segarnya?
    “Where is the fresh milk?”

15. busuk – rotten

  • Duren di koper Anda busuk!
    “The durian in your suitcase is rotten!”

16. pahit – bitter

  • Pare rasanya pahit.
    “Bitter gourd tastes bitter.”

17. enak – delicious

  • Mie goreng di warung ini enak!
    “The fried noodles at this restaurant are delicious!”

18. lezat – delicious (used in advertising)

  • Super lezaaat!
    “Super tastyyyyy!”

19. sedap – delicious (used in advertising)

  • Ada Mie Sedap di sini?
    “Do you have Mie Sedap (an instant noodle brand) here?”

20. pedas – spicy

  • Saya tidak suka makanan pedas.
    “I don’t like spicy food.”

Note that for pedas, you may hear it pronounced and written as pedes, an alternate usage that comes from Javanese influence.

3- Describing Personality

Woman and Grandmother Enjoying Adventure

Now let’s look at some ways to describe different people, outside of what they may look like. When you learn Indonesian adjectives, knowing how to talk about personality is of great importance, as in any language.

21. baik hati – warmhearted

    Pak Rektor adalah orang baik hati.
    “The university president is a warmhearted person.”

22. rendah hati – humble

  • Lebih baik rendah hati hari ini.
    “It’s better to be humble today.”

23. sombong – arrogant

  • Mengapa dia sangat sombong?
    “Why is he so arrogant?”

24. pintar – clever

  • Orang muda masa kini sangat pintar.
    “Young people today are very clever.”

25. jelek – rotten; no-good

  • Kain baju ini kualitasnya jelek. Baru dua hari sudah robek.
    “The cloth quality of this shirt is bad. It’s only been two days, and it’s ripped already.”

26. nakal – naughty; badly behaved

  • Anak-anak di sekolah tidak nakal.
    “Children at school are not naughty.”

27. egois – selfish; egotistical

  • Dia tidak suka menyumbang uang karena dia egois.
    “She doesn’t like donating money because she’s selfish.”

28. malas – lazy

  • Jangan malas! Ayo pergi!
    “Don’t be lazy! Let’s go!”

29. mager – lazy (slang word meaning “too lazy to move.” )

  • A: Kok tidak ke KTV?
    B: Mager sih.
  • A: “How come you’re not going to karaoke?”
    B: “Too lazy to move, y’know?”

30. sopan – polite

  • Kamu harus sopan waktu kamu berbicara.
    “You have to be polite when you speak.”

4- Describing Feelings

When anybody asks “How are you?” you can either give a neutral response such as baik, meaning “good,” or be a little more exact. Be honest about your feelings in Indonesian!

31. capek – exhausted; tired (note the possible alternate spelling cape)

  • Saya bekerja, terus capek.
    “I work, and then I get tired.”

32. sedih – sad

  • Ini novel sedih.
    “This is a sad book.”

33. senang – happy

  • Saya senang sekali bisa bertemu denganmu.
    “I’m very happy to meet with you.”

34. bersemangat – excited; energetic

  • Apakah kamu bersemangat hari ini?
    “Are you excited today?”

35. cemas – nervous

  • Jangan cemas, hanya interview saja.
    “Don’t be nervous, it’s just an interview.”

36. santai – relaxed; calm

  • Sulit santai kalau dikejar tenggat.
    “It is hard to be relaxed/calm when you’re being chased by a deadline.”

37. tenang – patient; calm

  • Mengapa dia masih tenang?
    “How come he’s still calm?”

38. marah – angry; furious

  • Saya akan menjadi marah.
    “I’m going to get angry.”

39. mabuk – queasy

  • Apakah kamu merasa mabuk?
    “Do you feel queasy?”

40. sakit – sick; in pain

  • Mata saya sakit.
    “My eyes hurt.”

41. nyaman – comfortable

  • Helm saya terlalu kecil, jadi tidak nyaman.
    “My helmet is too small, so it’s not comfortable.”

5- Describing Appearance (People)

Woman Looking at Herself in Mirror

Let’s not be rude here, but you’ve always got to be able to talk about what people are like in addition to how they act.

42. kaya – rich

  • Tidak ada banyak orang kaya di kota tua.
    “There aren’t a lot of rich people in the old city.”

43. tinggi – tall

  • Adik saya semakin tinggi setiap hari.
    “My little brother is taller every day.”

44. pendek – short

  • Orang pendek biasanya tidak suka main bola basket.
    “Short people usually don’t like basketball.”

45. rajin – studious; focused

  • Saya tidak pernah melihat mahasiswa rajin seperti kamu.
    “I’ve never seen a student so focused like you are.”

46. miskin – poor

  • Ada banyak orang miskin di negara ini.
    “There are a lot of poor people in this country.”

47. muda – young

  • Semangat waktu muda habis waktu tua.
    “Energy when one is young is gone when one is old.”

48. tua – old

  • Wanita berumur suka minum teh manis.
    “Old women like to drink sweet tea.”

49. gemuk – fat

  • Kok, kamu sudah gemuk!
    “Whoa, you’re already fat!”

50. langsing – slim

  • Di mana semua cowok-cowok langsing?
    “Where are all the slim guys?”

51. cantik – beautiful; pretty

  • Tetapi kamu masih cantik.
    “But you’re still beautiful.”

Note that this word can also describe Indonesia!

52. berotot – muscular

  • Bapakmu berotot atau langsing?
    “Is your dad muscular or slim?”

53. lemah – weak

  • Jantung saya lemah, jadi saya tidak bisa pergi ke gym.
    “My heart is weak, so I can’t go to the gym.”

6- Describing Time

Indonesian doesn’t distinguish between adjectives and adverbs, so some of these fall into the “adverb” category in English. That means when it comes to describing time, these will do double duty.

54. cepat – fast

  • Hari ini cepat selesai.
    “Today was over fast.”

55. lambat – slow

  • Dia bicara terlalu lambat.
    “He speaks too slowly.”

56. awal – early

  • Kami mulai awal minggu depan.
    “We’re starting early next week.”

57. tepat waktu – on time

  • Mengapa hari ini Anda tidak tepat waktu?
    “Why weren’t you on time this morning?”

58. terlambat – late

  • Jangan terlambat besok.
    “Don’t be late tomorrow.”

59. ketinggalan jaman – outdated; outmoded

  • Mobil orang tuaku ketinggalan jaman.
    “The car my parents have is outdated.”

60. modern – modern (note that there’s a hidden e in between the r and the n in Indonesian: it’s pronounced moderen)

  • Apakah kamu suka lukisan modern?
    “Do you like modern paintings?”

61. kuno – ancient

  • Lihatlah jalan-jalan kuno di kota.
    “Look at the ancient streets in the town.”

62. kontemporer – contemporary

  • Mereka sangat suka bermain musik kontemporer.
    “They really like playing contemporary music.”

7- Describing Appearance (Things)

Naturally, there are different words in Indonesian used to describe objects as opposed to people.

63. mahal – expensive

  • Yang ini terlalu mahal.
    “This one is too expensive.”

64. tebal – thick

  • Dia pakai jilbab tebal.
    “She wore a thick jilbab.”

65. indah – beautiful

  • Laut dan pantai di Indonesia indah sekali.
    “The sea and beaches in Indonesia are very beautiful.”

66. tipis – thin

  • Cuci yang tipis dulu.
    “Wash the thin ones first.”

67. besar – big

  • Ada piring lebih besar?
    “Are there bigger plates?”

68. kecil – small

  • Sepatuku terlalu kecil.
    “My shoes are too small.”

69. panjang – long

  • Saya mau tempat tidur lebih panjang.
    “I want a longer bed.”

70. lebar – wide

  • Rumah mereka tidak mahal, tapi lebar.
    “Their house isn’t expensive, but it’s wide.”

71. luas – wide; broad (used for landscapes & open spaces)

  • Dari atas bisa melihat lingkungan luas.
    “From the top, you can see the wide surroundings.”

72. berat – heavy

  • Kotak-kotak ini berat.
    “These boxes are heavy.”

73. baru – new

  • Dia punya motor baru.
    “He has a new motorcycle.”

74. lama – old

  • Jangan pakai pakaian lama.
    “Don’t wear old clothes.”

8- Describing Weather

Pastel Clouds Over the Ocean

Weather in Indonesia is usually one thing, and it’s not “cold.” If these words aren’t enough for you, we actually have a whole separate resource just for weather words and phrases!

75. panas – hot

  • Cuaca panas hari ini.
    “The weather’s hot today.”

76. dingin – cold

  • Di atas gunung cuaca lebih dingin.
    “The weather is colder on top of a mountain.”

77. berawan – cloudy

  • Selalu berawan di musim hujan.
    “It’s always cloudy during the rainy season.”

78. berkabut – foggy

  • Dekat pantai cuaca berkabut.
    “The weather is foggy near the beach.”

79. cerah – sunny

  • Waduh, hari ini cerah dan indah!
    “Wow, today is sunny and beautiful!”

80. berangin – windy

  • Kota Jakarta bukan kota berangin.
    “Jakarta is not a windy city.”

81. hangat – warm

  • Masih hangat di sore hari.
    “It’s still warm in the evening.”

This has just been a taster. If you’re looking for more ways to talk about the weather in Indonesia, head on over to our dedicated blog post.

9- Describing Texture and Touch

This section is slightly different than describing what objects look like. Sure, they overlap, but texture is separate from appearance. And yet both are important categories to understand.

82. basah – wet

  • Pakaiannya masih basah.
    “The clothes are still wet.”

83. kering – dry

  • Semennya sudah kering belum?
    “Is the cement dry or not?”

84. keras – hard

  • Kelapanya terlalu keras; tidak bisa dibuka.
    “The coconut is too hard; it can’t be opened.”

85. halus – smooth

  • Bahasa Jawa di Yogyakarta lebih halus.
    “The Javanese spoken in Yogyakarta is smoother.”

86. kenyal – bouncy; springy

  • Ranjang di Asia tidak kenyal.
    “Beds in Asia are not bouncy.”

87. berbulu – furry; hairy; feathered

  • Burung kecil halus dan berbulu.
    “The little bird is soft and feathery.”

88. rapuh – brittle; fragile; flimsy

  • Jangan meletakkan barang rapuh dekat tangga.
    “Don’t put fragile things near the stairs.”

89. licin – slippery

  • Awas, lantai licin.
    “Be careful, the floor is slippery.”

90. pecah – broken; cracked

  • HPku pecah!
    “My phone is cracked!”

91. lengket – sticky

  • Ada sesuatu lengket di rambutku!
    “There’s something sticky in my hair!”

10- Describing Concepts

Nonverbal Communication

This section is a goldmine for when you’ve got to talk about a tough problem or question you’re dealing with, or when you need to explain something to somebody else. Obviously, our list of top Indonesian adjectives wouldn’t be complete without words to describe concepts.

92. sederhana – simple

  • Itu adalah cinta sederhana.
    “It was a simple love.”

93. mudah – easy

  • Belajar bahasa Indonesia lebih fasih daripada belajar bahasa Jawa
    “Studying Indonesian is easier than Javanese.”

94. sulit – difficult

  • Ujian akhir semester sulit.
    “The end-of-semester test is difficult.”

95. susah – complicated; difficult

96. penting – important

  • Surat di atas meja penting.
    “The letter on the table is important.”

97. salah – wrong; incorrect

  • Semua yang kamu katakan salah.
    “Everything you say is wrong.”

98. benar – true

  • Tidak semua di televisi benar.
    “Not everything on TV is true.”

99. palsu – false

  • Itu segala-galanya palsu.
    “That’s completely false.”

100. resmi – formal; official

  • Anda harus mengisi formulir pengaduan resmi.
    “You have to fill in a formal complaint form.”

3. Modifying Adjectives


So already up to this point, we’ve learned how to say the top 100 Indonesian adjectives. Let’s go ahead and expand that number—with only a couple more words.

To intensify adjectives in Indonesian, you can add banget or sekali after that adjective. Both mean “very” or “really,” though banget should only be used in informal situations.

  • Aiii, mie goreng ini pedas banget!
    “Ahh! These fried noodles are super spicy!”

In much the same way, we can add sangat in front of the adjective. This is a little bit weaker than sekali, and it can be used in formal or informal situations.

One more set of useful modifiers is kurang, meaning “too little; lacking,” and terlalu, meaning “too much.” These also go in front of the adjective in question.

  • Saya tidak mau yang ini, terlalu mahal.
    “I don’t want this one, it’s too expensive.”

4. Conclusion

Did you learn something new? Are there any words we missed on our Indonesian adjectives list you still want to know? Let us know in the comments.

I bet if you read this same article tomorrow, and maybe even the next day, these words will stick in your memory for a surprisingly long time. That’s what the science says, at least. In other words, to learn Indonesian adjectives and really learn them, don’t stop after the first read or the first lesson. Keep going!

By the way, to take your learning to the next level, check out the Indonesian content here on, with tons of additional wordlists and vocabulary resources waiting for you!

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The Best Netflix Indonesia Movies to Learn Indonesian


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

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

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

Best Ways to Learn

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Genres

1- Kuntilanak

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

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

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

2- Merantau

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

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

3- Surga Yang Tak Dirindukan

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

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

4- Soekarno

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

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

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

5- 3 Srikandi

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

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

6- Cahaya Dari Timur: Beta Maluku

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

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

7- Laskar Pelangi

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

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

8- Filosofi Kopi

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

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

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

9- Single

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

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

10- The Night Comes for Us

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

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

3. Experience Your Favorite Show Through Indonesian Eyes

Improve Pronunciation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Using Audio Descriptions to Get More Indonesian Per Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Ultimate Language Guide to Conjunctions in Indonesian


Many Indonesian learners who study Indonesian on their own forget—or rather, never learn—a certain conjunction despite its importance. Conjunctions in Indonesian (or any language, really) aren’t usually a topic of interest to many learners.

Usually, they become accustomed to using alternate phrasings without having to take advantage of a conjunction. In fact, I’ve personally noticed that I tend to use one particular structure in all the foreign languages I study.

But when writing a formal letter or trying to contact a local university in Indonesia, you’ll always have to go as fluff-free in your writing as possible—which is something you can’t fully accomplish without the use of conjunctions.

It just goes to show that if you skip out on learning Indonesian conjunctions, you’re setting yourself up for a surprise moment of panic in the future!

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Table of Contents

  1. What is a Conjunction?
  2. Similar Thoughts (And; Or)
  3. Cause and Effect (Because)
  4. Contrasts (But)
  5. Conditions (If)
  6. Consequence (So; Therefore)
  7. Purpose (In order to; That)
  8. Correlation (Not only, but also)
  9. One More Correlation (Both)
  10. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian Grammar

1. What is a Conjunction?

Sentence Patterns

A conjunction, as you may already know, connects two things in discourse. That’s kind of abstract, but we use them constantly in any language. They’re some of the most common words.

If we take two ideas like “he jumped” and “he fell,” we can use the conjunction “and” in English to say “He jumped and fell.” Or we can contrast two states with “but,” such as in “I want it, but I don’t have it.”

Interestingly enough, you can’t say that one particular concept is a conjunction in every single language. Different words are used for different parts of speech across languages.

And there are a number of Indonesian conjunction words that are only used in formal speech. But once you start breaking down some of them, the rest follow similar and logical patterns. In this article, you’ll learn all the basics you need to know about the conjunction in Indonesian and how it works. So let’s get started!

2. Similar Thoughts (And; Or)

Improve Listening

Let’s begin with the most basic of all, the concept of “and.” This word is dan in Indonesian. It works for verbs:

  • Setiap hari saya menyapu dan mengepel lantai.
    “Every day, I sweep and mop the floor.”

And it works for nouns.

  • Ia punya sebuah gitar dan sebuah ukulele.
    “He has a guitar and a ukulele.”

The word atau, meaning “or,” works very similarly as it does in English as well.

  • Saya mau minum es jeruk atau es lemon teh.
    “I want to drink orange juice or iced lemon tea.”

Unlike in English, it’s not considered acceptable in formal Indonesian writing to begin a sentence with Dan.

3. Cause and Effect (Because)

Improve Listening Part 2

Another useful construction to have in your arsenal is to be able to say why something is a certain way. That explanation requires the word karena, meaning “because.”

The best part is, it works precisely like its English equivalent. If you can make a sentence with “because,” you can do it in Indonesian too with karena.

  • Aku tidak suka bubur karena hambar.
    “I don’t like congee because it’s bland.”
  • Karena dia orang istimewa, dia punya satpam pribadi.
    “Because she’s an important person, she has private security.”

In that first example, we did see a slight difference with Indonesian: that you don’t need any linking word between “because” and an adjective. A slacker’s favorite excuse: karena malas or “because [I was] lazy!”

4. Contrasts (But)

The word for “but” has three forms, but they all work almost exactly the same way. Check this out:

Woman Struggling with Insomnia

  • Dia mau tidur, tapi tidak bisa.
    “She wants to sleep, but (she) can’t.”

We can lengthen tapi into tetapi, and in fact, we should if we’re going to use the language in a formal way. We can even turn it into two words:

  • Saya mau pergi, akan tetapi motor saya rusak.
    “I want to go, but my motorcycle is broken.”

This akan tetapi usage simply adds the meaning of “unfortunately” to your sentence. So it wouldn’t work to use it in a phrase like “I thought I won twenty dollars, but I actually won a hundred dollars!” Use the other two choices for that, and congratulations!

5. Conditions (If)

Now let’s give you the advantage I didn’t have.

Indonesian has two ways to express “if,” and those are jika and kalau.

  • Jika dia tidak sampai, kita tidak bisa mulai.
    “If she doesn’t arrive, we can’t begin.”

We could swap out kalau here and it would have the same meaning. So what’s the difference? Well, you can also use kalau as a way to say “As for X…” You can’t do this with jika and keep the same meaning.

  • Kalau Adi, kami tidak mau berbicara dengannya.
    “As for Adi, we don’t want to talk with him.”

Again, there’s a slight difference in formality here, where jika is the more formal/more often written of the two.

Jika can also be paired with the word maka to make an if/then statement. Kalau can’t.

  • Jika ada kesempatan maka saya akan bicara dengannya.
    “If there’s an opportunity, I’ll talk with them.”

6. Consequence (So; Therefore)

Let’s mention if and then a little bit more here. As we’ve seen, we can have “if” (kalau) without any “then” (maka). What about the other way around?

For that, we’ll need the word jadi which means “so.”

  • Saya sampai lebih awal, jadi saya tidak stres.
    “I arrived early, so I wasn’t stressed.”

We can use another word, sehingga, with this same meaning and a little bit of formality. But here’s where things start to get a little bit further away from English.

The word sehingga can also mean “as a result” or “to the extent that…”

  • Mohon untuk menyapu lantai sehingga bersih.
    “Please sweep the floor until it’s clean (so that it becomes clean).”
  • Dia makan ayam goreng setiap hari sehingga gemuk.
    “He eats fried chicken every day until he’s fat (to the extent that he becomes fat).”

Basket of Fried Chicken

7. Purpose (In order to; That)

And that meaning sort of overlaps with our next category of “in order to.” The most common word here in Indonesian is untuk, which we’ve actually seen already in this article in the set phrase mohon untuk, or “please.”

  • Saya sedang belajar bahasa Spanyol untuk mencari kerja di Meksiko.
    “I’m studying Spanish in order to look for work in Mexico.”

However, the word untuk can also simply mean “for” in the sense of designating a recipient of an action, such as when giving a gift.

  • Bunga-bunga ini untuk Anda.
    “These flowers are for you.”

Bouquet of Roses

Have a look at a new couple of words here, kepada and bahwa.

Kepada can change freely with untuk in its second sense, designating the recipient of some action.

  • Aku sudah minta maaf kepada bos.
    “I already apologized to the boss.”

Bahwa is slightly more removed from English. It’s similar to the word “that” when you’re adding extra information to something. If you learn it in this particular context, it’s easy to keep in your mind:

  • Dia memberitahu saya bahwa dia tidak akan lulus.
    “He told me that he wouldn’t be able to graduate.”

Non-native speakers of English should find this a welcome relief. In English, you have to change the verbs to past tense to report what someone said, but this one little conjunction is all you need in Indonesian!

8. Correlation (Not only, but also)

Fortunately, the “not only, but also” conjunction set works great when we translate it directly into Indonesian. Have a look:

  • Bukan hanya Denny tapi juga Rere tiba terlambat.
    “Not only Denny, but also Rere, arrived late.”

The word juga means “also” in a broad sense, and can be used with nouns and verbs.

  • Saya juga mau bicara dengan manajernya.
    “I also want to talk to the manager.”

Colleagues Talking

Where English limits you from using “also” at the end of a sentence, there’s no problem with doing so in Indonesian.

  • Saya mau makan dan tidur juga.
    “I want to eat and sleep as well.”

9. One More Correlation (Both)

For our last section, let’s look at the rather intricate ways that Indonesian can express the concept of “both.”

First, the way closest to English uses the word kedua-duanya, literally “the two of them.”

  • Mereka kedua-duanya suka coklat.
    “They both (the two of them) like chocolate.”

But that’s not really a conjunction because we’re not connecting two sentences or clauses. For that, we’ll up the ante and use the two-parter baik…maupun.

It works the same as the English phrase “both…and”:

  • Baik Ina maupun Palak suka menonton film horor.
    “Both Ina and Palak like to watch horror movies.”

Spooky-Looking Person

This construction is stricter than in English, in that you’re limited to naming the subjects of different clauses. So that means you can’t take a sentence like “He likes both basketball and football,” and translate it with baik…maupun. You’ll need to use tidak hanya… tapi juga in that case.

  • Dia tidak hanya suka bola basket, tapi juga suka sepak bola.
    “He doesn’t just like basketball; he likes football too.”

10. How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian Grammar

Effectively using conjunctions in Indonesian can feel like a superpower, albeit a small one. Indonesian is said to be an easy language, but all that means is that you can rapidly learn how to build sentences.

With each of the conjunctions you’ve learned today, you can build dozens of sentences with each one.

Competency in a language isn’t always expressed by how precise your vocabulary is—it’s more about how you’re able to express your ideas with the words you have. If, for some reason, you’ve forgotten how to say “if,” that expression isn’t easy!

The more you listen to and read Indonesian in your daily life, the more naturally these conjunctions and their sentence patterns will come to you. It’s all about getting used to a language. And when you do, there will be no limit to what you’re capable of.

Let us know which of these conjunctions you feel ready to start using, and which ones you’re still struggling with. We’d love to hear from you!

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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.

Indonesian Etiquette: Table Manners in Indonesia and More!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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