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Indonesian Podcasts: 6 Go-To Podcasts for Language Learners

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Indonesian is a very exciting language to learn.

This is largely due to its simplicity. No new alphabet to learn, no verb tenses, and no grammatical gender either.

And the perks are huge.

You’ll be speaking the ninth most common language in the world, and you’ll even be able to understand a fair bit of Malaysian.

But let’s face it.

Learning a language doesn’t really cut it. Total language mastery is what you should always be aiming for.

Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate learner, or a more advanced Indonesian student, you will always want to master the ins and outs of every skill within your current level before moving forward. 

The three most important skills that dictate your performance at every level are growth, clarification, and endurance. Mastery over each of these skills requires intensive practice.

Listening to authentic native speakers guarantees you access to the “cleanest” version of Indonesian.

Enter Indonesian podcasts.

Podcasts are recorded audio files that cover a specific topic in each episode. You can listen to podcasts in Indonesian and use them to grow your vocabulary, clarify any confusion, and learn to handle conversations even better (in terms of both speaking and listening).

That’s why we have taken the time to compile a list of some of the best podcasts for learning Indonesian. But before we dig in, let’s talk about the benefits that come with learning Indonesian through podcasts.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn Indonesian
  2. Indonesian Podcasts: The 6 Go-To Podcasts for Language Learners
  3. Tricks to Learn Indonesian More Effectively with Podcasts
  4. Conclusion

1. Benefits of Using Podcasts to Learn Indonesian

Improve your listening skills.

A Woman Talking to a Man

Unless you live around native Indonesian speakers, chances are you don’t really get the opportunity to hear much Indonesian. This lack of listening practice can slow down your progress after a while, as you won’t be able to really grasp what others are saying or carry a conversation.

Podcasts are a great solution to help you further improve your listening skills. By matching podcasts with your current learning level, you’ll specifically target your weaknesses and easily pick up new vocabulary, which takes us to the next benefit…

Learn new words.

Sticky Note Words

Learning new vocabulary is almost always the number-one challenge for language learners. Knowing more words guarantees that you’ll be able to have successful conversations, even if you sometimes make grammatical mistakes. 

Listening to Indonesian-language podcasts will grow your vocabulary, both on a conscious level and on a subconscious level. Moreover, you will start articulating your thoughts even better and be able to create a more harmonic flow in your speech.

Familiarize yourself with the culture.

Swedish Flag

This can take the beginner- or intermediate-level language learner a long way. Having a feel for the language and how native speakers perceive speech is crucial for learning a new language.

Indonesians think about food, religion, family, and even language pretty differently than Westerners do, and developing a feel for that is crucial if you want a full understanding of the way Indonesians communicate.

2. Indonesian Podcasts: The 6 Go-To Podcasts for Language Learners

A Woman Listening to Something with Headphones

Now, let’s take a look at the best Indonesian podcasts for language learners. To make things easier for you, we’ve categorized them by level so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. 

All Levels

IndonesianPod101

IndonesianPod101 is by far the most active Indonesian learning podcast. The fact that we have podcast lessons for language learners of all proficiency levels makes us a versatile resource for anyone wanting to improve their Indonesian. 

If you have informally learned Indonesian through your spouse, family, or surroundings, chances are you’re not exactly sure where you stand level-wise.

The IndonesianPod101 podcast will save you the guesswork by helping you slowly position your skills and language level. The episodes range from 1 to 10 minutes long and are updated regularly. The reliability of our podcast makes it a nice resource for the hungry learner who always wants something new instead of continuing to chew on existing content.

If you want to follow the podcast in video format as well, check out the videos on the IndonesianPod101 YouTube channel. Our channel consists of everything from 3-minute episodes to 4-hour reviews of past episodes. Even better, you can always pop into the 24/7 live stream for a TV learning experience.

Finally, make sure to create your free lifetime account on IndonesianPod101.com for access to even more content! 

Beginner

Talking Indonesia

This podcast represents the ultimate introduction to today’s Indonesia. Over 100 uploaded episodes discuss topics such as gender equality, racism, Chinese Indonesians, religion, and more.

The Talking Indonesia podcast is published every fortnight and hosted by either Dr. Ken Setiawan or Dr. Dave McRae of The University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute. The podcast is done in English and can help you build a very good understanding of the day-to-day reality of culture, politics, language, and foreign policies in Indonesia.

Both podcast hosts work hard to bring the best guests for every episode so that you can get the best information first-hand from the experts. Listening to this podcast will help you keep up with the news and political sphere in Indonesia even better than some locals do. This is the perfect podcast for beginners who do not speak Indonesian but want to have an understanding of Indonesian culture and society. 

Learning Indonesian

The Learning Indonesian podcast is an entry course to the Indonesian language. Across 48 lessons, you’ll learn the basics: greetings (first episode), action verbs, and much more. 

Unfortunately, the podcast was only active for a year (2008) and has been discontinued since. Still, the 48 episodes are enough to give you a good start with the Indonesian-language basics as well as the building blocks you’ll need to carry along on your learning journey.

After you’ve consumed all the beginner content, you can feel free to slowly switch over to intermediate-level podcasts…

Intermediate

Speak i n d o

Speak i n d o is probably the most entertaining podcast on our list. Each episode of this top Indonesian podcast tells real-life stories in slow Indonesian, followed by an English translation. 

The key Indonesian vocabulary in each story is emphasized in the English part of the podcast. This repetition will enhance your memorization of the vocabulary and help you stay focused on language learning (rather than getting distracted by the stories themselves). 

The podcast is usually updated on a biweekly basis, but the schedule is not the most consistent. In any case, there will always be newer episodes for you to listen to.

Bule Belajar Bahasa

Cindy and Kristen, the hosts of the Bule Belajar Bahasa podcast, are probably the most entertaining and dedicated podcast hosts for Indonesian learners. The energy and attention to detail they bring to the podcast are exceptional, to say the least. You will learn so much vocabulary from their discussions with each other, all while keeping a smile on your face and being thoroughly entertained.

The podcast is in English, but the discussions are solely about Indonesian words. That said, the atmosphere is never too serious or dull, so you’ll never want to switch to another podcast out of boredom! It’s the perfect listen for when you’re home doing the dishes or commuting to work.

Advanced

SBS Bahasa Indonesia

SBS (The Special Broadcasting Service) is an Australian public service broadcaster, mainly funded by the Australian government to publish news on recent events both in Australia and around the world. The Indonesian version of this podcast is aimed at Australian residents and citizens who are of an Indonesian background.

The podcast is very frequently updated. There are a few episodes published every day, so you’ll never run out of material to work with and listen to. 

Given the nature of SBS Bahasa Indonesia, we recommend this podcast for advanced Indonesian students. 

3. Tricks to Learn Indonesian More Effectively with Podcasts

On the Go

A Man Listening to Something on the Go

For those of you who are short on time and busy with work, school, or just life, podcasts are probably the number-one solution for language learning. No visuals to keep up with, and nothing that holds you too accountable for paying attention.

In the convenience of your vehicle, on the bus, or while taking the metro, you can take advantage of your commute time by playing your favorite podcast on the go.

When it comes to learning like this, repetition is your best friend. Repeating after the podcast host—especially when new words are introduced—will not only sharpen your pronunciation but also give your vocabulary an extra boost.

You can make your learning time on the go even more effective by saving new words for later practice at home. One great way to practice them is by creating your own flashcard deck! 

At Home

At home, you have even more control and flexibility when it comes to learning Indonesian with podcasts. 

IndonesianPod101’s versatile podcast enables you to listen to quality audio in Indonesian, and our website/app grants you access to vocabulary lists created specifically for the podcast episode you’re listening to.

You can check the description of each episode to access the designated cheat sheet and get full access to the material. Then, you can take the vocabulary on your sheet and get the most out of it by using the different tools offered by IndonesianPod101 (e.g., digital flashcards, voice comparison, and slowed-down audio).

4. Conclusion

There you have it. Your arsenal is now armed with not only some of the best Indonesian podcasts for your level, but also tips for how to leverage them in order to achieve language mastery.

Even if you’re an intermediate or advanced Indonesian learner, you may want to start slow with Indonesian podcasts. 

You can pick the easier episodes in the podcasts matching your level or start out with some one-size-fits-all episodes from IndonesianPod101.

After you get the momentum going and build the habit of listening every day, you can shift into more advanced podcasts. If you’re an advanced learner, you might find yourself shifting to podcasts that target your areas of interest.

Happy learning!
Selamat belajar!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian

Intermediate Indonesian Words to Help You Level Up

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Assuming you’re on the verge of leveling up in your Indonesian studies, it’s time that you step up and learn some of the most useful intermediate Indonesian words. But before we dive in, some context: 

Many language experts consider Indonesian to be the easiest spoken language for English speakers to learn. It’s a simplified language, and learning it is more fun than it is a chore.

La coca-cola is feminine in Spanish.

Le café is masculine in French.

Das Bier is neuter in German.

But in Indonesian, it’s all the same.

So whether you’re ordering a coca-cola, kopi, or a bira, it all falls under the same blanket.

Surprised? 

You might be even more surprised to learn that there is no plural in Indonesian. For example, one woman is satu wanita and two women are dua wanita. As you can see, the word wanita (“woman”) does not change regardless of whether we’re talking about a single woman or multiple women. 

Moreover, there is no conjugation in Indonesian. This means the verb stays constant, and only the pronouns preceding it change to indicate person and number. 

That’s Indonesian for you. Extremely simple rules and no new script to learn (like there would be if you were learning almost any other Asian language). In other words, you won’t have to spend months learning new characters or sounds.

All of these reasons and more make starting out with Indonesian very easy. This means that you’ll be ready to move into the intermediate phase much faster than you would when learning most other languages.

But just like with any other language, vocabulary is paramount for getting from one level to another. 

That’s where this article comes in.

We’ve compiled the most important intermediate Indonesian words in different categories, covering everything from nouns and verbs to conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, and particles. In addition, we’ve included parallel English translations for each word.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Large Numbers
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Prepositions
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Auxiliary Verbs and Particles
  9. Conclusion

1. Large Numbers


Number 28 Raised Up

English TranslationIndonesian Number
TenSepuluh10
ElevenSebelas11
TwelveDuabelas12
ThirteenTigabelas13
FourteenEmpat belas14
FifteenLimabelas15
SixteenEnambelas16
SeventeenTujuh belas17
EighteenDelapan belas18
NineteenSembilan belas19
TwentyDua puluh20
ThirtyTigapuluh30
FortyEmpat puluh40
FiftyLima puluh50
SixtyEnam puluh60
SeventyTujuh puluh70
EightyDelapan puluh80
NinetySembilan puluh90
A hundredSeratus100
A thousandSeribu1,000
Ten thousandSepuluh ribu10,000
A hundred thousandSeratus ribu100,000
A millionSatu juta1,000,000

2. Nouns


Words in Dictionary: Hospitable, Hospital, Hospitality

Because nouns make up such a huge chunk of any language, picking up more nouns should be a priority for language learners at any level. To get you started, we’ve listed for you the most practical intermediate Indonesian nouns in a variety of categories. You can begin practicing these words right away to immediately open up new conversation opportunities! 

Time 


English TranslationIndonesian 
CenturyAbad
MorningPagi
EveningMalam
QuarterPerempat
SemesterSemester

Places 


English TranslationIndonesian 
RegionWilayah
Department Departemen
VillageDesa
ParkTaman
BankBank
PharmacyFarmasi
HospitalRumah Sakit
BakeryToko roti
CliffJurang
BeachPantai
IslandPulau
HillBukit

Technology 


English TranslationIndonesian 
ScreenLayar
KeyboardPapan ketik
MouseMouse
TabletTablet
TVTelevisi
ConsoleKonsol
ChargerPengisi daya
WebsiteSitus web
AccountAkun
PasswordKata sandi
FileBerkas
FolderMap
SoftwarePerangkat lunak
TechnologyTeknologi

Home


English TranslationIndonesian 
RoomKamar
FloorLantai
Living roomRuang keluarga
BathroomKamar mandi
FridgeLemari es
WardrobeLemari pakaian

City & Transportation


English TranslationIndonesian 
SuburbsPinggiran kota
NeighborhoodLingkungan
HighwayJalan raya
AlleyGang
RoundaboutBundaran
CrossroadPersimpangan jalan

People 


English TranslationIndonesian 
UnclePaman
AuntBibi
GrandsonCucu laki-laki
GranddaughterCucu perempuan
ChildAnak
GrandfatherKakek
GrandmotherNenek

Body Parts 


English TranslationIndonesian 
FingerJari
BackPunggung
BellyPerut
BreastPayudara
ShoulderBahu
LegKaki
ThighPaha
ButtPantat
FootKaki
CheekPipi
ChinDagu
ForeheadDahi

Food


English TranslationIndonesian 
KnifePisau
ForkGarpu
SpoonSendok
WineAnggur
DishHidangan
AppetizerHidangan pembuka
DessertPencuci mulut
DrinkMinum
CoffeeKopi

Work & Studies 


English TranslationIndonesian 
NursePerawat
LawyerPengacara
WaiterPelayan
SalesmanPedagang 
LecturerDosen 
JudgeHakim 
TeacherGuru 

Clothes


English TranslationIndonesian 
PantsCelana
SweaterSweater
T-shirtKaos
ShirtKemeja
CoatMantel
SockKaus kaki
ShoeSepatu
DressGaun
HatTopi

3. Verbs


List of Verbs

At the beginner stage, you learned a number of basic Indonesian verbs to get your point across. Now, you’ll want to focus on picking up some more advanced verbs that can help you better express yourself and add flavor to your conversations. 

Indonesian English Translation
MelayaniTo serve
PergiTo leave
MemperbolehkanTo allow
MengirimTo send
MenerimaTo receive
HidupTo live
MeneleponTo call (via phone)
MengingatkanTo remind
MemperkenalkanTo introduce
MenerimaTo accept
MenolakTo refuse
BertindakTo act
BermainTo play
MengenaliTo recognize
MemilihTo choose
MenyentuhTo touch
MenjelaskanTo explain
BangunTo get up
MembukaTo open
Menutup  To close
MenangTo win
KalahTo lose
AdaTo exist
BerhasilTo succeed
MenggantiTo change
BekerjaTo work
BelajarTo study
TidurTo sleep
BerjalanTo walk
MencobaTo try
BerhentiTo stop
MelanjutkanTo continue
MemasakTo cook
TergolongTo belong
Mengambil risikoTo risk
MempelajariTo learn
BertemuTo meet
Membuat  To create
MendapatkanTo get
MemasukiTo enter
Untuk keluarTo exit
MenawarkanTo offer
MembawaTo bring
MenggunakanTo use
MencapaiTo reach
MempersiapkanTo prepare
Menambahkan  To add
MembayarTo pay
MempertimbangkanTo consider
Untuk membeliTo buy
Untuk mendorong To push
Untuk berbelanjaTo shop
Untuk bepergianTo travel

4. Adjectives


Woman Sitting by the Sea

Our next set of intermediate Indonesian words is adjectives, or words that describe nouns. Keep in mind that the words listed below are only equivalents of English adjectives; some of them may be translated in Indonesian as adverbs or nouns. 

Indonesian English Translation
MengagumkanAwesome
MengerikanHorrible
AnehWeird
RumitComplicated
TebalThick
TipisThin
DekatNear
JauhFar
SempitNarrow
LebarWide
LembutSoft
KerasHard
PenuhFull
KosongEmpty
CahayaLight
BeratHeavy
UnikUnique
KhususSpecial
BaruNew
LamaOld
MiskinPoor
KayaRich
BersihClean
KotorDirty
LemahWeak
KuatStrong
RampingSlim
LemakFat
ImutCute
KejamMean
LucuFunny
BagusNice
SenangHappy
SedihSad
DiamQuiet
BergairahExcited
BerbahayaDangerous
MembosankanBoring
PedasSpicy
SelanjutnyaNext
SebelumnyaPrevious
Kedua dari terakhirSecond-to-last
JerukOrange
Merah JambuPink
Abu-abuGray
UnguPurple
MagentaMagenta
PirusTurquoise

5. Adverbs 

Adverbs are words that provide us with additional information about a verb, an adjective, or even another adverb. You might not have used these very often at the beginner level, but you’ll find them useful as you approach the intermediate level in Indonesian. Below, you’ll find several adverbs you should become familiar with at this point in your language learning journey.

When 


Indonesian English Translation
SudahAlready
Dahulu kalaA long time ago
SekarangNow
LagiAgain
AkhirnyaAt last
KemudianThen
Setelah ituThereafter

How Often


Indonesian English Translation
TerkadangSometimes
JarangRarely
BiasanyaUsually
UmumnyaGenerally
Sepanjang waktuAll the time

Where 


English TranslationIndonesian 
NowhereTidak di mana-mana
SomewhereDi suatu tempat
ElsewhereDi tempat lain
UpNaik
DownTurun
OverAtas
UnderDi bawah 
FarJauh
CloseDekat

How


English TranslationIndonesian 
SoftlyDengan lembut
SlowlyPerlahan
QuicklySegera
CalmlyDengan tenang
EasilyDengan mudah
LuckilyUntunglah
SimplySecara sederhana

How Much


Indonesian English Translation
CukupEnough
TerutamaEspecially
HampirAlmost
Berapa banyakHow much
Sangat banyakSo many
Sangat sedikitSo few
TentangAbout

6. Prepositions


Time


Quarter of an Hour on a Clock

English TranslationIndonesian 
BeforeSebelum
AfterSetelah

Space


English TranslationIndonesian 
Next toDi samping
To the rightKe kanan
To the leftKe kiri
AtDi
In front ofDi depan
BehindDi belakang
UnderDi bawah
OverAtas

Other 


Indonesian English Translation
AntaraBetween
Terima kasih kepadaThanks to
MeskipunDespite
TanpaWithout
DenganWith

7. Conjunctions

As you learn to write and speak Indonesian at a more intermediate level, having some practical conjunctions up your sleeve will come in handy. We introduced a few basic conjunctions in our beginner words article, so now we’ll show you a few more advanced ones. 

Indonesian English Translation
Baik…maupun…Neither…nor…
JadiSo
Jika tidakOtherwise
KarenaSince (as)
KetikaWhen
Karena ituTherefore

8. Auxiliary Verbs and Particles

If you want to sound more like a native Indonesian speaker, one of the best things you can do is learn the most common auxiliary verbs and particles. 

Auxiliary Verbs


Indonesian English Translation
Akan Will / Going to
Ingin Want
Mau Want (informal)
Telah Have / Had
Sudah Have / Had
Pernah Have
Masih Still
Bisa Can
Dapat Can
Boleh May
Harus Must
Seperti Like

Particles 

-kah

The Indonesian particle -kah is used in interrogative sentences.

Example:
Sepeda rumah atau mobilkah yang akan kamu jual? 
“Will you put the house or the car up for sale?”

As you can see in the example above, the word mobil (“car”) is followed by -kah, which is used to ask a question when a choice can be made between two options.

It’s worth mentioning that -kah can also be used as a suffix (as opposed to a particle). 

-lah

As opposed to -kah, -lah is used in declarative sentences. We use it to stress a certain word within a phrase.

Examples:

  1. Jelaslah kamu yang salah, dari apa yang kamu ceritakan. 
    “It is clear that you’re the one in the wrong, from your story.”
  1. Tempat itulah adalah tempat obat dijual. 
    “That place is where the drugs are sold.”

Just like with the previous particle, -lah can also be used as a suffix. 

-tah

Of all the particles on our list, -tah (derived from the old Malay language) is probably used the least often in daily life. 

The usage of -tah is similar to that of -kah, in the sense that it’s mostly used for interrogative sentences. It is used when the person asking the question doesn’t necessarily require a response or seek an answer. 

Example:
Apatah artinya makanan tanpa teman? 
“What is the meaning of food without company?”

-pun

The particle -pun is used to emphasize a certain word within a sentence. It’s mostly used to stress the word that follows it within a sentence. Please note that it could be written either separately or jointly with the word preceding it.

Example:
Aku pun akhirnya menyetujui keputusan tersebut. 
“I do finally agree with the decision.”

9. Conclusion

Congrats on getting this far. 

Feel like your Indonesian might need a bit more work? Try an effective learning program like IndonesianPod101.

Here, you can access parallel translated vocabulary for exactly your level, with the support of different features and optional access to an Indonesian language expert.

Signup is free, and no credit card is required.

Happy Indonesian learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian

30 Indonesian Phone Words and Phrases

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Ever heard of the 7-38-55 communication rule?

The rule says that communication is composed of 7 percent spoken word, 38 percent tone of voice, and 55 percent body language. While this rule is sometimes misconstrued, it’s true that we rely heavily on these subtle clues when communicating. 

But on the phone, we’re limited to only 45% of our communication means: spoken word and tone of voice. 

This can make it nerve-wracking to get on the phone with a stranger. It’s a style of communication we’re not naturally made for. 

And phone calls in a foreign language like Indonesian can be even scarier! 

Learning a few Indonesian phone call phrases can help take a lot of this pressure off your shoulders. Once you have the most common words and expressions down, you’ll be a much more effective communicator over the phone and will be able to take most calls with ease.

Below are 30 telephone phrases in Indonesian with two example dialogues.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Conclusion

1. Picking up the Phone

Man in Bed on the Phone

To start with, you’ll want to learn how to pick up the phone in Indonesian and say hi. Considering that Indonesians are rather spontaneous people, you shouldn’t worry too much about your phone greeting.

If you’re talking to a friend or speaking in another informal context, try:

Hello?
Halo?

When it comes to formal contexts, such as calling a restaurant, company, or doctor, it’s preferable to use the following phone call phrase:

Good day.
Selamat siang.

2. Saying Who You Are

When you answer a call in Indonesian from a new number or customer, it’s well worth introducing yourself to the caller after you pick up the phone.

Since lengthy introductions are unnecessary in casual dialogues, you can use the following expression:

This is [name].
Ini [nama].

Are you receiving a call from a customer for your business? Or are you calling a company yourself? Try these phrases:

This is [name] from [company].
Ini [nama], dari [perusahaan].

This is [name], and we’re calling you from [company].
Ini [nama], dan kami memanggil Anda dari [perusahaan].

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call


Businessman on the Phone

This will probably be the most difficult part of your conversation, so you’ll want to rehearse this as much as possible before making the call. That way, you can make sure you get your point across and save both you and your caller time.

If you’re calling for a certain request, use the following expression:

I’m calling to ask… / confirm… / make a reservation.
Saya menelepon untuk menanyakan … / mengkonfirmasi … / membuat reservasi.

If you’re looking to talk to a certain person (or want to be forwarded to an English speaker), use this phrase:

I’d like to speak to someone about… 
Saya ingin berbicara dengan seseorang tentang…

And last but not least, here’s the expression you’ll want to use when returning a call:

Good morning / day / evening. Did you call earlier? 
Selamat pagi / siang / malam. Tadi [Bapak / Ibu] menelepon?

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Want to be forwarded to someone in particular? Or are you calling your friend’s home phone number and want to talk to him? These phrases will help you do just that…

May I speak to…?  
Bolehkah saya berbicara dengan…? (formal)
Bisa bicara dengan…? (informal)

This will be your go-to expression for calling home telephones, as there’s a good chance someone else will be picking up the phone:

Is [name] there? 
Apakah [nama] ada?

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Telephone

Asking someone to wait may sound a bit harsh if you don’t use the right words. That’s why you should memorize a few expressions to get your message across in such situations.

When you don’t want your caller frustrated by long waiting times, let them know that you’re still with them by using the following expressions:

Can you please wait a few minutes?
Bisakah Anda menunggu beberapa menit?

Just a moment, let me check. 
Tunggu sebentar, biar aku cek.

Could you hold a moment?  
Bisa tunggu sebentar?

Let me transfer you to his office. Stay on the line, please. 
Mohon jangan ditutup. Saya akan mentransfer Anda ke kantornya.

6. Leaving a Message

Man in Suit with Earphones On

With the growing popularity of SMS and social media, voicemail is slowly becoming outdated. Few people still use this feature on their personal phones. That said, leaving a message for the intended recipient is still relevant in the business world. Below are four expressions to help you do just that.

Please let him know… 
Tolong beri tahu dia…

Can I leave a message? 
Bisa aku meninggalkan pesan?

Can you tell him to call me back at [phone number]? 
Bisakah Anda meminta dia untuk menelepon saya kembali di [nomor telepon]?

How can I leave a note for Mr. / Mrs.?
Bagaimana saya bisa meninggalkan catatan untuk Tuan / Ibu?

7. Asking for Clarification

Woman on the Phone in Front of a Laptop

When talking on the phone in Indonesian, there’s always going to be a moment when you’ll want to ask for clarification, whether it’s due to the traffic noise in the background or due to your lack of language skills.

The connection is weak. Can you please repeat again?
Koneksinya lemah. Bisa tolong ulangi lagi?

Sorry, could you say that again? 
Maaf, bisa ucapkan lagi?

I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time hearing you. I think there’s a bad connection. 
Maaf, kurang jelas. Kelihatannya koneksinya jelek.

Sorry, I can’t hear you. Your voice is breaking up.
Maaf, aku tidak bisa dengar. Suaranya putus-putus.

Could you spell your name for me, please? 
Bisakah Anda mengeja nama Anda untuk saya?

Just to double-check… 
Saya ulang ya… (Literally: Let me repeat…)

If your Indonesian is still basic and you want to try switching to English, use the following expression:

Do you speak English?
Apakah Anda berbicara bahasa Inggris?

8. Ending the Phone Call

Depending on the context, there are a few ways you can end a conversation over the phone in Indonesian.

Thank you very much for your call. Let’s catch up soon!
Terima kasih banyak atas panggilan Anda. Ayo segera menyusul!

Anything else I can help with? 
Ada lagi yang bisa saya bantu?

You’ve been very helpful. Thank you. 
Anda sudah sangat membantu. Terima kasih.

See you at eight p.m. on Wednesday. 
Sampai jumpa jam 8 malam pada hari Rabu.

It was nice talking to you. 
Senang berbicara denganmu.

9. Sample Phone Conversations

Now that you have several useful phrases to start practicing, it’s time to see how a real-life phone call in Indonesian might sound. Below, we’ve included two sample dialogues for you: one informal and one formal. 

Informal phone conversation

Two friends are setting up a time to meet for lunch on a weekend at a local restaurant in Jakarta. Here’s a short conversation they’ve had on the phone.

Eko: Halo.
Annisa: Halo.

Eko: Hello.
Annisa: Hello.

Eko: Apa kabar?
Annisa: Baik. Saya sedang belajar untuk ujian. (Bagaimana dengan) kamu?

Eko: How are you doing?
Annisa: Good. I’m studying for an exam. How about you?

Eko: Saya baik-baik saja, terima kasih. Saya sedang membaca buku. 
Annisa: Ohh, begitu.

Eko: I’m good, thanks. I’m reading a book.
Annisa: Oh, I see.

Eko: Kamu berada di kota akhir pekan ini? 
Annisa: Iya. Kenapa, kamu punya rencana?

Eko: You’re in town on the weekend?
Annisa: Yes. Why? Do you have any plans?

Eko: Mau makan siang akhir pekan ini?
Annisa: Boleh, kenapa tidak! Kapan?

Eko: Want to go for lunch this weekend?
Annisa: Yeah, why not! When?

Eko: Sore-sorelah…
Annisa: Bisa keluar jam 2 siang?

Eko: In the afternoon…
Annisa: Can you go out at two in the afternoon?

Eko: Saya lebih suka jam 3.
Annisa: Boleh juga.

Eko: I prefer three.
Annisa: Sounds good.

Eko: Kalau begitu, sampai nanti!
Annisa: Sampai nanti!

Eko: See you then!
Annisa: See you then!

Formal phone conversation

After they’ve set the time and place, one of the friends calls the restaurant to reserve a table. Here’s an example of a short phone conversation for this situation. 

Eko: Selamat siang!
Resepsionis: Restoran Jakarta – Selamat siang!

Eko: Good day!
Receptionist: Jakarta Restaurant – Good day!

Eko: Saya ingin memesan meja untuk dua orang…
Resepsionis: Baik… Hari ini sudah penuh, tetapi Anda bisa melakukan reservasi untuk besok.

Eko: I would like to reserve a table for two…
Receptionist: Very well… We’re out of tables today, but you can make a reservation for tomorrow.

Eko: Sebenarnya, saya ingin memesan untuk hari Sabtu.
Resepsionis: Tentu. Jam berapa tepatnya?

Eko: Actually, I’d like a table for Saturday.
Receptionist: Sure. What time exactly?

Eko: Tolong jam 3 sore.
Resepsionis: Baik. Atas nama siapa?

Eko: Three in the afternoon, please.
Receptionist: Very well. On whose behalf should I book?

Eko: Eko.
Resepsionis: Baik, Pak Eko. Sampai jumpa akhir pekan!

Eko: Eko.
Receptionist: Perfect, Mr. Eko. See you on the weekend!

10. Conclusion

And that’s it! You now have a good idea of what a short phone conversation in Indonesian looks like.

Memorize enough phone call phrases and you’ll be ready to rock and roll.

It won’t be as embarrassing next time you have to take a call from your Indonesian delivery guy, or when you have to call your doctor in Jakarta for an appointment.

Feel like learning even more phrases and vocabulary?

Then check out IndonesianPod101.

Here, you can find a full range of online lessons designed by native Indonesian language experts. 

That includes audio, video, and text content, all incorporated with the latest language learning tools like slowed-down audio, pronunciation comparison tools, online flashcards, word lists, and more.

All of this comes with personalized guidance from a language expert at your disposal.

Access all of these features now by signing up for free (no credit card required) at IndonesianPod101.com.

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200+ Basic Indonesian Words for Beginners

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Before Google Translate and online dictionaries, we had to browse through a massive dictionary to find the meaning or translation for a single word.

Nowadays, physical dictionaries have become obscure.

That has made learning languages way easier.

But with all these resources at our fingertips, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus. Sometimes, aspiring language learners end up just translating a bunch of words without learning any.

This is why we’ve compiled a masterlist of 200+ basic Indonesian words for beginners. 

Memorizing these words will help you to accurately build sentences, ask questions, express emotions, and much more.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Someone Holding a Pen and Paper
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Others
  8. Conclusion

1. Pronouns

The first set of words you should add to your Indonesian vocabulary are pronouns. These are the words we use to refer to a person, place, or thing without actually saying its name:

  • Tom is mad. = He is mad.

We’ll cover three types of Indonesian pronouns today: personal, demonstrative, and interrogative. 

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are critical for building most basic sentences. It would be hard to speak a language and get by as a beginner without mastering the pronouns below, especially the first seven.

EnglishIndonesian 
Iaku
youkamu (singular) / kalian (plural)
hedia
shedia
ititu
wekita (including the 2nd person) / kami (excluding the 2nd person)
theymereka
meaku
himdia
herdia
uskita (including the 2nd person) / kami (excluding the 2nd person)
themmereka

Demonstrative Pronouns

Woman Pointing to a Couple

Demonstrative pronouns are used to make it clear what the speaker is referring to. You’ll find these useful when asking for directions or trying to explain something specific to a stranger.

EnglishIndonesian 
thisini 
thatitu 
theseini
thoseitu

Interrogative Pronouns / Question Words

A Man Holding a Rope Tangled Up into a Question Mark Shape

Asking questions is crucial in our day-to-day interactions. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you can’t even ask for help when you need it. 

EnglishIndonesian 
whosiapa 
whomsiapa
whosesiapa
whatapa
whichyang mana

Speaking of questions, it’s also worth learning these interrogative adverbs…

EnglishIndonesian 
whenkapan
wheredi mana
whymengapa
howbagaimana

2. Numbers

Random Numbers on a Screen

When you first start learning Indonesian numbers, you should focus on mastering the first ten digits plus zero. This will make it easier for you to understand the rest of the numbers.

NumbersEnglishIndonesian
0zeronol
1onesatu
2twodua
3threetiga
4fourempat
5fivelima
6sixenam
7seventujuh
8eight delapan
9ninesembilan
10tensepuluh

3. Nouns

As a beginner in Indonesian, you should probably focus most of your attention on memorizing as many basic nouns as possible. When used together with verbs, they form a complete thought—in a pinch, you can even use nouns by themselves to get an urgent point across! 

Time

A Man Checking the Time on His Watch

If there’s one thing everyone would agree on, it’d be the fact that time is king. Time is an important element in our conversations and interactions, and knowing how to express it is crucial.

EnglishIndonesian 
hour jam
minutemenit
morningpagi
afternoonsore
eveningmalam
dayhari
monthbulan
yeartahun
MondaySenin
TuesdaySelasa
WednesdayRabu
ThursdayKamis
FridayJumat
SaturdaySabtu
SundayMinggu

People

If you travel or live in Indonesia, these people-related words will be important for your daily interactions. You never know when you’ll need someone to call a police officer or when you’ll need directions to the nearest butcher.

EnglishIndonesian 
butchertukang daging
woodmantukang kayu
police officerpolisi
doctordokter
nurseperawat
firefighterpemadam kebakaran
teacherguru
fatherayah
motheribu
sistersaudara perempuan
brothersaudara laki-laki
Mr.Tuan / Bapak
Ms.Nyonya / Ibu

Places Around Town

Indonesia is a beautiful country with beautiful cities. Your experience traveling or living in this country will be even more interesting once you know the names of places you see around town. These words are especially crucial when you’re taking public transportation or a taxi and want to make sure you’re dropped off at the right spot.

EnglishIndonesian 
hospitalrumah sakit
supermarketsupermarket
schoolsekolah
downtownpusat kota
universityuniversitas
city hallbalai kota
main squarealun-alun
bankbank
museummuseum
restaurantrestoran
cafékafe
police stationkantor polisi
train stationstasiun kereta
bus stationterminal

School/Office Essentials

If you happen to study or work in Indonesia, the list below will be of great use as you learn to express yourself in the office or at school.

EnglishIndonesian 
penpena
notebookbuku catatan
computerkomputer
pencil casetempat pensil
headphonesheadphone
mousemouse
keyboardkeyboard
wifiwifi
chargercharger
cablekabel
backpackransel
deskmeja tulis
copybookbuku tulis

Body Parts

EnglishIndonesian 
eyemata
nosehidung
eartelinga
facemuka
armlengan
chestdada
cheekpipi
foreheaddahi
mouthmulut
chindagu
armpitketiak
abdomendaerah perut
legkaki
toejari kaki
fingerjari tangan 
anklepergelangan kaki
hippanggul
forearmlengan bawah
elbowsiku
wristpergelangan tangan

Food

Ever heard of the Indonesian dishes satay, sambal, or beef rendang? These dishes are popular in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, as well. Food plays a large role in Indonesian culture, and learning food-related words can come in handy for your next shopping spree or restaurant visit.

EnglishIndonesian 
ٍٍvegetablessayuran
fruitbuah
meatdaging
milksusu
eggtelur
coffeekopi
yogurtyogurt
breadroti
bacondaging babi asap
piepai
hamham
chickenayam
juicejus
sausagesosis

4. Verbs

Memorizing some basic Indonesian verbs alongside the most common nouns is a great way to start learning how to form sentences. Here, we’ll cover verbs you might use to describe your day-to-day life and a few other key action words you should know. 

Daily Routine Verbs

If you’re a writer who likes to journal, keeping your diary in Indonesian is a brilliant language learning hack. Mastering the words in the list below will make that easier for you.

EnglishIndonesian 
to get upbangun
to eatmakan
to drinkminum
to gopergi
to workbekerja
to studybelajar
to drivemenyetir
to rideberkendara
to sleeptidur
to wake upbangun
to hangmenggantung
to do laundrymencuci pakaian
to naptidur siang
to work outberolahraga
to go outpergi keluar
to prepareuntuk mempersiapkan
to cookmemasak
to clean membersihkan
to washmencuci
to tidy upmerapikan
to connectmenghubungkan
to communicateberkomunikasi
to wearmemakai
to take (something) offmelepas
to grabmeraih
to mixmencampur
to holdmemegang
to freezemembekukan
to changemengganti
to movepindah

Other Common Verbs

Here are some common verbs that you’ll need in your day-to-day interactions.

EnglishIndonesian 
to givememberi
to getmenerima
to domelakukan
to makemembuat
to letmembiarkan
to askmeminta
to smiletersenyum
to findmenemukan
to usemenggunakan
to takemengambil
to comedatang
to lookmelihat
to hearmendengar
to smellmencium
to talkberbicara
to exitkeluar
to callmenelepon
to feelmerasakan
to answermenjawab
to laughtertawa
to crymenangis
to stealmencuri
to runberlari
to walkberjalan
to meetbertemu
to createmenciptakan
to finishmenyelesaikan

5. Adjectives

Adjectives allow us to describe things and better express ourselves. Learning even just a few easy Indonesian adjectives can help you add spice to your conversations and flair to your writing! 

Describing Objects

As a beginner Indonesian learner, you might find yourself struggling to describe the objects around you. This list will help you do just that.

EnglishIndonesian 
bigbesar
smallkecil
longpanjang
shortpendek
quirkyunik
smoothhalus
roughkasar

Describing People

Knowing how to describe people can work wonders for your social life in Indonesia! Here’s a list of common adjectives for doing that.

EnglishIndonesian 
prettycantik
handsometampan
talltinggi
shortpendek
disgustingmenjijikkan
sociablemudah bergaul
funnylucu
beautifulcantik
lovelymenyenangkan
caringperhatian
selflesstidak mementingkan diri sendiri
arrogantsombong
humblerendah hati
courageousberani
weaklemah
strongkuat

Describing Emotions

Indonesia has a very warm culture that’s vivid with emotions and feelings. Learning to express your emotions and understand people’s self-expressions will make you more local friends than you might think!

EnglishIndonesian 
happybahagia
sadsedih
joyfulgembira
traumatizedtrauma
depressedtertekan
anxiouscemas
stressed outstres
jollyperiang

Describing Weather

EnglishIndonesian 
sunnycerah
rainyhujan
wetbasah
humidlembap
drykering
frigiddingin
foggyberkabut
windyberangin
stormyberbadai
breezysemilir
windlesstanpa angin
calmtenang

6. Conjunctions

What separates a beginner from a fluent speaker is how fluidly they can speak. Conjunctions help you connect sentences and speak smoothly, which will make it easier for natives to understand you. 

EnglishIndonesian 
and dan
buttapi
thenkemudian
becausekarena
sojadi

7. Others

Below is a list of some Indonesian filler words. You’ll find that these are just as important as conjunctions.

EnglishIndonesian 
Am I wrong? / Am I right?Kan? 
So, it’s like this… / Well… / Look…Begini… (informal: Gini…) 
What is it… / What’s its name…Apa tu… / Apa tu namanya… 
See…Tu kan… 

8. Conclusion

Congrats! Now you’re 200 words in, and believe it or not, you’re just about 800 words away from fluency.

That’s right. 

Statistically, 1000 words is the amount of vocabulary you’ll need in order to understand 85.5% of conversations.

Crazy stat, right?

That means that if you memorize four other sets of lists like this one, you’ll practically be a fluent Indonesian speaker.

Wondering what the most efficient system is for learning more words?

Enter IndonesianPod101.

IndonesianPod101 provides thousands of well-categorized lessons that are organized and structured to make learning easy. 

The audio, video, and text lessons incorporate the most effective language learning tools: a pronunciation comparison feature, line-by-line breakdowns, slowed-down audio, vocabulary flashcards and slideshows, and more.

Even better, you can seek the help of a language expert on the same platform! With our MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members, you can reach out to a personal tutor with questions or even have them develop a personalized learning program that fits your goals. 

You can access IndonesianPod101 via your mobile or desktop by signing up for free on the website.

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Indonesian Filler Words: Sound Like a Native Speaker

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“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”
― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

Great quote, isn’t it? 

We humans are prone to imperfections. We may not like them, but it’s very boss-like to accept them and move forward. After all, these small flaws can be found just about everywhere: in our appearance, voice, ideas, or even language skills. 

We don’t always come up with the best words, expressions, or transitions while speaking. Our ideas often feel like a jumbled mess—doubly so when trying to speak in a foreign language! 

That’s where Indonesian filler words come in.

But what are they, exactly?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. Indonesian Filler Words: Impress Native Speakers with the Best Fillers
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Conclusion

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

Woman with Question Marks

A- What are filler words?

Filler words, or conversation fillers, are the expressions we use to fill gaps within our conversations. They could be sounds (“uh” / “uhm” / “err”), words (“like” / “so” / “basically”), or even expressions (“I think” / “in my opinion” / “I believe”).

Filler words are originally normal words we use to convey certain meanings, but when used as fillers, they’re usually meaningless and just there to serve as sentence connectors.

Whether you like or dislike the idea of filler words, most of us use them subconsciously. That’s not only in our real-life conversations, but also online when sending emails or texting friends and family. Filler word preferences and usage differ from one language to another, and from one dialect to another. 

B- Why do we use them?

Now, you might be wondering, “What’s the psychology or science behind filler words?” I’m so glad you asked…

Politeness

Indonesians hold very conservative values. Their culture places much importance on respect and politeness. 

Using filler words is a great communication hack for being respectful, especially in embarrassing situations where you want to avoid leaving a negative impression.

For example, if you called an Indonesian friend and asked them for a favor, it would be rude for them to just hit you with a straightforward ‘no’: Tidak, aku tidak bisa. (“No, I can’t.”) Rather, you’d more likely receive a friendlier and longer response with loads of Indonesian filler words mixed in.

Bear in mind that this applies to other cultures and countries as well, though to varying degrees.

Clear Communication

Two Men Conversing

Ever get annoyed by people who talk without taking a breath? We all do.

It’s hard for most people’s brains to absorb large amounts of new information quickly. Most people prefer to take their time in order to avoid overwhelming others in their conversations. 

This is where we make the most use of filler words. They help us communicate our ideas to others slowly, without needing to repeat ourselves or make any awkward pauses. It gives others the opportunity to think and observe.

Take speakers with interpreters for example. If you’ve ever followed closely, you’ll have noticed that politicians speak slower than usual at international conventions where interpreters are working behind the scenes. This makes the job easier for interpreters, and it always comes at the cost of using filler words in speech.

Lying

If you’ve ever heard someone overuse filler words or frequently use them out of context, chances are you’ve already listened to a lie or two

Not everyone who uses filler words is a liar, but if you notice they’re being used a bit too much or out of context, you can assume they’re meant to distract you from the truth or to buy the speaker more time.

The good old “uhhh” children say after they get caught doing something they shouldn’t be is a great example.

2. Indonesian Filler Words: Impress Native Speakers with the Best Fillers

Nah 
Well

This filler word (or interjection) is used for several purposes. It’s different from the “nah” in English, and could mean a variety of things beyond “well.”

Example #1
Nah, itu bagus.
Well, that’s good.

Example #2
Nah, kesimpulannya adalah besok.
So, the conclusion is tomorrow.

Jadi 
So

Example #1
Jadi, apa yang Anda pikirkan?
So, what do you think?

Example #2
Jadi berapa umurmu?
So, how old are you?

Ee 
Um

Ee isn’t exactly a word, as it’s almost never written down. It’s pronounced more or less like “erm.”

Example #1
Ee, baik.
Um, okay.

Example #2
Ee, itu bagus.
Ee, that’s good.

Kan 
Am I wrong? / Am I right?

Example #1
Bagus, kan?
It’s good, right?

Example #2
Sangat cepat, bukan?
Very fast, right?

Atau 
Or

Example #1
Atau apa?
Or what?

Example #2
Apakah kamu gila atau?
Are you crazy, or?

Begini… (Informal: Gini…
So, it’s like this… / Well… / Look…

Example #1
Begini… Tim ini dibagi dua saja.
Well… Let’s split the team in two.

Example #2
Begini ya, saya tidak tahu apa-apa.
Look, I know nothing of it.

Terus 
Then / And then

Example #1
Polisi datang. Terus, aku nggak tahu lagi.
The police came. And then, I don’t know (what happened afterward).

Example #2
Terus?
And then?

Kalau 
If / About

Example #1
Kalau presiden Amerika yang baru, kamu sudah dengar?
About the new President of the U.S.A., have you heard?

Example #2
Kalau merah, suka tidak?
If (it is) red, will/do you like it?

Apa tu… / Apa tu namanya…
What is it… / What’s its name…

Example #1
Saya perlu satu lusin… ee, apa tu? Ah ya, palu!
I need a dozen of… erm, what is it? Ah yes, hammers!

Example #2
Naik apa tu… angkutan umum yang berisik dan oranye itu? Ah, bajaj!
Riding what’s its name…the public transportation that is noisy and orange? Ah, bajaj!

Note: Tu is short for itu.

Tu kan…
See…

Example #1
Tu kan… Kertas itu tidak cocok untuk printer ini.
See… That paper does not suit the printer.

Example #2
Tu kan, mereka sudah kenal.
See, they know each other.

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

You might think filler words are insignificant, but their usage leaves an impression of us on other people. They shape how people view us, how they perceive our words, and how they talk and react to us. People’s perception of your personality, level of self-respect, agreeableness, and more might just hang in the balance. 

In the following sections, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of some of the pros and cons of using filler words.

A- Pros

Two Women Laughing

You sound more natural.

Especially as a language learner, you want to sound as natural and approachable as possible. Using the occasional filler in Indonesian will lend you a more familiar feel and make it easier to befriend locals (or at least have great conversations that people don’t find annoying).

This down-to-earth approach to using filler words is key to blending in and integrating into a new environment. 

You sound friendlier.

In many situations, especially when you look different from people around you in a foreign country, you might notice that people are a bit more cautious around you.

Using filler words in your conversations makes you sound friendlier and your speech easier on the ears. This makes learning filler words a no-brainer.

B- Cons 

Now that we’ve discussed the pros of using conversation fillers, let’s talk about the other side of the equation.

You’re deemed as hesitant and meek.

The last thing you want people to think when you’re presenting a project, discussing an idea, having a casual conversation, or even dating, is that you’re the hesitant type.

You cannot sell your ideas to others when you don’t show confidence in them yourself. 

Abnormal or excessive usage of filler words might give people this impression of you. In important interactions, be sure to use less conversation fillers.

You’re perceived as having low self-confidence.

A Confident Ballerina

Like hesitance, low self-confidence isn’t an impression you want people to have of you, especially when you have to ace a job interview or even just pass airport security.

Using filler words frequently might make people deem you as someone with low confidence. Remember to reduce your use of fillers in situations like those described in the last paragraph. 

C- How to Substitute Filler Words

A Woman Holding Her Index Finger Near Her Mouth to Indicate Silence

Here’s a great quote from writer Charles Caleb Colton: “When you have nothing to say, say nothing.”

This quote is especially relevant to filler word overusers. If you feel like you’re having a hard time coming up with your next sentence, just have a moment of silence until you know what to say next.

This will not only help you sound more confident, but it will also help you think more easily as you practice doing it.

4. Conclusion

Did you learn something new and useful in today’s article? If so, let us know in the comments!

Not sure how to practice eliminating filler words? 

Try tapping your leg or belly every time you notice yourself using them. With continuous practice, you’ll eventually begin forcing yourself to remain silent. 

If you feel like filler words won’t cut it for you, you may want to try learning a few other essential components of the language. For example, a well-placed quote, proverb, or idiom can go a long way! Also focus on immersing yourself in Indonesian to really take your language skills up a notch. 

IndonesianPod101 is the best for this purpose.

Here, you can sign up for free and get thousands of audio, video, and text lessons that make use of the most effective learning technologies

You can sign up here and see everything for yourself.

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Negation in Indonesian: Learn How to Say No!

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If you’ve decided to learn a foreign language, whether for work or just for fun, it’s essential to stay positive and motivated. This will make all the difference as you progress toward your language learning goals. 

As you aim for positivity and a smooth language learning journey, I’m sure you would love to always be able to say yes!

However, as you may imagine, you’ll also need to learn how to form negative sentences in Indonesian before you master the language. Don’t worry though. We only mean “negative” from a grammatical point of view…so keep the positive vibe!

In this article, you’ll learn all about negation in Indonesian: how to answer a closed-ended question correctly and politely, how to transform positive sentences into negative ones, and how to use other common negative expressions. 

We perfectly understand that saying no is never easy, especially for us people-pleasers. But we assure you it will become a less daunting task (at least from a language-learning perspective) by the time you finish this complete guide to Indonesian negatives.

So, let’s start looking at how to say no and form negative sentences in Bahasa Indonesia.

A Woman Holding Cards that Say Yes and No
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Negative Sentences
  2. How to Give a Negative Answer to a Question
  3. Other Negating Words
  4. Want to Dig Even Deeper?

1. Negative Sentences

First of all, how do we define and recognize a negative sentence?

In English, negative sentences usually have the word “not” or “no.” To negate a verb, for example, we place “not” after an auxiliary verb (do, have, be, etc.).

  • Maria is not happy. 
  • We did not go to the supermarket today. 

In short, a negative sentence is usually one that states that something is false.

Negations play a very important role in any language. If you didn’t know how to transform a positive sentence into a negative one, how to use negative expressions, or how to say “no” in general, everyday life would probably get pretty interesting (and not in a good way!).

As such, forming negatives correctly in Bahasa Indonesia is an essential part of your language learning journey. It’s just as important as expanding your vocabulary and practicing your listening, speaking, and writing skills.

The good news? Learning how to do it is actually quite easy! Indonesian grammar and syntax are very simple, and there are just a few things you’ll have to remember in order to form negatives correctly. 

An Indonesian Girl Holding the Indonesian Flag Triumphantly

Perfect Indonesian negation is waiting for you!

Indonesian Negation

There are two main words in Indonesian for negative phrases and sentences: tidak and bukan. These two words of negation are often confusing for learners and non-native speakers and, sometimes, even for Indonesians themselves. 

Some people say that one word is formal and the other informal, but this is not exactly true. Let’s see the difference between tidak and bukan, so that you’ll never have doubts about this again!

Tidak

The most commonly used word for forming negative sentences in Indonesian is tidak. This word can be seen as an equivalent of the English word “not,” but it’s also the same word used for “no.”

Tidak is used to negate verbs and adjectives, which means it’s employed in sentences that describe actions and/or qualities. Have a look at the examples below to get a better understanding:

  • Saya tidak minum kopi. (I don’t drink coffee.)
  • Kopi itu tidak panas. (The coffee is not hot.)

In the first sentence, we are negating the verb minum (to drink), which describes an action. In the second sentence, we are negating the adjective panas (hot), which describes a quality of the coffee. 

To use tidak, simply place it after the subject; nothing else in the sentence needs to change at all. Pretty easy, right? Here are some more examples:

  • Saya tidak suka apel. (I do not like apples.)
  • Dia tidak malas. (He is not lazy.)

Again, in the first sentence we negate the verb suka (to like), while in the second we negate an adjective that describes a quality: malas (lazy).

A Man Multitasking

He is not lazy.

Bukan 

Another word that we use to form negative sentences in Indonesian is bukan, which can also be translated as “not.”

Bukan is used the same way as tidak: We simply place it after the subject of the sentence to make the sentence negative. 

The difference between these two words lies in the fact that, while we use tidak for negating verbs and adjectives (actions and qualities), we use bukan to negate nouns (things, objects, and people) and personal pronouns (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they …or… me, him, them, etc.). 

  • Ini bukan pensil, ini buku. (It’s not a pencil, it is a book.)
  • Saya bukan Superman. (I am not Superman.)

In the first sentence, we negate an object (the noun pensil or “pencil”), while in the second, we negate the noun “Superman.”

Here are some more examples:

  • Ini bukan buku. (This is not a book.)
  • Saya bukan dia. (I am not him/her.)

Again, here we negate the noun buku (book) and the personal pronoun dia (he/him/she/her). 

Another interesting thing about the word bukan is that it can be used in questions as an equivalent to the English phrase “isn’t it?” and its variations. 

To do this, you simply have to attach bukan to the end of the sentence to turn it into a question. 

  • Kamu  mahasiswa, bukan? (You are a student, aren’t you?)
  • Pesawat berangkat jam lima, bukan? (The plane leaves at five, doesn’t it?)

This construction can be used when you’re unsure or doubtful about the truth of the statement and are seeking confirmation from the person you’re talking to. It’s a good expression to learn how to use and recognize! 

Once you know the difference between these two words, it will be much easier for you to choose the right one during a conversation, and native speakers will surely be impressed by your knowledge!

2. How to Give a Negative Answer to a Question

In general, all questions can be divided into two groups: open-ended and closed-ended questions. A closed-ended question is usually one that can be answered with “yes” or “no,” without needing to give any further explanation.

A Woman Trying to Find Money in Her Money Purse

No, I don’t have any change, sorry.

In English, for example, we say: “Yes, I do.” / “No, I don’t.” As we know, after saying that, we are free to give an explanation if we want to.

Logically, to respond to a yes-or-no question in Bahasa Indonesia, we’ll also start with a yes (ya) or a no (tidak). 

It’s actually not considered impolite to leave it there! If you want, you can repeat the sentence you were asked, but this might sound unnatural. For an extra touch of politeness, just add terima kasih (thank you).

3. Other Negating Words

Sure, knowing how to use tidak and bukan in all types of sentences is a great start, but there’s a lot more to learn about negatives. If you want to sound like a native, it’s essential to know how to use other common negative expressions. 

Let’s see a few more words you’ll need for negation in Indonesian:

  • nothing = tidak ada / bukan apa-apa
  • never = tidak pernah
  • nowhere = tidak ke mana-mana
  • neither = tidak dua-duanya
  • not / un- = tak 

4. Want to Dig Even Deeper?

If you’ve decided you want to learn more Indonesian grammar rules and vocab, check out all the great content available on IndonesianPod101.com. On our website and through our app, you’ll have access to all the content you need to make your language-learning experience as interesting and pleasant as possible.

You can also listen to our podcasts and audio lessons to improve your listening skills, gradually build your Indonesian vocabulary with word lists and our free dictionary, and get to discover great strategies from our top language experts on how to best approach the study of Bahasa Indonesia.

A Woman Studying Early in the Morning with Textbooks and Her Phone

If you’re learning Indonesian because you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, we highly recommend our travel Survival Course

Being able to understand and communicate with the locals in their native language will not only help you remain safe during your stay, but it will also provide amazing and unique opportunities to connect with Indonesian people and make sure your adventures are truly unforgettable. 

Sure, we hope that you’ll be able to be positive and answer yes to all the invitations and opportunities that come up. But at least now you know how to build negative sentences correctly in Indonesian, just in case. Or, like with curse words, you might not want to use Indonesian negation yourself—but at least you’ll know when someone else does.

And, if you’re learning Bahasa Indonesia to enhance your professional life, make the commitment and start practicing and studying with all of the incredible resources on IndonesianPod101.com. 

With a little commitment, you’ll start seeing improvement before you know it. 

Our content will help you stay motivated to learn so that you can reach your Indonesian language goals as fast as possible!

Before you go, try writing out a few negative sentences in Indonesian in the comments. We’ll get back to you with feedback and corrections. Good luck!

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Does Indonesian Have Tenses?

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Like nouns, verbs are an essential part of all sentences. They are the words we use to describe an action (menyanyikan – to sing), a state of being (hidup – to exist), or an occurrence (mengembangkan – to develop), and they usually have to agree with a subject, which is who or what performs the action described. 

Generally, no sentence is complete without a verb. This makes it crucial to pay special attention to verbs when learning a foreign language.

Luckily for you, there are no real tenses in Indonesian to worry about. In this article, you’ll learn more about what this means and how to form the main English tenses in Indonesian. By the end of it, you’ll have taken a great leap toward using Indonesian verbs with ease.

We’ve tried to write this article in a way that’s not complicated or grammar-heavy at all. We’ll break down every rule thoroughly for you, so that you understand each one and can put it to good use throughout your Indonesian language-learning journey.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Personal Pronouns in Indonesian
  2. How to Use English Tenses in Indonesian
  3. Expressing the English Present Tense in Indonesian (Masa Sekarang)
  4. Expressing the English Past Tense in Indonesian (Masa Lalu)
  5. Expressing the English Future Tense in Indonesian (Masa Depan)
  6. Tenses in Indonesian: A Summary

1. Personal Pronouns in Indonesian

First of all, let’s look at the personal pronouns, which can sometimes cause confusion.

  • I = Saya / Aku (formal / informal)
  • You = Anda / Kamu (formal / informal)
  • He = Dia
  • She = Dia 
  • We (including the person you’re talking to) = Kita
  • We (excluding the person you’re talking to) = Kami
  • They = Mereka

The beautiful thing about Indonesian is that once you know the personal pronouns, you can start learning some verbs and begin practicing straight away.

2. How to Use English Tenses in Indonesian

Verb tenses are used to express when an action takes place. In our everyday lives, we mainly have to express three concepts: the present, the past, and the future. 

Forming tenses is actually quite simple in Indonesian, since you don’t need to conjugate the verbs at all to do it.

Yes, you heard that right—there are no changing endings involved, nor any need to change the verb at all! All you need to do is add some extra words. Let’s find out which ones.

A Timer against a White Background

3. Expressing the English Present Tense in Indonesian (Masa Sekarang)

The present tense in English can be used in Indonesian to express:

  1. an action happening in the present or a state of being;
  2. an occurrence that will take place in the (very) near future;
  3. an action that occurred in the past and continues up to the present;
  4. a recurring action.

For the simple present tense, we use the basic form of the verb, unchanged. Note that the verb does not change at all (belajar – to study/learn). The only thing that changes in this case is the subject (Saya – I, Mereka – They, Dia – He/She).

  • Saya belajar setiap malam.
    I study every night.
  • Mereka belajar setiap malam.
    They study every night.
  • Dia belajar setiap malam.
    He/She studies every night.

With the English present tense expressed in Indonesian, we can use a variety of time adverbs to be more precise. The most used ones in Indonesian are: 

  • selalu = always
    Ani selalu bahagia. (Ani is always happy.)
  • sering = often/frequently
    Saya sering bepergian ke kota lain. (I often travel to other towns.)
  • kadang-kadang = sometimes
    Kadang-kadang saya bosan dengan hidup saya. (Sometimes I feel bored with my life.)
  • tidak pernah = never
    Tono tidak pernah bisa berkata tidak. (Tono never says no to anyone.)

Expressing the English Present Continuous Tense in Indonesian

To form the English present continuous (for example: “I am studying”) in Indonesian, which describes an action that is taking place right now, we simply need to add the word sedang before the main verb. The actual verb remains unchanged: 

  • Saya sedang belajar.
    I am studying.
  • Mereka sedang belajar.
    They are studying.
  • Dia sedang belajar.
    He/She is studying.

This form is used when you want to specify that something is happening at the specific moment. But keep in mind that even if you don’t use the word sedang, the meaning could still be translated as the English present continuous.

An Indonesian College Student

4. Expressing the English Past Tense in Indonesian (Masa Lalu)

The past tense in Indonesian is used to express:

  1. an action, occurrence, or state of being in the past;
  2. an action, occurrence, or state of being prior to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future. 

To form the past tense, you do not need to change the verb at all. You just need to add some extra words. As we already explained, Indonesian verbs do not have conjugations; to form the past, we simply need to add the words sudah or telah before the verb (makan – to eat).

  • Saya telah makan nasi.
    I ate / have eaten rice.
  • Saya sudah makan nasi.
    I ate / have eaten rice.

Another way of describing an action that happened in the past is to add “time words.” In this case, you don’t necessarily need to use sudah / telah (but you can, if you want), as it’s already clear from the context that the action occurred in the past. 

Some of these “time words” are: 

  • kemarin = yesterday
    Dia tidur kemarin. (He/She slept yesterday.)
  • tadi pagi = this morning
    Saya minum teh tadi pagi. (I drank tea this morning.)
  • minggu lalu = last week
    Kamu pergi ke mana minggu lalu? (Where did you go last week?)

This means that, to talk about the past in Indonesian, you simply need to learn words that specify times in the past. Pretty convenient, right?

Here are some more words that you’ll find useful when talking about past events: 

  • This afternoon = Siang ini / Tadi siang
  • This evening / Tonight = Malam ini / Tadi malam
  • Yesterday morning = Kemarin pagi
  • Yesterday afternoon = Kemarin siang
  • Yesterday evening  = Kemarin malam

  • Last week = Minggu lalu
  • Last month = Bulan lalu
  • Last year = Tahun lalu

  • … minutes ago = … menit yang lalu
  • … hours ago = … jam yang lalu
  • … days ago = … hari yang lalu
  • … weeks ago = … minggu yang lalu
  • … months ago = … bulan yang lalu
  • … years ago = … tahun yang lalu

An Indonesian Child Waving a Small Indonesian Flag

5. Expressing the English Future Tense in Indonesian (Masa Depan)

In Indonesian, we use the future tense to express:

  1. an event expected to happen in the future;
  2. an event expected to happen after another event, whether that is the past, present, or future (in a relative tense term).

To form the future, as with all the other tenses, we only need to add a word: akan. By adding this word before the verb in Indonesian, we specify to the listener that we’re talking about the future. Have a look at the examples below:

  • Saya akan tidur.
    I will sleep.
  • Die akan minum teh.
    He / she will drink the tea.
  • Kamu akan makan nasi.
    You will eat rice.

Exactly as we use “time words” to give more context when we want to express an event that happened in the past, we can use different “time words” to give more details about what we’re talking about in the future. However, you’ll generally need to include the word akan (while, as we mentioned, in the past sudah and telah can be dropped when we use time words.) 

Here are some words that you’ll find very useful when talking about future events with native Indonesian speakers:

  • Tomorrow = Besok
  • The day after tomorrow = Lusa

  • Later this morning = Nanti pagi ini
  • Later this afternoon = Nanti siang ini
  • Later this evening / Later tonight = Nanti malam ini
  • After = Setelah

  • Tomorrow morning = Besok pagi
  • Tomorrow afternoon = Besok siang
  • Tomorrow evening / Tomorrow night = Besok malam

  • Next week = Minggu depan
  • Next month = Bulan depan
  • Next year = Tahun depan

  • … minutes later = … menit ke depan
  • … hours later = … jam ke depan
  • … days later = … hari ke depan
  • … nights later = … malam ke depan
  • … weeks later = … minggu ke depan
  • … months later = … bulan ke depan
  • … years later = … tahun ke depan

  • … days from now = … hari lagi
  • … weeks from now = …minggu lagi

A Spiraling Clock

6. Tenses in Indonesian: A Summary

We hope that with this short article you were able to gain some insight into forming the English tenses in Indonesian and how to use them to talk about the past, present, and future!

As you’ve seen, learning how to use verbs and verb tenses in Indonesian is actually quite simple. 

Just remember the right words to insert in the sentence (sedang for the present continuous, telah / sudah for the past, and akan for the future) or add some “time words” that provide context and it’s all done! 

No complicated conjugations, strange endings, or irregular verbs to remember… It sounds ideal as long as language learning goes

If you want to learn more about grammar and have access to much more Indonesian learning material and info, visit IndonesianPod101.com. Here, you’ll find lessons for all levels, podcasts, word lists, a dictionary, and  grammar material. 

So what are you waiting for? Start learning and practicing Indonesian with us every day, and you’ll be able to master the use of Indonesian verbs and tenses in no time at all! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about this topic so far. Do you feel more confident, or still have some questions? We look forward to hearing from you.

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Indonesian?

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Those who have tried know: Learning a foreign language may not be easy, but it’s an amazing and fulfilling process. By learning to understand, speak, and think in a foreign language, we add a new skill to our repertoire—but that’s not all! We can also change the very way we see the world.

But in today’s civilization, time is money and many of us feel too trapped by responsibilities to try mastering a language ourselves. So if you’re planning to study Indonesian, an important question to ask yourself is: How long does it take to learn Indonesian? And perhaps more importantly: Is it worth the investment? 

Did you know that Indonesian has a lot of words that can’t be translated into English? One of my favorites is faedah, which describes something that has a value and a benefit that goes beyond the commercial (and even the material) aspect. It’s a real, intrinsic value… Just like that of learning a new language! 

Everyone wants to reap the benefits of hard work as soon as possible, and this is why we all instinctively look for a fast and easy way to learn foreign languages. We want to start practicing right away and use our new skills to find a better job, to travel, or to better communicate with a loved one.

We would certainly like to know exactly how long it takes to learn a new language, so that we can make plans… But, unfortunately (or not), language learning does not work like that. There’s no one best or fastest way to learn Indonesian, and above all, there is definitely no set timetable for it! 

Everyone learns differently, and lots of different factors will influence how quickly you learn.

Let’s have a look at what these are, and maybe try to find the best way to take advantage of them to learn Indonesian fast!

An Hourglass Against a Dark Background
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Experience
  2. Learning Style
  3. Approach
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?
  5. How Our Website Can Help

Experience

One of the essential factors to take into account when trying to determine how quickly you can learn a language is your actual experience with languages. 

The Language(s) You Speak

What is your first language? And what other foreign languages do you speak? 

Yes, this may actually make a difference in how quickly you’ll be able to learn Indonesian. If you know a language very closely related to Indonesian, such as Malay, it will be way easier for you to pick it up. 

If you’re a native speaker of English, the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) classifies Indonesian as a Category II language. This is halfway between the easiest and the hardest languages to learn for English speakers!

Your Previous Language Learning Experience

Have you learned a language before?

If you’re already fluent in two or more languages (for example, if you were raised bilingual), it will be easier for you to learn Indonesian. Several studies show that bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language, because they’re more accustomed to being exposed to a new language.

Even if you’re not bilingual or fluent in a foreign language, just having studied and learned one at some point in your life will be useful. When your mind has had to get used to memorizing words and rules, and looking at different letters and symbols, it will not forget it—even after many years.

Basically, the skills you developed studying one language will actually help you learn another, even if the two languages are unrelated!  

Your Previous Grammar Knowledge

One of the first things you’ll do when learning a foreign language is to study how it’s built and how it works. This is usually done by studying its structure and grammar.

A Woman Lying on the Grass Studying

If you already have some experience studying syntax and grammar, even if just for your own language, it will make it much simpler for you to learn the grammar and syntax of a foreign language.

So, if your plan is to start learning Indonesian (or any other language), it’s definitely a good idea to get some grammar foundations to build on! 

Learning Style

The way you learn is another incredibly important aspect of how long it will take you to become fluent in Indonesian. 

Your Methods

If you limit your learning to a classroom setting, even on an intensive course, it will take you longer to learn and feel confident with your language skills outside the classroom. Try exposing yourself to Indonesian in your everyday life and I assure you that you’ll cut down the time you need to learn it! 

Make a habit of reading in Indonesian, watching Indonesian films and series, and listening to Indonesian podcasts while you drive or cook. This will help, but if you want to practice your conversation and speaking skills as well, the best thing you can do is find a language partner.

Your Time

Of course, even if we haven’t mentioned it yet, the time you dedicate to learning a language is paramount! 

If you want to learn quickly, try to dedicate as much time as you can to studying, practicing, and exposing yourself to the language. 

Practicing daily is a must: Research has actually shown that students who dedicate an hour a day to language learning—whether revising grammar, memorizing vocabulary, watching a film, or reading a book—learn significantly faster than those who just stick to weekly multi-hour classes.

And of course, if you have the opportunity, full immersion is best. If you can travel to Indonesia and live there for a while, that will make a huge difference!

A Balinese Temple

Approach

Your approach and attitude while learning a foreign language are extremely important, and might make all the difference!

Your Motivation

It’s no secret: Staying motivated and interested is essential for learning a foreign language. Why are you learning Indonesian?

Have this clear in your mind and use the reasons you find to set weekly (or even daily) goals for maximum efficiency. This strategy will not only help you stay motivated and interested in learning, but it will also make you want to put more effort into it.

Your Attitude

Keeping your motivation up will help you learn more easily and quickly, and it will go hand in hand with maintaining a positive attitude. This is a winning strategy you should adopt during your language learning journey! 

Try to see learning as a fun and interesting activity; something that you’re choosing to do, rather than being forced to do.

A Woman Holding Flowers in Front of Her Eyes

Remember: Learning a foreign language will open your horizons and mind, both on a personal and a professional level, to say the least.

When you think of it like this, you’ll always feel like learning something new every day, which will make the process more fun and much faster! 

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?

So, even if these are all just estimates, we’ve tried to put together a timeframe encompassing how long it will take you to reach a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level of Indonesian. 

Beginner

As a beginner speaker of the language, you’ll be able to introduce yourself, understand slow and clear spoken language, and ask basic questions (probably making some small mistakes). 

If your objective is to be able to greet people, have very basic conversations, and order a meal at the restaurant, this level is probably enough. 

According to the FSI, you’ll need to dedicate a minimum of 250 hours to reach this level. If you study 15 hours a week, you’ll be having basic conversations in just 4 months! That’s pretty fast, isn’t it? 

Intermediate

Do you want to learn the Indonesian language to a more advanced level?

At the intermediate level, you’ll be able to understand clearly spoken everyday conversation, maybe asking some questions to keep up. This level will also allow you to understand the main points while watching videos and reading the news. If you’re traveling, you’ll be able to ask for information, follow directions, and have basic interactions with locals about familiar subjects.

An Indonesian Woman Wearing a Kebaya

To achieve an intermediate level, you’ll need double the time as you did for the beginner level. This means about 500 hours, which, with the same intensity of study as mentioned above, will take you around 8 months. 

Advanced

If you want to be fluent in Indonesian, you’ll need to achieve advanced language skills. At this level, you’ll have no problem navigating all kinds of situations in your daily life abroad or while traveling, and you’ll be able to have full conversations with native speakers. You’ll also be able to watch Indonesian movies and read books… Basically, you will be fluent. (Even if there will always be something more to learn about this beautiful language.)

As we mentioned above, according to the FSI, Indonesian is a Level II language and thus requires 900-950 hours of study time if you want to reach total proficiency. This means that if you dedicate 15 hours a week to studying, you’ll be fluent in just over a year! Not bad if you consider that some other, more complex, languages require twice or even three times as long!

How Our Website Can Help

What are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to start learning a new language

And, as we just saw, the sooner you start learning, the faster you’ll achieve your language objectives and start practicing real-life Indonesian. 

Looking for a great online Indonesian resource to get you started? On IndonesianPod101.com, we offer all kinds of language learning content designed to help you stay motivated and interested. Here you’ll find blog posts, Indonesian lessons for all levels, a dictionary, and vocabulary lists. 

How long it takes you to learn Indonesian just depends on you. How much time are you willing to invest in it? Our courses and resources are specifically created to give you all the right tools to learn Indonesian as quickly and easily as possible, so that you can make the most of your precious time!

Whether you’re a complete beginner who wants a full-immersion experience or an intermediate speaker who just needs to widen your vocabulary, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Before you go, let us know in the comments if this article helped you make a decision about Indonesian—or if you still have questions for us! We’d be glad to help.

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Speak Like a Native With These 30 Indonesian Proverbs

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Proverbs are popular sayings that provide a little dose of wisdom, a truth that is sometimes so obvious we overlook it. 

Can you think of a proverb in your native language that touched you at an important moment of your life?

Indonesians are actually famous for using a lot of slang words and proverbs in their daily lives. If you want to sound like a local, you’d better learn some Indonesian proverbs yourself! Doing so is a great way to let your language skills shine and familiarize yourself with Indonesian culture.

Balinese Rice Fields

As they say, “There is no time like the present.” Learn the thirty most popular Indonesian proverbs and you’ll be sure to leave a good impression!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. The Top 30 Indonesian Proverbs
  2. Conclusion

1. The Top 30 Indonesian Proverbs

1. Nasi sudah menjadi bubur.

Literal translation: The rice has become porridge.

Meaning: This is basically like Lady Macbeth’s, “What’s done, is done.” And no, it cannot be undone!

2. Ada udang di balik batu.

Literal translation: There is a prawn hiding behind the rock.

Meaning: This saying is often used to express the idea that there’s a hidden agenda or intention (usually negative) behind someone’s actions. 

3. Rumput tetangga selalu lebih hijau.

Literal translation: The neighbor’s grass is always greener than ours.

English equivalent: The grass is always greener on the other side.

Meaning: This proverb is a classic, and it exists in many different languages and cultures. Apparently, it’s an intrinsically human behavior to think that others are always in a better position than oneself.

4. Sambil menyelam minum air.

Literal translation: Drinking water while diving.

Meaning: So, in Indonesia, it’s not just about drinking (water, of course!) while diving. This expression refers to multitasking in general, managing to accomplish more than one thing at a time.

A Man Multi-tasking

5. Bertepuk sebelah tangan.

Literal translation: To clap with only one hand.

Meaning: This means that there is no reciprocity in a given situation. Imagine if one hand wanted to clap, but the other was not interested! It’s most often used when referring to romantic situations where the love is one-sided, or in business when only one party is interested in striking a deal.

6. Seperti/bagai telur di ujung tanduk.

Literal translation: Like an egg on the tip of a horn

Meaning: I mean, imagine an egg on the tip of a horn…doesn’t sound ideal, does it? And this is exactly what this saying describes: a dangerous, tense, critical situation.

7. Otak di dengkul.

Literal translation: Brain on the knees

English equivalent: Not the sharpest tool in the shed

Meaning: Though this one means the same thing as the English equivalent, Indonesians prefer to be a bit more straightforward. If you’re not the smartest, they’ll say you have your brain on your knees. Not much use for it there…

8. Tong kosong nyaring bunyinya.

Literal translation: The empty can sounds the loudest.

Meaning: This refers to people who don’t have much knowledge (or wit!). Their head is like an empty can. And it’s usually these people who speak the loudest (both literally and metaphorically!). 

9. Anjing menggonggong, kafilah berlalu.

Literal translation: The dog barks but the caravan goes on.

Meaning: Life goes on even if some people try to stop progress.

10. Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat, akhirnya jatuh juga.

Literal translation: No matter how high a squirrel jumps, it will eventually fall.

Meaning: The poor squirrels actually have nothing to worry about here. This proverb is most often used to describe criminals (or at least very sneaky people) who, eventually, will always be caught!

A Squirrel in the Grass

11. Sudah jatuh tertimpa tangga.

Literal translation: To fall and be struck by a ladder

English equivalent: When it rains, it pours. 

Meaning: Not only did you fall down the ladder, but then the ladder fell on you—and who knows what else might happen next! This idiom describes those situations where various misfortunes all arrive at the same time, or directly follow each other. 

12. Besar pasak daripada tiang.

Literal translation: The peg is bigger than the pole.

Meaning: This saying is often used to describe a person who is spending more than he/she earns. If the peg is bigger than the pole, you won’t be able to build a very good shelter, will you? This saying reflects the culture, as many Indonesians would rather live humbly than borrow money.

13. Ada asap ada api.

Literal translation: If there is smoke, there must be fire.

English equivalent: Every why has its wherefore.

Meaning: Well, this can mean two things. Pretty obviously, there cannot be an effect without some cause. The second meaning is: If there is a rumor, it must have some foundation in truth!

14. Tak ada gading yang tak retak.

Literal translation: Every ivory has its cracks.

Meaning: Nothing’s perfect, as even the finest ivory has cracks!

15. Dikasih/diberi hati, minta jantung.

Literal translation: You give them the liver, but they still ask for the heart.

English equivalent: You give him an inch and he will take a yard.

Meaning: This refers to a situation in which someone is taking advantage of someone else’s generosity. 

16. Air tenang menghanyutkan.

Literal translation: Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water runs calm. 

English equivalent: Still waters run deep.

Meaning: Like its English equivalent, this proverb means that a calm exterior probably hides a passionate nature, and that silent people can actually possess a lot of knowledge and be very intelligent.

A Crocodile against a White Background

17. Seperti kacang lupa kulitnya.

Literal translation: Just like the peanut forgets its shell

English equivalent: To bite the hand that feeds you

Meaning: The Indonesian version is not quite as aggressive as the English one, but both refer to someone who is being ungrateful. It can be used when someone who’s become successful forgets about his origins, his family, and his friends.

18. Berakit-rakit ke hulu, berenang-renang ke tepian.
Bersakit-sakit dahulu, bersenang-senang kemudian.

Literal translation: Rafting to the headwaters, swimming to the riversides. It is painful at first, but victorious in the end. 

English equivalent: No pain, no gain.

Meaning: We all know what this means… In order to achieve something, suffering is necessary!

19. Buah jatuh tidak jauh dari pohonnya.

Literal translation: The fruit falls near the tree.

English equivalent: Like father, like son. 

Meaning: This saying is used when a son’s or daughter’s behavior or nature resembles that of their parents.

20. Pikir dahulu pendapatan, sesal kemudian tiada berguna.

Literal translation: Think first your idea, for later regrets are useless.

English equivalent: Look before you leap.

Meaning: Don’t act until after you’ve thought about the possible consequences and dangers of your actions. 

21. Lebih baik satu burung di tangan daripada sepuluh burung di pohon.

Literal translation: Better one bird on hand than ten birds on a tree.

English equivalent: One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Meaning: It’s better to hold on to something you’ve already secured, rather than taking the risk to get something better that is not guaranteed.

22. Sekali merengkuh dayung, dua tiga pulau terlampaui.

Literal translation: One stroke at the paddle, two and three islands have passed.

English equivalent: Killing two birds with one stone

Meaning: This saying is used when you’re able to accomplish two different things at the same time, or solve two problems with a single effort.

Someone Rowing in Still Waters in Indonesia

23. Tak ada rotan akar pun jadi.

Literal translation: If there is no cane, use the root instead.

English equivalent: Better than a stick in the eye

Meaning: You don’t have exactly what you need? Well, just use what you’ve got. It’ll be better than nothing.

24. Harimau mati karena belangnya.

Literal translation: Tigers die because of their stripes.

Meaning: Those who tend to show off their wealth or superiority will attract not only attention, but also adversity—just as tigers attract attention and are killed because of their stripes. 

A Tiger Sunbathing on a Big Rock

25. Mulutmu harimaumu.

Literal translation: Your mouth is your tiger.

Meaning: Speak carefully, because words are a reflection of yourself.

26. Di mana ada kemauan, di situ ada jalan.

Literal translation: Where there is a will, there is a path.

English equivalent: Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Meaning: Determination will overcome obstacles. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way!

27. Bagai air di daun talas.

Literal translation: As the water is on the taro leaf

Meaning: Water on a taro leaf slips away in a moment. This saying describes a volatile, flaky person who can’t be trusted.

28. Bagai pinang dibelah dua.

Literal translation: Like a betel nut split in half

English equivalent: Like two peas in a pod

Meaning: Identical; very similar.

29. Bagai pungguk merindukan bulan.

Literal translation: Like an owl yearning for the moon.

Meaning: To wish for something impossible or unreachable. 

30. Karena nila setitik, rusak susu sebelanga.

Literal translation: With only a drop of indigo, the whole pot of milk is ruined.

Meaning: Be careful, because even a small mistake can ruin an otherwise perfect work.

2. Conclusion

“All good things must come to an end…”

But it’s not really the end, is it? There’s so much more to learn about the Indonesian language! 

As they say, “Practice makes perfect!” So continue practicing your Indonesian skills on IndonesianPod101.com. With all the features we offer (audio podcasts, videos with transcriptions, word lists, a dictionary, and more), you’ll pick up this beautiful and interesting language in no time. 

And remember: Your mouth is your tiger, so learning to speak like a local is going to pay off big time!

Which of the Indonesian-language proverbs from this list is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments! 

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Not Just a Gateway City: Top 10 Places to Visit in Jakarta

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You may have heard that Jakarta has a little bit of a traffic problem (there are actually more cars than people in the city!). But I can assure you it offers so much more, if you’re willing to dedicate some time to discover it!

Many tourists treat the city as merely an entry and exit point to Indonesia. They pass through without a second look, excited to get to their final destination. This is why, if you have some spare time on your hands, we recommend you travel in Jakarta a little before heading out to discover the rest of Indonesia. 

And believe us: There are plenty of reasons to visit Jakarta!

A View of Jakarta

Home to over ten million people from all corners of Indonesia and the world, Jakarta is often referred to as “the Big Durian,” the popular Asian fruit, and is a true melting pot. This city is home to people of various cultures, language backgrounds, and religions. Spend enough time here, and you’ll find influences from Java, Malay, China, the Middle East, India, and Europe. 

There are plenty of attractions in Jakarta for you to enjoy, from interesting museums to a variety of national monuments. It’s also a great place to learn more about Indonesia’s complicated history. 

Apart from museums and monuments, here you’ll find a wide range of culturally significant locations. These include the old town and the port, both of which can give you an idea of how the city looked in the past. 

In this Jakarta travel guide, we’ll look at the city’s top ten places to visit, and how they’ll make your Indonesian adventure even more compelling. 

The capital of Indonesia may be crowded, loud, and busy, but it certainly isn’t boring.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Indonesian Survival Phrases for Travelers
  5. Conclusion

Before You Go

Here are a few tips to make your time in Jakarta much smoother and more rewarding. 

When

The best time to visit Jakarta is definitely during the dry season, between June and September. During these months, you’ll experience perfect tropical temperatures and eleven to twelve hours of light each day. 

Be careful if you decide to go between October and January. The city has a typical elevation of eight meters (about twenty-six feet) above sea level and features dense urban development, making it prone to flooding

Visa

You should also find out if you’ll need a visa before you travel to Indonesia. People of most nationalities will either not need a visa, or will have to apply for one on arrival. If you need to apply for this type of visa, keep in mind that the maximum stay is thirty days. 

For more info, check this website

Getting around in Jakarta

Getting around is easier than you probably think. You can choose between traditional taxis, moto taxis (locally called ojek), app-based moto taxis (go-jek), and even a new bus service operated by TransJakarta (which locals refer to as simply ‘busway’).

In 2019, a rapid transit system called the Jakarta MRT was officially opened, which will hopefully help reduce traffic in the city.

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Chances are, your stay will be short. After all, there are so many other places to explore in Indonesia! 

We’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in Jakarta when you only have a few days available. The locations on our list will fit all travelers, from backpackers to resort tourists. 

1 – Museum Nasional

The National Museum is one of the best museums in Jakarta and certainly the best of its kind in Indonesia. This is an essential location to visit if you’re in the capital. 

The ethnology section is fantastic, and there are four spacious floors with sections dedicated to the origin of humankind in Indonesia. The Indonesian Heritage Society organizes free English tours of the museum; if you’re interested, check their website for more info.

2 – Monas Tower

Monas, a contraction of the Indonesian Monumen Nasional (National Monument), is a memorial to the Indonesian independence movement built by the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno. 

The entrance fee is IDR 15,000 (less than two dollars). This will give you access to all areas, where you can learn about the history of the country and its struggle for independence, which was obtained on August 17, 1945.

3 – Kota Tua

The Jakarta History Museum

Jakarta’s Old Town is the original central area of the city. Also known as Old Batavia, the first settlement of the Dutch in Jakarta, it’s home to several important historical sites and buildings. These include the History Museum, the Batavia Café, and the old City Hall.

4 – Sunda Kelapa Port

The Sunda Kelapa Port in Jakarta, Indonesia

This is one of the oldest parts of Jakarta, and even today, you can get an idea of how the harbor used to look in times past and get a real feel of the city. The smells here are not the best, but it’s all part of the experience! Once you get over that small detail, you’ll be able to enjoy the sight of stunning wooden schooners and sailing vessels coming from all over Indonesia.

The easiest way to get here is by taxi.

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

Once you feel the charm of the Big Durian, you might decide to stay a little longer. Here are some more places you can visit in and around Jakarta. 

5 – Istiqlal Mosque

Located near the Monas, the Masjid Istiqlal is the fourth-biggest mosque on the planet. Its five floors can welcome up to 250,000 worshipers. On most days, the mosque is nearly empty, but it reaches full capacity at the end of the month of Ramadan

When visiting this Islamic symbol, remember to wear modest clothing and to maintain appropriate behavior at all times. 

6 – Jalan Surabaya Market

If you love antiques, this is the perfect place to spend a few hours. The Jalan Surabaya antique market is located in the Menteng district, and it can be a peaceful respite from the clogged-up city streets.

Antiques at the Jalan Surabaya Market

Here, you’ll find all sorts of antiques, from vinyls to Dutch porcelain, wayang golek (Javanese puppets), cameras, and accessories salvaged from old ships.

7 – Day-Trip to Thousand Islands

If you want to get out of the bustle of Jakarta for a day, there’s a cheap, accessible island escape right within the Jakarta district: Pulau Seribu, or Thousand Islands! This is a great option for a day trip: it’s not very touristy, but still cheap and easy to get to.

Thousand Islands

First of all, you’ll need to get to the harbor, where you’ll find lots of boats going to different islands. Choose the one you want and hop on! 

Once there, relax on the beach, hike into nature, or check out the local village.

8 – Galeri Nasional Indonesia

The National Gallery of Indonesia is one of the best art exhibits in the city, and it’s free! Here, you’ll find over 1700 pieces of art, from both Indonesian and international artists, on display.

There are a lot of installations and bizarre contemporary art pieces…so don’t forget your camera!

9 – Jin De Yuan

This is Jakarta’s oldest Chinese temple, also known as Vihara Dharma Bhakti, and it’s located at the heart of the city’s Chinatown. It was first built in 1650 in honor of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kwan-Im.

10 – Museum Wayang

If you’re interested in wayang (a traditional Indonesian form of puppet play), or in theatre in general, you must visit this museum. It’s located in Kota Tua and exhibits a collection of various forms of wayang. In addition, the museum periodically organizes a wayang theater and a wayang-making workshop.

Indonesian Survival Phrases for Travelers

An Indonesian Woman Wearing a Traditional Kebaya

While you’ll probably find English spoken in touristy areas, you’ll have a much better trip if you learn some Indonesian

Here, we’ve put together a list of some easy-to-learn words and sentences that will help you make the best of your time in Jakarta.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while there; Indonesian people are super-friendly and they love it when a bule (foreign tourist) makes an effort to speak with them in their native language!

Permisi.
Excuse me. (Also used when you want to get someone’s attention)

Mari.
Bye.

Tolong.
Please. (request)

Silakan.
Please. (formal)

Terima kasih.
Thank you.

Makasih. / Trims. (Contraction of Terima kasih)
Thanks.

Sama-sama. / Kembali.
You’re welcome.

Ya.
Yes.

Tidak.
No.

Mungkin.
Maybe.

Maaf.
Sorry. / Pardon.

Tidak apa-apa.
No problem.

Bisa bicara bahasa Inggris?
Can you speak English?

Saya bisa bicara bahasa Indonesia sedikit-sedikit.
I can speak a little Indonesian.

Saya tidak mengerti.
I don’t understand.

Bisa bicara pelan-pelan?
Can you speak more slowly?

Ini apa?
What’s this?

Berapa harganya?
How much is it? (a single item)

Berapa semuanya?
How much is it? (total/in a restaurant)

Berapa ongkosnya?
How much is it? (service, i.e. a taxi)

Saya tersesat.
I’m lost.

Bisa tolong saya?
Can you help me, please?

Di mana kamar mandi?
Where is the bathroom?

Conclusion

See? Jakarta is so much more than just a gateway city. And if you’re willing to explore its many attractions, what could be better than being able to communicate with the locals? Start learning Indonesian now on IndonesianPod101.com

Here, with the help of our highly qualified teachers, audio podcasts, word lists, and more, you’ll be able to start adding another language to your repertoire. And not just any language, but one that will make your experience in Indonesia even more unforgettable. 

Learning a language changes the way you think. It opens your mind, and it’s certainly the best starting point to understanding a culture and its people.

Start now, and you’ll realize that picking up Indonesian is easier than you think!

Which location on this list do you most want to visit, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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