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Indonesian Animal Words: The Ultimate Vocabulary List

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We’ve all heard of the island of Bali in Indonesia.

It’s one of the world’s most exotic travel destinations. The beaches, nature, and greenness are heavenly, and this imagery is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of “Indonesia.”

Another fascinating component of Bali is its fauna, with the Komodo dragon being its most famous species. The dragon has been named the largest lizard, and the deadly venom in its saliva makes it one of the most lethal predators in the world.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to Indonesian animal words that will help you talk about the variety of unique animals that live in Indonesia as well as the most common animals abroad. Orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Bali starlings…these animals, and many more, will make for an appealing conversation topic during your next trip to Indonesia. 

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. At Home (Pets)
  2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)
  3. In the Wild / Forest / Safari (Land Animals)
  4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)
  5. Bugs and Insects
  6. Birds
  7. Reptiles & Amphibians
  8. Animal Body Parts
  9. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions
  10. Conclusion

1. At Home (Pets)

Woman Petting Dog

Raising pets is not as common in Indonesia as it is in the West. Housepets are an expense that the majority of the population cannot afford; their main concern is putting food on the table, not feeding and caring for a dog or cat. House pets are mostly raised in the countryside, where families use them for their eggs, milk, and other animal products.

The tradition of owning pets (especially dogs and cats) is not really part of Indonesian culture, though birds are an exception. Free movement of pets in and out of the house is not something Indonesians would tolerate, especially given that 86.7% of Indonesia’s population is Muslim. 

In Islam, dogs are deemed Najis (unclean) animals. A Muslim believer, when touched or licked by a dog, is required to change their clothes and wash the body parts that made contact with the dog. If you’re planning to have Indonesian friends or cleaning staff over at your apartment, they may expect you to keep your pet at a distance, given that they would want to avoid touching it.

If you want an environment with more tolerance for your pet, the Balinese are an ethnic group that does usually raise dogs. This is because they believe dogs’ barking keeps away bad luck.

It’s also worth noting that Batak and Manado ethnic groups happen to eat dogs, and Chinese Indonesians (along with Christians) tolerate dogs more than their fellow Muslim countrymen.

Here are the names of animals in Indonesian that you might find kept as pets in your country: 

Kucing“Cat”
Anjing“Dog”
Hamster“Hamster”
Kelinci“Rabbit”
Mouse“Mouse”
Tikus“Rat”
Marmot“Guinea pig”
Ikan mas“Goldfish”
Burung beo“Parrot”

2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)

Black-and-White Cow

Farming and agriculture is one of the key sectors of the Indonesian economy. While it has been highly industrialized, farming still remains a vital source of income and nutrition for Indonesian households.

In fact, the agricultural sector of Indonesia contributed around 14.5% of the country’s total GDP in 2013, and approximately 30% of Indonesia’s land area is dedicated to farming activities. The country is the largest producer of cloves, cinnamon, and palm oil.

When it comes to traditional local farming, animals are usually involved in the farming process or raised on farms for their milk, eggs, and meat. 

It’s well worth noting that pigs are not very popular in Indonesia given the country’s Muslim majority, but we still included it on the following list of Indonesian animal words.

Sapi“Cow”
Babi“Pig”
Domba“Sheep”
Kambing“Goat”
Kuda“Horse”
Induk ayam“Hen”
Kalkun“Turkey”
Angsa“Goose”
bebek“Duck”
Ayam jantan“Rooster”

You can also head over to our Learn with Pictures lesson Farm Animals for more information and vocabulary! 

3. In the Wild / Forest / Safari (Land Animals)

Brown Bears

If Indonesia were famous for one thing, it would be for its diverse nature and beautiful wilderness. In fact, Indonesia has over 17,000 islands, resulting in its rich medley of different landscapes. 

Islands like Sumatra and Kalimantan have considerably more rainfall than the rest of the country, and therefore more rainforests. And there are plenty of animals in the Indonesian rainforest! You can find many of the predators and big animals traditionally found in Asia, such as leopards and lions in parts of Java or Sumatra. Papua is also home to some traditionally Australian reptiles and animals such as crocodiles, tree-kangaroos, ring-tailed possums, and more.

But the two most popular species of wildlife in Indonesia are orangutans and Komodo dragons; we’ve saved Komodo dragons for the reptiles section, but orangutans (which have the same name in Indonesian) are included in the following list:

Orangutan“Orangutan”
Harimau sumatera“Sumatran tiger”
Beruang“Bear”
Serigala“Wolf”
Rusa“Deer”
Kelinci“Hare”
Rubah“Fox”
landak“Hedgehog”
Tupai“Squirrel”
Babi hutan“Boar”
Singa“Lion”
Harimau“Tiger”
Jaguar“Jaguar”
Harimau kumbang“Panther”
Gajah“Elephant”
Jerapah“Giraffe”
Monyet“Monkey”
Gorila“Gorilla”
Kanguru“Kangaroo”
Koala“Koala”
Panda“Panda”
Kemalasan“Sloth”
Anjing laut“Seal”
Pinguin“Penguin”
Beruang kutub“Polar bear”
Walrus“Walrus”

4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)

Deep Waters

For many tourists, a trip to Indonesia means plenty of snorkeling and scuba diving. This is attributed to Indonesia’s beautiful coasts and clear waters, but the sea creatures you may encounter are just as fascinating. Whale sharks, manta rays, green turtles, blue-ringed octopuses, and the list goes on…

To help you talk about these animals in Indonesian, we’ve compiled a brief list for you: 

Ikan“Fish”
Hiu“Shark”
Lumba-lumba“Dolphin”
Ikan paus“Whale”
Singa laut“Sealion”
Ubur-ubur“Jellyfish”
Gurita“Octopus”
Kuda laut“Seahorse”
Bulu babi“Urchin”
Bintang laut“Starfish”
Remis“Mussel”
Timun laut“Sea cucumber”

5. Bugs and Insects

Bee Kingdom

Indonesia is mostly a tropical country, so rainfall is constant all year long and the temperature is 26°C (78.8°F) on average. This weather makes Indonesia the perfect home for a variety of bugs and insects. Be ready to deal with mosquitos when you visit Indonesia (if you haven’t already)!

Lebah“Bee”
Tawon“Wasp”
Nyamuk“Mosquito”
Lalat“Fly”
Laba-laba“Spider”
Belalang“Grasshopper”
Kecoa“Cockroach”
Kupu-kupu“Butterfly”
Semut“Ant”
Ngengat“Moth”
Siput“Snail”
Siput“Slug”

6. Birds

Ever heard of Bali starlings? They’re one of the most beautiful birds you may ever encounter, and they’re native to Indonesia’s island of Bali.

Unfortunately, this species is critically endangered. It’s believed that there are only 100 adults still alive in the wild. You can see this bird for yourself at West Bali National Park or in one of Bali’s breeding centers.

Here are nine bird names with their Indonesian translations:

Jalak Bali“Bali starling”
Camar“Seagull”
Gagak“Crow”
Elang“Eagle”
Merpati“Dove”
Burung hantu“Owl”
Kucica“Magpie”
Burung gereja“Sparrow”
Merak“Peacock”

7. Reptiles & Amphibians

Whether you’re a fan of reptiles or not, you’ll certainly encounter one at some point during your travels in Indonesia.

Here’s a vocabulary list of amphibian and reptile names in Indonesian:

Katak“Frog”
Kodok“Toad”
Buaya“Crocodile”
Kadal“Lizard”
Kura-kura“Turtle”
Penyu“Sea turtle”
Ular“Snake”
Komodo“Komodo dragon”

8. Animal Body Parts

By now, you should be more familiar with the different animals found in Indonesia and what they’re called in the native language. We’ll now go over a few common animal body parts, as these words will help you better describe the animals you come across on your adventures! 

Ekor“Tail”
Rambut“Hair”
Bulu“Fur”
Gigi“Tooth”
Taring“Fang”
Cakar“Claw”
Tanduk“Horn”
Kuku“Hoof”
Bulu“Feather”
Sayap“Wing”
Paruh“Beak”
Mulut“Mouth”
Sirip“Fin”
Sungut“Tentacle”
Surai“Mane”
Belalai“Trunk”
Gading“Tusk”
Antena“Antenna”
Kaki“Leg”

9. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions


When you do everything a person tells you to without questionSeperti kerbau dicucuk hidungnya 
Like a buffalo pinned by the nose
States that even great people have flawsSepandai-pandai tupai melompat, suatu saat pasti akan jatuh juga.
No matter how well a squirrel can jump, it will eventually fall.
When a person can easily see flaws in others, but not in themselvesSemut di seberang lautan tampak, gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak.
An ant across the sea is visible; an elephant on the eyelid is invisible.
Doing something for someone with hidden motivesAda udang di balik batu. 
There’s a shrimp behind the rock.
When you can’t calm down, or when you overreact in a funny waySeperti cacing kepanasan 
Like an overheated worm

Want to make your Indonesian conversations even more colorful? Then try learning the expressions listed on our Essential Idioms That Will Make You Sound Like a Native Speaker and Top 10 Conversational Phrases vocabulary lists! 

10. Conclusion

Congratulations for getting this far. You’re now armed with enough Indonesian animal words to become the next zoo guide at Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo! To practice, drop us a comment with the name of your favorite animal (or animals) in Indonesian.

Feel like you need a bit more practice to get there?

Maybe you’re still not too sure how to put sentences together, or don’t feel like you’ve mastered the basics yet.

Let IndonesianPod101 help! 

IndonesianPod101 is a learning platform that provides an effective system for learners at all levels. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced learner, IndonesianPod101 will present you with the perfect content for increasing and sharpening your skills.

What makes us different from other Indonesian learning resources is our integrated learning techniques. Think line-by-line breakdowns of text, transcripted video and audio lessons, pronunciation comparison tools, an online flashcards system, and more.

You can also access a native Indonesian-speaking tutor who will answer your questions about the Indonesian language and culture, and even create a personalized learning program tailored for your needs.

And the best part?

You can try it all for yourself at no cost.

Create your free lifetime account on IndonesianPod101.com and start learning today.

Happy learning!
Selamat belajar!

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

Your Playbook of Perfect Indonesian Questions and Answers

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Would you describe yourself as a curious person?

If you’re learning Indonesian, we imagine that you probably do! 

You can make that curiosity work for your Indonesian skills, too! When you talk to people, they’ll be interested in who you are and what’s driven you to learn their language. And the bread and butter of that is questions.

Statistically, questions make up a big part of conversation in any language. By preparing yourself with the most common Indonesian questions and answers, you’ll become familiar and comfortable with these conversational keystones and come off as a skilled conversationalist.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Your Name
  2. Your Origin Story
  3. Language Matters
  4. Traveling Around
  5. A Personal Question
  6. A Taste of Indonesia
  7. Work-day Life
  8. What’s up?
  9. The Price is Right
  10. Conclusion

1. Your Name

First Encounter

In Indonesian, you’re going to be confused at first with the pronouns. There are a lot of different ways that people can address you, so in this article, we’ll stick to the tried-and-true saya/kamu mix.

But let’s break that rule right away, because if someone’s asking your name, they’re going to be polite with you. Don’t worry: only the pronoun changes in this Indonesian question.

  • Siapa nama Anda?
    “What’s your name?”

The word nama is a cognate of the English word “name,” but it actually comes from Sanskrit instead of a more modern European language as you might assume. 

To answer the question, switch the words around and say:

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

2. Your Origin Story

People you tend to meet and chat with in Indonesia are even more likely to ask this question than the last. It can be so quick and to the point that you might miss it if you don’t pay attention!

As you can see, it’s not that necessary to include the pronouns. At a restaurant or cafe, you might hear Dari mana, kak? where kak is the basic form of address for young people who are older than you.

To answer, you’ll be using the dari, or “from,” preposition again.

  • Saya dari Melbourne.
    “I’m from Melbourne.”

Something you’ll pick up pretty quickly when it comes to the pragmatics, or conversation rules, of Indonesian is the way people repeat back new information. So in this short scenario above, person A would ask, person B would respond, then person A would repeat dari Melbourne back in a knowing tone of voice.

They’re not correcting your pronunciation—they’re just holding up their end of the conversation!

3. Language Matters

Introducing Yourself

The Indonesian questions here are those you’re very likely to hear while in the country, and they’re about the language itself.

  • Apakah kamu bisa berbahasa Indonesia?
    “Do you speak Indonesian?”

You certainly do! Also, as Indonesia’s influence in Southeast Asia grows, more and more people are picking up the language all around the region. You shouldn’t shy away from trying out this phrase in other countries!

The answer is probably not tidak, or “no,” for obvious reasons. Instead, if you’re not comfortable speaking Indonesian just yet, you can say:

  • Maaf, tidak begitu lancar.
    “Sorry, not very fluently.”

If you manage to answer like that, you’ll get a great reaction, something like Sudah bagus! meaning “It’s already great!” And perhaps this follow-up:

  • Sudah berapa lama belajar bahasa Indonesia?
    “How long have you been studying Indonesian?”

To answer, we’ll use the word sudah again to note that it’s already been a certain amount of time, then simply add the relevant unit and amount of time.

  • Sudah enam bulan.
    “Six months already.”

4. Traveling Around

If you happen to meet an Indonesian abroad and speak Indonesian with them, you’ll invariably get this question:

That translation is pretty broad, because what’s literally happening here is: “Already to Indonesia?” To answer, you don’t even have to change the word order.

  • Iya, sudah ke Jakarta (dua kali).
    “Yeah, I’ve already been to Jakarta (twice).”

Don’t get thrown off by this separate but similar question: Sudah lama di Indonesia? or “Have you been living in Indonesia for a long time?” In that case, you could reply with the same time-related words as before. 

5. A Personal Question

In Indonesian culture, questions can get pretty personal. It’s common for people to get married in their twenties, so someone aged twenty to thirty-five or so is liable to get some variation of these questions:

  • Sudah menikah belum?
    “Are you married yet?”
  • Sudah beristri?
    “Do you have a wife?”
  • Sudah bersuami?
    “Do you have a husband?”

Culturally, you don’t answer “no” to this question. In Indonesian, it’s much better to say belum, meaning “not yet.” And if the answer is yes, it’s still a one-word deal: Sudah! (You’ve got to say it enthusiastically, especially if your spouse is there with you.)

6. A Taste of Indonesia

Mutton Gulai Curry Indonesian Dish

You can find just about any type of food you want in Indonesian cities, particularly if your tastes skew East Asian. Home-grown Indonesian food can’t be beat, however, and you’re sure to have people asking about your opinions.

  • Apakah kamu suka makanan Indonesia?
    “Do you like Indonesian food?”

The apakah bit is kind of optional. Since the question is being asked to you, it doesn’t need that explicit marker.

In your answer, the best way to keep the conversation going is to name a specific type of Indonesian food that keeps you coming back.

  • Iya, suka! Makanan kesukaanku adalah nasi goreng.
    “Yes, I love it! My favorite food is nasi goreng.”

Let’s briefly examine the word kesukaanku, which means “my favorite.” It’s made up of four individual parts.

First, the root is suka, meaning “to like,” which we just saw in the question. Adding the prefix ke– and the suffix -an turns it into a noun: “favorite.” 

Finally, the suffix -ku is a possessive meaning “mine.” So you could have:

  • mi kesukaanku – “my favorite noodles”
  • ayam goreng kesukaanku – “my favorite fried chicken”
  • minuman kesukaanku – “my favorite drink”

7. Work-day Life

A Nurse and Doctor Looking at Papers on a Clipboard

Many people in Indonesia will assume that you’re traveling there, like most foreigners. However, sometimes something in your body language will indicate to them that you’ve been there a while. They may ask:

  • Kamu bekerja apa?
    “What do you do?”
  • Apa pekerjaanmu?
    “What’s your work?”

These questions are interchangeable, but they illustrate two ways to use the root word kerja, or “work,” in a sentence. 

First, there’s pekerjaan, with the pe-an circumfix making it a concrete noun: “employment.” Then there’s bekerja, a verb meaning “to have a job.” 

To answer, you could either replace the -mu, or “your,” possessive suffix with the -ku, or “my,” one we saw earlier: 

  • Pekerjaanku doktor.
    “I am a doctor.”

Or you could avoid dealing with extra suffixes and simply say: 

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

The word sebagai is optional here, but you’ll find it used more often than not.

8. What’s up?

Not every conversation happens with the same opening and closing lines. However, in Indonesian, you could be forgiven for thinking they do!

This phrase is a standard friendly greeting for Indonesians all over the place. You can kind of think of it as mapping to an idiomatic English equivalent.

  • Apa kabar?
    “What’s up?”

Literally, though, you’re saying “What news?” Now this is unusual, because the answer is always baik, meaning “good.”

In some textbooks, you’ll probably see the phrase bagaimana kabarmu as a more formal equivalent, but nobody really talks like that.

In a formal situation with one person speaking to a group of people, they’ll often say this standard greeting:

  • Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
    “May peace be upon us all.”

You can also say:

  • Assalamualaikum.
    “Peace upon us.”

This one does have a set response: 

  • Waalaikum salam.
    “And upon you.”

As this is a loanword (or loan phrase) from Classical Arabic, it shows up written and pronounced in slightly different ways from person to person. If you, as a foreigner, manage to pull it off in the correct context, people will immediately perk up and pay attention.

9. The Price is Right

An Indonesian Rupiah

Rounding off here, this is one of the questions you’ll probably end up using the most day-to-day in Indonesia.

  • Berapa harganya?
    “How much is it?”

The root word harga means “price,” and the -nya makes it refer to a specific price. Namely, the price of the thing you’re pointing at in the restaurant or in the shop.

Mostly, people will just reply with the number:

  • Tiga puluh ribu.
    “Thirty thousand.”

As you can see, it’s not necessary here—or in many other phrases—to reply with a complete sentence! The context takes care of filling in any grammatical gaps.

10. Conclusion

To be honest, as long as you master the questions about your name, where you’re from, and how much things cost, you’ll be miles ahead of other learners. And all of that can be picked up in a couple of hours!

The next step is adding detail.

Where are you going in Indonesia? How much does two of these things cost?

You can come up with follow-up questions in English and then look for them in Indonesian while listening to and reading Indonesian content.

Speaking of which, IndonesianPod101.com is the logical next step to take when you’re expanding your conversation horizons. With our guided lessons, flashcards, and reading material, you’ll never be lost for words.

Have a look right now at some of the podcast dialogues, and see for yourself what kind of questions can be asked and answered!

Before you go, why not practice some of these Indonesian questions and answers straight away? Try answering one or more of the questions from this article in Indonesian, and leave your answers in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you!

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The UKBI: Ace That Indonesian Language Proficiency Test!

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Indonesians, by and large, are nice people.

They treat foreigners very well, to be sure. Indonesia isn’t one of the hottest Asian travel destinations for nothing!

But there is one area where they could treat foreigners a little nicer: the Indonesian language itself.

They’re glad if you can speak it and will treat you well because of that, absolutely.

They just don’t think you can get good. They’ll tend to always simplify their speech and never tell you about the many mistakes you’re making. To avoid this misfortune, you’ll need to prove yourself with an Indonesian language proficiency test.

Even then, it’s no guarantee that Indonesians will take your skills that seriously. After all, there are thousands of foreigners in Bali and Jakarta who never learn more than how to order off a menu and introduce themselves in a heavy accent, if that.

If you want to live in Indonesia or find a job related to the Indonesian language, you’re going to need a certificate from a language exam that proves, without a doubt, that you know your way around the Indonesian language at a masterful level.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. The One Test Indonesian Will Throw at You
  2. The Listening Section
  3. The Grammar Section
  4. The Reading Section
  5. The Writing Section
  6. The Speaking Section
  7. UKBI Preparation: Your Overall Study Strategy
  8. Conclusion

1. The One Test Indonesian Will Throw at You

A Volcano Spewing Lava

In contrast to English, where there are zillions of big and small proficiency tests clamoring for the top spot, Indonesia has just one.

It’s called the UKBI or Uji Kemahiran Berbahasa Indonesia. In English, that’s “Indonesian Language Proficiency Test”—but you knew that already, right?

It has five different sections, which we’ll go over in detail soon, and you’re awarded a score out of 900 at the end.

Your point value then translates into one of seven different levels, or predikat. They are:

  • Istimewa (“Exceptional”)
  • Sangat Unggul (“Very Good”)
  • Unggul (“Good”)
  • Madya (“Intermediate”)
  • Semenjana (“Average”)
  • Marginal (“Poor”)
  • Terbatas (“Limited”)

The information about this test is generally published only in Indonesian. Our translation of the Madya  description is as follows:

Predikat ini menunjukkan bahwa peserta uji memiliki kemahiran yang memadai dalam berkomunikasi dengan menggunakan bahasa Indonesia.

This level demonstrates that the test participant has good communication skills in Indonesian.

Dengan kemahiran ini yang bersangkutan mampu berkomunikasi untuk keperluan sintas dan kemasyarakatan dengan baik, tetapi masih mengalami kendala dalam hal keprofesian yang kompleks.

When it comes to complex professional communication, there are still notable problems, especially in the realm of academic purposes.

According to data published in 2014, more than half of people attempting the test scored Madya, or from 482-577 points. That shows that you’re not dealing with an easy exam here!

In fact, let’s take a more-detailed look at each of the five sections and what you can expect to encounter. 

2. The Listening Section

People Listening in a Classroom

For this part of the Indonesian language exam, you’ll start out with 30 minutes of listening, during which you’ll answer 40 questions. These are broken up into eight short monologues and dialogues with five multiple-choice questions each.

That’s a good number, because you’ll be able to quickly glance over the various questions and get a feel for what you’ll need to listen for in each section. 

Some of it can get quite tricky, too. One question on the practice test asks about a car’s license plate, and the choices include: “B1337AC” / “B1371AC” / “B3317CA.” 

The topics for the monologues are generally about aspects of Indonesian culture and geography, as well as some explanations of scientific processes. It would definitely be a good idea to read the science sections of Kompas (an Indonesian media website) and BBC Indonesian News to stay on track. 


3. The Grammar Section

Language Skills

Indonesian grammar is an interesting beast. On the one hand, it’s really easy to make simple sentences, and even to get your point across with more-complex phrases.

On the other, there are a ton of little nuances in Indonesian grammar that don’t exist at all in English.

And surprise surprise, that’s what you’ll be tested on.

Across 25 questions, you’ll have twenty minutes to take a look at sentence pairs and detect which sentence in each pair has an error. You should definitely practice Indonesian word order so you can detect any sentences that have mixed-up syntax.

Even more so, though, you should brush up on the prefixes and suffixes. Sometimes, the answers will stand out, such as an intransitive verb with a ber- prefix instead of a me- prefix.

However, the differences between -kan and no ending, or me-i and just me-, are significantly more subtle and require a lot of detailed analysis as you read. 

From this point on, make it a habit to actually look at the verb forms as you read Indonesian, and think about what they could be doing in the sentence.


4. The Reading Section

Man Studying Books in a Library

A major aspect of one’s Indonesian language proficiency is how well they can understand what they read.

The reading section is kind of like the listening one, as you’ll have eight texts with five questions each. Again, you’ll be tested on nonfiction passages of around 400-500 words each, dealing with scientific or technical topics like the history of electromagnetism or how a digital camera works. You’ll have 45 minutes to complete this.

This is where native English speakers have a distinct advantage, because a lot of the formal vocabulary here is directly cognate to English. 

By reading Indonesian-language reviews of cars and electronics, you’ll quickly become used to reading about technical topics in Indonesian. A general scientific knowledge in your own language wouldn’t hurt either, because if you don’t have a general idea of what gamma rays or fructose are, you’ll likely be lost even if you do recognize the vocabulary.


5. The Writing Section

In the writing portion, your task is relatively simple, but involves some pretty targeted Indonesian skills. You’re given a diagram and asked to summarize it in 200 words in under 30 minutes.

However, you won’t be dealing with any first-year, Anak itu sedang makan cokelat (“The child is eating chocolate”) kind of language. It’s the type of diagram you’d see in a biology or physics textbook, depicting the life cycle of a flower or how a volcano erupts.

Fortunately, Indonesian bookstores usually have excellent selections of nonfiction oriented toward children and teenagers. You can even find translated versions of the excellent DK Eyewitness books at some libraries, meaning hours of fun and education for you as a learner.

The more you read this kind of material, the easier it’s going to be to write about it on the spot. 


6. The Speaking Section

A Woman Giving a Presentation and Speech

This is where things get turned up to eleven real fast.

Where other exams have you roleplay, take part in a debate, or do several tasks appropriate for multiple levels, the UKBI requires you to read a brief academic article, look at a chart or graph, and then prepare a presentation for a general audience. For five straight minutes.

This is where your ability to flow seamlessly from one topic to the next in Indonesian will be seriously tested. 

The topic in the test preparation guide is a graph showing the number of doctors per 100,000 people in each country in ASEAN. It’s simple enough, so how are you going to talk for five whole minutes? 

Expound on the different levels of education and economic development in each country, and speculate on the possible reasons why more or fewer people tend to go into medicine.

Truly outstanding answers will make predictions for the future, basing them on a deep knowledge of current ASEAN events and political developments.


7. UKBI Preparation: Your Overall Study Strategy

A Row of Colorful Books with Headphones Around Them

The interesting paradox about this exam is that there are very few resources to study for it, and at the same time, a huge number of people to study with.

As long as you’re in Indonesia, that is.

You see, Bahasa Indonesia isn’t the native tongue of all Indonesians. Perhaps in a few generations, the proportion will rise, but in most places, children grow up speaking a local language like Javanese or Minangkabau.

Now, these languages are all related to Indonesian, and with enough Indonesian in schools and through movies, books, and everything else, most Indonesians are functionally bilingual at an extremely high level. 

However, if you want to be an Indonesian teacher to foreigners or to Indonesian children, you have to take an Indonesian proficiency exam. The same is true if you want to be a civil servant. That means that thousands of Indonesians take the test each year as well!

If you happen to be living in Indonesia right now, you could try contacting your local schools and asking if anybody there has experience taking the UKBI. 

Even outside of Indonesia, you might be able to get the WhatsApp contact info for the Darmasiswa (foreign student scholarship) program directors and ask for assistance directly.

Indonesian society is often based on knowing people and maintaining personal connections. People used to quickly finding information online about whatever they need might quickly become frustrated as they try to navigate a world where phone calls and text messages are much more common.

For that reason, there’s just one textbook about the UKBI exam available online, written by Atikah Solihah; it’s simply called Latihan Soal UKBI. Buy that book for a couple of dollars, study it well, and you’ll be at a great advantage when it comes time for the test.

8. Conclusion

We hope that after reading this article, you’re more confident in your ability to ace your Indonesian language exam. Did we answer your questions, or do you still need clarification on something? We look forward to hearing from you! 

And by the way, the very website you’re on isn’t a bad resource either! The advanced dialogue that IndonesianPod101 lessons deal with are on more advanced and formal topics in exactly the style that you’ll encounter on the exam.

The more you listen to and read real Indonesian, the better you’ll do on that Indonesian exam—especially when it’s all in one place with transcripts for every podcast episode!

Check out IndonesianPod101.com lessons today, and get ready to attack the UKBI exam with flying colors!

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Jumpstart Your Learning with Ten Basic Indonesian Sentences

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You may be surprised at how fast you can start speaking Indonesian.

Once you get a good stock of vocabulary, all you need to memorize is a handful of customizable Indonesian sentences. Then, you can easily make people think you’re good at the language.

In Indonesian, there are some fascinating grammatical aspects concerning verbs, but for communication purposes, you can leave them out entirely—plenty of Indonesians do this, too! 

So picking up Indonesian through patterns is pretty easy. In this article, we’ll outline ten different sentence patterns ready for your plug-and-play use. By the time you get to the end, you’ll probably start noticing these patterns (and more) all over the place in your studies!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Simple Noun Equivalencies
  2. Using Adjectives in Indonesian Sentences
  3. Expressing Your Desires
  4. What Do You Need?
  5. Quick Review: Questions
  6. Simple Requests
  7. Asking Where Things Are
  8. Using “Because” in Indonesian
  9. Describing Things That Happened
  10. If This, Then That
  11. Conclusion

1. Simple Noun Equivalencies

An Expensive Watch Surrounded by Jewelry

The Indonesian word for connecting two nouns is adalah. It means something like “is,” but you’ll note in the next section that it’s used only for nouns, not adjectives. Let’s see this Indonesian sentence structure in action:

  • Hary adalah rektor.
    “Hary is the rector.”
  • Dia seorang supir.
    “She is a driver.”
  • Jam ini adalah hadiah dari istriku.
    “This watch is a present from my wife.”
  • Restoran ini adalah restoran Tiongkok.
    “This restaurant is a Chinese restaurant.”
  • Motor merah adalah motor sang presiden.
    “The red motorcycle is the president’s motorcycle.”

2. Using Adjectives in Indonesian Sentences

Maroon Motorcycle against White Background

In Indonesian sentences, adjectives always follow nouns. And for a simple noun-is-adjective kind of sentence, you only need two words!

  • Langit biru.
    “The sky is blue.”
  • Suara anjing itu besar.
    “The dog’s voice (bark) is loud.”
  • Motor merah itu bukan motor teman sekelasku.
    “The red motorcycle isn’t the motorcycle of my classmate.”
  • Mereka suka menonton film-film Korea.
    “They like watching Korean movies.”
  • Susu yang dijual di pasar malam tidak begitu segar.
    “The milk sold at the night market isn’t that fresh.”

3. Expressing Your Desires

A Tiger Laying on a Large Rock

There are a number of different verbs for “want” in Indonesian. The first and most common is mau, pronounced ma-oo with a clear distinction between the vowels.

  • Saya mau es teh.
    “I want iced tea.”
  • Anak itu mau pergi.
    “The child wants to leave.”

The next word, used just as commonly, is ingin (literally “to wish”). In informal Indonesian spoken on Java, it’s pronounced more like engin, but the meaning is the same. It’s usually followed by verbs.

  • Kelas itu membosankan dan para mahasiswa ingin pergi ke pantai.
    “The class is boring and the student wants to go to the beach.”
  • Ibu ingin menjual buah-buahan.
    “Mother wants to sell fruits.”

Lastly, the verb hendak is the most common way to say “to want” in the related Malay language, but in Indonesian, it’s something formal you’d only hear in speeches or read in books.

  • Harimau hendak makan orang di desa.
    “The tiger wants to eat the people in the village.”

4. What Do You Need? 

Sentence Patterns

Every learner should know basic Indonesian sentences for expressing needs. In English, we typically use the words “must” and “need” for this, and we can do the same thing in Indonesian. Harus is the Indonesian word for “must” and perlu is “need.”

Here are a few examples of how to use them in Indonesian phrases:

  • Kamu harus pergi sekarang.
    “You must go now.”
  • Aku perlu motor baru.
    “I need a new motorcycle.”
  • Aku harus membeli motor baru.
    “I must buy a new motorcycle.”
  • Kamu harus mengingat apa yang saya bilang ini.
    “You must remember what I’m saying.”

5. Quick Review: Questions

Two Glasses of Iced Tea with Lemon Wedges

So far, these sentences have been really simple and easy! Let’s practice the necessary verbs again, this time by adding the question word apakah, or the question suffix -kah.

  • Perlukah Anda motor baru?
    “Do you need a new motorcycle?”
  • Apakah kamu mau es teh?
    “Do you want iced tea?”
  • Apakah langit biru?
    “Is the sky blue?”

The word apa (“what”) is indispensable in both questions and answers in Indonesian. We already saw apa yang saya sedang bilang (“what I am saying to you”) in a statement format, so here’s the question version.

  • Film apa ini?
    “What film is this?”
  • Apa itu “bebek?”
    “What is a ‘duck’?”

6. Simple Requests

Sentence Components

There are two very commonly used words in Indonesian for asking people to do things for you, and of course, several more words besides. Tolong has a general sense that you really need that thing done, while mohon is simply a polite request word.

  • Mohon duduk dulu.
    “Please sit first.”
  • Tolong bawakan aku kamus Arab.
    “Please bring me the Arabic dictionary.”
  • Mohon untuk tidak makan babi di restoran ini.
    “Please don’t eat pork in this restaurant.”

You can use minta in much the same way as you use mohon, with the added ability to use it to order food.

  • Minta segelas jus stroberi.
    “One glass of strawberry juice, please.”
  • Minta cepat, ya.
    “Please hurry it up.”

That last sentence is of great use as is whenever you’re at a restaurant and particularly hungry! 

7. Asking Where Things Are

A Wallet Left on the Ground Somewhere

Indonesian uses a “locative particle,” di, instead of the typical set of prepositions we know from other languages. You can think of di as being similar to “at,” and then whatever word follows di can indicate the location more precisely.

  • Aku di kamar.
    “I’m in the room.”
  • Dompet di dalam tas.
    “The wallet is in the bag.”
  • Jangan duduk di atas meja.
    “Don’t sit on top of the table.”

By using another question word, mana (“which”), you can start asking questions.

  • Di mana dompetku?
    “Where is my wallet?”
  • Kamu berada di kamar mana?
    “Which room are you in now?”

8. Using “Because” in Indonesian

Now let’s go a little bit more advanced and use the conjunction karena, meaning “because.” Don’t worry, though; it works in Indonesian language sentences just like you’d expect it to in English! 

We had some very basic noun and adjective sentences right at the beginning of the article, so let’s replicate that pattern and see how we can connect cause and effect.

  • Dia sakit karena air kotor.
    “He is sick because the water is dirty.”
  • Orang-orang takut karena harimau lapar.
    “The people are scared because the tiger is hungry.”

Naturally, you can add verbs after karena. The only difference from English is a bonus for learners: You don’t need to repeat the subject or a pronoun. The subject is remembered from the first half of the sentence.

  • Filmnya keren karena ceritanya bagus.
    “The film was cool because it had a good story.”
  • Aku perlu motor baru karena motor saya rusak.
    “I need a new motorcycle because my motorcycle is broken.”
  • Fifi dihukum karena menyetir terlalu cepat.
    “Fifi was punished because she drove too fast.”

9. Describing Things That Happened

A Woman Eating Breakfast and Drinking Tea at a Table

Past tense in Indonesian is often taken care of through context alone. If you’re already having a conversation about something that happened, there’s usually no grammatical marking in the sentence to refer to the past tense again and again.

The particle sudah means “already,” and it’s your best bet when you want to explicitly introduce the past tense.

  • Dia sudah sarapan.
    “He (already) ate breakfast.”
  • Apakah presentasi sudah selesai?
    “Has the presentation already finished?”
  • Aku sudah membaca buku baru itu.
    “I have read that new book.”

When you ask a question about things that might have already happened, you should try to end it with the word belum (“not yet”). It’s totally fine if you say something like the presentation example above, but using belum can often sound a little more idiomatic.

  • Kamu sudah makan belum?
    “Have you already eaten yet?”
  • Dia sudah lulus belum?
    “Has she already graduated yet?”

10. If This, Then That

Like “because,” you might worry that conditional statements in Indonesian are above your level. Fear not, because it really does work in quite a familiar way! Things that might take a couple of semesters to figure out in European languages are open to you right now before the end of this article. 

The word for “if” is kalau. Here’s how it’s used in an Indonesian sentence:

  • Kalau tidak tidur, ngantuk.
    “If [you] don’t sleep, [you will be] sleepy.”
  • Aku tidak akan ikut kalau ada PR.
    “I’m not going to come if I have homework.”
  • Kalau presiden tetap berbohong, orang-orang tidak akan memilih dia lagi.
    “If the president keeps lying, people won’t vote for him again.”
  • Kalau kamu belajar bahasa Indonesia, kamu harus membaca buku Indonesia.
    “If you study Indonesian, you need to read Indonesian books.”

The other use for kalau is as a marker of a changed topic, something like “as for” in English.

  • Kalau Jakarta, terlalu macet.
    “If [we’re discussing] Jakarta, it’s too congested.”
  • Kalau di Bali, kamu harus pergi ke Ubud!
    “As for Bali, you’ve got to go to Ubud!”

11. Conclusion

We didn’t point it out explicitly, but you probably noticed the Indonesian way to express ownership, too: If teman is “friend,” teman saya is “friend I” or “my friend.”

If you go through some of the Indonesian lessons and resources here on IndonesianPod101.com, who knows what other patterns you’ll find? Your brain is absolutely wired to pick up on connections like this.

The only problem is, you might learn too fast and start speaking more than you can understand! Always balance your spoken or written Indonesian with lots of listening and reading.

Good thing IndonesianPod101 has everything you need in that regard, too—vocabulary lists, grammar and pronunciation guides, and even smart flashcards!

Check out the Indonesian learning materials right here and enjoy effortless Indonesian in practically no time at all!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if we’ve answered your questions today! How many of these Indonesian sentences are new to you? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Indonesian Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Indonesian

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Indonesian! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Indonesian keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Indonesian Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Indonesian
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Indonesian
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Indonesian on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Indonesian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Indonesian Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Indonesian

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Indonesian

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Indonesian language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Indonesian websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Indonesian teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Indonesian

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Indonesian. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Indonesian, so all text will appear in Indonesian. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Indonesian on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Indonesian language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Indonesian.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as Indonesian with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “Indonesian” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Indonesia.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Indonesian.”

4. Expand the option of “Indonesian” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “QWERTY.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Bahasa Indonesia/Indonesian,” and add the “Indonesian” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Indonesian Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Indonesian will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Indonesian keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Indonesian” from the list, and then you can select QWERTY.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “Bahasa/Indonesian” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Indonesian Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Indonesian can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Indonesian keyboard.

A man typing on a computer
  • You can actually just use the English (US) keyboard. The letters are equivalent to the English alphabet, so it’s the perfect fit.
  • Bahasa Indonesia doesn’t use special characters, so the QWERTY keyboard is enough to input your texts.
  • Google also offers an option for Indonesian handwriting

7. How to Practice Typing Indonesian

As you probably know by now, learning Indonesian is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Indonesian typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a IndonesianPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Indonesian keyboard to do this!

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The 100 Most Commonly Used Indonesian Verbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Warmup: Common No-Prefix Verbs

Top Verbs

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

1. duduk – to sit


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

2. ingat – to remember


Ingatlah apa yang saya akan laporkan.

“Remember what I’m going to report.”

3. masuk  – to enter


Mari, masuk!
“Welcome, enter!”

4. lupa  – to forget


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

5. mulai  – to begin


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

6. tahu  – to know


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

7. minum – to drink


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

8. selesai – to finish


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

9. tidur – to sleep


Aku akan tidur di luar.

“I’m going to sleep outside.”

10. kembali – to return


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

2. Part 1: Ber- Verbs

Woman Wearing Scarf

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

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

11. bertopi – to wear a hat


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

12. bersepeda – to go by bike


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

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

14. berkuda – to ride a horse


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

15. berkacamata – to wear glasses


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

16. berjas – to wear a jacket


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

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


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

18. bercelana pendek – to wear shorts


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

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

19. berubah – to change; to alter oneself


Cinta tidak berubah.
“Love does not change.”

20. berdiri – to stand


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

21. belajar – to study


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

22. berjalan – to walk


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

23. berenang – to swim

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

24. bekerja – to work


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

25. berpikir – to think


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

26. bertemu – to meet with somebody


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

27. berbicara – to speak a language


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

28. berlari – to run

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

29. berarti – to mean


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

30. bernyanyi – to sing


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

31. berjudi – to gamble


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

3. Part 2: Me- Verbs

Newlyweds in Field of Flowers

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

32. menikah – to marry


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

33. menginap – to stay overnight


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

34. menangis – to cry


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

35. mendidih – to boil


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

36. mendaftar – to register

Di mana gedung untuk mendaftar?

“Where is the building to register?”

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

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

Moving Things Around

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

Club Sandwich

37. membuat  – to make


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

38. membangun – to build

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

39. membuka – to open


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

40. menutup – to close

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

41. mendorong – to push

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

42. menarik – to pull


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

43. melemparkan – to throw

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

44. menjatuhkan – to drop


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

45. menghentikan – to stop


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

46. menggeser – to slide


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

47. memotong – to cut

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

48. menyetir – to drive


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

Interacting with People and Things

More essential Verbs

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

49. menjaga – to watch


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

50. mengenal – to know somebody


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

51. menolong – to help


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

52. mengajar – to teach


Guru mengajar anak-anak kalkulus.

The teacher teaches children calculus.”

53. memberi – to give

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

54. meminjam – to lend; to borrow


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

55. menghormati – to honor


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

56. menghargai – to appreciate; to respect


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

57. mengobrol – to chat


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

58. mengerti – to understand


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

59. melaporkan – to report

Dia akan melaporkan berita secara langsung.

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

60. menjelaskan – to explain

Mungkin Anda bisa menjelaskan hal ini?

“Maybe you can explain this situation?”

Spare-Time Activities

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

Man Writing with Typewriter

61. menulis – to write


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

62. mengetik – to type


Seberapa cepat Anda bisa mengetik?

“How fast can you type?”

63. menonton – to watch


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

64. mendengarkan – to listen to


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

65. mencuci – to wash


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

66. menggambar – to draw


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

67. membaca – to read


Aku belum membaca buku bapakku karena dia belum selesai menulisnya.

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

68. memainkan – to play

Aku tidak bisa memainkan Fortnite malam ini.

“I can’t play Fortnite tonight.”

69. membeli – to buy


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

70. menjual – to sell


Di sana ada toko yang menjual helm motor.

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

71. memasak – to cook

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

72. mencium – to kiss


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

73. membayar – to pay

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

74. mencetak – to print


Di mana saya bisa mencetak skripsi?

“Where can I print my thesis?”

75. mengecat – to paint


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

Changing Something

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

76. mengotori – to make dirty


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

77. membersihkan – to clean up


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

78. menerangi – to illuminate


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

79. mengisi – to fill

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

80. membasahi – to dampen


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

81. mengeringkan – to dry


Aku akan mengeringkan pakaian dengan hairdryer.

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

82. memanaskan – to heat


Ovennya memanaskan rumah.

“The oven is heating the room.”

83. melengkapi – to complete

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

84. memperbaiki – to fix; to repair


Siapa di sini bisa memperbaiki pesawat?

“Who here can fix a plane?”

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

4. Part 3: Ter- Verbs

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

States of Being

Checking in at a Nice Hotel

85. terletak – to be located


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

86. terbuat – to be made of


Pintu terbuat dari kaca.

“The door is made of glass.”

87. terbatas – to be limited


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

88. terbuka – to be open


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

89. tersedia – to be available


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

90. tersebut – to be mentioned


Hukum tersebut tidak adil.

“The aforementioned law is not fair.”

91. terhormat – to be honored


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

92. terkenal – to be known


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

93. tertarik – to be interested


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

Oops, accident!

Negative Verbs

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

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

94. tertidur – to doze off


Mengapa kamu selalu tertidur dalam kelas?

“Why do you always fall asleep in class?”

95. terkejut – to be startled


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

96. terjadi – to happen


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

97. tertabrak – to crash


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

98. terjatuh – to fall


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

99. tersenyum – to smile


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

100. tertawa – to laugh


Mereka semua tertawa.
“They all laughed.”

5. Conclusion 

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Complete Guide to the World of Indonesian Pronouns

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Is Indonesian easy or hard?

Both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Standard Indonesian Personal Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

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

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

  • Saya dari Melbourne.

“I’m from Melbourne.”

  • Mau pergi dengan saya?

“Want to go with me?”

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

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

  • Aku tidak tahu.

“I don’t know.”

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

  • Apakah Anda punya mobil?

Do you have a car?”

Silver Car

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dia sudah makan belum?

“Has he/she eaten yet?”

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

  • Saat itu, beliau belum menjadi presiden.

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

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

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

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

  • Ayo kita pulang sekarang.

“Let’s (including you) go home now.”

  • Kita ada acara hari ini.

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

  • Kami akan bertemu denganmu besok.

“We’ll meet with you tomorrow.”

  • Kami akan berangkat dulu.

“We’ll (not you) head out first.”

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

  • Kalian mau makan apa hari ini?

“What do you all want to eat today?”

  • Mereka lahir di Surabaya.

“They were born in Surabaya.”

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

2. Using Ordinary Words as Personal Pronouns

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

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

  • Apakah sudah melihat emailnya, Pak?

“Have you seen the email already, sir?”

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

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

  • Permisi Aas, minta air putih.

“Excuse me sir, some water please.”

Calling Waiter’s Attention

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

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

  • Permisi Kak, sudah selesai?

“Excuse me, are you already finished?”

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

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

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

  • Maaf ya Cici, gua nggak lihat lu.

“Sorry miss, I didn’t see you there.”

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

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

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

  • Dia sendiri membuat kuenya.

“She herself made the cake.”

3. Using Pronouns as Affixes

Fitting Puzzle Pieces Together

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

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

  • Mau pergi denganku?

“Want to go with me?”

  • Jangan berbicara dengan anakku.

“Don’t talk to my child.”

  • Apakah itu tasmu?

“Is that your bag?”

  • Ayo kita naik mobilmu.

“Let’s go in your car.”

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

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

  • Dia masih belum kutemukan.

“He still hasn’t found me.”

  • Nanti kujelaskan.

“Later on I’ll explain.”

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

  • Beritahu aku apa yang kaulihat.

“Tell me what you see.”

4. This, That, and the Other

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

  • Itu desa tempat bapakku lahir.

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

  • Apakah ini rusak?

“Is this broken?”

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

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

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

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

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

5. Question Words

Basic Questions

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

apa – what

  • Apa yang sedang kamu lakukan?

“What are you doing?”

di mana – where

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

  • Di mana orang tuamu?

“Where are your parents?”

siapawho

  • Siapa yang sedang mengobrol di luar?

“Who’s chatting outside?”

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

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

  • Itu tempat  saya dilahirkan.

“That’s the place where I was born.”

  • Aku tidak suka dengan apa yang dia sedang lakukan.

“I don’t like what he’s doing.”

  • Dia adalah orang yang paling penting di sini.

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

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

  • Ini kotak yang saya perlu.

“This is the box that I need.”

  • Ayo makan di resto yang baru dibuka.

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

6. Yours and Mine

Kids Eating Ice Cream

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

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

We can say the noun again:

  • Motor keren itu motor saya.

“The cool motorbike is mine.”

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

  • Kamera yang paling besar kepunyaan jurnalis yang paling penting.

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

  • Dompetnya milik dia.

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

7. Conclusion

Improve Listening

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

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

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

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

Happy Indonesian learning! 🙂

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Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on JapanesePod101.com with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

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eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

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Once I share a short-term or long-term goal with my teacher, we establish a plan or pathway that will ultimately result in success. I coordinate with my teachers regularly to ensure the personalized learning programs are prosperous. For example, during my JLPT studies, my Japanese language tutor assigned me practice tests.

Your language tutor is available for outside help as well. When I bought drama CDs in Japan, I had difficulty transliterating the dialogue. My Japanese teacher forwarded me the script to read along as I listened.

Additionally, I often practice Korean and Japanese with music. I memorize one line of the lyrics daily. Every time, I learn a new grammar point and new vocabulary. I add the vocabulary to my SRS flashcards, locate the grammar in the Grammar Bank, and study the associated lessons online.

I send my teachers the name of the songs, making them aware of my new goal. One time, my song for Korean was “If You Do” by GOT7. My Korean teacher revealed that she was a huge fan of GOT7 like me! For Japanese, it was “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” also known as the Dragonball Z theme song. My Japanese teacher excitedly told me that she sang the song a lot as a kid!

A remarkable thing happened to me in South Korea. I was stressed about opening a bank account with limited Korean. I sought help from my Korean teacher. She forwarded me a script of a bank conversation.

After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

The MyTeacher Messenger allows me to share visuals with my teachers for regular interaction, including videos to critique my pronunciation mechanisms. I improve my listening and speaking skills by exchanging audio with my teachers. In addition to my written homework assignments, I exchange messages with my language teachers in my target language. This connection with my teachers enables me to experience the culture as well as the language.

Why You Should Subscribe to Premium PLUS

It’s impossible for me to imagine my continuous progress with Japanese and Korean without Premium PLUS. Everything—from the SRS flashcards to my language teachers—makes learning languages enjoyable and clear-cut.

You’re assured to undergo the same experience with Premium PLUS. You’ll gain access to the aforementioned features as well as all of the Premium features.

Complete lessons and assignments to advance in your target language. Increase your vocabulary with the “2000 Core Word List” for that language and SRS flashcards. Learn on-the-go with the Innovative Language app and/or Podcasts app for iOS users.

Learning a new language takes dedication and commitment. The Premium PLUS features make learning irresistibly exciting. You’ll look forward to learning daily with your language tutor.

As of right now, your challenge is to subscribe to Premium PLUS! Complete your assessment, and meet your new Indonesian teacher.

Have fun learning your target language in the fastest and easiest way!

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Master the Compass and Directions in Indonesian

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Did you get lost again?

In the sweltering heat of an Indonesian dry season, it’s no fun to not know where you’re going. (The rainy season is arguably worse!)

Going to Indonesia and learning some of the language to help you prepare is an excellent step you can take for a great trip. But did you remember to learn about directions in Indonesian too?

Suppose your motorcycle taxi driver has heard of your guesthouse, but never actually been. Or suppose your class is starting in ten minutes and you’re still wandering around the same university streets.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Around Town in Indonesian Table of Contents
  1. Basic Cultural Notes and Phrases
  2. Pull Out Your Map and Learn the Compass Points
  3. City Vocabulary and Reference Points
  4. Phrases for Directions in Indonesian, Part 1: Asking Others
  5. Phrases for Directions, Part 2: Giving Directions
  6. Travel Time
  7. How to Use Directions as Language Practice
  8. Conclusion

1. Basic Cultural Notes and Phrases

group of friends in semicircle

Indonesian people are extremely friendly when foreigners ask them for help. Many of them speak English quite well, especially if they live near a university. However, since Indonesian is a second language for most people in the country, they’re also aware that it’s not incredibly complicated to pick up.

Therefore, if you can speak Indonesian at a basic conversational level, many people will be happy to continue the conversation without switching to English. In fact, they may end up speaking too fast for you!

When you want to get someone’s attention, you can say:

  • Permisi!

“Excuse me!”

Or maybe:

  • Maaf, bisa bantu?

“Sorry, could you help me?”

These two phrases will help you lead into actually asking them for directions.

Indonesian cities change a lot, with new buildings going up and shops changing owners left and right. Furthermore, street signs aren’t often marked very well, particularly the small gangs or “alleyways” that make up the majority of the residential areas.

That means that you should really only expect locals in the immediate area to be familiar with the layout of the small streets. Even taxi drivers ask locals for directions sometimes, so you’ll probably hear these phrases a lot!

First, though, let’s have a look at the big picture.

2. Pull Out Your Map and Learn the Compass Points

west and east

The word for “compass rose” in Indonesian is actually not the (fairly common) word kompas. That word does mean “compass,” but it’s far more common that you’ll see it used in reference to the nationwide newspaper and media chain of the same name.

Instead, it’s a name that I think is quite beautiful: mata angin, or “eye of the wind.”And the “directions,” or arah, on that eye of the wind are as follows:

EnglishIndonesian
“north”utara
“south”selatan
“east”timur
“west”barat
“northwest”barat laut
“northeast”timur laut
“southwest”barat daya
“southeast”tenggara

Using the compass directions in Indonesian, you can divide a city into various parts like this:

  • Saya tinggal di bagian barat kota.

“I live in the western part of the city.”

  • Dia tinggal di bagian utara pulau.

“She lives in the northern part of the island.”

In addition to these absolute directions, you’ll also need to know four very useful relative directions for talking to drivers, and really just describing things in general.

EnglishIndonesian
“left”kiri
“right”kanan
“forward”terus
“back”balik

In Indonesia, there’s one cheesy dance song that everybody loves. The lyrics are simple, and the chorus is catchy. Why am I mentioning it in this article?

Because here’s how the lyrics go:

  • Ke kiri! Ke kiri! Ke kiri! Ke kanan! Ke kanan! Ke kanan!

“To the left! To the left! To the left! To the right! To the right! To the right!”

You can find and listen to the song online, but be warned that you’ll never forget these directions afterward!

3. City Vocabulary and Reference Points

Basic questions

There are a lot of little words about cities, particularly parts of cities, that might slip through the cracks during your vocabulary review. When it’s time to give or get directions, it might be hard to express yourself clearly without these words.

pusat kota — “city center”

  • Bus mana yang ke pusat kota?

“Which bus goes to the city center?”

kawasan bisnis — “business district”

  • Tidak ada apartemen murah dekat kawasan bisnis.

“There are no cheap apartments near the business district.”

pinggir kota — “the edge of town”

  • Sebelumnya, tidak ada stasiun kereta api di pinggir kota.

“A while ago, there was no train station on the edge of town.”

pusat belanja — “shopping center

  • Kita harus pergi ke pusat belanja yang baru atau yang lama?

“Should we go to the new shopping center or the old one?”

Once you have those nice and memorized, it’s good to make sure you can also make sentences using more fundamental words, such as landmarks and streets.

patung — “statue”

  • Letakkan tas di depan patung.

“Put the bag in front of the statue.”

alun-alun — “square” (particularly one with grass and fountains)

  • Apakah alun-alun bisa dilihat dari kantor?

“Can the square be seen from the office?”

jalan — “street”

  • Maaf, jalan ini jalan apa?

“Sorry, what street is this?”

lampu merah — “traffic light” (literally a red light signaling stop)

  • Belok kanan di lampu lalu lintas kedua.

“Turn right at the second traffic light.”

kantor pos — “post office

  • Mohon parkir mobil di samping kantor pos.

“Please park your car next to the post office.”

bank (pronounced bang) — “bank”

  • Di mana bank terdekat?

“Where is the nearest bank?”

kost — “guesthouse” / “boarding house”

  • Ada kost putra di pojok.

“There’s a men’s boarding house on the corner.”

4. Phrases for Directions in Indonesian, Part 1: Asking Others

Asking directions

All you need to know here is two simple words: di mana. This literally means “is located where,” and is the best way to ask people where things are.

Simply say the thing or place you want to go to, and add di mana after it to ask for directions.

  • Universitas di mana?

“Where’s the university?”

  • Gramedia di mana?

“Where is the Gramedia bookstore?”

Now, that’s very useful, but you should know that it does assume that you’re certain there is a university or Gramedia nearby. If you’re not even sure about that, you’d better ask like this:

  • Apakah ada hotel dekat sini?

“Is there a hotel near here?”

  • Apakah ada warung makan dekat sini?

“Is there a small restaurant near here?”

The last way that you can ask is by describing what you’d like to accomplish, and then seeing if anywhere nearby fits that bill.

  • Di mana bisa cetak dokumen?

“Where can I print documents?”

As for me personally, whenever I read a phrasebook or guidebook, I always find that they use very formal language. And the very first time I tried one of these phrases out, a very nice security guard laughed at me!

If you’d like to try them out for yourself, though, here are some phrases that you can use to sound extremely polite. Use them correctly, and you may even impress others and make new friends!

  • Permisi, Pak, bolehkah Anda membantu saya mencari…

“Excuse me, sir, could you please help me find…”

  • Maaf, Bu, apakah Anda tahu di mana…

“Excuse me, ma’am, do you know where…”

5. Phrases for Directions, Part 2: Giving Directions

Directions

It’s a truly wonderful situation to be in a foreign country and use the local language to give directions to a local. The longer you spend there, the more your body language will show that you’re comfortable, and the more confident locals will feel that you know your way around.

Taking a “taxi,” or ojek, is another way you can show off. Let’s look at a couple of phrases you can use to guide somebody to their destination. 

Remember, be clear and concise with your language. Now is not the time to show off how good your Indonesian is, or to worry about getting each verb ending perfectly flawless.

You can set the stage by saying:

  • Sudah dekat.

“It’s close by.”

Or:

  • Masih jauh. / Cukup jauh.

“It’s still far away.” / “It’s pretty far away.”

This will at least give them a ballpark of what to expect. Here are some more phrases you can use:

  • Bukan jalan ini.

“It’s not on this street.”

  • Harus pergi ke Jalan Malioboro, lalu belok kanan.

“You have to go to Jalan Malioboro, and then turn right.”

  • Belok kiri di sana.

“Turn left there.”

  • Putar balik di lampu merah.

“Make a U-turn at the traffic light.”

Within hours of walking around streets in Indonesia, you’ll hear a traffic guard guide somebody backing up by saying Terus! Terus! This literally means “Keep going!” or “Forward!” even though the car in question is probably moving backward. (If you happen to be driving the car, by the way, give them a small tip. They work for free.)

You can use this word terus in two very useful ways. The first is to tell your driver to continue onward without turning, like so:

  • Belum, Pak… terus aja…

“Not quite there, sir, just keep going…”

And the other is to say “and then.” In our example above, we translated this as lalu, and that’s correct, but it’s also very common to use terus to introduce the next step in a set of directions.

  • Sampai di Jalan Affandi, terus belok kiri ke Gang Guru.

“Arrive at Jalan Affandi, and then turn left to Gang Guru.”

6. Travel Time 

man stressed about commute time

Let’s briefly discuss travel time. These aren’t specifically directions, but many people include them in their directions and it would be a good thing to understand when they do! 

Indonesians also aren’t used to walking or bicycling, which is how many foreigners get around. If somebody says that it’ll be a long time, they may be thinking in terms of motorbike traffic—which means it could be a really long time for you!

  • Berapa jauh kira-kira?

“How far is it, about?”

  • Rute ini akan memakan waktu dua jam.

“This route is going to take two hours.”

  • Naik motor akan memakan waktu satu jam setengah.

“Going by motorbike is going to take one and a half hours.”

7. How to Use Directions as Language Practice

Did you know that talking about directions can actually start a whole conversation?

Or failing that, some language practice opportunities that you might not have thought about.

When living in a foreign country, a lot of people find it hard to get out of the bubble of their native language. Even if you don’t have expat or English-speaking friends, it can seem like it’s hard to actually go out and speak Indonesian sometimes!

Asking for directions to a place you already know is a great low-pressure way to practice your Indonesian. It’s such a simple question that nobody will switch to English in their response, and by listening to several people give the same answer, you can practice your listening skills.

I also like talking to taxi or ojek drivers about how the city used to be in the past. You can practice the same words about streets and buildings by asking questions like this:

  • Apakah jalan ini selalu sama?

“Has this area always been the same?”

  • Kapan gedung-gedung ini dibangun?

“When were these buildings built?”

  • Di sini ada apa sebelum mal ini?

“What was here before this mall?”

Chances are, in some parts of Indonesia, things haven’t changed much. And in others, the city is practically unrecognizable after a few years!

8. Conclusion

peaceful landscape

Clearly, there are a lot of ways you can make asking for directions work for you.

I’ll tell you a secret—this stuff takes a long time to learn naturally, and if you’re studying or working in Indonesia, it could be months before you can tell north from south!

What’s not a secret, though, is that reading an article once isn’t going to help you much beyond reminding you how much work you have to do. Fortunately, it’s not that hard.

All you have to do is check out the other lesson materials on IndonesianPod101.com, and the very fact that you’ve read through this article will help you retain that information a whole lot better.

Then, when you’re wandering the streets of Indonesia, you’ll know exactly how to get wherever you need to go, and will be confident that you can ask others for help if need be.

You might even get to guide the locals! 

Are there any positions and directions in Indonesian you’re struggling to remember? Any we left out? Let us know in the comments!

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List of Indonesian Nouns: 100 Words You Need to Know



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

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

Right?

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

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

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


1. What Makes Indonesian Nouns Tick?


Nouns 1

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

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

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

2. Time


Man Pointing to Wrist Watch

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

Today (hari ini)

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

Tomorrow (besok)

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

Yesterday (kemarin)

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

Day (hari)

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

Week (minggu)

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

Month (bulan)

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

Year (tahun)

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

Time (waktu)

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

3. The Body


Nouns 2

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

Foot (kaki)

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

Leg (kaki)

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

Head (kepala)

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

Arm (tangan)

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

Hand (tangan)

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

Stomach (perut)

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

Back (punggung)

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

Chest (dada)

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

Waist (pinggang)

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

Size (ukuran)

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

4. The Family


Family Photo for Christmas

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

Family (keluarga)

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

Mother (ibu)

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

Father (bapak)

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

Parent (orang tua)

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

Child (anak)

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

Daughter (anak perempuan)

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

Son (anak laki-laki)

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

Aunt (bibi; tante)

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

Uncle (paman)

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

Husband (suami)

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

Wife (istri)

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

5. Working Life


Nouns 3

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

Salesman (penjual)

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

Teacher (guru)

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

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

Teacher (pengajar)

This is a more general term for a teacher.

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

Manager (manajer)

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

Doctor (dokter)

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

Cook (koki)

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

Employee (karyawan)

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

Writer (penulis)

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

Driver (sopir/supir)

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

Cleaner (tukang bersih-bersih)

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

Painter (pelukis)

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

6.School Days


Woman Sitting in Class

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

Book (buku)

Buku apa itu?
“What book is that?”

Pen (pulpen)

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

Pencil (pensil)

Kenapa pensilmu?
“What happened to your pencil?”

University (universitas)

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

Notebook (buku catatan)

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

School (sekolah)

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

Student (mahasiswa)

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

Homework (PR [pekerjaan rumah])

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

Exam (ujian)

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

Scissors (gunting)

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

7. At the Restaurant


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

Plate (piring)

Piring ini kotor.
“This plate is dirty.”

Bowl (mangkuk)

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

Knife (pisau)

Pisau ini berat.
“This knife is heavy.”

Fork (garpu)

Aku menjatuhkan garpuku.
“I dropped my fork.”

Spoon (sendok)

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

Cup (cangkir)

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

Teapot (teko)

Tekonya kosong.
“The teapot is empty.”

Waiter (pelayan)

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

Order (pesanan)

Pesanannya salah.
“The order was wrong.”

Bill; check (bil)

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

8. Food and Drink


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

Water (air)

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

Coffee (kopi)

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

Tea (teh)

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

Beef (sapi [daging sapi])

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

Chicken (ayam)

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

Avocado (alpukat)

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

Passionfruit (markisa)

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

Pineapple (nanas)

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

Fruit juice (jus buah)

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

Milk (susu)

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

9. Mealtimes


Porridge with Butter & Orange Juice

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

Breakfast; to have breakfast (sarapan)

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

Lunch (makan siang)

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

Dinner (makan malam)

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

Snack (kudapan)

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

Feast; party (pesta)

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

10. Transportation


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

Street (jalan)

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

Car (mobil)

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

Bus (bus/bis)

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

Motorcycle for hire; motorbike taxi (ojek)

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

Bus station (halte bus)

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

Plane (pesawat)

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

Bicycle (sepeda)

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

Motorcycle (sepeda motor)

Apakah sepeda motor mahal?
“Are motorcycles expensive?”

Taxi (taksi)

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

Train (kereta api)

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

Train station (stasiun kereta api)

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

11. Technology


Woman on Tablet

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

Television (televisi) [device]

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

Password (kata kunci)

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

Phone (telepon / HP / ponsel)

Kamu merusakkan HPku!
“You broke my phone!”

Camera (kamera)

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

Keyboard (papan ketik)

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

Button (tombol)

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

Screen (layar)

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

12. Around the Home


Nouns 4

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

Refrigerator (kulkas)

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

Washing machine (mesin cuci)

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

Water heater (pemanas air)

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

Fan (kipas)

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

Air conditioner (AC)

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

Stove (kompor)

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

Table (vmeja)

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

Chair (kursi)

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

Shoe rack (rak sepatu)

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

Door (pintu)

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

Window (jendela)

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

13. Conclusion


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

This isn’t our only vocab-heavy lesson, either. Although it’s important to get input from a variety of sources when you learn any language, you can’t ignore vocabulary. At IndonesianPod101.com, you’ve come to the right place!

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

Happy learning!

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