5 Basic Indonesian Phrases You Should Know

Whether you’re travelling to Indonesia or just simply wanting to know the basics of the Indonesian language, these five phrases below will help you getting to know the language better. In general, the Indonesian language isn’t complicated. If you get the chance to live in Indonesia for at least six months, you’d bound to pick up a thing or two. But for now, these phrases will jump start your journey to the wonderful world of the Indonesian language.

  • Selamat pagi, selamat siang, selamat sore or selamat malam.

Selamat pagi means good morning. Selamat in English is good and pagi is for morning. Siang, sore or malam is, like pagi, the period of time. Siang is afternoon, sore is evening while malam is night. This is the simplest form of greeting someone. You could use it for anyone regardless of the situation, be it formal or informal.

  • Hallo, apa kabar?

In the Indonesian language you could use hey or hallo, it doesn’t matter but it’s good to keep in mind that hey is more casual than hallo. Apa kabar? is How are you? in Indonesian. To break it down, apa means what and kabar in English actually means news. However, if you put them both together and translate into English it becomes: What’s up?

A very formal way to say this is: Bagaimana kabar anda? (How are you doing?)

  • Nama saya (name) or Saya (name)

This phrase is used to introduce oneself. The sentence above respectively means My name is (name) and I’m (name). There are two words in the Indonesian language that stand for the word me. They’re saya and aku, both of these words are formal while the informal ones are gue or gw.

  • Permisi, tolong or mohon maaf

Now, if you want to ask for permission, or talk to a stranger or someone who is older than you, you should use permisi, which means excuse me. Tolong on its own sounds very alarming. When you say it out loud in the middle of the street, people will think you’re in some kind of trouble. Tolong means help and if you use tolong in a context it subtilizes the word. For example: Permisi bapak, boleh minta tolong ambilkan garam? (Excuse me sir, could you pass the salt?). While mohon maaf means sorry, maaf on its own is fine and you could also use it to ask for help or permission.

  • Terima kasih & sama-sama or terima kasih kembali.

The last part is used when you want to say thank you to someone, then you should say terima kasih or makasih. However, the proper Indonesian word is terima kasih not makasih, though people use the former much less than the latter. Sama-sama or terima kasih kembali are the equivalents of you’re welcome.


[bahasa Indonesia]

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