20 Words to Get You (Almost) Anywhere in Indonesia


I once ordered “fried p*ss” instead of “fried potatoes” in a restaurant.

And, on presenting a landlady with her key, I announced, “I’m so sorry! Here’s your cat!”. So I’ve had my adventures in learning Indonesian.

And, my Bahasa still isn’t pretty.

All the same, if you’re thinking of getting off the beaten track in Indonesia, you’ll need a basic vocabulary. These 20 words of Indonesian will give you pretty much what you need to know.

Welcome to learning Indonesian 101.

1. Ada
Is there…? Do you have…? There is… I have….

Use this word to request things. Just stick the name of what you’re after onto it. “Ada kamar?” “Do you have a room?” “Ada.” “I do.”

2. Bisa
Is it possible…? Can you…? Can I…? It’s

possible…. I can…. You can…

Use this when you want to do something, or find out whether someone can do something for you. “Bisa ke Ubud?” “Can you [go] to Ubud?”

3. Ya
Yes. Yeah?

Also used as an interrogative on the end of questions, like the London “innit?” or “yeah?” or West Coast “y’know?”

4. Tidak
No. Not.

There are two negatives in Indonesian, but this one is always understood. You can use it to mean “no” or a “not”. “Tidak bisa.” “It’s not possible.” “Habis?” “Have you finished?” “Tidak.” “No.”


5. Habis
Finished. There is no more. Have you finished?

When being turned away from a petrol station, “Habis” means “We are out of petrol.” At a guesthouse, “habis” means their rooms are full.

6. Makan
Food. Eat. Meal.

One of the nice things about learning Indonesian is that many words can be used both as nouns and verbs. “Ada makan?” “Do you have food?” Just add times of day to make meals: “Makan pagi” (breakfast) “Makan siang” (lunch) “Makan malam” (dinner).

7. Selamat
Safe.

Add the times of day to make formal greetings: “Selamat pagi”: “Good morning.” “Selamat siang“: “Good day.” “Selamat malam“: “Good evening”. “Selamat jalan“: “Safe journey!” (Goodbye). You can also use it to ask if, for example, it’s safe to leave your bags somewhere.

Instant Indonesian cover image.

8. Pagi
Morning. Morning! In the morning.

As in “Selamat pagi” (good morning), “makan pagi” (breakfast). “Ada bis ke Ubud?” “Is there a bus to Ubud?” “Pagi.” “In the morning.”

9. Siang
Midday, in the middle of the day.

Selamat siang” (good day). “Makan siang” (lunch). (There’s a fourth Indonesian time word, “sore“, which covers the afternoon, but you don’t necessarily need to know that.)

10. Malam
Evening, night, in the evening.

Selamat malam“: good evening. “Makan malam“: dinner. “Ada kamar?” “Do you have a room? “Ada! Berapa malam?” “I have one. For how many nights?”


11. Kamar
Room.

Used when booking hotels, for example. The word for toilet is “kamar kecil” (literally: the little room).

12. Orang
Person. People.

Ada kamar?” “Ada. Berapa orang?” “Do you have a room?” “I do. For how many people?” Also as in “orang utan” – “man of the woods”.

13. Berapa
How many…? How much…? What number…?

In a shop: “Berapa?” “How much?” It’s worth learning your Indonesian numbers, but most Indonesians will write the price down for you on paper or a calculator, or hold up fingers or notes. “Jam berapa?” “What time….?”

14. Jam
Hour. Time.

Jam berapa?” “What time is it?” “Berapa jam ke Ubud?” “How many hours to Ubud?”

Instant Indonesian cover image.

15. Dari
From.

Dari mana?” “Where are you from?”

16. Ke
To.

Ke mana?” “Where are you [going] to?”

17. (Di) Mana
Where?

Di mana kamar kecil?” “Where is the toilet?” “Ke mana?” “Where are you [going] to? “Ke Kuta.” “I am going to Kuta.”

18: Bis
Bus.

Jam berapa bis ke Ubud?” “What time is the bus to Ubud?”

19: Kapal
Boat

There are many, many different words for different types of boat. “Kapal” means big boats, or ferries, but will be understood for most other types of boats.

20: Sudah
Already. Finished. Have you yet?

In a restaurant: “Sudah?” “Have you finished?” “Sudah.” “I have.” In conversation: “Sudah ke Bali?” “Have you [been] to Bali yet?”

Pronunciation

Learning Indonesian pronunciation is pretty intuitive. Three oddities? K is silent – or, rather glottal — at the end of a word, c is pronounced as a “ch” sound, and the “ng” sound is like the “ng” in the middle of “singing”.

Do you have any language shortcuts you can share? I’d love to hear them. Drop me a comment and let me know.

Need more? Read my post on the best books for learning Indonesian.

Instant Indonesian cover image.Or head on over to BookDepository.com, the Amazon-owned bookshop which ships free to almost everywhere in the world, including Indonesia, the US, Europe, Australia, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and pick up a copy of the wonderful Instant Indonesian. I didn’t know it existed when I wrote this post.


While travelling in Indonesia, it is so useful to access your Windows Desktop from CloudDesktopOnline and your online SharePoint with CloudAppsPortal.

105 Responses

  1. Peter Dundas says:

    to accompany sudah, belum (not yet) is pretty important.

    sudah mandi/makan…. belum. tense setter.

    always good when finding out if the bus or boat has left 😉

    • Theodora says:

      That’s a good call, thanks Peter (and damn your eyes! 😉 ). I should probably have included belum, and did in an earlier draft (which also included stuff on tense setting) but then a) I’d have gone up to 21 and b) I’d have had to explain when you use belum instead of tidak. The use of “tidak” answering “sudah” was wrong — of course you say “belum” — but “tidak” does work. It failed to make the cut along with saya, anda, mau, permisi and maaf… I set myself the crazy goal of 20, but I think you can actually do most of the basics in areas where folk speak Bahasa with those 20 words. Insanely. But, yes, sudah needs belum like ya needs tidak.

  2. Good little round up that is definitely handy for people that have no indo skills. The problem with any language book such as that horrible LP one is that they assume you are going to want to know things like, where can I buy film for my camera???? Really silly.

    I also think it’s worth noting that “mau ke mana” is usually just a greeting and that “jalan jalan” is a good catch all as a response. I love the innocence of it.

    As for shortcuts, I think it’s very difficult to learn any language! All I would suggest is to think of every sentence you are likely going to want to say and learn those before going to a place. Those 20 words cover most of the things you’ll encounter anywhere really. Except I guess for the pronouns and a few basic verbs such as “want”.

    • Theodora says:

      So I should officially have done 30! I had jalan (and jalan-jalan) in there, also mau, and the pronouns. Grrrr…

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    Wot, no bintang?

  4. Ansie says:

    I have never been to Indonesia but I have seen a phrasebook once. I was amazed to see how many Indonesian words look/sound similar to Afrikaans words. e.g. kamar = room (kamer in Afrikaans) I think it is because both South Africa and Indonesia used to be Dutch colonies and both have adopted some Dutch words. On the other hand, the Dutch brought a lot of Indonesians (in those days known as Malays) to South Africa as slaves and it is possible that we adopted some Malay words into Afrikaans. Does anyone know a little more about this language cross-over?

    • Theodora says:

      Off the top of my head: the language of administration and business (konfirmasi, imigrasi, etc.) comes from European roots, but I’m not sure whether they would be Dutch or Portuguese, as the Portuguese had influence in the area. Kamar would be cognate with Latin camera, French chambre, English chamber, so my money is on that coming from European roots also, but I wonder whether it’s actually Portuguese (who kept their southern African colonies for a surprisingly longtime) rather than Dutch. BUT, I don’t know Dutch or German, so that’s off the top of my head…

      • cram says:

        Kamar sounds like it came from kamra, the Hindi word for room.

        • Theodora says:

          I would guess, then, that both the Latin (camera) and the Hindi (kamra) came from Sanskrit or even a pre-Vedic Aryan language. It’s like panch (5), which goes to the Greek pente.

      • stof says:

        Actually the original word of Kamar is Arabic ie “Komra” and later latin adopted the same word for chamber.thanks for ur efforts dear Theodora

        • Theodora says:

          Hi Stof, Are you sure? Classical Greek has the word kamara (καμάρα) for “arched chamber” in the 5th century BCE, almost 1000 years before Arabic – Latin would much more likely have taken camera from the Greek than from the Arabic, and Arabic also borrows many words from Greek. Obviously, some Indonesian words are straight from Arabic – notably pikir, koran, dunia, laskar – but I don’t have an etymological dictionary to check this one with… Theodora

      • Harry Zak says:

        Lot of words are Arabic for example Kamar قمرة cabin. All calendar days except Sunday are arabic

      • Donald says:

        They are Dutch import words. Interestingly Malay shares most words with Indonesian except they use English import words instead of the Dutch.

        But Terima Kasih, BuTheodora this is very helpful

    • jennifer says:

      Yes there are many dutch words.they colonised Indonesia for 300 years. There are also Portuguese, Hindi and sanskrit due to the traders. There is also religious roots to the language from islam ie. arabic .The language began in Malay in the straits of Malacca , both are quite similar and there are english words as well. The language united the nation and was integral in their independence from Dutch rule..also facilitated by the Japanese invasion in WWII . From Jen B.A. Indonesian Language and culture

    • ana says:

      u r right, bahasa indonesia absorbed some european words as english, dutch n portuguese due to colonization. But actly it has its original root of malay language. Arabic and sanskrit played greatest importance to enrich our vocabularies and both are most absorbed languages since strong relations with hinduism, budhism, and islam in the past. 🙂

  5. LutungTheMonkey says:

    6. Makan = Eat : Verb.
    Makan – nan [ Makanan ] = Food : Noun.
    di – Makan [ Dimakan ] = Eaten : Verb ,Passive.

    Another example :
    Minum = Drink : Verb
    Minum-an = Drink : Noun
    di-minum = Drink : Verb ,Passive

    *When a Verb has “di” in front of it, mostly it will become Passive

    7. Selamat. It’s true we use “Selamat” and add it to the greets such as
    “Pagi”, “Siang”, “Sore”, “Petang”, “Malam”. But, it’s not commonly used when
    you put it in a sentence about security things like “It’s safe to leave your bags
    somewhere.”. Mostly Indonesian use “Aman”.

    Greet from Indonesia

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Lutung. I wanted to keep it simple, rather than introducing men-s and ber-s and per-s and di-s and -an-s and -kans and so forth. Tidur/menidurkan.

      I guess what I should properly have said is that the verb form makan/minum (eg) can be used in phrases that for Europeans would be noun phrases (but I think I’d have lost some of my audience). I also agree that “selamat” is not what Indonesians use. However, I have constructed the butchered sentence “Apakah tas itu selamat disana?” and been understood, so in a list of only 20 words it’s quite a useful one. My Indonesian is terrible, though. As you can probably tell.

      • LutungTheMonkey says:

        Well actually you’ve already made good roundup,
        it’s cover about asking direction and some other stuff that travelers frequently use. As an Indonesian, i just want to help, nothing else. 🙂

      • LutungTheMonkey says:

        Well actually you’ve already made good roundup,
        it’s cover about asking direction and some other stuff that travelers frequently use. As an Indonesian, i just want to help, nothing else. Hope you guys have a good times in Indonesia 🙂

  6. Lucy says:

    Nice work – I might actually give this to my students (I teach Indonesian).
    Harga – price
    Sakit – hurt/sick would be good inclusions in a list of 30. Also “bis” – bus – is very commonly now called a “bus” – pronounced “boos”.

    • Theodora says:

      You teach Indonesian, Lucy?! Lordie, lordie, that’s high praise! I’d go with sakit for an inclusion. And, yes, you’re right that I’ve found boos works better than bis. What dictionary would you recommend, btw? We used Tuttle. I’m thinking of doing a resource post on things to buy (periplus maps, ?Tuttle dictionary?)…

  7. Amanda says:

    Great article. Went to university and lived in Java, so speak Indonesian fairly well.

    Also agree with the ‘belum’ comment.

    Always found that no matter how little Indonesian that Westerners speak (even if it’s jut terima kasih), that Javanese and Balinese people truly appreciate the effort and will tell you you’re very good at speaking the language.

    Can recommend a great book: “A History of the Indonesian Language” by Sneddon as a very readable text about how the language developed, how it’s intertwined with Indonesian nationalism and identity, and how it’s subtly different from Malaysian.

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Amanda. I’d love to look that up. My Indonesian was terribly mocked by some educated Javanese the other night, which makes a nice change from “Pintar bahasa Indonesia! Pintar! Berapa lama di Indonesia?” My problem with it is that there’s so few words with European roots that I can’t just make up a word when I need one and get close enough to be understood. You were studying anthropology, weren’t you?

  8. Ainlay says:

    Perfect timing Theodora! Just arrived in KK and have lost all my Bhasa Indo let alone Bahasa Malay so this helps bring some of it back, thanks.

    • Theodora says:

      So you’re off to Derawan soon, then?! How exciting…

      • Ainlay says:

        yep, going to the Indonesian consulate tomorrow for visas and need to sort out the logistics of getting there and then down to Tanjung Puting National Park and back to Sarawak. Might be the kind of thing that seemed reasonable back in NY…

        • Theodora says:

          That’s an easy consulate. Took about 2.5 hours when we were there, but that included lunch break. you should be able to do it on internal flights relatively easily…

  9. @wftristan says:

    Hi, Great article, i have submitted it for entry into our Weekly whats hot in Travel “the worldfirst weekly wander”
    here is a link to our blog http://wfti.co/ijJTqL

    i hope that “wander” will be live tomorrow, many thanks

    Tristan

  10. These are very useful. I’m planning to travel in Indonesia soon – bookmarking this 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks! Add the other words folk have added in the comments, plus perhaps thank you (terima kasih), and you will cope just fine.

  11. Keith says:

    Thank you. Your 20 words have really helped me and being able to speak even this small amount of the language seems impress most Indonesians. Love your entire blog!

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Keith! If you want to move it up a level, the best Indonesian-English dictionary I know of is published by Tuttle, and you can get it in Periplus. The cheap Indonesian ones aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

      • Tai says:

        Ha, that’s a very good point! Indonesian dictionaries are useless even for beginners. the amount of silly mistakes in them is just hilarious.

        Lots of comments to this post. I’d add just
        that tidak is usually pronounced like tida or tida’ (with a glottal stop) and in Java-Bali and some other parts people say ‘nga’ instead of tidak. Also, saying ‘nasi campur satu’ (one mixed rice) and ‘air putih’ (plain water) will get you a decent size healthy meal all over Indonesia for sometimes as little as 50 cents 🙂

        • Theodora says:

          Thanking you, sir. God, I could murder a good street side nasi campur right now. Readers: that’s nar-see cham-poor, not cam-poor, and aye-ear poo-ti. Missing Indo a lot right now…

  12. @wftristan says:

    Hello as promised, your post is now included in our “world First Weekly Wander” which is now live on Our Blog.
    So you are now officially Hot in Travel

    hope you like it, please leave a comment on the blog and let us know what you think

    many thanks

    @wftristan

  13. Hi Theo, Sepertinya kamu sudah siap untuk menjadi guru bahasa Indonesia dan membuat buku traveling bersama dalam indonesia 🙂

  14. Mack Reynolds says:

    interesting. how long have you been learning the Indonesian language.

    • Theodora says:

      I started using it by force majeure when we were in East Indonesia last year. Nobody spoke English so we got a crappy dictionary and muddled through. I had some lessons in Bali earlier this year. But I am BY NO MEANS fluent. My vocab is terrible.

  15. Bama says:

    I don’t see that you’re Bahasa Indonesia is terrible at all! You even know ‘gimana’ instead of the more formal ‘bagaimana’. Nice!

    • Theodora says:

      I’ve been chatting to Indonesians on Facebook, which helps. Thank you, though! My vocabulary is still very limited…

  16. John says:

    Theodora, this is fantastic. I think you have really nicely summed up the kata-kata yang penting! Bagus deh. I hope we bump into you in Bali this September.

  17. mfajrinet says:

    I am indonesian people. Its nice to see you learn bahasa. I like to invite you to come my village in Derawan Island in East Kalimantan. There is like Raja Ampat in Papua.

  18. Traciegila says:

    Hey Theo! It’s s great idea to list the 20 basic words. I’m an Indonesian teacher in Australia and going from the uni textbooks to street language whilst living in Indo was a bit of a shock It took me time to downgrade from formal language. so awesome that you put it so simply and it’s relevant. I do agree with needing belum and mau. Only because words like ada, mau, boleh can be used as a question or an answer for so many things.
    The first words I teach my friends at usually ini, itu, disini, Di sana, Ada, tak Ada, mau, tak mau,Sudah, belum, bisa, tak bisa, boleh….. Because they are easy to answer and ask questions with in conversation. Yay selamat belajar semua- happy studying everyone!

    • Theodora says:

      Hey Tracie! We’re having a similar problem with Chinese at the moment. In that we’re learning the formal constructions, whereas in fact spoken Chinese is as condensed as possible. “Do you often go to see your friend?” “I often go to see him.” (instead of ‘Yes’) “How is his health?” “There’s no problem with his health…” (etc).

      I didn’t actually realise Indonesian HAD any grammar (apart from tidak/bu) until I started learning it… Brilliant that Australians are learning Indonesian. Sadly, the Indonesian gov’t is currently trying to stop teaching English at elementary schools, as I’m sure you know…

      • Riyan says:

        I don’t think so. English still being the must learn language for all Indonesian. In Indonesia English is like third language beside their local and national language. Usually Indonesian have this, English is third language, followed by Bahasa Indonesia as the national language, and local/traditional language like bahasa Jawa, Sunda, Melayu, Betawi, Bali, and more. But, in some big city people talk only with Bahasa Indonesia and English. Actually for traveler, you don’t really need to learn the whole local language like Chinese. What you need to learn are number, basic question and answer, words for help, words for direction like perempatan and pertigaan.

        You need to learn this:
        Tolong -> Help. It has two meaning first meaning is for asking an emergency help. Like, when you fall or got accident and speak louder as possible. [Tolong! Tolong!] -> [Help! Help!]. And second meaning, actually is not really important but have a deep meaning for people who talk to. [Tolong, es teh manis satu!] -> [A glass of ice tea, please!] I know its a bit hard for beginner, but beliave me you’ll get more respect.

        Maaf -> Sorry. You know how to use it!

        Permisi -> [Excuse me], or asking for permission. Use when you’re in a crowd place and need way. Just say [Permisi!] loudly. But, don’t too loud because people may become angry or annoying.

        The word [kamar kecil] is not really popular because its kinda old word and a bit Melayu. Just say [Toilet] and they will recognise it. Or you can say [WC], don’t spell it say it. [kamar kecil] is an old word that comes from Melayu.

        That’s it. Bahasa Indonesia is much easier than Chinese or even English. Btw, don’t use your british accent, because Indonesian isn’t really familiar. Almost all of them use American accent because they said American accent is more simple and easy to listen.

        • Theodora says:

          Sorry, Riyan, I meant stopping teaching English in elementary school – there’s been a lot about it in the Jakarta Post lately http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/10/19/eliminating-english-primary-school-and-its-discontents.html.

          I’d agree English is the third language for educated Indonesians, and it’s widely spoken in metropolitan Java and Bali. I found less and less English the further east I went through Indonesia, and in parts of east Indonesia (notably Halmahera) people will only speak their local language, without even Indonesian, let alone English.

          Maaf, permisi and tolong are useful additions to any list, indeed.

          I didn’t realise kamar kecil was unpopular. It’s still used for signs all over the place…

  19. Rahmadya says:

    seriously, you’ve done a great job about the Indonesian basic words you wrote. It would really give a big hand to foreigners.

    by the way, the explanations you gave about those 20 words, every Indonesians will completely understand. And if they don’t, just don’t worry you’re in vacation anyway. Enjoy it!

    ps:Indonesians are pretty humorous people, they will get it.

    have a great next vacation!

  20. rahul karosiya says:

    I want to learn inonasion language

  21. Was trying to remember my Indonesian and stumbled on this again! Great list Theodora 😀 You are right about it being the basic words that would get you everywhere! It was the same for me, I don’t “speak Indonesian” but I get anywhere with the few words I know! No proper grammar of course, but it is just understandable, and allows me to pick up on key words in what people are saying to understand…It was very useful especially when traveling in Java, as no one speaks English at all!!

    I would add to the list Minum for drink, and also the directions:
    Terus: Straight
    Lampu Merah: Red light (Merah: red is very important for Marlboro red smokers 😀 )
    Kanan: right
    Kiri: left

    Those should be very important when you ask a question with “Dimana”, I always got long answers with lots of babbling in between, but I only concentrated on finding these words in the answer to know my way…

    Now I wanna go back to Indonesia 😀

    • Theodora says:

      Indeed! For the Marlboro smoker, I would also add “putih”.

      “Terus” is important, actually. Perhaps because I’m female, they’d always point a lot with directions, so I lasted a long time without the words for left and right, which you can get from context — but you can’t get “terus”.

      And lampu I always understood because it’s, basically, “lamp”.

      I want to go back to Indo too…

  22. Stephen Flynn says:

    Your list is a good start – words I use the most in Indo are ma’af (sorry), tolong (please), terima kasih (thank you) and adressing people with i(Bu), ba(Pak), Anda, Kamu and most my most used word Teman (friend). I use it the same as we use ‘mate” in Australia e.g Hey teman

  23. Kiranchoudhari says:

    Thank u im kiran choudhari live in india i like indonesia language realy nice language…

  24. daniel says:

    hi! im living in jakarta for 2 years now and i would just add the words Saya and Kamu, that will be very important when building up sentences. and mau should definetetly be in the top20. thanks

  25. obbil says:

    I really like your blog, the way your explain your content, the way you think.. traveling around the world and share all the experience.. am so jealous.. 🙂

  26. ana says:

    wow great works! I cud share it to my foreign bf incase he wud visit me, lols.. 😀 😛 It’s good basic words Theodora! 😉

  27. maris says:

    the first two words i learned when I first visited Indonesia was “Keri = Left” and “Kanan= Right”.

  28. Interesting list of 20 words and good discussion- all very useful! Returning very soon to Indo!

  29. Deborah says:

    Awesome article! I put a link on my brand new blog, hope it is OK? It’s the most useful post on Indonesian I have ever seen!!! Thanks for putting it up there, I think it will be a life savior 🙂
    Deborah

    • Theodora says:

      Yes, of course that’s fine. Thank you for asking!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Deborah, Thank you for asking. It’s OK to link to the post on your blog, but not to replicate it entirely, and as a new blogger it’s important that you understand that it’s not OK to use other people’s work and images. There’s a range of reasons for this, but one is that it’s duplicate content, which Google frowns on, another is that it’s someone else’s work, which belongs to them (for images, you can use Creative Commons works from Flickr and Wikimedia Commons, but need to check the usage rights first). Links are good, because they send your reader over to my blog to read my work; taking the content just sends readers to your blog where they could be reading my content on mine. So, if you wouldn’t mind replacing the post with (eg) the first two or three phrases and a read more link directing people to my site, that would be great. Hopefully this isn’t too discouraging for you! Enjoy blogging! Theodora

      • deborah says:

        Sorry I just saw your reply!! Of course I understand, however I wanted to make some small changes/additions to your post, which I cannot do if I just link to your page, same with only putting a few words, it doesn’treally makes sense to me! But i totally get whete you are coming from, I’ll just delete the page!!! Sorry for taking so long I literally just saw what you had written!!

  30. Tim says:

    Good article Theodora although I can never understand the use of the word “bahasa” in an English sentence. I know what it means but wouldn’t the word Indonesian be more useful especially since this article is for complete beginners?

    • Theodora says:

      Yes, it would – particularly since “bahasa” without “Indonesia” just means “language”. But I’m not sure whether to make the change given this article’s so ancient now….

  31. wow, it’s so easy to travel in Indonesia

  32. Orana says:

    Great Stuff!
    I found your post looking for a good link to add to my latest post. Im grabbing it!
    Tera Makasi!

  33. Alison Lambert says:

    I have found “sudah kenyang” (already full) invaluable for the copious food offered.

  34. Andy Nova says:

    Amazing…. this is a good blog.
    I am from Indonesia and I am very happy when I read your answer about Bahasa Indonesia.
    You know that Indonesia People are friendly If you speak Bahasa with them. They will be very happy although your bahasa is bad. they will do respect you.

    There are some inportant words to all of you if you wonna visit Indonesia.
    >dimana alamat ABC ? = Where is ABC address?
    >kapan = when
    >dimana = where
    >siapa = who
    >apa = what
    >bagaimana = how
    >berapa = how much, how many

    Ohyeee…. now, I’m studying english in Bandung, Indonesia. So, I am looking for some friends to ptactice english. we can exchange our language knowladge and culture knowledge by BBM, Line, WhatsApp, or Facebook.
    if you are attracted, you can send your email to ” [email protected] “.

    Terimakasih / thanks.

  35. leon says:

    Here are some correction fop the point 6.

    Ada makan?” “Do you have food?. In this question, your translation is not perfectly correct. Indonesian people, very rare to say this sentence question. Ada makan is a kind of slang question. It is usually spoken by the reenager which means is ” have you eaten?” But the point is not about we have eaten or not yet, the point for this question is, we have a time, chance, to eat or not? So the “ada makan” can be translated perfectly in English is ” do you have any chance or time to eat (before you arrive here in front of me)?

    Do you have food? It can be translated in indonesia as ” ada makanAN? Just add the suffix an, the meaning will tottaly change if you add suffix an.
    Addition, in indonesia question word ussually add by wor KAH, just googling it, i can explained it by writing here, yoo long to explain. Thank you.

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks for the explanation! My Indonesian has come a long way since writing this post – but I think most people would still understand what a foreigner meant, even though it’s an abuse of the language (I’m sure I’ve used it in the past).

  36. Vivi says:

    It’s ‘ada makanan’ (n) not ‘ada makan’ (v) and makan pagi can be both nouns and verbs. ‘ada makan’ sounds ambiguous but yeah I guess it still works but more like an abuse of a language.

    source : I’m native

    • Theodora says:

      I agree it’s butchery – this is an old post. But the aim was to provide the minimum vocabulary to help people get around, and so from that point of view it’s useful….

  37. Cut Nila says:

    Hello Theodora, have you been to Indonesia?

    • Theodora says:

      Yes – many times. I found this type of pidgin very helpful during my first visit, which is why this post stays live even though my Indonesian has improved considerably.

  38. Ines says:

    Thank you! Very useful article and books recommended 🙂

  39. Maulida says:

    Hai Theodora, aku orang indonesia, aku tertawa saat kamu menulis ‘ada makan’ tapi aku sangat senang karena kamu mempelajari bahasaku. Mungkin, jika aku berbahasa inggris, tentunya aku akan banyak salah. Semangat!!

  40. N Mitchell says:

    Thanks. Useful article. But when I travel the first thing (sometime the only thing) I learn in the local language is how to say thank you. It makes a huge difference.
    In Bahasa Indonesia it is Terimah kassih, usually with an upwards inflection at the end, and sometimes just shortened to Kassih.

  41. Adriana says:

    Awesome thanks ‘ I’m here now and it’s been great to learn these 20 , can I plz have the 30 list ?
    Thanks for yr time and sharing this

    • Theodora says:

      Lots of people have recommended please (tolong) and thank you (terima kasih), so that’s two you should definitely add.

  42. lungfu wu says:

    Hi Theodora, Thank you to provide the Useful article. I am a beginner to learn to the bahasa Indonesia,
    wish to continue learning from you.

  43. Gotta add a comment here, I hope you don’t mind.

    “Habis?” “Have you finished?” >> the answer to this question should always be either “sudah” or “belum”. The use of “tidak” is very odd here.

    “Ada makan?” “Do you have food?” >> the translation for meal/food is “makanan” while “makan” means to eat.

    You can also use it to ask if, for example, it’s safe to leave your bags somewhere. >> Actually, the “safe to leave your bags” translates into “aman taruh barang di sini”. It’s not “selamat”, but “aman”. Aman here means more to the security of an object than a “safe” in “selamat”.

    BONUS: “Siang” refers more to 11a.m. to 2p.m. and “Sore” is more to 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Additionally, 6p.m. is called as Magrib, taking the Arab/Moslem time to do their 6 p.m. prayer, and after 6.p.m. is considered as “Malam”. From 1a.m. to 5a.m. is called “Subuh”.

    There you go.. Enjoy Indonesia!

  44. dot says:

    enak = delicious

  45. I’m very confused. Researching the difference between “ada” and “punya” my understanding is that it’s like Spanish for “ser” and “estar.” In other words, “ada” is a permanent condition, whereas “punya” is possessive. That would make some of these phrases incorrect… I believe the correct usage, for example, would be “Punya makanan?” “Punya kamar?” etc.

  46. thank you for do so much effort in indonesian words. that was unbelievable great translation.
    if you guys still didnt understand some meaning in Eng-indo or indo-Eng

    feel free to send me an email.
    im appreciate if u want to ask some difficult words or question or another grammar.

    i will helping you as i can.

  47. Josh says:

    Good translation but sentences would’ve been better not very helpful just a bit useless when speaking to locals

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