Bahasa Indonesian Lesson Two

Greetings and Responses

In any language basic introductions must be learned. Introductions in Indonesia may include a gentle handshake and the touching of the heart afterwards to indicate goodwill. Always use the right hand.

"Selamat" is the basic greeting word, derived from the Arabic "salam", meaning peace.

"Selamat pagi" (Good morning), "Selamat siang" (Good day, from about 11am to 2-3pm), "Selamat sore" (Good afternoon), "Selamat malam (good evening, after nightfall), "Selamat tidur" (good night, "tidur" = to sleep).

An extension on the standard temporal greeting is "Apa khabar?" ("What News?") to which a standard response is "baik-baik" (very well), "Khabar baik" (fine news) etc. Other common greetings include "Mau ke mana" (Where are you going?"), "Dari mana pak/ibu?" (Where are you coming from) to which typcial responses may include "Jalan-jalan" (just for a walk, literally 'walk-walk'), "Makan angin" (just getting some air, literally 'eat air'), or "Dari +place" (From +place). Indonesians typically bathe twice a day and you may be asked "Sudah mandi belum" (Have you bathed yet?); don't take this too seriously; it's just another way of saying 'hello'!

When leaving someone it is polite to give excuse one's self; "Permisi. Saya pergi dulu" (Excuse me. I am going now) or more informally, "Da-da" or "Bye-Bye" with "da" from the Dutch for "day". If you are the one staying beyond "Selamat jalan" (Safe journey), is a good reaction.

Forms of Address and Pronouns

There is a strong sense of social hierarchy in Indonesia; the following is a brief selection of terms concentrating on the more neutral forms of address.

"Bapak", "pak", literally means "Father" but is used in the same way as "Mr." or "Sir" in English. It is a typical polite term.
"Ibu", "bu", literally means "Mother" but is used in the same way as "Ms." or "Madam" in English. It is a typical polite term.
"Saudara", literally means "Brother" or "Sister" but is used for anyone of similar peerage. A typical informal term and can also be used by older people addressing younger adults.
"Anda" is a recent, very neutral to the point of being stiff, term for "you"; it is often used in television commercials and the like.

Whilst the social hierarchy mentioned above tends to mean that polite forms of address are used instead of pronouns, there are circumstances when these must be used.

Singular Plural
1st person "Saya" (I) "Kita" (We, inclusive), "Kami" (We, exclusive)
2nd person "Anda", "Saudara", "Bapak", "Ibu" (you) "Anda Sekalian", "Saudara Sekalian" (you all)
3rd person "Dia" (he, she or it) "Mereka" (they)

"Kami mau pergi ke Ubud sekaran" (We want to go to Ubud now)
"Saya mau ke restoran" (I am going to the restaurant)

Personal and possessive pronouns in English are identical, however in the possessive expression the pronoun is placed after the noun possessed. One can also add the suffix "-ku" to nouns for first person possessives, "-mu" for second person, and "-nya" for third person.

e.g., "Tas saya" (My bag), "Tasku" (my bag), "Obat dia" (his/her/its medicine), "Obatnya" (his/her/its medicine)


The equivalent of the verb 'to be' is rarely used in Bahasa Indonesian, e.g., "Saya orang Australia" (I am an Australian lit. 'I person Australia'). Negation is achieved with "bukan" for nouns and "tidak" for everything else, "Saya bukan orang Australia" (I am not an Australian), "Saya tidak beli itu" (I do not want to buy this/those").

Bahasa Indonesia does not have definite articles, nor does it have plurals. To specify a single item one can add 'one' after the noun to represent 'an' e.g., "kucing satu" (one cat) or before the noun for a single item e.g., "satu tiket" (one ticket). One can also demonstrate specifics by placing the word "ini" (this/these) or "itu (that/those) after the noun e.g., "Passpor ini" (This passport).

Adjectives and adverbs are placed after the noun that they modify. Adjectives are combinated with "yang", a relative pronoun (the one who, that which) e.g., Hotel ini yang murah yang bersih" ('This is a clean, cheap hotel' or literally 'Hotel this which is cheap which is clean'). It is also used for set phrases; "yang mana?" (which one), "yang ini" (this one), "yang itu" (that one). Finally it is used to introduce subordinate clauses, like the English word 'which' e.g., "Hotel yang kami lihat itu bagus sekali!" (The hotel which we say was very good!)

Statements of possession can be formed with the verb "punya" (to have) and negated with "tidak punya" (not have) e.g., "Kami punya mobil" (We have a car), "Ini punya saya" (This is mine), however simple statements of possession simply use a pronoun following the noun of possession e.g., "Itu buku Erica" (That is Erica's book).

The general word order is subject - verb - object. There are no conjunctions of verbs with adverbs to describe time and place added to a sentence when the context is not clear. Those commonly used include "sedang" (currently), "sudah" (already) and "belum" (not yet), "akan" (will). These are placed before the verb. e.g., "Saya akan pergi besok" (I will go tomorrow).