Learning how to speak Basic Bahasa can be a daunting task, even for those familiar with learning new languages. But here at Vilondo we believe every new challenge should be taken step-by-step. So once you learn how to form basic sentences, you will realize that learning Bahasa is not as difficult as you first imagined.

How to speak basic Bahasa

Personal Pronouns

  • I = Saya  (formal), or Aku  (informal)
  • You  =Anda  (formal), or Kamu  (informal)
  • He,She, It  = Dia  (formal), or Ia  (informal)
  • We  (excluding the person you talk to) = Kami
  • We  (including the person you talk to) = Kita
  • They  = Mereka
 

Two comments:

  • Formal/ informal: in Indonesian, you will use different pronouns depending on your degree of intimacy (cf. “vous” in French). As a traveler, use the formal form by default.
  • We: When you talk at the first person of the plural, you make the distinction if you include or not the person you talk to. For instance, if you ask for directions to a stranger, you will use “Kami”. However, if you are with local friends, and you suggest to go somewhere, you will use “Kita”.

Tenses

Indonesia has no real tenses. You only have to add a verb auxiliary.

  • Simple Present Tense: Saya pergi ke Bali = I go to Bali
  • Present Continous Tense: Saya sedang pergi ke Bali = I am going to Bali
  • Future Tense: Saya akan pergi ke Bali besok = I will go to Bali tomorrow
  • Past Tense: Saya pergi ke Bali kemarin = I went to Bali yesterday

For the advanced speakers, the other verb auxiliaries are:

  • Saya mau minum kopi = I am going to drink coffee
  • Saya hendak minum kopi = I am going to drink coffee
  • Saya sudah minum kopi = I have just drink coffee
  • Saya bellum minum kopi = I have not yet drink coffee
  • Saya harus minum kopi = I have to drink coffee
  • Saya bissa minum kopi = I can drink coffee

That”s it!

Simple Sentences

1. To make a simple affirmative sentence, you just add the subject, the verb, and the complement. That”s it!

  • Subject + Verb + Object (e.g. place, time, etc)

Examples:

  • Saya makan mangga setiap hari = I eat mango every day
  • Mereka membaca koran = They read the newspaper
  • Saya hendak berenang = I am going to swim

2. To make a negative sentence, you just add the word tidak before the verb:

  • Subject + tidak + Verb + Complement (e.g. noun, place, time, etc)

Examples:

  • Saya tidak makan mangga setiap hari = I do not eat mango every day
  • Mereka tidak membaca koran = They do not read the newspaper
  • Saya tidak hendak berenang = I am not going to swim

3. To turn your sentence into a question, you start your sentence with the word apakah:

  • Apakah + Subject + Verb + Complement (e.g. noun, place, time, etc)

Examples:

  • Apakah saya makan mangga setiap hari = Do I eat mango every day?
  • Apakah mereka membaca koran = Do they read the newspaper?
  • Apakah saya hendak berenang = Am I going to swim?

Other post on speaking Bahasa

Read our other posts about on speaking and pronouncing Bahasa

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Who Else Wants To Speak Bahasa Indonesia?

How to Pronounce Bahasa Indonesian

Basic Indonesian Vocabulary For Bali Travelers