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Vowels :


  • A, a : pronounced like a in "dad".

  • E, e : can be pronounced either like e in "vowel" or like e in "red".

  • I, i : pronounced like short i in "hit".

  • O, o : pronounced like o in_"off"_.

  • U, u : pronounced like oo in "hook".


Consonants :

  • B, b : pronounced like b in "balloon".

  • C, c : pronounced like ch in "chapel.

  • D, d : pronounced like d in "diet".

  • F, f : pronounced like f in "fairy".

  • G, g : pronounced like g in "guardian".

  • H, h : pronounced like h in "home", pronounciation may be muted between 2 vowels.

  • J, j : pronounced like j in "jazz".

  • K, k : pronounced like k in "kill".

  • Kh, kh : prononced like _chin the Scottish "Loch", or german "Bach"._

  • L, l : pronounced like l in "lullaby".

  • M, m : pronounced like m in "mother".

  • N, n : pronounced like n in "nose".

  • Ng, ng : pronounced like ng in "sing".

  • NY, ny : pronounced like ny in "Kenya", like the Spanish ñ.

  • P, p : pronounced like p in "put".

  • R, r : pronounced rolled, like in the Spanish "rojo".

  • S, s : pronounced like s in "set".

  • Sy, sy :pronounced like sh in "sheep".

  • T, t : pronounced like t in "turtle".

  • V, v : pronounced like v in "volt".

  • W, w : pronounced like w in "water".

  • Y, y : pronounced like y in "yoga".


Here is a table to remember for numbers in indonesian :

10 + .. ...0 ...00 ..000 ..000 000 ..000 000 000
0 nol sepuluh tens hundreds Thous. Millions Billions
1 satu sebelas sepuluh seratus seribu sejuta semilyar
2 dua dua belas dua puluh dua ratus dua ribu dua juta dua milyar
3 tiga tiga belas tiga puluh tiga ratus tiga ribu tiga juta tiga milyar
4 empat ... ... ... ... ... ...
5 lima
6 enam
7 tujuh
8 delapan
9 sembilan

  Then you juste have to add numbers one after another, by example : 2.748.169.513 : dua milyar, tujuh ratus embat puluh delapan juta, seratus enam puluh sembilan ribu, lima ratus tiga belas.

To express halfs, you just need to add setengah after the number : satu setengah : one and half, dua setengah : two and half.

For ordinals, you just need to add the prefix ke before the number, except for first said pertama, so second is kedua, third ketiga etc...

Grammar, general rules

Phrases structure :

There is two types of sentences in Indonesian :

- Verbal phrases, they have a classical order Subject-Verb-Object, they're used with a verb to express an action ; saya makan ikan : I eat fish

-Nominal phrases that express a statement or a quality ( like "to be" ) ;

Dia saudara aku : He/she is my brother/sister ( lit: he/she brother/sister I )

Genders :

There is no grammatical gender, "he" or "she" are expressed in the same way and nouns don't have genders like in French, Spanish or German.

Agglutinative language :

It is an agglutinative language, that means that lot of words are formed with suffixes or prefixes attached to a root, that make a word with a related meaning to the root ; example : curi : steal ; pencuri : thief.


Declensions :

What that make Indonesian easy to learn is the lack of declension in the grammar, nouns and adjectives don't change according to gender or to different cases ( accusative, nominative, dative, like in German or Slavic languages ), even pronouns are similar either as Subject or Object ( saya means both I and me ), and there is no conjugation for verbs, even for past and future, that means that verbs are invariable, you'll use the same word to say "I eat", "he is eating", "we ate", or "they will eat", time is express only with time marker like "tomorrow" or "before".


 Article :

There is no articles in Indonesian, neither definite ( the ), neither undefinite ( a, an ).

Negation :

In a verbal phrase negation is expressed with "tidak" : saya tidak minum teh : I don't drink tea.

In a nominale phrase negation is expressed with "bukan" : dia bukan wartawan : he/she is not journalist.

Pronouns and particles

Pronouns and possessive :

We already saw that personal pronouns are the same, either as subject or object ( "I" and "me" are expressed the same way ) ; they can also be used as possessives ("my") when simply placed after a noun. Thus, if saya profesor means I am professor, profesor saya means my professor.

Here is the list of personal pronouns :

Singular Pluriel
1st person 2nd person 3rd person 1st person* 2nd person 3rd person
formal familiar formal familiar inclusive exclusive formal familiar
saya aku anda kamu dia kita kami anda semua kalian mereka
I I you you He/she We (with you) We (without you) you you they

* pour la 2nd personne du pluriel, on utilise la forme inclusive kita pour inclure l'interlocuteur, et la forme exclusive kami pour l'exclure

*aku and kamu are often shortened to respectively ku and mu

Demonstratives pronouns :

Ini and itu are much used in Indonesian and often replace the definite article "the" ; when they are used with a noun they are placed after it :

  • saya mau itu : I want that
  • saya suka madu ini : I like this honey


Interrogatives pronouns :

Always very useful like in any language, they are generally in the beginning of a sentence :

  • apa ? : what ?
  • bagaimana ? : how ?
  • berapa ? : how much / how many ?
  • dari mana ? : from where ?
  • di mana ? : where ?
  • ke mana ? :to where ?
  • kapan ? : when ?
  • kenapa ? mengapa ? : why ?
  • siapa ? : who ?
  • untuk apa ? for what ?
  • yang mana ? : which ?


Conjonctions :

They are used the same way as english, here are the most important :

  • atau : or
  • dan : and
  • kalau, jika : if
  • karena : because
  • tapi, tetapi : but
  • untuk : for
  • waktu, bela, ketika : when
  • yang : that


Prepositions :

Three prepositions are especially important and often used in different phrases : di express location ( in, at ), ke express direction ( to, at, towards ), and dari provenance ( from ) ; they can replace the verb when this one is not needed to understand the meaning of the sentence.

  • saya mau ke Indonesia : I want to go to Indonesia ( lit : "I want to Indonesia")
  • saya dari Perancis : I'm from France ( lit : "I from France" )
  • dia ada di sini : he/she is here ( lit : "he/she there-is in here" )

Other useful prepositions are : pada, to ( someone ) ; tanpa, without ; untuk, for ; dengan, with.

Ada :

The word ada is quite important in Indonesian as it is used to express existence ( it is a bit similar to есть in Russian or var in Turkish ) and can be translated with "there is" ; it is also used to locate something or someone in space.

Nouns and adjectives

Plurals :

Plural of nouns are usually formed by repeating the noun, anak : child ; anak-anak : children ; however, this repetition can also change the meaning of the word, and some words only exists under this form. It is not necessary to repeat the noun when the plural is obvious, preceded by a number by example, thus : anak-anak : children, but dua anak : two children.

Adjectives :

Adjectives are always put after the noun, and as we saw they are not declined : dua rumah kecil : two small houses ( lit: "two house small" ).

Comparative and superlative :

Are expressed with lebih ( more ), kurang ( less ), et yang paling ( that is the most )( or ter- for short adjectives ) and placed before the adjective :

  • baik : good
  • lebih baik : better
  • yang paling baik or terbaik : the best

Daripada ( than ) is used for comparaisons : dia lebih miskin daripada saya : he/she is taller than me. (lit : he/she more tall than I )

Compound nouns:

Many words in Indonesian are formed by combining two words :

  • dokter gigi : dentist ( lit: "doctor tooth" )
  • rumah sakit : hospital ( lit : "house sick" )


To be :

There is no verb to express "to be" in Indonesian, it is simply express by the lack of verb in a sentence ( nominal phrase ) :

  • David suami saya : David is my husband ( lit : "David husband I" )

However, to locate something or someone in space, we use "ada" :

  • Dia ada di rumah : he/she is in the house ( lit : "he/she there-is in house" )


Conjugation :

There is no verbal declension in Indonesian, future and past are expressed with time adverbs, or markers, thus :

  • saya belum pernah ke sini : I never came here ( lit : "I not-yet ever to here" )
  • dia datang tadi pagi : he/she came this morning ( lit : "he/she come earlier morning" )


Imperative :

You can give order to someone using the suffixe -lah  at the end of a verb, but it can be perceived as a bit rude ;

it is better to use saja or dulu at the end of the sentence, or more polite is to use tolong ( please ) followed by the verb with the suffix -kan ; examples :

  • Ambil itu saja : take this
  • Tolong berikan kunci pada saya : please give me the keys ( lit : "please give-kan key to me" )

Negative imperative is expressed with jangan : jangan makan itu : don't eat this.