Learn Indonesian Language (Bahasa Indonesia) | The vocabulary to know for a trip to Indonesia

Learn Indonesian Language (Bahasa Indonesia) | The vocabulary to know for a trip to Indonesia

Learn Indonesian, The vocabulary to know for a trip to Indonesia

It is never easy to learn a new language. Most Indonesians you come into contact with will speak some English, but the locals are much more open if you put in the effort and learn the basics of Indonesian. What luck, it’s a rather an easy language to learn Indonesian language.

Why learn Indonesian?

When traveling, it is always good to learn some basics of the language out of politeness and respect, but also to be able to manage in different situations and to be able to interact with the locals. Speaking Indonesian during a trip to Indonesia also means being less of a tourist, being able to negotiate prices and enjoying your trip better. Indonesian is a relatively simple language.

Take a small dictionary or download an application on your phone and learn a few words every day during your trip to Indonesia. You will see, when you learn Indonesian language, you will get a taste for it and your trip will be improved!

There are many other languages in the country, but everyone understands Bahasa Indonesia and you will be able to make yourself understood easily on all the islands, although you may be laughed at a little if you speak with it, accent from another island! Let’s learn Indonesian!

Read also: Religion in Bali: Cultures of Indonesia “Unity in Diversity”

Did you know?

Did you know that the Indonesian flag is the same flag as Monaco?

The flag of Monaco is graphically similar to the flag of Indonesia. Dave Johnston and Gambar Animasi, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

An easy language and rules to learn Indonesian language

Indonesian is perceived as a “very easy” language. The learning itself is a very useful experience, and you can make progress in just a few weeks. Here are the reasons put forward for this “ease”.

No time

There is no time at all in Indonesian. Instead we use time markers (yesterday, next week, etc.) and aspect markers (done, in progress, etc.).

No gender or case

In Indonesian there is no gender or grammatical case attached to the noun. That’s one less rule to learn.

Simple Plurals

The commonly accepted idea is that the plurals are really very simple to construct in Indonesian and that it consists of repeating the noun (for example the plural of buku, a book, is buku-buku, books), or of add quantitative indicators (eg several, a few, etc.) in the sentence (thus: beberapa buku → several books). A somewhat serious study quickly makes it clear that duplication has a completely different function, much more productive, than the formation of a “plural”.

A simple system of conjugation

Indonesian language has a very simple conjugation system. Unlike Indo-European languages like Spanish or French, words are conjugated to form new words based on the original. For example satu means one, and hence bersatu means to unify. This implies that there are fewer words to memorize and that it is possible, in a way, to compose from certain known words and conjugations to form one’s own words. The catch is that some words cannot be conjugated with certain prefixes or suffixes, but you’ll learn that it’s actually quite simple.

Use of the 26-character Latin alphabet

Which means that there is no need to relearn an alphabet, or to use specific software to write.

Consistent Spelling

Indonesian is very phonetic, just like Italian. Each character is spelled the same in any word, with rare exceptions. If you come across a new word, you will always be able to spell it correctly.

Tonal accent

The stress of Indonesian words typically falls on the last syllable of the word. However, no matter where the emphasis is, generally people will understand.

Sentence structure

Generally, sentences begin with a subject, followed by a verb (also called a predicate), and then an object. It’s good news that Indonesian verbs do not change depending on tense.

As in French. Indonesian is a so-called “SVO (subject-verb-object)” language, that is to say that the structure of the sentence follows a subject + verb + [complement of] object order. So you can form sentences simply.

Everything is regular

The word derivation system by prefixation, suffixation and circumfixation (combination of prefixation and suffixation) follows simple rules. In principle, you do not have too many irregularities to learn in addition to the basic rules.

Indonesian pronunciation

Indonesian is easy to pronounce for the French, indeed the letters are pronounced the same way as the language of Molière except:

C = “tch” as in child.

E = according to its position in the word, is pronounced “eu”, “é”, or “è”.

H = is aspirated, as in Arabic.

J = “dj”, which explains why Jakarta became Jakarta without changing its pronunciation.

K = in final position is not pronounced entirely, the sound must be stopped before it comes out.

R = Spanish roll

U = pronounced “ou”

W = “ou” also as in English water

The only real novelty are the nasal consonances like “ing“, “ang“, “ung“, “ong“, you should not press the g but break down “i-ng” etc…

Vowels prononciation
  • a like a in “father”
  • i like ea in “neat”
  • u like ou in “soup”
  • e like e in “mechanic”
  • e like e in “permit”
  • o like o in “ok”
  • o like o in “ton”
  • ai like ie in “tie”
  • au like ow in “how”

Lexicon and first conversation in Indonesian

Bagus: good, a word that we hear everywhere and on all subjects, which expresses admiration, joy, satisfactions.

Yes / No: Ya / Tidak (also used for the negation of verbs and adjectives)


Good morning (5 a.m. to 10 a.m.): Selamat pagi
Good morning (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.): Selamat siang
Hello (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.): Selamat sore
Good evening (night greeting): Selamat malam
Good night: Selamat tidur
Welcome: Selamat datang

Goodbye: Selamat jalan (if you stay) / Selamat tinggal (if you leave)
See you soon: Sampai jumpa lagi or Sampai bertemu lagi


Please (help): Tolong (please help me = tolong saya)
Please: Silakan (please wait = silakan tunggu or silakan duduk = please sit down)
Sorry, Excuse me: Ma’af, permisi
Thank you (a lot): Terima kasih (banyak)
How are you?: Apa kabar?
What time is it?: Jam berapa?
It’s okay: Kabar baik
My name is: Nama saya…
Is there a free room: Ada kamar kosong (empty room)

Eat, Drink: Makan, Minum
Large, Small: Besar, Kecil
Day, Night: Hari, Malam

What, Who, Why, When: Apa, Siapa, Mengapa, Kapan

Personal pronouns

I, me, my: Saya or aku (very common Javanese)

You, you, your: Kamu

He, she, him: Dia

We: Kita (inclusive, speaker included)

We: Kami (exclusive, without the interlocutor)

You (singular): Anda

You (plural): Kalian

They, they, them, their: Mereka

Basic Expressions / Common Words to know

Do you speak English: Bisa bicara bahasa Inggris?
I don’t understand: Saya tidak mengerti
Where is there a bus station: Di mana ada terminal bis?
What is this..: Apa ini..?
How much is this: Berapa harganya?
Expensive / Cheap: Mahal / Murah
You’re welcome: Sama-sama
I need your help: Saya minta tolong
I am lost: Saya tersesat
I want to go to the market. : Saya mau ke pasar
I am looking for the street: Saya mencari jalan
How long does it take to get to…: Berapa lama sampai ke…
Where can I rent a bike?: Di mana saya bisa menyewa sepeda?

Common Words to know (cont’d)

I am Australian: Saya orang Australia
I’m English: Saya orang Inggris
I am French: Saya orang Perancis
Left / Right / Straight: Kiri / Kanan / terus
Mr, Mrs, Miss: Bapak, Ibu, Nona

Are you already married: Sudah nikah

Where are you going: Mau ke mana? (want, towards, where)

More, Less: Lebih, Kurang
Minutes, Hours: Menit, Jam
Days, Weeks: Hari, Minggu
Month, Year: Bulan, Tahun

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Kemarin, Hari ini, Besok

I’m not interested: Saya tidak tertarik
I want to rent a car: Saya mau sewa mobil


Français Bahasa Indonesia
Zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten Nol, satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima, enam, tujuh, delapan, sembilan, sepuluh
Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty Dua puluh, tiga puluh, empat puluh, lima puluh, enam puluh
Seventy, eighty, ninety Tujuh puluh, delapan puluh, sembilan puluh
HundredS eratus

10 – sepuluh / 20 – dua puluh / 21 – dua puluh satu
100 – seratus / 200 – dua ratus
1000 – seribu / 2000 – dua ribu
1,000,000 – satu juta or sejuta
1,000,000,000 – satu milyar


English Bahasa Indonesia
How much is it? Berapa harganya?
It’s very cheap Sangat murah
It’s too expensive! Mahal!
Can you lower the price? Dapat mengurangi harga?
I would like to buy…this, this one! Saya ingin membelinya
I love / I hate Saya suka / Aku benci
Money Uang
I’m just watching. Aku hanya melihat


English Bahasa Indonesia
I would like to go to… Saya ingin pergi ke…
Air plane Pesawat terbang
Boat Perahu
Train Kereta api
Taxi Taksi
Bus Bis
I would like to rent… Saya ingin untuk menyewa…
Motor bike Sepeda motor
Car Mobil
Bicycle Sepeda

How much is a bus ticket for …, Berapa harga karcis bis ke …
A ticket for…: Tolong, satu tiket ke…
Where does this bus go: Bis ini ke mana
What is the bus for…: Di mana bis ke…
Turn left, right: Belok kiri, kanan
Continue straight: Terus saja


English Bahasa Indonesia
Where… ? / How to go to… ? Dimana…? / Bagaimana untuk pergi ke…?
Bank Bank
Train station Stasiun
Downtow Pusat kota
Hotel Hotel
Hospital Rumah sakit
Is it near/far? Apakah ini dekat/sejauh ini?
Straight ahead Tejus sara
Left / right Belok kiri / kanan
North / South / East / West Utara / Selatan / Adalah / Barat

Times / Dates and days

English Bahasa Indonesia
What time is it? Jam berapa?
When? Kapan?
Yesterday Kemarin
Today (morning/noon/evening) Hari Ini (pagi/siang/malam)
Tomorrow Besok
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Senin, Selasa, Rabu, Kamis, Jum’at, Sabtu, Minggu
I’m here on vacation / traveling Saya di sini berlibur / jalan-jalan
I’m here for work / for business Saya di sini untuk bekerja / bisnis


English Bahasa Indonesia
I’m hungry / I’m thirsty Saya lapar / Aku haus
Enjoy your food Selamat makan
Cheers! Selamat minum!
That was delicious Itu lezat
What do you recommend me? Apa yang Anda saya rekomendasikan?
I am vegetarian Saya vegetarian
No spice! (No chili) Tanpa rempah-rempah (Tanpa cabai)
It’s too hot (chili)! Terlatu pedas
I am allergic Saya alergi
Seafood Makanan Laut
Peanut Kacang
Gluten Gluten
I would like… Saya ingin
Water Air
Tea/coffee Teh/kopi
Beer/wine Bir/anggur
Bill or check please Tolong minta bon

Health / Emergency / Security

English Bahasa Indonesia
I need to see a doctor Saya perlu untuk melihat seorang dokter
Call a doctor/ambulance Call dokter/ ambulans
Where is the hospital? Di mana rumah sakit?
I do not feel very good Saya tidak merasa sehat
I hurt here Saya sakit disini
Where is the restroom / toilette? Di mana WC?
Help! Tolong!
Police Polisi
Danger Bahaya
I’m lost Saya teresat

Read also: Important Numbers in Bali | Essential numbers and addresses + Emergency Numbers

Bali Heritage, Culture and Traditions

Photo credit: StockSnap via Pixabay

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