Asking Question in Indonesian – Example and Meaning

Hello! When you need an answer of course you have to know how to ask. ‘Malu bertanya sesat di jalan’ (Hesitant to ask would cause you to get lost), an Indonesian proverbs that mostly true, right? You have learned some tips in Asking in Indonesian.

At this opportunity, let’s learn another Asking Question in Indonesian. Therefore, you will know how to make an interrogative sentence and at least know some survival phrases in Bahasa Indonesia. Before we start, let’s refresh your mind with these following articles.

Question words in Indonesian

For basic knowledge, we need to learn the Indonesian Question Word. Here they are!

  • apa = what (Apa yang terjasi – What is happening?)
  • siapa = who (Siapa yang memakan kue ini? – Who ate this cake?)
  • kapan = when (Kapan ulang tahunmu? – When is your birthday?)
  • di mana = where (Di mana kamu tinggal? – Where do you live?)
  • ke mana = where to (Ke mana ia pergi – Where is he going?)
  • dari mana = where from (Dari mana ia datang? – Where is he come from?)
  • bagaimana (formal), gimana (informal) = how (Bagaimana kau bisa tahu? – How do you know?)
  • mengapa (formal), kenapa (informal) = why (Mengapa kamu menangis? – Why you are crying?)
  • yang mana = which (Kamu pilih yang mana? – Which one do you choose?)

Notes: if you want to ask yes/no question, you could add suffix ‘-kah’
For example: apakah (do you)?, benarkah (is it right?), bolehkah (can I/may I?) and so on

Read also: Indonesian Suffixes

Survival Indonesian Question Phrases

  • Siapa namamu? (inf)/ Siapa nama Anda? (formal) – What is your name?
  • Berapa umurmu? (inf)/ Berapa umur Anda (formal)? – – How old are you?
  • Bagaimana kabarmu?/Apa kabar? – How are you?
  • Jam berapa (sekarang)? – What time is it (now)?
  • Dari mana kamu berasal? (inf)/ Dari mana Anda berasal (formal) – Where are you come from?
  • Di mana (letak) …? Di manakah …? – Where is
    *if you ask for person position you won’t need ‘letak’
  • Berapa harga …? – How much is … price?
    *You could simply say ‘berapakah ini’ (how much is this?)
  • Apa yang sedang kamu lakukan? (inf)/ Apa yang sedang Anda lakukan (formal) – What are you doing?
  • Bolehkah kamu membantuku (inf)/ Bolehkah Anda membantu saya? – Could you help me?

Further readings: Useful Words to Get You Anywhere in Indonesia

Cultural Addition to Asking Question in Indonesian

Beside Indonesian Grammar Rules, learning about the society and its culture is as important as create a well-structured sentence. Here are some very useful information that you should notice when you need to ask question to Indonesian.

  • Using an introduction/greetings

In Indonesian Greeting Etiquette and Manners you have learned how important to say a greeting before start a conversation, especially when you ask someone help. It will show politeness and respect. Most common phrase for it is ‘permisi’ (excuse me). In addition it is very nice to add some greeting such as ‘Selamat pagi’ (good morning) and its equivalent. You could also add ‘Maaf’ (Sorry [to interrupt]). The essential thing is do not just ask question as your first sentence, especially to strangers!

Example: Selamat pagi! Permisi, Pak.  Di manakah letak rumah sakit? (Good morning! Excuse me, Sir. Where is the hospital?)

Read also: Sacred Communication Etiquette

  • Know with whom you talk with

Another important thing is know with whom you talk with. Therefore, you would know how to choose the proper words because every words has different sense. The language itself would represent who you are from the way you treat other through your words. Some of it includes pronouns, title, verbs. In fact, in Javanese there are three different languages. Therefore, how you talk to your peers (including the language) could not be implied to your parents. 

  • Using the right title

Title is one of the essential thing in Indonesian. You could not call your parents or teacher only by their name. Therefore, there are titles, such as Pak (Sir), Bu (Mam), Kak (for someone a little bit older than you) and so on. For more information, you could check at Formal Pronouns and Indonesian Formal Language

  • Ending the conversation with ‘terima kasih’ (thank you)

The last but not least. Close it with appreciation ‘thank you’ or in Bahasa Indonesia ‘terima kasih’. I think it is also implied to any country in the world. It is a simple as well as sacred, right?

Further readings: Offensive Hand Gestures in Indonesia and Indonesian High Context Culture

To conclude, the way we talk does not only mean how well we understand grammar, but how we adapt with the situation we may face, including asking question in Indonesian. Before we end the lesson, you could read some useful articles that may support your Bahasa Indonesia learning.