120 Important Phrases in Indonesian – Meaning and Examples

Selamat datang! Welcome back!

After reading Indonesian Language Phrase Book and Indonesian Everyday Phrases, it is the time to get to know more about Indonesian Phrases. Therefore, you will not only get familiar with it, but also know how to use it and understand the context of it. In this article, you will learn about Important Phrases in Indonesia.

Important Phrases in Indonesian to Start A Conversation

First impression is very important as well as the conversation opening. It is considered by many as one of Communication Etiquette in Indonesia. Sometimes, it is used ice-breaker or to show friendliness. Instead, Indonesian are known to be very talkative and love to have small talks, sometimes before go to the main talk. It is called basa-basi. Here are the lists of basa-basi or Indonesian Phrases to start a conversation.

1. Indonesian Greetings

  • Selamat pagi – Good Morning (formal)
  • Pagi – Good morning (informal)
  • Selamat siang – Good Afternoon (formal)
  • Siang – Good Afternoon (informal)
  • Selamat petang – Good Afternoon (formal)
  • Selamat sore – Good Evening (formal)
  • Sore – Good Evening (informal)
  • Selamat malam – Good Evening (informal)
  • Malam – Good Evening (informal)
  • Salam damai – (Literal meaning: Greeting of peace)
  • *You may also use religious-related greetings such as Assalamualaikum

More articles: Common Greetings In Indonesian

2. Using General Question in Indonesian Language 

  • Apa kabar? – How are you?
  • Abis dari mana? – Where were you? (informal)
  • Bagaimana perjalananmu? – How was your trip? (formal)
  • Gimana perjalananmu? – How was your trip? (informal)
  • Sudah makan? – Have you eat?
  • Apakah kamu lelah? – Are you tired?
  • Lelah?/Capek? – Are you tired?
  • Asking Questions in Indonesian

Even though all of the phrases above are interrogative sentence, the answers are not important at all because it is used as an ice-breaker. It is also happened to the greetings. Usually people do not really have an intention to ask, they just want to have a chat. Instead of get straight to the main point, Indonesian are usually start a conversation with small talks. Those are general phrases to start a conversation.

There are also phrases used if you need to interrupt/get into a conversation. Here are the more important Phrases in Indonesian.

  • Permisi – Excuse me (formal)
  • Misi – Excuse me (informal)
  • Permisi, bolehkah saya bertanya (Excuse me, can I ask something?)
  • Maaf – Sorry (informal)
  • Mohon maaf, bolehkah saya permisi (Sorry, could I excuse)
  • Maaf, bolehkah saya permisi? (Sorry, could I excuse)
  • Maaf, Anda dari mana? (I’m sorry, where were you?)

Notes: As the previous greetings and general questions, many Indonesians like to start their conversation with ‘sorry’ without really mean it. Instead, it is only used to add politeness because you may just bother the interlocutor(s).

Read also: Indonesian Survival Phrases and Common Sentences

How to Express The Words Please, Thank you, Sorry

The three words above are very essential in every language, not only because we need it, but also to show respect and politeness. In Indonesian the literal meaning of those three are tolong, terima kasih, maaf. It becomes very important, especially when you need help (check Say ‘Help’ in Indonesian), either for asking hands or Asking Questions in Indonesian. Here are how to use it in Bahasa Indonesia

1. Tolong (Please/Help)

  • Tolong! – Help! (urgent situation)
  • Tolong – Please
  • Tolong ya – Please
  • Tolong matikan lampu – Please turn off the light
  • Tolong bantu saya – Please help me
  • Tolong bukakan pintu – Open the door, please.
  • Tolong bantu bawakan barang belanjaan saya – Please help me carry my grocery

2. Terima kasih (thank you)

  • Terima kasih – thank you (formal)
  • Terima kasih banyak – thank you very much (formal)
  • Makasih – thanks (informal)
  • Terima kasih atas bantuan Anda (Thank you for your help)
  • Terima kasih atas kedatangan Anda (Thank you for your presence)
  • Puji Tuhan (Thank God)
  • Alhamdulillah (Thank God) – Muslim-related/Arabic

Here is it: How to Say Thank You in Bahasa Indonesia 

3. Maaf (Sorry)

  • Maaf (I’m sorry) – informal
  • Maafkan saya (Please forgive me) – formal
  • Saya meminta maaf (I’m sorry) – formal
  • Saya memohon maaf yang sedalam-dalamnya – I am deeply apologize
  • Mohon maaf atas ketidaknyamanan Anda – Sorry for your inconvenience
  • Mohon maaf atas keterlambatan acara/kereta/pesawat – Sorry for the delay (event/train/airplane)

Read also : Common Indonesian Words for Tourists

More Indonesian Idiom Phrases

As you know, idiomatic phrase is also part of Indonesian phrase. Instead, it is also consist Indonesian Important Phrases. Here are some popular Idiomatic Phrases related to human body. Take a look!

  • kepala (head) + batu (stone) = kepala batu
    – a stubborn person
  • kepala (head) + keluarga (family) = kepala keluarga
    – the head of family (mostly father)
  • kepala (head) + sekolah (school) = kepala sekolah
    – headmaster
  • mata (eye) + angin (wind) = mata angin
    – cardinal direction (East, West, North, South, Southeast, and so on)
  • mata (eye) + keranjang (basket) = mata keranjang
    – a person that possessed by money especially in terms of finding lover
  • mata (eye) + uang (money) = mata uang
    – currency
  • mata (eye) + hati (heart) = mata hati
    – deep feeling
  • mata (eye) + air (water) = mata air
    – water springs
  • mata (eye) + mata (eye) = mata-mata
    – spy
  • telur (egg) + mata (eye) + sapi (cow) = telur mata sapi
    – sunny-side egg
  • panjang (long) + tangan (hand) = panjang tangan
    – a thief
  • ringan (light) + tangan (hands) = ringan tangan
    – love to help/ helpful
    – a person that easily hit someone else (because lack of anger management)
  • angkat (raise) + tangan (hands) = angkat tangan
    – give up
  • turun (get down) + tangan (hand) = turun tangan
    – to intervene/participate
  • cuci (wash) + hand (tangan) = cuci tangan
    – avoid/deny involvement and responsibility even know about it (especially cases)
  • kaki (leg) + tangan (hands) = kaki tangan
    – accomplice
  • mata (eye) + kaki (leg) = mata kaki
    – part of ankle that the bones popped out
  • gigit (bite) + jari (finger) = gigit jati
    – failed
  • bertekuk (bend) + lutut (knee) = bertekuk lutut
    – lose 

Other Indonesian Phrases

  • buah (fruit) + bibir (lips) = buah bibir
    – a person/phenomena that become popular topic in a conversation
  • batang (stem) + hidung (nose) = batang hidung
    – a language style that means a person presence
  • rambut (hair) + nenek (grandma) = rambut nenek
    – Indonesian traditional candy dessert
  • daun (leaf) + telinga (ear) = daun telinga
    – outer part of ear

Now, you know more about important phrases in Indonesian Language. But, don’t get excited easily. You should also check these more thematic phrases