Indonesian Question Word Order – Formula – Structure

After learning Indonesian grammar exercise, the next course to learn is question word order. Constructing question in Indonesia is not as difficult as in English. In general, Bahasa Indonesian employs S-V-O word order with no verb changes (due to time, gender, or number of the subject). Indonesian question word can be divided into two kinds which are yes/no question and WH question.

Related: Indonesian conversation example

Yes/No Question

Yes/No question in Indonesia is very easy. It is basically an affirmative sentence but ends with question mark. Certain expression can be added to emphasize the questions.

  • Kamu sudah belajar. (You have studied)
  • Kamu sudah belajar? (have you study?)

See, you just need to add “?” question mark to turn a sentence into question. In conversation, just increase the intonation on the last word in the sentence to indicate question mark.

WH Question Word

Making yes/no question in bahasa is quite easy, but making WH question can be a little bit tricky. The tricky part is not about where to put the subject or the verb, but it can be a little confusing where to put the question word. Different placing of the question word indeed can indicate different meaning.

The following is the list of Indonesian question word order.

  • Apa – what
  • Siapa – who
  • Kapan – where
  • (di/ke/dari) mana – where (at/to/from)
  • Berapa (lama, banyak, ..) – how (long, many, much..)
  • Yang mana – which one
  • Mengapa – why
  • Bagaimana – how

The structure of question word

The general construction of interrogative sentence in Indonesia has the same word order as affirmative sentence with one of the question word in the beginning or end part of the sentence. This can be used in almost every question sentence except when the suffix –kah is attached to the question word. When suffix –kah is attached to question words, it should be placed in the beginning of the sentence only.

1. Apa

The question word ‘apa’ can have different meaning depends on the location including open-ended answer and yes/no question. When ‘apa’ is placed before a noun, it is expected to be an open-ended answer.

Related: Indonesian verb conjugation

Yes/no question

Sentence structure: Apa + sentence +?

Q: Apa kamu sudah mandi? (have you taken a bath?)

A: Ya, saya sudah mandi. (Yes, I have taken a bath) 

Open-ended question

Sentence structure: sentence + Apa+?

Q: kamu sedang apa? (what are you doing?)

A: saya sedang membaca buku. (I am reading a book)

Q: kamu mau makan apa? (what do you want to eat?)

A: saya mau makan roti. (I want to eat bread)

Expected open-ended answer

Sentence structure: apa+noun+subject+?

Q: Apa nama ibu kota Indonesia? (what is the capital city of Indonesia?)

A: Jakarta

Related: Indonesian sentence construction

2. Apakah

Apakah is derived from the root word ‘apa’. It can be considered as the formal form of yes/no question. The formula to use this is to add the word apakah in the beginning of the sentence. Take a look at below example.

  • Apakah kamu akan pergi ke Jakarta (Will you go to Jakarta?)
  • Apakah kamu sudah makan? ( Have you eat?)
  • Apakah dia suka makanan tradisional Indonesia? (Does he like Indonesian food?)  

3. Siapa

Siapa in bahasa Indonesia can mean who, whose, and whom. The difference is only the place of order of the word.

  • Siapa itu? (Who is that?)
  • Buku siapa ini? (Whose book is this?)
  • Kamu berbicara dengan siapa? (Whom do you talk to?)
  • Dengan siapa kamu berbicara? (with whom do you speak?)
  • Kepada siapa kamu berbicara? (whom did you talk to?

4. Kapan

‘Kapan’ can be placed anywhere in the sentence without changing the meaning. Take a look at below example.

  • Kapan kamu pergi ke Jakarta? (When will you go to Jakarta?)
  • Sejak kapan kamu sampai di Jakarta? (Since when you get in Jakarta?)

5. (Di/ke/dari) mana

The question word ‘mana’ cannot be separated from preposition di/ke/dari. In English, it translated as where.

  • Kamu pergi kemana? (Where are you going?)
  • Kamu berasal dari mana? (Where are you come from?)
  • Dimana rumahmu? (Where is your house?)

‘Kemana’ and ‘darimana’ are mostly used to ask about one’s motion from one place to another, while ‘dimana’ is to ask certain location.

6. Berapa (lama, banyak, …)

The question word ‘berapa’ is used when you expect answer which is ‘number’ with the following formula.

  1. …sentence.. + berapa+? (asking for time)
  2. Berapa + sentence+? (asking for other than time)


  • Jam berapa sekarang? (What time is it now?)
  • Berapa harga mangga ini? (How much is this mango?)
  • Berapa banyak uang yang anda perlu? (How much money that you need?)

Related: Indonesian reading practice

7. Mengapa, bagaimana

The last two question words are placed in the beginning of the sentence only. Here are the examples of Indonesian question word order.

  • Mengapa kamu datang terlambat? (Why did you come late?)
  • Bagaimana kamu datang ke kantor? (How do you come to office?)

Constructing question sentence in Indonesian is not difficult. That’s all theory about Indonesian question word order. You just need to remember the word order and do not need to worry about verb or subject change