What is “Mas” in Indonesian Language? (Definition and Examples)

You’re probably confused because there are so many ways to address people in Indonesia because it’s pretty sensitive here. It’s going to be weird if we don’t call way older people than us with the correct title. It’s not like other languages that call people immediately by their names. Indonesian language embodies respect and hierarchical structure of age in the society, even on the daily basis.

We have learned before how to address older girl/females and we have also learned how to address older men. Now we’re going to learn how to call older boys/male.

“Mas” in Indonesian : Mas = Kakak/Kak = Brother

There are many ways to call older boys/male. In literal English, the term is translated from the title “brother”. But as Indonesia has various traditional language, you might hear many ways to call them. General Indonesian language uses “Kakak/Kak” that is general for both female and male. But it is usually used in formal family spheres that use only Indonesian language. Also learn more about Indonesian Conversation Examples

However, you’re going to automatically find the difference when you move from one region to another region. Because some places still use their own traditional language. For example, if you move from West Java to Central Java, then you’re going to understand that they use a different term for the same meaning. In the Sundanese culture (West Java region) we perhaps call “aa” for male elders.

But specifically, “mas” came from Javanese traditional language that still commonly used in Central and East Java to address older brother or male family relatives. As the culture got assimilated, this term becomes normal to be used for every older boys/ male that we meet. It is already being adapted to be used everywhere, such as in media talk shows, daily conversations, and so on. Also learn more about How to Say ‘Sir’ in Indonesian

In contrary, we call younger people with “adik” that is general for all genders (both female and male).

Addressing male/boy strangers

When talking to strangers, the first thing we observe is how they might want to be called. We can consider that through estimating their age and position. If they are old men or men with children we can directly call them “bapak” / “Sir”. But if they seem to like older career men, under 30, or at the same age as us, we can directly call them “mas” without knowing their names. Also learn more about How to Address People in Javanese

It is used when we do daily activities with people we barely know. This can happen in buying and selling transactions, or in sudden conversation with some strangers during the way, and more. We use this term exactly because we don’t know their name yet, so It’s more respectful to address them with it. It might not be written in papers. Note :

  • It’s put at the beginning of the sentence to call the person.
  • It is also often put at the end of the sentence as a mean to address them respectfully.
  • It is put at the middle when we want to refer to them indirectly during our conversation with someone else.
  • It is also used to replace the word “you”. However, it’s not obligatory and still polite to use “you”.

Example

  • I think I’m going to stop here

Mas, saya berhenti di sini saja (at the beginning of the sentence to call the person)

  • Good morning

Selamat pagi mas (at the end of the sentence to address them respectfully)

  • How many should I pay for this?

Berapa harga benda ini mas?  (at the end of the sentence to address them respectfully)

  • Are you Nick’s sister that works beside us?

Apakah kamu adiknya mas Nick yang bekerja di sebelah kita? (at the middle to refer to the person)

  • I think I saw you in the bar yesterday

Aku rasa aku pernah melihat mas di bar kemarin (to replace “you”) 

Addressing other male/boys

When we’re already familiar with the person that we’re talking to, you can directly add their name after using the title without hesitation. Also learn more about How to Ask ‘What Is Your Name’ in Indonesian

How to use “Mas” in Indonesian :

Mas ___________ e.g. Mas Robert, Mas Budi

Example

  • Hello Andy, long time no see

Halo mas Andy, sudah lama tidak berjumpa (at the beginning of the sentence to call the person)

  • Is there anything I can help?

Ada yang bisa saya bantu mas? (at the end of the sentence to address them respectfully)

  • I met Andy on my way here

Aku bertemu mas Andy dalam perjalananku kesini  (at the middle to refer the person)

  • I think you have told me that yesterday

Aku rasa mas sudah bilang itu ke aku kemarin (to replace “you”), it’s also ok to still use “kamu” :

Aku rasa kamu sudah bilang itu ke aku kemarin

So this is the end of the lesson today about “Mas” in Indonesian ! I hope you understand and can apply it in your daily Indonesian life!