What Is ‘Pak’ in Indonesian? (Definition and Examples)

Perhaps it’s very normal to call other people directly by their names in some foreign countries. You can call your mom by her name, you can call your dad by his name, and you can call your brothers and sisters by their names. But unfortunately, that is not applicable here, as it’s even seen as a disrespectful attitude.

As the Indonesian language recognizes age and gender, there are many different ways to address people. In the last discussion, we have talked about how to address female friends, strangers, and elders here. We’re going to talk about how to address older men that we meet and invite to our conversation.

It is written as “Bapak“, that contains two syllables. Read as “Ba-pak”. It can be used in every position in the sentence. We use this for a very formal occasion when having a direct conversation with an important person. We also use this often when talking about the person with someone else (indirect conversation). Also learn more about Indonesian Conversation Examples

For a more simple way, we often use the last syllable “Pak”, and it’s often used at the beginning or the end of a sentence. Although it’s allowed, we rarely use it in the middle of the sentence. This is because it’s used to call them and address them when we have their presence around us (direct conversation). But we’re also free to use this often when talking about the person with someone else (indirect conversation).  This is also because it’s sometimes only used as additionally to complement the sentences to be seen as more polite.

As a consequence, we also should be polite to the extent of not using “you” or “kamu” when we already address these people by the title “Bapak/Pak”. We replace “you” with “Bapak” when we talk directly to them. Now let’s learn more about ‘Pak’ in Indonesian meaning.

1. Bapak/Pak = Mister

In literal English, we call older men that range from 30 years old above by “Mister”. It is usually translated as “Bapak”. It is also used in written Indonesian to address the addressed men in letters.

Formal conversation

How to use : Bapak ___________ e.g. Bapak Tony

Pak _____________ e.g. Pak Tony

Example

  • Good morning, Mr. Tony

 Selamat pagi, Bapak Tony

Selamat pagi, Pak Tony (at the end of the sentence)

  • Do you know Mr. Tony?

Apakah kamu mengenal Bapak Tony?

Apakah kamu mengenal Pak Tony? (at the end of the sentence, to talk about someone else with someone at our age)

  • Anything I can help?

Ada yang bisa saya bantu Pak(at the end of the sentence)

  • Mr. Tony, I just put your bags inside the room

Pak Tony, saya baru saja memasukkan tas bapak ke dalam kamar (at the beginning of the sentence to call the person, and the middle of the sentence to address the person’s bag) Also learn more about How to Say ‘Sir’ in Indonesian

  • You said that I should go back now

Tadi Bapak bilang saya harus kembali sekarang (at the middle of the sentence to replace “you”) 

2. Bapak/Pak = Father/Dad

But you also have to not misunderstand that this title of “Bapak” is also often used to address or call fathers as an alternative to “Dad = Ayah” or “Papa”. Many children in Indonesia are used to call their father this way.

Example

  • Child :  Dad, can you pick me up after school?

Bapak bisa jemput aku setelah sekolah? (at the beginning of the sentence)

  • Child : Father, I want to tell you something!

Bapak aku ingin memberitahu sesuatu kepadamu (at the beginning of the sentence)

  • Child : I love you dad!

Aku sayang Bapak(at the end of the sentence)

  • But you just said that I should go to sleep

Tapi Bapak tadi bilang saya harus tidur (at the middle of the sentence to replace “you”) Also learn more about How to Address People in Javanese

3. Bapak/Pak = Sir

It is often also used as the replacement of “Sir”. “Sir” in English that refers to people in the higher position/caste is translated to the Indonesian language as “Tuan”. But more often in Indonesia, it is also translated to “Bapak” for general people. The title “Bapak” is free from castes or economic background, it is inclusive to everyone and can be used for many types of people we meet. You can take a look at to take a look here to know a more specific way to use the title “Sir”. 

Example

  • We understand sir

Kami mengerti Tuan (at the end of the sentence)

  • Sir, anything we can help?

Tuan, ada lagi yang bisa kami bantu? (at the beginning of the sentence to call the person)

  • I did everything you told me to do, sir

Saya sudah menyelesaikan semua yang Tuan minta (at the middle of the sentence to replace “you”)

4. Calling “Bapak/Pak” to Stranger/New People (Older Male)

We also use only “Bapak/Pak” when calling new older men/stranger, because we don’t know their name yet. It might not be written explicitly in English sentences, but it should be spoken while talking in Indonesian. Also learn more about How to Ask ‘What Is Your Name’ in Indonesian

Example

  • May I know your name?

Boleh saya tahu nama bapak siapa?

  • Yes, how can I help you, sir?

Bagaimana saya bisa membantu bapak

  • Sorry to interrupt, may you direct us to where this address is?

Maaf mengganggu, bisa antar kami ke alamat ini Pak?

  • Thank you for helping us!

Terimakasih sudah membantu kami Pak!

That’s all for the lesson today! about ‘Pak’ in Indonesian. We hope you can apply this in the daily conversation!