What Does Saya Mean in Indonesian? Vocabulary and Meaning

If you start learning Bahasa Indonesia, you might encounter a lot the word “saya”. Saya means “I” or “I am”. It’s the first person pronoun in a sentence. As in the word “I”, It is how people refer to themselves in a conversation. However, it’s not as simple as that.

Also, look at easy phrases in Bahasa Indonesia and 200 Indonesians most popular daily words.

Saya, besides being used as a subject pronoun, it also serves as an object pronoun and a possessive pronoun. Depending on the context, saya can also mean “my” or “me”.

Let’s take a closer look at the word “saya”.

How to pronounce Saya

Saya is pronounced Shaa-yaa, with big, clear A like how people pronounce alphabet A in the word “llama” in English.

Saya as a subject pronoun.

Meaning of “saya” as a subject pronoun is simply “I” or “I am”. Saya is first put in the beginning of the sentence before the verb. As mentioned earlier, it’s how people address themselves from the first person point of view. It refers to the one doing the action.

Now that’s the literal meaning is explained, it’s time to look deeper into its contextual meaning. Saya is how people use the word “I” informal setting. For example, when speaking to the boss or the elderly. For informal speaking, such as speaking with friends, Indonesians would use “aku”, also means I/I am/me. You can learn more about polite Indonesian phrases here.

Examples of saya as a subject pronoun:

  • Saya sedang makan dan dia sedang minum. (I am eating and he is drinking)
  • Saya pergi ke Bali bulan Januari kemarin. (I went to Bali last January)
  • Saya adalah orang yang tepat untuk membantu mengatasi permasalahan anda. (I am the right person to help tackle your problem)
  • Saya meletakkan buku di atas meja. (I put the book on the table)

Saya as a possessive

Pronoun in subject, object, and possessive are no different in Bahasa Indonesia. That’s why “saya” also a possessive form of “I” in Indonesia. In English, saya translates into “my” as a possessive pronoun. Let’s take a look at these examples

Examples of saya as possessive:

  • Nama saya Toni. (My name is Toni)
  • Rumah saya berada di belakang rumah kamu. (My house is in the back of your house)
  • Saya harus mengajak jalan-jalan anjing saya. (I need to take my dog for a walk)
  • Saya membawa komputer saya ke teknisi karena rusak. (I brought my computer to technician because it’s broken) 

Saya as an object pronoun

The third meaning of Saya is saya as an object pronoun. Here, its meaning changes into “me” although it stays to “saya” in Indonesian. As in English, saya placement as an object is after the verb. Check out these examples:


  • Ayah mengajak saya berlibur ke Singapura. (Father took me to a vacation to Singapore)
  • Bella meminta saya untuk merapikan tempat tidur. (Bella asks me to tidy the bed)
  • Paman Anto mengirim saya sebuah surat. (Uncle Anto sent me a letter)
  • Pelayan memberi saya makanan yang bukan saya pesan. (The waitress gave me food I didn’ order) 

Other ways to say saya

Indonesian have other ways to say “I” or saya. On a more informal setting, like when talking with friends, people use the word “aku” to refer to themselves. In bigger cities like in Jakarta, young people often use the word “gue”.


  • Aku sedang sibuk membaca buku . (I am busy reading a book)
  • Nama gue Budi. (My name is Budi)
  • Aku suka makan es krim. (I like eating ice cream)
  • Gue akan menonton film malam ini. (I will watch a movie tonight)

Other slangs to learn: