What’s the Difference between ‘Anda’ and ‘Kamu’ In Indonesian?

In English, we just know one type of second person pronoun which is you. However, in Indonesia, we cannot just use the word you or ‘kamu’ when addressing to people. This is because there is hierarchical level of pronoun in Bahasa Indonesia which distinguishes the use of pronoun.

In bahasa Indonesia, we know some types of second person pronoun such as kamu, anda, kau, engkau, beliau, and elo. All those words literary translate as you but the use if the word is different according to who we are talking to and cultural context.

There are indeed many types of you in Indonesia, but in this version we are going to talk about the difference between ‘anda’ and ‘kamu’. Those two words are usually used in different contexts and for addressing different people. The use of both words is raising debates among native people as well because it relates to the politeness or honorific. So, what’s the difference between ‘Anda’ and ‘Kamu’ In Indonesian?

Also learn about the difference between ‘kita’ and ‘kamu’.

1. Anda (You) in Indonesian

The word ‘anda’ surprisingly is a fairly new neologism, dating from the 1950s. The word is a little bit formal, slightly trend, and mostly used Indonesian educated people. The word is also commonly used in public announcement and advertising.

In general the word ‘anda’ can be considered more polite than ‘kamu’ to address another party. However, throughout the years, the use of ‘anda’ shifts in meaning into egalitarian. If previously the word ‘anda’ is a little bit formal, but nowadays, it can be considered in the same level as ‘kamu’.

This means the word ‘kamu’ does not differentiate level, ages, and degree. So, when is the right time to use ‘anda’?

  • Address people we know for the first time. If you meet people for the first time and do not know how to address them, you can use the word ‘anda’. This indicates that you respect the person as if they are in the same level as yours.
  • In public advertisement and announcement. The word ‘anda’ is used because we do not know exactly who are addressing to. That is why; the word ‘anda’ is the safest choice instead of ‘kamu’.
  • In universities, when lecturer addresses college students. Addressing the word ‘kamu’ to college students because they are no longer children but it will be inappropriate to address them with ‘pak/bu/ or simply their name. Using the word ‘anda’ means that both lecturer and the college students are in the same education field. But, of course it is impolite for college student to address the lecturer with ‘anda’.

Also learn about Indonesian pronouns.

In every day conversation, the word ‘anda’ is rarely used. As aforementioned above, shifts in meaning, thus, there are some situations which ‘anda’ is not recommended to use. The first condition is among close friend, family member, or between employer and employee.

The consideration of the use ‘anda’ is not only because of the tittle, but also the age and relationship closeness. Also important, in written language, the word ‘Anda’ (with capital A) serves as greeting words and usually used to respect other people. Alright, let’s learn more about what’s the difference between ‘Anda’ and ‘Kamu’ In Indonesian.

Also learn Indonesian personal plural.

2. Kamu (You) in Indonesian Language

Unlike ‘anda’, the word ‘kamu’ can be classified in closeness and rather impolite context. Most foreign people, who use similar to ‘you’, use it to address all people from all level. However, the word ‘kamu’ also is not the same English ‘you’ which can be used to address all level of people. The word ‘kamu’ is used in several ways which are:

  • Used between two people in roughly similar age and close to each other.
  • Used by adults and parents to address children, daughter, and son. But it does not work the same in reverse as children should not talk back like that to adult.
  • Used by teacher to address to students in the same manner as parents to children.
  • Used by adults who wants to ‘talk down’ another adult, in a negative way.

Also learn about Indonesian conversation examples.

There are some points to consider when addressing people in Bahasa Indonesia as the following:

  • The age. You cannot address older people with general ‘you’ as in English.
  • The occupation level. The higher the occupation of a person, you need to address them in polite way. For example you cannot just address the president with general ‘you’ or ‘anda’ right?
  • The gender.
  • The social status.
  • The relationship closeness.

Also learn more about Indonesian language particles.

If you are uncertain how to address other people, the safest way is to address them based on their gender for example bapak/pak for older men and ibu/bu for older women. Also, you can also address other people according their occupation for example ‘bu/pak dokter’ to address doctor, suster, or even professor. Now that’s all about what’s the difference between ‘Anda’ and ‘Kamu’ In Indonesian.