Learn bahasa Indonesia: The 20 most important words

Bahasa Indonesia dictionary

This is the first in a series of posts we’ll do on learning Indonesian. The first formal post will explore the alphabet, then we’ll move onto numbers, explore words that are useful for restaurants, travel, and describing many things, and then we’ll delve into grammar.

This first post however just lists the 20 most important words you can start using right now to be understood on a basic but clear way. Like most places in the world, locals appreciate it when you have a go at their language — the list below gives you a great place to start.

Words you can’t live without

  • Yes – Ya
  • No – Tidak (tid-a)
  • Hello – Hallo
  • Bye – Sampai jumpa (sam-pie joom-pa)
  • Thank you – Terima kasih (te-ree-mah kah-see)
  • No, thank you – Tidak terima kasih (tid-a te-ree-mah kah-see)
  • Good – Biak (by-eek)  Used when someone asks how you are.
  • Good – Bagus (ba-goos) Used to describe something.
  • Bad – Tidak bagus (tid-a ba-goos)
  • Excuse me! – Permisi (per-mee-see)
  • Sorry! – Maaf (mao-ff)
  • Want/Would like – Mau (mao)
  • Name – Nama (nam-a)
  • I, me, my – Saya (sigh-ah)
  • You, yours – Anda (an-da)
  • Expensive – Mahal (mah-hal)


  • Who – Siapa (see-ah-pa)
  • What – Apa (ah-pa)
  • Where – Mana (mah-na)
  • How much? – Barapa? (bah-ra-pa)

If you think we’ve missed any essential words, please share your thoughts below.

2013-11-18T04:57:14+00:00November 18th, 2013|