0.01 Introduction
0.02 Learning Indonesian
0.03 The Alphabet
0.04 Pronunciation
0.05 Greetings
0.06 Formal Speech
0.07 How are you?
0.08 Numbers
0.09 Dates
0.10 Telling Time
Review Test
Talk : pagelessons
v  d  e ) Indonesian Language Course (discussion)
Learning the Indonesian Language  •  Downloadable and Print Versions

Introductory  •  Level One  •  Level Two  •  Level Three  •  Level Four



Three ways to pronounce e:

  1. bel ( = bell )
  2. lebih ( = more )
  3. beda ( = different )

Two ways to pronounce o:

  1. toko ( = shop )
  2. bongkah ( = lump )

Catatan (Notes)


The Indonesian language lacks the letters q, v, x, and z. These letters were incorporated to accommodate foreign words. Even f is due to the influence of the Arabic alphabet.

A pair of the same vowel in succession are pronounced differently than just prolonging the vowel sound; rather, there is a slight pause between the vowels. For example: The word maaf, which means sorry, is pronounced as ma (slight pause) af.

There are four compound consonants (diphthongs): ng, ny, kh, and sy. Although they do not constitute new letters, they are pronounced differently:

Compound PronunciationIPA Sound
ngeng[ŋ] (not [ŋɡ])Like the soft ng in English, e.g. banging, singing. It is incorrect to pronounce it like bingo or mango (i.e. the hard ng). To pronounce the hard ng, we would use ngg instead (which are not considered as compound by itself).
Except for the name of an Indonesian city Tangerang, where it pronounced with /ŋɡ/.
nynye[ɲ]Like the ny in canyon. Much like the ñ sound in Spanish.
khkha[x]Like the ch in Lochness, or soft g in Spanish: gente
sysya[ʃ]Like the sh in shoe or ship

As is the case with the standalone letters, only ng and ny are native to Indonesian. Both kh and sy only appear in words with Arabic origin, but sy are also exists in non-native words from non-Arabic origin but it is much rarely, like fesyen (fashion).



Sungai (= River) → Soft ng
Bangga (= Proud) → Hard ng, note the ngg
Banyak (= A lot)
Akhir (= End)
Khalik (= The Creator/God, mainly used in poems or Islamic texts)

Go to Exercise: Indonesian Rhymes

Tahu (to know) & tahu (tofu)


Tahu meaning to know: the h is silent, and the word is pronounced to rhyme with bau (smell) (i.e. similarly to the English word Tao (Chinese philosophy) or Greek alphabet Tau.)

Tahu meaning tofu is pronounced "tah-who"

You can practice saying "Saya tidak tahu. Saya bukan tahu." ("I don't know. I am not tofu.") The pronunciation should be different in the two cases.

Final ai


In everyday Indonesian, the "ai" at the end of a root word is pronounced as e or ek (the k being a glottal stop, not an aspirated k). In informal writing (e.g. email) Indonesians sometimes spell this way as well, e.g. capek instead of capai.

Teacher's notes


It is advisable to distribute this material through other lessons, rather than learning all these exceptions at once.

Introductory Lessons  

0.01 Introduction  0.02 Learning Indonesian  0.03 The Alphabet  0.04 Pronunciation  0.05 Greetings  0.06 Formal Speech  0.07 How are you?  0.08 Numbers  0.09 Dates  0.10 Telling Time  Review  Test  

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