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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Why Learn Indonesian


Hi, welcome to this Indonesian tutorial.

You might be wondering why on earth you should learn Indonesian. Allow me to persuade you.

Demographic Reasons


Studying Indonesian means you can communicate with more than 240 million Indonesians, only a small percentage of whom are able to speak English. Bahasa Malaysia is also a close relative to Indonesian. You can understand both with ease since there are only minor differences in vocabulary. Therefore, learning Indonesian gives access to about 230 million people—including those in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. Indonesian (or commonly called as 'Bahasa Indonesia' or simply 'Bahasa') has been taught in schools in Australia, the Netherlands, and Vietnam. In Timor-Leste, although Portuguese and Tetum are official languages, Indonesian is also important as working language as Timor-Leste was part of Indonesia from 1976 until their independence in 1999.

Practical Reasons


Indonesian is derived from Malay, a language of South Sumatra which was broadly used for trade purposes in the Malay World (now Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore) for centuries. When Indonesians began their fight for independence from the Dutch, the Malay language was renamed "Bahasa Indonesia" (it was renamed in 1928, while Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945). In Malaysia the national language is referred to as "Bahasa Malaysia". Indonesian is thus a variant of Malay.

Not even half of Indonesians are native speakers of the Indonesian language, especially those living in rural areas. Many have as a mother tongue one of a diverse array of local languages, including Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, Madurese, Buginese, Batak, Minangkabau, or various Chinese dialects. But most Indonesians can speak Indonesian at least as a second language; it is taught in schools and understood even in the most remote islands.

What a remarkably versatile language Indonesian is! It is the language of education across the country, from the primary school to the university. It is the language of government and business administration, media, literature, and of everyday life in the big cities. It is a must for foreigners living in Indonesia. And if you are on a business trip to Jakarta, or on vacation in Bali, knowing some Indonesian can really enrich the experience. For those who are just curious language learners or those with a scholarly bent, Indonesian has an immense collection of literature.

Linguistic Reasons


Indonesian is very easy—honest! Learning it is a valuable experience in itself, and you can pick up the basics within a few weeks. Here's why it is easy:

  • No tenses. Indonesian has no tenses at all. Adding time indicators (like yesterday, next week, etc.) and aspect markers (done, in the process of, will, etc.) into your sentences will do.
  • No genders or cases. Indonesian has no genders or gramatical cases attached to the nouns. This means that there is one less rule to learn.
  • Optional plurals. Unlike in say, German, plurals are very simple in Indonesian, but also optional. You only need to repeat the noun (e.g. bukubuku-buku), or adding quantitative indicators (e.g. many, few) into the sentence (e.g. beberapa bukusome books).
  • A simple system of word formation. Indonesian has a straightforward system for combining words with prefixes, suffixes, and infixes to create new words. For example: satu means one, whereas bersatu means to unite (i.e., to make into one). This means fewer words to memorize and you can (sort of) mix-and-match words to form your own word. The catch is that some words cannot be combined with some prefixes or suffixes, but you'll learn that it's simple.
  • Uses the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet, which means that there is no need to relearn the alphabet, or use special software to type.
  • Consistent spelling. Indonesian is very phonetic, just like Italian. Every character is consistently spelled the same way in any word, with few exceptions. When you encounter a new word, you will always be able to pronounce it correctly.
  • No tones and simple stress patterns. Indonesian word stress typically falls on the second-last syllable of the original word, but also the last syllable and the third-last syllable. However, no matter where you put the stress, people will still recognize the word.
  • Sentence form is similar to English. Indonesian sentence structure is similar to English: Subject + Verb + [Object]. So, you can form sentences in Indonesian easily.
  • Everything is regular. Since there are no tenses, no genders, and simple plurals, everything is regular. Even the word-formation system is regular with some simple rules. You don't need to memorize lots of exceptions.

I hope now you can see why Indonesian is worth learning.

The Catch


Now, the catch is that every language has a culture attached to it. Indonesian is no exception. Since the way Indonesian people think differs from most westerners, there are some hurdles in learning it. For example, most western people prefer active sentences, while Indonesians usually prefer passive sentences and omit the subject if it is not important.

Also, in spoken Indonesian, the formal grammatical rules are often broken by lots of shortcuts, usually specific to the region, not to mention slang words and idioms. However, all Indonesians that have finished grade school should be able to speak and comprehend proper Indonesian.

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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