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bennylinWednesday 14th of July 2004 05:47:07 AM
Form of Address - As in any language, there are many ways of addressing someone in Indonesian. Because Indonesians have a strong sense of social hierarchy, these form of address often carry with them certain class and other distinctions. It is important therefore to use the appropriate term. Some form of address are quite "safe" or "neutral" in this regard, and may be used in a wide variety of situations, these are of the ones that should be learned first and used most of them.

Bapak or pak (literally: "father") is the most common way of addressing an adult male in Indonesian. It is used very much like "Mr." or "Sir" in English. Bapak is always used when addressing older men, and may also be used to address a contemporary or a younger man (although other forms may be used in this case as well, see below).

Ibu or bu (literally: "mother") is similarly be used to address all women, particularly older, married women.

Note: Bapak and Ibu are often used followed by the person's first name (not the last name), meaning Mr. or Mrs. so and so. This is quite universal throughout Indonesia, and you can almost never go wrong addressing someone in this way (the only exception may be that when used by a much older person to address a younger person, it may seem a bit overly formal).

Saudara or saudari (literally: "brother/sister") is used in more formal situations to address an adult male or female who is about one's own age or a bit younger. This form is more often used to address young, unmarried people than older people, and usually upon meeting someone for the first time or in speeches, etc.

Anda is a term of fairly recent coinage, intended to mean "you" in neutral way. It is also considered to be rather formal and is likewise used among young, educated adults who meet for the first time (also in television commercials, etc.).

Kamu and engkau are pronouns that both mean "you" in a familiar sense (equivalent to Du in German or tu in French). They are used in informal situations to address close friends, children or social inferiors, but should not generally be used as a substitute for English "you". One you get to know someone well, you can use their name or the form kamu ("you").

Tuan ("sir"), nyonya ("madam"), and nona ("miss") are forms that Indonesians will often use to address you (foreigners). Tuan means "my lord" and was used to address aristocrats and Europeans during colonial times. Nyonya and nona are borrowed from the Portuguese and have a similar connotation of peasants or servants addressing their mistress or patron. You should not use these forms to address Indonesians, even if they address you in this way. Stick to bapak or ibu.

Om ("uncle") and tante ("aunt") are borrowed from Dutch and are used to address older men or women and foreigners, particularly Chinese. Again, stick to bapak and ibu when addressing Indonesians, even if the person to whom you are speaking addresses you with these terms.

Mas literally means "older brother" in Javanese, and is a polite form of address for a contemporary or a younger person. It is commonly used in Java to address a waiter, porter or pedicab (becak) driver, and hence can have the connotation of addressing a social inferior. When in doubt it is better to stick with pak.

Mbak or sus are similarly used in Java to summon a waitress or a shopgirl.


To be on the safe side, always use bapak and ibu when addressing adult whom you are meeting for the first time (saudara and anda may also be used by younger people to address their peers). Once you get to know someone better, use bapak or ibu followed by the person's first name (not last name), or simply the first name alone (only if you are not younger than him/her).

The following is a brief dialogue between a foreigner (F) and an Indonesian (I) who works in a hotel.

I: Selamat pagi, tuan!
Good morning, sir.

F: Selamat pagi, pak!
Good morning, pak.

I: Tuan mau kemana?
Where are you going, sir.

F: Saya mau ke restoran.
I am going to the restaurant.

bennylinWednesday 14th of July 2004 05:56:42 AM
Pronouns - As indicated above, a strong sense of social hierarchy attaches to the personal pronouns for "I" and "you". For this reason, Indonesians prefer to use first names or the polite forms of address given above rather than these personal pronouns. In conversation with someone you are meeting for the first time or meeting on a formal basis, it is more polite to refer to them as bapak or ibu followed by the person's first name (if known) rather than using the pronouns for "you".

1st person singular : saya, aku
1st person plural : kita, kami
2nd person singular : anda, saudara, kamu, engkau, bapak, ibu
2nd person plural : kalian, saudara sekalian, anda sekalian
3rd person singular : dia
3rd person plural : mereka

Note : Indonesian pronouns do not distinguish gender, thus dia may mean he, she or it.

1st person (singular): saya, aku

Use your own name with people who know you, or else the pronoun saya (which originally meant "your slave" but know generally means "I"). Aku also means "I" but used in more informal circumstances, as are the Jakarta slang forms gua and gue (which derive from Hokkien Chinese). Note that when requesting something, words for "I" are often omitted because this is understood.

1st person (plural): kita, kami

Kami means "we" or "us" but formally excludes the person or persons being addressed, whereas kita includes the person or persons you are speaking to. In everyday speech, kita is in both contexts and you may generally use this form to translate English "we".

2nd person (singular): anda, saudara, kamu, engkau, bapak, ibu

Use bapak or ibu. In informal circumstances, the first name alone may also be used. If the person the person being addressed is about the same age as yourself, use anda or saudara. Kamu or engkau may be used for children or you know the person well.

2nd person (plural): kalian, saudara sekalian, anda sekalian

3rd person (singular): dia, beliau

For animate objects and persons use dia. The word beliau[i/] is also used in formal circumstances to refer to a person of very high status who is not present. For inanimate things, use ini (this one) or itu (that one), to mean "it".

3rd person (plural): they mereka
bennylinMonday 14th of February 2005 06:32:09 PM
Plural Forms II - There are many synonyms for the word 'me' and 'you' and 'he/she'(non-gender).

For your information, these synonyms were present because of the influence of local dialect, the influence of local values (eg. high status level have a different pronoun from lower status). Most of these variations are used depend on the situation, with whom you're speaking with, and depend on the relations level between the speaker and the listener.

if one speak with older people than him (parents, teacher, elder), he/she will address him/herself as saya or aku(a little bit lower level) and barely ever using these 'slangs', and address the listener with Anda (upper case 'A' for specific 'you' - eg. direct sentence) or Pak(contraction from Bapak), Bu(contraction from Ibu), or other formal address (see first post above).

-Saya sudah makan tadi, Bu I'm already eat, M'am (or Mom)
-Aku mau pergi dulu ya, Kek(contraction of Kakek) I'm going, Gramp(contraction from Granpa / Grandfather)
-Apakah Anda sudah merasa lebih baik, Pak?
-Ayah mau pergi kemana?(rather than 'Anda mau pergi kemana, Yah?' - doesn't sounds good) Where are dad going? (instead of Where are you going, dad?)

and here's the list


Saya (widely used)
Aku (widely used)
Beta (from a dialect from out of Java)
Gue/Gua (youth, Jakarta dialect)
Hamba (humble self address, means servant)
Hamba sahaya (same like above, usually used in written language)
Kita/Kami (actually means we, but most of the time refers to 'I represented a group of people')
Kulo (Javanese word for Aku)
*some people refer themselves as third person by using his/her name as pronoun - this can be found in conversation in some occassions


Anda (widely used)
Kamu (used among friends, relatives, and those who have close relation with the speaker)
Elo/elu/lu/loe(read the same with lu) (youth, Jakarta slang)
Kau/Engkau (almost the same as Kamu)
Situ (means something like "you there")
Kowe/koe (Javanese dialect for Kamu)
Sampeyan (Javanese dialect, higher level than above, used for elder as "Anda")
Tuan, Nyonya, Saudara, Saudari (Gentlemen, Lady (Ladies and Gentlements), Brother, Sister

Dia/Ia (widely used)
Orang itu (that man)
chudoriTuesday 19th of April 2005 07:33:10 PM
Pronouns - The word you choose for "you" depends on four main factors:

1. whether you are on friendly/intimate terms or formal/distant terms with the person you are speaking to

2. whether you are speaking informally or formally

3. whether the person you are speaking to is a relative or not

4. whether you are of higher or lower status/age than the person you are speaking to

25 of the most commonly used words for you are:

1. personal name
2. abang (older brother)
3. adik (younger brother/sister)
4. anak (child) used by teachers to students
5. anda - when speaking formally to someone of similar status
6. ayah (father)
7. bapak (father, sir)
8. bibi (aunt) or older woman (affectionate term)
9. engkau - respectful but informal
10. ibu (mother, ma'am, madam)
11. kakak (older brother/sister)
12. kakek (grandfather)
13. kalian - you plural - informal
14. kamu - used in three ways - 1. between people of similar age on intimate/friendly terms, 2. an adult speaking to a child, 3. an adult talking down to another adult
15. lu - slangy speech used by young people
16. nyonya - speaking respectfully to a married woman
17. nenek (grandmother)
18. nona - polite and formal speech to young single woman
19. -nya - when unsure of second person pronoun to use
20. om (uncle) used by youger person to older man
21. paman (uncle)
22. saudara - adressing young man/woman formally
23. situ - casual speech to someone whos name you don't know
24. tante (aunt) used by younger person to older woman
25. tuan - used by lower status person to respectfully address a high status man

Anyone please correct me if I am wrong.

bennylinMonday 25th of April 2005 02:46:17 PM
I hope these terms are not confusing - you're correct. but just for the sake of practical conversation, i'm going to give some examples for those who want to learn Indonesian Language here.

-basically, just use 'Anda' everytime you want to use the word 'you'. Most of the time people will ask you to call him/here with the form of addressing he/she prefers. He/she may say something like:

'Panggil saja saya Pak Umar' - Just call me Mr. Umar
'Tidak perlu sungkan terhadap saya. Panggil saya Vera' - You don't have to be very formal to me. Just call me Vera.

The most commonly used form of address from chudori's list with their examples:

***It's considered rude not to use any for of address, ie. 'Mau kemana?' Therefore, use one of the form below

1. personal name
'Mau kemana, Tono?'
A person ask to another person younger or as old as him/her: "Tono, where are you going?"

2. abang
'Abang mau kemana?'
A person ask to another man older than him/her: "Where are you going (, brother)?"

22. saudara
'Saudara mau kemana?'
A person ask to another person (a stranger whose name unknown, formal): "Where are you going (, brother)?"

5. anda
'Anda mau pergi kemana?' - 'Mau kemana Anda?'
A person asking politely to another person (usually a stranger or someone higher in status): "Where are you going (,Sir/Ma'am)?"

7. bapak
'Bapak mau pergi kemana?'
A person asking politely to another man (usually older and respectful and higher in status, such as student-teacher, servant-master, young person-aged man): "Where are you going, Sir?"

25. tuan
'Tuan mau kemana?'
A person asking another man (usually powerful, respectful man, same as the word 'master' in English): "Where are you going to go, Sir/Mr. Smith?"

10. ibu
Used in the same situation as 'bapak', but for a woman.

16. nyonya/nona
same as 'tuan', but this time for a lady or Mrs. (Nyonya) or Miss (Nona). 'Nona' can also be a female counterpart of 'abang'

9* kau
'kau mau kemana?' - 'Mau kemana kau?'
Barely used in conversation nowadays. It is a semiformal form of addressing people. Use 'kamu' is more preferrable.

9. engkau, dikau
'Engkau mau kemana?'
Usually used in written language instead of 'kau'. Like 'kau', avoid using this in a conversation. Use 'kamu' instead.

14. kamu
"Kamu mau pergi kemana?"
A person asking another person(usually between friends, colleagues): "Where are you going (,pal)?"

15. lu
'Lu mau kemana?' - 'Mau kemana lu?'
A person asking another person using slang terms: "Where are you going, dude?"

23. situ
A person asking another person (no information available, status or age is ignored, a little rude form of address for some cases)

Classification by gender:

A. Genderless
anda, kau, engkau, kamu, lu, situ, saudara(works for both gender, even though originally points to a male)
B. Depends on gender (male-female)
personal name, abang-nona, bapak-ibu, tuan-nyonya, saudara-saudari

Classification by formality

A. Formal
Anda, saudara, abang-nona, bapak-ibu, tuan-nyonya, saudara-saudari
B. Semiformal
personal name, kau, engkau, dikau, kamu
C. Informal
lu, situ