Indonesian Language: Basics

Indonesian Language: The Basics

The basic Indonesian lesson starts with ‘this (ini)’, ‘that (itu)’, the question words ‘what (apa)’ and ‘who (siapa)’, and negative + contradiction.

  1. ‘This’ and ‘That’

Ini           =             this or these
Itu          =             that or those

  1. ‘What’ and ‘Who’Apa? (=what) asks about things and animals.
    Siapa? (=who) asks about people.

For example:

Apa ini? = ‘What is this?’ Or ‘What are these?’
Apa itu? = ‘What is that?’ Or ‘What are those?’


Ini buku = This is a book Itu kucing = That is a cat
Ini kursi = This is a chair Itu anjing = That is a dog
Ini pensil = This is a pencil Itu rumah = That is a house
Ini sepeda = This is a bicycle Itu mobil = That is a car


Siapa ini? = Who is this?

Siapa itu? = Who is that?


Ini dokter = This is a doctor
Ini John = This is John
Ini Tuan Bob = This is Mr.Bob
Itu ibu = That is mother
Itu polisi = That is a policeman


The “to be” in English (is, am, are, was, were, etc)  is not expressed in Indonesian


Demonstrative Pronoun

To be Noun (pronoun)
Ini Kebun (garden)
Itu Buku (book)



  1. Apa ini? Ini …………….. (road, shop, cat, house, dog, book, tree, office, bicycle)
  2. Apa itu? Itu …………….. (pencil, room, shop, chair, paper, cat, cupboard, glass)
  3. Siapa ini? Ini …………… (servant, driver, Mr. Jones, father, friend)
  4. Siapa itu? Itu …………… (teacher, student, woman, president)


  1. Negative and Contradiction

Bukan                   =             no, not – negative of a noun or pronoun

Tetapi                   =             but


Ini bukan rumah, tetapi kantor  =             This is not a house, but an office

Apa ini? (What is this?)

Ini bukan lemari, tetapi meja ® This is not a cupboard, but a table.

Ini bukan rumah, tetapi kantor ® This is not a house, but an office.

Ini bukan mobil, tetapi sepeda ® This is not a car, but a bicycle.

Apa itu? (What is that?)

Itu bukan kebun, tetapi jalan ® That is not a garden, but a road.

Itu bukan gelas, tetapi buku ® That is not  glass, but a book.

Itu bukan kucing, tetapi anjing ® That is not a cat, but a dog.

Siapa ini? (Who is this?)

Ini bukan adik, tetapi kakak ® This is not younger sibling, but older sibling.

Ini bukan murid, tetapi guru ® This is not  student, but a teacher.

Siapa itu? (Who is that?)

Itu bukan ayah, tetapi ibu ® That is not father, but mother.

Itu bukan Pak Tom, tetapi Pak Tim ® That is not Mr. Tom, but Mr. Tim.



Translate the following sentences into Indonesian:

  1. This is not a horse, but a dog.
    Answer: ini  bukan kuda, tetapi anjing.
  2. That is not a church, but an office

Answer: Itu bukan gereja, tetapi kantor.

  1. That is not a knife, but a pencil.
    Answer: Itu bukan pisau, tetapi pensil.
  2. This is not petrol, but water.
    Answer: Ini bukan bensin, tetapi air.
  3. That is not a potato, but an apple.
    Answer: Itu bukan kentang, tetapi apel.


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