Bahasa Indonesia
Asking basic questions

Halo, apa kabar?

In this lesson we will:

- learn how to ask basic questions

- describe personal experiences

- describe places we've been to

Vocabulary, Grammar and Language Points

- Modal verbs mau, suka

- Adjectives bagus, enak

- Tense adverbs sudah, pernah, sedang/lagi, akan

- Syntax: (time adjunct) S (aux) V O (place adjunct)

- Name of months

- Time phrases (tahun lalu, bulan lalu, minggu lalu, dua hari yang lalu)

Key activites:

Watch and discuss a video about asking basic questions

Learn and practise vocabulary and phrases about asking and answering basic questions

Learn about Indonesian cultural practices

Learn and practise Indonesian numbers

Test our knowledge and complete Kahoot! activities

Previous lesson recap

How would you answer these questions?

Kamu suka kegiatan apa?

Bu/Pak... suka kegiatan apa?

Makanan favoritmu apa?

Makanan favorit Bu/Pak... apa?

Pagi-pagi biasanya sarapan apa?

Keluarga Bu/Pak... suka melakukan apa bersama?

Bu/Pak... suka ke bioskop?

Bu/Pak... sering ke pantai?

Asking and answering basic questions

Can you answer these questions?

In this lesson we will learn how to ask and answer basic questions in Indonesian. The following video excerpt of Sacha Stevenson's comedy is an entertaining and rich resource for learning about how to ask and answer basic questions in colloquial Indonesian. Let's watch and enjoy the video first. We'll analyse the language after.

This video not only shows the most basic way to ask and answer questions, but also raises awareness about Indonesian syntax, grammar and the traps of literal translations and learning grammar.
Watch the video as many times as necessary to familiarise yourself with the vocabulary, syntax and intonation.

No-subject syntax

Notice that in the question below the subject 'you' is omitted from the question. This is very common in Indonesian. In this case there is also no verb. The verb pergi ('to go') is often also omitted and the preposition ke ('to') suffices.


The verb pergi ('to go') is often also omitted and the preposition ke ('to') suffices.

The omission of the verb 'to go' (pergi) is often heard in the common 'small talk' question that Indonesians ask when running into their mates:

Mau ke mana? or Lagi ke mana? ('Where are you going?').

The response to the question
Pernah ke Bali
('Have you been to Bali')
also does not need the subject 'I' stated.


These other examples from the clip demonstrate the same point about subject and/or verb omission in the syntax:


Note that in this above example there verb for 'speak' (bicara) is also omitted.

Bahasa Indonesia means 'Indonesian language', so English would be bahasa Inggris.

Repeating modal verb / adjective to say 'yes'

To say 'I can', simply say 'can'.


(A more polite reply of course would be,
...sedikit saja, masih belajar...
'just a little, still learning...')



Let's learn more about framing questions in Indonesia:

Asking and responding to basic questions PDF

Let's do a quiz to consolidate what we've learnt so far.


Click di sini
(Click here)

Adjective-based question

Enak kopinya?
'Nice coffee-the?'
Adjective + Noun-nya?

The question below uses the adjective enak ('nice/tasty'), followed by the noun/object in question and finalised by the determiner -nya, which in this case functions like the English definite article 'the'.


Here are some useful everyday adjectives:

Bagus - good (used for describing: item, appearance, effort (i.e. outward qualities))

Baik - good (used for describing: character, mood, thoughts (i.e. inner qualities))

Hebat - great (used for complimenting)

Besar - big

Kecil - small

Pintar - smart/clever

Bodoh - stupid

Lucu - funny

Ramah - friendly

Mahal - expensive

Murah - cheap

Lama - long (time duration)

Let's practise some 'Adjective + Noun-nya?'' questions.


Click di sini
(Click here)

Name of months

Bulan Januari

Bulan Februari

Bulan Maret

Bulan April

Bulan Mei

Bulan Juni

Bulan Juli

Bulan Agustus

Bulan September

Bulan Oktober

Bulan November

Bulan Desember

Time phrases

Pagi ini                                  This morning

Sekarang                               Now

Nanti sore                             Later this afternoon

Kemarin                                Yesterday

Hari ini                                  Today

Besok                                      Tomorrow

Dua hari yang lalu            Two days ago

Besok lusa                            The day after tomorrow

Minggu lalu                         Last week

Minggu depan                    Next week

Bulan lalu                            Last month

Bulan depan                       Next month

Tahun lalu                           Last year

Tahun depan                      Next year

Akhir minggu / akhir pekan           Weekend

Sekali seminggu           Once a week

Dua kali sebulan          Twice a month

Asking someone what they want to do on the weekend.

Akhir minggu mau melakukan apa? (F)

Akhir minggu mau ngapain? (I)

Ada rencana apa akhir minggu?

Asking someone what they want to do on the weekend.

'When' and 'Where'

Adding time and place information to

(When) [ S (AUX) V O ] (Where)








Indonesian syntax

Indonesian syntax

Ayo latihan!

Click di sini
(Click here)



Write a paragraph about activities that your family likes to do. Practise using the (When/where) S-V-O structure and include appropriate prepositions and frequency phrases. (+- 100 words)

Indonesian number system

Indonesian numbers PDF

Keluarga Elly

Let's watch the video about Elly's family again.
This time we will understand more. Take notes of new details that you pick up, your tutor will ask questions to test your understanding.

Grammar Talk

Let's learn about Indonesian ke-x-an affixation.

Indonesian Grammar Reference

Kahoot! Activity

Let's login to Kahoot! and test our knowledge.

Player join

Click di sini
(Click here)

Host login

Click di sini
(Click here)

Return to Main Menu

Click di sini
(Click here)