Session 8 : Translate No – Learn Bahasa Indonesia

There is actually 3 ways to say no in Indonesian : tidak, bukan and (mainly in Java) enggak (inf. ngak or ga).

Bukan or tidak

Tidak shall be used to negate an verb or an adjective :

  • Aku tidak mau [I no want] : I don’t want
  • Bus tidak nyanman [Bus no comfortable] : The bus is not comfortable

Tidak can be abreviated to tak.

Bukan is used to add a negation to an object (thing or person). Tidak could also be used in such situation but sounds less idiomatic.

  • Itu bukan hpku [That no cellphone I] : That is not my cellphone
  • Dia bukan orang warung [He no people street restaurant] : He is not the guy from the warung > He is not from the staff.

Bukan is a stronger negation that tidak. It is often used to stress a contrast, for instance if the people in front of you is totally wrong.

  • Besok aku jemput Ayah di bandara ? [Tomorrow I pick up Dad at airport ?] : Do I pick up Dad tomorrow at the airport ?
  • Bukan ! Pesawatnya ga jadi, dia datang hari Rabu [No ! Flight the no become, he come day Wednesday] : Don’t ! The flight is cancelled, he will come on Wednesday

Tidak is a neutral negation, by using bukan to negate an adjective or a proposition you are implying the following “that it not this but something else“.

  • Dia bukan marah, tapi dia kecewa dengan kamu [He no angry, but he disapointed with you] : It’s not that he’s angry, but you have disapointed him
  • Kalau mahal bukan salahku ya [If expensive not wrong I yes] : If we spend a lot it won’t be my fault

An informal no : ga

Enggak, nggak or simply ga is a very common equivalent of tidak in informal Indonesian. This sounds very Javanese so people (other than Javanese immigrants) from Maluku or Sumatran for instance don’t really use it. But if you are in Java I guarantee you will hear it all the time.

An equivalent in a less regional-tainted Indonesian would be tak.

  • Ga usah [No need] : {I} don’t need
  • Itu bagus, nggak ? [That good, no ?] : Is it good or not ? 

Avoid saying no

Indonesian don’t like to say no because it could be perceived as offending. They would rather choose a softer answer instead.

If someone ask you a question based on sudah and you want to answer no / tidak , answer not yet / belum instead. Answering no could imply that you would never do it.

  • Kamu sudah menikah ? [You already married ?] : Are you married ?
  • Answer : Belum [Not yet] : No
  • Kamu sudah pernah ke Kuala Lumpur ? [You already ever to Kuala Lumpur ?] : Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur ?
  • Answer : Belum [Not yet] : No
  • Answer 2 : Tidak [No] : No and I never will

The same logic applies if someone ask you if you like something. Instead of saying you don’t like say you like less.

  • Enak makanannya ? [Tasty food the ?] : How is your food ?
  • Aku kurang suka itu [I less like that] : I don’t really like it
  • Makanannya kurang enak [Food the less tasty] : The food is not really good

Another useful word to avoid answering a question is lumayan [not bad] :

  • Gajimu tinggi iya ? [Salary you high yes ?] : You earn a high salary right ?
  • Lumayan [Not bad]

Jangan : do not

Jangan is an imperative that you can translate by do not.

  • Jangan sentuh makananya ! Tangannya kotor [Do not touch food the ! Hand you dirty] : Don’t touch the food ! Your hands are dirty.
  • Sayang saya mau beli mobil yang warna pink, bolehkan ? [Babe I want buy car which color pink, may “question marker” ?] : Babe I want to buy a pink car, no problem right ?
  • Answer : Jangan ! : Don’t do this

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