Session 7 : Yang, Di, Nya – Learn Bahasa Indonesia

I guess it’s time now to explain further about a couple of very common words and particles


Yang is one of the most common word in Indonesian. If you have to remember only one thing, consider it is an equivalent of which. But there are actually many different uses of yang :

  • It is a way to attach an adjective to a noun.
    • Dia punya mobil yang putih [He have car which white] : He has a white car
    • Aku pesan ikan yang bakar [I order fish which grilled] : I ordered the grilled fish

Both sentences above work totally fine without yang, hence by using yang you are putting the emphasis on the characteristic introduced by yang.

  • Either because it’s something you want to stress.
  • Or because it is something that is going to help to identify what you want among other stuff. In the second sentence, you are saying that you want the fish that is grilled (so there are probably other different ones).

More generally, it is a way to introduce additional information, a kind of relative proposition :

  • Aku suka makan di warung yang ada di belakang rumah [I like eat at street restaurant which have at behind house] : I like to eat at the warung that is behind the house
  • Besok kita diantar oleh supir yang kita ketemu di pelabuan [Tomorrow we “passive” escort by driver which we meet at harbour] : Tomorrow we will be given a ride by the driver that we met at the harbour
  • Cowok yang duduk di sebelah sana itu pacarku [Guy which sit at over there that boyfriend I] : The guy sitting over there is my boyfriend

One of the reason for the popularity of yang is that it is also really useful to reduce the length of sentences. You will soon realise that it is a national sport.

In many occasion, yang can be translated by “the one that” or “what” :

  • Harganya tiket 150,000Rp, Pak [Price the ticket 150,000Rp, Mr] : The ticket price is 150,000Rp, Mr
  • Answer : Ada yang lebih murah Mas ? [Have which more cheap brother ?] : Do you have a cheaper one ?¬†
  • Mau yang mana ? [Want which where ?] : Which one do you want ?
  • Answer : Aku mau yang ini [I want which this] : I want this one
  • Harus ada yang cuci piring [Must have which clean plates] : Someone must do the dishes
  • Yang penting kamu senang [Which important you happy] : What is important is that you are happy

Di- : the passive form

By adding the prefix di- before a verb you are turning it into passive form.

  • Saya terima surat [I receive letter] : I received the/a letter
  • Surat diterima oleh saya [The letter is received by me] : The/a letter is received by me

Please note that the prefix ter- has, among other meanings, the capacity to turn some verbs into a passive form. I recommend that you use di- when you speak but keep it in mind when you are listening :

  • Kalung dibuat dari emas [Necklace “passive”-make from gold] : The necklace is made out of gold
  • Kalung terbuat dari emas [Necklace “passive”-make from gold] : The necklace is made out of gold

-nya : the most useful particle

Indonesian can barely make more than 2 sentences without using the -nya particle. Learning how to make a proper use of it will make your own Indonesian sounds much more idiomatic.

As we saw in the second session, -nya can be used as a shorten up version of yours (informal Indonesian only) or his/her/its.

  • Dia adiknya [He younger brother he] : He is his little brother¬†
  • (inf.) Asalnya dari mana ? [Origin you from where ?] : Where are you from ?¬†
  • (inf.) Makanannya enak banget bu [Food your tasty very much Mrs] : The food (you prepared) was excellent Mrs. (this is informal because of the use of banget, a formal equivalent would be sanggat).

-nya is also very commonly used to put the emphasis on one word.

  • Berhenti lah, lampunya merah [Stop “idiomatic particle”, lamp the red] : Stop, the traffic light is red
  • Motornya masih rusak ? [Engine/motorbike the still broken ?] : The engine/motorbike is still broken ?

-nya has finally the capacity to alter the meaning of a word. A lots of very useful idioms use the -nya particle :

  • Contoh : exemple
  • Contohnya : for instance
  • Soal : problem
  • Soalnya : because
  • Pasti ada maunya [Of course have want “nya”] : For sure you have something to ask.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.