Malay - Basics 1

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Lesson 1 of 3

Here are some basic grammar rules in Malay for you to get started with!

In most languages, the sentence order in Malay is:

Subject + Verb + Object

Unlike English, for phrases, the word order is:

Nouns + Modifiers

As you can see, in compound words, main word go first and then modifier.

For a clearer image:

male - modifier, child - main word

In English it would be: male child. In Malay, it would be likeː child (of) male.

Malay will be like from general to specific, unlike English that goes from specific to general

In Malay everything will be like:

Malay language = language (of) Malay

Brunei Country = Country (of) Brunei

English high school = school (of) high (of) English

For starter, lets get to know people of all ages around us!

Hold your horses first!

For your information, Malay doesn't has indefinite articles. We use classifier instead. Let just say that classifier is a fancier way to say a thing judging with the object we are referring.

It is not considered wrong in grammar, if one omits classifier in their sentences unlike in English. It would be sound weird if there are no articles used in a sentence. That would be like my English sentences when I was 8. This is exceptional in Malay. So, lucky you! For this lesson, we will just use classifier (unless I stated if we do not need to).

The classifier we will be using is:

اورڠ / orang

/o.raŋ/ - which means person/people

Note: Some classifiers that we will be learning are not necessarily logic or related to the object.

If you want to say a or an in Malay, prefix the classifier with:

س- / se-

/sə/ - which means one

Can you guess what will be the classifier looks like? If you guessed it right, it will be:

سأورڠ / seorang

For several classifier, just add numbers before the classifier.


Isn't 'seorang' in Jawi would be like ساورڠ?

The answer is no because if you wrote like that, it will be read as saurang.

Whenever the prefix س- is added on any word that starts with the letter alif "ا", a hamza "ء" will be put above alif. Hence, it will become "أ".

To simplify that, here's an equation of it:

س- + ا = سأ

Well, that was quite lenghty than I expected. Now to build your vocabulary.

"man" in Malay is:

للاکي - lelaki

/lə - man or male

If you are a woman, you'll be:

وانيتا - wanita

/ - woman

For female, it is:

ڤرمڤوان - perempuan

/pə.rəm.puan/ - female

So that means, whenever you fill your gender in a form or go to a bathroom, you will see للاکي and ڤرمڤوان. These two can be only used to refer humans' gender only not for animals'!

In Malay, there are so many "I's" depending on who you are or with whom you are talking to. For this lesson, we use:

ساي - saya

/sa.ya/ - polite, neutral


ساي سأورڠ وانيتا.

Saya seorang wanita. - I am a woman.

ساي ڤرمڤوان.

Saya lelaki. - I am a man.

See, it is considered ok for omitting the classifier.

Now for the little ones. For child, there are several words to describe child but for now, you say:

بودق - budak

/bu.daʔ/ - For this one, this is not used to refer someones child (in family, son/daughter)


ساي سأورڠ بودق.

Saya seorang budak. - I am a child.

Malay does not have a specific word for 'boy' and 'girl'. Instead, we use compound words with the words that we had learnt. Can you figure out what's the word is?

For a boy, you say:

بودق للاکي - budak lelaki

This is similar to Chinese 男孩 "nánhái".

For a girl, it would be:

کانق٢ ڤرمڤوان - budak perempuan

literally translate as: female child

Lesson 2 of 2

Malay does not has gender-specific pronouns. So, no need to worry about genders in Malay for now.

Hence, "he" and "she" will be like:

دي - dia

/dia/ - he/she (neutral)


دي بودق للاکي.

Dia budak lelaki. - He is a boy.

Here is your first conjunction in Malay:

دان - dan

/dan/ - and

Let's make simple compound sentence!

ساي للاکي دان دي وانيتا.

Saya lelaki dan dia wanita. - I am a man and she is a woman.

دي سأورڠ بودق ڤرمڤوان دان ساي سأورڠ للاکي.

Dia seorang budak perempuan dan saya seorang lelaki. - She is a girl and I am a man.

If you observe both of the sentences, you need to be consistent in Malay. What I am trying to say is that if you omit the classifier, omit it all in the sentence. If you decide to add the classifier, make sure all nouns have classifier (if a noun has one in the first place).

Lesson 3 of 3

For this lesson for now, "the" will be:

ايت - itu

/i.tu/ - lit. that

Let's start munching!

ايڤل - epal

/e.pal/ - apple

روتي - roti

/ro.ti/ - bread

Wait! How would you eat these food if you do not know how to 'eat' in Malay?

'eat' in Malay is:

ماکن - makan

/ma.kan/ - eat

To drink, you say:

مينوم - minum

/mi.num/ - drink

It is good for you to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Water in Malay is:

اءير - air

/air/ - water

Malay verbs alone does not indicate tenses. Hence, we use aspects instead of having our own tenses. So, that is one more thing you do not need to worry about for now!

Now for sentences.

وانيتا ايت ماکن روتي دان مينوم اءير.

Wanita itu makan roti dan minum air. - That/The woman eats bread and drinks water.

ساي ماکن روتي ايت دان ايڤل ايت.

Saya makan roti itu dan epal itu. - I eat that/the bread and that/the apple.

Tinycards: Basics 1

Check out the Malaysian Sign Language Version Malay Basics 1

Do comment and ask!

Next: Basics 2


February 9, 2017



February 9, 2017

Do ask if you have any enquiries or any confusion regarding it!

February 9, 2017

All is good

February 9, 2017


your lesson is nice, but it could be easier to study if it was better formatted (e.g. every word on a separate line). If you need help with formatting, it's described here:

February 9, 2017

Sorry, I did not know the format here @-@ Thanks for the link!

February 9, 2017

great work!!

April 14, 2017

Thanks for the feedback!

April 14, 2017

your welcome

April 14, 2017

Great lessons! By the way, the initial م is missing in ينوم

October 2, 2017

Hello. I am a deaf person from Malaysia. Do you sign well?

January 25, 2018

Not as good as native MySL signers but I hope I could learn more!

January 25, 2018
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