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Indonesian Pronouns

Throughout the first couple of lessons, it does nothing to explain all the different pronouns. Does anyone have a list I could look at?

August 16, 2018



Saya - I (formal) Aku - I (informal) Anda - you (formal) Kamu - you (informal) Dia - he/she/it Kita - we (inclusive) Kami - we (exclusive) Mereka - they Kalian - you (collective)

For formal possessives just add saya, anda etc after the noun. For informal use -ku (my), -mu (yours). For his, her and its use -nya. Buku saya. Bukuku. (My book.) Rumah anda. Rumahmu. (Your house) Topinya. (his/her/its hat)

There are others (mostly derived from slang or local languages) but those the most common and the only ones I use.


There is a list of the personal pronouns in the "Tips & notes" of the skill "Basics 2".



I have heard that using "kamu" is rude and to avoid using it in conversation. Any truth to this?


In a formal setting, yes.

To a person quite older than you, yes.

To your boss, teacher, and colleague (unless the colleague is your friend you've known years ago), yes.

To a total stranger, yes.

To a friend in Jakarta, yes. (In Jakarta aku/kamu is usually only used to boyfriend or girlfriend)


Thanks for this! It's good to have some context.


If you wish to address a stranger politely, you can use the equivalent of 'sir' (Bapak) or 'Madam' (Ibu). Note that they are also the formal words to refer to your father and mother, respectively.

They can also be shortened to Pak or Bu -- because Indonesians love shortening words.

Examples: Apakah buku ini punya bapak? Is this book yours, sir?

Permisi, pak. Excuse me, sir

Terima kasih, ibu. Thank you, Ma'am.


It might be seen as rude if spoken by a local or someone fluent, but nearly every Indonesian person I have spoken to is so pleased to have a foreigner just trying to speak their language will earn you huge respect and grace. They love it that you try ... and usually, unless a close friend, would not try to correct you.


Here's a list ordered from most formal to most casual.

Don't use the ones between brackets, because they are either too formal and on the verge of being obsolete, or too casual.

Also note that when talking to someone close to you (family, friends, lover, schoolmates) a lot of Indonesians refer to themselves and the listener in the third person, using names or titles.

In English, it sounds obnoxious, but in Indonesian culture, it shows a close bond between speaker and listener. Eg: Ibu Dokter sudah makan? (Have you already eaten, madam Doctor?)

Me: [Hamba, Beta], Saya, Aku, [Gue/Gua**]

You: [Engkau], Anda, Kamu, Kau, [Loe/Lo/Lu**]

You all: Kalian (short for "kamu sekalian" -> all of you)

Him/Her: [Beliau], Dia, Ia

Them/They: Mereka

Us/We: Kita (including the audience), Kami (excluding the audience)

It: Dia

*The suffix -nya can also be used as a reflexive pronoun for the object Him/Her, Them, or It, if the object had been defined in a previous sentence. Eg: Mereka sudah memberitahunya. (They have already told him/her/them.) Eg2: David sudah membuangnya. (David has thrown it away already).

**This is Jakarta slang and should be reserved only when you're talking to people your age or younger, and are either from Jakarta or are saturated in Jakarta culture. Although I've often seen that when people who are obviously foreigners try to speak slang Indonesian, they are greeted by cheers and giggles :)

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