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How best to remember the difference between "kami" and "kita"?

I know that one is inclusive (including the person you are talking to) and one is exclusive (excluding the person you are talking to), but I have trouble remembering which is which.

I believe kita is exclusive and kami is inclusive, but I could be completely wrong and I wouldn't know it. As a native speaker of a language that lacks clusivity, how can I best begin to learn that and really internalise it, so that I can speak Indonesian as well as possible?

August 27, 2018


[deactivated user]

    You have them backwards. Kami is exclusive and refers to just the speakers and their group, while excluding the listener. Kita is inclusive of the listener.

    The way I remember is with these little sentences that play on the sounds of the two words:

    "Kami" means just ME and my friends -- stressing the me to remember the mi in kami

    "Kita" means mE and you Too -- stressing the ee in me and t in too to remember the it is kita

    That's just something I came up with for myself. Use it if it helps.


    This is really helpful actually! That's helped me to memorise it, and it'll suffice plenty until i internalise it


    Hai! I remember well how I was trying hard to get the difference between them in my first time learning Indonesian. After several years, this is not more a big problem. The method (or methods) to solve this is the very convenient to see or imagine better the situation to use one or another in the translations. My best method (after many faults, and trying and trying in many ways) was intending to use only one pronoun, "kita" for all the situations where it could fit. Only when the situation could not fit well with "kita", then I tried the pronoun "kami". This was the result of an extra mind exercise for me, creating two different levels, and perhaps a hierarchical use of the pronouns: where "kita" is the universal, the whole (we and the rest are talking with the rest being included in the whole); and "kami" is the fraction, where the rest (of the whole) listening to us is not included in the same description or action. A simple example to this is a group of friends, where we are intended to talk about the same feelings or desires, or when we talk about humanity, we as a whole. Then, "kita" is used. But sometimes, it is necessary to show the differences between us, at least two of us talking to the rest. In those situations, "kami" is used. So, we as friends (where talking between us), "kita" (teman-teman) having the same description or place, or doing the same action, is the first example. And, we, my best friend and me (where talking with others), "kami" (saya dan sahabat saya), having the same description or place, or doing the same action, is the second example.

    I hope it helps.

    Selamat belajar! :).

    Note: I insist there are many solutions or methods to understand this. Some mnemonics are very good, and perhaps the simplest. I have also tried focusing on the first syllable of "kita" for the inclusive.


    if you want to use it as stated by the rule (Standard language) i'm afraid you just have to memorize it, using association just like CadetheBruce suggested is a good one

    But if you're in a conversation, i think just using "kita" is good enough (i admit, this is NOT a good practice). Most of the time, the one we talk to won't notice the mistake.


    I've been told repeatedly that Indonesians mess them up all the time as well XD

    [deactivated user]

      Just my CAR and ME (kami = exclusive).

      We play the GUITAR TOGETHER (kita = inclusive).


      What I do to remember them is this:

      • 'Kami' is very similar to 'kamu', that is the person being excluded.
      • The vowel in the first syllable of 'kita' is the same vowel that appears at the begin of the word "inclusive".


      I'm not sure that I understand truly? For example ; Kami > Me and my friend drink a couple of tea Kita > We are drink a couple of tea together

      Please can someone explain on my sample?


      Ok, try this example: 1. You invite me and my friend out to drink tea. I say "Sorry, kami are busy", where kami (we) refers to my friend and me, but not you. 2. You invite me and my friend out to drink tea. I say "Great, where will kita meet?", where kita (we) refers to all of us, including you.

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