Bahasa Malaysia

Lessons yang New?

Using Yang Effectively

Before we begin and I describe the purpose and functionality of “yang” within Bahasa Melayu writing and speech, I want you to look at these two sentences along with their English translations.

Hari ini, cuaca panas, agar saya mahu pakai kemeja-t yang putih.
The weather is hot today so I want to wear a white t-shirt.

Or let’s try a few simpler’s sentences:

Dia suka kek yang sangat manis.
I like very sweet cake.

Di mana kamu mencari perempuan yang sabar?
Where do you find a patient woman?

Now compare those, to these:

Saya melukis kulit baru untuk buku Aishia.
I am drawing the new cover for Aishia’s book.

Sayur-sayuran ini sangat pahit!
These vegetables are very bitter!

What do you notice about these sentences and the ones that use “yang”? Try to think about it a bit inspect and investigate the sentences for a while first before moving onto the explanation. I’ll give you a hint, it’s subtle but there’s a key difference in what “yang” is being helped to describe. If you are still having trouble I’ll give one more simple example below.

Kamu hendak kereta yang merah.
You want a red car.  

Kamu hendak kereta merah ibubapa kamu. 
You want your parent’s red car.


Gaining Understanding:

If you can’t put the rule into words or if you’re not quite sure of the difference that’s alright! We’ll walk through it together. “Yang” can be loosely translated into “that is/which is” and usually used with adjectives (descriptive words) when the object being described is vague. That description in itself is very vague I know but let’s revisit our examples.

Dia suka kek yang sangat manis.
She likes very sweet cake.

Saya melukis kulit buku baru untuk buku Aishia.
I am drawing the new cover for Aishia’s book.

In the first example “Dia suka kek yang sangat manis” we are talking about a person who likes very sweet cake. Notice it doesn’t indicate whose cake or what cake just cake- “cake that is very sweet” “kek yang sangat manis”.

Contrast that with “Saya melukis kulit buku baru utuk buku Aishia” I tell you I am drawing the cover to Aishia’s book. Not just any old book- Aishia’s book. I’m talking specifically about a certain cover that I made for this particular book.

Now how could we change these sentences by adding or removing “yang”? The first one is really simple! Out from the general into the specific.

Dia suka kek sangat manis ini.
She likes this very sweet cake.

It’s no longer any cake, it’s THIS cake, the one that she referring to. But what about the second one?

Saya melukis kulit buku yang baru untuk sebuah buku.
I am drawing a new cover for a book.

No longer is it the cover for Aishia’s book, but simply a new cover for a book. Though subtle “yang” is used in nearly every conversation and certainly every written text you’ll read so it’s one to know!



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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.