Bahasa Malaysia

Mini Bahasa Melayu Basics Introduction

The Basics of Meeting and Greeting!
(The A,B,C of Bahasa Melayu)

Selmat Datang! Nama saya Corinne, guru anda! Hari ini, saya akan menajar kamu Behasa Melayu. Welcome! My name is Corinne, your teacher! Today I will teach you Bahasa Melayu!

This lesson is focused on the basics of the basics in a little mini- introductory lesson into Bahasa Melayu. This is for the absolute beginners, though it may or may not have a few things for those already familiar with the basics of Bahasa Melayu as well! I hope you can use this as a way to improve your language. Jom!

 Greetings and Introductions: 

Let’s start with a very basic conversation before breaking down it’s meaning:

A: Selmat pagi!

B: Selmat pagi!

A: Apa khabar? 

B: Khabar baik! Dan kamu?

A: Saya rasa sangat letih!

B: Siapa nama kamu?

A: Nama saya Ashia. Siapa nama kamu?

B: Nama anda Fatimah. Di mana kamu tinggal? 

A: Saya tinggal di Johor.

B: Wah! Saya juga! Berapa umur kamu?

A: Umur saya dua puluh dua. Nah, sudah makan?

B: Belum!

A; Jom, makan! Saya hendak  makanan India!

Before looking at its meaning, try to speak it out loud with a friend nearby. Looking up words and phrases being spoken by fluent speakers online will help with proper pronunciation.

  • Selmat pagi! – Good Morning!
  • Apa Khabar? – How are you (What news)?
  • Khabar Baik! Dan kamu? – I’m well (Good news)! And you?
  • Saya rasa sangat letih!  – I feel very tired!
  • Siapa nama kamu? – What’s your name?
  • Nama saya…. – My name is…
  • Di mana kamu tinggal? – Where do you live?
  • Saya tinggal di… – I live…
  • Wah! Saya juga! Berapa umur kamu? – Me too! (Me also) How old are you?
  • Umur saya dua puluh dua. Sudah makan? – I’m twenty two. (Have you) already eaten?
  • Belum! – Not yet!
  • Jom makan! Saya hendak makanan Indian! – Let’s eat! I want Indian food!

What are the different daily greetings?

We already have “Selmat pagi!” good morning, what about the other ones?

  • Selmat Tengah Hari! – Used for midday.
  • Selmat Petang – Used for the evening (typically you start using it at about 2-3pm until dusk).
  • Selmat Malam – Good Night!
  • Selmat Datang – Welcome

Also, we looked at using “Apa Khabar” as a way for asking how are you. There is also another more relaxed or friendly way to ask how someone is doing is:

Sudah makan? – (Have you) already eaten?

  • Sudah! – Already.
  • Belum. – Not yet.
  • Jom makan! – Let’s eat!

Personally, I’m in favor of the last one considering the amazing array of food Malaysia offer. Nasi ayam, nasi lemak, roti canai, fried wantons, nasi goreng and so much more! Having a diversity of cultures means a dazzling selection of incredible foods. Eating a ‘mamak’ or open food court is a common enough invitation to receive and a favored pastime for many. I remember my one Bahasa teacher offer an explanation as to why people greeted each other by asking about their last meal, she accredited to a time where having had a meal was considered a blessing so people where happy when they could eat. While I am uncertain of it’s origins, it is certain that those who speak Bahasa Melayu love the food that they cook and eat so knowing having these phrases on hand will certainly make a difference!

Introducing yourself:

There are a few simple questions and phrases to begin introducing yourself (and others!) in Bahasa Melayu. We’ve already learned two and I recommend practice those and the ones you learn later on in the lesson.

  1. Siapa nama kamu? – What’s your name?
    Nama saya… – My name is…
  2. Di mana kamu tinggal? – Where do you live?
    Saya tinggal di… – I live….
  3. Di mana kamu dilahirkan? – Where were you born/from?
    Saya dilahirkan di…? – I am from….
  4. Di mana kerja kamu? – Where is your work?
    Kerja kamu di…. – My work is…
  5. Adakah kamu pergi ke sekola? – Do you go to school?
    Bukan – No
    Saya pergi ke sekola – I go to school.
  6. Berapa umur kamu? – How old are you?
    Umur saya… tahun. – I am… years old.

But what if you want to introduce somone else like your ibu (mom) or your abang (older brother) or you want to tell someone the name of your school? Thus far we have used “saya” (me/my) and “kamu” (you/your), so now we have to change those, so instead of:

Nama saya Daisy.

My name is Daisy.

It becomes:

Nama ibu saya Lily.

My mother’s name is Lily.


Berapa umur kamu?

How old are you?

Berapa umur abang kamu?

How old is your older brother? 

Umur abang saya tiga puluh.

My older brother is thirty years old. 

In the previous example, you could also substitute “abang” (older brother) for “dia” (he/she/it).


Di mana kamu tinggal

Where do you live?

Di mana sekola kamu? 

Where is your school?  

Simple substitutions help create various opportunities to introduce everyone to your kawan-kawan baru (new friends)! Try practicing the phrases above substituting different people or things in the place of “saya” or “kamu”.

Thanks for joining me in our first introductory lesson!

*Important note, this is all well and good to know ABOUT these phrases and some of the cultural context they come from, but if you want to be a language user it’s really best to practice using these out loud- look for some speaking examples online. Better yet look for options to practice with someone else! It may be repetitive and exhausting for the first little bit, but the longer you go on your Bahasa Melayu journey the more enjoyable it will become!


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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.