First in Indonesian

Like in English, first in Indonesia has many meanings. You often don’t realize the different meanings in English because the word is the same. The problem occurs when you translate the word into Indonesian. That’s why it’s very important to know the context.

Here is some meanings of “first” in English based on Cambridge dictionary:

As ordinal number, same as second, third, fourth

  •  I am the first child.
  • She is his first girlfriend.

Before doing something else specified or implied.

  • If you want to stop by, call me first.
  • Just a moment. I want to take a shower first.

Used at the beginning of a list of things you want to say or write.

  • First (of all), I want to thank my parents.
  • First, let’s talk about the problem.

In Indonesian, each definition above has a different word. Let’s look one by one.


  • Saya anak pertama. (I am the first child.)
  • Dia adalah pacar pertamanya (She is his first girlfriend.)

Dulu (formal: dahulu)

  • Kalau kamu mau mampir, telpun aku dulu. (If you want to stop by, call me first.)
  • Tunggu sebentar ya. Aku mau mandi dulu. (Just a moment. I want to take a shower first.)


The word “duluan” is derived from “dulu”. It’s a common word in casual Indonesian which can be translated into “go first”. For example:

Boleh aku duluan? Aku buru-buru (Can I go first? I am in a hurry).


  • Pertama-tama, saya ingin berterima kasih kepada orang tua saya. (First (of all), I want to thank my parents.)
  • Pertama-tama, mari kita bicara tentang masalah ini. (First, let’s talk about the problem.)

I hope my explanation above clears things up for you. To deepen your understanding, let’s try this exercise.

Translate these sentences into correct Indonesian. You may need a dictionary to look up some words, but please don’t use Google Translate!

  • He is the first winner in that competition.


  • I will put this first. Then, I will help you.


  • I came to Bali for the first time in 1990.


  • First, I will explain about the rules.


  • I need to drink first before I eat.  


By Jembatan Bahasa

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