Indonesian For Beginners

Indonesian Pronunciation

Indonesian pronunciation is consistent as Bahasa Indonesia is a phonetic language, meaning each alphabet represents one sound (except the letter ‘e’). So, if you master all the alphabet sounds, you will never mispronounce any words.

Indonesian Vowels

VowelSoundExamplesEnglish Approximation
a/a/apa (what)father
i/i/bibi (aunty)bin
u/u/buku (book)foot
e/e/enak (delicious)clay
/ə/ke mana (to where)about
o/o/toko (shop)sole

Indonesian Consonants

Consonant Sounds that are pronounced the same as in English

ConsonantSoundExamplesEnglish Approximation
B/b/babi (pig)bee
D/d/dadu (dice)do
F/f/fosil (fossil)fossil
*G/g/guru (teacher)gain
*H/h/halo (hello)hello
J//jalan (to walk, road)job
L/l/lele (catfish)lean
M/m/minum (to drink)mine
N/n/nanas (pineapple)nice
S/s/susah (difficult)six
W/w/Wawan (a person’s name)wise
Y/j/yoyo (yo-yo)yes
X/x/khas (special, exclusive)Scottish loch
Z/z/zaman (era/time)zoo

* G always sound /g/, never /j/ as “giant”

*H is sometimes silent, especially in colloquial Indonesian.

Consonants sounds that are pronounced the same as in English but never aspirated

ConsonantsSoundsExamplesEnglish Approximation
K/k/kakak (older sibling)sky
P/p/hadap (to face)spy
T/t/padat (dense)sty

Consonant sounds that are not the same in English

ConsonantsSoundsExamplesEnglish Approximation
R/r/rumah (house)Spanish rio
*C//cari (to look for)itchy
V/f/virus (virus)feet

Indonesian Pronunciation Practice

Pronounce the following words.

1.    Bapak (father, sir)

2.    Kuku (nail)

3.    Mandi (to take a bath/shower)

4.    Lalu (then)

5.    Ibu (mother)

6.    Aku (I (informal))

7.    Guru (teacher)

8.    Maaf (sorry)

9.    Bubur (porridge)

10.     Kaki (foot/leg)

11.     Vokal (vocal)

12.     Cuaca (weather)

Diphthongs – two vowels that make a single sound 

DiphthongsSoundsExamplesEnglish Approximation
ai/ai/pantai (beach)bye
au/au/pulau (island)how
oi/oi/tomboi (tomboy)boy

I hope you have a better understanding of Indonesian pronunciation now. Terus latihan – keep practicing!

By Jembatan Bahasa

Jembatan Bahasa is a professional and highly rated Indonesian language school based in Bali, Indonesia. Our teaching team is experienced and certified to teach Indonesian as a foreign language. Some of them have over eight years of teaching experience and have taught in a prestigious international school in Bali. Interested in learning Indonesian with us? WhatsApp us at +6282 145 950 737 or email at