This is the smartphone version. The earlier and fuller version, which discusses the Indonesian language as well, can be found here. 

Lesson 19 of A Basic Malay Language Course by pgoh13

Lesson 19 Questions beginning with Apa

Click to listen to the Malay sentences.

A second reading (by Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker)

What is your job? Apa kerja anda?
What is this? Apa ini?
What is the meaning? Apa maknanya?
What is the name of this article? Apa nama barang ini?
What shall we do now? Apa kita buat sekarang?
What does he want? Apakah dia hendak?
kerja = job
makna = meaning (of a word)
barang (or benda) = a thing, object, article
sekarang = now
kemudian (or nanti) = later

While kerja (work, occupation) is easily understood you can, if you like, use the full form of the word, which is pekerjaan.

For those who want to know more

A synonym for makna is erti so Apa ertinya? is the same as Apa maknanya?. Yet another synonym for "meaning" (but which can also mean "intention") is maksud so Apa maksudnya? can mean either "What is the meaning?" or "What is his intention?"
In case you have forgotten what I mentioned in the very first lesson the "a" sound in the second syllable is sometimes pronounced as "er" (as the sound of the second vowel in "butter"). Thus apa and mana are pronounced as "aper" and "maner" in some States though in this course I will stick to the phonetic pronunciation throughout. It's good to bear this in mind though.
Note that in the first four sentences Apa is not translated as "What" but as "What is" (This is another example of when the verb "to be" is left out in Malay)
Note also that barang is an all-purpose word that you can use to describe any object or article whose name you do not know or do not bother to name. So each time you wish to say "this thingy" (without bothering to mention the name) just say barang ini.
By the way, since we're at the word barang you might note that sebarang or sometimes sembarang (more used in Indonesia) simply means "any" eg. Sudah lama saya tidak menerima sebarang berita daripada kawan lama saya. (It's been a long time since I've received any news from my old friend.)
Another word that is quite often used in the place of barang is benda. Thus you can also say Apa nama benda ini? (What is the name of this article or object?)


This is a standard question to ask people about their hobbies or interests:
Apakah anda suka buat pada masa lapang anda? (What do you like to do in your free time?)
I have the most common answers below. Learn them well (especially the sentence that applies to you!) as they may come in handy during a conversation.
Saya suka membaca. (I like to read.)
Saya suka memancing. (I like to go fishing.)
Saya suka mendengar muzik. (I like to listen to music.)
Saya suka menengok-nengok barang di kedai. (I like to window-shop.)
Saya suka berkebun. (I like gardening.)
Saya suka main golf. (I like to play golf.)
Saya suka pergi ke panggung wayang. (I like to go to the cinema.)
In case you want to know what "hobby" is in Malay it is kegemaran. The same word is used in Indonesia though some prefer to use the English word hobi.
Thus Kegemarannya ialah membaca. (= His hobby is reading.)
In Apa kerja anda? the word kerja is actually the spoken form for pekerjaan (job, occupation)
The answer to the question Apa kita buat sekarang? (What shall we do now?) can be, for example, Kita tunggu sekejap lagi (We'll wait a bit more) or Kita balik (We'll go back).
By the way you might often hear the term balik kampung.   It simply means to go back or return to one's hometown, especially during festive seasons or when you go on leave.
Although kampung by itself means "village" it is frequently used in the sense of hometown. Thus if two Malaysians should meet in a foreign land they're likely to ask each other Dari kampung mana? Or if you prefer the more formal form, you could ask Anda berasal dari mana?
The question tag kah is sometimes added to Apa although it is quite redundant as the rising tone of the voice will indicate that a question is being asked. Thus Apakah dia hendak? is the same as Apa dia hendak? and Apakah nama barang ini? is the same as Apa nama barang ini?
In other cases, however, the question tag kah is necessary eg. Tidakkah dia beritahu anda? (Didn't he inform you?)
By the way please note that you'll often hear the question tag kah not pronounced as "ka" but as "kə" (the schwa sound).
You have learnt in Lesson 16 that the same word hujan (for "rain") is used both as a noun as well as a verb. Here in this lesson you have learnt that the Malay word for "now" is sekarang. You should be able to say "It's raining now" in Malay. Click here to see if you have said it correctly.

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