|A basic course in the Malaysian and Indonesian languages in 64 lessons ©pgoh13
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Lesson 47 Common Adjectives/Opposites
As important as verbs and nouns, adjectives are an integral part of any language's basic vocabulary. I have grouped the most common (and therefore important) ones here. These are adjectives that you are likely to use in a conversation with friends.
Actually you can consider this one lesson as the equivalent of three lessons so please take your time over it. Don't rush to the next lesson before you have memorized the new vocabulary here. I know there are lots of new words to be learnt off by heart here but these are the very basis of your Malay vocabulary so again give yourself plenty of time over this lesson.
To make matters worse, as you will see in the list of "Common Synonyms" below, it is not enough to learn just one Malay word for one English word because quite often there are two Malay words, one of which is used about 50% of the time and the other is used in the other 50%. And these are very, very common words, so there is no way you can escape by just learning one of the two words!
Click to listen
A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Banyak atau sedikit? (A lot or a little?) |
Rumahnya besar atau kecil? (Is his house big or small?)
Bahasa Melayu senang atau susah?
(Is the Malay language easy or difficult?)
Bapanya gemuk atau kurus? (Is his father fat or thin?)
If you can remember that banyak means "plenty of" or "a lot of" it is easy to remember that kebanyakan means "the majority of" or "most of" (whatever you are talking about). In our daily conversation how often do we need to say "most of" or "the majority of" so this word kebanyakan can come in really handy.
A synonym of senang (= easy) that is frequently used in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia is mudah while Indonesians often use the word gampang eg. Itu gampang sekali! (Well that was easy!) or Berbicara itu gampang, yang sukar adalah mengerjakannya. (= It is easy to talk, what is difficult is to carry it out.) By the way mengerjakan is a good example of how a noun (in this case kerja meaning "work") can be turned into a transitive verb by adding the prefix me(N)- and the suffix -kan (this is a VERY difficult aspect of Malay) and a full explanation with examples are given in the appendix here.
tua (old - of age)
sedih (sad) - pronounce it as sə-day
bersih (clean) - pronounce it as bər-say
jauh (far) - pronounce it as jar-oo
lama (old - of things)
cantik (pretty, beautiful)
The above pair of opposites is used for length eg.
Dahulu rambutnya panjang tetapi sekarang rambutnya pendek.
(Previously his hair was long but now his hair is short).
The above pair of opposites is used to talk about the height of people eg.
Emaknya pendek tetapi bapanya tinggi.
(His/Her mother is short but his/her father is tall).
The above pair of opposites is used to describe buildings, trees, hills, tables, chairs etc. Example:
Adakah Gunung Kinabalu lebih tinggi daripada Gunung Everest? Tidak, Gunung Kinabalu adalah lebih rendah daripada Gunung Everest.
(Is Mount Kinabalu higher than Mount Everest? No, Mount Kinabalu is lower than Mount Everest).
pandai (clever, intelligent)
(sebelah) kiri (left)
(sebelah) kanan (right)
(di) sana (there)
(di) sini (here)
lebar (wide, broad) - pronounce it as lay-bar, NOT lə-bar
berani (bold, brave)
lebih (more) - pronounce it as lə-bay
When put together in the same order lebih kurang is translated exactly as in English i.e. "more or less" meaning "roughly" or "about".
ketawa (laugh) menangis (cry)
di atas (above, on)
di bawah (below)
And for the more courageous among you:
tidak bersemangat (unenthusiastic)
atau = or
banyak = a lot of
baru = new
basah = wet
berani = bold, brave
bersih = clean
besar = big
betul = correct
bodoh = stupid
cantik = pretty
(handsome = kacak)
dekat = near
gembira = happy
gemuk = fat
hodoh = ugly
jauh = far
kacak = handsome
kaya = rich
kebanyakan = the majority
kecil = small
kering = dry
kotor = dirty
kuat = strong
kurus = thin
jauh = far
lama = old
lemah = weak
malu = shy
membosankan = boring
miskin = poor
muda = young
panas = hot
pandai = clever
panjang = long
pendek = short
tinggi = high, tall
rendah = low
salah = wrong
sedih = sad
sedikit = a little
sejuk = cold
senang = easy
seronok = interesting
susah = difficult
tinggi = tall
tua = old
teruja = excited
old (of age) =
Note the two meanings of senang:
The first meaning is "simple, easy" eg. Kerja itu senang sahaja. Dia pun boleh buat. (That job is really simple. Even he can do it.) The word pun is used here in the sense of "even to the extent of"
. (By the way the little word pun has got quite a number of other uses and if you'd like to learn more about these I have put them together in one page, following an email inquiry from a student. Go here for Various uses of the Malay word pun.)
The second meaning of the word senang is "free, not busy" (You have come across this already in Lesson 17) eg. Datanglah ke rumah saya bila senang. (Come to my house when you are free.)
Note that senang hati and suka hati also mean "happy" (apart from gembira given above).
Just as we often have two words that mean exactly the same thing in English ("shut" and "close" being an example) so is the case with Malay. As both words are equally used in everyday conversation I'm afraid you will have to learn both of them. I have selected only the commonest ones here.
MALAY WORD 1
tidak (Lesson 37, 48)
MALAY WORD 2
laki (informal use)
aku (informal use)
ramai (used for people)
bukan (Lesson 51)
bini (informal use)
Note that while ramai orang means "many people", when it is reversed and becomes orang ramai then it takes on a different meaning. In fact orang ramai means "the public". Examples:
Ramai orang berkumpul di dalam dewan itu untuk mendengar ucapannya. (= Many people gathered in the hall to hear his speech.)
Orang ramai bertepuk tangan apabila dia mulai bercakap. (= The public clapped their hands when he started to speak.)
|That job is easy.
||Kerja itu gampang.
||Kerja itu senang.
|As you can see, in almost all cases, the same adjectives are used in Malaysia and Indonesia and where there are differences, they are not that important.