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Learn Malay

Learn Malay reading, Malay writing and Malay speaking with these free words and sentences about greetings, saying Hello and common phrases. All words and sentences are spoken by real Malay natives and this helps you in learning the correct pronunciation.

Our ten Malay lessons teach you some of the most important Malay words and phrases. We will try to make your learning Malay as easy as possible and give you a lot of resources about Malay.

If you like the lessons, you can subscribe to our free seven days email course which will give you Malay grammar notes, top 1000 Malay words and much more!

Lesson 1: Introduction





Awak apa kabar?

How are you?


Saya baik, terima kasih.

I'm fine, thank you.


Nama saya ialah Tanja.

My name is Tanja.


Bagus sekali dapat berjumpa dengan awak.

Nice to meet you.


Selamat tinggal.



Adakah awak boleh bertutur dalam bahasa Inggeris?

Do you speak English?


Ya, saya boleh bertutur dalam bahasa Inggeris.

Yes, I speak English.


Tidak, saya tidak boleh bertutur dalam bahasa Inggeris.

No, I don't speak English.

→ Continue learning Malay with L-Lingo, which has pictures!

How to learn Malay?

  1. Get a Malay Phrasebook and write simple phrases and words on Flashcards and memorize them
  2. Study the Malay fundamentals, e.g. classifiers, how to construct questions, pronunciation etc.
  3. Try and find a good Malay teacher or other person to talk with you or enroll in a Malay language class or visit Malaysia for more immersion
  4. Use a spaced repetition vocabulary builder to learn Malay words and phrases
  5. Be aware that there are additional languages spoken in East Malaysia

Check out our comprehensive Malay learning App L-Lingo which contains 105 lessons with grammar notes, thousands of words and high quality audio.

Malay Grammar

Learning the Malay language is fundamentally simple to learn as it is written in the Roman alphabet although traditonally, it was written in "Jawi" writing. The pronunciaton of words in the Malay language is also simple as the alphabets are pronounced just as it would be in English.

Generally, the word order in Malay is similar to word order in an English sentence. Thus, this makes learning Malay very easy. But there are differences as well which will be explained below.

Nouns in Malay

Unlike in English, nouns in Malay are not accompanied by general articles such as "a" , "an" or "the" . These articles do not exist in Malay. However, nouns in Malay are accompanied by classifiers specific for that noun which replaces the function of articles in English. For example, in English, you would say:

- A man – Seorang Lelaki
- A ship – Sebuah Kapal

Notice the artcle "a" is used for both the man and the ship. However, this cannot be done in Malay as articles are replaced by classifiers that are designated for different types of nouns. For example, the classifier replacing the article accompanying a human noun would be different from that of an object noun. A classifier replacing the English article for a big object such as a house is different from that of a small object such as a ship.

For better understanding, we shall look at examples from different categories which are humans and objects.

Firstly let us look at the word Bus and how it is said in Malay:

Bus = Bas

A Bus = Sebuah Bas
The Bus = Bas itu
This Bus = Bas ini
That Bus = Bas itu

Now, let us look at the word Man. In Malay, Lelaki:

Man = Lelaki

A Man = Seorang Lelaki
The Man = Lelaki itu
This Man = Lelaki ini
That Man = Lelaki itu

You will notice that the classifier Seorang was used for Lelaki / Man to replace "a" while Sebuah was used for Kapal / ship for the same purpose.

Malay Classifiers

The common classifiers are listed below:

Orang - is used for people. The word itself means "person, people".
ekor - is used for animals. The word itself means "tail".
buah - is used for most objects eg. books, tables, cars, houses, schools. The word itself means "fruit".
biji - is used for small, round objects such as eggs, sweets and fruits. The word itself means "seed".
batang - is used for long, slim items such as pencils, pens, or sticks.
keping - is used for a piece/pieces of paper, bread, cake, cheques, photographs.
pucuk - is used for letters and arms.

These classifiers are used in place of articles and are placed in front of the noun.


Verbs are used to describe actions of someone or something. In Malay, verbs can take the active or passive form. Active verbs are used to show that the action is being done while passive verbs are used to show that the action has been done.

Active Verbs

In Malay, active verbs are commonly accompanied by the word “sedang”.

“Sedang” carries the meaning of “being in the process of”. For example, “sedang duduk” means “is sitting”

A complete sentence would be:
“Lelaki itu sedang duduk” / The man is sitting.

In English, an active verb is accompanied by the suffix -ing. i.e sitting, jumping, running, walking. However, the usage of prefix in Malay depends on the kind of action that is being done.

Generally, for activities that are relatively non-mechanical, and no dynamic forces or action is being done, no prefix or suffix accompanies the root word.

For example:
Duduk / Sit
Lelaki itu sedang duduk / The man is sitting.
Notice that no prefix is added to the root word “duduk”.

For activities that generally is done or exerted onto oneself alone, the prefix “ber” is used.

For example:
Diri / Stand
Lelaki itu sedang berdiri. / The man is standing.

For activities that generally is done or exerted onto another object or surface, the prefix “me”/”men”/”meng”/ is used.

For example:
Lompat / Jump
Budak lelaki itu sedang melompat. / The boy is jumping.

Past Tense

Past tense is indicated by the word sudah / telah which bring the meaning of “have been done” or “have taken place”.

As such, the word telah and sudah can be used interchangeably. Let’s look at some examples of the correct usage of telah and sudah:

Kuda itu sudah melompat.
The horse jumped.

Kuda itu telah melompat.
The horse jumped.

Future Tense

Future tense is indicated by akan / will which is placed in front of the verb.

Kuda itu akan melompat.
The horse is going to jump.


Adjectives are used to describe nouns.

Examples of adjectives are:
Old = lama (for object) / tua (for living nouns)

A special rule for lama is that it cannot be placed directly after the noun. It must be preceded by the word “sudah” [ already].

Seluar biru itu sudah lama. / The blue pants are old.

New = baru
Long = panjang
Short = pendek
Small = kecil
Big = besar

If you like to describe certain things, the adjective normally follows the noun.

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