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

Lesson 11 of A Basic Malay Language Course by pgoh13

Lesson 11 - Greetings




Click to listen to the Malay sentences.

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

Good morning. Selamat pagi.
Good afternoon (from noon to 2p.m. or so) Selamat tengah hari
Good afternoon/Good evening Selamat petang
Goodnight Selamat malam
Welcome! Selamat datang!
How are you?/How do you do? Apa khabar?
I'm fine, thank you. Khabar baik, terima kasih.
Goodbye (to the person who is leaving) Selamat jalan.
Goodbye (to the person who is staying behind) Selamat tinggal.
See you soon!/So long! Jumpa lagi!

Saying Goodbye in Malay

There are two different ways of saying "Goodbye" in Malay depending on whether you're leaving or staying behind. These are Selamat tinggal and Selamat jalan .   I will explain them in detail below.

1st form: Selamat tinggal
The one who is leaving will say to the one staying behind (the host) Selamat tinggal . So normally it is the guest who says this when taking leave of his host. This of course has to take place at the host's house and not at a restaurant if the host is also leaving at the same time as his guest since tinggal here means to stay (back)!
        Note: The word tinggal by itself is used as follows:
        Saya tinggal di PJ. = I live in PJ (or Petaling Jaya if you like).
        Saya tinggalkan payung saya di rumahnya. (I left my umbrella at his house.)

2nd form: Selamat jalan
The host i.e. the one who is remaining in the house will say this to his departing guest to wish him a safe journey back. Though jalan means "to walk" this term is still used even if the guest is returning home by car.

If the above two forms of saying Goodbye are a bit confusing to you then just stick to Jumpa lagi or in its full form Sampai berjumpa lagi. It simply means "See you soon" or "So long!"
        Note: The word jumpa alone means "to meet" as in this sentence:
        Saya akan jumpa dia esok. (= I shall be meeting him/her tomorrow).
Warning: When you say Jumpa lagi in the sense of "So long" make sure you do not raise the tone at the end or it could be taken for a question ("Shall we meet again?") in which case you are likely to be asked in turn, Ya, bila? (Yes, when?)

For those who want to know more


Note: The following rules are not at all rigid. They are only meant to be used as a guide and I know that some people interpret them differently. So please don't hold me responsible for your quarrels!

From sunrise (about 5 or 6 a.m.) to 12 noon, you say Selamat pagi.
Between 12 noon and 2 p.m. or so, you say Selamat tengah hari.
From 2 p.m. until sunset (about 8 or 9 p.m.) , you say Selamat petang.
From sunset to midnight, you can say Selamat petang or Selamat malam (the latter is usually said upon leaving an evening function).
But after midnight and until sunrise you can either say (considering that it is already a.m.) Selamat pagi or, if you are taking leave of your colleagues after a night shift Selamat malam.
A word that does not go by the clock hour is siang which means daytime i.e. when you don't need to turn on the lights. So if you are baffled by Selamat pagi, Selamat tengah hari and Selamat petang you can just say Selamat siang which is not so precise and which is more used by Indonesians but which serves the purpose.
If all this sounds too complicating to you a passe-partout (or all-purpose) greeting which can be used at all times of the day and night is Apa khabar? It's equivalent to "How are you?" in English or "Qué tal?" in Spanish. The standard answer is Khabar baik, terima kasih. (=I'm fine, thank you.)
Incidentally if someone says Terima kasih (=Thank you) to you the standard reply is Sama-sama (=You're welcome). An Indonesian though would reply Kembali instead of Sama-sama but that's another story.
Another common word of greeting is Salam and if you ask someone to send your greetings or regards to a mutual friend you can say Tolong sampaikan salam saya kepadanya. (Please send him my regards).
A very useful expression to learn is Maafkan saya when you wish to apologize for something. Instead of this you could also say Minta maaf or Harap maaf (= Excuse me). The usual reply to this would be Tidak apa-apa or just Tak apa (=It doesn't matter) or colloquially Tak apalah (see Lesson 20). Note that the suffix lah is always added to soften the tone or to make something less formal. ("Yeslah it's true" I can hear your Malaysian friends saying!)
But note that Maafkan saya is also used when you are trying to squeeze your way between two people who are talking or when you have to pass by a row of people. Politeness is very important in the Malay culture and you don't just barge your way through people without saying a polite word of apology.
Note also that greetings in Malay are normally followed by the name of the person to whom we greet. Thus if we are greeting Mr. Ahmad, we don't just say Selamat pagi but more likely Selamat pagi, Encik Ahmad or Selamat pagi, Cik Ahmad.. Note that while in the written form Cik is equivalent to "Miss", in its spoken form Encik for Mr. is very often contracted to Cik.
If we are greeting someone whose name we do not know (as when asking a stranger for information) we can use encik (mister) or puan (madam). Thus: Selamat pagi, encik or Selamat pagi, puan (for a married or elderly woman).
When addressing someone whom we know to be a teacher we can use cikgu eg. Apa khabar, cikgu?
By the way the Malay word for "teacher" is guru.

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