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Lesson 20 of A Basic Malay Language Course by pgoh13

Lesson 20 Maafkan saya (Please excuse me)

Click to listen to the Malay sentences.

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

Please excuse me for coming late. Maafkan saya kerana datang lambat.
Please excuse me, I have forgotten. Maafkan saya, saya sudah lupa.
Excuse me, sir. What is the name of this road? Maafkan saya, tuan. Apa nama jalan ini?
That was not done on purpose. Please excuse me. Itu bukan sengaja. Maafkan saya.
kerana = because
lambat = late
lupa = to forget
tuan = sir
jalan = road
sengaja (se-nga-ja) = purposely

For those who want to know more

The standard reply to sentences one and two is: Tak apalah. (= It doesn't matter.)
This is one sentence you have to use each time you don't understand something to avoid misunderstanding: Maafkan saya. Saya tidak faham. (= Excuse me. I do not understand).
Please note that there are three syllables in the word Maafkan (ma-af-kan).
To tell someone that you feel sorry for another person's plight you can say Saya kasihan sama dia (= I feel sorry for him/her).
To say that you regret having done something you can say Saya menyesal perbuatan itu.
(menyesal comes from sesal meaning "to regret" and the syllabification is: me-nye-sal)
To excuse oneself for something unimportant you can say Jangan marah ya? (= Please don't be angry) and to put it in an even lighter vein (this often works with a young woman!), you can say Jangan marah ya, nanti lekas tua! (= Please don't get angry or you will become old quickly!) There you have another example of the word nanti not in the sense of "waiting" but to indicate some forthcoming action or event.
If you should trip someone up, or just as bad, step on his toes (!) make sure you say Maafkan saya or Minta maaf. Malaysians are a friendly and forgiving race and such an apology will always be accepted with good grace (provided you don't repeat the accident the minute after, in which case I can't guarantee you that they will be as forgiving as I said they are!)
Either of these two expressions or just Maaf alone is also used when interrupting someone or being obliged to make one's way between two people holding a conversation. (But in such a situation an Indonesian would say Permisi). Translate this into English as the equivalent of "With your permission" and you would have no problem remembering to use it when the occasion arises.
When you are unable to accept an invitation you can say Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak dapat datang pada hari itu. (= Please excuse me but I will not be able to come on that day).
Note how the verb dapat which usually means "to get" or "to obtain" is used here. When followed by another verb (as in this sentence) it has the sense of being able to (Saya dapat + a verb) or not being able to (Saya tidak dapat + a verb) do the action implied in the verb that comes after it.
When used in this way it can always be replaced by boleh. Thus instead of saying Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak dapat datang pada hari itu you can say Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak boleh datang pada hari itu.
The word Tolong! used as an exclamation means "Help!" (try shouting this out when you are drowning!) but when it precedes another verb as in Tolong maafkan saya it can be translated as "please" so that sentence means "Please excuse me."

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