Lesson 31 Sedang (Present Continuous Tense)
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A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
sedang is used to indicate that someone is in the middle of doing something (what grammarians call the present continuous tense). As in the examples above, where you need to add -ing to an English verb you would put sedang before the verb in Malay.
Actually the word sedang is not completely new to you as you have already come across it in Lessons 7, 13, 18 and 29. This will give you an idea of how important the word is in Malay.
A frequent question you might want to ask is "What are you doing?" In Malay it is Anda sedang buat apa? while in Indonesian Anda sedang apa? is enough.
It can also be used to describe something that was happening in some past action as in the following example:
Bila saya masuk ke dalam pejabatnya dia sedang baca surat khabar. (When I entered his office he was reading a newspaper.)
Of course, if you are more concerned with textbook Malay instead of just getting by with the basics, you would add the prefix to the verb and say "membaca". So:
Bila saya masuk ke dalam pejabatnya dia sedang membaca surat khabar.
Rafif Aufa Nanda writes in to say that in Indonesian it is better to use "ketika" in the above sentence than "bila", as "bila" can also mean "if" in Indonesian. In Malay too "ketika" is often used instead of "bila" when you are talking about a specific moment of time (as in the above sentence). But I am trying to simplify matters for the student here by just translating "when" as "bila" each time since it will be understood in practically all circumstances.