BASIC VOCABULARY LIST (500 words) English->Malay | French->Malay | Spanish->Malay | Malay->English/French/Spanish (A mastery of this selected list of the most commonly-used Malay words should help you to carry out a very simple conversation in Malay.)
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Dia suka makan keju.
Saya suka makan nasi goreng.
Abang saya suka main badminton.
Saya suka tengok wayang gambar Melayu.
Boleh tolong tunjuk gambar anda?
He (or she) likes to eat cheese.
I like to eat fried rice.
My elder brother likes to play badminton.
I like to watch Malay movies.
Can you please show me your photo?
keju = cheese
nasi = rice
goreng = to fry
nasi goreng = fried rice
main = to play
tengok = to watch
wayang gambar = film, movie
tunjuk = to show
gambar = photo
I think I have already mentioned this somewhere but there is no harm repeating. There is a net distinction between rice that is cooked and rice that is uncooked in Malay. Rice that is already cooked is called nasi as in nasi goreng (fried rice). On the other hand rice that is not cooked, as found in supermarkets, is called beras. Asking for nasi in a grocery store would probably leave the shopkeeper bewildered while a foreigner who enters the shop and says Saya hendak beli beras would fill him with admiration (and awe!)
Note that filem (from the English word "film") has the same two meanings as in English: (1) a movie, also called wayang gambar as in the sentence above and (2) the roll of film that you put in a camera.
By the way you can also say Saya suka menonton wayang gambar Melayu instead of Saya suka tengok wayang gambar Melayu for "I like to watch Malay movies".
Similarly, although gambar means "photo" you can, if you like, use the English word which is spelt foto in Malay.
There, you already know two Malay words without any effort: filem meaning a film (movie) as well as a roll of film and foto meaning a photo.
A word for liking (that is, enjoying) something that is a sport or a hobby is gemar. Example:
Dia gemar berenang. (He likes to swim/She likes swimming.)
Abang saya gemar main badminton. (My elder brother likes to play badminton). Badminton, by the way, is a favourite sport among Malaysians and one in which the country excels in.
Saya gemar menonton filem. ("I like to watch movies" or "I enjoy watching movies".)
The word gemar however is not to be used for a person so if you find it hard to remember just forget about it and use the word suka instead as the word suka can be used when you want to say you like a certain sport or game as well as a person.
So when you are not sure whether to use gemar or suka just stick to suka and you will never go wrong!
When it comes to love between a man and a woman, however, the word to use is cinta (pronounced chin-ta). Sorry, I forgot to give the equivalent of the famous "I love you" in Bahasa earlier. It's Saya cinta padamu (mu being the short form for kamu). You can use anda, of course, though in this context the word is somehow out of place as it sounds too formal so is naturally less romantic!
Nuances in synonyms: In English "to like" and "to love" are quite often used interchangeably eg. "He loves to eat cheese" is the same as "He likes to eat cheese" (Dia suka makan keju). Though it is also possible to use "love" in the sense of "like" in Malay I will, from here on, talk about love with regard to sentiments only and not with regard to one's tastes for food.
There are 3 words for "to love" in Malay. These are: sayang, kasih and cinta. These three words in fact are used to express one's sentiments or love for another person, normally for family members or one's beloved. While cinta is used for lovers and lovers only sayang and kasih are used for love among family members.
Thus you will say Saya cinta teman lelaki saya (I love my boyfriend) or Saya cinta teman perempuan saya (I love my girlfriend) but you will say Saya sayang adik lelaki saya (I love my little brother).
But sayang is also the word to use when you regret something. Thus each time you want to say "What a pity!" you can say Sayang! or if you want to give it even greater emphasis Sayang sekali! (What a real pity!)
If you like someone outside of the family circle but not in a romantic way then you can use the word for "like" (suka) thus Saya suka dia. (I like him.) It would remove any ambiguity if you should add Dia macam abang saya. (He is like an elder brother.)
Let's see if I can help you with some mnemonics. If you court someone or if you have a crush on someone, that is romantic love, not family love. You will notice that both words start with the letter c just as cinta the Malay word to use in such a case, does. I hope this helps and that you will not use it wrongly.
Paradoxically, although kasih itself is affection among family members (as in the expression kasih sayang) the word kekasih DOES mean one's lover. Thus:
Dia jumpa kekasihnya tiap-tiap hari. (She sees her sweetheart every day/He sees his sweetheart daily). And just as in English we can either say "every day" or "daily" so too in Malay we can either say tiap-tiap hari or setiap hari. The choice is yours!
Here is another sentence using kekasih in the sense of "lover": Dia akan berkahwin dengan kekasihnya tahun hadapan. (He is going to marry his beloved next year). You will sometimes hear tahun depan instead, depan being the short form of hadapan.
But in Malaysia it's still the practice to get engaged before you get married. Once you become engaged your kekasih becomes your tunang (= betrothed or fiancé/fiancée).
If you want to express the idea of longing for someone, missing someone or pining for someone the word to use is rindu.
Thus Dia rindu akan anak perempuannya yang berada di luar negeri means "He misses his daughter who is abroad". I hope I don't have to repeat that dia can also stand for "she" so it could just as well be the mother who's saying this.
However please note that the word rindu is not restricted to people only.
Thus to say that one is homesick one can say:
Saya rindu akan kampung halaman saya. (kampung halaman means one's hometown or native village so it is equivalent to saying "I miss my hometown").
You will notice that in both the above examples rindu is always followed immediately by the preposition akan.
If you don't want to use the preposition akan then you will have to add a prefix and a suffix to rindu making it merindui.
In such a case the above examples become:
Dia merindui anak perempuannya yang berada di luar negeri. and
Saya merindui kampung halaman saya. Choose the syntax that is the easiest for you.
More vocabulary: teman lelaki = boyfriend
teman perempuan = girlfriend
kekasih saya = my love (beloved)
merindui = to miss, to long for (someone or something)
To kiss someone is mencium