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A basic course in the Malaysian and Indonesian languages in 64 lessons  ©pgoh13.com
These lessons are copyrighted and their publication in any form is strictly prohibited.

Lesson 6  Berapa (How many) 

Click to listen  

A second reading (by Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Berapa orang datang?  
Enam orang.
Berapa kali telefon?  
Empat kali.
Berapa kilo hendak?  
Tiga kilo.
How many people came?
Six persons.
How many times (did he/she) call?
Four times.
How many kilos (do you) want?
Three kilos.
berapa = how many
orang = people, persons
datang = to come
kali = times, occasions
hendak = to want, wish

Don't confuse berapa ("how many") with beberapa which means "several". Thus Beberapa orang datang means "Several people came" and Dia telefon beberapa kali means "He called (phoned) several times".

The Plural in Malay

Plurality is indicated by duplicating the noun. Thus:

Kereta-kereta ini mahal. (These cars are expensive.)
But when it is obvious that there are more than one the noun is not duplicated. Thus:
Semua kereta ini sudah dijual. (All these cars have been sold.)

Orang-orang itu tunggu bas. (Those people are waiting for the bus.)
Banyak orang sudah baca buku itu. (Many people have read that book.)
***Please read important note about the use of "ramai" when it concerns people below.

Two more examples:

Kawan-kawannya melawat ke rumahnya pada Hari Krismas. (His friends visited him on Christmas Day.)
Dia ada banyak kawan. (He has many friends.)

Rumah-rumah di kawasan itu semuanya sudah dijual. (The houses in that area have all been sold.)
Orang kaya itu mempunyai tiga buah rumah. (That rich man possesses three houses.)
Sorry I have to bring in the word "buah", which is the numerical coefficient (or classifier, if you like) for houses here. This topic will be explained fully in Lesson 60.

***Note about the use of "ramai" for people.
Here's an interesting point brought up by one of the students.
Hey sirs,
I'm really grateful to you all for the efforts that you have put it for the site. It is quite interesting to learn Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Melaysia the way you've explained.
Well, here is a question in the Basic Malay Language Course Lesson 6 Berapa (How many)
Banyak orang sudah baca buku itu. (Many people have read that book.)
I suggest the word Ramai instead of using the word Banyak to express many people, normally we use the word Banyak (many) for things or subjects not related to people e.g. banyak buku (many books), banyak kereta (many cars), banyak cerita (many stories) etc.
Things related to people e.g.
Ramai peserta (many participants)
Ramai penonton (many audience)
Ramai penyanyi (many singers)
Ramai pekerja (many workers) etc.
So in this case "Many people have read that book" should be Ramai orang sudah baca buku itu.
I hope the above examples may help the beginner.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to raise this matter. Once again I really appreciate all you guys have done for the readers.

My reply is as follows:
Thank you for your feedback and your kind appreciation of the Malay language course. You are perfectly right about the use of "ramai" for people and I think I have also mentioned it somewhere in the course. But in its colloquial form many ordinary Malaysians are still saying "banyak orang" and this does not raise an eyebrow. So don't be afraid to say "banyak orang" in the marketplace but be sure you write "ramai orang" if you should be taking a Malay exam!

How many times did he phone? Berapa kali dia telepon? Berapa kali dia telefon?
All these cars have been sold. Semua mobil ini sudah dijual. Semua kereta ini sudah dijual.
Those people are waiting for the bus. Orang-orang itu tunggu bis. Orang-orang itu tunggu bas.
He has many friends. Dia ada banyak teman. Dia ada banyak kawan.

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