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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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On Pronouns | On Prepositions | On Colours | On Days of the Week | Sentence-building | Vocabulary | Sentences to translate

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 9 (Telling the time)

Click to listen  

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

   Pukul berapa sekarang? (= What time is it now?)   
   Pukul lima. (= It's five o'clock.)   
   Pukul lapan setengah. (= Half-past eight)   
   Pukul dua sembilan belas. (= 2:19 Pronounced "two
   nineteen" as in English)   
   Pukul sepuluh empat puluh lima. (= 10:45)   

NOTE: While berapa is used to ask the time, it also means "How many" as in Berapa orang datang? (How many people came?). It can also mean "How much" eg. Berapakah gaji anda? (How much is your salary?)
Practice in telling the time.
The sentences below are just for practice in telling the time. If you need to know the current time you can go here.
Pukul berapa sekarang?
=What time is it now?
(Please read pagi for "am" and petang for "pm" in the Malay sentences below. My programming skills are still not that good! Can anyone help me out here?)
Sekarang pukul 08:21 pm di Paris
= It's now 08:21 pm in Paris
Sekarang pukul 02:21 am di Malaysia
= It's now 02:21 am in Malaysia
Sekarang pukul 01:21 pm di New York
= It's now 01:21 pm in New York

In the absence of a teacher, the table below will help you correct yourself if you should make a mistake:
1 = satu
2 = dua
3 = tiga
4 = empat
5 = lima
6 = enam
7 = tujuh
8 = lapan
9 = sembilan
10 = sepuluh
11 = sebelas
12 = dua belas
13 = tiga belas
14 = empat belas
15 = lima belas
16 = enam belas
17 = tujuh belas
18 = lapan belas
19 = sembilan belas
20 = dua puluh
21 = dua puluh satu
22 = dua puluh dua
23 = dua puluh tiga
24 = dua puluh empat
25 = dua puluh lima
26 = dua puluh enam
27 = dua puluh tujuh
28 = dua puluh lapan
29 = dua puluh sembilan
30 = tiga puluh
31 = tiga puluh satu
32 = tiga puluh dua
33 = tiga puluh tiga
34 = tiga puluh empat
35 = tiga puluh lima
36 = tiga puluh enam
37 = tiga puluh tujuh
38 = tiga puluh lapan
39= tiga puluh sembilan
40 = empat puluh
41 = empat puluh satu
42 = empat puluh dua
43 = empat puluh tiga
44 = empat puluh empat
45= empat puluh lima
46 = empat puluh enam
47 = empat puluh tujuh
48 = empat puluh lapan
49 = empat puluh sembilan
50 = lima puluh
51 = lima puluh satu
52 = lima puluh dua
53 = lima puluh tiga
54 = lima puluh empat
55 = lima puluh lima
56 = lima puluh enam
57 = lima puluh tujuh
58= lima puluh lapan
59 = lima puluh sembilan

When you want to tell the time in Malay you always start with the word pukul (literally means to hit - think of hitting a gong to announce the time). What follows is exactly like telling the time in English. Thus "It is 9:25" (nine twenty-five) is translated as Pukul 9 (sembilan) 25 (dua puluh lima).
If you like to do so you can add minit for the minutes but this is not really necessary, eg. Pukul sembilan dua puluh lima or Pukul sembilan dua puluh lima minit are both correct.
Apart from announcing the time pukul is also used in the sense of beating (hitting) a person eg. Dia memberitahu polis bahawa dia telah dipukul oleh dua orang samseng. (He told the police that he was beaten up by two gangsters). The word oleh means "by" (in passive sentences).

To tell someone the time you usually start with Pukul or Jam (this is more frequent in Indonesia) followed by the actual time but if you are asking someone AT what time he sleeps, for example, you have to precede it with the preposition pada (= at here). Eg. Anda tidur pada pukul berapa?
In such cases you might want to use the word biasanya (usually) eg. Saya biasanya habis kerja pada pukul enam petang. (I usually finish work at six in the evening.)
By the way jam is pronounced as "jump" without the final p sound and not as what you smear on your bread! It also means "a clock" while jam tangan means a watch.
As you have already seen in Lesson 7 pada is also used with days of the week eg. pada hari Isnin (on Monday). Similarly pada hari jadinya means "on his birthday".
It is also used with months eg. pada bulan Mac (in March) though you are more likely to hear dalam bulan Mac.
Thus depending on the usage pada can mean "at", "on" or "in".
Jam berapa? is sometimes used instead of Pukul berapa? and is the standard way of asking the time in Indonesia. But if the two words are reversed (Berapa jam?) then it means "How many hours?"
You should not be confused over this as Berapa? by itself means "How many" (eg. Berapa orang datang? = How many people came?). It can also mean "How much" in the case of Berapa harganya? (= How much is it? or literally "How much is the price".)
The following sentence will illustrate the use of Berapa jam:
Berapa jam untuk perjalanan kereta api dari Singapura ke Kuala Lumpur? (How many hours for a train journey from Singapore to KL?)
2.15 is pukul dua suku (suku means a quarter). You can also say pukul dua lima belas (minit).
At this point you might as well learn the common fractions: one quarter is suku, half is setengah and three-quarters is tiga suku.
Thus 9.45 is pukul sembilan tiga suku or pukul sembilan empat puluh lima (minit).
By all means use tiga suku each time you want to say "three-quarters" but make sure you don't use it for a person as Dia tiga suku would mean that the person you are referring to is half-crazy!
To distinguish between 06:00 and 18:00 you will say Pukul enam pagi for 06:00 and Pukul enam petang for 18:00. When it's in the early part of the afternoon eg. 14:00 you can say Pukul dua tengah hari.

If there is one aspect that varies greatly between the Malaysian and Indonesian languages it is in telling the time.
Firstly in Malaysia when we ask the time it is Pukul berapa? and the answer also starts with Pukul followed by the hour while in Indonesia they ask Jam berapa? with the answer starting with Jam followed not necessarily by the hour (eg. it can be Jam setengah followed by the hour).
Secondly the half-hour is completely different from what is said in Malaysia. Thus half-past seven would be Pukul tujuh setengah to Malaysians whereas the Indonesians would say Jam setengah lapan. Since we could miss an appointment completely by one hour or we might be one whole hour too early for an appointment it is very important that we get this right when we are in Indonesia. It is easy to understand that Jam setengah lapan means "half past seven" and not "half past eight" simply because setengah (meaning "half") comes BEFORE lapan (eight) so it must be half an hour BEFORE 8 o'clock and not after it. But as it is a bit difficult for English speakers to adapt to this way of thinking (ah, cultural differences do count in language learning!) it is perfectly all right for you, on your part, to say Jam tujuh tiga puluh menit if it's easier for you.
Thirdly while a quarter of an hour is suku in Bahasa Malaysia, it is seperempat (literally "one out of four parts") in Bahasa Indonesia. Both words mean "a quarter" of something. But if seperempat is too much of a mouthful for you, just say lima belas menit instead. It's clear, concise and you will not be misunderstood. Just as in English 10h15 can be either "a quarter past ten" or simply "ten fifteen" we can say Jam sepuluh lewat seperempat or Jam sepuluh lewat lima belas menit in Bahasa Indonesia and Pukul sepuluh suku or Pukul sepuluh lima belas minit in Malaysia.
Fourthly the use of the word lewat (sometimes the word lebih meaning "more" is used instead) in telling time in Indonesia. In Malaysia the word lewat is used in the sense of being late for an event and never used to tell the time as in Indonesia. The word lewat simply means "past" and is used up to the 29th minute past the hour. For English speakers when you hear the word lewat you can just ignore it, thus when you hear Jam sembilan lewat dua puluh lima menit just treat it as Jam sembilan dua puluh lima menit (nine twenty-five). Why complicate things when we can simplify them? So, to give another example, treat Jam lima lewat sembilan belas menit as Jam lima sembilan belas menit (five nineteen). This is just between the two of us, please don't try to correct the Indonesians! If you want to specify whether it is morning or evening, etc. you can add pagi, siang, sore or malam to it.
After the half hour you can use kurang to indicate the number of minutes short of the hour mentioned eg. 07h50 or 19h50 ("ten to eight" in English) is Pukul lapan kurang sepuluh minit in Malaysia and Jam delapan kurang sepuluh menit in Indonesia (literally "eight o'clock short of 10 minutes").
A word about punctuality. When you want to specify that an event starts precisely at a certain time the word to use is tepat (both in Malaysia and Indonesia). Thus Pukul dua tepat or Jam dua tepat means "2 o'clock sharp". In Indonesia (but not in Malaysia) they have a term to denote the opposite concept (i.e. when the time given is just an approximation and you are not required nor expected to be on time nor should you expect the other person to be punctual either). In this case they will use the term jam karet which is another way of saying "Let's play it cool, buddy. Let's take our own sweet time to arrive!"

six o'clock in the evening jam enam sore pukul enam petang
What time is it now? Jam berapa sekarang? Pukul berapa sekarang?
ten minutes sepuluh menit sepuluh minit
police polisi polis
that bahwa bahawa
month of March bulan Maret bulan Mac
one quarter seperempat suku
a quarter past five (5h15) jam lima lewat seperempat pukul lima suku
at eight twenty (8h20) pada jam delapan lewat dua puluh pada pukul lapan dua puluh
nine forty-five (9h45) jam sepuluh kurang seperempat pukul sembilan tiga suku
half-past seven (7h30) jam setengah delapan pukul tujuh setengah

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