Exclusive E-Book: Learn Bahasa Indonesia: Beginners Guide

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Learn Bahasa Indonesia: Beginners Guide

Learn Bahasa Indonesia for Beginners

Poised to be the 4th largest economy in the world by 2030, Indonesia’s economy holds enormous promise in the eyes of the global market. Researches show that the GDP of Indonesia will eclipse that of established powerhouses such as Japan, Germany and UK – a strong indication of positive growth trajectory for medium to long term.

As the country bounced back from the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains to be one of the most dynamic and prospective archipelagos of the world. Demands for skilled workers continue to grow, including the needs for migrant or foreign workers to drive the country onward and upward. 

With all eyes on Indonesia, it’s highly recommended that professionals start taking up lessons on Indonesian language. Local citizens take kindly to all visitors, particularly foreigners proficient in their mother tongue. The good news is, the Indonesian language is easy to pick up once you have understood a few of the basic rules and we’re ready to offer you the solution. 

This ebook fully covers the main materials for anyone keen to learn bahasa Indonesia, including Indonesian grammar, daily phrases and more. Save this e-book and let’s learn bahasa Indonesia today!

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Bagian 1 | Bahasa Indonesia

Introduksi

Get to Know Bahasa Indonesia 

Historically, Indonesia was colonized by Portuguese, British, French, and Japanese briefly. However, the major colonial force was the Ducth who ruled it for three and a half centuries. As such the anti-colonial sentiments were high yet given the diverse cultures and native language across the islands, it was difficult to find common linguistic identity.

With the influence of the neighboring country which was the gateway to the Sumatran empire of Sriwijaya at the time, Malay language first became the regional native tongue. It then spread and adapted regularly, also developed and standardized as the way of communication between the government and the people. 

In 1928, the Congress of the Young People drafted the famous Sumpah Pemuda or Youth’s Vow declaring the official Indonesian language as the national language. Indonesian language then was cemented as the identity and language of the people in the Declaration of Independence (1945). In the curriculum, all citizens learn Indonesian language at school at all levels throughout the country. 

Spoken along with their native tongue and influenced by their personal experiences, it’s typical to find all Indonesians well-versed in dual or multiple languages. As the 4th largest world population, Indonesian language is now the 9th most used language globally and even made it as the 2nd official language in Vietnam since 2007.

Bagian 2 | Basic Bahasa Indonesia
Basic Indonesian Vocabulary

Like all learning approach, let’s learn bahasa Indonesia through daily communications below:

Greetings in Bahasa Indonesia

  • Self introduction

Like in many daily conversations, it’s considered polite to know the proper self introduction in Indonesian language. Here are a few ways you can try:

Short self introduction 

In Bahasa

Hi/Hello, how are you? I’m ( name) and I’m a/an ( occupation).

I come from ( country) and currently staying here by myself/ with my family.

I love traveling to many beautiful places in Indonesia. I hope to learn Bahasa Indonesia more and speak fluently. 

Hai/Halo, apa kabar? Saya (name) dan saya seorang ( occupation).

Saya dari ( country) dan sekarang tinggal sendiri/bersama keluarga. 

Saya suka bepergian ke banyak tempat indah di Indonesia. Saya ingin belajar bahasa Indonesia dan berbicara lebih lancar. 

  • Greetings

Other than the casual “Hi” or “Hello”, there are other basic Indonesian greetings that could lead to more fun interactions. Here are a few greeting phrases to use, including how to say goodbye in Indonesian language:

Greetings

In Bahasa

Good morning

Good afternoon

Good evening

Good night

Good bye

So long/ See you

Selamat pagi

Selamat siang ( 12 pm – 3 pm)/ Selamat sore ( 3pm- 6pm)

Selamat malam ( After sunset)

Selamat beristirahat

Selamat tinggal/ Bye

Sampai jumpa/ Selamat jalan

When someone says hello to you or greets you in Indonesian language, you can reply back with the same greetings such as “Selamat Pagi” or “ Selamat Malam”. Or when it’s the typical question greeting of “ Apa Kabar?”, simply reply “ Baik” which means “ Fine” in Indonesian language.

Numbers

The number system in Indonesian language is quite simple and regular. Once you master the basic number vocabulary, you should be able to tell any number in Bahasa. Let’s start with the basics right away:

Number (0-10)

In Bahasa

Zero – 0

One – 1

Two – 2

Three – 3

Four – 4

Five – 5

Six – 6

Seven – 7

Eight – 8

Nine – 9

Ten – 10

Nol

Satu

Dua

Tiga

Empat

Lima

Enam

Tujuh

Delapan

Sembilan

Sepuluh

When the number system reaches evelen and so on, you will be using the word “belas” to represent the suffix “-teen” in English. 

Number ( 11-20)

In Bahasa

Evelen

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Sebelas

Dua belas

Tiga belas

Empat belas

Lima belas

Enam belas

Tujuh belas

Delapan belas

Sembilan belas

Next, the tens concept uses the word “puluh” aka “one ten” to represent the suffix “-ty” in English. 

Number ( 20-30)

In Bahasa

Twenty

Twenty one

Twenty two

Twenty three

Twenty four

Twenty five

Twenty six

Twenty seven

Twenty eight

Twenty nine

Thirty

Dua puluh

Dua puluh satu

Dua puluh dua

Dua puluh tiga

Dua puluh empat

Dua puluh lima

Dua puluh enam

Dua puluh tujuh

Dua puluh delapan

Dua puluh sembilan

Tiga puluh

Basically, you will continue to repeat the same pattern with the following formula:

Basic number + “puluh”/ “tens” + Basic number 

More examples:

Forty five = empat puluh lima

Sixty one = enam puluh satu

Seventy eight = tujuh puluh delapan

This pattern for the number system in Indonesian language continues all the way to bigger numbers. Simply substitute the vocabulary for “hundreds”, “thousands”, “ ten thousands” and so on to form your complete number in Indonesian language. 

Number 

In Bahasa

Hundred 

Thousand

Ten thousand

Hundred thousand 

Million 

ratus

ribu

Puluh ribu

Ratus ribu

juta

Essentially, you can break down the numbers using the basic vocabulary and the key words above, for example:

Two hundred = dua ratus

Five hundred thirty four = lima ratus tiga puluh empat

Five thousand = lima ribu

Five thousand eight hundred seventy four = lima ribu delapan ratus tujuh puluh empat

And so on

Additional Notes for Number in Indonesian Language

As in any normal daily conversation, chances are you’d want to get someone’s phone number. Phone numbers in Indonesia vary in length, but it’s simply recited individually according to the basic vocabulary words. For example:

  • My phone number is 081977454

Nomor telepon saya nol delapan satu sembilan tujuh tujuh empat lima empat

In the number system, you can also use the word “puluhan” ( tens)”,  “ ratusan” ( hundreds)  or “jutaan” ( millions) as shorthand that represents a large estimate. The suffix -an indicates the plural form such as: 

  • Ratusan orang menghadiri konser akhir tahun itu.

Hundreds of people attended the year end concert

  • Harga vas itu jutaan

The vase costs millions.

Lastly, the ordinal number system in the Indonesian language is made by simply adding “ke-” as prefix to any basic vocabulary number to indicate the order. Below is the full list:

English

In Bahasa

First

Second

Third

Fourth

Fifth

Sixth

Seventh

Eighth

Ninth

Tenths

Pertama

Kedua

Ketiga

Keempat

Kelima

Keenam

Ketujuh

Kedelapan

Kesembilan

Kesepuluh and so on…

Date

Note that dates in Indonesian language are written in day-month-year, so 07-08-2001 is the 7th August of 2001. For the date and year pronunciations, you will be using a lot of the basic number vocabulary and the concept as explained before in the previous section. 

Check out the examples to better understand it:

Year

In Bahasa ( Tahun)

1970

2002

2025

Seribu sembilan ratus tujuh puluh

Dua ribu dua

Dua ribu dua lima

To simplify the pronunciation before the year 2000, years can also be contracted or combining the first two digits together and the last two together, for example :

  • 1925, instead of saying “seribu sembilan ratus dua puluh lima”, you may also simplify it to “ sembilan belas dua puluh lima”
  • 1999, instead of saying “ seribu sembilan ratus sembilan puluh sembilan”, you can read it as “ sembilan belas sembilan puluh sembilan”

This is a more common way to converse in a daily setting which is a more casual form. 

While for the months, here is a list of the names of the month in Indonesian language

Name of the month

In Bahasa ( Bulan)

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Januari

Februari

Maret

April

Mei

Juni

Juli

Agustus

September

Oktober

November

Desember

Once you put everything together in Indonesian language, you shall have no problems in telling the complete date in Bahasa. More examples below:

  • The date was 2 October 2015

Tanggal dua Oktober dua ribu lima belas

  • I was born in 6 May 1981 

Saya lahir di tanggal enam Mei sembilan belas delapan puluh satu

Time

Previously, we’ve discussed bahasa Indonesia in the greeting forms where we focus on saying hello based on the time of the day. Here they are:

  • Morning : Pagi
  • Noon : Siang
  • Afternoon : Sore
  • Night : Malam

To tell time related to clock, here are a few vocabulary that will come in handy in Indonesian language:

In English

In Bahasa

Second

Minute

Hour

Past

Before

Detik

Menit

Jam

Lewat

Kurang

To say time in Indonesian language, mostly you can tell the time by using the basic number vocabulary as taught before and read it as is. However, you can also include the newly added vocabulary above to sound even more natural. To understand it better, simply refer to the examples below:

  • 2 o’clock = jam dua
  • 12.30 = jam dua belas tiga puluh OR jam dua lewat tiga puluh menit
  • 03.40 = jam tiga empat puluh OR jam tiga lewat empat puluh menit
  • 09.45 = jam sembilan empat puluh lima OR jam 10 kurang lima belas menit

Baca Juga :

Bagian 3 | Verb/Tenses Bahasa Indonesia

Verb/Tenses

The Understanding of Tenses

The concept of tense in English refers to a verb-based method used to indicate time. Through several forms of verbs, tense explains whether an event took place in the past, or that it occurs in the present, or that it will occur in the future. 

Specifically, each of the three tenses in English can be further divided into a more definitive timeline ie: Simple, Progressive, Perfect, and Past Perfect. As such, English language consists of 12 sets of major types of tense:

  • Four Past Tenses : 
    • Simple Past Tense > She laughed
    • Past Progressive Tense > She was laughing
    • Past Perfect Tense > She had laughed
    • Past Perfect Progressive Tense > She had been laughing
  • Four Present Tenses
    • Simple Present Tense > She laughs
    • Present Progressive Tense > She is laughing
    • Present Perfect Tense > She has laughed
    • Present Perfect Progressive Tense > She has been laughing
  • Four Future Tenses
    • Simple Future Tense > She will laugh
    • Future Progressive Tense > She will be laughing
    • Future Perfect Tense > She will have laughed
    • Future Perfect Progressive Tense > She will have been laughing

Many languages use tense to talk about time, while others have no concept of tense at all – although generally an expression of time is needed to illustrate or give better ideas to the sentence. 

  • No Tenses Problem

When it comes to tenses or Indonesian grammar, you’re in luck. Essentially, Indonesian grammar requires no real tenses leaving you with nothing to worry about. All in all, forming Indonesian grammar or tense is simple since you don’t need to worry about :

  • Tense conjugation
  • Regular or irregular verbs
  • Adding or changing the verb in any way

Do note that you will still use certain key words to describe the timeline of an event so that your sentences are factual. Let’s find out what those words are in Indonesian grammar: 

Past tense in Bahasa

Meaning

In Bahasa ( Bulan)

Yesterday

Eg. I overslept yesterday

Kemarin

“ Saya ketiduran kemarin”

Last ( week/year/etc)

Eg. They went camping last week

Lalu

“ Mereka pergi berkemah minggu lalu”

This ( morning/afternoon/etc)

Eg. We were late this morning

Tadi

“ Kita telat datang tadi pagi”

( Minutes/ hours/etc) Ago 

Eg. She was here a minute ago

Yang lalu

“ Dia disini satu menit yang lalu”

To express something that already happened/ have happened ( Perfect tense)

Eg. I drank water/ I have drank water

Telah/ Sudah

“ Saya sudah minum”

Present tense in Bahasa

Meaning

In Bahasa ( Bulan)

Always

Eg. You’re always late

Selalu

“ Kamu selalu telat”

Every

Eg. We study every night

Setiap

“ Kita belajar setiap malam”

Often/ frequently

Eg. She comes here often

Sering

“ Dia sering datang kemari”

Sometimes

Eg. My father sometimes visit us

Kadang-kadang

“ Ayahku kadang-kadang berkunjung”

Never

Eg. Sarah never says no

Tidak pernah

“ Sarah tidak pernah menolak”

V+ ing

Eg. The students are playing

Sedang

“ Murid-murid sedang bermain”

Future Tense in Bahasa

Meaning

In Bahasa ( Bulan)

Will/Shall

Eg. She will pay the tickets

Akan

“ Dia akan bayar tiket itu”

Tomorrow

Eg. We’ll go tomorrow

Besok

“ Besok kita pergi” or “ Kita pergi besok”

The day after tomorrow

Eg. We’ll go the day after tomorrow

Lusa

“ Lusa kita pergi “ or “ Kita pergi lusa”

Later

Eg. We’ll go later

Nanti

“ Nanti kita pergi” or “ Kita pergi nanti”

(Minutes/hours/days/etc) Later

Eg. We’ll go a few days later

( Menit/jam/hari//dll) Ke depan

“Kita pergi beberapa hari ke depan”

Next ( week/month/etc)

Eg. We’ll go next week

(Minggu/bulan/dll) Depan

“ Kita pergi minggu depan”

After

Eg. We’ll go after the class

Setelah

“Kita pergi setelah kelas”

From now

Eg. We’ll go a few days from now

Lagi/ dari

“ Kita pergi beberapa hari lagi”

As you learn bahasa Indonesia and make more progress, you will perhaps encounter more keywords to indicate the timeline of certain events. But overall, Indonesian grammar is not complicated with no verb alteration or specific tense formula. 

Adjective

Adjective refers to a word or phrase to name an attribute or characteristic of a noun. In the Indonesian language, it is important to learn the adjectives since they are used frequently in daily conversation. The more adjective words you can build when you learn bahasa Indonesia, the more upper hand you will have in conversing like a fluent Indonesian language speaker. 

In the English language, an adjective often comes BEFORE a noun. Example :

  • A red car
  • A scary place
  • An interesting story

As a contrast in Indonesian grammar, an adjective typically comes AFTER a noun. Example:

  • A red car > Mobil merah
  • A scary place > Tempat seram
  • An interesting story > Cerita seru

Sometimes though, an English adjective can come AFTER a verb. Example :

  • My car is red
  • It’s a scary place
  • She told an interesting story

In Indonesian grammar, the sentence can be rephrased as per the translation. Example :

  • My car is red > Mobil saya merah
  • It’s a scary place > Tempat itu seram
  • She told an interesting story > Dia bercerita kisah yang seru

Notice the keyword “yang” which can be loosely translated as “which” and is often used to bridge a noun and adjective in Indonesian grammar. The keyword “yang” helps explain the noun or act as a supporting word that stresses the subject or noun in the sentence. 

For example:

  • She’s a fun kid > Dia anak yang asyik
  • Your mother is a beautiful lady > Ibumu perempuan yang cantik
  • He owns a big house > Dia punya rumah yang besar

All in all, adjectives in Indonesian language are not strongly tied to a certain grammatical formula, but rather require a rich vocabulary to really convey what you want to say to the other speakers. When you learn bahasa Indonesia, try to build as much vocabulary as you can.

 Here are 30 adjectives in Indonesian language to help enrich your conversation: 

English Adjectives

In Bahasa ( Bulan)

Quantities

Some/ A Few

Little/Few

Many/ Much

Part

Whole

Qualities

Affordable

Bad

Clean

Dark

Difficult

Delicious

Easy

Expensive

Fast

Heavy

Hard

Good/nice

Wrong

Young

Taste

Bitter

Fresh

Salty

Sour

Sweet

Spicy

Tasteless

Shapes

Circular

Square

Straight

Triangular

Irregular

Sizes

Big

Small

Long

Short

Deep

Narrow

Wide

Tall

Thick

Thin

Colors

Black

White

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Purple

Brown

Green

Orange

Gray

Jumlah

Beberapa

Sedikit

Banyak

Sebagian

Semua

Sifat

Terjangkau/murah

Jelek

Bersih

Gelap

Sulit

Lezat/enak

Gampang

Mahal

Cepat

Berat

Sulit/keras

Bagus/baik

Salah

Muda

Rasa

Pahit

Segar

Asin

Asam

Manis

Pedas

Hambar

Bentuk

Bulat

Petak

Lurus

Segitiga

Tak berbentuk

Ukuran

Besar

Kecil

Panjang

Pendek

Dalam

Sempit

Luas

Tinggi

Tebal

Tipis

Warna

Hitam

Putih

Merah

Hijau

Kuning

Biru

Ungu

Coklat

Hijau

Jingga/ oren

Abu-abu

Nouns

Like the use of nouns in English, the nouns in Indonesian language refers to a person, animal, thing, place, thing or abstract ideas. When you learn the Indonesian language, you will notice that nouns are important and make a big part of daily conversation. It is essential that you continue to practise building and speaking in Indonesian language to adopt these nouns quickly into your daily vocabulary. 

Most of the rules in nouns in Indonesian language apply to the English language, for example common nouns, proper nouns, concrete nouns or abstract nouns. A few grammatical notes you want to bear in mind are:

  • Collective nouns

Like in the English language, Indonesian grammar also has a certain collective noun to refer to a group of something. However, the Indonesian language is much simpler in terms of grouping the objects. You can refer to the examples below

  • A gaggle of geese > Sekelompok angsa
  • An army of ant > Sekerumunan semut
  • A bunch of flowers > Sekuntum bunga
  • A team of staff > Sekelompok staff

Notice the prefix “Se-” which basically means “ ONE” and you can safely refer to most objects as a group or “kelompok” or “grup”. Or, as your vocabulary grows you will be able to differentiate a more specific collective word for certain objects. But in general, you may use the above explanation to start conversations. 

  • Singular/ Plural Nouns

In the English language, by adding the suffix “s/es” you basically are creating the plural form of a noun. This rule does not apply to Indonesian grammar where the plural of a noun is basically repeating the same word twice to indicate that it’s more than one. For example:

  • House/Houses > Rumah/ Rumah-rumah
  • Chair/Chairs > Kursi/ kursi-kursi
  • Child/Children > Anak/ Anak-anak

However, pay attention to certain Indonesian words that is a repetition of the basic word, but is actually not a plural form, for example:

    • Kupu-kupu > butterfly
    • Kura-kura > turtle
    • Atap-atap> ceilings
    • Laki-laki > man (gender and person)
    • Laba-laba > spider

In the case of making sure that you are not mistaking a repeated word as the plural forms, it’s a matter of getting accustomed or familiarizing yourself with Indonesian vocabulary. Or in other words, as your vocabulary grows, you will soon ease into the concept fairly quickly and effortlessly. 

When repeating the plural forms, sometimes the structure or phoneme may also change. For example:

  • Trees> Pepohonan instead of pohon-pohon
  • Vegetables > Sayur-sayuran instead of sayur-sayur
  • Doodles > Corat-coret instead of coret-coret
  • Movements > Gerak-gerik instead of gerak-gerak 
  • And more

Again, the understanding of how the plural form of nouns in Indonesian language works is more about the regular usage and vocabulary building, rather than a matter of grammatical functions. For that reason, keep focusing on practice and vocabulary enrichment when you learn the Indonesian language. 

  • Possessive Noun

In English, a possessive noun or ownership is represented with the apostrophe ‘s’ at the end of a noun. For example:

  • The cat’s toy
  • Sarah’s books
  • Computer’s cables

In Indonesian grammar, no specific word is needed but rather a direct translation of the words by placing the noun first followed by the subject to indicate ownership. For example:

  • The cat’s toy : Mainan kucing
  • Sarah’s books : Buku-buku Sarah
  • Computer’s cable : Kabel komputer

Preposition & Conjunction

  • Preposition

Indonesian prepositions connect nouns, pronouns and phrases to show its relationship with other words, for example to explain the direction, time, place or location. These prepositions are used daily so it’s best to include them in your daily conversation as a part of your practice:

English Prepositions

In Bahasa 

Examples

Location/Position

   

In, at, on, upon

di

I live at the church> Saya tinggal di gereja

In, within

dalam

My book is in my bag > Buku saya di dalam tas

Movement

   

To/toward

Ke

Go towards the car> Maju ke mobil 

From

dari

Walk back from the table> Mundur dari meja

Addressing something/someone

   

To/For

Untuk/ Kepada

This flower is for your mother. Give it to her please> Bunga ini untuk ibumu. Tolong berikan kepada dia.

Duration

   

During/ for

Selama

During the show, I slept> Selama acara, saya tidur.

Up to/ until

Sampai/hingga

He works until 5> Dia bekerja sampai jam 5

Since

Sejak

I’ve been here since July > Saya sudah disini sejak bulan Juli

Time

   

At, on

Pada

The show starts at 11 > Acara dimulai pada jam 11

Using instruments

   

By

Oleh

This letter is written by him> Surat ini ditulis oleh dia

With

Dengan

We eat with our hands> Kita makan dengan tangan

  • Conjunction

Conjunction acts as a connector or bridge that connects two or more ideas. In both English and Indonesian languages, there is a similarity in concept so there won’t be much of a problem in understanding how conjunctions work when you learn Indonesian language. 

To fully cover conjunctions in Indonesian language, let’s refer to the main types of English conjunctions. As such, you will be able to understand Indonesian grammar better and be encouraged to practice more when you learn bahasa Indonesia. 

English Conjunctions

In Bahasa 

Coordinating Conjunctions

Connecting equal parts of a sentence, including words, phrases or independent clauseCommon conjunctions : 

 

“Or” Eg. Do you want to stay or go?

Atau > Kamu mau disini atau pulang?

“And” Eg. I like eggs and ham.

Dan > Saya suka telur dan ham

“But” Eg. I don’t drink coffee but I enjoy tea

Tapi > Saya tidak minum kopi tapi suka teh

Subordinating Conjunctions

Connecting a dependent clause to an independent clause to show the relationship. Common conjunctions

 

“Because” Eg. I was late because it’s raining

Karena> Saya telat karena hujan

“After” Eg. The house was neat after cleaning up

Setelah> Rumah itu jadi rapi setelah dibersihkan

“Before” Eg. She had a breakfast before leaving

Sebelum> Dia sarapan sebelum berangkat

“Since” Eg. He stops visiting since the accident

Sejak > Dia tidak berkunjung lagi sejak kecelakaan itu

“ If”..”then” Eg. If you have more money, you can buy the item

“Kalau”…”Maka” > Kalau kamu punya uang lebih, maka kamu boleh membeli barang itu

“…so” Eg. He climbed the tree so he can see what’s happening

“..supaya” > Dia memanjat pohon supaya bisa melihat apa yang terjadi

Correlative Conjunction

Connecting words or phrases that have equal importance in a sentence. Common conjunctions:

 

“Both”…”and” Eg. Both Mira and I loved the show

“ Baik”…”dan” > Baik Mira dan saya suka acara itu.

“Not only”..”but also” Eg. Not only are you late, but also missed the class entirely

“ Tidak hanya”..”tapi juga”> Tidak hanya kamu telat, tapi juga ketinggalan kelas sama sekali.

“Not”…”but”. Eg It’s not your dad’s book but mine.

“Bukan..”tapi”> Itu bukan buku ayahmu, tapi milikmu

“Whether” Eg. I’m not sure whether to go (or not).

Entah> Saya tidak tahu entah mau pergi (atau tidak).

“ Either/or” & “Neither/nor”

Eg. I don’t drink either coffee or tea

She does neither yoga nor jogging

Ataupun> Saya tidak minum kopi atau teh

Dia tidak yoga ataupun jogging

So there you have it! The basics of Indonesian language to guide you for daily conversations. Once you get to it and learn bahasa Indonesia, you will come to the realization that Indonesian language is simple, enjoyable and easy to learn. 

After you have mastered the basic material in Indonesian language provided here, you should definitely go to the next level with an online course with the experts at Cakap – an app for languages and self development in foreign language, including to learn bahasa Indonesia. 

Find out how you can skyrocket your Indonesian language with Cakap, simply click here and join our many satisfied learners!

Hilda
Lulusan Sastra Jepang dengan 4 tahun pengalaman menulis kreatif, terutama di bidang edukasi. Senang mencari tahu dan menjelaskannya kembali lewat tulisan.