Chapter 7 – Verb To Be

How to translate ‘to be to Malay

There is such a massive use of ‘verb to be’ ie ‘am, is, are, was, were’ in English. The use of ‘verb to be’ can be simplified into 5 major categories and can be translated to Malay as follows :

  • When explaining a position (preposition) of a noun, ‘to be’ is translated as : berada or ada orcan be omitted
    • eg : He is here – Dia berada di sini or Dia ada di sini or Dia di sini
  • When introducing a noun, ‘to be’ is translated as : ialah or can be omitted
    • eg : He is a doctor – Dia ialah seorang doktor or Dia seorang doktor or Dia doktor
  • When explaining an adjective, ‘to be’ is not translated (it is omitted)
    • eg : The house is big – Rumah itu besar (‘is’ is omitted)
  • When ‘to be’ is used in continuous action, it is translated as : sedang
    • eg : She is cooking – Dia sedang memasak
  • When ‘to be’ is used in a passive voice, it is translated as : di
    • eg : The shop is opened everyday – kedai itu dibuka setiap hari
  • There is or There are can be translated to Malay as : Ada

Sample Sentences

  1. am attending a class now : Saya sedang menghadiri kelas sekarang
  2. am happy to listen to you : Saya gembira untuk mendengar awak (am is omitted)
  3. She is cooking in the kitchen : Dia sedang memasak di dapur
  4. She was eating with me : Dia sedang makan dengan saya
  5. They are here : Mereka berada di sini / Mereka di sini (are is omitted)
  6. They are from Australia : Mereka dari Australia (are is omitted)
  7. They were very satisfied : Mereka sangat berpuashati (were is omitted)
  8. The food is nice : Makanan itu sedap (is is omitted)
  9. The car is not functioning : Kereta itu tidak berfungsi (is is omitted)
  10. There are 5 banks in town : Ada lima bank di bandar

Other uses of Verb to be

The following use of ‘verb to be’ has no translation to Malay, however, in order to give more feeling towards the expression, the Malays like to add an expression ‘lah’ towards the end :

It’s great!! : Bagus!! (lah)
It’s OK : Tidak Mengapa (lah)
It’s true : Betul (lah)
It’s hot : Panas (lah)
It’s amazing : Hebat (lah)

It seems quite accurate to say that the expression it’s is almost always translated as : lah
However, the word ‘lah’ has no meaning at all, and cannot be considered as an official Malay word. ‘lah’ is only used in Malaysia and Singapore, but not in Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand or The Phillipines. Therefore, Malays from Malaysia and Singapore can easily be identified abroad.

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