Chapter 8B – Malay Questions

Interrogatives – Katatanya

In Malay, the position of an interrogative can be placed at the beginning of a sentence or at the end of a sentence

What? : Apa? 
What car? : Kereta apa? (note change of position of what)
Where? : Di mana?
Which car? : Kereta mana? (note change of position of which)
Which one? : Yang mana?
Why? : Kenapa?
Who? : Siapa? 
Whose car? : Kereta siapa? (note change of position of whose)
When? : Bila?
How? : Bagaimana? 
How many? : Berapa? (there is no significance of countable & uncountable nouns in Malay)
How much? : Berapa? (no significance of countable & uncountable nouns in Malay)
How many cars?  Berapa buah kereta? (position of ‘car’ remains)

The following methods are the official way to ask questions in Malay. Read notes at the end of this lesson to view the common ways or daily method of asking.

1. Questions for Present Actions

  • Does your friend work ?– Adakah kawan awak bekerja
  • Do they work here? – Adakah mereka bekerja di sini?
  • Where do they work ?– Di mana mereka bekerja
  • Is he working – Adakah dia sedang bekerja
  • Where is he working? – Di mana dia sedang bekerja?
  • Are they working – Adakah mereka sedang bekerja
  • Why are they working fast? Kenapa mereka sedang bekerja cepat?

Note :

  1. Do, Does, Did, Is, Are, Am are all replaced with Adakah, if they start a sentence.
  2. If interrogative is used (eg : Where – Di mana ?), nothing else should be added

2. Questions for Past Actions

  • Did you work yesterday? : Adakah awak bekerja semalam?
  • What time did you finish work yesterday? : Pukul berapa awak habis bekerja semalam?
  • Was he working yesterday? : Adakah dia sedang bekerja semalam?
  • Where were they working yesterday : Di mana mereka sedang bekerja semalam?
  • Did she eat just now? : Adakah dia makan tadi?
  • Where did they eat just now? : Di mana mereka makan tadi?
  • Has she eaten already : Sudahkah dia makan?
  • Have they eaten? : Sudahkah mereka makan?

Note :

  1. Did, Was and Were are replaced with Adakah if they start a sentence
  2. If an interrogative (eg : When – Bila?) is used, nothing else should be added
  3. Use Sudahkah in replacement of Have and Has

4. Questions for Future Actions

  • Can you call me? Bolehkah awak telefon saya?
  • When can you call me? Bila awak boleh telefon saya?
  • Will you go there? Adakah awak akan pergi ke sana?
  • What time will you go there tomorrow? : Pukul berapa awak akan pergi ke sana
  • Why must we buy it? : Kenapa kita mesti beli?
  • Should I call them? : Patutkah saya telefon mereka?
  • When should I call them? : Bila saya patut telefon mereka?

Note :

  1. All future verbs may start a question except for ‘akan’ (ie, will), eg : Can you do it? Bolehkah awak buat? but Will you do : Adakah awak akan buat?
  2. To translate a question using will as a start, Adakah must be used, the word ‘akan’ cannot be separated from the verb, eg : will you buy me food? Adakah awak akan belikan saya makanan?
  3. When an interrogative is used with a future verb in a question, the future verb must stay with verb, eg : When can you help me? Bila awak boleh tolong saya?

5. Questions for Sentences without Verb

Note : In English, whenever there is no verb after a subject, ‘to be’ ie  is, are or am must be used before the adjective, preposition or noun

In Malay,

  • Are you happy? : Adakah awak gembira?
  • Are you there? : Adakah awak berada di sana?
  • Where are you? : Di mana awak?
  • Is she pretty? : Adakah dia cantik?
  • Where is she? : Di mana mereka?
  • Is she your wife? : Adakah dia isteri awak?
  • Why are they noisy? : Kenapa mereka bising?
  • Are they in the room? : Adakah mereka berada di dalam bilik ?
  • Are they students : Adakah mereka pelajar?

Note :

  1. All verb to be are changed to ‘Adakah’ if they start a question
  2. For questions using interrogatives (eg : What – Apa?), nothing else should be added

Sample Questions

  1. What is your name? : Siapa nama awak?
  2. Where are you from? : Awak dari mana?
  3. Is this your wife? : Adakah ini isteri awak?
  4. When did you arrive? : Bila awak tiba?
  5. In which room are you staying? : awak tinggal di bilik mana?
  6. Do you like this hotel? : Adakah awak suka hotel ini?
  7. Have you taken your lunch? : Sudahkah awak makan tengahari?
  8. Who is that boy? : Siapa budak lelaki itu?
  9. Does he like this hotel too? : Adakah dia suka hotel ini juga?
  10. What does he want to eat? : Apa dia mahu makan?

Note :

1. The Malays like to simplify ‘Adakah’ by :

  • Using ‘kah’ at the end of a sentence instead of Adakah in the beginning, eg : Awak suka hotel ini kah? (Official way : Adakah awak suka hotel ini?)
  • Simply using rising intonantion, and removing completely the word Adakah, eg : Awak suka hotel ini?

2. The Malays like to simplify ‘Sudahkah’ to ‘dah’ :

  • Awak dah makan? instead of the official way Sudahkah awak makan? or Awak sudah makan?
  • ‘dah’ (meaning already) is also an indicator of a past action, eg dah makan? – ate already?, dah buat? – done already?

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