Check out this guide on how to text like a local with Indonesian. It might even trick people into thinking that you’re a local, that’s if your name doesn’t give it away first!!!

Bahasa Indonesia is said to be one of the easiest languages in the world to learn. In contrast to the 171,000+ word vocabulary of English, the Indonesian language has around 50,000 less words. This may contribute to a perceived ‘easiness,’ but many would say it’s hard to translate word-for-word what we are trying to say in our native tongue. I agree. The language is not as expressive nor as specific as English. It’s beautiful in its own way. Sometimes simpler is better, right?

An open dictionary on a table

Even with the smaller dictionary, there are still some nuances of the language that are difficult for some to grasp even after many years of living here. People will often times a take a couple of private Indonesian lessons only to find that the bahasa Indonesia (simply referred to as ‘bahasa’ by many) that they hear on the street is entirely different from what was taught at their lesson.

Formal Bahasa Indonesia and the bahasa we use in our normal daily activities are vastly different. Sure I can get by in any traditional market, but talking to a government official in their office, for example, is a completely different story. It is TOUGH. I recall asking a local friend for help crafting a formal email to a large corporation, even this intelligent college-educated individual struggled to use proper conjugations and grammar!

For most, learning a conversational level of bahasa is a much better use of time and effort. It can be applied in your daily life and it really goes a long way if you consider how quickly you can get to this level with some good ‘ole fashioned studying- just a little bit each day, but every day.

A group of Indonesian students studying a book together.

So if you’re already chatting on WhatsApp with your tukang, kurir, pembantu, Grab driver…well done. You may have already noticed that Indonesians tend to text as if they are being charged per the letter – leaving out virtually all vowels and as many characters as possible. The result is something that is hard to read for those who are still learning. You can’t use Google Translate because they aren’t actually words, bummer!

Don’t worry because I’ve got you covered, the following is a list of the most common shorthand texts, taken directly from my hundreds of WhatsApp chats….Once you know most of these give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve done well. Eventually you should find yourself effortless figuring out what most of the abbreviated words actually mean!


ad- ada – there are, there are

ak, aq, q – aku – me

aj – aja, saja – just, only


bs – bisa – can

bpk – bapak – sir, father

blm, lom – belum – not yet

bnyk – banyak – a lot, lots, many

brngkt – berangkat – leave

brp, brpa – berapa – how much, how many

bru – baru – new, just now

bgtu – begitu – like that

bwt – buat – for, make


cm, cmn – Cuma, cuman – only

cb, cba – coba – try

cpt – cepat – fast, quickly


dmn – dimana – where

dpt – dapat – get

dll – dan lain-lain – and others, etc.

dr – dari – from

dgn – dengan – with

dkt – dekat – near, close

dlu, dl – dulu – first, before

dtfr – di transfer – transfer, send (usually regarding local bank transfer)


emg – emang – indeed



ga – nggak, tidak – no

gmna, gmn – gimana (bagaimana) – how, what if

gtu – gitu – like that


hr – hari – day

hub – hubungi – to contact

hp – handphone – cell phone



jgn – jangan – don’t

jg – juga – also

jd, jdnya – jadi, jadinya – so, happen, so it means

jm – jam – hour


kbr – kabar – news or more frequently the news regarding yourself eg. “how are you?”

km, qm – kamu – you

Kk – kak – bro, sis, an informal way of addressing someone of similar age

ksn – kesana or kesini depdning on context – to there, to here

kmn – kemana – to where

klo, kl – kalau – if

kta, kt – kita – we

krj – kerja – work

kmrn – kemarin – yesterday, in the past

knp – kenapa – why

kpn – kapan – when

ktmu – ketemu – meet

kyk, kyknya – kayak, kayaknya – like, it seems like

ksh – kasih – give


liat – lihat – look, see

lbh – lebih – more

lg – lagi – again, more


mlm – malam – night, goodnight, good evening

msh – masih – still

mrk – mereka – they

mkn – makan – eat


ntr – sebenTAR but closer to “nanti” in meaning – later, in a bit

ngpn – ngapain – what are you doing?


org – orang – person


pk – pak, Bapak – mister, sir

px – pax – people

prnh – pernah – ever

plng, plg – pulang – go home


q – aku – me

qt – kita – we

qm – kamu – you



sy, sya – saya – me

skrg – sekarang – now

sblm – sebelum – before

sm – sama – same, with

sgtu – segitu – that much

sampe – sampai – until

smua – semua – all


tar – sebentar – just a moment

tmpt – tempat – place

tp – tapi – but

tgl – tinggal or tanggal depending on context – (tinggal) stay or live (tanggal) date

td – tadi – earlier

tya – tanya – ask to

trms, tms – terima kasih – thank you, thanks


udah , udh, dah, da – sudah – already

utk – untuk – for



wa – WhatsApp


x – kali – times as in “how many times?”


yg – yang – which, that

  1. why not include the english translations of the indonesian words while you’re at it? or are you going to make us look up what segitu means after we look up the abbreviation here? not everyone speaks indo as well as you dude!

    1. I can go back through and add in some English translations I guess. I just figured anyone SMSing in Indonesian already wouldn’t need the English translations. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to have all the translations in one place though.

  2. here are some more, maybe you could add them?



    actually i have no frikkin idea what half of this means, maybe the context would help with the translation:

    iyaaaa bli..emg udh qt siapin bwt narasumber qt…tp dtnggu dlu yakk,bli

    what the heck is a narasumber?

    1. Thanks, I’ll add those now.

      A narasumber is a person, usually an expert source of information on a particular topic. A witness could also be called a narasumber. The word has a bit of a broad definition. Your sentence doesn’t give enough context clues for me to tell you exactly what way it was meant, but you should probably be able to decipher it from there knowing the situation better.

      The sentence in long form Indonesian is “Iyaaa bli. Emang sudah kita siapin buat narasumber kita…tapi ditunggu dulu ya bli” or in English “Yea bro, indeed we have already prepared for our Narasumber. But we are still waiting bro/ but please be patient bro.”

  3. Can someone translate these two paragraphs for me please?

    Saya dan abdul memang pernah menikah tapi kami udah pisah . Kemarin saya bilang ke abdul kamu nghubungin saya , tapi katta abdul ga usah ladenin kamu . Abdul ga serius ke kamu.

    Sirna sudah kraguan , semua sudah dlm plukan dan truslh brkan aku cinta .. Stuknlh semua rasa 2 insan 1 raga , dan nkmtlah khngtan cinta dan brjnjilah bukan tidak sementara . Cintailah aku .. Truslh titip bgtu ,buang ragu miliki aku seutuhnya untuk kamu..

    1. Sorry…paragraphs were not copied properly. Here they are again…

      Saya dan abdul memang pernah menikah tpi kami udah pisah . Kemarin saya bilang ke abdul kamu nghubungin saya , tapi katta abdul ga usah ladenin kamu . abdul ga serius ke kamu

      Sirna sudh kraguan , smua sdh dlm plukan dan truslh brkan aku cinta .. Stuknlh smua rasa 2 insan 1 raga , dan nkmtlah khngtan cinta dan brjnjilah bkan tk smntara . Cintailah aku .. Truslh ttp bgtu ,buang ragumu miliki aku seutuhnya untkmu .

      Thank you for all your help.

  4. What does an suffixed “-2” or “2” mean? Like ” teman-2″ “ngilang-2” etc?

    1. It is used to make a word plural, so teman2 would me friends, as opposed to teman which only means friend.

  5. What does it mean in Eastern Javanese:
    1. entok 1998?
    2. Peter, seng nyekel po mimi bunda’ne hayu po co?
    3. Beh tenan co masak alah
    4. Ngece. Kabur ae ah.dak mbok lebok ne dok ternak mu…kaburrr
    5. Pipi kabur ma mimi y???? kabur ma nyamuk??

    How to use “po” , “to”, “ma”, “mu”, “co”, “xxxxxx,e”? And theirs meaning?

    Thank you very much!

  6. Please help to explain below sentense for me. It is come from a speaker who live in East Java.

    “Mayan enek wongeteri duwek…..”

    or ” Mayan enek wongetri duwek….”

    “ngece.kabur ae ah.dak mbok lebok ne dok ternak mu…..kabur”

    “Pipi kabur ma mimi y??????/kabur ma nyamuk????”

    Thank you!

    Mas Setia

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