❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞

‒Nelson Mandela


Malaysia is a South East Asia touristic country which is rich in multiracial cultures and foods. This country is made up of 3 main races which are Malay, Chinese and India. Malaysia also has many rare species of flora and fauna such as rafflesia, hippopotamus, orangutan and many more.


Most of the ordinary seasonal tourists visiting Malaysia do not know the Malay language due to the fact that the majority of Malaysians speak English. Thus, there is no need to learn Malay language to survive here. Some Malaysians are not very good at speaking English but at least they know the basics.


However, if you are the extraordinary tourist then you should put a little effort learning the basic Malay language before coming here. This is because speaking some basic Malay will attract the interest of locals, particularly if you wish to make local friends. Perhaps some of them will invite you to their house to share home-cook foods and cultures.


Quick Phrases 


Here are some of the useful greeting in Malay.

Malay English
1.  Apa khabar? What news? (How are you)
2.  Khabar baik News good (I am fine)
3.  Terima kasih Receive love (Thank you)
4.  Sama-sama Welcome


21 Easy Vocab Words 


Here are 21 starting vocabulary words for you to start learning simple phrases while exploring Malaysia!


  English Malay
1. I saya
2. you awak
3. we kami
4. like suka
5. want hendak
6. can boleh
7. get dapat
8. eat makan
9. buy beli
10. food makanan
11. this ini
12. that itu
13. and dan
14. with dengan
15. very sangat
16. already  sudah
17. delicious sedap
18. how much berapa
19. discount diskaun
20. have/has ada
21. water air


Now, Practice!


Here is an exercise to help you learn the Malay vocabularies and phrases. You must give the translation for below questions step by step. Please do this exercise as many times as you can until you can just say any very basic sentences without referring to the translation anymore.




I like (to) eat = Saya suka makan.


I want (to) eat that with this = Saya hendak makan itu dengan ini.


Translate from English to Malay:


You want (to) eat?


I already eat (= I ate).


I want (to) buy this and that.


How much, (is) this?


This food (is) very delicious.


Can I get discount?


Can I eat that?


Have pen? (= Do you have a pen?)


You can replace the word "pen" with other words such as towel, vegetarian food,  etc. Well instead of saying English phrase like "do you have vegetarian food?" why not switch to "ada makanan vegetarian"? 


You're doing great already! Try translating the other way.



Translate from Malay to English (or your own language!): 


Ada air?


Awak hendak makan itu?


Terima kasih, ini sangat sedap.


Saya suka beli sedap makanan.


Berapa itu?


Saya hendak beli ini.


Please drop the answer to the other questions in the comment section below.


If you are the total beginner of Malay language, then it is advisable that you memorize all of these vocabularies before started your first Malay lesson with any tutor. Goodluck! Happy learning! Welcome to Malaysia!



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Hero Image by Firdaus Roslan on Unsplash