5 Best Tips On Saying How Are You In Malay Language

What are some of the most important things you should know when learning the Malay language? If you have no idea, here are a few things; basic vocabulary, greetings, and thank you. These are some of the most crucial aspects of a spoken language you should learn and acquire if you want to be included as fluent speakers of the language. In today's blog, we'll look at how to say how are you in the Malay language.



How To Say How Are You In Malay

Like other languages and cultures, saying how are you is a form of greeting. It's the universal phrase people all around the globe use when greeting people. The Malaysians too, say how are you to greet someone in a friendly manner. Depending on the context, some may use this expression to ask friends how are they doing in their current studies or jobs, check on someone that may appear sick, or to give an impression to people that you really want to know them.

Let's see how the locals in Malaysia say how are you:

How are you? = apa khabar?

In Bahasa Malaysia, apa khabar means how are you. Let's break this phrase down.

Apa is a question word in Malay, which translates to what. Khabar, on the other hand, refers to the news. When put together, apa khabar figuratively means how are you. In the Malaysian context, apa khabar is used in both formal and informal settings - it's used pretty much everywhere and anywhere you go.

If you've been around Malaysia, you'll hear how this expression is frequently used by the locals to greet each other. How to say apa khabar like a true Malaysian? Here's how:

Apa khabar = /ɑpə kɑbɑr/

If you don't know learn phonetics (and thus do not know how the above phonetic transcription sounds like), here's a quick guide on how to pronounce this expression just like a true Malay. Imagine saying "upper" and "car+bar". That's precisely how the locals articulate the words. Congratulations! Now you know the hidden secret on how to pronounce apa khabar in Malay the right way (just like a local from Malaysia!)

Just so you know, in the local culture, people normalize the act of handshaking whenever greeting, especially if you and your interlocutor are of the same gender. The act of handshaking is also locally known as ‘salam’ by the Muslim citizens in Malaysia. Typically, when shaking hands, a local would ask how are you to greet someone, right after saying ‘Hai’.

How To Respond To How Are You In Malay?

Now that we know what are the common expression in Malay greetings, let's find out how to respond to how are you.

In the norms of Bahasa Malaysia, if someone asked how are you, you should answer “khabar baik" in return.

Khabar baik = /kɑbɑr bɑɪk/

To clarify, khabar as stated before means news. Baik, on the other hand, is a positive adjective, which means good. Literally, it means good news. Overall, it implies that you’re good/ fine.

Sometimes, Malaysians love to drop the khabar in front and only state baik as an answer, especially in a casual context. 

What if things are not okay and you want your friends to know that? Well, you could say "kurang baik", which means not so good.

Kurang baik = Not so good

Usually, this kind of word is said if the interlocutor is a close friend of yours. And as a good friend, people will usually empathize and understand you're having a rough and tough time. They'll ask what's the matter and wait for you to confide in them. It's suitable for you to utter these words if you're genuinely unwell or currently having a bad experience.

Another way to indicate you're not really doing well is by saying "tak OK".

Tak OK = Not OK

These words are often used by friends and families. It's the casual way of telling those you're close with that you're not doing that well. OK is self-explanatory while tak literally means no or in this case, not. It's an abbreviation from the Malay word, tidak. Tidak translates to the English word no. However, in the Malay spoken culture, people mostly use tak, instead of tidak.

On the other hand, this is another way of responding to how are you in the Malaysian language - by saying you're OK.

OK je = Doing OK/just fine

As usual, let's break these words down. The word OK is self-explanatory - you'd already understood. Je, in this context, means simply. So when you combine the two together, it means you're simply OK.

For your information, je is a colloquial term - it's short for sahaja, which literally means only in Bahasa Melayu. Try listening to your Malaysian friends and see how they talk - you'll realize how this particular word is used on daily basis. However, no one uses the word je when it comes to a formal, high-status ceremony. The Malaysian people will revert to its original word, sahaja, when using Bahasa Melayu in a strictly formal setting.

Other Important Malay Phrases And Basic Greetings

Let's add some more knowledge of Malay vocabulary by seeing how to say hello and other Malay phrases and greetings. Feel free to read more greetings in Malay here to find out when to say selamat pagi, tengahari, petang, or malam.

1. Selamat pagi Good morning /sɜlɑmʌt ˈpɑgi/ Hai selamat pagi semua! Hi good morning everyone!
2. Selamat tengahari Good afternoon /sɜlɑmʌt təŋɑˈhari/ Hai Encik Vince, selamat tengahari. Saya Karen dari Maybank. Hi Mr. Vince, good afternoon. I'm Karen from Maybank.
3. Selamat petang Good evening /sɜlɑmʌt pətʌŋ/ Hai, selamat petang semua. Sila buat latihan di muka surat 10. Hi good evening everyone. Please do the exercise on page 10
4. Selamat malam Good night /sɜlɑmʌt mʌlʌm/ Selamat malam Lydia, saya balik dulu, babai. Good night Lydia, I have to go now, goodbye/bye.
5. Selamat tinggal Goodbye /sɜlɑmʌt tɪŋˈgɑl/ Terima kasih untuk harini. Datanglah lagi bila-bila. Thank you for today. Feel free to come here anytime, you are welcome here.


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