7+ Phrases That Make You Sound Malay: Don’t Miss Out On These!

Here's a list of phrases that make you sound Malay!

If you’ve been staring at formal Malay training books all day, Malay language learning will likely get boring! Luckily, there are other exciting ways to learn the language and get closer to the people. Sometimes, you want to know how the locals talk amongst each other – how Bahasa Melayu is spoken in a capital city like Kuala Lumpur.

Today, we’ll select phrases that make you sound Malay! As the Malay language is widely spoken by over 30 million people worldwide, you’ll have a lot of chances to prove that you sound just like them.

All you need to do is remember this collection of useful phrases, and you’re well on your way to becoming a Bahasa Malaysia native speaker!

Phrases That Make You Sound Malay

Eh, Boleh Tolong?

This phrase translates to “Eh, can you help me?” Adding “eh” to the words makes it sound more local! Use this phrase when you need help, such as asking for directions, picking something up, or trying to reach a high place.

Kau Macam Mana?

Kau macam mana means “how are you,” and is a very conversational way to greet someone when passing them on the street or to meet them at a venue. Consider it a conversation starter that opens up more things to talk about.

Apa Khabar?

As we’ve covered before, apa khabar is one of the most important phrases you should learn when you visit Malaysia. Directly translated, it means “what hello,” but it is better understood as “how are you.”

Mana boleh!

Mana boleh translates to “that’s not possible!” It is used as an expression of surprise or disbelief- as if something was so inconceivable that one finds it hard to believe. Use it when someone goes FFK on you.

“Eh, berapa hari kau ada sini?”

Bumping into the same person multiple days in a row? Are you beginning to suspect that they might actually be living there? Try this phrase, which translates to “Um, how many days have you been here?” It’s a comment that’s sure to catch them off-guard!

Sikit-sikit lah!

When a pakcik asks you if you want more sambal on your nasi goreng, you can answer with sikit-sikit lah! The phrase means “just a little bit.” It is usually employed when discussing portion sizes, levels of pain, or anything that can be generally quantified.

Nama Saya…

Suppose you roll up in the coffee shop and meet a girl you want to lewak with, how would you introduce yourself? Politely, of course, and start with your name. Nama saya translates to “My name is…” and is usually followed by a name! Try it out.

Khabar Baik

Khabar baik is a phrase that means “fine” in Bahasa Melayu. It is a somewhat effective – if not curt – way to answer a basic apa khabar. People might ask if you’re okay, though!

Eh, boleh tolong? I'm at the hawker market, and I don't have my wallet! *wink*

Words To Remember

Uh, can you help me? Eh, boleh tolong?
How are you? Kau macam mana?
How are you? Apa khabar?
That’s not possible! Mana boleh!
Uh, how many days have you been here? Eh, berapa hari kau ada sini?
Just a little bit. Sikit-sikit lah.
My name is… Nama saya…
Fine. Khabar baik.

Useful Phrases In Malay Conversation

Meet a Malay person who turns out to be a total bro? You'll want these useful Malay phrases on hand...

Selamat Pagi

When you visit Malaysia, selamat pagi (and the following phrases) will be your bread and butter! Selamat pagi means good morning and is a polite greeting in Bahasa Melayu.

Selamat Tengah Hari

Another basic Malay language greeting is selmat tengah hari, which means “good afternoon” Use it between the times of 12 pm to 5 pm, when the sun is at its highest!

Selamat Petang

Different from tengah hariselamat petang means “good evening.” Use this anytime after 5 pm before the night truly begins.

Selamat Malam

Selamat malam means “good night,” and is often used to inform other parties that you will turn in for the night.

Terima Kasih

In Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Malay-speaking countries, it is customary to thank people when they do something for you. Terima kasih is the Malay phrase for “thank you,” We hope you use it on everyone you meet along your travels!

“Sama sama.”

Wanna sound really Malay? When a Malay speaker who knows how to speak English tells you “thank you,” answer with sama sama – “you’re welcome!”

This’ll take them by surprise and give them the impression that you know more Malay than you really do!

Good morning Selamat pagi.
Good afternoonSelamat tenga hari.
Good eveningSelamat petang.
Good night Selamat malam.
Thank you Terima kasih.
You’re welcome Sama sama.

Manglish Phrases That Make You Sound Local

Wow! You sound like you're from KL lah!

Now we come to something more colloquial: Malay English! Usually referred to as Manglish, it is English that Malay locals have adopted to be part of their daily conversations. Naturally, people speak this more in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and other metropolitan and Malay-speaking areas.

If you speak English, you will be OK with these phrases. We’ll quickly list them and tell you their meaning and when to use them!

I Don’t Have

I don’t have is a Manglish term used when someone is trying to say that they do not have something. It works as it does in English, only without a subject.


Malay speaking-countries such as Malaysia and Singapore use the English word “can” as a shorthand for “can you do it” or “is it possible?” and is usually followed with a response, namely:

Can/Cannot Lah!

If you are being asked if can, answer with a can or cannot lah! The lah is essential here. In Malay culturelah is used at the end of a sentence for emphasis or reassurance.

Don’t Play-Play!

This Manglish phrase essentially means, “don’t fool around!” Malays would use this to inform others that they are onto their tricks, and would like them to stop.

Get Malay Language Lessons Through Ling App

Learn Malay with Ling App

If you truly want to sound Malay, then there’s no better way to do it than through constant, high-quality study – and that’s where we come in.

The Ling app provides language learning lessons in Malay and over 60 languages. Its tasks were crafted with the help of native speakers and educators, creating a learning experience perfect for people of all skill levels.

Get started with your Malay language course today with Ling app. Download now for iOS and Android devices.

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