Telling Time In Malay: 10+ Easy Words

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Time! Firstly, what comes into your mind when you hear the word time? Some might answer through its technical definition while others will give you phrases defining time relating to how important it is in their life. Yes, there is one thing for sure that all of us whether human or animals has in common not wealth, not looks, nor how far we travel, neither material things but rather TIME!

We should always keep in mind that time is neither our friend nor our ally. It is because it might give us either good or bad omen depending on how we spend and use it. That is why some experts or people who lived ahead of us tend to say “Spend your time wisely and choose what makes you happy.” It is because once time passes by it can not be reversed.

So how do you spend your time (masa in the Malay language) wisely? Let me give you one suggestion that I am sure all minutes you will be spending here will not go to waste. READ this article! In this content, you will learn what are some of the phrases or what are the terminologies related to time in the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu). So let us start on how to say the time in Malay.


The Malay Language

Malay is one of the Austronesian languages that is being used in Malaysia and is considered a minority language in countries like Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Southern Thailand. Though all mentioned countries have the same language they also have their own way of standards and uniqueness upon pronouncing and some of its vocabulary which later on evolves throughout history.

However, in Malaysia, it became their formal mother tongue which is most widely used in school institutions, government transactions, and even with-in country business transactions. In terms of international business activities they do not use Malay but rather English up to most in some cases Chinese.

CountryNational LanguageOther Major Languages Foreign Languages
CambodiaKhmerEnglishFrench, Chinese
IndonesiaBahasa IndonesiaEnglishArabic, Japanese, French, Dutch, German
LaosLaoEnglishFrench, Russian
MalaysiaBahasa MalaysiaEnglish, Chinese TamilArabic, Japanese, French
PhilippinesFilipinoEnglishChinese, Spanish
SingaporeMalayEnglish, Chinese, Malay, TamilJapanese, French, German
ThailandThaiEnglishFrench, German, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese
VietnamVietnameseEnglishRussian, French, Chinese

The Bahasa Malaysia according to vetqo “has many loan words from Sanskrit, Latin, Tamil/Telugu and Dutch and Portuguese which was introduced during Malacca development as an international trading port which allowed the language to evolve.” Because of the strong presence of other nationality and their pattern of migration most especially the Chinese, some words in Malay was swayed by it.

Now that we have a short overview of the Malay language, it is now time to learn Malay specifically relating to how to speak or tell time. So what are you waiting for? Let us proceed and take a glimpse of it as we experience adding new vocabulary words in line with this language.

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Numbers In The Malay Language

To learn the Malay language, you have to know the basic phrases or words that they use or can be used in everyday living. In this part, we can say that numbers are one of the most common terms that they use most especially in telling in time (masa). Below are the translations for the numbers to the Malay numbers and how to pronounce all of these.

NumberEnglishMalay TranslationArticulation
1One SatuSa-tu
9Nine SembilanSem-bi-lan
12TwelveDua belasDu-wa-be-las

Please take note that all numbers stipulated above are based not on the 24-hours (jam) clock format rather on the 12-hours (jam) clock format. Meaning from 1 am -12 noon and 1 pm to 12 midnight that is why you will only see from 1 – 12 numbers. After knowing the numbers (nombor), let us now proceed on translating some common adjectives and adverbs that refer to an actual time.

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The O’Clock Translations In Malay Language

In this part, you will know the different translations of o’clock from English to the Malay Language. It is an easy way to say the remnant of a time in clocks and people told time by a variety of means, depending on where they were and what references were available.

O’clock Pukul
One o’clock Pukul satu
Two o’clock Pukul dua
Three o’clock Pukul tiga
Four o’clock Pukul empat
Five o’clock Pukul lima
Six o’clock Pukul enam
Seven o’clock Pukul tujuh
Eight o’clock Pukul lapan
Nine o’clock Pukul sembilan
Ten o’clock Pukul sepuluh
Eleven o’clock Pukul sebelas
Twelve o’clock Pukul dua belas

Upon analyzing the o’clock it is just actually the combination of the pukul and the nombor. The key to easy understanding and memorizing this pukul is that you must first focus on familiarizing the numbers in the Malay Language. To move forward let us see now the rendition of the parts of the day to Malay words.

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Parts Of The Day In Malay Phrases

When we say about parts of the day it simply refers to the division of the entire 24 hours (jam) into 7 parts and these are Advance Morning, Middle Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Advance Evening, Evening, Middle of the Night. To be clarified with regards to this matter please see the definition below:

Pagi (Morning)

In Malay, the morning is referred to as “pagi.” When telling the time in the morning, Malaysians often use the phrase “Pukul vbvcberapa pagi?” which translates to “What time is it in the morning?” For example, “Pukul tujuh pagi” means “Seven o’clock in the morning.”

Tengahari (Noon)

“Tengahari” in Malaysia is the word for “noon.” To express a specific time during this period, you can use phrases like “pukul dua belas tengahari” (12 o’clock noon) or “pukul satu tengahari” (1 o’clock in the afternoon).

Petang (Afternoon)

In Malaysia, the afternoon is referred to as “petang.” When telling the time in the afternoon, Malaysians typically use the phrase “Pukul berapa petang?” which means “What time is it in the afternoon?” For instance, “Pukul tiga petang” translates to “Three o’clock in the afternoon.”

Malam (Evening/Night)

“Malam” is the Malay word for “evening” or “night.” Malaysians commonly use the phrase “Pukul berapa malam?” when inquiring about the time in the evening. For example, “Pukul lapan malam” means “Eight o’clock in the evening.” Useful to know if you are heading out to meet friends for a night on the town in Kuala Lumpur.

Tengah Malam (Midnight)

To refer to midnight in Malaysia, the phrase “tengah malam” is used. For instance, “Pukul dua belas tengah malam” translates to “Twelve o’clock midnight.”

Okay, let’s go through which hour it is in each section of the day.

  1. Early Morning (awal pagi) is known as the breaking of the sun’s light which sheds to the heart. Usually, it is between 5 am to 9 am.
  2. Middle Morning (tengah pagi) is where the sun is set above the world surface. Typically, it is between 10 (pagi) to 11 (pagi).
  3. Noon (tengah hari) is considered the half of the day already in where the sun is fully set above the earth’s surface. Usually, this is known as 12 noon.
  4. Afternoon (selepas tengah hari) is the start where the sun is slowly setting down on the other side of the earth. Typically, it starts from 1 pm to 5 pm.
  5. Early Evening (awal petang) is taking place or being presented in the prior part of the evening (petang). Usually, it starts from 6 pm to 8 pm.
  6. Evening (petang) is considered to be around 9 pm to 11 pm.
  7. Middle of the night (tengah malam) is considered to be from 12 midnight to 4 am of the next morning (pagi).
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Quarter, Half, And Other Terms For Telling Time

Separuh (Half)

When expressing the concept of half past the hour, the word “separuh” is used. For example, “Pukul satu separuh” means “Half past one.”

Kuartar (Quarter)

The term “kuartar” is used to express quarter past the hour. For instance, “Pukul dua kuartar” means “Quarter past two.”

Setengah Kuartar (Quarter to…)

To indicate quarter to the next hour, Malaysians use the phrase “setengah kuartar.” For example, “Pukul tiga setengah kuartar” translates to “Quarter to three.”

Tengah (Sharp)

When expressing the exact hour, Malaysians often use the word “tengah,” which means “sharp” or “exactly.” For instance, “Pukul lima tengah” means “Five o’clock sharp.”

Lebih (More/Over)

To express a time that is slightly past the hour or a little over one hour, the word “lebih” is used. For example, “Pukul satu lebih” means “A little past one.”

Lebih kurang (Around/Approximately)

When the time is uncertain or approximate, Malaysians use the phrase “lebih kurang.” For instance, “Pukul empat lebih kurang” translates to “Around four o’clock.”

Awal (Early)

To refer to an early hour, the word “awal” is used. For example, “Pukul tujuh pagi awal” means “Seven o’clock early in the morning.”

Lambat (Late)

On the other hand, when expressing a late hour, Malaysians use the word “lambat.” For instance, “Pukul sembilan malam lambat” translates to “Nine o’clock late in the evening.”

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Other Expressions For Telling Time In Malay

Below are the common phrases or locutions that is telling time which you can use in case you will be speaking to a Malay-speaking person. You can also bear in mind that upon asking about the hours (jam) or time, you can either make a gesture or point to your wrist. Since body gesture is one of the easy ways also to let your listener understand what you are asking or talking about.

EnglishMalay Language
Ahead of TimeMendahului Masa
Next YearTahun Hadapan
Last MonthBulan Lepas
Half daySetengah Hari
In a secondDalam beberapa saat
Just wait a few minutesTunggu beberapa minit sahaja
What is the actual time now?Apakah masa sebenar sekarang?
How much time do we have?Berapa banyak masa yang kita ada?

Did you enjoy reading this post and learning about the words related to telling time in Malay? In conclusion, all information that is stated above this part is just for beginners or a basic way of telling time using the Malay Language. Though there are still parts that are not included such as the days (hair), months (bulan), and years (tahun). Since it is included in some of our previous posts or another topic to be discussed.

If you enjoyed this post and figured you would like to learn more, then feel free to read our other posts in Malay like the writing system and jobs in Malay.

Interested In Master Malay?

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