Language Lesson: Numbers in Bahasa Melayu

This week our language lesson is going to be a practical one.  Bahasa Melayu is one of the languages in Penang that you will encounter when you are living in Penang.  I believe that language learning can’t just be memorizing vocabulary.  It has to be something you will use.  Everyone uses numbers in Bahasa Melayu to shop, not just the Malay.

The scenario is going to the market.  You see something you want to buy.  You pick it up and you need to ask the seller how much it costs.

[Pronunciation reminder: the vowels are like Spanish vowels, one sound per letter.  The letter ‘c’ is pronounced ‘ch’.  When I get a recorder I’ll go try to record someone saying each of these words.  ]

How much?  berapa

How much is this? berapa ini

Most fruit is sold by the kilogram, or kilo.  Here they use the word kilo.  Some of the more expensive imported fruit is sold by piece, per biji.  As I mentioned in the first fruit stand post, I’ve seen nectarines cost 28 ringgit per biji.

The answer to this is going to be a number and the word ringgit, another number and the word sen.  Ringgit is the Malaysian currency.  Sen is like cents, 1% of a ringgit.  You do not make things plural by adding an ‘s’ to the end of words.  So you won’t hear ringgits or sens.

Tip: use Google to do currency conversion

Do you want to figure out what the conversion is to your home currency?  Google search will do it for you.  I have a search bar on the right side of this page for you to practice on.  Type “1 malaysian ringgit in US dollars.” as an example in the search bar.  Now let’s say you want to buy mangoes.  Mangoes can go for 6, 8, sometimes 12 ringgit per kilo.  Type “8 malaysian ringgit in British pounds”.  There are three-letter codes for currencies to make it easier to search too.  Try “8 MYR in AUD” for a conversion into Australian dollars.

Numbers in Bahasa Melayu

Now you need to learn the numbers.  \

Kosong Zero (also means empty)
Satu One
Dua Two
Tiga Three
Empat Four
Lima Five
Enam Six
Tujuh Seven
Lapan Eight
Sembilan Nine
Sepuluh Ten
Sebelas Eleven
Dua belas Twelve.  The rest of the teens follow this pattern.
Dua puluh Twenty
Dua puluh Satu Twenty-one.  The rest of the two digit numbers follow this pattern.
Sembilan puluh Sembilan Ninety-nine
Seratus 100
Dua ratus 200
Seribu 1000
Dua ribu 2000
Sepuluh ribu 10000
Satu juta 1,000,000

So in our example, we point at some nice looking mangoes.

You say, “berapa ini?”

He tells you, “Lapan ringgit per kilo.”

You say, “Tiga biji.”  For a medium sized mango, each one should weigh half a kilo.  So we’re looking at 1.5 kilos

After weighing it on a scale and showing you, he tells y0u, “Dua belas ringgit.”

Pretty straight-forward huh?  Now go and try it and post how you did in the comments below