Indonesian Language Blog

Asking a question in Indonesian with APA question word Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

Interrogative word with APA question word usually gives quite a challenge for new Indonesian learners as APA can serve either as auxiliary verbs or modal verbs when it is translated into English.  So, let’s find out how can we make some interrogative verbs in Indonesian.

We can start with steps to make an interrogative sentence with APA

  1. First, you make a statement sentence, for example:

           Dia makan. S/he eats

  1. Second, you make an interrogative sentence with APA

          Apa dia  makan ? “did s/he eat?”

  1. Third, you check the meaning of your interrogative with Apa placement.

Is it “Apa dia makan ?” “did s/he eat? or

Is it “Dia makan apa ?” “what did s/he eat?”

Let’s discuss further about the function of Apa question word in an interrogative sentence

In an interrogative sentence, ‘apa’ question word serves as the following:

  1. To replace do, does, did, is, are, was, were, have, had when it is placed before a pronoun. It is usually answered by “yes” or “no”

a. Apa Anda mau makan ?

Do you want to eat?

Possible answers: ya ‘yes’ or tidak ‘no.’

b. Apa dia anak Pak Ahmad ?

Is s/he Pak Ahmad’s child?

c. Apa saudara punya uang ?

Do you have money?

Possible answers:

– Saya tidak punya uang.

– Saya punya uang.

d. Apa Ibu sudah makan ?

Have you (adult female) eaten?

Possible answers:

– Sudah. Saya sudah makan. I have eaten.

– Belum. Saya belum makan. I haven’t eaten yet.

  1. To inform the sentence is interrogative. The statements after the ‘apa’ question word are usually sentences with modal verbs (can/could/be able to/may/might/shall/should/must)

a. Apa saya harus pergi ?

Should I go?

b. Apa saya mesti berbicara ?

Must I speak?

c. Apa kita bisa pergi ?

Can we go?

  1. To ask a question about a noun. The answers would be open-ended.

          a. Makan nasi goreng

Eating fried rice

Makan apa ?

Anda sedang makan apa ?

What are you eating?


Saya sedang makan nasi goreng.

         b.  Baju warna merah

Red (color) dress

Bajunya warna apa ?

What is the dress color?

c. Nama restorannya (adalah) Mbok Berek.

The name of the restaurant is Mbok Berek.

Apa nama restorannya ?

What is the name of the restaurant?

d. Membaca novel

Reading a novel


Membaca apa ?

Reading what?

Anda membaca apa ?

What are you reading?


Saya membaca novel.

e. Warna merah

Red color

Ini warna apa ?

What color is it?

Let’s practice!

Translated it into Indonesian

  1. What are you doing?
  2. Are you sick?
  3. Do you have money?
  4. Will you go now?
  5. Do we have to go?
  6. What is the name of the supermarket?
  7. What is the name of the street?
  8. What is the color of your hair?
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About the Author: asimonoff

I’m an Indonesian language instructor, instructional material developer, reading test developer, and interpreter. I have been teaching Indonesian to adult students for 15 years, and have been teaching students from many backgrounds, such as private, military and diplomatic service employees. I’m Indonesian, but am living in the US now; my exposure to different cultures in my home country and in the US has enriched my knowledge in teaching Indonesian as a second language. I approach the teaching of the Indonesian language by developing students’ critical cultural awareness and competence. This method of teaching has been proven to be a key to the success of my students. Students become conscious of the essential role culture plays in the language.