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Imperatives are the language forms that we use to tell people to do things. This may mean giving commands, making requests, offering, inviting, urging, or advising. We also use imperatives to tell people not to do something (prohibiting). These are called negative imperatives.
1. Giving Commands
– Commands using intransitive verbs
In intransitive sentences, the form of the verb does not change.
Berdiri! Stand up.
Berangkat besok! Leave tomorrow.
Membaca dulu, kemudian menulis! Read first, then write.
Menginap di tempat teman saja! Just stay the night at one friend’s place.
Pulang jam 10 malam! Go home at 10.00 PM.
Keluar sekarang! Go out now.
– Commands using transitive verbs
In transitive sentences, the prefix “me-” is dropped if the object is specific.
Lihat dokumen perjalanan ini! Look at this travel document.
Buka halaman 15! Open page 15.
How to make Commands more polite and formal
To make Commands more polite and formal, add different words or part words, such as – lah, harap, hendaklah or hendaknya and mohon.
Using suffix – lah
Berhenti! To stop ( be stationary)
Berhentilah! Please stop.
Menyanyi bersama! Sing together.
Menyanyilah bersama! Please sing together.
Mulai sebentar lagi! Start in a moment.
Mulailah sebentar lagi! Please start in a moment.
Tawar ongkos taksinya! Bargain the taxi fare.
Tawarlah ongkos taksinya! Please bargain the taxi fare.
The use of harap in imperatives means something like “ You are expected to do this”, even though it is usually translated into English as “please”.
Harap is usually placed at the beginning of the command, if the addressee is not mentioned. When the addressee is mentioned, harap is usually placed after it.
Antre di sini! Line up here.
Harap antre di sini! Please line up here.
Turis-turis harap antre di sini! Tourists please line up here.
Using “hendaklah” or “hendaknya”
The word hendak forms a part of the noun kehendak, meaning ”a will or wish (to do something)”. By itself, without the prefix, it is used to indicate future action; for example, Mereka hendak pergi ke Bali (They are going to go to Bali).
When used in Commands, either – lah or – nya is attached to it. Because of their very formal nature, hendaklah or hendaknya are not common in everyday spoken Indonesian and are suitable for telling people to do abstract actions.
Hendaklah/hendaknya hal ini menjadi perhatian kita. Let this matter become our attention.
Hendaklah/hendaknya can also be used for reprimanding very formally.
Hendaknya Anda mengerti betul peraturan ini. You should really understand this regulation.
Mohon, which also translates as”please”, is similar to harap in its formality. However, unlike harap, mohon has a sense of urgency and pleading.
Like harap, mohon, can be placed at the beginning of the sentence, to produce a more direct command, or after the mention of the addressee, to make the command a little more indirect.
Balas surel/email itu! Reply that email.
Mohon balas surel/email it! Please reply that email.
Saya mohon Anda balas surel/email itu! Literally: I ask you to reply that email.
Please reply that email.
2. Making requests
In Indonesian, the word minta can be used to ask for something. This use of minta in imperatives translates into English as “Can I/we..?”
Requests are not restricted to this word “minta”; other words can be used as well.
Minta daftar para penumpang bis. Can I have the list of the bus passengers?
Bagi foto-fotonya. Can I have a share of photos?
Ketikkan surat ini, Can I have this letter typed?
How to make requests more polite
Using “tolong”, “minta tolong”
Requests can be made more polite by adding the word “tolong (please do something)”, which literally means “help”.
When tolong is used, prefix “me-” is dropped.
Tolong bantu dia. Please help him/her.
Tolong panggilkan taksi. Please call a taxi (for me).
When minta tolong is used, the request is more urgent.
Minta tolong panggilkan polisi. Please help call the police.
Minta tolong panggilkan ambulan. Please help call the ambulance.
Very formal request
Using “sudilah (kiranya)”
Sudilah (kiranya) is used to make very formal and very polite requests to someone in a very high position. These expressions mean” I/we hope you are willing to do this.”
Sudilah (kiranya) bapak Presiden menghadiri pertemuan kami. We hope you, Mr. President, are willing to attend our meeting.
3. Making invitation
Mari kita pulang. Let’s go home.
Mari masuk. Let’s come in.
To make it more formal, “silakan”
Silakan masuk, Bu. Please come in.
Silakan duduk, saya akan panggil Bapak saya. Please sit down; I will call my father.
4. Making an offer
Using “mari” and “biar”
Offering can be understood to mean “offering to do something for someone” or “offering something to someone”. “Mari” is polite and formal; on the other hand, “biar” is polite, but neutral in terms of formality.
Mari saya bawakan tas besarnya. Here, let me carry the big bag for you.
Biar ibu saya yang mengantar Andrew ke dokter. Let my mother take Andrew to a doctor.
The second sense of offering is expressed by using silakan.
Silakan minum. Please drink.
Silakan datang dan menginap di rumah kami. Please come and stay overnight in our house.
5. Giving advice
Sebaliknya means “it is best that” or “you had better”. This word is polite and formal.
Sebaiknya Anda tanya kepada dokter Anda. It is best that you ask your doctor.
Anda sebaiknya tanya kepada dokter Anda. You had better ask your dokter.
While “sebaiknya” is generally used for advising, it can also be used to give a polite command and can be placed either at the beginning of the sentence or after the mention of the addressee.
Sebaiknya dia keluar ruangan rapat itu. It is best that he/she leave that meeting room.
Dia sebaiknya keluar ruangan rapat itu. He/she had better leave that meeting room.
Saya seharusnya datang lebih awal. I should have come earlier.
Kta seharusnya memberi contoh yang baik kepada anak-anak kita. We ought to set good examples for our children.
How to say “do not”
Jangan means “do not” and is neutral in terms of politeness and formality. When jangan is used, it is optional to keep or drop the prefix me-.
Jangan (me-) tilpun ketika menyetir mobil. Don’t call/use your phone when you drive.
Tolong jangan (mem)baca di tempat yang gelap Please don’t read in the dark.
Dilarang means “it is prohibited”. This word is the passive form of the verb melarang (to prohibit) and is used primarily for public notices (official prohibitions).
Dilarang masuk. Do not enter.
Dilarang parkir mobil di sini. Do not park the car here.
Complete or respond these sentences below using “Jangan”. Use “Jangan” construction based on the provided statements.
Makanan ini basi (stale/spoilt).
Jangan makan makanan ini!
1. Saya dengar daerah ini sering ada kejahatan.
2. Kasihan ya, anak bungsunya baru saja meninggal dunia.
3. Dia orangnya pemarah.
4. Jalan di belakang rumah gelap.
5. Taksi di Jakarta banyak yang tidak aman.
6. Kata orang-orang, banyak barang bermerek yang palsu di pasar ular.
7. Menurut kabar, resesi ekonomi ini akan berlangsung lama.
8. Surat elektronik ini sepertinya mengandung virus.
9. Dia sedang serius bekerja dan sepertinya dia punya banyak pekerjaan hari ini.
10. Banyak perusahaan penerbangan Indonesia kurang memperhatikan keselamatan penumpang.
Please translate the following into Indonesian using biar, mari, jangan, tolong
1. Don’t forget to lock all the doors.
2. Don’t smoke in the office.
3. Later before you leave, please water all my plants.
4. Let’s take a rest for a moment, I am tired.
5. Would you please offer the guest tea or coffee.
6. It’s late already, let’s leave now.
7. Let her finish her cooking, so everybody can eat.
8. Don’t forget to sign the check.
9. Let’s take her home, before it’s too late.
10. Let’s visit the historic place near the museum.
11. Would you please check the message before you go home.
12. Don’t continue this debate until I come back from New York.
13. Let her visit her niece in the hospital later.
14. Don’t walk by yourself at night in this area.
15. Don’t forget to bring your identification card to travel to Jakarta.
16. Let us practice the Indonesian language every day in class.
17. Don’t show these pictures to her yet.
18. Let him use the opportunity, to think a moment.
19. Please watch the children out side, because I have to cook lunch for them.
20. Let’s wait until the traffic clear up a little bit.
21. Let him finish what he wants to say!
22. Let them gather in the next room.
23. Please continue this work, because we don’t much time left.
24. Let her finish the Project, so she can do something else.
25. Please help her with the Indonesian grammar.
Let’s cross the street right now, before the traffic light changes to red.
26. Don’t stay in the house, the heater is not working.
27. Please pass the salt and pepper!
28. Don’t forget to check the plane tickets before you go to the airport.
29. Let him visit the website to see the facilities in that hotel.
30. Don’t depend on others when you travel overseas.