Indonesian Language Blog

Telling Time in Indonesian Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

The following are some of the words and expressions that can be used when telling the time in Indonesian.

Indonesian English
·      jam ·      hour, o’clock, and a clock.
·      menit ·      minute
·      detik ·      second
·      tepat ·      sharp or on the dot
·      kurang ·      until the hour
·      lewat/lebih ·      past the hour
·      setengah ·      a half
·      seperempat ·      a quarter
Pembagian waktu di Indonesia or Zona waktu Indonesia

1.       Waktu Indonesia Barat (WIB)

2.       Waktu Indonesian Tengah (WITA)

3.       Waktu Indonesia Timur (WIT)

Indonesian Time Zone

1.       Western Indonesian Time

2.      Central Indonesian Time

3.       Eastern Indonesian Time

When you are telling the time in Indonesian, the word “jam” (pronounced like “jump”) is generally used. It precedes whatever time you are referring to. The word order is important as it will change the meaning. For example, if you want to say “eight o’clock”, you will say “jam delapan”, but if you say “delapan jam”, it means “eight hours.”

Indonesia uses 24-hour international standard time formats when writing the time.  When speaking the time in Indonesian it referenced on a 12-hour format with qualifiers like: pagi, sore or malam.


Telling the time “past the hour” or “until the hour”

 Telling time in Indonesian is influenced by the Dutch way of telling time, dating back to when the Dutch occupied Indonesia. Time is described as “on the hour”, “past the hour (lebih/lewat)”or “until the hour (kurang)” in the Indonesian language.

Past the hour (lewat/lebih)

You will say “lewat/lebih” when the minute-hand is just past the hour.

Until the hour (kurang)

You will say “kurang” when the minute-hand is just before the hour.


Telling the time 

Time Commonly spoken in Indonesia Other way to say it
08.00 Jam delapan

Eight o’clock

Jam delapan tepat

Eight o’clock sharp/on the dot.

08.15 Jam Sembilan lebih seperempat

Quarter after eight

Jam delapan seperempat
Jam delapan lima belas

Eight fifteen

Jam delapan lebih seperempat
Jam delapan lebih lima belas menit

Fifteen minutes past eight

08.30 Jam setengah sembilan Jam delapan tiga puluh

Eight thirty

Jam delapan lebih/lewat tiga puluh menit
08.45 Jam sembilan kurang seperempat Jam sembilan kurang seperempat
Quarter till nine Jam sembilan kurang lima belas menit
Jam delapan empat lima

Eight forty five


How long?  Berapa lama?

Indonesian English
Satu jam One hour
Empat puluh lima menit Forty five minutes
Tiga detik Three seconds


How to write and speak the time in Indonesian

Use the following time zone names and equivalences when you write or speak the time in Indonesian:

Waktu Indonesia Barat Waktu Indonesia Tengah Waktu Indonesia Timur
Indonesia Western Time Zone Indonesian Central Time Zone Indonesian Central Time Zone
21.00 WIB

Jam sembilan malam.

Nine o’clock at night.

20.00 WITA

Jam delapan malam.

Eight o’clock at night.

19:00 WIT

Jam tujuh malam.

Seven o’clock at night.

These time zones equivalences will be very useful when you have business engagements in different time zones. However, if you are in the same time zone with those you are communicating with, it is not necessary to say it. Just write it down according to the time zone.

Questions and answers about time

Use the question word “berapa” when ask about time or when you expect the answer is a number.


Questions Answers
1.    Jam berapa sekarang?

What time is it now?

1.   Sekarang jam 22.00 (jam sepuluh malam)?

It is 10:00 pm now

2.    Jam berapa Anda (pergi) ke kantor?

What time do you go to work?

2.   Saya (pergi) ke kantor jam 06.00 (jam enam pagi)

I go to work at six o’clock in the morning

3.    Berapa lama (perjalanan) ke kantor?

How long does it take for you to get to work?

3.   Perjalanan ke kantor (makan waktu) tiga jam.

It takes three hours to get to work.

How do you say the following time?
Jam sepuluh lebih empat puluh limat menit dan sepuluh detik Or if you want to describe the duration of time, you may say: sepuluh jam, empat puluh lima menit, dan sepuluh deitk.



 Image credit: wikihow creative commons 

Cultural Note:

Indonesia is known for its “jam karet” or “rubber time” (to stretch time or to be late).  Be aware that you might not be able to hold a meeting on time, but it may start one or two hours late.  This generally happens when you have an appointment with someone with a higher social status or a high-ranking government official. In non-work situations, Indonesians usually invite people two hours early with the expectation that they may not show up on time.






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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.