Your Partner in Learning Bahasa Indonesia

Vocal and Consonant

You are suggested to read The Alphabet before reading this lesson. This one is about how vocal and consonant letters are pronounced in bahasa Indonesia. This lesson is a bit tricky, but it is easy.


Just like in English, in bahasa Indonesia, there are 5 vocal letters that exist. They are: a, e, i, o, and u. Especially for letter e, bahasa Indonesia recognizes 2 diacritics. The first diacritical e is pronounced 'é or ɛ', while the second diacritical is pronounced 'ə'.

Vocal Beginning Middle Ending
a aku map cinta
e elang (əlang) rem (rém) sate (saté)
i ikan air sapi
o olah bor radio
u uang buta batu


Diphtong Word Sound
ai baik ba-yik
au bau ba-wu
ei survei sur-vey
oi boikot boy-kot


There are 21 consonants that exist in bahasa Indonesia. They are those except 5 vocal letters. The interesting point here is that some consonant letters are pronounced differently based on their position in a word. Be careful of consonants on the table below when they come into the middle and the ending of a word. In some cases, they have special sound.

Consonant Middle Ending Sound
b - sebab se-bap
- adab a-dap
d - abad a-bad
g - caleg ca-lek
k - enak é-nak
- é-naʔ
- bapak ba-pak
- - ba-paʔ
bakso - bak-so
- baʔ-so

Two Consonants Coincided

For words that contain 'ng', 'kh', 'ny', and 'sy', each should be placed (united) in one syllable.

Consonants Beginning Middle Ending Syllable
ng ngantuk pangan dalang ngan-tuk | pa-ngan | da-lang
kh khusus akhir - khu-sus | a-khir
ny nyata senyap - nya-ta | se-nyap
sy syawal musyawarah - sya-wal | mu-sya-wa-rah