Difference between Indonesian Negation "Tidak" and "Bukan"

Updated: Mar 9

The Indonesian language has two negations. These two negations are sometimes still confusing not only for non-native speakers but also for Indonesians. Indonesians know how to use these negations, but since they do not really study the language (or forgot their elementary school’s lessons), they have their own doubts to differentiate these negations and comfort themselves by saying that one word is formal and the other one is informal.


Things might sound complicated, but once you understand the principle, it is just a piece of cake!


Saya tidak minum kopi. I don’t drink coffee


Kopi itu tidak panas. The coffee is not hot.


Ini bukan pensil, ini buku.

It’s not a pencil, it is a book.


Saya bukan Superman.

I am not Superman.


As you can see from the above examples ‘tidak’ is used for words explaining actions (verbs) and words that explain qualities (adjectives). On the other hand, ‘bukan’, is used for words explaining things/objects (nouns) and Personal Pronouns (words refer to someone)


More examples:


Saya tidak suka apel.

(I do not like apples.)


Dia tidak malas.

(He is not lazy.)


Ini bukan buku.

(This is not a book.)


Saya bukan Anton.

(I am not Anton.)


In a sentence, both ‘tidak’ and ‘bukan’ work with the same principle grammatically. Piece of cake, right?


Say goodbye to grammar errors and happy learning!


If you have any issues regarding the Indonesian language, feel free to leave a comment down below. Yours could end up as our next topic. Be sure to share this article with your fellow learners!

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