Module 1
Module 2 (L16-31)
Module 3
Module 4

Lesson 16

“There is…” & “There are…”

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Bahasa Indonesia alun-alun

Alun-alun di Kampung Naga, Tasikmalaya, Jawa Barat. © Vania Samperuru


  • To introduce and practise the word ada (there is…, there are…)
  • To review the names of common foods, buildings and places
  • To review common prepositions, adjectives and expressions of time

Vocabulary Review

Kosa Kata LaluLatihan 1L2L3-FlashcardsL4-Find the Hidden Words
Here are some of the frequent words used in this lesson that have appeared in previous lessons.

ada,  bermacam-macam,  buah-buahan,  gereja,  ikan,  ilmu kimia,  jagung,  kantor polisi,  kereta api,  kuliah,  mahasiswa, mesjid,  nanti malam,  nasi,  pusat,  sekolah,  telur

Use the following exercises (Latihan) to review the above vocabulary items.

Kosa Kata Lalu Pelajaran 17

[qdeck] [q]mahasiswa[a]university student (usually male)
[q]jalan[a]street (for address)
[q]sepeda motor[a]motorcycle
[q]tinggal[a]to stay, reside

Ada: What There Is, Where It Is, and When It Is

One of the most frequent and useful words in Indonesian is ada. Ada doesn’t have a single equivalent in English, so it is not easy to describe succinctly in English how it is used. Like many (perhaps most) features of Indonesian vocabulary, grammar and usage, you have to “learn by doing” rather than through explanation. Nevertheless, when you first start to study a new feature of Indonesian, it is usually useful to use (and often impossible to avoid using) English translations.

Ada usually (but not always) means something like the English “there is”, “there are”, “there was”, “there were”, “there had been” etc. Ada indicates that something or someone is at a certain location in space or in time. For example:

  • Ada pabrik mobil di Jalan Siliwangi or Di Jalan Siliwangi ada pabrik mobil.

    There is an automobile plant in Siliwangi Street.

  • Ada pesta nanti malam. or Nanti malam ada pesta.
    There is a party tonight.

To say “there isn’t”, “there aren’t” etc. you simply place tidak in front of ada. Thus:

  • Tidak ada pabrik mobil di Jalan Siliwangi or Di Jalan Siliwangi tidak ada pabrik mobil.

    There’s no automobile plant in Siliwangi Street.

  • Tidak ada pesta nanti malam. or Nanti malam tidak ada pesta.
    There is no party tonight.

Study this picture and read the Indonesian description of it. The items of food on the table and their exact location may be described using sentences with ada. The absence of certain items may be expressed using tidak ada.

Food on Table

Di meja ini ada nasi. Di samping nasi ada ikan. Di depan ikan ada bermacam-macam sayuran. Ada telur di samping nasi dan di belakang telur ada pisang. Tidak ada bir di meja ini. Juga tidak ada roti atau kue. Tidak ada kopi atau teh.


Now, after having read the text, complete the following exercises. Consult your dictionary or the vocabulary list when you encounter unknown words.

Exercise 16-01

Look at the spread of food below. Following the model you see above write a short paragraph. Use ada to say what is on the table, and tidak ada to say what is not. Use the prepositions di depan, di belakang and di samping to describe where items of food are located in relation to other items on the table.

Plates with Food

Kota Sukamaju

Kota Sukamaju

Peta Kota Sukamaju

Look at this map of an imaginary Indonesian town called Sukamaju. Write ten sentences describing what there is in the town. Like the sentences in the description of food on a table above, each sentence below should have the word ada in it, and each sentence should have in it one or other of the following prepositions of place.


di, di pusat kota, di belakang, di dekat, di depan, di samping, tidak jauh dari…

For example you might write:

Di pusat kota, di dekat alun-alun, ada kantor polisi.

Asking Whether There Is or Isn’t

You can ask yes/no questions using ada. These questions are like the English “Is/Was there a …..?”, “Are/Were there any …..?” and so on. Simply place the yes/no question-marker apakah at the beginning of the sentence. Study these examples:

  • Apakah ada terminal bus di Atambua?
    Is there a bus terminal in Atambua?

  • Apakah ada perpustakaan di dekat gedung ini?
    Is there a library near this building?

  • Apakah ada mahasiswa di kelas?
    Are there any students in the classroom?

Ada & Tidak Ada

In English, if someone asks you, for example, “Do you have any proof?” you can answer “I do” instead of saying “Yes.” This kind of answer can be called an “echo answer” because it repeats or “echoes” a key component in the question.

The echo answer is a very common way of answering “yes” or “no” in Indonesian. Look back at Lesson 7 and 9 for examples of “echo answers” using jauh, suka and mau.

So, when you answer in the affirmative (“yes”) to a question beginning Apakah ada… it is best to echo the key word in the question, just saying ada. In fact it sounds slightly clumsy to answer Ya or even Ya, ada. Ada by itself is usually all that is necessary. Similarly, when you answer “no” to a question beginning with Apakah ada… again you usually echo the key word in the question, saying tidak ada rather than simply tidak.

To answer these questions in the affirmative you say ada, and to answer in the negative you say tidak ada. Thus:

  • Apakah ada terminal bus di Atambua?
    Ada. (Yes, there is.)
    Tidak ada. (No, there isn’t.)
  • Apakah ada perpustakaan di dekat gedung ini?
    Ada. (Yes, there is.)
    Tidak ada. (No, there isn’t.)
  • Apakah ada mahasiswa di kelas?
    Ada. (Yes, there are.)
    Tidak ada. (No, there aren’t.)

Now, after having read the explanations on how to use ada, complete the following exercises to test your understanding and for further practice. Consult your dictionary or the vocabulary list when you encounter unknown words.

Putting Ada Together with Adjectives and Expressions of Time

(1) You can use ada to talk about the characteristics or qualities of something in a certain place. One way of doing this is to frame sentences in this form:

ada + name of a thing/building + yang +adjective + preposition + name of a place

  • Ada hotel yang bagus di Jalan El Tari.
    There is a good hotel on El Tari Street.

  • Ada pisang yang enak di meja.
    There are delicious bananas on the table.

(2) You can also use ada to talk about when something is going to happen (or is happening, or happened) and where, using sentences framed in this form:

ada + name of an event + preposition + name of a thing/place + adverb of time

  • Ada kuliah di Gedung Ilmu Kimia nanti siang.
    There is a lecture in the Chemistry Building this afternoon.

  • Ada pertandingan sepak bola di alun-alun nanti sore.
    There is a football match in the town square late this afternoon.

Exercise 16-02

Study this short exchange.

  • Tidak ada gereja di dekat kampus tetapi ada mesjid.
    O begitu. Apakah mesjid itu besar?
    Tidak. Mesjid itu kecil.

Without changing the basic form of this dialogue, you can replace each noun, preposition and adjective in it to convey different ideas. For example, you could say the following (compare the two dialogues to see which words have been changed).

  • Tidak ada pabrik di samping kantor Bupati tetapi ada hotel.
    O begitu. Apakah hotel itu murah?
    Tidak. Hotel itu mahal.

Preserving this basic shell, write out five new, completely different variations on it.

Exercise 16-03

To complete this IndoLingo exercise, record your voice, then download it and name the file Exercise 16-03. Send it to your IndoLingo Instructor. If you are not subscribed to IndoLingo, you may do this exercise as a written homework assignment.


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Now practise “ada”, “tidak ada”, and “tetapi” by answering the following questions:

  1. Apakah ada mesjid di kota Anda? Kalau ada, di mana tempatnya?
  2. Apakah ada warung di dekat rumah Anda? Kalau ada, di mana tempatnya?
  3. Apakah ada restoran yang murah di dekat rumah Anda? Kalau ada, di mana tempatnya?
  4. Apakah ada bangunan yang sangat tua di dekat rumah Anda? Kalau ada, apa saja?
  5. Apakah ada taman bermain yang luas di dekat rumah Anda? Kalau ada, di mana?
  6. Apakah ada perayaan hari besar pada bulan Desember di negara Anda? Kalau ada, kapan?
  7. Apakah ada pesta ulang tahun minggu depan? Kalau ada, ulang tahun siapa?
  8. Apakah ada acara pertandingan olahraga hari ini? Kalau ada, kapan?
  9. Apakah ada AC di rumah Anda?
  10. Apakah ada rumah sakit di kota Anda? Apakah rumah sakit itu besar?

New Vocabulary for this Lesson

Daftar Kata (Word List)L16-Teka-Teki SilangL17-Cari KataL18-Flashcards
  • Please note that all vocabulary items printed in bold may appear in an exam!
  • The book icon denotes words predominantly used in the written or formal register.
  • A smiling face ? denotes words that are predominantly used in the informal register.
alun-alun a town common (the grassed central square in Indonesian towns, especially in Java & Bali)
bupati the head of a shire or a sub-provincial district
désa a village, administrative unit at the village level (also in urban areas).
kampung a village
kelas grade/schoolyear; ruang kelas a classroom
kué a cake
kebun a garden, a plantation
méja a table
pésta a party (a social event where you dance, drink, chat etc.) Also: a celebratory festival
perahu; perahu layar a small boat, a traditional Indonesian sailboat, a yacht
pertandingan (•tanding); pertandingan sepak bola a match; competition a football (i.e. soccer) match
pulau an island
sayuran (•sayur) a vegetable, vegetables
sépak bola football (soccer)
sungai a river

Find the following hidden words: cake, cookies • table • garden • class • party • island • kick • regent • boat • river • vegetables

Use the following flashcards to memorise the newly learned words.

[qdeck] [q]ada[a]there is, there are
[q]alun-alun[a]town square
[q]bupati[a]the head of a regency or a, sub-provincial district
[q]desa[a]a village (administrative unit)
[q]kampung[a]a village
[q]kebun[a]a garden, a plantation
[q]kelas[a]a classroom, grade/schoolyear
[q]kue[a]a cake
[q]meja[a]a table
[q]perahu[a]a small boat, a traditional Indonesian, sailboat, a yacht
[q]pertandingan[a]a (sports) match, a football match
[q]pesta[a]a party, a festival
[q]pulau[a]an island
[q]sayuran[a]a vegetable, vegetables
[q]sepak bola[a]football, (especially soccer)
[q]sungai[a]a river

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