the preposition ‘di’

meaning: in, at, on

structure: di [place, location]

di [specific preposition] [place, location]

Rules:

  1. The preposition ‘di’ is used to mark a fixed place or location. Never use this with verbs of movement.
  2. It can be used with more specific prepositions such as ‘inside’, ‘outside’, ‘on top of’ etc.
  3. When asking a question, ‘di mana’ is used to mean ‘where’.
  4. This preposition can be used with the verb ‘ada’ which means ‘to exist’. This is optional.
  5. In colloquial Malay, ‘dekat’ or ‘kat’ is used more often.
  6. ‘Dekat’ or ‘kat’ can be omitted in colloquial Malay when used with specific prepositions.

Examples:

  1. Semua anak Fadli di sekolah sekarang.
  2. Mei Ling belajar di dalam biliknya semalam.
  3. Boleh saya tahu tandas di mana?
  4. Cawangan Maybank ada di kawasan ini?
  5. Jom makan. Semua sudah ada di meja makan.
  1. All Fadli’s children are at school now.
  2. Mei Ling studied in her room yesterday.
  3. Can I know where the toilet is?
  4. Is there a Maybank branch in this area?
  5. Let’s eat. Everyone is already at the table.

Colloquial Malay

As discussed in Rule 5, ‘dekat’ or ‘kat’ is used more in colloquial Malay. These are what you are expected to hear instead of the above examples:

  1. Semua anak Fadli kat sekolah sekarang.
  2. Mei Ling belajar dekat dalam bilik dia* semalam.
  3. Boleh saya tahu tandas kat mana?
  4. Cawangan Maybank ada dekat kawasan ni*?
  5. Jom makan. Semua dah* ada kat meja makan.

Notes: When using ‘dekat’ with a specific preposition such as ‘dalam’ in Sentence 2, ‘dekat’ or ‘kat’ can be omitted. ‘Bilik dia’ is used instead of ‘biliknya’, ‘ni’ instead of ‘ini’ and ‘dah’ is usually shortened from ‘sudah’ in colloquial Malay.

Prepositions often used with ‘di’

atas

bawah


sebelah


tepi


dalam


luar


sebelah kiri


sebelah kanan


tengah

on, on top of, above

under, below, beneath

next to

to the side of, by~

in, inside

outside

on the left side

on the right side

in the middle

di atas rumah – on top of the house
di bawah meja – under the table
di sebelah tingkat – next to the window
di tepi jalan – by the road

di dalam pasu – in/inside the vase
di luar kelas – outside of the classroom
di sebelah kiri saya – on my left
di sebelah kanan beg – on the right side of the bag
di tengah bandar – in the middle of the city

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