Expressing Future Tense In Indonesian

Future Tense in Indonesian

Hallo Leute! I have been learning German for the past few days, but don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about German. This post will discuss none other than Indonesian. I have talked about how to express Progressive Tense in Indonesian, and now I am going to talk about how to express Future Tense in Indonesian.

As you know, Indonesians do not express tenses in the form of verb inflection. Indonesian use words to describe the context of the situation instead of changing the verbs. So, how does future tense is expressed in Indonesian then?

Time Markers

Words used to point a certain time in the future (as well as in the past) help set the context of when the event occurs. ‘Kemarin’ (yesterday), ‘besok’ (tomorrow), ‘hari ini’ (today, lit. this day), ‘nanti’ (later today), ‘tadi’ (earlier today), are names of specific points in time. Other than those, we also use: ‘bulan lalu‘ (last month), ‘tahun depan‘ (next year), ‘lima hari yang lalu‘ (five days ago), ‘tujuh minggu lagi‘ (in seven weeks), ‘ten years later‘ (sepuluh tahun kemudian).

Kami berangkat ke Papua enam minggu lagi. (We will leave for Papua in six weeks.)

Akan

This word is the equivalent word of ‘will’. Despite being the counterpart of Indonesian ‘will’, this word is also used to express any kinds of future tense which includes “to be going to” and Present Progressive Tense for Future Arrangements.

A: When are you teaching today? (Jam berapa kamu akan mengajar?)

B: Ah, I’m teaching at three. What about you? (Aku akan mengajar jam 3. Kalau kamu?)

Another example:

We are going to visit him soon. (Kami akan segera mengunjungi dia.)

(Un)fortunately, we can often drop ‘akan’, especially  when the context is clear or we use time markers.

Mau

Another (un)fortunate phenomenon in Indonesian language is that ‘mau’ (want) can be used to express future tense. The logic is, when you are about to do something or will do something, you basically want to do it. This is colloquial Indonesian, and can sometimes creates confusion especially with those who haven’t been exposed to ‘street’ or colloquial Indonesian.

I had a student of Indonesian who was taken aback by a question asked by a staff in our school, ‘mau ke mana, pak?’ (lit. where do you want to go, sir?). The student was surprised because he thought the staff was quite nosy. ‘Why does she want to know where I want to go?’ he said. The staff was actually asking him where he was going to go.

Bakal

This word basically means ‘something that will become’ or ‘candidate’ (bakal suami, ‘future husband’).

Kalau kamu bohong, aku tidak bakal percaya kamu lagi. (If you lie, I will not believe you anymore.)

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