Understanding the Difference between ‘Kami’ and ‘Kita’ in Indonesian
The Concept of ‘We’ in Indonesian
There are two concepts of “we/us/our/ours” in Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian). Although all of them (from subject pronouns to possessive adjectives) are defined as “kami” and “kita”, the usage of both words is totally different.
“Kami” is used when ‘the person(s) you are talking to’ is (are) not included.
Putri tinggal di sebelah rumahku. Kami adalah tetangga.
Putri lives beside my house. We are neighbours.
On the other hand, “kita” includes ‘the person(s) you are talking to’.
Besok ketemu di Stasiun Gambir jam 6 pagi ya. Kita akan pergi ke Bandung dengan kereta.
Let’s meet at the Gambir Station at 6 am tomorrow. We will go to Bandung by train.
Under some circumstances, it is more recommendable to choose “kita” over “kami” to avoid being viewed as an egoistic/selfish person.
The same pattern can be found in other languages. For instance, Mandarin has “咱们” (zán men: we, including you) and “我们” (wǒ men: we, excluding you), while Tagalog has “kami” (we, including you) and “tayo” (we, excluding you).
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