Kan, Kek and Kok


Meaning: as a tag similar to ‘right?’, isn’t it?, you know
Synonym: a tag ‘bukan?’ in formal Indonesian
Application: ‘Kan’ is extremely common and the most frequently used in Colloquial Indonesian. It is used:

  1. to request agreement with what is said or to request verification;
  2. to remind listeners of a piece of shared knowledge;
  3. to show solidarity.
  4. to emphasize;
Dia udah cerai kan?
Anak baru yang elu ceritain itu si Nina kan?
Elu ngerti kan maksud gue?
Gue jarang ketemu Santi. Dia kan di lantai dua, gue di lantai satu.
He is divorced, isn’t he?
The new girl you told me, it’s Nina, isn’t it?
You understand, don’t you, what I mean?
I rarely see Santi. She’s on the second floor, while I’m on the first floor.


The final ‘k’ is pronounced as a glottal stop, never as a ‘k’. It indicates that either of two possibilities is acceptable. There is also possibility where only one or more than two possibilities are mentioned.
Mau dateng kek, mau nggak kek, gue nggak peduli.
Whether he come or she doesn’t come, I don’t care.


Meaning: If it is placed before a statement it means ‘how could that be?; how come?’. If it follows a statement it asserts emphatically that the statement is true which means ‘I am telling you; this is so; you know’.
Application: Same like ‘kek’, the final ‘k’ is pronounced as a glottal stop, never as a ‘k’.

Kok mati lampunya?
Kok gue lupa ya namanya?
Gue nggak mau ikut kok.
Gampang kok.
Dia ngaku kok.
How come the light is off?
How could I possibly forget her name?
I don’t want to join in, I tell you.
It’s easy, you know.
She admit it, I tell you.

*) Reference: Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by James Neil Sneddon, 2006

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