Meaning: nominalizing particle: the o. who, the thing which, etc. particle forming a specific adjective clause : “which is, who are,” etc.
Sometimes “yang” is followed by a meN- verb. Example:
Dia orang yang MEMbantu kita tadi.
She is the person who helped us earlier.
We said “orang yang MEMbantu”. This is because the “orang” did the action.
But what if we want to say “She is the child who Ari helped”? We cannot say: “Dia anak yang Ari MEMbantu.” That’s because the child is having the action done to her. So we need to use the passive instead, and say:
Dia anak yang DIbantu oleh Ari.
This can be hard to grasp, because in English we don’t need to say it as “the child who was helped by Ari”. We can say, literally, “the child who Ari helped”. But that means: “the child who was helped by Ari”. And in Indonesian we have to say it like that.
Orang yang menjual rumah itu dari Bali.(active)
The person who is selling that house is from Bali.
Rumah yang dijual oleh Ani itu tua sekali.(passive)
The house which Ani is selling is very old. [Not: “rumah yang Ani menjual”]
Saya punya teman yang membaca majalah itu.
I have a friend who reads that magazine.
Ini majalah yang saya baca.
This is the magazine that I read. [Not: “majalah yang saya membaca”]
Yang often can be translated as “What”:
Yang penting bukan uang.
What is important isn’t money.
Yang jelas dia bohong.
What is clear is that he lied.
In this type of sentence, too, we must take care to use the passive when necessary. Examples:
What that person saw (is)…
Yang dilihat orang itu…
Not: “Yang orang itu MElihat…” X)
(i.e.“What was seen by that person…”)
What I bought (is)…
Yang saya beli …
Not: “Yang saya MEMbeli…” X
(i.e. What was bought by me…” )
What we have to look for (is)…
Yang harus kita cari…
Not: “Yang harus kita MENcari …” X
(i.e. “What has to be looked for by us….”)
* Notes: To say “What I know (is) …”, the technically correct way is “Yang saya ketahui…” (i.e. “What is known by me …”). But many Indonesians, even many educated ones, often just say “Yang saya tahu…” instead.
To say “What I don’t understand (is)…”, Indonesians say “Yang tidak saya MENGerti”. This is correct. It is passive: it means “What is not understood by me…”. Mengerti is a unique verb: it keeps its MEN- prefix when it becomes passive.
Reference: Dr. Timothy Hassall, Indonesian Grammar, ANU – Canberra.