Ialah vs adalah

How do we use 'ialah' and 'adalah'? Read to learn the difference.

Ialah vs adalah

Kata Pemeri: How to Use ‘ialah’ and ‘adalah’

The words ‘ialah’ and ‘adalah’ are ‘kata pemeri’, which are words that connect the subject and predicate of a sentence.


is an equative connecting word, meaning that you can replace the position of the subject with the predicate and still retain the same meaning. For example:

Bahasa Inggeris ialah salah satu lingua franca.
The English language is one of the lingua francas.

Salah satu lingua franca ialah Bahasa Inggeris.
One of the lingua franca is the English language.

An important rule is that ‘ialah’ can ONLY be used when it is before a noun phrase (frasa nama, which could include adjectives, adverbs etc. that explain the noun). For example:

Tema buku ini ialah cinta.
The theme of this book is love.

Maksud kecantikan sebenar ialah hati budi seseorang.
The true meaning of beauty is one’s heart.

Antara gejala sosial yang dibincangkan ialah masalah rempit.
One of the social problems that was discussed is illegal racing.


is an explanatory connecting word, which means the predicate explains the subject of the sentence. It can ONLY be used before an adjective phrase and prepositional phrase. Example:

Pandangan dia adalah dari segi ekonomi.
His/her opinion is from an economic angle.

Cara untuk menaikkan nama perniagaan adalah dengan menggunakan sosial media.
The way to spread the word about your business is by using social media.

Pengitaran semula sampah adalah baik untuk alam sekitar.
Recycling trash is good for the environment.

Tindakan kamu adalah salah di sisi undang-undang.
Your action is wrong in the eyes of the law.

However, please note that ‘ialah’ and ‘adalah’ do not work similarly to the English ‘is’ and ‘are’, and the functions are a bit limited. Another important rule to note is that

both CANNOT be used in front of a verb or verb phrase.

Though ‘adalah’ can be used as emphasis, it is advisable to skip it unless necessary. For example:

[✔]Nama saya Mahsuri.
[✔]Nama saya ialah Mahsuri. (Grammatically correct but unnecessary)
My name is Mahsuri.

[✔]Buku itu saya punya.
[x]Buku itu ialah saya punya.
That book is mine.

[✔]Perkara itu benar.
[✔]Perkara itu adalah benar. (Emphasis on it being true)
That matter is true.

[✔]Salah untuk kamu menuduh aku!
[x]Adalah salah untuk kamu menuduh aku!
It is wrong for you to accuse me.

[✔]Bunga itu cantik.
[✔]Bunga itu adalah cantik. (Emphasis on it being beautiful)
That flower is beautiful.

[✔]Hobi saya bermain bola sepak.
[x]Hobi saya ialah bermain bola sepak.
My hobby is playing football.

[✔]Dengan ini diisytiharkan bahawa Ramadan akan bermula pada hari esok.
[x]Adalah diisytiharkan bahawa Ramadan akan bermula pada hari esok.
It is announced that Ramadan will begin tomorrow.

Confusing? Don’t worry, natives have it wrong all the time too! So don’t be surprised to see mistakes being made even in the most formal of speeches and news articles. If you’re unsure, just refer to this post again or leave us a message!

Quick summary:

>’Ialah’ is equative, and can be used in front of a noun phrase.
>’Adalah’ is explanatory, can be used in front of an adjective phrase or prepositional phrase, and sometimes used as emphasis.
>Both cannot be used in front of a verb or verb phrase, and usage is limited.

Hope that helps!

Reference: Tatabahasa Dewan Ketiga, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka 2008

Authored by: Cikgu Hidayah Zulkipli