How to vary your very

Do you want to express how much you like nasi lemak? You can say "sangat sedap"! But what if it doesn't have much taste? Read and find out how.

How to vary your very

Adverbs of Degree or ‘kata penguat' are words that describe the degree of strength of the adjective phrase or word that comes before or after them. There are three types of adverbs of degree in Malay, and we’ll go through all the categories, which includes adverbs carrying meaning other than ‘very’ in the first category. Let’s dive in to see what I mean!

i) Kata penguat hadapan (Front adverb)

is an adverb placed in front of an adjective phrase or word. Common ones in Bahasa Melayu are as follows:

Terlalu (Too)
Rumah ini terlalu usang untuk didiami.
This house is too old to be lived in.

Kurang (Less, Not that ~, Not really~)
Jawapan itu kurang tepat.
That answer is not that accurate.

Paling (Most)
Alia paling tinggi dalam kalangan rakan sekelasnya.
Alia is the tallest amongst her classmates.

Makin (To become more)
Dia makin pandai masak.
He’s becoming better at cooking.

Cukup (More than enough, Enough)
Usaha saya sudah cukup banyak.
My efforts are more than enough.

Pemandangan dari bukit ini cukup mengagumkan.
The view from this hill is very amazing.

Agak (Quite)
Kereta itu agak mahal.
That car is quite expensive.

ii) Kata penguat belakang (Back adverb)

is an adverb placed after an adjective phrase or word. All the adverbs below carry the nuances of “very”, really” and “so”.

Teruk benar sikapnya.
His/her attitude is really bad.

Saya rasa penat betul hari ini.
I feel so tired today.

Persembahan kompang itu menakjubkan sekali.
The kompang performance is so amazing.

Indah nian pergunungan ini.
How utterly magnificent these mountains are.

(note: Nian is quite poetic and is very rarely used in both formal and casual settings)

iii) Kata penguat bebas (Free adverb)

is an adverb that can be placed either before or after an adjective phrase or word. Similar to the second category, the adverbs below carry the nuances of “very”, ”really”, and “so.”

Hawa bekerja dengan amat keras.
Hawa bekerja dengan keras amat.
Hawa works very hard.

Rancangan TV itu sungguh menarik.
Rancangan TV itu menarik sungguh.
That TV show is so interesting.

Boboi sangat pandai bermain bola.
Boboi pandai bermain bola sangat.
Boboi is really good at playing football.

Take note! Colloquially, “sangat” when placed after an adjective word or phrase can take on the meaning of “too (much)”. For example:

Engkau baik sangat, sebab itu ditipu!
You’re too kind, that’s why you were scammed!

Jangan makan banyak sangat, nanti sakit.
Don’t eat too much, or else you’ll get sick.

Well, there ya go! I know it’s a lot to memorise, but pick the ones most useful to you and try to make a few simple sentences with it. Comment down below and we’ll correct your sentences or just drop us a question if you have any :)

Reference: Tatabahasa Dewan Ketiga, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka 2008

Authored by: Cikgu Hidayah Zulkipli