Learning Indonesian Week 6- The Verb ‘Melarang’

In this week’s installment, we look at an important word for any Westerner in Indonesia. This is a word which has attained a rather dubious prominence in recent discussions about expat life in Indonesia. It is also very prominent in discussions about social trends in broader Indonesian society. That word is the verb melarang, which is usually translated into English as the verb ‘prohibit’ or ‘ban’. On April 16, 2015, Indonesia implemented a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in minimarkets. This development was known as the pelarangan penjualan minuman beralkohol– the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages. With this ‘success’ under their belt, the Indonesian government are now signalling that they will move towards a complete pelarangan (prohibition) on alcohol sales nationwide. The humble Indonesian beer drinker now faces jail time. Yikes! Let’s look at some of the various branches of the larang word family and see how they are represented in authentic examples of Bahasa Indonesia usage.

1) Melarang– this translates as ‘to ban’ or ‘to prohibit’

2) Dilarang– this is the passive form of the verb, and it translates as ‘is/are prohibited’ or ‘is/are banned’

3) Larangan– this translated as the noun ‘prohibition’.

4) Pelarangan– this also translates as ‘prohibition’. 3) and 4) tend to be used rather interchangeably in Indonesian press reports.


The active verb melarang is less common than the passive form dilarang in Indonesian. Nonetheless, it isn’t too hard to find examples of it. Here is one from the Indonesian version of the website ‘Yahoo Answers’.

Kenapa Islam melarang keras makan daging babi?

Why does Islam strictly prohibit eating pork?

Typically, most of the answers opted for the passive form of the verb. For example, we found the following:

Karena hal itu jelas dilarang dalam Al-Qur’an.

Because it is clearly prohibited by the Koran.


Dilarang means, ‘It is prohbited to’, and it often introduces prohibitions on public notices.

Dilarang berjualan sepanjang jalan ini.

It is forbidden to sell things on this street.

 Dilarang menjual DVD atau VCD disini.

It is prohibited to sell DVDs or VCDs here.

Dilarang berlari di koridor!

No running in the corridor!

However, dilarang can be used in longer constructions as well. The following comes from the Indonesian news website.

Minuman beralkohol di bawah 5% antara lain jenis bir dilarang dijual di minimarket.

Alcohol with less than 5% alcohol content including beer is prohibited from being sold at minimarkets.

No smoking!

No smoking!

Larangan & Pelarangan

These are both abstract nouns that are the Indonesian equivalent of ‘prohibition’. They appear to be used interchangeably by leading Indonesian newspapers. Look at the two examples below, for instance.

Meski peraturan tentang larangan penjualan minuman beralkohol, masih ada minimarket di wilayah Jakarta Utara yang menyediakan stok minuman alkohol.

In spite of the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic drinks, there are still minimarkets in North Jakarta which stock alcoholic beverages.

Sebenarnya kata dia, tak ada yang harus ditakutkan perlarangan miras di minimarket.

In truth, he said, there is nothing to fear from the prohiition on the sale of alcohol in minimarkets.

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