‘Paling’ or ‘Kebanyakan’

Most Indonesian learners would have learnt to use the word ‘paling’ (meaning: most) throughout their learning journey. But the word ‘paling’ cannot be used in all context. For instance, if you look at the way I have used most in the first sentence above and would like to say the same thing in Indonesian, you cannot use the word ‘paling’. Instead, you will have to use the other word for most – ‘kebanyakan’. Why so?


‘Paling’ means most and it is an adjective modifier that creates superlative adjectives. It can also be used to modify some common verbs that have a degree such as ‘suka’, ‘mau’ and ‘perlu’.


 ‘Paling’ + Adjective

Most… or …-est

 When used to describe a noun, ‘paling’ should always be preceded by ‘yang’

‘Paling’ + ‘Suka’/’Mau’/’Perlu’

Like/Want/Need … the most

Example 1

Saya mau buku yang paling bagus.

I want the best book

Example 2

Saya mau tas yang paling murah.

I want the cheapest bag

Example 3

Saya paling suka film ini.

I like this movie the most.


‘Kebanyakan’ as a noun means the majority of and it can be used in a similar way the word most is used with a noun in English.


‘Kebanyakan’ + Noun

The majority of/Most…

Example 4

Kebanyakan mobil yang dijual di tempat ini mahal.

Most cars that are sold in this place are expensive

Example 5

Saya tidak mau menjadi seperti kebanyakan orang.

I don’t want to become like most people.


Getting Deeper (1/2)

In summary, when you think about saying most in Indonesian, think first whether it is about noun or adjective.

If it’s about adjective use ‘paling’ –> ‘Paling’ + Adjective

Example: Paling bagus (Most goodbest)

If it’s about noun, use ‘kebanyakan’ –> ‘Kebanyakan’ + Noun

Example: Kebanyakan teman saya (Most of my friends)


Getting Deeper (2/2)

Other uses of ‘Kebanyakan’

It is important to know that there are other uses of the word ‘kebanyakan’. This Indonesian word is very versatile as it can be used as a noun, verb, adverb and also adjective.

  • As a noun, ‘kebanyakan’ means most/the majority of.
  • As a verb, ‘kebanyakan’ means to have too much of (the noun).
    • Example: Dia kebanyakan uang. He has too much money
  • As an adverb, ‘kebanyakan’ is used together with a verb to express that such action was done excessively.
    • Example: Kemarin saya kebanyakan makan. Yesterday I ate excessively (too much).
  • As an adjective, ‘kebanyakan’ is equivalent to ‘terlalu + banyak’. This can be easily identified when the word is not followed by a noun.
    • Example 1: Saya tidak mau kebanyakan. I don’t want too many.
    • Example 2: Q: Cukup? Enough? A: Kebanyakan.. Too much..
  • However, there are occasions when ‘kebanyakan’ is followed by a noun and has the meaning of too many instead of most. Unfortunately, in such occasion, the only way to get the meaning correctly is by understanding the context.
    • Example: Ada kebanyakan orang di rumah saya. There are too many people in my home. –> Because seeing ‘kebanyakan’ as ‘most’ in this context does not make sense.

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