‘Selesai’, ‘Habis’ or ‘Jadi’

When referring to something being finished, there are 3 words that you can use in Indonesian. However, each of these words has its own function and can’t always be used interchangeably.


‘Selesai’ is a verb-like adjective that means finished. It is often used together with a process or an object that involves process. When it is used, it indicates completion of the object or the process that is involved in the object.


To better understand ‘selesai’, I will list some words that are often used together with it. They are:

‘Kelas’ (Class), ‘Kursus’ (Course), ‘Pembangunan Jalan’ (Road construction)

As you can see, ‘Kelas’ & ‘Kursus’ are things that involve process (i.e. from the beginning of the class to the end of class).

When ‘pen-an’ words are used – such as in the case of ‘Pembangunan Jalan’, ‘selesai’ is the only finished word that fits as ‘pen-an’ words are mostly about process and ‘selesai’ indicates completion.

Example 1:

Kelas saya belum selesai.

My class hasn’t finished yet.

Example 2:

Pembangunan jalan tol Cikarang sudah selesai.

The construction of Cikarang Toll Road has finished.


‘Habis’ is a verb-like adjective that means both exhausted and finished. It is often used together with objects that are exhaustible. When it is used, it indicates that the object has been exhausted (may no longer be available or take some time to recover).


Example 3:

Uang saya habis!

I ran out of money.

Example 4:

Pelayan: Maaf, ayam gorengnya sudah habis.

Waiter: Sorry, we ran out of fried chicken.


‘Jadi’ is one of the words in Indonesian that has multiple meanings. The most common usage of this word is to indicate transformation, especially when it takes form of a verb – ‘menjadi’ (to become). However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will focus on its nature as a verb-like adjective that means finished. When it is used, it hints that a transformation has occurred and a new object has been created.


To better understand ‘jadi’, I will list some words that are often used together with it. They are:

‘Kue’ (Cake), ‘Buku’ (Book), ‘Makanan’ (Food)

As you can see, the words mentioned above are things that are created through transformation of other objects that are being combined together (i.e. ingredients and idea).

Example 5:

Kuenya sudah jadi.

The cake has been cooked.

In this example, it hints that all of the ingredients of the cake have been combined together and because of heat, a new object, cake, is now created.

Example 6:

Buku saya sudah jadi.

My book has finished.

In this example, it hints that all parts of the book, including its source – ideas – have been combined together and a new object, book, is now created.

Note that due to its nature, the translation of the word ‘jadi’ depends on the context of the new object being discussed (cooked for cakes and finished for books).


Illustration & Application


Illustration for difference between selesai, habis and jadi

Illustration: Selesai – Habis – Jadi

The difference between the three words of finished  in Indonesian can be best shown when we try to describe movies.

  • Production of movies usually involves transformation of a combination of things (i.e. screenplay, cinematography etc) into the final piece. When everything’s been combined & transformed then we can say that the movie has been created. Hence, the word ‘jadi’ should be used in this context: “Filmnya sudah jadi.
  • When the movie is screened and a person is watching it, there will be two perspectives:
    • When the screening ends and the story has been completed, one might use the word ‘selesai’ to describe it: “Filmnya sudah selesai.
    • When the screening ends and there’s nothing left to watch then the movie has been exhausted. In this sense, it is possible to use the word ‘habis’: “Filmnya sudah habis.

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