‘Lebih’ or ‘Lagi’?
Do you love Indonesian food? If you do, you must have heard the words ‘lebih’ and ‘lagi’.
‘Lebih’ and ‘lagi’ both mean more. However, have you used them correctly?
‘Lebih’ is an adjective and verb modifier that increases the degree of an adjective or verb that comes after. It is often used to compare qualities of two or more things, whether explicitly or implicitly.
General rule: ‘Lebih’ + Adjective/Verb
What does this imply?
This means that ‘lebih’ by itself cannot be used to modify a noun straight away like how the word more is used in English. You might think that because in English we can say “I want more rice”, then in Indonesian you can say “Saya mau lebih nasi”. To an Indonesian ear this might sound as if you would like to have more characteristics of a rice, which is certainly not what you want to say.
So, how do I use this word correctly in a sentence?
1. You can use ‘lebih’ to compare the characteristic of two things by combining it with the adjective that you want to use as a point of comparison.
Budi lebih baik daripada Sinta.
Budi is better than Sinta.
2. You can use ‘lebih’ to increase the degree of some verbs such as ‘suka’ and ‘mau’.
Saya lebih suka pensil ini.
I prefer this pencil.
3. Very important: You can combine ‘lebih’ with ‘banyak’ (many/plenty) and use it with a noun to suggest that what you’re having is not plenty enough and hence you want more. This means that with ‘lebih banyak’ you can say that you want more rice, more money or even more time to rest as you would say it in English.
Saya mau lebih banyak uang.
I want more money.
Note that you can only use ‘lebih banyak’ for things that you can quantify.
‘Lagi’ is an Indonesian adverb that can mean both again or more depending on the sentence and the context. In regards to the position, ‘lagi’ is usually positioned after a verb/noun/adjective that it modifies.
Verb example Nanti malam saya akan belajar lagi. Tonight I will study again/more.
Nanti malam saya akan belajar lagi.
Tonight I will study again/more.
Noun example Saya mau satu piring lagi. I want one more plate.
Saya mau satu piring lagi.
I want one more plate.
Adjective example Aduh, saya lapar lagi. Ouch, I am hungry again.
Aduh, saya lapar lagi.
Ouch, I am hungry again.
Negative example Saya tidak akan belajar lagi. I will not study anymore.
Saya tidak akan belajar lagi.
I will not study anymore.
If there is a negative word such as ‘tidak’ or ‘bukan’ in the same sentence with ‘lagi’, it is highly likely that the meaning of ‘lagi’ will change to ‘anymore’.
Difference between ‘lebih’ and ‘lagi’
‘Lebih’ and ‘lagi’ might have similar meaning but they are different not only in terms of positioning but also in essence.
‘Lebih’ as more has the essence of comparison or addition whilst ‘lagi’ has the essence of repetition.
Picture a child who has just finished playing roller coaster.
If she says: “Saya mau lebih.”
It is unclear whether she wants another ride or possibly something more challenging than the roller coaster as ‘lebih’ did not modify anything explicitly. As ‘lebih’ is often used to adjust the degree of an adjective, an Indonesian will more likely think that the child wants something more challenging instead of another ride.
If she says: “Saya mau lagi.”
It means that she want to have another ride.
I hope by now you have a better understanding of the difference between ‘lebih’ and ‘lagi’. Don’t forget that you should use ‘lebih banyak’ to say more in terms of quantity not just ‘lebih’ by itself.
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