‘Mengerjakan’ or ‘Melakukan’?

‘Kerjakan’ or ‘Lakukan’?

The word ‘do’ is very important in English. It is used in a lot of contexts and can even be used to add emphasis on a positive verb. However, do you know how to use the word ‘do’ in the Indonesian language ?

The essence

Before we go into any examples, we should see the essence of the two closest words to ‘do’ in Indonesian: ‘Mengerjakan’ and ‘Melakukan’.

Not only that they are much much longer than the word ‘do’ in English. They are also different in essence.


 ‘Mengerjakan’in a statement, is usually used together with an activity (noun) that requires completion (something that we are working on).

Some nouns that are often used together with ‘mengerjakan’:

  • Tugas (Assignment)
  • Pekerjaan Rumah/PR (Homework)
  • Proyek (Project)
  • Ujian (Exam)

Example in a sentence:

Setelah makan malam, saya akan mengerjakan tugas saya.

After dinner, I will do (or work on) my assignment.

‘Melakukan’ on another hand, is more abstract.

In a statement, ‘melakukan’ is usually used when the speaker does not want the listener to know exactly what activity(s) is he/she doing or if the speaker wants to group a couple of activities together.

Hence, in a statement, these words are often used together with ‘melakukan’:

    • Sesuatu (Something)
    • Banyak hal (Many things)
    • Berbagai/berbagai macam/bermacam-macam hal (a range of things)

Bear in mind that in a statement, the speaker might choose to use other specific verbs rather than ‘melakukan’ due to its abstract nature.

Example in a sentence:

Malam ini saya akan melakukan sesuatu.

Tonight I will do something


 In a question, melakukan’ (‘lakukan’) & ‘mengerjakan’ (‘kerjakan’) are similar to ‘do’ in English.

However in order to use them properly, there is an aspect of Indonesian grammar that you need to understand.

Any verbs that start with the prefix ‘men-‘ has an active nature, which means that the Subject is affecting the Object in some ways. Because of this, the sentence below should not make sense:

Pekerjaan yang kamu melakukan… (The job that you are doing…)


  • The ‘sentence’ above is actually a noun that focuses on the word ‘pekerjaan’
  • The ‘subject’ kamu is not followed by any ‘object’
  • Hence, there’s no sense of active in that ‘sentence’

With the same reasoning, the questions below should not make sense as well:

Apa yang kamu mengerjakan? (What are you working on?)

Apa yang kamu melakukan? (What are you doing?)

Instead, Indonesians will get rid of the ‘men-‘ and say:

Apa yang kamu kerjakan? (What are you working on?)

Apa yang kamu lakukan? (What are you doing?)

Informally, Indonesians might also say:

Kamu sedang mengerjakan apa? (You are working on what?)

Kamu sedang melakukan apa? (You are doing what?)

The informal questions above are grammatically acceptable because in those questions, ‘apa’ becomes the noun, which satisfy the requirement of an active sentence.

If you have any question about this part, please feel free to comment on this post.

Using ‘Mengerjakan’ in a question:

Q: Budi, apa yang akan kamu kerjakan besok?

Budi, what will you do (work on) tomorrow?

A: Besok saya akan pergi ke rumah teman saya

Tomorrow I will go to my friend’s house

Note that even though the question has the essence of ‘working on’, the answer can simply be any activity (not necessarily something that requires completion).

Using ‘Melakukan’ in a question:

Q: Rudi, apa yang kamu lakukan tadi pagi?

Rudi, what will you do tomorrow?

A: Tadi pagi saya berenang dan bermain bola.

This morning I swam and played soccer.

Final Note

I hope by now you already have a better understanding of the word ‘do’ in Indonesian. Although they seem similar, they are quite different than the word ‘do’ in English.

Also, please remember that you can never use these two words as an emphasis at all. They are merely verbs that involve activity. Indonesians will add emphasis using other words instead of ‘do’.

Have a question regarding this topic? Post your question below!

Difference between ‘Mengerjakan’ and ‘Melakukan’

One thought on “Difference between ‘Mengerjakan’ and ‘Melakukan’

  • 21/02/2016 at 8:11 am

    Thanks for the great article Courtney! I was in Batam last year for holiady. Public road and other infrastructure was not very well developed and maintained, but service in tourism was great and prices were very low compared to neighbouring Singapore. If manufacturing flourish on the island, it could well develop to be a worthy competitor to Singapore as a free trade zone and port services.


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