Know your ‘di’ and ‘dari’

Advertisement is one way of promoting products and services to the customers. We see it on the Internet, television, radio, newspaper, magazine and billboard by the highway. Bright colors and wonderful graphic elements together with catchy phrases are the few of many things that make a good advertisement. To me, one of the first things I assess in an advertisement is its grammar aspect. I know, I sound like some linguistic expert but I am not (heck, maybe I am just picky and annoying.) It is just that I find the advertisement more believable when it is grammatically correct. Since my English is not that good, I can only detect grammatical error on ad written in Malay. The reason I write this in English is to improve my English writing skills, so please comment on my writing.

The most common mistake I see in many advertisements; be it on TV or paper brochure is the usage of ‘di’ and ‘dari’.


WHERE TO USE ‘di’ AND ‘di-‘

In Malay, ‘di’ can be a prefix or a preposition.  I am not a linguistic expert so I do not know how to explain ‘di-’ as a prefix, but I know it is useful in converting an active sentence to a passive one. As a result, ‘di-‘ as a prefix is a part of the word being prefixed, hence should be counted as only one word.

Modifying active voice to passive voice using prefix ‘di’.


‘di’ as a prefix should never be separated from the word being prefixed.

Whereas ‘di’ as a preposition can mean ‘at’, ‘in’ or ‘on’.  AS LONG AS ‘DI’ IS USED TO INDICATE POSITION OR  A PLACE’S NAME like Malaysia, hospital, grandpa’s house or over there, ALWAYS PUT A SPACE BETWEEN THEM. More example:

Just like in English, preposition like ‘di’ is one other word thus should be written separately.

WHERE TO USE ‘dari’ AND ‘daripada’

The word ‘dari’ and ‘daripada’; they are both preposition and they both mean ‘from’ in English. However in Malay, they are not interchangeable despite the similarity in meaning.

DARI– used to indicate time, place and direction, strictly no other things beside these three.

DARIPADA-all other things other than time,place and direction. For example, like a person or origin of things.

‘dari’ and ‘daripada’ carry the same meaning, but not interchangeable.


This is one tip on remembering the correct usage of ‘di’ and ‘dari’. You do not have to memorize them all, just remember half of them. The other half is not necessary because you know it is the opposite of the other half. The key word here is ‘OPPOSITE’.

Memorize that ‘di’ should not be separated from a word following it when that word is a verb. If it is other word than a verb then do the OPPOSITE (separate them).

If you want to use preposition ‘dari’ in a sentence, make sure the word following it is indication of time, place or direction. If it is other than time, place and direction then do the OPPOSITE (use ‘daripada’).

This may sound confusing, but it works for me.


I love reading advertisement in the newspaper and watching it on television. I am always in anticipation for community service messages advertisement whenever there is a celebration like Independence Day and Eid. The funniest advertisement in my opinion is when Adibah Noor played a taxi driver who picked up a Malay man who spoke with heavy London accent from an airport despite only staying in London for ten days. I can find the ad anywhere in Youtube, partly because I have no idea who produced it. Was it Petronas or TV3? The saddest one is an advertisement by FINAS last year, where an old man struggled in a fitting room to button his own shirt so he would not bother his son and daughter-in-law. You can watch the FINAS ad here. I still have my father but the advertisement is so true and honest that it is impossible not to shed tears.

Stay curios :).


2 Comments on “Know your ‘di’ and ‘dari’”

  1. Sir,

    Nice post! Now I understand better about the usage of ‘dari’ and ‘daripada’, because I saw most publications do not use those words in a proper way. I have some question to you,

    Regarding the ‘dari’ and ‘daripada’ differences, what do you think about this phrase,

    “Dari hati ke hati”

    Is it correct? From my understanding, dari is for time and places. ‘Hati’ is not a place right? By right it is an organ, but abstract-wise, maybe we can say it is a ‘place’, for example;

    “You have a special place in my heart (?)”

    What do you think?

    • Fitrah says:

      Thank you, sir! 🙂

      Regarding ‘dari hati ke hati’, ‘Hati’, in my opinion, can be regarded as a place, or rather an abstract place, thus using ‘dari’ makes sense. However, I personally think the word ‘dari’ should be omitted in the first place when using this phrase. If it is removed then there is no issue whether we should ‘dari’ or ‘daripada’ for this phrase.Mainly because it is unnecessary, meaning a sentence would do okay without it.

      or simply because it sounds nicer without it! 🙂

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