The word ngapain is pronounced /ŋā.PĀ.een/ with an initial sound like the “ng” in the middle of the English word “singing”. It is a very slangy word that originated in the local dialect of Jakarta but is now heard in slangy talk among young people right across the country. It means “what (is someone) doing?”.
In some contexts it can mean “why?”, “what for?”, “what’s going on?” or “what’s the point?”. Often (but far from always) it has overtones of sarcasm, indifference, cynicism, ridicule, scepticism or incredulity. Ngapain is formed from the base-word apa, with the informal verbal prefix ng- and the verbal suffix –in. The prefix ng- and the suffix –in are both very common in informal usage, and we shall glance at more examples of them later in the book.
Study these examples.
Ngapain kamu?
What are you doing? / What are you up to?
Nanti sore ngapain mereka?
What are they doing this (late) afternoon?
Ngapain belajar bahasa Indonesia? Sulit sih!
Why would you want to study Indonesian? It’s tough!
Ngapain pacaran sama dia!?
Why would she want to be going out with him?
Why would he want to be going out with her?
In more slangy colloquial Indonesian it is far more common to use the Jakarta variant lagi ngapain instead of sedang apa. Lagi is the colloquial variant for sedang, and ngapain is based on apa with the Jakarta prefix ng- and suffix -inNgapain means: “what (is,are) (you, he, she) doing?” So, lagi ngapain means “what are you doing right now?”
Ibu Ningsih sedang apa?Ibu Ningsih lagi ngapain?
Si Salimin sedang apa?Lagi ngapain Si Salimin?
Kamu sedang apa?Lagi ngapain kamu?
Feel free to add sih at the end of the question to give it more pep: Si Salimin lagi ngapain sih?
Note the particle Si in front of the name Salimin. Si is not part of the name but rather a kind of article that is often attached to names, preferably in colloquial speach and when refering to younger people. It is actually the same si that distinguished apa from siapa!

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