LEARN INDONESIAN GRAMMAR
When you learn Indonesian grammar, the word order for Indonesian sentences is the same as for English sentences; subject, verb, object. A simple sentence structure example of ‘subject, verb, object’ is Saya membeli pisang ‘I buying bananas’ or ‘I’m buying bananas’.
There is no special terms for ‘is’ and ‘are’. Therefore ‘kapal biru’ is literally ‘boat blue’ meaning ‘the boat is blue’. The words ‘a’ and ‘the’ are either implied by the noun or indicated by the word yang. So to say ‘the blue boat’ you would say kapal yang biru
For sentences where no subject is obvious, the word ada is used. Ada is the closest equivalent to ‘there is’, but means ‘to be’. For example ada kapal yang biru means ‘there is a blue boat’.
Indonesian has a basic verb form which may be used in colloquial speech, and you will be understood perfectly well when you use it. For formal use and in written communication, there are prefixes and suffixes which are added to the root word. The correct prefix or suffix depends on the type of verb and its context in the sentence.
When you learn Indonesian grammar, there are basically three types of verbs.
The 1st type stands alone and never requires a prefix when used as a verb
The 2nd type is the ‘ber verbs’ because ber
is used as a prefix to the root word. For example the root word bicara
, ‘to speak’. If the root word starts with ‘r’, such as renang
, ‘swim’, the prefix drops the ‘r’ and becomes be
, ‘to swim’.
‘Ber verbs’ are very common:
The 3rd type are verbs that use the me
prefix. The prefix can vary from word to word, and the root word is sometimes altered, so that, for example, the root word for ‘read’ tulis
, becomes menulis
Learning to use prefixes with verbs takes a lot of practice and time, however if you only use the root word when communicating, generally you will be understood.
Verbs don’t change their form with tense. Tense can be denoted by context, such as the use of a time word, for example kemarin
‘yesterday’ and besok
‘tomorrow’, at the beginning of a sentence. For example kemarin saya membeli buku
means ‘I bought a book yesterday’ while besok saya akan membeli buku
means ‘I will buy a book tomorrow’.
There are also several special tense indicators which are always placed immediately before the verb in a sentence. The most common are sudah
, ‘present’ and akan
‘future’ tenses. For example saya sudah belanja
means “I have already shopped’, saya sedang belanja
, means ‘I’m still shopping’ and saya akan belanja
, means ‘I will shop’. For something that has just happened you can use baru saja
, saya baru saja belanja
, ‘I have just finished shopping’.
Here are a few examples:
|The children go to the shop
Adjectives follow the noun:
When you want to say more than one thing about the noun you use yang
Comparisons in Indonesian are made with the use of kurang
, ‘less’ and lebih
‘more’ and are placed before the adjective. Daripada
is also used in place of ‘than’ in English, when two objects are being compared. For example daging sapi lebih mahal daripada ayam
, ‘beef is more expensive than chicken’
To indicate extremes of comparison, yang paling
|the most expensive ticket
When you learn Indonesian grammar, personal pronouns are used to reflect levels of politeness. When speaking to someone, you can use Bapak, ‘father’ and Ibu, ‘mother’, which are commonly used respectful terms for an older man or woman, instead of using one of the different words for ‘you’.
There are three forms of the word ‘you’. Saudara ‘relative’, is the most formal version. Kamu is more commonly used and used with friends. Anda is used when addressing more than one person (such as a group of people) and means ‘you’ when talking to the group, as in ‘you will all be going to the shop’.
The first person plural, ‘we’, has two different words in Indonesian. kita, ‘we’ when including the person spoken to, and kami, which only includes the people spoken about, but not the person spoken to.
|Mari kita pergi makan pagi
|We’re going to breakfast (but not you)
|Kami akan pergi makan pagi
The 1st and 2nd possessive pronouns (‘my’ and ‘your’) and the 3rd person plural (‘their’) are placed after the noun.
Possession in the third person (he, she or they) is expressed by using the suffix nya
with the verb
Question sentences are fairly simple to learn. There are several question words that can be used; they are used at the beginning of the sentence.
|Where does the bus go to?
|Mengapa bisnya terlambat?
Tidak, bukan and jangan are used to indicate negation. Tidak and jangan are used in front of verbs and adjectives, bukan is used in front of nouns.
can be used on their own to mean ‘no’ when answering a question
The same word is used for singular or plural. Generally the word is said twice to indicate plural or more than one
Doubling of the word has several other functions. It can be used to intensify the actual meaning of the word
Quantity can be indicated by a number, or a quantity word used before the noun
Comparisons in English that would be said ‘as…..as”, example ‘as big as’ in Indonesian they use the prefix se
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