G R A M M A R
No inflection In Indonesian
Bahasa Indonesia doesnít have inflection, e.g., tenses, conjugation. Thatís why most statements will be very ambiguous without the help of contexts or the adverbs or adverbial phrases of time:
adverbs: now, tomorrow, yesterday
adverbial phrases of time: two days ago, a quarter of an hour later
1. Dia sakit. sakit ill, sick
He is (was) sick.
2. Mereka datang ke sini. datang to come; ke sini here
They come (came) here.
3. Saya tidak tahu. tidak not, no; tahu to know
I do (did) not know.
datang to come (Infinitive)
comes (simple present)
came (Simple Past)
come (Past Participle)
pergi to go (Infinitive)
go (Simple Present)
went (Simple Past)
gone (Past Participle)
mau to want (Infinitive)
want (Simple Present)
wanted (Simple Past)
wanted (Past Participle)
1. Beginning the 16th of August 1972, the Indonesian alphabet has been following that of modern English:
A a H h O o V v
B b I i P p W w
C c J j Q q X x
D d K k R r Y y
E e L l S s Z z
F f M m T t
G g N n U u
Single vowels: a, e, i, o, u
Three diphthongs: ai, au, oi
Single consonants: voiced: b, d, g, j, l, m, n, q, r, v, x, z
voiceless: c, f, h, s, k, p, t
Semi-vowels and semi-consonants: w, y
Double consonants: kh, ng, ny, sy
2. The sounds of Vowels:
a In open syllables, it is sounded like English a in father, but slightly shorter, and the mouth is more open, (but sometimes we stop it abruptly):
apa what antara between
bahasa language ada to be, to exist
papa father lupa to forget
In closed syllables, it is sounded like English u in bucket:
antara between, among
datang to come
hafal to learn by heart
e In open syllables, when stressed it is sounded like English e in bed, but slightly longer:
kecap soya-bean sauce
When unstressed, it is sounded like English mute e in buffalo:
In closed syllables, it is sounded like English e in bed:
ember pail, bucket
i In open syllables, when stressed it is sounded like English ee in bee, but slightly shorter, (but sometimes we stop it abruptly):
diskusi discussion cari to look for
ini this dari from
In closed syllables, it is sounded like English i in did:
ambil to fetch, to go & get
o In open syllables and in most words, it is sounded like English a in ball:
coba to try
In closed syllables, it is sounded like English o in cobble, but slightly longer:
pondok hut; cottage
u In open syllables, it is sounded like English u in boom, but slightly longer and the lips are rounded, (but sometimes we stop it abruptly):
aku I buku book
itu that cucu grandchild
tersipu shy ratu queen
In closed syllables, it is sounded like English u in butcher, but slightly longer and the lips are rounded:
mabuk drunk, drunken
tikus rat, mouse
A. Personal pronouns are groups into two classifications:
anda sekalian or anda semua
(excluding the person we talk to)
(including all present or taking part)
Note the pronoun ia is usually used in written Indonesian and dia both written as well as spoken Indonesian.
Instead of the pronouns dia and ia, the pronoun beliau is used to talk about our parent, grandparent, teacher, a very important person like the president of a corporation, a country, a government minister; we call it respectful he or she.
b. INFORMAL FAMILIAR:
aku I (short form: ku- or -ku), e.g.: namaku= my name
kamu you (short form: -mu), e.g.: namamu= your name
engkau you (short form: kau- or -kau)
kau sekalian, kamu semua you all (short form: kalian)
used among close friends, the family, a teacher to a pupil, a parent to a child, among children, on TV or on the radio or on film. Foreign learners are advised to take great care of using them, or just donít use them at all.
mine milik saya; punya saya; yang saya; milikku; punyaku; yang aku
yours milik anda; punya anda; yang anda; milikmu; punyamu; yang kamu
his; hers; its miliknya; punyanya (informal: punya dia); yang dia
ours (exclusive) milik kami; punya kami; yang kami
ours (inclusive) milik kita; punya kita; yang kita
yours (plural) milik anda sekalian; punya anda sekalian; yang anda sekalian; milik kalian; punya kalian; yang kalian
theirs milik mereka; punya mereka; yang mereka
(i) The pronouns carrying milik are formal.
(ii) Those carrying punya are informal.
(iii) Those carrying yang are informal and can be used only with contexts in order to avoid repetition.
(iv) Please use the informal ones in everyday speech.
(v) Model statements:
Itu punya saya. That is mine.
Ini punya dia. This is hers.
Ini punya saya, tetapi itu yang anda. This is mine, but that is yours.
C. The Many Indonesian Equivalents of the pronoun you
The Indonesian equivalent depends upon the person we are talking to:
Where do you live?
1. Di mana anda tinggal?
to our equal or junior.
2. Di mana Bapak tinggal?
to our superior, or to a man who is our junior or equal in some respect.
(literal meaning: father)
3. Di mana Ibu tinggal?
to our superior, or to a woman who is married, our junior or equal with some respect.
(literal meaning: mother)
4. Di mana Saudara tinggal?
the same as anda, but only to a man.
(literal meaning: brother)
5. Di mana Saudari tinggal?
the same as anda, but only to a woman, either married or unmarried.
(literal meaning: sister)
6. Di mana Oom tinggal?
to our uncle or superior, but only to a man.
(literal meaning: uncle, and used among the modern or high level segment of our society)
7. Di mana Tante tinggal?
the same as Oom, but to a woman who is our superior or own aunt.
8. Di mana Tuan tinggal?
used by a lower-class worker especially to address his master.
9. Di mana Nyonya tinggal?
the same as Tuan, but to a woman.
10. Di mana Nona tinggal?
to an unmarried woman or girl who is our equal or junior. Note some women or girls prefer being addressed Zuz, or Sus sister.
11. Di mana Paman tinggal?
the same as Oom and used by everyone.
(literal meaning: Uncle)
12. Di mana Bibi tinggal?
the same as Tante and used by everyone.
13. Di mana Abang tinggal?
to our own elder brother, or our male superior.
14. Di mana Adik tinggal?
to our own little brother or sister, or our junior of either sex.
to our own elder sister or brother (but more usually elder sister), or our superior (more usually a girl or woman).
For everybodyís convenience, use the word Bapak or Ibu to address an adult, our superior, junior, or even equal. Nona to a girl or unmarried woman, or Zus to either married or unmarried woman. The short forms of Bapak & Ibu are respectively Pak & Bu. Thus, Pak equals Mr., or sir., and Bu equals Mrs., or Madam/Madame.
All person nouns are capitalized when they are used as addresses. Therefore, all the addresses from Nos. 2 to 15 above have been capitalized. However, person nouns mustnot be capitalized when they are used in compounds:
1. Itu adalah paman saya. itu that; paman uncle
That is my uncle.
2. Itu ibu saya. ibu mother
She is my mother.
3. Pria itu tinggi. pria man; tinggi tall; high
The man is tall.
4. Dia sering telepon saya. sering often
He often gives me a call.
5. Dia adalah saudara Peter. saudara brother
He is Peterís brother.
How we use the pronoun -nya:
1. Possessive pronoun his, her, or its:
bukunya his, her or its book
anaknya his, her or its offspring
negerinya his, her or its country
For more details about word order, see the word order of compounds on page Ö
2. Object pronoun him, her or it after the prepositions bersama together, bagi for, dengan with, di dekat near, kepada to (a person), pada in, on, at (before a abstract noun, person, time), oleh by and untuk for:
bersamanya together with him, her or it
baginya for him, her or it
di dekatnya near him, her or it
dengannya with him, her or it
kepadanya to him, her or it
padanya in him, her or it
olehnya by him, her or it
untuknya for him, her or it
dekat dia near him, her or it
3. Object pronoun him, her or it after transitive me- verbs:
melihat to see, saw, seen
Kami melihatnya (not: melihat dia)
We saw him, her or it.
mencintai to love, loved, loved
Saya mencintainya (not: mencintai dia)
I love him, her or it.
kenal (not a me- verb) to know, knew, known (somebody)
Kami kenal dia. (not: kenalnya)
We know him.
ingat (not a me- verb) to remember, remembered, remembered
Mereka ingat dia. (not: ingatnya)
They remember him.
lupa (not a me- verb) to forget, forgot, forgotten
Peter lupa dia. (not: lupanya)
Peter forgot her.
For further details, please see the Plain Verbs.
F. Reflesive or emphatic pronouns:
myself (1) sendiri; (2) diri saya
PART I: TO BE
English grammar requires certain helping words, i.e., auxiliary verbs, without any particular meaning to help us construct proper statements or phrases:
A. be/is/am/are/was/were/been is not translated when it is not used to emphasize a statement:
Dia di sini.
Mary di London sekarang.
B. When be/is/am/are/was/were/been is used to emphasize a statement so that it can somewhat mean really, or actually, it is translated into:
1. He is here. Dia ada di sini.
2. Mary is in London now. Mary ada di London sekarang.
1. My name is Robert. Nama saya adalah Robert.
2. They are investors. Mereka adalah investor.
3. She is a governor. Dia adalah gubernur.
4. I am a politician. Saya adalah politisi.
5. We are businesspeople. Kami adalah pengusaha.
When the helping word be, or any of its variants, is, am, are, was, were, been, is used to indicate mental or physical condition, quality, or progressive activity, e.g., speaking, learning, it is not translated at all:
3. The house is beautiful. beautiful (1) indah (of view); (2) cantik (of a woman)
Rumah itu indah.
Dia sedang belajar bahasa Indonesia sekarang.
Note in informal Indonesian the word ada also means to have, or to possess. It is used instead of the word mempunyai or punya, both mean to have, or to possess:
He has a house in Medan.
The woman has a lot of pen-pals.
PART II: THE
The word the has two functions:
A. When it is not a demonstrative word and cannot be replaced by the word that or this such that it does not have an equivalent in Indonesian and, therefore, need not be translated, especially when it is used:
a. Before a noun, by reason of locality, such that it can represent only one particular thing:
the kitchen (the kitchen of this house) dapur
the garage (the garage of the house) garasi
the post office (the local post office) kantor pos
b. Before an object or group of objects which is (considered to be) unique:
the sky langit the world dunia
the sun matahari the west barat
the moon bulan
c. Before a noun which is made definite by a phrase or clause immediately following:
the office of the president kantor presiden
the manager of a hotel manajer hotel
d. Before certain proper names:
the Alps (Pegunungan) Alpen
the United States of America Amerika Serikat
the Netherlands Belanda
the Earth Bumi
the Pacific Pasifik
B. When it can be replaced by the demonstrative word or pronoun this ini or that itu, we must translate it into ini or itu:
the book= that book buku itu this book buku ini
the car= that car mobil itu this car mobil ini
the house; that house rumah itu this house rumah ini
PART III: a/an
A. General or occupational a/an
a/an should not be translated when it represents no particular person or thing, is used to indicate what someone or something is and cannot be replaced by the word one:
Saya orang Amerika.
Pria itu pilot.
Wanita itu dokter.
B. Particular a/an
When it represents a particular person or thing and equals the word one, it must be be translated into the prefix se- one + classifier:
seorang one person for a person
seekor one tail for an animal
sebuah one piece; fruit for something which does not have a specic shape or is difficult to describe, e.g., a house, car, TV
sehelai one sheet for something that is thin and wide or like a sheet, e.g., a shirt, piece of paper, pair of trousers
sebatang one stick for something that looks like a stick, e.g., a tree, cigarette
(i) For more details, please refer to Note (8), subsection A of Numerals, the Date and the Time.
(ii) Just memorize the first three meanings above, because the rest are not as common.
(iii) Model statements:
1. A policeman, i.e., one policeman, is here.
Seorang polisi (ada) di sini.
Seorang akuntan datang.
Dia membeli sebuah Jaguar.
Saya mau sebuah kamera.
Peter ada sebuah rapat.
2 teachers 2 orang guru
3 houses 3 buah rumah
4 appointments 4 buah janji
5 meetings 5 buah rapat
6 friends 6 orang teman
1. The examples above show that the classifiers orang, ekor, helai, batang etc. are used to count the number of persons or things only. Therefore, no classifiers may be used below:
the book buku itu
the movie film itu
the movies film-film itu
her car mobilnya
her cars mobil-mobilnya
2. In informal Indonesian classifiers are usually not used:
2 teachers 2 guru
3 houses 3 rumah
4 appointments 4 janji
5 meetings 5 rapat
6 friends 6 teman
However, classifiers must be used in formal Indonesian and in writing, especially formal correspondence, notes.
PART IV: do/does/did
A. No Indonesian translation
do/does/did is not translated when it just helps us make proper English questions, negative statements and negative questions. As a result, the Indonesian translations of the English questions and statements below are very simple:
A.1 Yes-No Questions:
A.1.1 Do you like Coca-Cola? to like suka
Anda suka Coca-Cola?
A.1.2 Does he live in Surabaya? to live tinggal
Dia tinggal di Surabaya?
A.1.3 Did he go to Europe? to go pergi
Dia pergi ke Eropa?
A.2 Negative Statements:
A.2.1 He does not work here.
Dia tidak bekerja di sini.
A.2.2 They do not live in Surabaya.
Mereka tidak tinggal di Surabaya.
A.2.3 He did not go to Europe.
Dia tidak pergi ke Eropa.
A.2.4 Saya tidak tahu.
I donít know.
A.3 Negative Questions
There are two versions:
An Indonesian negative question can be made a question by putting a question-mark in writing and raising raising the voice in speech:
A.3.1.1 - Dia tidak bekerja di sini.
? Dia tidak bekerja di sini?
(broken English) - He does not work here?