11 Differences between Indonesian and English Grammar

Grammar can be considered as the bone of a language. It rules the language in a way people can understand it. Every language has its own grammar even though it comes in different form. Indonesia has been said as one of few languages with easiest grammar.

However, the grammar is still there when you want to learn the proper language. Also learn more about similarities between Malay and Indonesia.

Compared to English grammar, Indonesian grammar may not be as complicated. However, the level of difficulty and general pattern of both grammars are different. In this article, we are going to discuss about the differences between Indonesian and English grammar. Also learn about the difference between ‘kami’ and ‘kita’.

  1. Bahasa Indonesia is still considered as root-based language in which root words are used in sentences. The classification of the root words is also quite complete and clear. In English, root words are no longer used and some even forgotten. This is because the study of root words is not useful as sentence building does not use it anymore. However, there are some root words derivations which remain popular to these days.
  2. English has the concept for verb tenses but in Bahasa Indonesia, there is no similar concept. Bahasa Indonesia uses adverb of time to indicate time difference instead of verb tenses.
  3. Bahasa Indonesia perhaps is one of the few languages which do not have gender such as male, female, and neutral pronouns. Even though in English gender only for pronoun, but other sentence rule may be affected.
  4. The concept of plural in English and Bahasa Indonesia is very different. In English, the concept of plural is to add ‘s’ as plural suffix after the noun. However, in Bahasa Indonesia, the concept of plural uses reduplication words or other words which indicate that the noun is ‘more than one’. Also learn about Indonesian communication style.
  5. Even though both English and Indonesia use the same Latin alphabets, however, the pronunciation between both languages is different. The difference of alphabet pronunciation may not drastically but it affects the general pronunciation.
  6. Pronunciation is indeed important in both languages. However, in English, different pronunciation may result in different meaning. In some cases, same word with the same pronunciation may have more than one meaning i.e. can, mean, and so on. In Indonesia, this kind of case is very rare since most words have only one meaning.
  7. In English, we have to pay more attention to the verbs because it changes based on the time and the pronoun i.e. I go, you go, she goes, it goes, and so on. There is no similar concept or whatsoever in bahasa Indonesia because the verbs simply do not change.
  8. There are some differences between Indonesian and English grammar. The use of hyphens in bahasa Indonesia is very different from English. In English, hyphen is used compound adjective and noun. However, in bahasa Indonesia, hyphen is used to repetition of the same words of almost the same words.
  9. The word between Bahasa Indonesia and English is also very different. In bahasa Indonesia, the word formation is noun + adj/adv i.e. mobil baru, kucing lucu, makanan lezat, and so on. In English, the word formation is the reverse form of Indonesian word formation for example new car, cute cat, delicious food, and so on. 
  10. Pronoun in English and Bahasa Indonesia is not different much, but the difference is quite fundamental. In English, we do not actually there is gender difference for pronoun but in Indonesia there is no gender difference.
    However, in Bahasa Indonesia the form of pronoun is way much more than in English because there is politeness consideration. For example, you cannot just call anybody with general ‘you’ like in English. It is important to see who we are talking to. Also learn more about the difference between ‘kamu’ and ‘anda’.
  11. As the pronoun in both languages is slightly different, the way of addressing other people is also different. If in English it is fine to call other people, even older one, by their names; do not even dare to do the same in Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia has strong influence with the culture which undeniably still strongly holds the value of politeness including when addressing people. When you want to address other people in Indonesia, it is important to consider their age, gender, and occupation level.
    For example you can call older men with bapak/pak, om, and mas, but you can also call other people from their occupation such as pak dokter, bu guru, pak presiden, pak tentara, and so on. Also learn about Indonesian communication system.

The differences between Indonesian and English grammar still goes the long way. However, you do not need to find all when learning the language. Learning a language is a matter of habit; when speaking in Bahasa Indonesia is a habit, you can speak the language fluently.