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8 Ways to Learn Indonesian Grammar Structures for Beginners

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Selamat datang, welcome to Mastering Bahasa. The best website that gives you information about Indonesian and we encourage you to learn and communicate in Indonesian. This time we will discuss Indonesian grammar along with examples of Indonesian vocabulary and their examples for your exercises. You can check our previous article in here for your other references.

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You may also read: How to Learn Bahasa

Indonesian Grammar Structures 

In the Indonesian vocabulary, we also find parts of speech same as in the English language. This topic is designed for you that consist of the 8 major parts of speech in Indonesian, with the definitions and examples. They are verb, noun, pronoun, adverb, adjective, conjunction, preposition, and interjection.

You will learn about how to use all eight-word groups below and make you understand how to use them properly in a sentence. Everything else that has to do with grammar builds on this information, so soak it all in! Thus, here are how to learn Indonesian Grammar

Kata Kerja (Verbs)

The sense of verbs is all words which describe the deeds or activities. Simply put, this verb can be understood as the words containing the meaning to perform an action. The verbs can be used to express an act, the act, processing, or work performed by the subject against the object. The verbs can be grouped based on the forms and the types.

1. The Verbs Based on Forms

The basic verbs are verbs that is not yet given a prefix and it is the foundation of a larger word. This type of words cannot make a sentence without a subject and an object but we can make it as an imperative sentence. It’s important to learn verbs to learn Indonesian grammar.

The Basic Forms of Indonesian Verbs in Sentence = Subject+Verb+Object 

Here are the Indonesian Vocabulary Examples and Meaning

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
LihatSeeSaya lihat mereka di sanaI see them there
BicaraTalkSaya bicara dengan IbuI talk to mom
LariRunDia lari ke lapanganShe runs to field
PukulPunchDia pukul sayaHe punches me
TiupBlowSaya tiup lilinI blow the candle
DengarHearSaya dengar lagu ituI hear that song
TendangKickDia tendang bolaHe kicks the ball
PegangTouchDia pegang tangankuShe touches my hand
MasakCookSaya masak nasiI cook rice
BuatMakeSaya buat spagetiI make spaghetti
KirimSendDia kirim suratHe sends a letter
AmbilTakeDia ambil bukuShe takes the book
BakarBurnSaya bakar sampahI burn trashes
BunuhKillSaya bunuh nyamukI kill mosquitos
BediriStandDia berdiri di sampingkuShe stands next to me
DapatCanDia dapat berenangHe can swim
DatangComeSaya datang terlambatI come late
MinumDrinkSaya minum jus orangeI drink orange juice
TidurSleepDia tidur di lantaiShe sleeps on the floor
TolongHelpDia tolong adikknyaHe helps his brother
DorongPushSaya mendorong mejaI push the table
TembakShootSaya tembak kalengI shoot the can.
HancurDestroyDia hancurkan bukunyaShe destroys her book
PotongCutDia memotong rumputHe cut the grass
UndangInviteSaya undang teman sayaI invite my friends

Thus, that’s the simple example of Indonesian Verbs in sentences. To get to know it better, please open your dictionary and kindly practice to write sentences in Indonesian verbs.

As imperative sentences with verbs

Here are the Indonesian Vocabulary examples and meaning in imperative sentence:

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
LihatLookJangan lihat!Don’t look!
SentuhTouchJangan sentuh!Don’t touch!
LariRunJangan lari!Don’t run!
TolongHelpTolong saya!Help me!
TembakShootJangan tembak!Don’t shoot!

Meanwhile, learning Indonesia verbs is basically the same in English sentence. Just you need to know the right vocabulary and its meaning in sentence.

2. Affix nouns

The affix nouns are the verbs that have been added with the prefix. The suffixes can be either a prefix, a suffix, infix, and prefix-suffix. This, the theory to learn how you use Indonesian grammar in sentences.

For examples of Indonesian affix noun:

  • Prefix (me- and ber-)

The Forms of Prefix (me- and ber-): Prefix + Basic Word

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Prefix + Basic Word   
Melihat (me- + lihat)Looking atSaya melihat kamuI am looking at you
Berbicara (ber- + bicara)TalkingDia berbicara kerasShe is talking loudly
Memukul (me- + pukul)PunchingSaya memukul tembokI am punching wall
Berlari (ber- + lari)RunningDia Berlari KencangHe is running fast
Memasak (me- + masak)CookingSaya memasak mieI am cooking noodles

As well, this Forms of Prefix (me- and ber-) is basically the Indonesian version simple present continuous tense (S + Tobe (is, am, are) + Ving + O/C)

  • Prefix-sufix (me- + -kan, memper- + -i, and me- + -i)

Indeed, Prefix-sufix is the way basic words of verbs, added by Prefix-sufix (me- + -kan, memper- + -i, and me- + -i) in the middle of the basic word. Meanwhile, the basic word will have just the same meaning, but in different use. Not all basic words can be added with this Prefix-sufix (me- + -kan, memper- + -i, and me- + -i). Also, there are ruls how you can add the prefix-sufix.

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Basic Word: TambahAddSaya menambahkan bumbuI add seasoning
Menambahkan
(me- + tambah + -kan)
Basic Word: SoalMatterDia mempersoalkan masalah ituHe discuss that matter
MempersoalkanDiscuss
(memper- + soal + -kan)
Basic Word: LampauOverDia melampaui batasHe exceeded the limit
MelampauiExceed
(me- + lampau + -i)

Well, this may be hard for the first learner. Yet, you can just use basic verb words in sentences. It won’t really change the meaning.

3. The verbs based on types

The next is the types of basic verbs, divided into two which is intransitive and transitive verbs.

  • Intransitive Verbs

The Intransitive words are a type of verbs that do not require an object. Because of the absence of objects, every sentence with this type of words cannot become a passive sentence.

The Forms of Indonesian Intransitive Verbs = Subject + Intransitive Verbs

For examples of Indonesian intransitive verbs

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
MenangisCryingDia menangisHe is crying
TersenyumSmilingDia tersenyumShe is smiling
BerdiriStandingSaya berdiriI am standing
TerdiamSpeechlessSaya terdiamI am speechless
TidurSleepingDia tidurShe is sleeping
MandiBathingDia mandiHe is bathing
MenguapYawningDia menguapShe is yawning
BerdoaPrayingSaya berdoaI am praying
BerlombaRacingDia berlombaHe is racing
BerpakaianDressingSaya berpakaianI am dressing

Well, you know how to use intransitive verbs in English, it’s little bit different with Indonesian intransitive verbs.

  • The Transitive Verbs

The transitive verbs is type of verbs that always require an object.

The Forms of Indonesian Transitive Verbs = Subject + Intransitive Verbs + Object 

For examples of Indonesian transitive verbs

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish SentenceObject
MembeliBuyingSaya membeli bajuI am buying clothesBaju/Clothes
MemanggilCallingSaya memanggil kamuI am calling youKamu/You
MemelukHuggingDia memeluk bantalShe is hugging a pillowBantal/Pillow
MenanamPlantingDia menanam bungaHe is planting flowersBunga/Flowers
MemperbaikiFixingSaya memperbaiki mejaI am fixing a tableMeja/Table
MenasehatiAdvisingSaya menasehati adikI am advising brotherAdik/Brother
MembuatMakingDia membuat filmHe is making a movieFilm/Movie
MemotongCuttingDia memotong dagingShe is cutting a meatDaging/Meat
MenyiramWateringSaya menyiram tanamanI am watering plantsTanaman/Plants
MemberikanGivingSaya memberikan uangI am giving moneyUang/Money
MenerimaAcceptingDia menerima hadiahShe is accepting a prizeHadiah/Prize

Indeed, Indonesia intransitive verbs included object in the sentence. So, make it a complete sentence with subject, verb, and object.

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Kata Benda (Nouns)

The sense of nouns is a type of words that describe something kind of objects, real objects/visible or invisible (abstracts), such as a person’s name, places, plants or animals, activities, behavior, and others. It has a function as a subject and an object in activities. It’s important to learn nouns to learn Indonesian grammar.

The Basic Nouns

The Basic noun is nouns that indicate the existence of an object, whether it is concrete or abstract objects. Here are some examples of their formation.

1. The Concrete objects

Just like in English, Indonesian have lists of concrete nouns, here are the example of concrete nouns in Indonesian language:

IndonesianEnglish
PakaianClothes
KertasPaper
TasBag
RumahHouse
MobilCar
BotolBottle
GelasGlass
BukuBook
KursiChair
TopiHat

Further, there are thousand Indonesian noun as concrete nouns or objects that we will discuss in the next study.

2. The Abstract Objects

Abstract noun is the amount of noun that you can’t count. Here are the example of Indonesian abstract noun:

IndonesianEnglish
UdaraAir
BencanaDisaster
IdeIdeas
PerdamaianPeace
KejujuranHonesty
KeinginanDesire
KesempatanOpportunity
KegagalanFailure
KayaRich
KesenianArt

Thus, there are thousand Indonesian noun as abstract nouns or objects that we will discuss in the next study.

3. The Derivative Nouns

The Derivative nouns are verbs that get the addition of a prefix, suffix, infix or prefix-suffix, known as affixation. Here are some examples of the process.

  • Prefix (Pe-) + Verb

Prefix (Pe-) changes verb to be noun. As well as suffix + er in English.

The Forms of  Prefix (Pe-) + Verb = Noun 

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Basic Word: LukisPaintDia seorang pelukisHe is a painter
PelukisPainter

There are more example of Prefix (Pe-) in Indonesian sentences.

  • Verb + Suffix (-an)

Suffix (-an) changes verbs to be noun in Indonesian rule.

The Forms of  Suffix (-an): Verbs + Suffix = Noun 

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Basic Word + Suffix   
Pukulan (pukul + -an)PunchPukulan dia kerasHis punch is so hard
Minuman (minum + -an)DrinkDia suka minuman ituHe likes the drink 
Makanan (makan + -an)FoodSaya suka makananI like food
Sayuran (sayur + -an)VegetablesSaya makan sayuranI eat vegetables
Undangan (undang + -an)InvitationDia kirim undanganHe sent invitation

Indeed, don’t be confused by the changes of the word class. Slow but sure we will teach how to learn Indonesian correctly.

  • Infix (-em-, -in-, -ah-, -el-, and –er-)

Where you add infix in the middle of basic word, that basically have new meaning, but still in the same noun word class.

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Basic Word: GetarShakeBadannya gemetarHer body is shaking
Gemetar (Ge + -em-+ etar)Shaking
Basic Word: KerjaWorkKinerja dia bagusHis performance is good
Kinerja (K + -in- + erja)Performance
Basic Word: DuluPastDahulu, dia adalah kekasihnyaFomerly, she was his girlfriend
Dahulu (D + -ah- + ulu)Formerly
Basic Word: GembungBloatedSaya membuat gelembungI make bubbles
Gelembung (Ge + -el- + embung)Bubbles
Basic Word: SulingFluteSaya meniup serulingI blew the flute
Seruling (Se + -er + uling)

There are more examples Infix (-em-, -in-, -ah-, -el-, and –er-). Basically, this point uses for Indonesian formal sentences.

  • Prefix (pe-) + noun + Suffix (-an)

This is where a basic word added by both prefix and suffix, and it will create new meaning.

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Basic Word: RumahHousePerumahan mereka sangat indahTheir housing is very beautiful
PerumahanHousing

Thus, there are more examples prefix (pe-) + noun + Suffix (-an)

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The Indonesian Noun Characteristics 

The characteristics of nouns based on understanding. It has three characteristics are as follows:

1. In a structure of a sentence, nouns can be used as a subject or an object.

For Example:

  • A noun as an object

Noun that uses as object in the sentence.

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
KoranNewspaperAyah membaca koranDad is reading newspaper

Meanwhile, it’s a basic use of noun like we know in English. Where noun as object uses to complete the sentence so it’s clear what the sentence means.

  • A noun as a subject

Noun (Kata Benda) that used as subject in sentence.

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
AdikBrotherAdik memeluk bonekaMy sister hugs her doll

Thus, there are many example of noun as subject such as Mother (Ibu), Father (Ayah), Friend (Teman), and many more.

2. Nouns can be followed or preceded by the denial words, not (bukan) or without (tanpa)

For example:

  • A noun with a denial word “Not (Bukan)”

This is for negative sentence when you use “Not” in English.

Indonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Saya yang meminta bantuan, bukan diaI am asking for help, not him

Well, you may practice it more using a denial word which is Not (Bukan).

  • A noun with a denial word “Without (Tanpa)”

This form of positive sentence but have negative meaning using word “without (tanpa)”

Indonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Saya dapat mengerjakaan ini tanpa bantuanI can do this without assistance

Well, you may practice it more using a denial word which is “without (tanpa)”

3. Nouns can make a linguistic meaning when it is followed by adjectives

The meaning of linguistic is meaning which doesn’t have a predicate in its structure.

For example:

Kata Benda + SifatAdjective + NounIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Tas PutihWhite BagTas putih adalah milik sayaThe white bag is mine

Based on the process of its formation, nouns are divided into two types, namely basic nouns and derivative nouns.

Here is the list of examples that use nouns for your vocabularies. Can you guess which one of the nouns as subject and object? Here is the explanation of how to learn Indonesian Vocabulary.

Indonesian SentenceSubjectObject
Daisy adalah anak pertama Daisy  Anak pertama (first child)
Dia memiliki banyak pensil Dia (He/she) Pensil (pencil) 
Ibu membeli sayuran Ibu (Mother)  Sayuran (Vegetable) 
Ayah mendegarkan musik Ayah (Father) Musik (Music)
Saya menyukai kucing Saya (I) Kucing (Cat)
Adik membeli buku Adik (Brother) Buku (Book) 
Dia membeli permen Dia (He/she) Permen (Candy)
Saya mendapatkan ide Saya (I) Ide (Idea) 
Dia menyesali kegagalannya Dia (He/she) Kegagalan (Failure) 
Dia adalah seorang dokter Dia (He/she) Dokter (Docter) 

Meanwhile, Indonesian noun is basically the same like English noun, just Indonesian have some rule points that you need to understand.

Kata Ganti (Pronouns)

In accordance with the Indonesian dictionary, kata ganti (pronouns) are type of words that have a function as a substitute word for noun or noun phrase. Meanwhile, in the common language, pronouns are type of words which is used to replace another noun, it can be people or things. They are usually used with the intention to refine the language used as well as to make a sentence more effective. It doesn’t make a sentence seem to be wordy and repeatedly.

The Indonesian Pronoun Characteristics

The characteristics of pronouns based on its use and application, they can be recognized easily by their characteristics. Below are some of the characteristics of pronoun which are as follows:

  1. The pronoun replaces a word domiciled as a subject and object in a sentence. But in some cases, it can also replace predicate position in a sentence.
  2. The position of a pronoun is not fixed.
  3. The pronoun is not only to refer one context, but it adapts to the context of a sentence. It can be changed to adjust the context of a sentence.
  4. The pronoun follows who is a speaker, reader, and who is being discussed.

The functions of pronouns are to a pointer of the perpetrator, bookmark owner, and declaring an object of a person.

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Types of Indonesian Pronoun 

Type of pronoun can be divided into 3 types. They are:

  1. Kata Ganti Orang (Personal Pronoun)
  2. Kata Ganti Petunjuk (Demonstrative Pronoun)
  3. Kata Ganti Tanya (Interrogative Pronoun)

For more detail and easy to distinguish, the pronoun can be sub-divided into 6 types, They are:

1. Kata Ganti Orang (The Personal Pronoun)

The personal pronoun is used to replace people or object. It is divided into 3 types, they are:

A. Kata Ganti Orang Pertama (First personal pronoun)

  • Kata ganti orang pertama tunggal (Singular first personal pronoun)
IndonesianEnglish
Saya, AkuI, Me

The Example of Singular first personal pronoun in Indonesian 

  1. Aku suka kamu
    (I Love You)
  2. Aku tidak tahu
    (I don’t know)
  3. Dia suka saya 
    (He likes me)
  • Kata ganti orang pertama jamak (Plural first personal pronoun)

Kata ganti orang pertama jamak (Plural first personal pronoun)

IndonesianEnglish
Kami, KitaWe

B. Kata Ganti Orang Kedua (Second personal pronoun)

  • Kata ganti orang kedua tunggal (Singular second personal pronoun)

Kata ganti orang kedua tunggal (Singular second personal pronoun)

IndonesianEnglish
Kamu, Anda, Kau dan EngkauYou
  • Kata ganti orang kedua jamak (Plural second personal pronoun)
IndonesianEnglish
KalianAll of you

C. Kata Ganti Orang Ketiga (Third personal pronoun)

  • Singular third personal pronoun (Kata ganti orang ketiga tunggal)

Singular third personal pronoun (Kata ganti orang ketiga tunggal)

IndonesianEnglish
Dia, Ia, BeliauHe or She

Dia, Ia, Beliau (in the English, these words are the same with he/she but in the Indonesian, it is used for both titles). Please read our previous article here.

  • Plural third personal pronoun (Kata ganti orang ketiga jamak)
IndonesianEnglish
MerekaThey

2. Kata Ganti Kepemilikan (The Possessive Pronoun)

The possessive pronoun is used to denote ownership of things.

For examples:

  • “aku” becomes “ku”
IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
KuMineBuku itu punyakuThat book is mine
  • “kamu” becomes “mu”
IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
MuYourIni tiketmuHere’s your ticket
  • “dia” becomes “nya”
IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
NyaBelong(s) toBuku itu miliknyaThat book belongs to him

A. Kata Ganti Petunjuk (The Demonstrative Pronouns)

The demonstrative pronouns are used to indicate a location of an object or a place which is near or far from the subject.

  • This and Here

Penggunaan “Ini and di sini” (This and Here)

IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
IniThisIni bukuThis is a book
Di siniHereLetakkan buku di siniPut the book here

These words indicate a location which is near from the subject. When you write “di sini”, please always use a space between “di” and “sini”. This shows differences between a word with affix or pronoun, because “di sini” describes that you mention a place.

  • That and There

Itu and di sana (That and There)

These words indicate a location which is far from the subject. Same as “di sini”, you should write “di sana” with a space between “di” and “sana”.

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
ItuThatItu bukuThat is a book
Di sanaThereLetakkan buku di sanaPut the book there

B. Kata Ganti Penghubung (The Relative Pronouns)

The relative pronouns are used to connect two distinct sentences between main clause and sub-clause. In addition, it is also functioned as a pronoun that connects between an object with its adjective.

For example:

  • The Relative Pronouns “It”
 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
ItuThatAku mau itu I want it

So, “that” in Indonesian actually have many meaning.

3. Kata Ganti Tanya (The Interrogative Pronouns)

The interrogative pronoun is a pronoun that used to inquire or ask for information about an event.

A. Asking people or things with interrogative pronouns

  • (What?)

Apa? (What?) 

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Apa?What?Ini apa?What is this?
  • Siapa? (Who?)

Siapa? (Who?)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Siapa?Who?Siapa mereka?Who are they?
  • (Which One?)

Yang mana? (Which One?)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Yang mana?Which?Yang mana kau suka?Which one do you like?

B. Asking time with interrogative pronouns

  • (When?)

Kapan? (When?)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Kapan?When?Kapan kamu datang?When will you come?
  • (What if)

Apabila (What if)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
ApabilaIfApabila kamu datang, mohon menghubungi sayaIf you come, please call me

C. Asking a place with interrogative pronouns

  • Di mana? / Kemana?
 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Di mana?Where?Di mana mereka?Where are they?
Ke mana?Where?Kemana mereka pergi?Where are they going?

Meanwhile, we use this interrogative pronouns to ask questions in Indonesian grammar.

D. Asking a condition with interrogative pronouns

  • (Why?)

Mengapa? (Why?)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Mengapa?Why?Kenapa dia pergi?Why she left?
  • (How?)

Bagaimana? (How?)

 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Bagaimana?How?Bagaimana ini bisa terjadi?How is this happenned?

E. Asking for a quantity with interrogative pronouns

  • Berapa? (How?)
 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Berapa?How many?Berapa banyak buku yang kamu punya?How many books do you have?

Use quantity with interrogative pronouns with “How?” such as How many times? (Berapa kali?)

4. Kata Ganti Tak Tentu (The Indefinite Pronouns)

The indefinite pronouns are used to replace a group of people or things that are numerous and erratic.

  • Masing-masing
 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
Masing-masing?EachMasing-masing memiliki sepeda?Each of them has bicycle
  • Semua (All)
 IndonesianEnglishIndonesian SentenceEnglish Sentence
SemuaAllSemua memiliki jawaban yang samaAll of you have the same answers

Meanwhile, check out this video to learn better about how to learn Indonesian grammar 

Indeed, there are many ways to understand Indonesian grammar but first of all, we need to learn about the Indonesian parts of speech with the examples of Indonesian vocabulary. Meanwhile, learning Indonesian (Bahasa) is not so hard but need to be serious. We must practice it everyday. So, let’s learn Indonesian!

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