10 Ways to Learn Indonesian Plural – Definition – Examples

Do you know and understand the differentiation between plural and singular? Plural means more than one, while singular is singular which means one. Every language has plural and singular words with different rules. You may learn some strict rules about plural in some languages while you may learn easily plural in some languages without any strict rules. For instance, plural in Indonesia has no strict rules like French or English.

How to form and learn Indonesian plural depends on how words are formed. In Indonesian, we have to learn plural or singular words in nouns. The question is how to form and learn Indonesian plural? If there is singular or plural nouns in English, then Indonesian has plural and singular nouns. ‘’Boy’’ becomes ‘’Boys’’ in English which means one boy becomes two or more than one boys. In Indonesian, ‘’anak’’ becomes ‘’anak-anak’’ which means one child becomes two or more children.

There are some rules in changing singular into plural in English, while Indonesian doesn’t need those things strictly because there will be only the repetition of words in Indonesia. It is easy, isn’t it? In this section, we will be focusing on plural adjectives and nouns, how to form and learn Indonesian plural, the example of the words and sentences along with its explanation. Remember, how to form and learn Indonesian plural is easy if we know the singular in basic words.

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First of all, we are going to discuss about regular plural forms.

Regular Plural Form in Indonesia

In regular plural form in Indonesia, we only need words repetition in twice. These are singular nouns change into plural noun

Singular Plural Meanings
Mobil Mobil- mobil Cars
Lampu Lampu- lampu Lamps
Buku Buku- Buku Books
Pulpen Pulpen- pulpen Pens
Bantal Bantal- bantal Pllows

Do you understand the differentiation between singular and plural noun? Upon understanding the differentiation, now you need to apply them on sentences.

Here are the examples of Indonesian Plural on sentences:

  • Mobil- mobil itu produk dari Jepang
    Those cars made in Japan
  • Matikan lampu lampu itu!
    Turn off the lights!
  • Aku butuh koleksi bukubukumu!
    I need your books collection!
  • Masukkan pulpenpulpen itu ke dalam tasmu!
    Get those pens in your bag!
  • Bantal- bantal di atas tempat tidur
    Pillows on the bed

See? The repetition of words means plural, so it seems like easy to learn and remember

1. Nouns starting with ‘’Para’’

These nouns of plural need ‘’para’’ words in starting the words. These are singular nouns change into plural noun by using ‘’para’’.

Singular Plural Meanings
Siswa/siswi Para siswa/siswi Students
Lansia Para lansia The elderlies
Ibu Para Ibu Mothers
Guru Para guru Teachers

These kind of plural nouns have the same meaning in other plural. However, we only need word of ‘’para’’. Here are some examples on sentences:

  • Para siswa/ siswi sekalian, silahkan masuk ke kelas!
    Dear students, please get into class!
  • Para lansia itu perlu diberi perhatian lebih!
    The elderls need to give more attention!
  • Para Ibu sekalian, dipersilahkan untuk duduk!
    Dear Mothers, have a sit please!
  • Untuk para guru, tolong perhatikan cara mengajar kalian!
    For dear teachers, please take care of your way in teaching!

See? You only need to add ‘’para’’ word in plural nouns. Once plural, they will be plural forever.

2. How to form adjectives plural?

Adjectives plural is plural in adjectives. There is no adjectives plural in English. However, adjectives plural exists in Indonesian. These are some adjectives plural in words:

Singular Plural Meanings
Cantik Cantik- cantik Beautiful
Ganteng Ganteng- ganteng Handsome
Muda Muda- muda Young
Pintar Pintar- pintar Clever
Bodoh Bodoh- bodoh Stupid
Jelek Jelek- jelek Ugly

We can see that adjectives plural in Indonesian is exist. Although adjectives in English is uncountable, it can be plural in Indonesian. Adjectives plural shows that more than one noun have plural adjectives. These are some examples on sentences:

  • Cewek- cewek itu cantik- cantik, ya?
    The girls are beautiful, aren’t they?
  • Cowok- cowok yang sedang berdiri itu ganteng- ganteng
    The boys who are standing there are handsome
  • Mereka masih muda- muda
    They are still young
  • Anak- anak itu pintar- pintar
    Those kids are clever.
  • Kenapa mereka bodoh- bodoh ya?
    Why are they so stupid?
  • Dua anak laki-lakinya jelek- jelek
    Her two sons are ugly.

See? The plural adjectives used when plural nouns have its own adjectives. And the adjectives itself has plural adjectives.

Irregular Plural Form in Indonesian

Irregular Plural Form in Indonesian is Indonesian plural with irregular form. We only need to add ‘’two’’, ‘’three’’, etc., in Indonesian Plural. These are some Indonesian plural you need to know:

Singular Plural
Seorang anak/ a child dua anak/ two children
Seekor burung/ a bird tiga burung/ three birds
Sebuah pulpen/ a pen dua pulpen/ two pens
Seorang wanita/ a woman empat wanita/ four women
Selembar kertas/ a piece of paper Dua lembar kertas/ two pieces of paper
Setangkai bunga/ a flower Tiga tangkai bunga/ three flowers

Irregular Plural in Indonesia has no strict rules in changing words. We only need to add         ‘’two’’ or ‘’three’’ before the plural nouns. The nouns itself cannot be changed. Once ‘’burung’’,  it will be ‘’burung’’ forever although there are adding like’’ two’’ or ‘’three’’ to show that it’s plural.

The examples on sentences should be like these following:

  • Dia memiliki dua anak
    She has two children.
  • Terdapat tiga burung di jalan itu
    There are three birds on the road
  • Dua pulpen itu berwarna biru
    Those two pens are blue
  • Empat wanita tersebut sedang berdiri di depan toko
    The four women are standing in front of store.
  • Dia sedang menulis di atas dua lembar kertas.
    He is writing on two pieces of paper.
  • Wanita itu sedang menggenggam tiga tangkai bunga.
    The woman is holding three flowers.

Indonesian Irregular Plural seems like that. The examples on sentences are obviously shows us the meaning off irregular plural form in Indonesian.

In Indonesian, count of things or people who create verbs doesn’t related to nouns or verbs which is used in Indonesia. Satu buku (a book) is called ‘’buku’’ (book), dua buku (two books) is also called ‘’buku’’. It is a bit different in English when we say ‘’one man’’, it means ‘’a man’’, ‘’two men’’ means ‘’two men’’. Nouns can be changed if it is plural. However, In English, there are many nouns don’t follow this kind of rule. For instance, ‘’foot’’ becomes ‘’feet’’ in plural way. It is irregular form out of regular form.

Generally, plural in English is added by ‘’s’’, but there is an exception just like ‘’man’’ becomes ‘’men’’ as the explanation above. It cannot be changed as ‘’many mans’’. The exception is not that much, but need to memorize. While in Indonesian, we don’t have to memorize plural words. If we know the basic words I singular, we are going to know in forming plural words from the singular.

We only need repetition or we should put some counts like ’’two’’, ‘’three’’, ‘’four’’, etc. If we already use the count before the word, the word cannot be repeated. For instance, ‘’sejumlah’’ orang-orang’’ is totally wrong. We should change it into: ‘’sejumlah orang’’. See? It is without any kind of repetition.

These kind of things is very common in Indonesia, although many Indonesian people still use it in a wrong way without any reason. Something we need to remember that using the repetition all words which shows the count is more than one is not practice anyway.

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If the words only have two or three syllables, it can be accepted. However, what if there are more than three syllables such as ‘’permohonan- permohonan’’? Forming noun with prefix ‘’pe-‘’ and suffix ‘’-an’’ is productive because basic words in Indonesian have so many two syllables. At least nouns which are formed with prefix ‘’pe-‘’, and suffix ‘’-an-‘’ become four syllables and the count is uncountable.

Compound words such as ‘’surat kabar’’ and ‘’kereta api’’, if they are more than one (plural), it should be repeated becomes ‘’surat- surat kabar’’ and ‘’kereta- kereta api’’.

To learn better, let’s check out the video about how to learn basic Indonesian Plural and how to pronounce it.

Indonesian people themselves sometimes don’t think too much about this rule, so there will be complicated words. Only some of them realize this kind of rule. However, although it is complicated, Indonesian people will understand it because of the unstrict rules that have been mentioned above.

Meaning of plural in Indonesian is always related to contexts on sentences. Meaning of a word without contexts is impossible. If there is a repetition on words, it is called intact reduplication and phoneme variation in reduplication. This reduplication is a kind of reduplication related to basic words of nouns is countable noun ad uncountable noun. Learning singular and plural in Indonesian is important as we know that plural need to put on any kind of sentences based on contexts.