Indonesian Plural Forms – Types – Formula – Example

Plural forms in Indonesia are quite different from English. There is no change made of the noun to indicate plural. There are many ways to make Indonesian plural forms as the following explanation.

Also learn Indonesian plural nouns.

1. Cardinal numbers

The easiest way to make Indonesian plural is to add cardinal numbers before the noun. We also have the same pattern in English plural to add cardinal numbers. The general pattern is the same as adding cardinal numbers before the noun.

The only difference is there is no addition made for the noun. In English, we add additional  ‘s/es’ after a noun to indicates that it is plural, but in Indonesia, there is no such addition. So, the only plural marker is the cardinal numbers only. Take a look at below example.

Indonesian Singular English Indonesian plural English
Sebuah buku A book Tiga buah buku Three books
Selembar kertas A paper Lima lembar kertas Five sheets of paper
Satu buah mobil A car Enam buah mobil Six cars
Satu gelas A glass Tiga gelas Three glasses
Satu buah apel An apple Empat buah apel Four apples
Satu pasang sepatu A pair of shoes Tujuh pasang sepatu Seven pairs of shoes

Do you spot the difference? Yes, whether it is singular or plural, the noun stays the same. That is why making plural form using cardinal numbers is the easiest. Besides adding the cardinal numbers, when making Indonesian plural, it is important to add the noun attributes. For example ‘lembar’ (sheet) for paper, ‘pasang’ (pair) for slippers or shoes, and so on. However, the general noun attribute is ‘buah’ (piece).

Also learn Indonesian Plural.

2. Plural marker

Making Indonesian plural forms using plural marker is another level. Some people think that it is quite difficult because it is irregular form. This means that you have to actually understand the sentence context to be able to determine that it is plural. There are many plural markers in Bahasa Indonesia and here are some examples.

Plural marker English Sentence examples English
Banyak Many, much, lots of, plenty Ada banyak mobil di tempat parkir.

Banyak murid yang tidak masuk sekolah.

There are lots of cars in the parking lot.

Many students do not get in the school.

Semua All Semua orang tua diundang ke sekolah. All parents are invited to the school.
Beberapa Some Ada beberapa semangka yang busuk. There are some rotten watermelons.
Aneka, beraneka Various Ada beraneka jenis sepatu. There are various kind of shoes.
Bermacam-macam Various Bermacam-macam cara sudah dilakukan untuk mendapatkan hatinya Various ways has been done to get his heart.
Sejumlah Numbers of , amount of, Dia membutuhkan sejumlah uang. He needs amount of money,

Also learn Indonesian grammar exercise

3. Plural for people

The fact that Indonesian plural forms does not change in Bahasa Indonesia makes it difficult for foreign learners. In general, the plural markers above can be used for both noun and pronoun in general. However, for people in general, there is specific term to address. Indonesians use the word ‘para’ to address specific group of people. Take a look at below example.

Singular Plural English
Siswa Para siswa Students
Orang tua Para orang tua Parents
Guru Para guru Teachers

Sentence examples:

  • Para lansia mengikuti olahraga – the elders join sports program
  • Para penonton harap memasuki ruang bioskop – dear audiences, please enter the theatre room.
  • Para presiden sedang mengadakan kunjungan kenegaraan – the presidents are having national visit.

Also learn Indonesian sentence construction.

4. Reduplicated adjective

Reduplication is the common way to make plural in bahasa Indonesia. When you are in doubt, duplicate the word and it becomes plural. Plural form using reduplication can be used for almost word classes including noun and adjectives.

Singular Plural English
Buku Buku-buku Books
Cantik Cantik-cantik The beautiful
Muda Muda-mudi Youngsters
Gelas Gelas-gelas Glasses

Sentence examples:

  • Buku-buku lama akan segera dilelang – the old books will be auctioned soon
  • Model itu cantik-cantik – the models are beautiful
  • Letakkan gelas-gelas itu di daput – put the glasses in the kitchen

It seems easy, right? But, you have to be careful because plural forms using reduplication words sometimes are irregular for example, ‘muda-mudi’ (youngster).

Also learn Indonesian reduplication words.

5. Plural for pronoun

You surely have learned about plural pronouns before. The general form is to use pronoun but there are also other form of plural.

  • Kalian – you all

Kalian sudah makan? Have you all eaten?

  • Mereka – they

Mereka akan pergi hari ini – they will depart today

  • Kami – we

Kami pergi ke sekolah – we go to school

  • Orang – people

Orang Amerika suka makan burger – Americans love eat burger.

The easiest way to make Indonesian plural forms is to add cardinal numbers as we usually do in English. But when in doubt, you can simply reduplicate the word to make it plural. To make it more even easier, no change should be made for the noun.