Learning Indonesian Prefix Ber- with Examples and Excercises

Several words in Indonesian are constructed by adding one or some other language items into the root words. This term is called by affixes. In Indonesian, as stated in another article, there are three types of affixes. They are Indonesian prefix table an (add on in the beginning of a word), Indonesian infixex (add on in the middle of a word), and suffix (add on in the end of a word). Each of them is also consisted by several more items but for now, we are going to focus on the prefix only and more specifically the prefix ber-.

A prefix is an addition to a word which is place in the beginning of a word. In other words, a prefix initiates the word itself in order to form a slightly different meaning but in a completely different word types. The prefix ber-  is one of the affixations used to make a verb or an adjective when it is combined with a root word: verb, noun, adjective. The resulting word “ber+noun” generally means to have, to wear, to travel by or “ber-noun/ber” to work. Moreover, depending on the context, ber- prefixed words may be classified as verbs or adjectives.

The verbs created with the ber- prefix are intransitive verbs. The simpler explanation of prefix ber- is: the prefix ber- is used to construct a verb which has the meaning of doing something, being something, having something, or having a certain attribute. It can be added on every type of part of speech in Indonesian. Indonesian word that is preceded by ber- has an English translation that is categorized as adjectives. In every 44 words in Indonesia, one word has this prefix.

The example of the use of Indonesian Prefix Ber- in words and the example in the sentences:

  1. Bersepatu means to wear a pair of shoes.
  2. Bernama means to have a name.
  3. Bersepeda means to travel with bicycle.
  4. Bertanya means to ask
  5. Bersekolah means go to school to

In a Indonesian sentence structures, the words would become:

  1. Saya bersepatu saat pergi ke sekolah. (I wear a pair of shoes when I go to school.)
  2. Kakek saya bernama Sudarmaji. (My grandfather’s name is Sudarmaji.)
  3. Saya bersepeda keliling kota setelah penat bekereja. (I go around the city after work by bicycle.)
  4. Kalau Anda tidak mengerti, Anda bisa bertanya kepada ibu dosen. (If you don’t understand, you may ask the teacher.)
  5. Hasan bersekolah di SMA Negeri di kota Surabaya. (Hasan goes to school to SMA Negeri in the city of Surabaya.)

Indonesian Prefix Ber- Table 

The words which use prefix that you could find in the text above are listed below:

Ber+base Base/root words meaning
Bernama Nama To have name
Berumur Umur Aged
Berumah tangga Rumah tangga Household
Bekerja Kerja To work
Bertempat tinggal Tempat tinggal Resides
Berkumpul Kumpul Gather around
Bertemu Temu Meeting
Bercerita Cerita Tell a story
Bertukar Tukar Exchange
Berteman Teman To make friend with
Bersama Sama Together
Berperahu Perahu To go by boat
Berenang Renang Swimming
Berselancar Selancar Surfing
Berjemur Jemur Sunbathing
Berlibur Libur Be on holiday/ vacation.

The prefix ber-, if combined with a Indonesian verb, it forms intransitive Indonesian verbs quite the opposite to the prefix me- which typically generates the transitive verbs.

For example:

Root: ajar meaning to teach

  • Preceded by be- it becomes belajar. In a sentence, it would be: Saya sedang belajar. (I am studying.)
  • Preceded by me- it becomes mengajar. In a sentence, it would be: Saya sedang mengajar matematika. (I am teaching math.)

Root: kendara meaning to ride/drive

  • Preceded by ber- it becomes berkendara. In a sentence, it would be: Saya sedang berkendara. (I am driving.)
  • Preceded by me- it becomes mengendarai. In a sentence, it would be: Saya sedang mengendarai mobilku. (I am driving my car.)

Exercises to Learn Indonesian Prefix Ber-

Now try to read the text below. This text contains words which have been added by the prefix ber-. This text is about a description of someone. Try to read it and find the words that use the prefix ber-.

Saya bernama Deswita, berumur 32 tahun dan sudah berumah tangga. Saya ibu dari 2 anak laki-laki berumur 5 dan 8 tahun. Saya bekerja sebagai guru SMA mengajar bahasa Indonesia. Saya bertempat tinggal di Bandung, Jawa Barat.

Dalam waktu senggang, saya senang berkebun dan memasak atau berkumpul  dengan teman-teman lama 2 kali seminggu.

Kadang-kadang saya bertemu dengan sahabat saya, Dinarti di kafe favorit kami, Kopi sedap. Di sana kami minum kopi sambil bercerita tentang keluarga, pekerjaan, kehidupan kami atau bertukar resep masakan. Suami dan anak-anak kami juga berteman baik.  Kami sering melakukan kegiatan bersama seperti berjalan pagi dan berpiknik. Seringkali, kami berlibur bersama ke pantai. Di mana kami semua bisa berperahu, berenang, dan berselancar angin atau bersantai dan menikmati semilir angin laut sambil berjemur di bawah matahari.

Setelah berlibur saya merasa segar kembali dan siap untuk kembali bekerja pada keesokan harinya.

Do you know what the text is about? Who is the author of the text? Can you tell me what is the activities of the author? What words do you find difficult to pronounce in this text?

This is the meaning in English of the text above.

My name is Deswita; I am 32 years old and married. I am the mother of two boys, aged 5 and 8. I work as a high school teacher to teach Indonesian. I reside in Bandung, West Java.

In my spare time, I enjoy gardening and cooking or get-togethers with old friends two times a week.

Sometimes, I meet my best friend, Dinarti at our favorite coffee shop, Kopi Sedap.  We drink coffee while talking about our families, work, life, or exchanging recipes. Our husbands and children are also good friends. We often do activities together like take morning walks and go on picnics. Often, we go on vacations to the beach where we all can go boating, swimming, and windsurfing or just relax and enjoy the sea breeze while basking under the sun.

After the vacation, I feel refreshed and ready to return to work the next day.

It is easy right to form and interpret the base word that is preceded by prefix ber-. The key is to keep practicing and learning then you will be able to understand more about Indonesian.