Indonesian Prefix Pe- (Formula and Examples)

Indonesian words are mostly formed with combination of root words, prefix, suffix, affix, and infix. The addition of prefix to root word may create a new word with different meaning.

Indonesian Prefix Pe-

In this post we are going to discuss about the use of prefix pe-. Also learn more about Indonesian root words before continuing to the use of prefix.

Sound changes

First letter Inflection Root word Prefix pe- Meaning
l

m

n/ny

r

w

Pe- + root Lupa

Masak

Nyanyi

Rusak

Waris

Pelupa

Pemasak

Penyanyi

Perusak

Pewaris

Forgetful person

Cooker

Singer

Destroyer

Heir

Vowel

g

h

Pe- + ng+root Usaha

Garis

Hisap

Pengusaha

Penggaris

Penghisap

Businessman

Ruler

Inhalator

b

f

Pe- + m+ root Bakar

Fitnah

Pembakar

Pemfitnah

Burner

Slanderer

c

d

j

Pe- + n+ root Cipta

Datang

Jemput

Pencipta

Pendatang

Penjemput

Creator

New comer

Picking up someone

P Pe-+m+root (drop the ‘p’) Pasang Pemasang Installer
K Pe+ng+root (drop the ‘k’) Kemas Pengemas Packer
T Pe-+n+root (drop the ‘t’) Tunjuk

Terima

Penunjuk

Penerima

Pointer

Receiver

S Pe-+ny+root (drop the ‘s’) Sebar

Simpan

Penyebar

Penyimpan

Spreader

Keeper

In few cases, the prefix pe- can have two forms to create two different words.

Indonesian Prefix Pe- Examples 

It can be a little bit tricky but should be noted because the meaning may be very different.

  • Cinta (love) → Pecinta (a fan of) and Pencinta (lover)

In general form, ‘n’ should be added for word with starting letter ‘c’ but in this case, it can be used with or without ‘n’.

  • Tunjuk (pointed) → penunjuk (pointer, indicator) and petunjuk (instructions)

In this case, the root word can be used with prefix pe- with or without dropping the first letter.

  • Jabat (take a hold of) → penjabat (acting minister) and pejabat (official minister)  

Indonesian Prefix Pe- Function

In general, prefix pe- is used to indicate a person/doer of certain actions. It can also be used to explain character of a person and form a noun which explains what the noun does. It has the same function as suffix –er in English which explain a doer. Also learn about common Indonesian words you need to know.

Indonesian prefix Pe- + verbs to explain the doer of the action

When combined with transitive verbs, prefix pe- has the function to describe a doer or person who does the action.

Roots Prefix pe- Meaning
Tulis Penulis Writer
Tolong Penolong Helper
Nyanyi Penyanyi Singer

In some cases, prefix pe- can also describe a person’s profession when combined with action verbs. Take a look at below example:

  • Sepak bola (football) → pesepak bola (football player)
  • Balap (race) → pebalap (racer)
  • Didik (teach) → pendidik (teacher) 

Indonesian prefix Pe- + verbs to explain tool or equipment

Prefix pe- combined with intransitive verbs has the function to describe tool. It is used to inanimate objects which are used when action is performed. Also learn about Indonesian descriptive words.

Root words Prefix pe- Meaning
Bersih Pembersih Cleaner
Cetak Pencetak (mesin) Printer
Garis Penggaris Ruler
Potong Pemotong Cutter

It is important to note that sometimes words with prefix pe- have more than one meaning which can be quite different. The meaning strongly depends on the context of the sentence. Take a look at below example.

  • Potong (cut) → pemotong (cutter)

Literary, potong with prefix pe- means pemotong but it actually has two meaning which are alat potong (a tool to cut or cutter) and tukang potong (a person who cut).

  • Bakar (burn) → pembakar (burner)

Pembakar also has two meaning which are alat untuk membakar (burner or fireplace) and seorang yang membakar (person who burn).

Also learn about Indonesian Verb Prefixes Phonology

Indonesian Prefix Pe- + adjectives to explain character

Prefix pe- when paired with adjectives has the function to explain character of a person. However, not all adjectives can be paired with adjectives to describe character of a person. Also learn Indonesian adjective words.

  • Malu (shy) → pemalu (shy person, adjectives)
  • Marah (angry) → pemarah (ill tempered, adjectives)
  • Cemburu (jealous) → pencemburu (jealousy person, adjectives)
  • Sendiri (alone) → penyendiri (looner, adjectives)
  • Muda (young) → pemuda (youngster, noun)

However, not all Indonesian prefix pe- + adjectives are used to describe character of a person. It is best to observe the context of the sentence because there is nothing exact in learning language. Cultural as well as historical background plays important part in language’s development. Also learn more about high frequency words in Indonesia.