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6 Indonesian Prefix Table and Examples (Fast & Easy)

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How do you say “a former president” in English? Some people would answer by “an ex-president”. Let’s breakdown the phrase “an ex-president”. This phrase consists of “an”; “ex”; and “president”. In this phrase, the headword is “president” because it has the most important meaning, “an” is the determiner that convey the number of the noun itself, and the last is “ex” which is a prefix that give an additional information regarding the headword. This article about Indonesian Prefix Table will inform you more about the use of prefix in Indonesian.


Do you know what a prefix is?

As you learn more about Indonesian, you might encounter some additions that accompanied verbs or nouns that resulting another meaning of the word. This could be confusing if you don’t really know the meaning. For instance, the word “jalan” means street. However, if it is preceded by a prefix “ber-“ and become “berjalan” the meaning changes into to take a walk. Another example is the word “sepatu” which means shoes. If you put “ber-“ before it, you will find the word “bersepatu” meaning “wearing a pair of shoes”.

Is it confusing? If so, you come to the right place. Now move to the discussion. You may want to learn Indonesian Affixes

Look at the table below. This table shows you the prefixes that is used in Indonesian. You could refer to this table to ease you in learning as you read this article further.

Root PrefixInflection











As shown in the Indonesian prefix table above, there are only six main prefixes that is used with several inflections on two of them. Now let’s discuss one by one of all the prefixes.

1. Prefix Ber-

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.

Example (root)Meaningber+rootMeaning
agama (n)religionberagamahaving a religion
bahaya (adj)dangerberbahayadangerous
henti (v)stopberhentistopping

So, if you put it into sentences, it will be:

  1. Saya beragama –> I am a Christian
  2. Pencuri itu berbahaya –> That thief is dangerous.
  3. Dia berhenti di depan rumah saya. –> He/she is stopping in front of my house.
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2. Prefix Di-

This prefix is associated with verbs. Using this prefix results a term that is called passive voice in English. In other words, every verb that is preceded by this prefix is considered as an action that has been done by someone onto something. Look at the examples:

Example (root)Meaningdi+rootMeaning
larangprohibitdilarangbe prohibited
parkirpark (v)diparkirbe parked
tendangkickditendangbe kicked

In sentences, it would be like these sentences:

  1. Pemuda itu dilarang masuk oleh seorang petugas. –> That man is prohibited by an officer.
  1. Mobil saya diparkir di basemen. –> My car is parked in the basement.
  1. Bola itu ditendang oleh Ronaldo. –> The ball is kicked by Ronaldo.

3. Prefix Me-

If the prefix di- is associated by the passive voice in English, then the prefix me- is associated with the active voice in English. However, unlike the prefix di-, the prefix me- has several inflections depending on what letter is initiating the root words. You can see the inflections in the first table in the beginning of this article.

This table below help you to determine when to use one of the variation of the prefix me-

Inflection of me-Initial letterExamples
men-c, d, and jjadi –> menjadi (to become),

dapat –> mendapat (to get),

cari –> mencari (to look for)

mem-b, f, and vberi –> memberi (to give),

fitnah –> memfitnah (to falsely accuse)

meng-vowels, g, and huji –> menguji (to test)

garuk –> menggaruk (to scratch)

hitung –> menghitung (to count)

men-, drop the initialttulis –> menulis (to write)
mem-, drop the initialpputih –> memutih (to turn into white)
meng-, drop the initialkkurang –> mengurang (to become less)
meny-, drop the initialssatu –> menyatu (to unite)

There is no q, x, and z, in original Indonesian. Therefore, the inflection for these initial letter is adapted from the nearest sound. The other initial letters are left unchanged if preceded by this prefix. Furthermore, one syllable words will always change the prefix into menge-. Therefore, it would be mengecat (to paint) for the word cat (paint).

The prefix me- could be combined with every part of speech in Indonesian. For example:

Rootme+rootIn a sentence
makan (v. transitive) (to eat)MemakanSinta memakan sepotong roti.

Sinta is eating a slice of cake.

tangis (v. intransitive) (to cry)MenangisBayi itu menangis.

The baby is crying.

bajak (n) (plow)MembajakPetani itu membajak sawah.

The farmer is plowing the field.

besar (adj) (big)membesarBalon itu membesar.

The balloon is getting bigger.

There is a note to be taken. Not all intransitive verbs in Indonesian can be associated with this prefix. Most of them tend to stand alone. For example, the word tidur (to sleep). Instead of saying menidur, it is best to say tidur.

Bayi itu sedang tidur.

The baby is sleeping.

When someone say to you using a word that has this prefix, you could also negate them if you now it is not true. Try indonesian conjunctions.


4. Prefix Pe-

The use of prefix pe- is similar to the use of the ending -er in English nouns which means the actor of an action. Even though there are different inflections, the meaning stays the same. As explained in the prefix me- above, the inflections occur depending on the initial letter of the word.

For example:

Rootpe+rootIn a sentence
ternak (cattle)PeternakAyahku seorang peternak.

My father is a cattleman.

Bantu (to help)PembantuPembantu itu sedang menyapu lantai.

The housemaid is sweeping the floor.

Bor (drilling)PengebomPak joko adalah pengebor di proyek itu.

Mr. Joko is the operator of the drill in that project.

Syair (poetry)PenyairGuruku juga seorang penyair.

My teacher is also a poet.

Urus (take care of)PengurusSaya menjadi pengurus perusahaan.

I am taking care of the firm.

5. Prefix Se-

This prefix usually used to substitute the word satu (one) as in one apple à sebuah apel. However, it is also functioning into other use:

  • To indicate one item:

Buah (n) (piece as in a piece of) –> sebuah  (a piece of)

  • To mean completely affected by

Penuh (adv) (full) –> sepenuh (completely)

  • To mean similar

Ragam (adj) (variety) –> seragam (similar)

  • To indicate the same occurrence time

Sudah (adv) (finished)  –> sesudah (subsequent to)

There is also another term to be use rather than the prefix se- to indicate the occurrence time. It is called indonesian conjunctions.

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6. Prefix Ter-

There are two possible use of this prefix:

When it is preceding an adjective root word, it is resulting into a superlative form:

  • Besar (big) –> terbesar (the biggest)
  • Baru (new) –> terbaru (the newest)
  • Murah (cheap) –> termurah (the cheapest)

When it is preceding a word other than adjective, it is resulting into a verb. However, in a sentence, the there is a little concern to the actor itself.

  • Catat (note) –> tercatat (noted;documented)
  • Batas (limit) –> terbatas (limited)

Here is the Indonesian prefix table that you can learn. Learning might not be easy in the beginning, but if you have enough courage to practice, you could do it eventually. You could discover something you with this list of indonesian slang words.

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Kategori : Word Formation