6 Indonesian Prefix Table and Examples (Fast & Easy)

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 Prefix Inflection
me- Me-





pe- Pe-






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) Meaning ber+root Meaning
agama (n) religion beragama having a religion
bahaya (adj) danger berbahaya dangerous
henti (v) stop berhenti stopping

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.

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) Meaning di+root Meaning
larang prohibit dilarang be prohibited
parkir park (v) diparkir be parked
tendang kick ditendang be 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 letter Examples
men- c, d, and j jadi –> menjadi (to become),

dapat –> mendapat (to get),

cari –> mencari (to look for)

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

fitnah –> memfitnah (to falsely accuse)

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

garuk –> menggaruk (to scratch)

hitung –> menghitung (to count)

men-, drop the initial t tulis –> menulis (to write)
mem-, drop the initial p putih –> memutih (to turn into white)
meng-, drop the initial k kurang –> mengurang (to become less)
meny-, drop the initial s satu –> 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:

Root me+root In a sentence
makan (v. transitive) (to eat) Memakan Sinta memakan sepotong roti.

Sinta is eating a slice of cake.

tangis (v. intransitive) (to cry) Menangis Bayi itu menangis.

The baby is crying.

bajak (n) (plow) Membajak Petani itu membajak sawah.

The farmer is plowing the field.

besar (adj) (big) membesar Balon 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:

Root pe+root In a sentence
ternak (cattle) Peternak Ayahku seorang peternak.

My father is a cattleman.

Bantu (to help) Pembantu Pembantu itu sedang menyapu lantai.

The housemaid is sweeping the floor.

Bor (drilling) Pengebom Pak joko adalah pengebor di proyek itu.

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

Syair (poetry) Penyair Guruku juga seorang penyair.

My teacher is also a poet.

Urus (take care of) Pengurus Saya 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.

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.