Indonesian Suffix -lah (Theory – Formula – Example)

Selamat datang! Welcome back!

After learning about Forming Indonesian Words Using Indonesian Affixes, this time we will get deeper to one specific suffix, which is Indonesian suffix ‘-lah’. You might hear this suffix in many of Indonesian people oral conversation. But, do you really understand how to use it? Therefore, right know let’s get more familiar with it.

As you know in previous 9 Types of Indonesian Suffixes article, the suffix -lah is an affix that very unique. Rather than form a specific part of speech, it is functioned more to build more soften SENSE. On the other words, it is more about feeling because the usage is very optional depends on the individual. It is similar with the sense when you choose to pick ‘do not’ rather than ‘don’t’ or ‘wanna’ rather than ‘want to’. Therefore, it is based on each language speaker.

Furthermore, the suffix -lah is added to verb in imperative sentence. Take a look of these common usage of suffix ‘-lah’.

  • Sudah! = Stop it!/Get over it!
    Sudahlah! = Stop it (please)!/Get over it (please)!

As I said. the suffix ‘-lah’ is used to build softer sense. It imply an implicit ‘please’ or ‘begging’, differ with the word without Indonesian Suffix -lah. Therefore, it becomes more polite to ask someone to do a favor when you used suffix ‘-lah’. Here are other common examples.

  • Berdiri – Berdirilah (Stand up)
  • Duduk – Duduklah (Sit down!)
  • Tidur – Tidurlah (Go to sleep!)
  • Masuk – Masuklah (Get in!)
  • Keluar – Keluarlah (Get out!)
  • Pergi – Pergilah (Go away!)
  • Makan – Makanlah (Eat!)
  • Minum – Minumlah (Drink!)
  • Coba – Cobalah (Try this!)
  • Jual – Jualah (Sell it!)
  • Beli – Belilah (Buy it!)

Example in a complete sentence

  • Tuntutlah ilmu sampai ke negeri Cina! (Seek knowledge until as far as China!)
  • Jadilah seorang yang sukses! (You should become a success man!)
  • Kuasailah bahasa sebanyak-banyaknya (Master languages as much as you can!)

Read also: Indonesian Suffix -Kan and Indonesian Infixes

Indonesian Suffix ‘-lah’ Combination

Furthermore, in Bahasa Indonesia you will also you find many combinations of affixes, such as Indonesian Prefixes and Suffixes, double prefixes or double suffixes. In this case, could also combine Indonesian Suffix -lah with other suffixes. The most common combination is

  • root word + suffix ‘-kan’ + suffix ‘-lah’

As you know, the suffix -kan is used to form a verb for imperative sentence which must be followed by an object. Moreover, there are words that should be added suffix ‘-kan’ before ‘-lah’, while others has both forms. Here are the example.

Must be added with ‘-kan’

  • Maaf (forgive)
    – Maaflah = (not grammatically correct)
    – Maafkan = Forgive (imperative)
    – Maafkanlah = Forgive (imperative)  
  • Suara (voice)
    – Suaralah = (not grammatically correct)
    – Suarakan = Speak up!
    – Suarakanlah = Speak up!
  • Bunyi (sound)
    – Bunyilah = (not grammatically correct)
    – Bunyikan = Play (music instrument)
    – Bunyikanlah = Play (music intrument)

Words which have several forms (-kan, -lah, -kanlah)

In this occassion, the root words could be added by either suffix -kah or -lah, as well as both suffixes. Take a look at these following examples.

  • masuk (get in)
    masukkan (get/put [something] in) – imperative
    Masukkan buku saya ke dalam tas (Put my book in my bag)
    masuklah (get in!) – imperative
    Masuklah, Tono! (Get in please, Tono)
    masukanlah (get/put [something] in] – imperative
    Masukkanlah buku kalian ke dalam tas (Put your book in your bag)  
  • buat (make/do)
    buatkan (make something to someone) – imperative
    — Buatkan saya makan (Cook me some food!)
    buatlah (do it!) – imperative
    — buatlah sebuah karya (Write a story, please!)
    buatkanlah (make something to someone) – imperative
    — buatkanlah saya tulisan (Write me a store, please!)
  • beli (buy)
    belikan (buy [for someone]) – imperative
    — Belikan ibu nasi (Buy some rice for mom)
    belilah (buy) – imperative
    — Belilah nasi di pasar (Buy some rice at the market, please!)
    belikanlah (buy [for someone]) – imperative
    — Belikanlah ibu nasi (Buy some rice for mom)

Furthermore, the suffix -lah may also be found in literature works because it is usually used in Old-Malay Literature (Literature before Modern Indonesian Literature). It is one of the style of Indonesian Language which called reverse sentence (a sentence when the formula S-V reversed into V-S). Therefore, the Subject is following the Verb. Here take a look at this comparison!

  • Subject + Verb
    Ia masuk ke dalam rumah (She is coming into the house)
  • Verb + Subject
    Masuklah ia ke dalam rumah (She is coming into the house)
  • Subject + Verb
    Chelsea menang atas Manchester City (Chelsea beat Manchester City)
  • Verb + Subject
    Menanglah Chelsea atas Manchester City (Chelsea beat Manchester City)
  • Subject + Verb
    Adik menangis (Little brother is crying)
  • Verb + Subject
    Menangislah adik (Little brother is crying)

Because, it is usually found in Old-Malay Literature, it is not surprising that you may found it in Malay-heritage Indonesian which mostly live in Sumatra Island, as well as you may found it in Singapore-English (Sing-lish). In addition, the Indonesian Suffix -lah may also found independently in a conversation with Indonesian people, even non-Malay heritage. Sometimes, people unconsciously use it as idiolect (individual dialect) with no meaning or as a surprise/disagree/confusion expression. Take a look.

  • Kamu hati-hati lah ya (Take care)
  • Suka-sukalah (Whatever)
  • Lah. Kok begitu? (Lah. Why?)

Okay, now you know more about Indonesian Suffix ‘-lah’ and how to use it. But, of course to broaden your knowledge, I recommend you to read these following articles: