3 Types of Indonesian Verb Prefixes Phonology

As you might have read from Indonesian Prefix Table and Examples, in learning Indonesian language, you are likely to encounter many prefixes, or short additions in the beginning of root Indonesian words that might alter the meaning of the original word. You might want to refer to that article again to review about prefixes.

The thing is, when the same prefix is added to different root words, the sound of the new word produced might be different.  This is because of the interaction of the sounds from both the prefix and the root word, resulting in a different phonology. To clarify, let us take a look at some examples, starting from the simplest one. In this lesson, the prefix we’ll focus on will be prefix ‘me-‘ as you Learn Basic Indonesian Language with The Experts

  • Aku melempar bola (I throw a ball)
  • Aku merasa senang hari ini (I feel happy today)
  • Apa kamu bisa memasak? (Can you cook)

In all these examples, the prefix ‘me-‘ is pronounced the way it is, so when you pronounce each underlined word, it becomes me-lem-par, me-ra-sa, and me-ma-sak. But how would you use the same Indonesian Verb Prefixes Phonology in different words?

  1. Adding ‘ng’

Aku me-hitung sampai sepuluh (I count to ten)

If you want to use the same prefix ‘me-‘ for the root word hitung (count), you can’t simply use the prefix as it is. You need to add certain letters to ‘blend’ the prefix and the root word, so it becomes:

  • Aku menghitung sampai sepuluh
    This rule applies to some other words, for example:
  • Aku sudah menghafal resep ini (I have memorized this recipe)
  • Ia sangat ahli menggambar (He is very skilled in drawing)

As a general rule, the ‘meng-‘ prefix usually applies to root words that begin with letters G, H, and vowels.

  1. Eliminating letters from the original word

Some other root words are more unique as to blend it with a prefix, you need to eliminate certain letters. How to Speak Indonesian Words Fast? Take the word tangis as an example. In its basic form, it means cry as a noun. To make it into a verb, you can add the prefix ‘me-‘, but—yep, you guessed it—not as it is. It would be very awkward to pronounce it as metangis. So what do you do? You eliminate letter ‘t’ and replace it with letter ‘n’ so that they all blend better in the ear. This usually works for root words that start with T.

Bayi itu menangis sepanjang perjalanan (The baby cries throughout the journey)

  1. Adding ‘m’

For some other words, you don’t eliminate letters from the original word, but add an ‘m’ to blend, like:

Bisakah Anda membantu saya? (Can you help me?)

You might have guessed that the root word there is bantu which means help (noun). To make it into a verb, you add ‘me’-, but the letter ‘m’ is added between the prefix and the root word.

So those are some basic rules related to Indonesian Verb Prefixes Phonology. Is Indonesia an Easy Language to Learn? Yes! You don’t have to memorize them, but it is good as a background knowledge as you learn more about Basic Indonesian Tenses with Examples. Happy practicing!