Indonesian grammar is not as complex as English grammar. There is no verb changing to indicate past, present, and future. Adverb of time and certain conjugation are used to form the tenses. Different from other languages, there is no ending to attach to the verbs due to tenses change or object gender.
Indonesian Verbs Conjugation
In Bahasa Indonesia, verbs are conjugated according to the tenses. There will be additional words and affixes to indicate when an action in the sentence is happening. Take a look at below example for further explanation of verbs conjugation and the changes according to the tenses. Also learn forming Indonesian words using affixes.
Present tense in Indonesia
Present tense in bahasa Indonesia explains when an action happens right now. It can also explain habits, occurrence of action in near future, and state of being. Suffix, prefix, and affix may be added to the verb to indicate that an action is happening in the present. In most cases, adverbs of time are also added to mark when an action happens such as sekarang (now) and saat ini (right now). Also learn Indonesian sentence construction.
- Saya berbicara dengan ibu sekarang (I talk to mother now)
- Matahari bersinar setiap pagi (the sun rises every morning)
- Teman saya bepergian dengan keluarganya saat ini (my friend travels with his family right now)
- Saya memberi makan kucing sekarang (I feed the cat now)
- Adik pergi berenang hari ini (sister goes swimming today)
Past tense in Indonesia
In bahasa Indonesia, past tense is used when an action or activity has happened in the past time or before other events happened. In past tense, the verbs do not change but it uses additional adverbs as time markers.
1. Simple Past tense
In simple past tense, the word ‘telah’ (formal) and ‘sudah’ (informal) is used before the verb. Take a look at below example:
- Saya sudah berbicara dengan ayah (I spoke to daddy)
- Rina sudah pergi ke kampus (Rina went to campus)
- Saya sudah berbelanja kemarin (I went shopping yesterday)
2. Past distant tense
Past distant tense is used to explain an activity or action which had done for a long time ago. This tense is similar to past perfect tense. The word ‘dulu’ or ‘dahulu’ is used to indicate that certain action had done in a long time ago. The word ‘dulu’ means that something happens in a really long time and the duration is not specified. Also learn Indonesian descriptive words.
- Saya dulu sekolah di Jakarta (I went (a long time ago) to school in Jakarta.
- Dia dulu seorang guru (she was a teacher (a long time ago)
- Indonesia dulu pernah dijajah oleh Belanda (Indonesia had colonialized bby Dutch)
3. Past Recent Tense
Past recent tense is used when an activity of action has done in just recent time. It should be in the hours time span. The word ‘tadi’ (just recently) is used to explain the time.
- Saya membeli nasi goreng tadi ( I (recently) bought fried rice)
- Dia mengambil uang di dompet tadi (she (recently) took some money in the purse)
- Ibu tadi memasak ikan dan nasi (mom (recently) cooked rice and fish.
4. Past Very Recent Tense
Past very recent tense explains an activity or action which happens in a very recent time. It should be in minutes time span. The word “baru saja” (just now) is used to explain the time duration. Also learn Indonesian sentence structure.
- Ayah baru saja pergi ke kantor (Father (just now) went to office)
- Dian baru saja memasak nasi (Dian (just now) cooked rice)
- Frida baru saja mencuci baju (Frida (just now) washed her clothes)
Future tense in Indonesia
Past future tense is a verb form used to describe even which are not happened yet, but expected to happen. The word ‘akan’ (will) indicates that an action is not yet happen but it will in the future. Future tense in Bahasa Indonesia is classified into two types as the following.
1. Future recent tense
Future recent tense is used to explain an action which is going to happen in the short time. Using the word ‘nanti’, future recent tense predicts actions or events to happen in short time.
- Saya akan pergi (I will go)
- Nanti saya akan pergi ke rumah kamu (I will go to your house later)
- Saya akan makan kue (I will eat the cake)
2. Future distant tense
Future distant tense talks about actions or activity which are not going to happen in short time by using eth word ‘kelak.
- Saya kelak akan membeli mobil baru (I am going to buy a new car)
Present continuous tense in Indonesia
Similar to English, present continuous tense in Indonesia is used to explain an event or activity which is happening right now. It uses the word ‘sedang’ or ‘tengah’ to explin the continuity.
- Saya sedang menulis (I am writing)
- Dia sedang makan (she is eating)
When learning verb conjugation in Indonesia, it is important to remember that the affixes are not always attached to the verbs to indicate different tenses. Sometimes the verbs are in with root form and it is added adverb of time to indicate the tenses.