Indonesian Word Order – Formula – Examples

Let’s face it, you have mastered Indonesian alphabets pronunciation and some vocabularies, but the fundamental element when learning a language is getting a solid grip in the grammar. Bahasa Indonesia is known as one of the easy languages to learn because the grammar is not as complex as in English. Even though the grammar is simpler, but it does not mean that it can be omitted.

Indonesian grammar consists of tenses, word order, and so on. Learning Indonesian word order is crucial before you speak the language. While the advanced level of word order can be quite confusing but the basic word order is quite easy to understand. Take a look at below explanations of Indonesian word order. Also learn more about Indonesian Sentence Construction.

1. Indonesian Verbs

Verbs in Bahasa Indonesia is known as ‘kata kerja’ or working words. In English, we know this verb as action words. This verb serves as the centre of the sentence and it is an important part of Indonesian language. The location of the verb is also in the centre, literary. In general, the sentence formula is quite similar to English with subject + verb + object pattern.

Subject + verb + object

This pattern is the most basic word order in Bahasa Indonesia. It is quite similar to English, so, you should have no difficulties in learning this.

  • Saya (S) makan (V) nasi (O) ( I eat rice)
  • Dia (s) memakai (V) Sepatu (O) (He wears shoes)

Subject + verb + verb+ object +adverb

  • Saya (S) ingin (V) membeli (V)  sepatu (O) baru (Adv) (I want to buy new shoes)
  • Dia (S) akan (V) belajar (V) matematika (O) dengan giat (Adv) (He is going to learn math diligently)

You see the difference in the syntax? Yes, the visible difference from English syntax is the descriptive words (words that describe such as adverbs and adjectives) are in general added after the main words or the words its complement. Also learn Indonesian Descriptive Words.

To be or not to be

The verb ‘to be’ in Bahasa Indonesia does not exist in general. Perhaps, the absent of verb ‘to be’ makes people think that the language is easy. The verb ‘to be’ is not needed because the context of the sentence is simply understood that way. Take a look at below examples.

  • Dia tampan. (He [is] handsome)
  • Saya bahagia. (I [am] happy)
  • Ibu pergi ke pasar. (Mom [is] going to [the] market)

There is a word in Bahasa Indonesia which has similar meaning as verb ‘to be’. The word is ‘adalah’ and it is mostly used to describe or emphasize something and the use of the word is completely optional.

  • Edo adalah pria yang tampan. (Edo is a good looking man)
  • Dia adalah seorang mahasiswa (He is a college student)

2. Indonesian Noun

Noun word order is usually used to create genitive or possessive sentence. In Bahasa Indonesia, the pronoun does not change to indicate possession. Also learn about Indonesian Plural Nouns.

Noun + possessive pronoun

Indonesian English Remarks
Buku saya My book Bukuku
Buku dia Her/his book Bukunya
Buku kamu Your book Bukumu
Buku kami Our book
Buku kalian Your (plural) book
Buku mereka Their book

You can see that the pronouns stay the same for any type of sentence and the noun is placed in the before the pronoun. Also learn more about Indonesian Sentence Structure.

Noun + possessive noun

Indonesian English Remarks
Makanan kucing Cat’s food
Makanan kucingku My cat’s food
Gelas ayah Dad’s mug
Gelas ayahku My dad’s mug

Compound Noun

The compound noun or ‘kata gabungan’ has the opposite placement as in English. In English the explaining noun is placed before the main noun. But in Bahasa Indonesia, the explaining noun is placed after the main noun. Take a look at below examples.

Main noun + explaining noun

Indonesian English Literal translation
Buku tulis Notebook Buku: note

Tulis: write

Air minum Drinking water Air: water

Minum: drink

Jalan kembar Boulevard Jalan: street

Kembar: twin

Minyak goring Frying oil Minyak: oil

Goring: fry

Sometimes, compound nouns are also used to merge two nouns together. This kind of compound noun usually has very different meaning from the root word. Also learn about Indonesian Question Word Order.

Indonesian English Literal translation
Rumah tangga Household Rumah: house

Tangga: stairs

Muka badak Refers to shameless person, thick-skinned person Muka: face

Badak: rhinoceros

Makan hati To get disappointment Makan: eat

Hati: heart

Those are the examples and formula of Indonesian word order . The general rules are quite the same as in English but there are some points to highlights. Do not forget to check our other articles to help you enhance understanding in Bahasa Indonesia.