English and Indonesian/Contrastive grammar
- 1 Nouns
- 2 Pronouns
- 3 Adjectives
- 4 Verbs
- 5 Prepositions
- 6 Questions
Indefinite and Definite
In Indonesian, there is no usage of articles. For instance, translating a noun with a preceding article in English to Indonesian will render this result:
- (eng) a table → meja
- (eng) the table → meja
- (eng) a boy → lelaki
- (eng) the boy → lelaki
- (eng) a bottle → botol
- (eng) the bottle → botol
- (eng) a cat → kucing
- (eng) the cat → kucing
- (eng) a door → pintu
- (eng) the door → pintu
In English the possession is possessor before possessee. However, in Indonesian, it is possessee before possessor.
- (ind) Manusia selalu menguna obat dokter. → People always use the doctor's medicine. :: People always use medicine doctor.
- (ind) Baju putih terbesar untuk saya. → The white clothes are too big for me. :: Coat white too big for me.
- (ind) Bapak saya pergi ke sekolah. → My father went to school. :: Father my went to school.
- (ind) Ibu saya suka makan kacang. → My mother likes eating peanuts. :: Mother my likes eating peanuts.
- (ind) Kucing saya mau makan. → My cat wants to eat. :: Cat my wants eat.
In Indonesian, there is a special suffix, "-nya", to reference a particular noun in a conversation. It is an anaphoric reference to a previously defined third person possessor. Furthermore, it's written together with the noun instead of separately like first person is.
- (ind) John sedih karena ibunya marah. → John is sad because his mother is angry.
- (ind) Guru memberi Jack kerjarumahnya. → Teacher gave Jack his homework.
- (ind) Mary ambil bukunya. → Mary took her book.
- (ind) Jessica terlupa namanya. → Jessica forgot her name.
- (ind) Priscilla suka kucingnya. → Priscilla loves her cat.
- (ind) Kimiunya ulangkaji. → Chemistry is being studied by somebody.
- (ind) Ibunya marah. → Someone's mother is angry.
- (ind) Guru memberi kerjarumahnya. → Teacher gave somebody homework.
If the noun is first referenced in the conversation or text, or if the subject being referenced is ambiguous, then there is no need for "-nya".
- (ind) Bapak memberi John es-krim. → Father gave John ice cream.
- (ind) Saya bermain bola. → I played ball.
- (ind) Mary beritahu John tentang kucing baru Jack. → Mary told John about Jack's new cat.
- (ind) Mereka makan makanan malam. → They ate dinner.
- (ind) John dan Jack pergi ke perpustakaan di dalam mobil John. → John and Jack went to the library in John's car.
There is also a word, 'tersebut', that is used as a anaphoric reference for previously-mentioned objects, nouns, or ideas, from a longer text or conversation. A good translation of this word to English is "the aforementioned" or "the above".
- (ind) Memberi saya buku tersebut. → Give me the aforementioned book.
- (ind) Pencuri tersebut mencuri dompet ibu. → The aforementioned thief stole mother's wallet.
- (ind) Sila mengikuti arahan tersebut. → Please follow the aforementioned instructions.
- (ind) John membaca cerita tersebut. → John read the above story.
- (ind) Arash mencuci mobil tersebut. → Arash washed the aforementioned car.
In English, the determiner comes before the noun. But in Indonesian, the determiner comes after the noun.
- (ind) Saya suka buku itu → I like that book
- (ind) Saya suka buku ini → I like this book.
- (ind) Saya suka buku dia → I like his book.
- (ind) Saya suka rambut ia → I like its hair.
English expresses plurality explicitly by the suffixes '-s' and '-es'. Indonesian on the other hand expresses plurality implicitly. There are no definite rules on creating plural form of a word in Indonesian, except by duplicating the word in the likes of "Buku-buku" (Books) and "Beg-beg" (Bags). That means that plural form of a word can depend on the context.
For example, the sentence "Serigala itu binatang" can have three interpretations outside of context:
- (ind) Serigala itu binatang → A wolf is an animal
- (ind) Serigala itu binatang → Wolves are animals
- (ind) Serigala itu binatang → Wolf is animal
Another example is "Tukang pos selalu membawa surat" with two interpretations.
- (ind) Tukang pos selalu membawa surat → A postman always brings letters
- (ind) Tukang pos selalu membawa surat → Postmen always bring letters
Alternatively, Indonesian can express plurality explicilty with the use of the word 'banyak', which means 'many'.
- (ind) Saya ada banyak surat → I have letters
- (ind) Saya ada banyak surat → I have many letters
In Indonesian, the verb doesn't agree in number and person with the pronoun. This is unlike English.
- (ind) Saya bermain sepakbola → I play football.
- (ind) Awak bermain sepakbola → You play football.
- (ind) Dia bermain sepakbola → He plays football.
(In Indonesian, there are no distinctions between he or she.)
- (ind) Kami bermain sepakbola → We play football
- (ind) Kamu bermain sepakbola → You all play football.
- (ind) Mereka bermain sepakbola → They play football.
Terms of Address
In Indonesian, the term of address is to differentiate positions of people. It is also used to show politeness in conversation. In English, such terms are not used. English only addresses "You" to all of their interlocutors.
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Anda sudah makan? (To a formal guest)
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Awak sudah makan? (To a friend or informally)
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Bapak sudah makan? (To father)
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Ibu sudah makan? (To mother)
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Adik sudah makan? (To younger sibling)
Adjectives in Indonesian succeed the nouns they modify, unlike English which has the adjective precede the noun it is modifying.
- (ind) rambut hitam → black hair :: hair black
- (ind) ikan besar → big fish :: fish big
- (ind) anak kecil → little sister :: sister little
- (ind) lelaki tinggi → tall boy :: boy tall
- (ind) guru gemuk → fat teacher :: teacher fat
- (ind) ibu cantik → beautiful mother :: mother beautiful
- (ind) kotak tinggi → tall box :: box tall
- (ind) taxi kuning → yellow taxi :: taxi yellow
- (ind) televisyen warna → color television :: television color
- (ind) pokok epal → apple tree :: tree apple
- (ind) isteri muda → young wife :: wife young
The verb "be" may or may not have its equivalent in the Indonesian language.
- (eng) He is clever. → Dia pandai
In this sentence, the verb 'is' has no equivalent in the Indonesian language.
- (eng) He is a teacher → Dia se-orang guru
- (eng) He is a teacher → Dia ada se-orang guru
The English sentence has two grammatical Indonesian translations. In this case, the verb 'is' may or may not be translated and both are correct in Indonesian language.
- (eng) He is at home → Dia ada di rumah
The verb 'is' is usually translated into 'ada' when the sentence stands alone, but in some situations like an answer of a question: "Dimana dia?" (Where is he?), the question may be answered, "Dia di rumah". The word 'ada' is elliptic.
In Indonesian, there are verb conjugations. These conjugations are prefixes attached to the verb. These prefixes make the tense understood. In English, the subject most always has to be stated (an exception for the imperative). Below are some examples of simple past tense in English.
- I went
- You (singular) went
- He/She/It went
- We went
- You all (plural) went
- They went
- I screamed
- You (singular) screamed
- He/She/It screamed
- We screamed
- You all (plural) screamed
- They screamed
- I saw
- You (singular) saw
- He/She/It saw
- We saw
- You all (plural) saw
- They saw
However, in Indonesian, prefixes added to the verbs make the tense understood.
- (ind) Saya pergi → I went
- (ind) Awak pergi → You went
- (ind) Dia pergi → He went
- (ind) Kami pergi → We went
- (ind) Kamu pergi → You all went
- (ind) Mereka pergi → They went
- (ind) Saya menjerit → I screamed
- (ind) Awak menjerit → You screamed
- (ind) Dia menjerit → He screamed
- (ind) Kami menjerit → We screamed
- (ind) Kamu menjerit → You all screamed
- (ind) Mereka menjerit → They screamed
- (ind) Saya melihat → I saw
- (ind) Awak melihat → You saw
- (ind) Dia melihat → He saw
- (ind) Kami melihat → We saw
- (ind) Kamu melihat → You all saw
- (ind) Mereka melihat → They saw
Below are the same verbs translated to present perfect tense from Indonesian to English. In the simple present tense, the prefixes change because the tense changed.
- (ind) Saya dipergi → I have gone
- (ind) Awak dipergi → You have gone
- (ind) Dia dipergi → He has gone
- (ind) Kami dipergi → We have gone
- (ind) Kamu dipergi → You all have gone
- (ind) Mereka dipergi → They have gone
- (ind) Saya dijerit → I have screamed
- (ind) Awak dijerit → You have screamed
- (ind) Dia dijerit → He has screamed
- (ind) Kami dijerit → We have screamed
- (ind) Kamu dijerit → You all have screamed
- (ind) Mereka dijerit → They have screamed
- (ind) Saya dilihat → I have seen
- (ind) Awak dilihat → You have seen
- (ind) Dia dilihat → He has seen
- (ind) Kami dilihat → We have seen
- (ind) Kamu dilihat → You all have seen
- (ind) Mereka dilihat → They have seen
Prepositions in Indonesian follow a similar format to English, but there is only one word to indicate it is a preposition, "di", with the direction modifier behind it. "di" alone means "at".
- (eng) above the table → di atas meja
- (eng) below the table → di bawah meja
- (eng) near me → di dekat saya
- (eng) far from me → di jauh saya
- (eng) He is at home. → Dia ada di rumah.
In Indonesian, a different word is used to indicate "to" depending on the context. If the subject is moving to a place, the Indonesian equivalent is "ke". But if the subject is receiving an object from another person, the Indonesian equivalent is "kepada". The "pada" suffix indicated receiving something from another person.
- (eng) He went to school. → Dia pergi ke sekolah
- (eng) Father gave him a letter. → Bapak memberi surat kepada dia.
Open Ended Questions
In English, we put the question word at the front, then the auxiliary verb, then the subject, e.g. "When will you be back?". In Indonesian, "-kah" is attached to the question word, which goes at the beginning of the question. So, the above is translated into "Bilakah awak pulang?". Remember that the verb 'be' need not be translated as well.
- (eng) How did you win? → Bagaimanakah awak jaya? :: How you win?
- (eng) Why did you win? → Mengapakah awak jaya? :: Why you win?
- (eng) When did you win? → Bilakah awak jaya? :: When you win?
- (eng) Who won? → Siapakah menjaya? :: Who won?
In English, we put our auxiliary verbs at the beginning, followed by the subject, followed by the main verb phrase, e.g. "Did you paint the house?". In Indonesian, the auxiliary verb is also omitted, but the question word is not necessarily at the start of the sentence. In fact, in some cases, '-kah' is not necessary.
- (eng) Are you hungry? → Awak laparkah? :: You hungry?
- (eng) Have you eaten? → Awak sudah makan? :: You already ate?
- (eng) Have you painted the house? → Awak sudah mencatkan rumah? :: You already painted house?
- (eng) Will you come tomorrow? → Adakah awak datang hari esok? :: Have you arrived tomorrow?