5 Indonesian Grammar Rules - Formula and Examples - MasteringBahasa.com (2022)

Learning about a certain language means you need to have a comprehensive knowledge about its grammar. Therefore, you must also understand about the grammar rules. Between languages, there are both similar and diverse rules about grammar. This time , we will focus in 5 Indonesian Grammar Rules.

Compared to English, Indonesian Grammar Structures is quite flexible. There are no 16 types of sentences or grammatical gender. However, it does not mean that Bahasa Indonesia is easier. It has its own difficulties. Hence, let’s learn about 5 Indonesian Grammar Rules.

1. Complete and Incomplete Sentence

Without a doubt, every single language has its own rules for forming a sentence. Basically, in Indonesia a sentence contains a Subject and a Verb (Predikat in Bahasa Indonesia) that are not separable (except for imperative sentence). It is defined as complete sentence. Moreover, A complete sentence must at least consists Subject + Verb.

Here are the examples

  • Saya bermain sepak bola (I play football) – statement
    – Saya – I= subject (S)
    – Bermain – play = verb (V)
    – Sepak bola – football = complement (C)
  • Kamu sedang bermain apa? (What are you playing?) – interrogative
    – Kamu – you = subject (S)
    – Sedang bermain – are playing = verb (V)
    – Apa – what = (Question word) (QW)
  • Mainkan bola itu! (Play the ball!) – imperative
    Mainkan – play = verb (V)
    Bola itu – the ball = complement (C)

It is also possible to make reverse sentence. It is when a sentence contains a reverse S-V formula. On the other word, it becomes V-S (Verb before Subject). Usually, it is found in creative writing and considered as a language style. Here are the examples.

  • Pergilah ia dari tepi sungai. (He is leaving (from) the riverside)
    – Pergilah – is leaving (V)
    – ia – he (S)
    dari tempat – from the riverside (Adv. of place)

In reality, people do not always follow the formula above. As a product of society, of course language practice is depends on each person, not reverse. Consequently, language becomes very dynamic and vary. In terms of sentences, incomplete sentence is one of the evidence of language dynamics.

As you know, a complete sentence contains at least Subject and Verb. In incomplete sentence, there is no rules. It is usually happened for efficiency (shorten the time). For your information, Indonesian people like to shorten their sentence and word. Therefore, there are diverse informal form of words and sentences. You must know the context and understand of the intonation (or punctuation in written form) of the conversation. Here are the examples.

  • A: Kamu mau apa? (What do you want to do?)
    B: Makan. (Eat.)
  • A: Makan? (Eat?) – Do you want to eat?
    B: Boleh. (Can) – Of course/Okay
  • A: Makan! (Eat!)
    B: Gak mau. (Do not want) – I do not want to eat.

Learn more about Indonesian sentence in Indonesian Sentence Construction

2. Transitive/Intransitive and Object/Complement

The second an third group in 5 Indonesian Grammar Rules to be discussed are Transitive/Intransitive and Object/Complement. Beside the Forming Indonesian Words and Affixes, two subjects above are considered very challenging, even for the native. In fact, it is very related to Indonesian Sentence Structures and Indonesian Prefixes.

Transitive/Intransitive is a term that is related to Indonesian Verbs. There are four possible types for Indonesian verb, which are (1) active transitive, (2) passive transitive, (3) active intransitive, (4) passive intransitive. It is very critical to understand it because it is a key element of a sentence. For instance, it will determine the next element of the sentence: object, complement, adverb, or punctuation (end of sentence).

What is the difference and characteristic of each verb category?

  • Active Transitive Verb
    – It is a verb that must be followed by object(s) (transitive)
    – Mostly it is signified by me- Prefix– It has passive equivalence that signified by ‘di- prefix’ (transtive)
    Example: Ibu mencuci baju (Mother washed the clothes)
  • Passive Transitive Verb
    – It is a verb that must be followed by object(s) (transitive)
    – Mostly it is signified by ‘di- prefix’– It has active equivalence that signified by ‘me-(N) prefix’ (transitive)
    Example: Baju dicuci ibu (The clothes were washed by mother)
  • Active Intransitive Verb
    – It is a verb that are not followed by object(s) (intransitive)
    It could be followed by Complement, Adverb, or Punctuation
    – Mostly it is signified by Prefix Ber-– It could not be passive sentence (intransitive)
    – Saya bermain boneka (I play dolls) – Dolls is complement
    – Saya bermain. (I play.)
    – Saya bermain di lapangan. (I play at the yard)
    Confuse about Object and Complement? We discuss it later!
  • Active Intransitive Verb
    – It is a verb that are not followed by object(s) (intransitive)
    It could be followed by Complement, Adverb, or Punctuation
    – Mostly it is signified by Prefix ‘ter-‘– It could not be active sentence (intransitive)
    – Saya tertusuk jarum – I was accidentally cut by a needle
    – Saya tertusuk. (I was stabbed)
    – Saya tertusuk di jalan (I was stabbed on the street)

The Transitive/Intransitive characteristic plays very significant role to determine Object/Complement. There is no specific difference between both, except the preceding verb. Yes, if it a noun class word/phrase that follow a ‘me-(N)’ or ‘di-‘ verb, it is must be identified as an object. Therefore, you could reserve the sentence as active/passive. However, if the verbs contains ‘ber-‘ or ‘ter-‘ prefix, it is must be identified as a complement because it must be an intransitive verb. Therefore, you could NOT reserve the sentence as active/passive. Here are the examples.

  • Saya memainkan boneka (I play the doll)
  • Saya bermain boneka (I play dolls)
  • Saya menjual ikan (I sell fish)
  • Saya berjualan ikan (I sell fish)

However, there are several conditions when the rules are broken. Even though ‘me-(N)’ and ‘di-‘ are commonly identified as transitive signifier, there are several exception. Sometimes, it is not followed by object(s). Instead, it is followed with punctuation (end of sentence) as Subject-Verb sentence structure and considered correct. But, it is only for several verbs. Here are the examples.

  • Ibu mencuci. (in English: Mom washes)
  • Saya ditusuk (I was stabbed)

On the other hands, even though ‘ber-‘ is an intransitive signifier, there are several occasion when a sentence identified as intransitive wothout ‘ber-‘ verb. It happened when the verbs are a root word verb (formal and informal). Here are several examples.

  • Saya duduk (I sit)
  • Saya main boneka (I play dolls)
  • Saya makan di restoran (I ate at the restaurant)

3. Indonesian Phrases Form

Phrase is a set a word that form together and still identified as single class word/part of speech (noun, verb, and so on). In terms of forming verb, adjective, and adverbs, English and Bahasa Indonesia shares similar rules. However, it becomes very different when we move to forming a noun phrase.

In Bahasa Indonesia, noun phrase uses D–M formula (or Head-Modifier), while English uses the reverse formula (M–D) (Check more in Indonesian to English Grammar). It is very often become the common mistakes o non-native speaker. Here are the examples

  • ruang (room) + besar (big) = ruang besar (big room)
  • anak (kid) + yang (which is/that is) + pintar (smart) = anak yang pintar (smart kid/A kid that is smart)
  • biru (blue) + laut (sea) = biru laut (sea blue)
  • laut (blue) + biru (sea) = laut biru (blue sea)
  • pensil (pencil) + ayah (dad) = pencil ayah (Dad’s pencil)
  • ayah (dad) + Kyle = ayah Kyle (Kyle’s dad)

In addition, the reverse condition between Bahasa Indonesia and English is also happened in compound noun.

  • makanan (food) + laut (sea) = makanan laut (seafood)
  • sepak (kick) + bola (ball) = sepak bola (football)
  • mandi (bath) + kamar (room) = kamar mandi (bathroom)
  • sapu (sweep) + tangan (hand) = saputangan (handkerchief)

4. Standard/Non-standard Indonesian Sentence: Indonesian Word Order

When we are talking about standard language, it is only used in several situation, such as academics, certain newspaper, letter, several formal situation, and so on. Because Bahasa Indonesia is a very dynamic, as well as the diversity of its nation, the language became very flexible. Consequently, it made standard language become hard, stiff, unfamiliar, strange to use in Indonesian people daily life. In addition, the rules are not applied as clear and as strict as English other languages.

Beside diction (word choice), it is also important to know standard order of Bahasa Indonesia. It is actually very simple. Except for imperative and reverse sentence (V-S sentence), the Indonesian sentence must contains an inseparable S-V. Take a look at these examples.

  • Kemarin paman datang (Yesterday uncle came)
  • Paman datang kemarin (Uncle came yesterday)
  • Paman kemarin datang (Uncle yesterday came) (non-standard)

Kemarin – yesterday (Adverb), paman – uncle (Subject), datang – came (Verb)

All of the sentences above is very common and accepted by Indonesian people. However, you may see that third sentence is considered as a non-standard because the Adverb separate Subject from the Verb. It is very prohibited in formal and standard situation, but usually used in daily life by Indonesian native. Therefore, understand the situation.

Moreover, here are the formula of Indonesian Sentence and few examples

  • (Adv) + S + V + O/C/+C + Adv
  • S + V = Ibu berbelanja (Mom is shopping)
  • A + S + V = Sekarang ibu berbelanja (Now, mom is shopping)
  • S + V + O = Ibu membeli sayur (Mom is buying vegetables)
  • S + V + C = Ibu berbelanja sayur (Mom is buying vegetables)
  • S + V + O + C = Ibu membelikan anak-anaknya sayur (Mom is buying her children some vegetables)
  • S + V + O + Adv = Ibu membeli sayur di pasar (Mom is buying vegetables at the market)
  • S + V + C + Adv = Ibu berbelanja sayur di pasar (Mom is buying vegetables at the market)
  • S + V + O + C + Adv = Ibu membelikan anak-anaknya sayur di pasar (Mom is buying her children some vegetables at the market)
  • Adv + S + V + O + C + Adv = Sekarang Ibu membelikan anak-anaknya sayur di pasar (Now, Mom is buying her children some vegetables at the market)

Remember, do not reverse any elements. The use of verb is grammatically optional.

After learning about 5 Indonesian Grammar Rules, you should check out these following articles to enhance your Bahasa Indonesia skills. Good luck and keep practice!

  • Indonesian Question Word
  • Indonesian Grammar Structures for Beginners


How do you form sentences in Indonesian? ›

Basic Indonesian word order is similar to English. Generally, sentences begin with a subject, followed by a verb (also called a predicate), and then an object. It's good news that Indonesian verbs don't change depending on tense.

How many grammar are there in Indonesia? ›

Between languages, there are both similar and diverse rules about grammar. This time , we will focus in 5 Indonesian Grammar Rules. Compared to English, Indonesian Grammar Structures is quite flexible. There are no 16 types of sentences or grammatical gender.

What are the 7 grammar rules? ›

  • 7 Basic Grammar Rules. ...
  • Write in Active Voice. ...
  • Join Two Ideas with a Semicolon, Comma or Conjunction. ...
  • Use Correct Subject and Verb Agreement. ...
  • Know That a Sentence Has a Subject and Verb and Complete Thought. ...
  • Apply the Apostrophe Appropriately. ...
  • Understand When to Capitalize. ...
  • Understand Articles.

Is Indonesian easy to learn? ›

Native speakers of English will be relieved to learn that Indonesian is considered one of the easier languages for English speakers to learn because of Indonesian's relatively simple grammar and vocabulary and its use of the Latin alphabet, unlike many other Asian languages.

What is word order in grammar? ›

Word order refers to the conventional arrangement of words in a phrase, clause, or sentence. Compared with many other languages, word order in English is fairly rigid. In particular, the order of subject, verb, and object is relatively inflexible.

Is Indonesian a SVO? ›

In general, Indonesian sentence structure is similar to English consist of subject, object, and verb. The word order in sentence is also similar to English, so there should be no difficulty in learning it. If in English we know the sentence structure as SVO, in Indonesia we have SPOK.

What is Indonesian grammar? ›

Indonesian grammar has no concept of plurals and no tenses. Also, there is no deference to gender (male or female) in pronouns. The pronunciations are different, but not drastically so.

Is Indonesia a poor or rich country? ›

It is the region's biggest economy and part of the G20 group of the world's richest nations.

How do you write Indonesian language? ›

It is a standardized variety of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries.
Indonesian language.
Writing systemLatin (Indonesian alphabet) Indonesian Braille
Signed formsBISINDO, SIBI (Bahasa Isyarat Indonesia)
Official status
19 more rows

How can I learn grammar rules? ›

Below we put forward some effective ways to learn & improve English grammar.
  1. Make a commitment. ...
  2. Keep a grammar book at your disposal. ...
  3. Utilise a grammar app. ...
  4. Practise everyday. ...
  5. Learn new words. ...
  6. Read more in English. ...
  7. Listen in English. ...
  8. Try and communicate in English with your teacher and friends.

How many rules of grammar are there? ›

Estimates range from 500 to 10,000, but for practical purposes, we can say that there are about 3,500 grammar rules. This estimate comes from David Crystal, the man who created the index for the grammar reference book: A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech & Svartvik.

How do you write correct grammar? ›

Grammar Lesson #1 - Tips to Improve Your Sentence Structure - YouTube

Which is correct grammar? ›

“which,” there's a really easy way to tell if you should be using one or the other. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it will help with many situations. If you think it might be “which,” try adding the words “of your” or “of” and another pronoun right after it. If that works, “which” is the correct choice.

What are the 4 levels of grammar? ›

There are 4 levels of grammar: (1)parts of speech, (2)sentences, (3)phrases, and (4)clauses.

What are the rules of a sentence? ›

Most of the time, the subject of the sentence comes first, the verb comes second, and the objects come last. (Subject -> Verb -> Object) If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

How do I start grammar? ›

Here are 8 steps to learn grammar easily on your own.
  1. #1 Learn as many words as you can. To learn grammar easily, the basic element of any language is words. ...
  2. #2 Talk to people. ...
  3. #3 Watch and learn. ...
  4. #4 Ask for corrections. ...
  5. #5 Know the parts of speech. ...
  6. #6 Look for patterns. ...
  7. #7 Practice verb forms. ...
  8. #8 Use an app.
Nov 16, 2017

Is Indonesia safe? ›

There is a threat of terrorism in Indonesia. While effective counterterrorism measures by Indonesian authorities are in place, terrorist cells are active and have the capacity to carry out attacks throughout the country. Attacks have targeted: military and government facilities.

Does Indonesian speak fast? ›

Not all Indonesians speak fast. It depends on their first language, social class, profession, and personality amongst other things. For example Central Javanese don't speak fast, as a matter of fact they speak slowly. But Moluccans, especially Ambonese people do speak fast.

How do you address a female in Indonesia? ›

Adult men are addressed by Bapak (short Pak) and adult women by Ibu (short Bu).

What are sentences 10 examples? ›

Here are 10 examples of sentences;
  • Mary enjoys cooking.
  • She likes bananas.
  • They speak English at work.
  • The train does not leave at 12 AM.
  • I have no money at the moment.
  • Do they talk a lot ?
  • Does she drink coffee?
  • You run to the party.

How do you make a sentence with a formula? ›

A sentence follows Subject + Verb + Object word order. He (subject) obtained (verb) his degree (object).

Which at the beginning of a sentence? ›

“Which” clauses that appear at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph are likewise incomplete sentences, and you are allowed to use them occasionally.

What is the Indonesian alphabet? ›

The modern Malay or Indonesian alphabet (Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore: Tulisan Rumi, literally "Roman script" or "Roman writing", Indonesia: Aksara Latin, literally "Latin script"), consists of the 26 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

What is SVO pattern? ›

In linguistic typology, subject–verb–object (SVO) is a sentence structure where the subject comes first, the verb second, and the object third.

What is SVC in English? ›

The following patterns are the most common ones in written American English. Each sentence pattern contains an independent clause that can be a complete sentence. The independent clause (SVC.) contains a subject (S), a verb (V), and a completer (C),. The completer = any word or words that complete the thought.

How can I learn Indonesian? ›

Learn Indonesian in 20 Minutes - ALL the Basics You Need - YouTube

Is Indonesia like HIndi? ›

HIndi and Indonesian are very different. The spoken and written language are very different.

How does Indonesian language work? ›

The consonant system of Indonesian is fairly simple. Syllables in native words do not have consonant clusters and typically consist of an optional Consonant + Vowel or Vowel + Vowel. Loanwords frequently contain consonant clusters, e.g., struktur 'structure'.

Is Indonesia a 1st world country? ›

However, based on the rapid development of modernization and globalization, countries that were used to be considered as Third World countries achieve big economic growth, such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia, which can no longer be defined by poor economic status or low GNP today.

Is Indonesia poor than India? ›

Indonesia has a GDP per capita of $12,400 as of 2017, while in India, the GDP per capita is $7,200 as of 2017. In Indonesia, 5.4% of adults are unemployed as of 2017. In India, that number is 8.5% as of 2017. In Indonesia, 10.9% live below the poverty line as of 2016.

How do you say W in Indonesian? ›

The better you pronounce a letter in a word, the more understood you will be in speaking the Indonesian language.
Indonesian Alphabet.
Indonesian AlphabetEnglish SoundPronunciation Example
t[t]as in time
u[u]'oo' as in mood
v[f]f as in free
w[w]as in wind
28 more rows

How old is Indonesian? ›

However, it was not until 1949 that the Dutch recognised Indonesia's sovereignty following an armed and diplomatic conflict between the two.
Republic of Indonesia Republik Indonesia (Indonesian)
Proclaimed17 August 1945
• Recognition27 December 1949
• Land1,904,569 km2 (735,358 sq mi) (14th)
43 more rows

How many letters are there in Indonesia? ›

There are 26 letters used to represent the Modern Indonesian alphabet.

How can I improve my grammar? ›

5 Tips to Improve Your Grammar
  1. Read: Reading is one of the secret weapons to improve your grammar skills. ...
  2. Use a grammar manual: It is a very useful idea to have a grammar manual nearby that you can consult when writing. ...
  3. Write more and quiz yourself: ...
  4. Re-reading aloud: ...
  5. 5 Consult others and learn from feedback:
Dec 4, 2020

What is the 12 tenses? ›

Present SimpleHe plays a game every Sunday.
Past SimpleHe played a game every Sunday.
Future SimpleHe will / is going to play the game every Sunday.

What is grammar definition PDF? ›

Grammar is a system of rules (and exceptions to those rules) that reveals and structures. meaning in language, and is made up of two things: syntax and morphology. Syntax is. concerned with the pattern or sequence of words in sentences, while morphology, as the.

What are the 8 types of grammar? ›

There are eight parts of speech in the English language: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. The part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning as well as grammatically within the sentence.

What is an example of a grammatically correct sentence? ›

An example of a run-on sentence would be: "Jonah loves ice cream it is smooth and sweet." In this sentence, two different ideas are present: Jonah loves ice cream, and ice cream is smooth and sweet. The writer could use a semicolon after the word "cream" to create a fluid, grammatically correct sentence.

How do you write example in a sentence? ›

As stated above, e.g. is short for “for example.” The easiest way to remember this one is that it starts with an “e” and so does “example.” Here's how to use for example (e.g.) in a sentence: “There are many types of trees (e.g., spruce, oak, maple) in the study area.”

What are the basic grammar? ›

In English grammar, the eight major parts of speech are noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.

How many grammar rules are there in English? ›

The 12 Rules of Grammar are:

Every sentence should start with a Capital letter in the first word. Every sentence should either end with a full stop (or) a question mark (or) an exclamation mark. Every sentence should have SVO (Subject – Verb – Object). The Subject and Verb forms are interrelated in the sentence.

What are the types of grammar? ›

In English, there are two kinds of grammar: prescriptive grammar & descriptive grammar.

How do you remember grammar rules? ›

What you'll learn
  1. Remember any English grammar principle.
  2. Use the ancient Art of Memory to recall anything related to learning English.
  3. Create and use a Memory Palace.
  4. Teach others the same techiques.
  5. Experience dramatic boosts in understanding English grammar.

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