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Sentence Structure (Introduction) Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Indonesian grammar is similar to English grammar. Generally, a sentence contains a subject, followed by a verb and then an object.

Verbs are not inflected for person or number. Indonesian does not incorporate tenses. Indicating past or future tense requires auxiliary verbs (time signals), which is very simple.


Subject Auxiliary Verb Verb Object
SayaI makaneat nasi.rice.
SayaI sudahalready makanate nasi.rice.
SayaI akanwill makaneat nasi.rice.
SayaI mauwill (colloq.); want makaneat nasi.rice.
SayaI sedangam makaneating nasi.rice.

As you noticed in the examples above, the word ‘sudah’ indicates completed actions, the word ‘akan’ indicates future actions, and the word ‘sedang’ indicates actions in progress. The main word

itself (i.e. ‘makan’ = to eat) is left unchanged.

There is a complex system of verb affixes to render nuances of meaning, and to denote active-passive voices. However, prefixes, infixes, suffixes, and combinations may all be ignored in daily conversations.

Since Indonesian does not have verb tenses like English, it relies more heavily on expressions of time.

Saying “Saya makan” is grammatically correct, but ambiguous, since it does not have a specific time reference. “Saya makan sekarang” is clearer since it means literally “I eat now”. In Indonesian, you may use either an auxiliary verb or a time expression.

Subject Verb Object Time Expression
SayaI makaneat nasirice sekarang.now.
SayaI makaneat nasirice besok.tomorrow.
SayaI makanate nasirice kemarin.yesterday.





1. Ini anak saya
This is my child.
2. Itu anak-anak saya
Those are my children.
3. Mereka orang Amerika.


They are Americans.
4. Orang Amerika itu tinggi dan besar.
That American is tall and big.
5. Mobil dia mahal
His/her car is expensive.
6. Kakak laki-laki saya tinggal di Arlington.
My (older)brother lives In Arlington..
7. Anak saya sekolah di sekolah dasar
My child goes to school at elementary school.
8. Adik perempuan saya kuliah di Universitas Georgetown.
My (younger) sister goes to college at Georgetown University.
9. Suami saya bekerja di DEPLU(Departemen Luar Negeri).
My husband works at the State Department.
10. Istri saya belanja Di Neiman Marcus.
My wife shops at Neiman Marcus.
11 Guru kami baca Washington Post
Our teacher reads Washington Post.
12. Keluarga mereka datang dari Eropa.
Their family comes from Europe
13. Orang tua saya punya 2 mobil Jepang.
My parents have 2 Japanese cars.
14. Kita makan Pizza.
We eat pizza


15. Dia minum kopi.
He/she drinks coffee
16. Mereka mau datang ke rumah saya.
They want to come to my house.
17. Saya sedang belajar Bahasa Indonesia. (sekarang)
I am studying Indonesian. (now)
18. Kami akan pergi ke Indonesia (besok, minggu depan)
We will go to Jakarta. (tomorrow, next week)


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About the Author: asimonoff

I’m an Indonesian language instructor, instructional material developer, reading test developer, and interpreter. I have been teaching Indonesian to adult students for 15 years, and have been teaching students from many backgrounds, such as private, military and diplomatic service employees. I’m Indonesian, but am living in the US now; my exposure to different cultures in my home country and in the US has enriched my knowledge in teaching Indonesian as a second language. I approach the teaching of the Indonesian language by developing students’ critical cultural awareness and competence. This method of teaching has been proven to be a key to the success of my students. Students become conscious of the essential role culture plays in the language.