Indonesian Language Blog

Various uses of ‘-nya’ suffix part 1 Posted by on May 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

In bahasa Indonesia, suffix -nya has unique functions. It can serve as a third person possessive pronoun ‘dia’, ‘the’, or to relate to the previous subject of conversation.

1. As a third person pronoun and possessive pronoun, -nya is equivalent to him/his; her; it/its; them/their. Its most common use is in the possessive and object construction.
Example: Mobil ini tidak bisa dipakai karena bannya kempes.
This car cannot be used because the tire is flat.

Ibunya dilihatnya di toko Myer.
His mother was seen by him in Myer.

Pak Ali anaknya lima.
Mr Ali has 5 children. (Literally: “his children are 5”)

2. -nya meaning the shows that the person or thing has either been mentioned before, or is implied in the conversation.
Example: Kamar mandinya kotor. The bathroom is dirty.

3. -nya as a nominalizer, i.e. it makes nouns of either adjectives or verbs

(i) Adjectives mahal expensive mahalnya the expense
tinggi tall tingginya the height
teguh firm teguhnya the firmness

Many of the above adjectives could also be turned into nouns by the addition of ke-an. However
the meaning is then often more abstract, or can even be entirely different.

Example: banyaknya the large number of
kebanyakan the majority, too much, mostly
(ii) Verbs
a) base verbs
Examples: turun to tall turunnya the fall

b) ber- verbs
Examples: berhasil to succeed berhasilnya the success

c) me- verbs
Most me– verbs are transitive [i.e. take an object] and should be turned into nouns using the pean
form and not -nya. If however the me– form is intransitive [no object], -nya should be used to
change it into a noun.

Example: Meningkatnya harga beras disebabkan oleh kebijaksanaan pemerintah.
The increase in the price of rice has been caused by government policy.

The object – construction di- form can however be turned into a noun with with -nya, despite the
fact that it is transitive.

d) ter- verbs
Examples terjadi to happen terjadinya the happening

e) ke-an verbs
Examples: kedengarannya it sounds kelihatannya it seems, apparently

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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.