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bennylinTuesday 08th of February 2005 01:52:13 PM
Indonesian Plural Form - There are three ways to form a plural words in Indonesian Language.

1. if you stated the amount of the noun, and it's more than one, it's automatically become plural without having to change the noun.


in English you have to say:

one person, two people
a book, two books
a tomato, several tomatoes
An elf called Legolas enter the gate with two other elves

in Indonesian, those changes are not necessary

satu orang, dua orang
sebuah buku, dua buah buku
sebuah tomat, beberapa tomat
Seorang(?) elf bernama Legolas memasuki gerbang dengan ditemani dua orang elf.

2. for general plural nouns, use the word itself twice separated by dash

word = kata
words = kata-kata
box = kotak
boxes = kotak-kotak
child = anak
children = anak-anak
I don't understand why he wants to put his life in danger to save the lives of the others = Saya tidak paham mengapa dia mau mempertaruhkan nyawa dia untuk menyelamatkan nyawa-nyawa yang lain.

3. even though the second rule are true for almost all nouns , but sometimes you don't want to says some words twice for some reasons (the word is too long, some words doesn't sound nice if you said twice - yea, i know that's weird, but you have to decide to use which form you want to use using your feeling), so this is the 'formal' form:

teacher , teachers
- guru , para guru
woman , women
- wanita , para wanita
Jones , Joneses
- Jones, para Jones (Jones-Jones doesn't quite right, isn't it :D )
The dwarf who works in the mine go out to have lunch with other dwarves
- Dwarf yang bekerja di tambang itu pergi makan siang dengan para dwarf yang lain.

*Even though there's no law that prohibit it, but usually this last form only works on human, so you are not suppose to say dogs as 'para anjing', if you use para, the noun in some sense is expected to behave like human. so if the dogs can speaks (like Scooby Doo) then it will make 'sense' :)

I think 99% of Indonesian words and nouns are using one of the form above, so there is no irregularity like in one of the major language in the world that we use right now :D (barracks, deer, economics, mathematics, statistics; cactus, cacti, thesis, theses, index, indices, etc)

also, in that language, there seems much confusing words, like noun that originally comes in pair: pants (pant?), scissors (scissor?), wear glasses (wear glass?). In Indonesia, I'm promise you won't meet that kind of 'inconsistency' or 'dual standard' in politics term. You'll say: celana, gunting, kacamata - words that originally means singular.

And then it also have something called 'collective nouns', defined as 'singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole'. Isn't that just too much for a language to be understood? It have in it's list:

[the] number

and i quote this from [url=]another site[/url]
Thus, if we're talking about eggs, we could say "A dozen is probably not enough." But if we're talking partying with our friends, we could say, "A dozen are coming over this afternoon." The jury delivers its verdict. [But] The jury came in and took their seats. We could say the Tokyo String Quartet is one of the best string ensembles in the world, but we could say the Beatles were some of the most famous singers in history. Generally, band names and musical groups take singular or plural verbs depending on the form of their names: "The Mamas and the Papas were one of the best groups of the 70s" and "Metallica is my favorite band."[/quote]
This is a problem with the 'to be' part of sentence. You don't have to worry about that, since 'to be' in Indonesian doens't care if the noun is one, two, or one million, it's always adalah or merupakan or something similar.

When you're continuing reading on the link i gave you above, you'll see a lot more 'traps' that you have to be careful with if you dealing with that language and your native tongue is not the same.

So, plural form in Indonesian is as easy as 1-2-3, can you count 1-2-3?
bennylinSaturday 19th of February 2005 10:03:33 AM
- 4. single word can also means plural, depends on the situation, where repeated word is unnecessary. By default, if the thing is more than one, and there is no quantity value for the thing, no need to repeat the word to show plurals. So this fourth rule makes the second (repeat with dash)and third (use 'para') no longer necessary, even though in some sentences you might want to refers back toi #2 and #3.

-Use only papers = gunakan kertas saja
(kertas-kertas sounds redundant, since logically you are not going to use only a sheet of paper. if you need only a sheet of paper, then it need to be declared "gunakan selembar kertas saja")

-I eat eggs = saya makan telur
(because of this rule, you cannot know whether I ate one egg or several eggs. This is the drawback)

-{u]The basic needs need to be fulfilled = Kebutuhan dasar perlu dipenuhi.

chudoriMonday 18th of April 2005 05:32:02 PM
Plural rules - If you are talking about a particular class of people you could also use "kaum" instead of "para"

eg. kaum kecil (the little people), kaum militer (the militarists, kaum ibu (mothers or housewives), kaum bangsawan (the nobility) etc. etc.

With the word doubling rule (eg kata-kata - words) you never double if there is a numeral classifier

eg many words = banyak kata, not banyak kata-kata

For plurals of indeterminate amount there are also the numeral classifier sejumlah

eg a number of people - sejumlah orang

The major problem with using numeral classifiers is learning all of the classifiers

eg batang - long thin round objects
buah - large objects
orang - people
ekor - for animals
pucuk - for weapons
helai - sheet (of paper etc)

just to name a few

eg fourteen dogs, twenty-seven rifles
empatbelas ekor anjing, duapuluh tujuh pucuk senapan

Hope this adds something to the discussion.
bennylinMonday 25th of April 2005 01:35:03 PM
- good points. thanks

and if i may add some examples to your points above:

-classifier always used after numeral expression (a/an, one, two, three, a hundred, etc) and before the noun. That way, it's wrong to translate these words:

one horse, two oranges, three moms, four boats
satu kuda, dua jeruk, tiga ibu, empat perahu
instead, you should use classifiers:
satu ekor kuda, dua buah/butir jeruk, tiga orang ibu, empat buah perahu

use 'orang' (lit. human/person) as classifier in:
dua orang baik/jahat/tentara/guru/murid/profesor/presiden/raja/dll
which translated as:
two good-people/bad-guys/soldiers/teachers/students/professors/presidents/kings/etc
-basically any job related to a human or other human attributes use this classifier.

use 'ekor' (lit. tail) in:
dua ekor kuda/laba-laba/harimau/dll
which translated as
two horses/spiders/tigers/etc

use 'buah' (lit. fruit) prettymuch for every other thing.
basically any non-living things can use this classifier, some other things can use two or more classifiers too.
dua buah pisang/gitar/lampu/kulkas/senapan/surat/dll
two bananas/guitars/lamps/refrigerators/guns/letters/etc

-other than three major classifier above, there are also many other classifier, but not as often used as those three.
-you can guess what objects are being talked about just using the classifier, because certain classifiers are used for certain nouns
-most of the classifiers below doesn't have direct translation in English, as they're seldom used for another purpose other than classifiers, and English Languange don't use classifiers too much.
-certain words have certain classifier associated to it. It's good to know them all, even though you don't have to use them all. If you forget, just use 'buah', and people will correct you if 'buah' is not applicable.

sebidang tanah = a (certain area of) land ('bidang' for land
seutas tali = a rope ('utas' for rope-alike objects)
sebilah pisau = a knife ('bilah' for blade/knife/sword/etc)
dua pucuk senapan = two guns ('pucuk' for gun/cannon/pistol/etc)
tiga helai surat = three letters
empat helai daun = four leaves ('helai' for thin objects)
lima butir telur = five eggs
enam butir peluru = six bullets ('butir' for round objects)
tujuh batang kayu = seven woods
delapan batang penggaris = eight rulers ('batang' for long solid objects)
sembilan keping uang = nine coins ('keping' for coin-alike objects)
sepuluh biji permata/mutiara = ten jewels/pearls ('biji' for small-round-shaped objects)

-other than these, usually the classifier can be translated to English, such as:

dua kotak kapur = two boxes of chalk
tiga koper baju = three bags of clothes
empat mangkok nasi = four bowls of rice
lima cangkir teh = five glasses of tea
enam genggam tepung = six hand-full of flour

-since there are a lot of them, i will not write them all here, instead, you should refer to another source per case you encounter (or you may ask here for the proper classifier that you should use)

thanks, chudori
bennylinMonday 25th of April 2005 03:22:05 PM
- found a good site (Melayu Language site) that contains a fair amount of classifiers. here the site:

and in case the link suddenly dissapear or discontinued, here the contents: (sorry no English Phrases)

*used for / example (mostly i don't agree)

untuk sekumpulan manusia atau benda
kapal, tentera, pelukis, penulis

untuk kedudukan benda/manusia yang berbaris
orang, kedai, rumah, pokok, tulisan, ayat, meja, kerusi

untuk menunjukkan benda-benda yang panjang
sungai, lilin, galah, tiang, pen, pokok, gigi, tongkat, kapur, jambatan, jarum

untuk benda-benda kecil yang berkeluk
mata kail, subang, cincin

untuk benda-benda yang diikat bersama-sama
kunci, lidi, kayu

untuk benda-benda yang terbentang luas
tanah, kain, sawah, permaidani, layar, kebun, tikar

untuk jenis buah, sayur-sayuran, dan benda-benda yang kecil
labu, lobak, kubis, terung, bola, cawan, guli, belon, ketupat, batu, telur, gelas

untuk benda-benda yang tajam
parang, pisau, golok, gunting, sabit, keris

untuk benda-benda besar dan padu, yang tidak mempunyai bentuk yang tertentu
kereta, negeri, rumah, buku, kotak, radio, bandar, kampung, piano, komputer, kamera

untuk benda-benda yang keadaannya berketul/berbongkah
sabun, roti, benang

untuk benda-benda yang bulat atau kecil
telur, batu, manik, beras, peluru

untuk benda-benda yang dikoyakkan
kertas, kain

untuk benda yang diambil sedikit dengan jari
garam, gula, kunyit

untuk benda-benda yang dicucuk dengan lidi

untuk benda-benda yang tersusun
bangunan, rumah, kedai, kereta

untuk semua jenis binatang
nyamuk, semut, kuda, buaya, musang, gajah, arnab, rama-rama

untuk benda-benda yang digenggam
pasir, beras, padi

untuk buah-buah ataupun benda
anggur, langsat, kelapa sawit, sawit, kunci

untuk benda-benda yang bergulung
film, permadani, tikar, dawai, kertas

untuk benda-benda yang tipis dan lebar
daun, baju, kertas, kain, tuala, rambut, rumput

untuk benda-benda yang diikat
kayu, lidi, tebu, sayur, papan

untuk benda-benda yang dipotong kecil-kecil
bawang, timun, daging, buah-buahan

untuk kumpulan hewan
lembu, kambing, lebah, gajah, merpati

untuk sekumpulan manusia, hewan, dan benda
burung, awan, pulau, bintang

untuk benda-benda yang dikepal dengan tangan
nasi, pulut, tanah

untuk benda-benda yang tipis atau pipih
roti, papan, kad, gambar, biskuit, tanah

untuk bagian benda-benda yang dipotong
roti, tiang

untuk benda-benda yang berketul dan padu
ais, daging, tulang, sabun, roti

untuk benda-benda yang diisikan di dalam kotak
mancis, pensil, rokok, sabun, obat nyamuk

untuk bungs
mawar, melati, anggrek

untuk senjata api
pistol, senapan, meriam

benda-benda yang lurus dan panjang
kertas, dawai, benang

untuk bahan bacaan yang berjilid
surat kabar, risalah, majalah, makalah, buku

untuk manusia
guru, jururawat, doktor, pekedai, runcit, posmen

untuk benda-benda yang berbentuk kepingan
coklat, petai, mercun

untuk benda dan manusia yang berpasangan
pakaian, kasut, subang, suami isteri, anak

untuk sekumpulan orang yang berpakaian seragam
pemain kompang, polisi, tentara pengakap

untuk kata
perkataan, kata-kata

untuk benda-benda yang sudah dipotong
kue, daging, roti

untuk benda-benda yang halus serta tipis dan senjata api
jarum, surat, pistol, meriam, senapan, rebung

untuk sebagian benda yang masih menyala
rokok, bara, kayu api

untuk puisi
pantun, sajak, syair

untuk benda-benda yang halus, labuh, dan bersirat
jala, jaring, pukat

untuk benda yang beruas-ruas
tebu, buluh

untuk tumbuhan yang tumbuh rapat-rapat
buluh, tebu, serai, pandan, padi

untuk buah pisang

untuk buah-buahan yang bertandan
pisang, kelapa, pinang, kelapa sawit

untuk buah-buahan, bunga-bungaan, dan daun yang bertangkai
rambutan, duku, kenanga, padi, daun

untuk cairan yang menetis
air, darah, dakwat, embun

untuk buah yang bertongkol

untuk benda-benda yang halus dan panjang
rambut, benang, dawai,

untuk benda-benda yang panjang
tali, dawai, rantai