Indonesian verbs do not change depending on tense, as in English. For example, English has different forms for "ate" (past tense) and "eat" (present tense), while Indonesian uses "makan" for both past and present. When it is important to specify time, Indonesian adds additional words that clarify the time, such as "sudah" (already), "masih" (still), and "akan" (will).

Some of basic verbs
Indonesian English Notes
Baca Read
Bangun Wake up literally the act of waking up
Buka Open
Buang Throw away as in "throwing away the trash"
Bunuh Kill
Gantung Hang
Hapus Erase
Jahit Sew
Jalan Walk
Makan Eat
Masak Cook
Minum Drink
Lempar Throw as in "throwing the ball"
Pakai Wear/Use
Robek Tear
Lari Run
Tanya Ask
Tidur Sleep
Tinju Punch
Tulis Write
Tutup Close

To be or not to beEdit

To be is the most common English verb, yet its indonesian translation, adalah, is rarely used. This is particularly true when ir is used to describe something/someone or to give characteristics. For instance :

  • Aku cowok = I am a man
  • Dia gemuk = He is fat
  • Aku lapar = I am hungry

We can use adalah to make a statement that two things are equivalent. For instance:

  • Rusia adalah negara terbesar di dunia.
  • Russia is the largest country in the world.

Another use of adalah is to say that something or someone is part of a grup/structure. For instance:

  • Dia adalah pengawai pemerintah
  • He is a government employee.


The Indonesian verbs can be also inflected as well for passivity, causativity, etc.. Unlike its closely-related Tagalog, Indonesian and Malay conjugation system are more simplified, but more inflected than related Hawaiian and Maori. In Indonesian itself, the term "konjugasi" it is usually not used when talking about Indonesian, instead it is only used for foreign languages. The Indonesian conjugation is not inflected for tenses, but only for voice and moods (for the tenses, see /Grammar/Tenses, tenses are instead analytically formed). Nonetheless, it still has many exceptions, despite there are just very few affixes, mostly due to defectivity, for example berlari, memperlari, melarikan is acceptable, but not for *berlarii. Some cases may cause the verb forms change substantially (hijau "green" → menghijau "to become green" → terhijau "most green", instead of "accidentally became green", but terhijaukan "became greened"; tinggal "live" → meninggal "died").

Lemma forms of the verbs are always in the root (memakanmakan "eat").

Examples of the simple conjugation of ulang "repeat"
meng- ter- di- -lah -∅
-∅ mengulang terulang diulang ulanglah ulang
per- memperulang terperulang diperulang perulanglah perulang
-i mengulangi terulangi diulangi ulangilah ulangi
-kan mengulangkan terulangkan diulangkan ulangkanlah ulangkan
Approximate meanings
meng- ter- di- -lah -∅
-∅ repeating being repeated (accidentally) being repeated repeat! (jussive) repeat!
per- making repeated making being repeated (accidentally) making being repeated make (this) repeated! (jussive) make (this) repeated!
-i repeating (directly) being repeated (accidentally, directly) being repeated (directly) repeat! (jussive, directly) repeat! (directly)
-kan repeating (transitivized) being repeated (accidentally, transitivized) being repeated (transitivized) repeat! (jussive, transitivized) repeat! (transitivized)

Affixes vertically, when in the case of suffix -lah, only can precede the suffix. Informally, the -kan suffix can be replaced with -in, and the meng- suffix is also replaced with their mutated first consonants (ny-, ng-, ...), resulting on these forms:

-in ngulangin terulangin diulangin ulanginlah ulangin

When transitive, the verb is also added with possessive suffixes:

I you he/she/it
mengulangi mengulangiku mengulangimu mengulanginya

Note: The prefix meng- are subject to the initial consonant change! (see also /prefix me)


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