It will be useful to set out the personal pronouns of Indonesian by means of a table. The advantage of this is that we can reveal the system, and you can see what choices you have when you want to use a pronoun.
We have horizontal rows for the three persons: first person is the person speaking (I and we); second person is the person being addressed (you); and the third person is the one being spoken about (he, she, they). Then we have three columns, which list the pronouns as non-formal, neutral or formal. A number of notes follow below, to explain further.
|Table Personal Pronoun|
1. The best word to choose for “I” is saya, as aku is only suitable if you know somebody very well.
2. When you want to say “we”, you do have to make a choice: do you mean “I and you” (inclusive), or “I/we and not you” (exclusive)? This can make a big difference.
3. When you want to say “you”, it is best to use the neutral anda, or something formal, including a pronoun substitute (see Lesson 3); kamu should only be used to a good friend.
4. The pronoun engkau is obsolete except in the Christian scriptures (“thou”).
5. For “he” or “she”, choose dia; beliau is only suitable if you want to show high respect for someone.
6. In fact, you will find that pronouns tend to be omitted if the sentence is clear without them. In particular, avoid referring to yourself too much.
7. There is no special word for “it”; depending on the context, there are other ways of saying “it”.
8. Indonesian has no separate forms according to gender: “he” and “she” are the same.
9. The word mereka, “they”, refers only to people, not to things; if you want to talk about things, just repeat the relevant noun.
More about possession
We can now expand a little on what has already been said about possession. We have seen rumah saya, “my house”. Similarly, we could also have rumah kami, “our house”, or rumah mereka, “their house”. But when the possessor is aku, kamu or dia, then an interesting change takes place: the pronoun takes another form, and is attached to the noun as a suffix, -ku, -mu and -nya, as in the following examples, using the word adik, “younger brother or sister”:
adikku my younger brother/sister
adikmu your younger brother/sister
adiknya his/her younger brother/sister
The suffix -nya is worth making a special note of, as it has various uses. It can be used as a possessive instead of mereka, so “of them, their” (but not people), and it can refer to a thing possessor, so “its”. We will meet it again later.
In order to create a predicate, we can have a noun (as we saw in Lesson 1), or we could have an adjective (to be mentioned later), or a verb. Verbs come in two categories: simple and derived. Simple verbs have no affixes, that is, elements attached to them, whereas derived verbs are produced by various processes of affixation that we will introduce step by step later.
Simple verbs come in two kinds, ones that have no object, and ones that do have an object. The difference is clear enough when you look at the meaning of the word. So here are a few examples of simple verbs without an object:
masuk to go in
keluar to go out
pergi to go
datang to come
tinggal to live
Because they do not have objects they are called intransitive. The transitive/intransitive distinction will become relevant when we have to deal with the Indonesian passive. By the way, note also that in our translations of verbs we use the “infinitive” with “to.. this is in order to make it absolutely clear that we are dealing with a verb and not a noun (in English this may not be evident without a context).
And now some examples of verbs that can have objects:
Makan to eat
Minum to drink
Punya to have, own
Obviously, you can eat, drink or have something - that something is the object, and it follows its verb directly, just where you would expect it.
The usual word-order in our sentence will be: subject-verb-object-expression of place. However,
we could vary this, and have: expression of place-subject-verb-object. What is the difference? If the expression of place is put first, then it gets extra emphasis; it says, for example, specifically “at home”, not somewhere else. Three prepositions are introduced here: di “in, at”, ke “to”, and dari “from”. These will help us to make expressions of place.