Indonesian Noun

Nouns are fundamental building blocks of any second/foreign language. Like in English, nouns also play a vital role in conveying information about people, objects, places, and ideas. This lesson delves into the exploration about Indonesian nouns covering its characteristics, types, and usage.

Characteristics of Indonesian Nouns

Indonesian nouns are generally single words that function as subjects, objects, or complements in sentences. Like other languages, i.e. English, Deutsch, etc., Indonesian nouns do have grammatical gender.

Like other languages, Indonesian nouns can also be modified by adjectives, possessive markers, and other elements to provide additional information.

Types of Indonesian Nouns

Indonesian nouns can be categorized into various types based on their characteristics and usage. One common classification is concrete nouns, which refer to tangible objects, such as "meja" [table], "gawai" [smartphone], or "buku" [book]. Abstract nouns, on the other hand, represent intangible concepts or ideas, such as "cinta" [love], "keberanian" [courage], or "keingintahuan" [curiosity]. Proper nouns, like names of people, companies, or places, are another category of Indonesian nouns, such as "Ahmad", "Apple", or "Jakarta". Another important type of Indonesian noun is the collective noun, which refers to a group or collection of things, such as "keluarga" (family) or "pasukan" (troops).

Unlike English which has countable noun - type of nouns indicating enumerated items (like "buah" [fruit] or "anak" [child]), and uncountable nouns - group of words representing substances or abstract qualities that cannot be easily quantified (such as "uang" [money] or "emas" [gold]), in Bahasa Indonesia, those type of nouns do not exist.

Usage of Indonesian Nouns

Indonesian nouns are versatile and are used in various grammatical constructions. They can function as the subject of a sentence, such as "Anak-anak bermain di taman" (Children play in the park), or as the object of a verb, like "Saya membaca buku" (I am reading a book). Nouns can also be modified by possessive markers to indicate ownership, as in "Rumah saya" (My house) or "Mobil mereka" (Their car).

Compound Nouns

In addition to their standalone usage, Indonesian nouns can be combined with other words to form compound nouns, which express more specific meanings. For instance, "guru" [teacher] and "bahasa" [language] combine to form "guru bahasa" [language teacher]. These compound nouns enable precise communication and expand the vocabulary of the language.

With regard to this point, Indonesian compound nouns are formed differently with how they are formed in English. Literature explains that Bahasa Indonesia is a type of head-initial language in which the head of a phrase, including what you will need to do with compound nouns, precedes the modifier (adjective, noun).

To best illustrate this point, here are some nouns to remember.

  • Horse (n) - Kuda (n)
  • Race (n) - Pacuan (n)
  • Design (n) - Desain (n)
  • Research (n) - Penelitian (n)
1. Race horse Horse race
Kuda pacu Pacuan kuda
2. Wooden house House wood
Rumah kayu Kayu rumah
3. Design research Research design
Penelitian desain Desain penelitian

Kacamata, derived from "kaca" [glass] and "mata" [eyes].

Rumah sakit, derived from 'rumah' [house] and "sakit" [ill, sick].