Indonesian Articles and Nouns

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Indonesian Articles and Nouns

Indonesian does not have articles, but we have different ways to say ‘a/an/some’ and ‘the’ for person/s, thing/s, or animal/s.

The rule is to add ‘se‘ (which means one, a/an) plus a special word.

Person: seorang
Persons: beberapa orang

Thing: sebuah
Things: beberapa buah

Animal: seekor
Animals: beberapa ekor


Kakakku adalah seorang guru – My sister/brother is a teacher

Saya mempunyai beberapa ekor kelinci – I have some rabbits

*Notice: beberapa ekor kelinci >> ‘beberapa’ showed the plural form, so you don’t have to say ‘beberapa ekor kelinci-kelinci’


There are several other indefinite articles. They are specialized:

Secarik/selembar kertas a (piece of) paper

Sebutir telur an egg

Sebulir air mata a tear (liquid comes from the eye)

Sepotong roti a (piece of) bread

Setetes air a dip of water

Actually there are still lots of articles like these, but these are the most common.


Indonesian Nouns

Indonesian singular and plural nouns are easy to recognize:

buku a book

buku-buku some books

komputer a computer

komputer-komputer some computers

But be careful; repeated words not only express plural form, but they also mean other things. Sometimes, prefixes/suffixes/circumfixes are added, or the letters/sound are changed.

Meaning Word Meaning Note
look-a-like mobil-mobilan not a real car; just a car toy mobil: car
frequency memukul-mukul to hit a few times pukul: to hit
reciprocal berpandang-pandangan to gaze at each other pandang: to gaze
slightly kemerah-merahan nearly red; pink-red merah: red

Actually there are some other functions of the repeated words, but since we need more knowledge about the language (even we Indonesians still have to study about these forms), I decided not to give them yet. But if you find any Indonesian sentences that you feel difficult to translate, just send me an e-mail at vremita_desectia [at] and I’ll contact you.

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Dr. Jennifer Wagner

PhD in Applied Linguistics, ESL/French teacher, author of two French books, and helping others to learn languages online at