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Lesson Transcript

Fira: Hi everyone! I’m Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina. Welcome to IndonesianPod101.com. This is All About, Lesson 3, Painless Indonesian Grammar. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about the Indonesian grammar system.
Fira: You’ll be surprised to learn that, in comparison with English or other foreign languages, a lot of Indonesian grammar is amazingly easy!

Lesson focus

Gina: Okay, so let’s get started! First, what we want to do is compare English and Indonesian, and you’ll see that the two are actually quite similar.
Fira: Yes. For one thing, English is an SVO language! Do you know what that stands for, Gina?
Gina: Of course! “Subject-verb-object”, which means that the subject always comes first, followed by the verb, and then the object. That’s how English sentences are put together.
Fira: Can we have an example?
Gina: Sure; "I eat fruit." 'I' is the subject, or the one doing the action, “eat” is the verb or the action taking place, and “fruit” is the object that undergoes the action. "I read the newspaper," "I watch TV"; these are all SVO sentences.
Fira: And Indonesian is similar in this regard. In Indonesian, the sentence we mentioned before would still be in the order of "I eat fruit."
Gina: And there are a lot of areas of Indonesian grammar that are much simpler than their English counterparts, right?
Fira: That’s right. First, let’s talk about tense.
Gina: In English, there are many different tenses; past, present, future, and present perfect continuous, to name a few.
Fira: Right. You have to take a lot of time to learn tenses when learning some languages. But not with Indonesian. In Indonesian, you don’t have to change verbs when talking about past, present, or future. You can use the same verb for all situations.
Gina: Exactly. Instead of conjugating verbs, you can just add a certain word before and after the verb. Let’s first take a look at the future tense to see what we mean.
Fira: In Indonesian, the verb pergi means “to go” and saya is the pronoun meaning “I”. So you can say saya pergi to mean “I go”.
Gina: And how would you say this in future tense?
Fira: That’s easy. You can simply add the word akan in front of the verb “pergi”. So, “I will go” is saya akan pergi.
Gina: You’re right, that is quite easy! How about the past tense, then? Is it similar to English, where we just add “-ed” to the ends of verbs to change them to past tense?
Fira: No, actually. We don’t have to worry about that at all. In Indonesian, the past tense for this sentence is just saya pergi.
Gina: Wait, isn’t that the same as “I go”?
Fira: Yes, there is no change.
Gina: Well then, how do you know if we’re talking about the past or the present?
Fira: To clarify this, Indonesian people use words that specify the time in which the action occurred. For example, pagi ini, which means “this morning”, can be put into the sentence Saya pergi pagi ini.
Gina: Oh, I see! And that would mean, “I went out this morning.”
Fira: Right!
Gina: So when you talk about the past, you should use words which indicate the time for clarity. Aren’t there also these types of words used when talking about future?
Fira: Sure there are! For example, besok which means "tomorrow", or nanti which means "later". You can use these types of words in your sentences when talking about the future, as well.
Gina Great to know. What about conjugation? Do we have to worry much about that in Indonesian?
Fira: Conjugating verbs is necessary for many languages, especially Romance languages, and we also see it in English, but Indonesian verbs don’t change forms according to the subject.
Gina: So, in Indonesian, no matter who is performing the action, the verb stays the same?
Fira: Exactly. Let’s look at an example. Saya pergi ke pasar.
Gina: "I go to the market." We already know “I” and “go”.
Fira: The other words are ke, the preposition meaning “to”, and pasar, which means “the market”.
Gina: Now let’s change the name of the subject to someone’s name, like “Lisa”.
Fira: Lisa pergi ke pasar.
Gina: "Lisa goes to the market." The verb in both sentences is exactly the same, right?
Fira: Right. The verb didn’t change!
Gina: That makes grammar a lot easier, that’s for sure.
[Singulars and Plurals]
Gina: Okay, now let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk about an area of Indonesian grammar that is really unique; something that may not exist in English.
Fira: Yes. That is, to leave certain things out in order to sound more natural! Gina, can you explain this in further detail?
Gina: Sure! Indonesian is a high-context language, meaning many things are left unsaid and left to the culture or context to explain. This is a natural way of communicating in Indonesian.
Fira: The key to sounding natural is to leave out anything that is already understood from context, such as the subject.
Gina: That’s right. The subject often disappears without a trace once it’s been established.
Fira: In fact, if you keep restating the subject as the conversation continues, it’ll sound very unnatural.
Gina: So really all you need to worry about is the pivotal information. Everything else that is already understood doesn’t need to be mentioned!


Gina: Okay. That’s it for this lesson.
Fira: See you next time!
Gina: Bye!