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-an Suffix, Tips & Notes, Addendum

-an suffix is used to create nouns (from verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc...)
The noun has the meaning related to the base word.

Examples :

-an attached to verbs: (verb) + (an) = (noun)
minum = to drink
minuman = drinks

makan = to eat
makanan = food

tulis = to write
tulisan = the writing, the handwriting

lukis = to paint
lukisan = painting

gambar = to draw
gambaran = a drawing

-an attached to adjectives: (adjective) + (an) = (noun)
manis = sweet
manisan = sweets, candy

kotor = dirty
kotoran = garbage

-an attached to nouns: (noun) + (an) = (noun)
tari = dance (noun)
tarian = type of dance

dagang = trade (noun)
dagangan = merchandise

-an attached to reduplicated noun :
buah = fruit
buah-buahan = all kinds of fruits

bunga = flower
bunga-bungaan = all kinds of flowers

-an suffix can also be used in combination with other prefixes to create nouns.
pe-an, creates nouns.
ke-an, creates nouns.

These are my notes on this subject.
Questions ? Remarks ? Adjustments ? Please leave a comment.
Thank you for reading.

August 26, 2018



-an suffix with reduplicated bases are used frequently.
They can also produce other words than nouns.

Examples :

mudah (adjective) = easy
mudah-mudahan (adverb) = hopefully

besar (adjective) = big, large
besar-besaran (adjective) = on a large scale, grandiose

habis (verb) = finished, exhausted, completed
habis-habisan (adverb) = exhaustively, completely, all-out

untung (noun) = luck, profit
untung-untung (adverb) = maybe, if you're lucky
untung-untungan (adjective) = relying on luck

terus (verb) = to continue
terus-terusan (adverb) = continuously

terang (adjective) = clear, bright
terang-terangan (verb) = to be frank, to be honest

terang-terangan (verb) = berterang-terang (verb) = berterus-terang (verb)
(These verbs are synonyms)


Thanks for that! I get much help from this (and you).


Something I picked up from my wife; reduplicated nouns with the -an suffix often can translate as "fake" or "toy" things - such as rumah-rumahan would be a toy house (dolls house).


When texting in Indonesian, could I just say buah2 instead?? It's so much easier.


Yes, it's quite common to see Indonesians put reduplicated words as "something2" in online chat conversations. I don't think I've seen it anywhere outside of that sort of very informal type of texting/chat though, so don't expect it to work on Duolingo ;)


Is the suffix '-an' sort of a reverse of the prefix 'ber-' (at least for nouns)? Is it possible to have 'ber-' and '-an' in the same time?


No, it's not a reverse. Sorry, not sure what you mean by that.

Yes, it's possible to have /ber-/ and /-an/ attached to the same root. I would cite /bepergian/ as one such example, but I don't yet know of others.


Thank you very much.


more helpful than the official tips, thank you.


It would be nice to see an article written on what the grammatical meaning/class is when a root word takes both pe- and -an. If pe- is a AGENT-making morpheme (i.e. person who does X) and -an is a nominalizer (i.e. makes a noun out of the root word), then what does using both of them together do?

From what I've been able to observe, it makes a noun, but what kind of noun? My first guess is both of these together with a root create an abstract concept, but I'm not sure.

Also, what's the difference between /pe-/ and /per-/?


That's an excellent question. I asked my wife (native speaker), and she couldn't give a definitive answer; it seems it can go a few different ways depending on the word they modify.

From the examples she gave, however, the most common type do seem to be a more abstract noun, something like "the thing it relates to when the verb-er verbs"
eg pe+ to build = builder/developer, and +an: what does the developer build? - a development
pe+ walk/road (jalan) = walker; and +an: what does the walker go on? - a journey.

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