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pe- Prefix, , Tips & Notes, Addendum

(pe-) prefix changes the base word (verbs and other classes) to a noun.
The noun has the meaning : The person/thing that performs the action of the base word.
The base word is mostly a verb, but it can also be another class (noun/adjective).

First letter base word ==> pe- prefix
l,m,n,r,w =====> pe + base
vowel, g, h ===> pe + ng + base
c,d,j ========> pe + n + base
b,f,v ========> pe + m + base
k ==========> pe + ng + (base - k)
t ==========> pe + n + (base - t)
s ==========> pe + ny + (base - s)
p ==========> pe + m + (base - p)
monosyllabic => pe + nge + base

It's basically the same table as with the "me- verbs".

See comments Julian_L
There are exceptions to this KPST table.

lupa (verb)= to forget
pelupa (noun)= a forgetful person

menang (verb)= to win
pemenang (noun)= winner

antar (verb)= to bring
pengantar (noun)= a person that brings..

baca (verb)= to read
pembaca (noun)= reader

cuci (verb)= to wash
pencuci (noun)= the one doing the washing.

duduk (verb)= to sit
penduduk (noun)= inhabitant, resident, population.

diam (adjective)= quiet
pendiam (noun)= a quiet person

jual (verb)= to sell
penjual (noun)= seller, salesman

kumpul (verb)= to collect
pengumpul (noun)= a collector

lukis (verb)= to paint
pelukis (noun)= painter

malu (adjective)= shy
pemalu (noun)= a shy person

sapu (noun)= broom
penyapu (noun)= sweeper, the person that sweeps the floor

tulis (verb)= to write
penulis (noun)= writer

takut (adjective)= afraid, scared
penakut (noun)= coward

utang (noun)= debt
pengutang (noun)= debtor

pe- prefix is used to create a noun.
pe- prefix can be attached to verbs/nouns/adjectives/dll.

pe- prefix can also be combined with other affixes.

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

August 26, 2018



I have read (here) that P, T, K and S aren't removed when the letter after them is a consonant, and from what I have seen here and on the KBBI it seems to be true.


Yes, you're right.
These are the KPST exceptions according to the indodic website :

Letter "k" is dropped about 85% of the time from the front of a root word when the prefix meng- is added to root words beginning with the letter "k" and about 90% of the time when peng- is added.

Letter "s" is dropped about 90% of the time from the front of a root word when the prefix meny- is added to root words beginning with the letter "s" and about 95% of the time when peny- is added.

Letter "t" is dropped about 95% of the time from the front of a root word when the prefix -men is added to root words beginning with the letter "t" and about 99% of the time when pen- is added.

Letter "p" is dropped about 85% of the time from the front of a root word when the prefix mem- is added to root words beginning with the letter "p" and about 99% of the time with the prefix pem- is used.

I'm having trouble finding the exceptions, so far I've only been able to find a handful exceptions.
"kristal", "stabil", "tenis", ....

It would be nice to have more examples of these exceptions.


pe- prefix with 'sports':
'tenis' is an exception that also applies for other sports.
pe- prefix is used to name the athletes.


petenis = tennis player
pelari = runner
perenang = swimmer
petinju = boxer
pemain sepak bola = football player (soccer)
pebulu tangkis = badminton player

The pe- prefix is used without dropping a letter from the name of the game.


Pebulu tangkis Taufik Hidayat!


Thanks for the heads up.
You're right.
I have to adjust the KPST table in the opening post.

k ====> pe + ng + (base - k)
t ====> pe + n + (base - t)
s ====> pe + ny + (base - s)
p ====> pe + m + (base - p)

So, the table above is only true if the KPST is followed by a vowel.
If the KPST base word is followed by a consonant, then it will be like this :

k ====> pe + ng + (base)
t ====> pe + n + (base)
s ====> pe + ny + (base)
p ====> pe + m + (base)

Would that be the other KPST table ?

It would be nice to have more example words.
I've only found 1 example so far.

'kacau" => mengacau (verb) ==> pengacau (noun)
"kristal" => mengkristal (verb) ==> pengkristalan (noun)

I can't think of any other examples.
Other KPST examples, please ?


At the end of this IndoDic page there is a list of exceptions and a possible explanation of why those words are exceptions. What is curious is that in that list there are "double consonants" and "consonant+vowel" words, but if we search on the KBBI a "consonant+vowel" word that is not 'punya' or 'kaji' (or 'tenis', mentioned by you but not by IndoDic), the letter is anyway removed and there is no mention about the possibility of writting that word keeping the letter.


Thank you for that list, I didn't see it yesterday.
Most of the exceptions that are mentioned there, are for pe-an affix (and other affixes), but not solely for the pe- prefix.
I've checked the exceptions that are mentioned on the pe-an list.
More than half of those "exceptions" as mentioned by the indodic website are not listed in the KBBI.

pen+sinyal+an ==> not in KBBI
pen+stabil+an ==> KBBI
pen+steril+an ==> KBBI
pen+sukses+an ==> not in KBBI
pen+skala+an ===> not in KBBI
pen+standar+an => not in KBBI
pen+stok+an ====> not in KBBI
pen+swasta+an ==> KBBI
pem+proses+an ==> pemrosesan in KBBI
peng+kaji+an ===> pengajian & pengkajian in KBBI
peng+khayal+an => KBBI
peng+klasifikasi+an => KBBI
peng+kritik ======> KBBI
peng+kapling+an ==> not in KBBI
peng+khianat ===> KBBI
peng+kotak-kotak+an ==> not in KBBI (pengotak-ngotakan)
peng+kritik+an ==> not in KBBI (pengkritik)
peng+kategori+an => not in KBBI
peng+khianat+an ==> KBBI
peng+kredit+an ===> KBBI
peng+kubu+an =====> not in KBBI
peng+khayal ======> KBBI
peng+khotbah =====> KBBI
peng+kristal+an ==> KBBI
peng+kultus+an ===> not in KBBI (pengultusan)
pen+tarif+an =====> not in KBBI (penarifan)

I don't know what their source is, but more than 50% of those "exceptions" are not in the KBBI.
If the word is not listed in the KBBI, then it's hard for me to accept that it's a valid word.

Regarding the pe- prefix, these are the only exceptions that are listed in the KBBI :

khayal => pengkhayal
khianat => pengkhianat
khotbah => pengkhotbah
kritik => pengkritik
klasifikasi => pengklasifikasi


In limited cases, -wan is used instead of pe- . For example wartawan = journalist, wisatawan = tourist. These are also one of those rare cases where we see grammatical gender in Indonesian as -wan is male/neutral and -wati is female eg. Wartawati.

I've heard that this form is fading out and being replaced by pe- and other gender neutral forms.


The suffix "-wan" and "-wati" (Sanskrit origin) are sometimes used with nouns ending in a vowel (or 'h').
Indeed, they are not gender neutral.
(karya, karyawan, karyawati).
(warta, wartawan, wartawati).
(sejarah, sejarawan).


In the lessons about pe- -an, some words are mentioned like perbatasan. Since the baseword (KBBI) is batas, the prefix is 'per-'. Is this an exception, or a different kind of prefix? (In which case I am confused to find it in the lesson that I did)


Thank you, most helpful


I am trying to figure out the base words for these. Thanks for your help. pengadilan, penginapan, pelabuhan, pengalaman, perusahaan, pertarungan, percakapan, persahabatan.


pengadilan <--/adil/; penginapan <--/nginap/; pelabuhan <--/labuh/; pengalaman <--/ngalam/; perusahaan <--/usaha/; pertarungan <--/tarung/; percakapan <--/cakap/ in the noun sense of 'word'; persahabatan <--/sahabat/;

So in general, if you see /per-/ on the front of a word, it might be a prefix. If you see /-an/ on the end of a word, it's a noun-making suffix (though I'm not sure exactly what it's doing when attached to a root word which is already noun). /peN-/ (the N stands for any nasal sound in the International Phonetic Alphabet) is also a noun-making prefix, sometimes indicative of a person or instrument who does or has the root word quality or action.


Wouldn't pengalaman be alam not ngalam?


This is just what Im looking for on this confusing 'pe - an. matter - thank you. there eem to be a lot of exceptions and variations.

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