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The Classifiers: Buah, Orang and Ekor

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The Indonesian language has a fairly large number of classifiers to count objects based on their characteristics. Among the many classifiers for items, the most common one is buah, literally ‘fruit’.

If you count cars, for instance, the you can use the classifier:

  • Sebuah mobil 'a car, one car'.
  • Dua buah mobil 'two cars' etc.

The classifiers can come handy to singularize a word. The sentence "Ada mobil di depan rumah kita", can mean "There is a car in front of our house", or "There are cars in front of our house" because every noun in the Indonesian language can be singular or plural.

In order to singularize the word you can say "Ada sebuah mobil di depan rumah kita" - "There is a car in front of our house".

The classifier buah can be used with many objects. Even objects that should carry a different classifier such as batang (used for stick-like objects), biji (used for very small round objects), helai (used for flat soft items), or keping (used for flat rigid items) can often take the classifier buah.

Animals are counted by ekor - 'tail':

  • Seekor kucing - 'a cat', dua ekor anjing - 'two dogs',
  • And people by orang: seorang perempuan - 'a woman', dua orang perempuan - 'two women' etc.

Examples

  • batang = sebatang lilin = a candle stick

  • buah = sebuah apel = an apple

  • butir = sebutir telur = an egg

  • cangkir = secangkir teh = a cup of tea

  • ekor = seekor kambing = a goat

  • gelas = segelas air = a glass of water

  • helai = sehelai rambut = one strand of hair

  • ikat = seikat bunga = a bunch of flowers

  • kejap = sekejap mata = in a blink of an eye

  • lembar = selembar kertas = one piece of paper

  • mangkuk = semangkuk sup = a bowl of soup

  • orang = seorang wanita = a woman

  • pasang = sepasang sepatu = a pair of shoes

  • piring = sepiring makanan = a plate of food

  • potong = sepotong kue = a slice of cake

  • sendok = sesendok makan = one table spoon

  • siung = sesiung bawang putih = a clove of garlic

  • suap = sesuap nasi = a mouthful of rice

  • tangkai = setangkai bunga = a flower

  • titik = setitik darah = a drop of blood

Source : http://www.bahasakita.com/about/grammar/the-classifiers-buah-orang-and-ekor/

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