How to Read Indonesian Words

In reading Indonesian words, you need to break down the words based on the sound of each syllable that forms the word. This method will ease you in reading any word.


Dispart a word based on the sound of syllables are great to train your speaking in Bahasa Indonesia. It will ease you in determining how a word should be read.

The way to dispart Indonesian words is actually totally easy. Once you are familiar with this method, you will be able to dispart any word into syllables you want to say. Meaning that you will be able to say any Indonesian word. Take a look on table containing some examples below.

Word Syllable Meaning
Aku a - ku I / me
Makan ma - kan Eat / to eat
Minum mi - num Drink / to drink
Tidur ti - dur Sleep
Duduk du - duk Sit
Membaca mem - ba - ca Read
Bertanggungjawab ber - tang - gung - ja - wab To be responsible
Mempertanggungjawabkan mem - per - tang - gung - ja - wab - kan Account for


To master this course, you need to be familiar with prefix and suffix in Bahasa Indonesia. Once you are familiar with prefix and suffix, it must be easier to read any word. In breaking any word into syllable, prefix and affix should be in one syllable. Let’s check the following examples.

Root Affix Suffix Syllable Meaning
men_ Jalan _kan men - ja - lan - jan To run / to perform
me_ Laksana _kan me - lak - sa - na - kan Implement
mem_ & per_ Taruh _kan mem - per - ta - ruh - kan Stake
mem_ Beli _kan mem - be - li - kan Buy for
men_ Jual _kan * men - ju - wal - kan Trade off
(Note: Look at the last example in row ‘syllable’ above. When ‘u’ meets ‘a’, you should read it as ‘wa’.)

In breaking down root word into syllables, it commonly consists of two or three letters - depends on the vocal-consonant. The most common practice in forming syllable is by placing consonant as the first letter on each syllable. When you are confused with the spelling of double-vocal letter such as ‘ua’, ‘eo’, ‘io’, etc., read the discussion about “Diphtong in Bahasa Indonesia”.

Also consider reading “Digraph in Bahasa Indonesia” to ease you in reading Indonesian words. 

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