Prefix “Me-”, “Mem-”, “Men-”, and “Meng-”

As has been discussed previously that the discussion about prefix in Bahasa Indonesia is little bit confusing - especially prefix “me-” and its derivatives. In this post, prefix “me-”, “mem-”, “men-”, and “meng-” will be discussed.


When this prefix exists in a verb, then the verb must be an active verb. Prefix “me-” has structural meaning and it serves to form a verb. In grammar book of Bahasa Indonesia, you will find this prefix explained as verb. However, you will sometimes find it similar in terms of meaning with its root word. Let’s have some examples.

RootWith PrefixExampleEnglish
MakanMemakanSaya makan nasiI eat rice
Saya memakan nasi
MinumMeminumSaya minum air mineralI drink mineral water
Saya meminum air mineral
BacaMembacaSaya baca koranI read newspaper
Saya membaca koran

Don’t be confused with root word that has suffix ‘-i’ if prefix ‘me-’ exists. In Bahasa Indonesia, we have root word “duduk” which should be “menduduki” instead of “menduduk”. In this case, word “menduduk” is ungrammatical. However, examples above cannot follow this rule. We cannot say “memakani”, “meminumi”, or “membacai”. Furthermore, some root words such as “ajar” can be “mengajar” and “mengajari”.

Surprize, surprize, surprize: First, there is no sign or marker for this kind of rule. We cannot determine which root word that needs suffix “-i” and which does not need. Second, both using the root word and root word with prefix “me-” are similar in terms of meaning. Root word with prefix “me-” is usually used in formal situation. Other than that, they are similar.

Prefix “mem-”

It is used for root word which has initial letter ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘p’