No Tenses in Indonesian Language

No Tenses In IndonesianNo Tenses In Indonesian Language – In English, a tense is defined as

” a verb-based method used to indicate the time, and sometimes the continuation or completeness, of an action or state in relation to the time of speaking. ORIGIN Latin tempus “time” (source)

So, everytime we read or hear an English sentence, we get quite clear indication about when the action has taken place. Even, if there is no adverb of time attached to the sentence.

For example :

  • I eat an egg – We know when the action of an egg eating is done. It is “now” or at present time (by seeing the verb “eat”).
  • She drove a car – We get an indication that the action of her driving a car was done sometime in the past (seeing verb “drove”)

Some other languages such as Germany and Japanese do have the same system. They have their own tense system.

How about Indonesian Language?

No, there is no Tenses in Indonesian language

You will not find any form change of verb that indicates time when the action is done. Let’s see the same sentences of the above mentioned examples in Indonesian.

Saya makan sebutir telur ( Read : Sa-ya ma-kan se-bu-tir te-lur)

The meaning of the above sentence is the same as “I eat an egg”. What makes it different from its version in English is that from the english version we can know that the action is done at present time.

Dia mengendarai mobil (Read : Di-a me-ngen-da-ra-i mo-bil)

The English version indicates the action was done in the past. But, the Indonesian version doesn’t mention anything about the time.

Yes, as you can see there is a form change on the second sentence “mengendarai” but it is just to show the verb as an “active” form that needs an object. However, both sentences don’t say anything about “time”.

How to know about time of action in Indonesian Language?

So, how to know when an action takes place since there is no tenses in Indonesian language?


Just see an adverb of time on the sentence and also an Indonesian “modal”. It can be located in front of, in the middle, or behind a sentence.

To show you what I mean, I will just use one sentence for an example.

Saya makan nasi – no time indication

  • Kemarin, saya makan sebutir telur – Yesterday, I ate an egg. (Past)
  • Saya akan makan sebutir telur besok – I will eat an egg tomorrow (Future)
  • Saya sedang makan sebutir telow – I am eating an egg now (Present Progressive)

Indonesian language is much more simpler than English in this case. It should be easier for you to learn.

This is an explanation about no tenses in Indonesian language and how we, Indonesian, indicate time when we speak or write.

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