Verbs with prefix ter- have three categories:


These verbs refer to a state of affairs and there is no action involved.

Root ter – Root Meaning
apung Di Kalimantan Selatan ada pasar terapung. In South Kalimantan there is a floating market.
letak Koran itu terletak di atas meja. The newspaper is(located) on the table.
tulis Surat itu tertulis dalam bahasa Inggris. That letter is written in English.
buat Bajunya terbuat dari sutera. Her dress is made of silk.


Verbs in Indonesian distinguish between accidental and deliberate action. The verb with prefix ter- forms a term for a variety of uncontrolled actions, unintended, unexpected, involuntary or sudden.

Deliberate Accidental
Tasnya ditinggalkan di kantor.
His bag was left at the office.
Tasnya tertinggal di kantor.
His bag was left at the office.

It can be transitive or intransitive.

Intransitive Transitive
Maman tertidur di kelas.
Maman fell asleep in class.
Buku saya terbawa oleh kamu.
You took my book by mistake.
Tadi pagi saya terbangun jam lima.
This morning I woke at five o’clock.
Obat itu terminum oleh saya.
The medicine was accidentally drunk by me.

The prefix ter- is also used to express the passive voice, and the agent is of no importance:

Penumpang itu terlempar ke laut. The passenger was accidentally thrown outside.
Kaki orang itu terinjak oleh Ahmad. The man’s foot was accidentally trampled on by Ahmad.
Rumahnya terbakar tadi malam. The house was burned down by accident last night.


These verbs indicate that the agent has the ability to perform the action. All of them are transitive verbs and usually negated, indicating the inability. Sometimes the agent is not expressed.

Mobil itu tidak terbeli oleh saya I can’t afford to buy that car.
Suaranya tidak terdengar. Her voice can’t be heard.
Persoalan itu akhirnya terselesaikan. That problem is finally solved.
Kegagalan ini tidak terhindarkan. This malfunction is unavoidable.


The prefix ter- is also used to explain the greatest degree of a quality or quantity among two or more persons or things as a superlative form to replace the word ‘paling’.

Root Meaning ter – Root Synonym Meaning
baik good terbaik paling baik the best
buruk bad terburuk paling buruk the worst
akhir end terakhir paling akhir the last one
banyak a lot terbanyak paling banyak the greatest number, majority, most
panjang long terpanjang paling panjang the longest

No double ‘r’ in prefix formation.

Root Meaning ter – Root Meaning
rampas seize, rob, plunder, capture terampas seized, robbed, plundered, captured
rencana plan terencana planned

*) Reference: Indonesian Reference Grammar, by James Neil Sneddon, 1996

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