• To review colours and practise describing the colours of things.
  • To practise describing a person’s appearance.

Vocabulary Review

Here are some of the frequent words used in this lesson that have appeared in previous lessons.  Using the flashcards, check that you remember their meanings.

abu-abu,  atap,  berwarna,   biru,  blus,  gemuk,  hijau,  hubungi,  lengan,  mencari,  kantor polisi,  kuning,  kurus,  merah,  minta tolong,  peci,  pendek,   penjahat,  rambut,  segera,  tinggi


Fine Tuning the Terms for Colours

In Lesson 27 you learned the main words for colours. You are about to fine tune your command of these terms, so review Lesson 27 first to make sure you can automatically produce them. Here are two ways you can talk in a more nuanced, more precise way about colours.

1. In Indonesian, dark colours are “old” (tua) and light colours are “young” (muda).

hijau tua
dark green
biru muda
light blue
merah tua
dark red
kuning muda
light yellow


Blusnya kuning tua.
Her blouse is dark yellow.
  or     Blusnya berwarna kuning tua.
Her blouse is dark yellow in colour.
Atap rumahnya biru muda.
His house has a blue roof.


Atap rumahnya berwarna biru muda.
His house has a roof that’s blue in colour.


2. In English you can use the suffix "-ish" to describe something that has a certain hue or tinge, for example "reddish", "greenish", "yellowish" etc. In Indonesian you produce a similar effect by 1 reduplicating the adjective and 2 nesting it between the affixes ke- and –an.

blackish, darkish


Rambutnya kemerah-merahan.
He has reddish hair.

Orang yang mempunyai penyakit hati kulitnya menjadi kekuning-kuningan.
A yellowish skin tone develops in people suffering from liver disease.


Talking About Someone’s Appearance

Here are some of the very common adjectives that can be used to talk about someone’s appearance. (You have met and practised some of them already.) Check that you know the meanings of all of them.

Someone’s general proportions tinggi, pendek, besar, kecil, biasa
Someone’s general appearance cantik, ganteng, jelek, biasa, kurus, gemuk
The appearance of someone’s hair botak, panjang, pendek, lurus, keriting
The colour of someone’s hair hitam, pirang, putih, kemerah-merahan, coklat tua
The colour of someone’s skin putih, kuning langsat, sawo matang, hitam manis
The colour of someone’s eyes hitam, coklat, biru, kehijau-hijauan

Exercise 101-01

Translate these sentences into good Indonesian. Remember two things: 1. with a tiny number of special exceptions, the adjective follows the noun in Indonesian, and 2. “to have” is often expressed with the possessive suffix –nya. First check the model below.

Cue sentence:  She has very long hair.
You write:   Dia itu rambutnya panjang sekali.
or (more commonly) Rambutnya panjang sekali.

  1. She has black shoes and a light yellow blouse.
  2. She bought some dark red flowers.
  3. He has a darkish complexion.
  4. Surtiningsih is wearing a greenish coloured dress.
  5. Yusuf has long reddish hair.
  6. He is wearing long pants and a dark blue shirt.
  7. He is very tall. His eyes are greenish in colour.
  8. Julia has a huge bottom but very thin legs.
  9. She is rather short but very pretty.
  10. She likes stylish clothes and the colour grey.

Role Play: Describing a Fugitive from the Law

Imagine that you are a police officer (polisi). You have to describe a fugitive criminal (penjahat) to journalists, to the public or to fellow police officers. Your description should cover sex, age, place of origin, height, whether the person is fat or thin, hair colour, eye colour, complexion and what the person is wearing. Your description might begin like this (as you repeat the role play, you should radically vary this opening):

Selamat pagi (siang/sore/malam) Bapak-Bapak dan Ibu-Ibu. Nama saya Ridwan. Saya kepala kantor polisi di sini. Kami sedang mencari seorang penjahat dari Wonosobo bernama Joko yang dicari karena mencuri mobil. Dia berumur kira-kira 25 (dua puluh lima) tahun. Tinggi badannya 170 (seratus tujuh puluh) sentimeter dan agak gemuk. Dia berkulit sawo matang dengan rambut lurus dan pendek. Ia memakai kemeja lengan pendek, (etc. etc. etc.) ….

The police officer should conclude by saying something like this:

Saya minta tolong kepada Bapak-Bapak dan Ibu-Ibu kalau melihat orang ini, segera hubungi kami di nomor 2457278 (dua empat lima tujuh dua tujuh delapan). Terima kasih. Ada pertanyaan?

The “audience” now quizzes the speaker, asking for clarification and more details. There are many kinds of questions you can ask, but two important ones that relate to recent lessons are:

1. use memakai to ask about what the fugitive is/was wearing. For example

Joko topi
Apakah    penjahat itu   memakai peci ?
ikat kepala


2. Use –nya constructions to ask about what kind of personal features and clothes the fugitive has. For example

rambutnya lurus?
rambutnya panjang?
Joko itu rambutnya keriting?
Apakah  penjahat itu berbaju biru?
bercelana jins?


berpikirRed as a Mountain Apple

'Light Red' is, as we have learned above, merah muda. More common, however, is it to refer to a pinkish colour with the term merah jambu. Jambu air is the name of the fruit very closely related to the Malay apple, which in Hawai'i is known as the mountain apple. The fruit with the Latin name Syzygium aqueum is juicy and slightly sweet-sour and is often part of the spicy fruit salad called rujak.


Of course you should also try to re-cycle all the kinds of questions you have practised so far, for example questions beginning with:

Di mana ….
Siapa yang ….
Hari apa / Tanggal berapa / Jam berapa / Kapan ….
Kenapa ….
Apakah ada ….
Bagaimana ….

and many more.

More about the Prefix ber-

The prefix ber- forms intransitive verbs (that is verbs that cannot take an object) such as berangkat (to leave), bekerja (to work), berhenti (to stop), belajar (to study), berenang (to swim), bertemu (to meet), berpikir (to think), berdiri (to stand), berbelanja (to shop), bersiap-siap (to get ready), beristirahat (to rest), bersisir (to comb).

A large group of ber- verbs is based on nouns and has the general meaning "to have/own [base]":

bersuami to have a husband
berumur be aged
bernama be named
beranak have children
berguna to be useful
berhasil to have success, to succeed

A subgroup of this group means "to use, wear, travel by [base]":

bertopi to wear a hat
berdasi to wear a tie
bersepatu to wear shoes
berkacamata to wear glasses
berbaju to wear a shirt
berkuda to ride a horse
bersepeda to ride a bicycle

Adjectives or possessive nouns can be added:

berkacamata hitam to wear sunglasses
berbaju biru to wear a blue shirt
bertopi koboi to wear a cowboy hat
bersepeda balap to ride a racing bike

Instead of using ber- one can of course also use memakai or naik:

Anak itu berkacamata minus. / Anak itu memakai kacamata minus.
That child wears minus (myopic) glasses.

Toni setiap hari bersepeda ke kantor. / Toni setiap hari naik sepeda ke kantor.
Every day Toni goes to his office by bike.


content goes here