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A basic course in Bahasa Malaysia (or Malaysian language - originally Malay language)   ©GPJ
Books on Bahasa Malaysia.
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  Lesson 60 Penjodoh bilangan (Numerical coefficient/classifier)

The use of penjodoh bilangan (numerical coefficient or classifier) is very widespread in the Malay language. Just as we say in English "one tube of glue" and not just "one glue" the same principle is present in Malay but to a much larger extent than in English as the following examples will show:

Click to listen  

A second reading (by Muhammad Nor Ismat, a native speaker)

seorang anak
dua orang bini
sebuah rumah
tiga buah kereta
seekor anjing
one child
two wives
one house
three cars
one dog
empat ekor kucing
enam biji telur
tiga biji durian
sepuluh batang rokok
dua pucuk surat
four cats
six eggs
three durians
ten cigarettes
two letters

Enam ekor kucing
(= 6 cats)
The use of numerical coefficients can be summarized as follows:
orang is used for people. The word itself means "person, people".
ekor is used for animals. The word itself means "tail".
buah is used for most objects eg. books, tables, cars, houses, schools. The word itself means "fruit".
biji is used for small, round objects such as eggs, sweets and fruits. The word itself means "seed".
batang is used for long, slim items such as pencils, pens, or sticks.
keping is used for a piece/pieces of paper, bread, cake, cheques, photographs.
pucuk is used for letters and arms.

More sentences:

Anda ada anak?*
Ya, saya ada tiga orang anak.
Tidak, saya tidak ada anak.
Dia hisap lima batang rokok tiap hari.
Dia ada dua buah kereta.
Saya ada seekor anjing.
Jiran saya ada dua ekor kucing.
Do you have any children?
Yes, I've got three children.
No, I do not have any children.
He smokes five cigarettes a day.
He has got two cars.
I have a dog.
My neighbour has two cats.
*But if it is the number of children that you want to know, the question is: Anda ada berapa orang anak?
Also, as it is a question, remember to raise your voice at the last syllable (or add the suffix -kah).

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