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    Malay: Verbs that use the -i suffix    

This is a suffix that I didn't think of introducing until I received the following email from a student in Spain asking me about it. He writes as follows:
I was wondering if you could help me with a little question, if it's not too much of a nuisance.
I came across this sentence:
Kita rentasi gunung ini bersama.
So I looked up rentasi, but I didn't find a translation for it, and after some trial and error I discovered that the actual word was rentas (= to cross, to take a shortcut), with -i added as suffix.
After some more search I found this explanation on the -i suffix from
It states that the -i suffix expresses "locative, repetitive, or exhaustive" action, which is too vague an explanation for me to learn how to use it.
Is the -i suffix covered somewhere in your website? Or do you think it's not worth learning it "theoretically" and it's just better to wait until enough vocabulary exposure gives me a feel of how to use it?
To answer his question I would say that there are really no hard and fast rules concerning the -i suffix though grammarians, as is expected of them, will always try to come up with an explanation. Malay prefixes and suffixes are already difficult for foreigners studying Malay and for a learner to go by the grammatical explanation above would be like banging his head against a wall. So if you ask me I would say that the best way to learn the -i suffix is through usage.
Come to think of it, the -i suffix is used quite frequently, despite the fact that it is not often given as much attention as the other prefixes and suffixes in Malay grammar books. In fact you are likely to use (or at least come across them in your reading) in such sentences as the ones given below.
Like verbs with the -kan suffix mentioned earlier, the -i suffix verbs are also transitive verbs. This means that you can add the me(N) prefix to them (though they can also do without) as well as turn them into the passive form - in which case they must NOT have the me(N) prefix. By the way, don't try to crack your head over the differences between them - leave that to the academicians! Besides some of them can be used interchangeably eg. menghargai and menghargakan can be used without distinction one or the other. Oh, by the way, the -i as suffix has to be pronounced separately if there is a vowel coming before it, so meng-har-ga-ee (4 syllables) and not meng-har-gai (3 syllables) in case you are thinking of the word bagaimana (which is pronounced ba-gai-ma-na). So technically the i in menghargai should have a diaeresis (two dots) above it but this is not used in Malay.
A number of words which are already verbs in their root form are often used with the -i suffix so are some adjectives (such as dekat, jauh, cukup, lebih), nouns (such as harga) and prepositions (such as atas). Such adjectives, nouns or prepositions are transformed into verbs once the -i suffix is attached to them.

So let's get down to business, shall we? The following illustrative sentences will show you how they are used:

Root word: sayang (to love)
(Vocabulary: bayi = baby)
Ibu saya menyayangi bayi itu sebagai anaknya sendiri. (My mother loves the baby as if it's her own child.)
When turned into the passive voice the above sentence becomes:
Bayi itu disayangi ibu saya sebagai anaknya sendiri. (The baby is loved by my mother as if it's her own child.)

Here is another example:

Root word: masuk (to enter)
(Vocabulary: pencuri = thief, semasa = while)
Pencuri memasuki rumahnya semasa dia makan di restoran. (The thief entered his house while he was eating at a restaurant.)
When turned into the passive form the sentence becomes:
Rumahnya dimasuki pencuri semasa dia makan di restoran. (His house was broken into by a thief while he was eating at a restaurant.)

From the above you would have noticed that the -i suffix is commonly used with both sentences in the active as well as the passive voice. I am sure you get the drift so I will not turn the sentences below into the passive voice from now on.

Root word: periksa (to examine)
(Vocabulary: terdapat = found)
Polis memeriksai semua emel yang terdapat dalam komputernya. (Police examined all the emails that were found in his computer.)

Root word: jalan (to walk)
(Vocabulary: pembedahan = surgical operation, from bedah)
Dia akan menjalani satu pembedahan bulan hadapan. (He will undergo an operation next month.)

Root word: naik (to go up)
Dia menaiki basikal abangnya. (He is riding his elder brother's bicycle.)

Root word: hadir (to be present)
(Vocabulary: mesyuarat = meeting)
Lebih seribu orang telah menghadiri mesyuarat itu. (More than a thousand people attended the meeting.)

Root word: contoh (an example)
(Vocabulary: sebutan = pronunciation, from sebut)
Dia mencontohi sebutan gurunya. (He follows his teacher's pronunciation.)

Root word: duduk (to sit)
Sudah lama dia menduduki rumah ini. (He has been living in that house for a long time.)

Root word: kahwin (to marry)
(Vocabulary: sanggup = willing)
Dia tidak sanggup mengahwini orang tua yang kaya itu. (She is unwilling to marry the rich old man.)

Root word: kunjung (to visit)
(Vocabulary: menara = tower)
Ramai orang yang mengunjungi Menara Petronas tiap hari. (Many people visit the Petronas Towers every day.)

Root word: sudah (an auxiliary verb that indicates the past tense)
(Vocabulary: ucapan = speech, from ucap)
Dia menyudahi suratnya dengan ucapan Selamat Berjaya. (He ends his letter with wishes of success.)

Root word: akhir (end)
Dia mengakhiri suratnya dengan ucapan Selamat Berjaya. (He ends his letter with wishes of success.)
Note that menyudahi and mengakhiri are synonyms in the above two sentences.

Root word: hubung (to contact)
Saya akan menghubungi anda dalam sedikit masa lagi. (I shall contact you shortly.)

Root word: nikmat (to enjoy)
(Vocabulary: kuih = Malaysian cakes)
Dia sedang menikmati kuih yang dibuat oleh ibunya. = He is enjoying the (Malaysian) cakes made by his mother.

Root word: ulang (to repeat)
(Vocabulary: nampaknya = it seems that, lupa = to forget)
Saya akan mengulangi sekali lagi kerana nampaknya anda sudah lupa. (I will repeat once again as it appears that you have forgotten.)

Root word: ikut (to follow)
(Vocabulary: berjanji = to promise, tunang = fiancé, fiancée)
Dia berjanji dia akan mengikuti tunangnya ke mana sahaja dia pergi. (She promises that she will follow her fiancé wherever he goes.)

Root word: dapat (to find)
(Vocabulary: jujur = honest)
Saya dapati bahawa dia tidak berapa jujur. = I find that (meaning, "In my opinion") he is not quite honest.

Root word: temu (to meet)
(Vocabulary: rakan sedarjah = classmate, meninggalkan = to leave, from tinggal)
Dia akan menemui rakan sedarjahnya selepas meninggalkan sekolah 30 tahun dahulu. (He will be meeting his classmate after leaving school 30 years ago.)

Root word: mula (to start, begin)
(Vocabulary: pelajaran = lesson)
Kita akan memulai pelajaran sekarang. (We will start our lesson now.)

Root word: pada (enough, sufficient)
(Vocabulary: perbelanjaan = expenses, from belanja)
Although normally used as a preposition, the word "pada" can also be an adjective meaning "enough" or "sufficient". When turned into a verb with the -i suffix it has the sense of "suffice" in English.
Wang sebanyak US$60,000 tidak memadai untuk perbelanjaan setahun di Universiti Harvard. (A sum of US$60,000 will not suffice for a year's expenses at Harvard University.) Here again make sure you pronounce memadai as me-ma-da-ee (4 syllables).

Root word: cukup (enough, sufficient)
Wang sebanyak US$60,000 tidak mencukupi untuk perbelanjaan setahun di Universiti Harvard. (A sum of US$60,000 will not suffice for a year's expenses at Harvard University.)
Note that memadai and mencukupi are synonyms in the above two sentences.

Root word: atas (above, on top of)
(Vocabulary: ragu = worry, masalah = problem)
The preposition atas is often used with the -i suffix to turn it into a verb, so mengatasi means "to overcome". This is easy to remember as the verb would mean to "get above, on top" of something eg.
Jangan ragu, semua masalah dapat diatasi. (Don't worry, all problems can be surmounted.)

Root word: hadap (to face)
(Vocabulary: takut = afraid, kehidupan = life, from hidup)
Similarly the preposition hadap (you will be more familiar with hadapan meaning "in front of") when transformed into a verb with the -i suffix gives the meaning of having something in front of you, thus menghadapi means "to confront or face up to" somebody or something eg.
Dia tidak takut menghadapi semua masalah dalam kehidupan. (He is not afraid to confront all the problems in life.)

Root word: dekat (near)
(Vocabulary: meminta = to ask for something, from minta)
The adjective dekat when transformed into a verb with the -i suffix means "to come near to" or "to approach" as in the following sentence:
Dia mendekati saya lalu meminta wang daripada saya. (He approached me and asked me for money.)

Root word: harga (price)
(Vocabulary: pertolongan = aid, seumur hidup = whole of one's lifetime)
When turned into a verb with the -i suffix it has the meaning of putting a price on something. I hope this will make it easier for you to remember. Thus:
Saya akan menghargai pertolongan anda seumur hidup saya. (I will treasure your assistance throughout the whole of my lifetime.)

Root word: datang (to come)
(Vocabulary: tabiat = habit, berjudi = to gamble, from judi, kesusahan = difficulty, from susah)
Tabiat suka berjudi akan mendatangi berbagai-bagai kesusahan kelak. (The gambling habit will bring about lots of difficulties in future.)

Root word: hidap (to suffer from a disease)
(Vocabulary: penyakit = disease, from sakit, batuk kering = tuberculosis)
Sudah lama dia menghidapi penyakit batuk kering. (He has been suffering from tuberculosis for a long time.)

Root word: dahulu (before, previously)
(Vocabulary: meminta maaf = to apologize, kelewatan = being late, from lewat)
Similarly the word "dahulu" when used with the -i suffix becomes mendahului meaning "to precede" or if you prefer "to go before" eg.
Dia mendahului ucapannya dengan meminta maaf kerana kelewatannya. (He preceded his speech by excusing himself for arriving late.)

Root word: punya (this word indicates possession)
(Vocabulary: gembira = happy, walaupun = although)
Dia selalu gembira walaupun tidak mempunyai rumah atau kereta. (He is always happy although he does not possess a house or a car.) Note that mempunyai is pronounced mem-pu-nya-ee (4 syllables).

Root word: lalu (through)
Ramai orang yang membeli komputer dan televisyen melalui internet hari ini. (Many people buy computers and TV sets through internet today.)

Root word: lebih (more)
(Vocabulary: simpanan = savings, from simpan)
As the word lebih means "more" it is easy to understand that the verb melebihi means "to exceed" eg.
Simpanannya sudah melebihi 10,000 ringgit. (His savings has exceeded 10,000 ringgit.)

Root word: percaya (to believe)
Dia tidak percayai segala yang diceritakan orang mengenai ketuanya. (He does not believe all the things that people say about his boss.) Eh, what do you know? There are two verbs having the -i suffix in this sentence! The second verb mengenai meaning "about, concerning" comes from kena. Wonder if you guessed correctly. If so, wow, you're quite an expert on Malay by now!

These are about the most common examples of verbs using the -i suffix that I can think of. Just learn them off by heart without worrying too much about why you use the -i suffix in those sentences. After all, you only need to know how to use it correctly, not to explain to anyone why you use it!

Go here for the other prefixes and suffixes in Malay.