Thursday, September 8, 2011

About 'antara'

For today's post, I will talk about the usage of the Malay word 'antara' as I find that it is not being used correctly by some users of the language.

The word 'antara' which means 'between' or 'among' belongs to 'kata sendi nama' (preposition) and 'kata arah' (direction word). Used alone, it belongs to 'kata sendi nama'. For example, if you write 'Antara Ali dengan Abu, saya lebih suka berkawan dengan Abu. (Between Ali and Abu, I prefer to befriend Abu), it is used as a 'kata sendi nama' or preposition.

If you use it after another preposition 'di', then it belongs to 'kata arah'. For instance, you can write a sentence such as the one below:
Adik duduk di antara abang dengan kakak. (My younger brother is sitting between my elder brother and my elder sister).

In the above sentence, 'antara' is used as a 'kata arah' or direction word (for lack of a better term, I use 'direction word' to render the translation).

Now I shall elaborate on the correct usage of 'antara'.
1 When used alone, 'antara' is used for 'non-position' situations.
e.g. Kerjasama antara negara amat penting. (Co-operation among nations is very vital.)

2 If it is used after 'di' to become 'di antara', then it is used for situation denoting position.
e.g. Kedai runcit itu terletak di antara kedai tukang jahit dengan kedai gunting rambut. (The grocery shop is situated between the tailor shop and the barber shop.)

3 The noun that follows 'antara' must not be duplicated.
e.g. Antara buku-buku ini, buku merah ini paling mahal. [wrong]
Antara buku ini, buku merah ini paling mahal. [correct]
(Among these books, this red book is the most expensive.)
Notice that 'buku-buku' used after 'antara' should be used singly to become 'buku'.

4 If there are only two objects used between 'antara', then 'dengan' is used.
e.g. Antara buah durian dan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah manggis.[wrong]
Antara buah durian dengan buah manggis, saya lebih suka makan buah manggis. [correct] (Between durians and mongosteens, I prefer eating mongosteens.]

5 However, if there are three objects or things used together with 'antara', then 'dan' is used.
e.g. Antara Ali, Abu dengan Chandran, Abu paling gemuk. [wrong]
Antara Ali, Abu dan Chandran, Abu paling gemuk. [correct]
[Among Ali, Abu and Chandran, Abu is the fattest.]

I hope the above tips on the usage of 'antara' will be of help to students and Malay language users.

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