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Teaching English to the Indonesian students is not as difficult as most people imagine.
There is a strong belief that almost every one can do it. The experience has clearly indicated that
the ideas of Contrastive Analysis play a very decisive role and contribute very much to the
successful of doing this (Koencoro, 2006). Contrastive analysis has been regarded as main
pillars in the domain of second or foreign language acquisition especially in Indonesia. Yet, not
many English teachers know much about this term and it seems they have found difficulties
related to how to conduct a simple contrastive analysis of Indonesian and English language. For
that sake this paper is written. This paper is aimed to give a bright example how to make a
contrastive analysis of Indonesian and English. Further than that, this paper is also aimed to give
a clear understanding about how Indonesian differs from English in the sense of its language
This paper mainly deals with the similarities and dissimilarities of the two languages,
Indonesian and English, in the morphological, syntactical, and sociolinguistics levels. In the first
discussion, some remarks are given about the Contrastive analysis. In the second discussion,
comparison of the idea of plural have been made and similarities and dissimilarities between the
two languages are brought out. In the third discussion comparisons has been made for the
sentence structure at syntactic level. Discussion four, deals with the comparison of passive and
object-focus construction. Discussion five, six, seven and eight deals with the similarities and
dissimilarities of subject prominence in English and nya in Indonesian, terms of address, code
mixing and code sifting in sociolinguistics level, and gender orientation versus kinship
orientation. The concluding remarks of the above contrastive studies have, are outlined in the last
session of this paper. This study is helpful for L2 learners in the process of language acquisition
and also for the descriptive study of the languages.

A. Contrastive Analysis
Contrastive analysis in general term is an inductive investigative approach based on the
distinctive elements in a language (Kardaleska, 2006). In common definition, the term can be
defined as the method of analyzing the structure of any two languages with a view to estimate
the differential aspects of their system, irrespective or their genetic affinity of level development
(Geethakumary, 2006).
Contrastive Analysis of two languages in question: L1 and L2, pointing at the specific
features of each language system (in its major areas: phonology, morphology, lexicology, syntax,
text analysis) helps in the process of anticipation of possible difficulties with the L2 learners. A
part of the difficulties can be attributed to the mother tongue (first language) interference
(Kardaleska, 2006).
A systematic comparative study analyzing component wise the differences and
similarities among languages was clearly recognized towards the end of 19th century and the
beginning of 20th century, especially in Europe. The term Contrastive linguistics was
suggested by Whorf, for comparative study which is giving emphasis on linguistic differences.
Meanwhile contrastive linguistics has been redefined as a subdiscipline of linguistics concerned
with the comparison of two or more languages or subsystems of languages in order to determine
both the differences and similarities between them (Geethakumary, 2006).
The contrastive analysis emphasizes the influence of the mother tongue in learning a
second language in phonological, morphological and syntactic levels. Examination of the
differences between the first and second languages helps to predict the possible errors that can be
made by L2 learners
Contrastive analysis provides an objective and scientific base for second language
teaching. While learning a second language, if the mother tongue of the learner and the target
language both has significantly similar linguistic features on all the levels of their structures,
there will not be much difficulty in learning the new language in a limited time. For knowing the
significantly similar structures in both languages the first step to be adopted is that both

languages should be analysed independently. After the independent analysis, to sort out the
different features of the two languages, comparison of the two languages is necessary. From this
analysis it is easy to make out that at different levels of structures of these two languages there
are some features quite similar and some quite dissimilar.
According to the popular assumptions of the contrastive analysis, the structural
similarities will lead to facilitation and differences will cause interferences in the context of
second/foreign language learning situations. This is however only a prediction and a partial
understanding of the problems and prospects of a second/foreign language situation. The
learners problems are not always constrained to the predictions of a contrastive study. Teachers
competence, motivation and attitude of learners, teaching methods and instructional materials are
the other variables that can significantly influence second/foreign language teaching. However, a
contrastive grammar is highly useful for a motivated teacher and a learner for a more effective
process of teaching and learning.
B. The idea of plural
The first idea to be discussed in this paper lies on the idea of plural. Plural here refers to the form
of a noun or a verb which refers to more than one person or thing. English expresses plural
implicitly by creating patterns how to use s and es. Indonesian on the other hand expresses
plural explicitly. No definite rules how to create a plural form of a word except by reduplicating
it, e.g rumah-rumah, mobil-mobil. The idea of plural can be clearly seen trough the following

Serigala itu binatang

A wolf is an animal
Wolves are animal
Wolf is animal

Hiu itu ikan atau mamalia?

Is a shark fish or mammal?

Are sharks fish or mammal?
Is shark fish or mammal?

Tukang pos selalu membawa surat

A postman always brings letters

Postmen always bring letters

Hewan peliharaan membutuhkan perhatian

A pet needs care

Pets need care
Pet need care

From the example above, we can see that in English, the ideas of plural are expressed in many
ways. A final s or es is added to a noun to make a noun plural. Sometimes, the changing a
(man) to (men) is also needed to indicate plural. A final s or es is added to a verb I when the
subject is a singular noun (a wolf, a shark, a pet) or a third a person singular pronoun (she, he, it)
(Azar, 1989).
C. Sentence structure
The basic order for Indonesian sentence is; Subject, Verb, Object or Adjective or Adverb. In
syntactical term, simply we use the definition of S = NP.VP. A short hand way of saying that
pattern is; a sentence consists of Noun Phrase and Verb Phrase. Yet in many cases, the order can
be put in various ways, e.g a sentence may come from NP.VP, or NP.NP, or NP.AP or NP.PP. In
English, the order strictly lies on S = NP.VP (sometimes VP with to be or linking verb). Below,
you will find the differences in syntactical level




Paman pergi ke Surabaya tadi malam

Uncle went to Surabaya last night

Kakak ke kampus naik motor

Brother rides to campus

Ibu ke pasar naik becak

Mother goes to market by peddycap



Bibi di kebun

Aunty is in the garden

Dompetnya di atas meja

His wallet is on the table



Brudin sakit semalam

Brudin was sick last night

Mereka bising sekali tadi sore

They were very noisy this afternoon



Orang yang di sana tadi malam Andi

The man who was there last night is Andy

Kebanyakan warga desa ini nelayan

Most citizen of this village are sailors

Note: NP: Noun Phrase

Adv P: Adverbial Phrase

AP: Adjective Phrase


: Verb Phrase

D. Passive and Object-Focus Construction

The idea of passive is rare in speech, yet it occurs often in academic writing. The passive form of
a verb phrase contain this pattern; be + past participle, e.g is bitten, was stolen, can be taken. In
Indonesian, passive is shown by adding di- before a verb, e.g dimakan, ditipu, dipermalukan. In
most clauses, the subject refers to the doer, or actor of the action of the verb (Leech and
friends, 2003). When we create a passive sentence, the focus of the sentence goes to Subject.
This term is well known as Canonical passive,
e.g Buku itu sudah dibaca oleh Andi or The book has been read by Andi.
Passive sentence in Indonesian, the position of focus may go to Object. We call it Object focus or
in another word non canonical passive. The term can be defined as a sentence which has semiactive and semi-passive construction,
e.g Buku itu sudah saya baca.
This phenomenon does not occur in English except in relative clauses.



A: Erni menulis makalah ini

A: Erni writes this paper

P: Makalah ini ditulis oleh erni

P: This paper is written by Erni

Makalah ini ditulis Erni

Makalah ini Erni tulis*
A: Dia sudah mengirim suratnya?

A: Has she sent the letter yet?

P: Suratnya sudah dikirim oleh dia?

P: Has the letter been sent by her?

Suratnya sudah dikirim dia?

Suratnya sudah dia kirim?
Sudah dia kirim suratnya?*
A: Saya tidak memakan makanan itu

A: I did not eat that food

P: Makanan itu tidak dimakan oleh saya

P: That food was not eaten by me yet

Makanan itu tidak saya makan*

Tidak saya makan makanan itu*
Note: A: Active


* NonCanonical Passive/Object focus

Notice that object focus constructions in Indonesian also occur in the so-called relative clauses in
English. While relative clauses of the object pattern type in English do not change the voice of
the verb, in Indonesian they do. That is, the antecedent referred to by the relative pronoun
becomes an object focus in Indonesian. Compare the following English sentences with their
Indonesian counterparts.
Orang tua yang ditemui Rika di sekolah adalah kakeknya
the school was his grand father
*Orang tua yang Rika menemui di sekolah..

The old man (whom) Rika met at

Demonstrasi yang saya tonton di TV sangat menakutkan

Demonstration I watched on TV

was scary
*Demonstrasi yang saya menonton di TV.
Errors such as *Orang tua yang Rika menemui di sekolah.or *Demonstrasi yang saya
menonton di TVare common to occur in the speech or writing produced by speakers of
English learning Indonesian. Apparently, this is a kind of error known in TEFL as transfer. That
is the carrying over of a syntactic structure in English into Indonesian (Kadarisman, 2002:3)
Object-focus construction in Indonesian are different from cleft in English, e.g
That is the man that I have met, or
That is the key I am looking for.
In Indonesian, cleft sentences are equal to object-focus + -lah construction,
e.g Lelaki itulah yang pernah saya temui, and Kunci itulah yang sedang saya cari.
In English, it is also possible to have object focus. Here we will call it Object fronting, e.g The
man I have met, and The key I am looking for. However, it should be noted that object focus in
English is a marked or unusual structure, whereas object focus in Indonesian as an unmarked
or common structure. Moreover, object focus in Indonesian makes the sentence partly passive
and hence the term Non-cannonical passive. In contrast, English object fronting does not change
the sentence from active into passive. (Kadarisman, 2002:4).
E. Subject prominence in English and nya in Indonesian
English is a subject prominent language. It means every sentence in English always requires a
subject. The subject can be a proper name, pronoun or something else. Yet in Indonesian, the
subject may be omitted. This phenomenon can be mentioned as Zero subject sentence. The
subject is coverable from the context



Tinggalnya dimana sekarang?

Where do you stay now?

Pekerjaannya apa?

What do you do for living?

Butuhnya apa dariku?

What do you need from me?

Uangnya berapa?

How much money do you have?

In the sentence Tinggalnya di mana?, we do not find a subject since the subject needs not to be
put there. Yet, this sentence still be understood by Indonesian people. Here zero subjects play
role, and it is coverable from the context. In the sentence Where do you stay now?, the subject is
definite, and in this case the subject is you.
F. Terms of Address
In Indonesia, The term of address is used to differentiate positions of people. It is also used to
show politeness in conversation. To address someone who is older than us, we must use the
proper address, e.g Bapak, Ibu, Panjennengan. In English, those terms are not used. English only
addresses You to all of their interlocutors.
Anda sudah makan?

Have you had your dinner?
Are you hungry?

Pak Roni/Bu Dewi

Heri/Puspit lapar?
G. Code Switching and Code Mixing
The next discussion in this topic lies in the term of Code Switching and Code mixing that occurs
in Indonesian and English spoken community. The existence of these two phenomena is familiar
in daily conversations conducted among them. Many Code switching and code mixings events
occur both in Indonesian people conversation and English spoken community. Here, Codeswitching refers the use of two languages simultaneously or interchangeably (Valdes-Fallis,
1977). Chana (1984) describes code-switching as the juxtaposition within the same speech
exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems.

Code mixing on the other hand can be defined as the involvement of the deliberate mixing of two
languages without an associated topic change. The example given by Pfaff (1979) demonstrates
this event, a code mixing phenomenon between English and Spanish language.
*I went to the house chiquita
I went to the little house (Pfaff, 1979)
In this session, we are going to talk shortly about Code mixing phenomenon that occurs in
Indonesian. Below, you will find clear examples of code mixing in a conversation between two
A: Mana Pak Wendi Lim, kok belum datang?
B: Wah, dalem mboten ngertos, Pak
A: Lho, kemarin kan kamu saya suruh menyampaikan nota saya ke kantornya.
B: Waktu saya sowan ke sana, beliau tidak ada. Sedang tindakan ke Madiun, kata Mbak Nunung
A: Mbak Nunung bilang apa?
B: Mungkin sore atau malam hari Pak Wendi baru pulang dari Madiun. Lalu bilang,Notanya
ditinggal di sini saja. Kalau Bapak rawuh, nanti saya haturkan (Kadarisman, 2002:5)
H. Gender versus Kinship Orientation
The idea of gender orientation in English is commonly used in the form of pronoun, both subject
and object. It may appear as he, she, him or her. More than that, the gender orientation is also
used to differentiate subjects in a sentence. There are many terms to differentiate subject. One is
used to differentiate siblings. We find the words brother and sister is aimed to differentiate
male and female siblings, or son or daughter to differentiate male and female child. In Indonesian
the term of gender orientation is not well known. When we talk about a child, we commonly say
anak without referring what sex the child has. English will say a boy or a girl instead of a child.
In this case we can say that English is a strongly gender oriented language. Below you will find
example for that:
Kemana dia pergi?

Where does he go?
Where does she go?

Buku itu milik dia

The book belongs to her

The book belongs to him

Anak itu bermain di lapangan

The boy plays on the playground

The girl plays on the playground

In Indonesian language, the ideas of kinship are very popular. These ideas play basic role in
conducting a conversation. It seems the cultural background may support these Ideas. The
cultural bound of Indonesian people create a close and respectful relationship with others.
Someone who is close to us will be treated differently with someone who has no relative
connection. The differentiation of address may be the realization for that.
Nak Deni mau kemana?

Where are you going?

Mas Deni
Pak Deni
Saudara Deni
Om Deni
The paper starts by making a brief explanation about Contrastive analysis. Then it continuous
further by giving many examples of differences and similarities between two languages,
Indonesian and English. This contrastive analysis may not provide a very significant role to
scholars, yet in certain case, it helps much to L2 learner or to teachers of English language to
give them a clear picture about the differences and the similarities lie between two languages.
Azar, Scramfer, Betty. 1989. Understanding and Using English Grammar. New Jersey: PrenticeHall.Inc
Chana, U. 1984. Evaluative reactions to Punjabi/English code-switching. Journal of Multilingual
and Multicultural Development. 5 (6), pp. 447-473.

Geethakumary, V. 2006. A Contrastive Analysis of Hindi and Malayalam. 24 May 2006
Koencoro, S. 2006. The Application of Contrastive Analysis in Teaching Indonesian to English
Speaking Expatriates. 24 May.2006
Kadarisman, Effendi. 2002. Trends and Issues in Linguistics: an exercise. Unpublished modul:
State University of Malang.
Kadarisman, Effendi. 2002. Trends and Issues in Linguistics: an exercise. Unpublished modul:
State University of Malang
Kardaleska, Ljubica. 2006. Contrastive Analysis and Error Analysis in Copmbination with
Analysis of the Semantic Level. 24 May 2006
Leech, Geofrey&friends. 2003. An A-Z of English Grammar & Usage. Malaysia: Longman
Pfaff, C.W. 1976. Functional and structural constraints on syntactic variation on code-switching.
Papers from the Parasession on Diachronic Syntax. Chicago: CLS. pp. 248-59
Valdes-Fallis, G. 1977. Code-switching among bilingual Mexican-American women: Towards an
understanding of sex-related language alternation. International Journal of The Sociology of
Language, 7, 65-7


The goal of English Language Teaching in
English Study Program where the writer teaches is to
give the students the ability to read English texts. It is
hoped that later on the students can read scientific
books written in English when they begin to write
their theses.
Many students find it difficult to interpret even
very simple English noun phrases (NPs), such as stone
building and building stones. In collecting the English
NPs from books, the writer find that in every page
there are about thirty NPs which will then be difficult
for the students when they read English. This indicates
how important the problem is.
Contrastive linguistics may be roughly defined
as a sub discipline of linguistics which is concerned
with the comparison of two or more languages (or
subsystems of languages) in order to determine both
the differences and similarities that hold between them
(Fisiak et al. 1978; cf Jackson, 1976). The purpose of
this paper is to help teachers and lecturers when they
teach English reading. Reading texts always contain
of some linguistic constructions which is often
difficult to be understood by readers. The
constructions, like NPs, among languages are
relatively different; thats why contrastive analysis is
needed to solve this problem. The notion of specifictheoritical
contrastive studies was introduced by
Fisiak. These studies were defined as giving an

exhaustive account of the differences and similarities

between a given pair of languages(Zabrocki, 1980:
46). The contrastive analysis in this paper is perhaps
a bit different when compared with the contrastive
analysis that has usually been done by some linguists
because it is aimed at finding a more useful way to
interpret the English NPs.
Noun phrase is often also called Noun Cluster
or noun group in grammar books. It is defined as
follows; A noun cluster is a noun with other words
or groups of words clustering around it and modifying
it in various ways ( Roberts, 1956: 77). Examples of
noun clusters are:
1. a book,
2. a new book,
3. a new English book,
4. a new English book on the table,
5. a new English book on the table that you read
last night.
The word book is the head word and the other
words are called modifiers. The word book in the
examples is very important. That word is called the
centre or head of the NP. So the word book is the
head or the noun head. Every NP has a noun head.
The readers may then ask also what a head word
is. A noun cluster always consists of at least two
parts: the noun itself and the word or word
accompanying it. The noun is called the head word
of the cluster ( Roberts, 1956: 79).
English NPs can be divided into three major

types, and each can be divided again into smaller ones.

Type one is the one which has modifiers only in the
left side of the noun head, and type II, the modifiers
are on the right side on the noun head. Type III is the
compound or mixed type, that is the modifiers come
before and after the noun head.
Type 1a
Phrase structure
NP d + N (s)
N(s) is the phrase form of
d is the noun determiner
Surface structure : the facts
Other examples : the librarian
a campus
those problems
magazines cover
two presidents
Type 1.b
Phrase structure
NP (d) + M1 + N (s)
M1 stands for any
modifier that comes
before the noun head,
not including noun
When noun determiner in this type are put
between brackets, it means that the d is occasionally
dropped. The symbol M1 stands for any modifier that
xcan be used to substitute for the word good in the

Construction: a good book.

We may substitute the word good with other type of
modifiers like:
a writing book
a selected book
a grammar book
M1 may consists of more than one word, examples:
a new English book
a well selected book
Type 2:
NP (d) + N (s) + M2
M2 stands for any modifier that
comes after the noun head.
The symbol M2 stands for any modifier that can be
placed after the noun head. This type is divided again
into six types and tha latter into two types:
2.a. N (s) + phrases
2.b. N (s) + Clauses
The former can be divided again into six types and
the latter into two types.
Type 2.a
NP (d) + N (s) + M2
M2 stands for any modifier that
comes after the noun head.
M2 in this type is divided into six sub-types:
(1) prepositional phrase ,
(2) adjective phrase,
(3) adverbial phrase,
(4) to verb,
D N(s)

The facts
d N(s)
These various aspects
D N(s)
N (s) M2
d N(s)
N (s) M2
(5) -ing phrase,
(6) -en phrase.
Examples: (1) a body of people
(2) a command so confident
(3) the speaker at the moment he speaks
(4) the way to do it
(5) the word fulfilling a smaller function
(6) the space enclosed
If each subtype is transformed into phrases
structures, we shall have the following string:
Type 2.a.1
d N(s)
N (s) P (phr)
P N (s)
A body of people
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr)
P stands for preposition or preposition phrase
Type 2.a.2
d N(s)

N (s) Adj
A command so confident
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr)
Adj stands for adjective or adjectival phrase
Type 2.a.3
d N(s)
N (s) Adv
The speaker at the moment he speaks
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr)
Adv stands for adverb or adverbial phrase
Type 2.a.4
d N(s)
N (s) to vb
The way to do it
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr) to vb stands for to + verb,
or to + verb phrase
Type 2.a.5
d N(s)
N (s) ing (phr)
The word fulfilling (a smaller function)
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr)
-ing (phr) stands for verb + ing phrase
Type 2.a.6
d N(s)
N (s) -en (phr)
The space enclosed
NP (d)+N(s)+P(phr)

-en (phr) stands for past participial phrase

Type 2.b.1
d N(s)
N (s) th (clause
Th (clause is divided again into two subtypes. Th
represents words like that, who, and which. Each is
followed by a verb.
Th (cl) Th (cl)
Th vb th cl
Cl represents clause
NP vb (phr)
The strings of types 2.b.1.a and 2.b.1.b are as follows:
Type 2.b.1.a
d N(s)
N (s) th (clause
Th vb (phr)
The girl that addressed me
NP (d) + N (s) + th + vb (phr)
Type 2.b.1.b
d N(s)
N (s) th (clause
Th cl
NP vb (phr)
The thing that we are talking about
NP (d) + N (s) + th + vb (phr)
Type 2.b.2
Type 2.b.2.2 is nearly the same as type 2.b.1.b.
They are different only in one constituent. Instead of

th, it uses wh that represents words like: where, why,

how, and the like.
d N(s)
N (s) wh (clause
wh cl
NP vb (phr
The place where he put my hat
NP (d) + N (s) + wh + vb (phr)
Type 3
This category contains the compound or
mixed types. Combinations between type 1 and 2, or
type 2.a and 2.b, or 2.a.1 and 2.a.2, and so on.
Sometimes the combination is very long. The English
NP is difficult for the Indonesian learners, moreever
when it is very long or when it is put in front and
functions as a subject. In the latter situation, the NP
is going to make many Indonesian learners of English,
particularly in reading, unable to find or to identify
the subject of the sentence and the verb of the
sentence. They cannot, therefore, understand the
meaning of the whole sentence.
All types of NPs discussed in the previous
pages will be compared with the Indonesian
equivalence. Type 1.a and 1.b and type 3 are chosen
because those types represent the English NPs whose
modifier fall before the noun head. In the comparison
of those two subtypes, it is found that there

similarities and differences in grammatical system,

particularly in word order between English and
Indonesian NPs.
Now let us see the following English NPs and
their Indonesian equivalence. The word underlined
are their noun heads.
1) One man = satu orang laki-laki
2) The facts = kenyataan-kenyataan itu
3) Your medicine = obatmu
4) Seven aspects = tujuh aspek
5) Such limits = pembatasan-pembatasan semacam
6) All the events = semua peristiwa
7) No choice = tidak ada pilihan
8) Those questions = pernyataan-pernyataan itu
If we pay attention to the Indonesian
equivalents on the right side, we shall find out that
number 1, 4, 6, 7 behave differently from those of
number 2, 3, 5, and 8. To make it clear, consider the
following boxes.
1) Noun head
ENGLISH All the Choices
INDONESIAN Tujuh pilihan
Tak ada
2) Noun head

ENGLISH Such Choices
Semacam itu
From those two boxes we can draw a temporary
conclusion that modifier in English NPs comes before
the noun head, whereas in the Indonesian language it
comes after the noun head, except when it denotes
quantity, like: one, two, some, any, a few, several,
many, much, all, no, and the like.
Now we can go to the next comparison. Look
at the following examples:
9) good speakers = pembicara-pembicara yang
10) These various aspects = aspek-aspek yang
bermacam-macam ini
11) Its basic form = bentuk dasarnya
See the following boxes:
Noun head
ENGLISH good Speakers
INDONESIAN Pembicara-pembicara Yang baik
4. Noun head
ENGLISH These various aspects
(1) (2)
INDONESIAN Aspek-aspek Yang bermacam-macam ini

(2) (1)
5. Noun head
ENGLISH Its basic Form
(1) (2)
INDONESIAN bentuk dasarnya
(2) (1)
See the figures put under each modifier in the boxes numbered 3, 4, and 5. We can notice easily
the shift
position from English (symbolized by L2) to Indonesian (symbolized by L1). From those three
boxes we can
see that all the modifiers in L1 come after the noun head. This evidence again supports the first
because none of the modifiers of the English NPs in number 9, 10 and 11 bears a noun
determiner denoting
Now we come to the more complex type of English NPs. Examples:
12) a literal translation from some languages
13) the form of the verb ending in ing
If they are translated into Indonesian, we shall have the following equivalents:
12.a. sebuah terjemahan harfiah dari beberapa bahasa
13.a. bentuk dari kata kerja yang berakhiran ing
See also the following two boxes and the figures under each modifier.
6. Noun head
ENGLISH A literal translation From some languages
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
INDONESIAN sebuah terjemahan Harfiah dari beberapa bahasa
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
7. Noun head
ENGLISH The form Of the verb ending in -ing
(1) (3) (4) (5)
INDONESIAN bentuk Dari kata kerja yang berakhiran ing itu

(2) (3) (4) (5)

In the box number 6 in L1 we have one modifier
that comes before the noun head because the word a
meaning sebuah denotes quantity and the other
modifiers come after the noun head, whereas all the
modifiers in the box 7 come after the noun head
because this NP has no modifier that denotes quantity.
If we look at the last two examples (number 12 and
13) carefully, we shall see that the modifier in each
number consist of NP as well, examples some
language in number 12, and verb ending in ing in
number 13. The word languages and verb are the noun
heads of each. In this paper we shall call this kind of
noun head sub-noun head. When we have a very long
English NP, we may have more than one sub noun
head. See the following examples.
14) A young rich lady with a beautiful umbrella in
her right hand.
The word lady is the noun head of the whole
NP; the word umbrella and hand are the sub noun
According to the conclusion we obtain from
the comparison above from number 1 to 13, we shall
then have the equivalent of the example number 14
as follows:
A young rich lady with a beautiful umbrella in
her right hand
Seorang wanita muda yang kaya yang membawa

sebuah payung yang bagus di tangan kanannya

All the modifiers in L1 should come after the
noun head wanita, except the noun determiner a
meaning sebuah because it denotes quantity.
If we contrast the differences, we can draw the
following conclusions:
1) English NPs have a different system of word
order from that their Indonesian equivalents
2) The modifiers in the English NPs may occur
before or/and after the noun head.
3) The modifiers in the Indonesian NPS occur only
after the noun head except when the modifier is
a kind of noun determiner that denotes quantity.
Those elements that are similar to his native
language will be simple for him, and those elements
that are different will be difficult (Robert Lado, 1966:
2). From this quotation we know that to interpret
English NPs is very difficult for Indonesian learners
learning English because as found in the previous
discussion that the English NPs have a different
system of word order from that of the Indonesian
equivalents. The different system will make it difficult
for the learners not only in learning active mastery
but also passive comprehension such as listening and
In reading, the learners will, perhaps, not find

any difficulty when they meet some simple English

NPs like: a book, two men, many people, and the like
because these constructions are similar to their
Indonesian equivalents, but difficulties will soon arise
when they come across some NPs like: a stone
building, a garden flower, ten fifty-cent stamps, and
so on. The difficulty first comes up when the modifier
in the NP come before the noun head. The difficulty
is not only that nearly all the modifiers in the
Indonesian NPs come after the noun head, but partly
because sometimes the modifier in the Engish NP is
in the form of one word or a phrase, but in its
Indonesian equivalent the modifier may or should
appear as a clause.
1) A stone building = sebuah bangunan yang
terbuat dari batu.
yang terbuat dari batu is a clause in Indonesian
language. It is a passive construction.
2) Ten fifty-cent stamps = sepuluh buah perangko
yang masing-masing berharga lima puluh sen.
yang masing-masing berharga lima puluh sen
is also a clause in the Indonesian language.
This kind of difficulty also appears when the English
NPs have modifiers that come after the noun head.
3) The man in white = orang laki-laki yang berbaju
putih itu. yang berbaju putih is also a clause
in the Indonesian language.
4) The girl sitting there = anak gadis yang duduk di
sana itu. yang duduk di sana is also a clause in
the Indonesian language.

Another problem will come up when the verb be

appears because this verb may or may not have its
equivalent in the Indonesian language. See the
following comparison:
5) He is Clever
Dia Pandai
In this sentence the verb is has no equivalent
in the Indonesian language.
6) He is A teacher
Dia Seorang guru
The sentence may be translated into Dia adalah
seorang guru, or dia seorang guru. So the verb is
may or may not be translated and both are correct in
the Indonesian language.
7) He is At home
Dia Ada Di rumah
The verb is is usually translated into ada
particularly when this sentence stands alone, but in
some situation like an answer of a question: Dimana
dia? (Where is he?), this question may be answered:
Dia di rumah. The word ada is elliptic.
8) He Is sleeping
Dia tidur
The word is here has no equivalent in the
Indonesian language because the morphemes is and
ing are mutually obligatory, it means that the
occurrence of is requires the occurrence of -ing.
They cannot be separated. is sleeping in the
Indonesian language is sometimes translated into
sedang tidur, but the word sedang cannot be said
to be the equivalent of be+-ing.

The problem as shown above will give a lot of

difficulties to the learners both in learning active
mastery as well as in passive comprehension such as
listening and reading.
Going back to the English NP, type 1.b, if we
compare it with its Indonesian equivalent, we shall
also find some differences in grammar. See the
Indonesian: Orang muda yang baik.
English: (the) young good people
The Indonesian NP starts with the largest class
and then follow the smaller and smaller limiters,
whereas the English NP does do the opposite. The
largest class is last and the smallest first. See the
following diagram:
Indonesian NP type 1.b English NP type 1.b
Baik people
Muda young
Orang good
The more we scrutinize the different
grammatical systems between the English and
Indonesian NPs, the more difficulties we can predict
that may be encountered by the Indonesian learners
learning English and we can also know that the more
complicated the English NPs, the more difficulties
the learners will have.
In teaching reading and understanding the
teacher needs first to make the learners able to
recognize what an NP is. Then he can train the learners
to interpret very simple English NPs and later on

proceed to more difficult ones.

To obtain very simple English NPs, he should
be able to select very simple reading texts. Simple
here means not only in its content and vocabulary,
but also in its structures. Then ask the learners to
identify the NPs. Break up the text into short sentences
and underline the NPs. Before the students begin to
interpret the whole sentences, they should begin to
interpret the NPs first and the sentences, and finally
go back again to the whole passage. The last part is
meant to make the learners able to recognize that a
passage consists of many smaller units. This is very
important for beginners.
Jackson, Howard. 1976. Contrastive Linguistics
What Is It?. ITL 32. 1-32.
Roberts, Paul. 1956. Patterns of English. New York:
Harcourt, Brace & World.
Zabrocki, Tadeusz. 1980. Theoritical Contrastive
Studies: Some Methodological Remarks.
Amsterdam: John Benjamin BV.