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Learning Dutch from English

Level 13 · 5297 XP

Crowns: 106

Skills: 61

Lessons: 186

Lexemes: 1048

Strength: 100%

Created: 2016-08-11
Last Goal: 2021-12-06
Daily Goal: 10 XP
Timezone: UTC+1

Last update: 2021-12-05 07:31:55 GMT+3


205890403

Dutch Skills by StrengthCrownsNameOriginal Order

  • 05 Stressed Pronouns52 @ 100% 0 •••
    jij · maar · ook · wel · wij · zij
    6 words

    Stressed and unstressed pronouns

    Dutch knows two types of pronouns: stressed (or marked) and unstressed (or unmarked) pronouns. The difference lies in the fact that stressed pronouns, as suggested, receive emphasis whereas unstressed pronouns do not. The stressed and unstressed personal pronouns that are taught in this skill are listed below:

    Dutch (unstressed/unmarked) Dutch (stressed/marked) English
    Je Jij You (singular)
    Ze Zij She, They
    We Wij We

    The other personal pronouns (ik, u, hij, het, and jullie) don’t have a different stressed and unstressed personal pronoun in written language. In speaking, there are other ways to denote emphasis for these (see below).

    There are also stressed forms of certain object pronouns (me/mij, je/jou) and possessives (je/jouw), but you will learn about those later.


    When do we use marked pronouns?

    Marked pronouns are less used than the unmarked ones, but they are important nonetheless. In some situations (such as comparisons) the meaning of the sentence forces you to emphasize the pronoun, so that it would be unnatural to use the unstressed form. This skill will demonstrate some of those cases, so that you can develop a feeling for this use of emphasis.

    However, in most sentences the pronouns can be either stressed or unstressed, depending heavily on context and intonation. That is why in Duolingo exercises (which lack both of those), the two forms are usually interchangeable. The pronunciation is different though, so pay extra attention during listening exercises!


    How do we emphasize the pronoun?

    1. We use the stressed pronoun, as described above
    2. When we emphasize the pronoun, we also increase our pitch
    3. We tend to slightly increase our volume
    4. In addition, the word is pronounced “longer” (its duration is stretched in comparison to that of the unmarked pronoun).

    In contrast, when you’re using an unmarked pronoun, you should emphasize another part of the sentence, like the verb or the object!


    Stressed vs unstressed

    Dutch English
    Jij moet dat doen. You have to do that. (it's not my job)
    Je moet dat doen. You have to do that. (and not something else)
    Zij gaan naar huis. They are going home. (while we are staying here)
    Ze gaan naar huis. They are going home. (and not downtown)
  • 05 Negatives 1: Niet & Geen32 @ 100% 0 •••
    geen · nee · niet
    3 words

    Negation

    In Dutch, there are two words that are used to negate things: niet and geen. They are, however, not interchangeable. And since this is Dutch, there are some exceptions to this rule as well.

    Geen

    Geen is used to negate a noun that, if not negated, would be preceded by een. You can say that geen translates to ‘not a’. Geen is also used if the noun is not preceded by any article, like some plural and uncountable nouns.

    Dutch English
    Is dat een man? – Nee, dat is geen man. Is that a man? – No, that is not a man.
    Hebben zij boeken? – Nee, zij hebben geen boeken. Do they have books? – No, they don’t have books.

    Note that geen can always be translated as the English word "no": That is no man. They have no books. For niet, this is almost never the case.

    Niet

    Niet is essentially used in all other situations:

    1. To negate verbs, thoughts, adjectives, or any other sentence elements that aren’t nouns.
    2. To negate nouns preceded by a definite article or possessive pronoun.
    Dutch English
    Ik ren niet. I do not run.
    Hij is niet zo oud. He is not that old.
    Zij hebben de boeken niet. They do not have the books.

    As you can see in the last example, niet comes after the object, unlike geen. If it is used to negate an adjective or adverb, it comes directly before that word.

  • 14 Plurals51 @ 100% 0 •••
    aardbeien · appels · bananen · beren · boeken · borden · boterhammen · dieren · eenden · glazen · honden · katten · koeien · kranten · mensen · menu's · muizen · olifanten · paarden · schapen · schildpadden · tomaten · twee · varkens · vissen · vogels
    26 words

    Plurals

    Dutch has four ways of making a plural, two of which are very rare.

    The most common way of making a plural is noun + en. The first lesson of this skill has only these.

    The second most common way of making a plural is noun + s. You'll see this in the last lesson of this skill!

    The two rare ways are noun + eren, and plurals ending in -a. That last one is only used for words which come from Latin, and for all of these it's also correct to just pluralize it with -s.

    As with many things in Dutch grammar, the rules for when to use which aren't very clear. There are some guidelines, but the best way to learn them is by slowly developing a feeling for it.

    With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    Noun + en

    1. Always maintain vowel length. If a vowel sounds long, make sure it keeps sounding long (for instance, schaap becomes schapen). If a vowel sounds short, keep it short for instance, kat becomes katten).
    2. Hard consonants become soft consonants. If the noun normally ends in an 's' or an 'f' (hard consonants), the plural replaces these with a 'z' or a 'v' respectively. For instance, muis becomes muizen.

    Noun + s

    1. If the noun ends with a single vowel, you cannot just add the -s. Instead, you first add an apostrophe, and then add the -s. For instance, menu becomes menu's.
    2. There is an exception to the above rule: words ending with an -e. Those never get the apostrophe.
  • 14 Food: Basic41 @ 100% 0 •••
    aardbei · avondeten · banaan · bier · bord · dorst · ei · eten · fruit · glas · groente · honger · kaas · kip · koffie · lekker · maaltijd · middageten · ontbijt · pasta · peper · sinaasappel · soep · suiker · thee · tomaat · vis · vlees · wijn · zout
    30 words
  • 14 Questions 1: Yes/No43 @ 100% 0 •••
    ben · drink · drinken · drinkt · eet · eten · heb · hebben · heeft · is · lees · leest · lezen · spreek · spreken
    15 words

    Questions?

    Turning a sentence into a question is relatively easy in Dutch. Unlike in English, where you often have to add the auxiliary verb "to do", you only have to change the word order of the sentence to form a question. For example:

    • Hij spreekt Nederlands. - He speaks Dutch.
    • Spreekt hij Nederlands? - Does he speak Dutch?

    As you can see, the subject and the verb switch places in a question. This is called inversion and you will also encounter it when you learn more complicated sentence structures.

    Dropping the -t for "je"

    When a sentence is inverted, that is, the verb comes before the subject, an odd thing can happen: if the subject is je (or the stressed form "jij"), then the verb loses the -t at the end.

    • Je spreekt Nederlands. - You speak Dutch.
    • Spreek je Nederlands? - Do you speak Dutch?

    This does not happen for any other subject, like hij or ze! So keep a close eye out for the combination of inversion + je.

  • 14 Animals42 @ 100% 0 •••
    beer · dier · duo · eend · gans · hert · hond · hoorn · kat · koe · konijn · krab · mens · muis · neushoorn · olifant · paard · schaap · schildpad · spin · staart · uil · varken · vogel
    24 words
  • 14 Common Phrases 122 @ 100% 0 •••
    alsjeblieft · bedankt · beetje · dag · dank je · dank je wel · doei · engels · goed · goedemorgen · goedenavond · goedendag · hallo · het spijt me · hoe gaat het · hoi · ja · nederlands · nee · oké · pardon · sorry · spreek · spreekt · tot ziens · welterusten
    26 words

    Greetings throughout the day

    As in English, Dutch has many different ways of greeting others. The most common one, which you can use all day, is Hallo.

    An easy way of greeting people throughout the day, is to say the time of day and add goede- "good" in front of it - just like in English. If the time of day starts with a vowel, you squish an -n- in between (an exception being "goedendag"). As follows:

    Time of day Greeting
    Morgen (morning) Goedemorgen
    Middag (midday) Goedemiddag
    Avond (evening) Goedenavond
    Nacht (night) Goedenacht
    Dag (day) Goedendag

    More pronunciation

    Besides the letters of the alphabet, Dutch has a lot of combinations of letters that have their own sound. The most common ones are discussed below.

    Dutch IPA, Notes
    ch [ɣ] / [x], the infamous Dutch sound (again). It sounds a bit like loch (Scottish English). [ʃ] in loanwords, like chocolade and China. Can also sound like [tʃ], like in check.
    ng [ŋ], like in long
    nj [ɲ], like the Spanish ñ
    nk [ŋk], the ng sound followed by a k
    sch [sɣ] / [sx] at the beginning of words. At the end of a word, it sounds like [s]
    tie [tsi], at the end of words
    tj [c], is followed by an e, sounds like cheer
    au, ou [ʌu], like in out
    ei, ij [ɛi], roughly like may
    eu [øː], roughly like earth or bird
    oe [u], like boot
    ui [œy], tricky. Roughly like house (Scottish English)
  • 14 Basics 221 @ 100% 0 •••
    boek · boterham · dat · de · drinken · eten · heb · hebben · hebt · heeft · het · jongens · jullie · kinderen · krant · lees · leest · lezen · mannen · meisjes · menu · rijst · spreekt · spreken · vrouwen · we · ze · zijn
    28 words

    Irregular verbs

    In Basics 1 the regular verb conjugations have been explained. Unfortunately, Dutch also has irregular verbs. Fortunately, there are only 6 verbs that are completely irregular. There are more which aren't entirely regular, but you'll meet those in the Past tense.

    These are the irregular verbs:

    1. Hebben (to have)
    2. Kunnen (can)
    3. Mogen (may)
    4. Willen (to want)
    5. Zijn (to be)
    6. Zullen (shall)

    The most common of these are Hebben and Zijn, so here are their conjugations in the present tense:

    Hebben Zijn
    Ik heb Ik ben
    Jij hebt Jij bent
    U hebt/U heeft U bent
    Hij/Zij/Het heeft Hij/Zij/Het is
    Wij hebben Wij zijn
    Jullie hebben Jullie zijn
    Zij hebben Zij zijn

    Pronunciation

    The way Dutch vowels sound depends on whether they are in open or closed syllables. A syllable is closed if it is in a consonant sandwich (e.g. bed, ‘bed’) and it is open if it is not (e.g. ga, ‘go’).

    Dutch IPA, Notes
    A [ɑ] (short), like in father. [a:] (long), like in car (Australian/New Zealand English)
    B [b], like in bait. At the end of a word: [p]
    C [s] or [k] depending on the vowel after the c
    D [d], like in duck. At the end of a word: [t]
    E [ɛ] (short), like in bed. [e:] (long), like in made. [ə], an ‘uh’ sound, like again; mostly at the end of verbs.
    F [f], like in feather
    G [ɣ] / [x], the infamous Dutch sound. It sounds a bit like loch (Scottish English). [g] (*goal, ‘goal’) or [ʒ] (bagage, ‘luggage’) in loan words
    H [ɦ], like in behind
    I [ɪ] (short), like in sit. [i] (long), like in deep
    J [j], like in yard
    K [k], like in kiss
    L [l], like in land
    M [m], like in man
    N [n], like in neck
    O [ɔ] (short), like in soft. [o:] (long), roughly like in bone**
    P [p], like in pen
    Q [k], only in foreign words and loanwords
    R [ʀ], an uvular trill (rolling r in back of the throat). However, there are more ways to pronounce the r in Dutch, depending on the place in a word: [ɹ] (alveolar approximant, "tap r"), [r] (alveolar trill, “rolling r”), and [ʁ] (uvular approximant, German/French r).
    S [s], like in sock
    T [t], like in tea
    U [ʏ] (short), roughly like future. [y] (long), roughly like new
    V [v], like in very
    W [ʋ], between wine and vine
    X [ks], only in foreign words and loanwords
    Y [j], only in foreign words and loanwords
    Z [z], like in zip
  • 14 Basics 112 @ 100% 0 •••
    appel · ben · bent · brood · de · drink · drinkt · een · eet · en · het · hij · ik · is · je · jongen · kind · man · meisje · melk · of · sap · vrouw · water · ze
    25 words

    Welkom!

    Welcome to the Dutch course! Dutch is a Germanic language, with grammar and vocabulary similar to other European languages. You might recognize some words from English as well! Even so, Dutch is a language with grammatical genders. These genders have influence on endings on words, for example.


    Gender and articles

    In Dutch, there are three (grammatical) genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Each gender has their own definite article (‘the’): both singular masculine and feminine nouns use de and singular neuter nouns use het. For plural nouns, de is always used. The definite articles de and het don't have very clear rules for when you're supposed to use which; this will mostly be learning by heart and developing a feeling for it. However, there are some guidelines to help you along:

    De words:

    1. De is always used for plural nouns
    2. De is always used for professions: de kok (‘the chef’), de leraar (‘the teacher’)
    3. De tends to be used for people with an identified gender, such as: de vader (‘the father’), de dochter (‘the daughter’)
    4. De is used for vegetables, fruits, trees and plants, names of mountains, and rivers
    5. Furthermore, de is used for most words ending on -ie, -ij, -heid, -teit, -schap, -tie, -sie, -aar, -eur, -er, and -or.
    6. Finally, de is used for written-out numbers and letters: de drie (‘the three’), de a (‘the a’).

    Het words:

    1. Het is always used for diminutives. Diminutives can be recognised by their suffix; they end in -je, -tje, -etje, -pje, or -mpje.
    2. Het is always used for words consisting of two syllables and starting with be-, ge-, ver-, and ont-
    3. Het is always used for verbs used as nouns. When the infinitive form of a verb is used as a noun (e.g. 'the walking of the dog'), Dutch uses het (het lopen van de hond).
    4. Het is always used for languages and names of metals
    5. Het is also used for names of compass points: het noorden (‘the North’)
    6. Het is used for names of sports and games: het schaken (‘chess’), het voetbal (‘football/soccer’)
    7. Furthermore, het is used for words ending on -isme and -ment

    Dutch speakers actually never tend to think about the gender of words. Rather than knowing whether a word is originally feminine or masculine, the only distinction that has to be remembered is the difference between the de words and het words. This is because it has grammatical consequences (in terms of possessives, question words, demonstratives, adjectives, and even relative pronouns). This is why when you learn a new noun, it is very important to memorize whether it is a de or het word.


    Pronouns

    The Dutch pronouns are as follows:

    English Dutch
    I Ik
    You (singular) Jij (Je*)
    He/She/It Hij/Zij (Ze*)/Het
    You (formal) U
    We Wij (We*)
    You (plural) Jullie
    They Zij (Ze*)
    • *Je, ze and we are un-emphasized forms of jij, zij and wij. The difference will be taught in another skill.

    Verb conjugation

    In Dutch, verbs can be recognised by the ending -en. For example, eten (‘to eat’) and drinken (‘to drink’). Verb conjugation in Dutch can get rather difficult, since there are lots of exceptions (welcome to Dutch, where exceptions are the rule!). The most basic rule is: find the stem and add the right ending to it. To find the stem of the word, you take the infinitive of the word – the basic form that you can find in the dictionary – and take off the ending, i.e. -en. So in the example of 'drinken', (to drink), the stem would be drink-. For the simple present, the conjugation is as follows:

    Pronoun Conjugation Example
    Ik [stem] Ik drink (I drink)
    Jij [stem]+t Jij drinkt (You drink)
    Hij/Zij/Het [stem]+t Hij drinkt (He drinks)
    U [stem]+t U drinkt (You drink)
    Wij Infinitive Wij drinken (We drink)
    Jullie Infinitive Jullie drinken (You drink)
    Zij Infinitive Zij drinken (They drink)

    Alphabet and pronunciation

    The Dutch alphabet has 26 letters – just like in English. In fact, you don’t have to learn any new letters! Hurrah!
    However, there are a lot of differences and peculiarities in pronunciation. Some letters are pronounced differently, and there can be combinations of letters that may throw you for a loop. Don’t worry, we are not discussing the letters just now.

  • 23 Formal92 @ 100% 0 •••
    alstublieft · dank u wel · meneer · mevrouw · u · uw
    6 words
    Formal

    A common mistake with the formal 'you' in Dutch (u), even amongst native speakers, is to capitalize the u. This should only be reserved for deities. Being polite to others is a very good thing, but addressing them as deities might be a bit too much.

    So, write Heeft u een kat?, not Heeft U een kat?

    Unless of course you're asking the deity of your choice whether he/she/it owns a cat.

  • 23 Clothing62 @ 100% 0 •••
    bril · broek · broeken · draag · draagt · dragen · hemd · hemden · hoed · hoeden · jas · jassen · jurk · jurken · kleren · klomp · klompen · ondergoed · pak · pakken · rok · rokken · schoen · schoenen · sok · sokken · tas · trui · truien
    29 words
  • 32 Word Order 2: Inversion112 @ 100% 0 •••
    daar · hier · misschien · nu · soms
    5 words

    V2 (Verb 2nd) Word Order

    Linguists say that Dutch has a V2 word order. This means that the verb is always the second element of the sentence (except in yes or no questions and commands). If you are struggling with Dutch word order, this is the most important rule to remember!

    In Dutch, just like in English, you can move words to the beginning of the sentence to give them more emphasis. However, the V2 word order requires that the verb must remain in the second place. Therefore, as another word is moved to the first place, the verb switches places with the subject. This is called inversion.

    • Ik eet nu een boterham. - I am eating a sandwich now.
    • Nu eet ik een boterham. - Now I am eating a sandwich.

    It follows the same rules as yes/no questions: if the subject is "je" or "jij", then the verb loses its -t after inversion.

    Adverbs are often moved to the beginning for emphasis, but the same can be done with the object of the sentence. This will change the word order to OVS (Object-Verb-Subject), which can make a sentence very ambiguous! Furthermore, prepositional phrases and subclauses can also cause inversion, but you will see this in later skills.

    Dutch word order can get extremely complicated, but don't get discouraged! People will still understand you if you mess this up.

  • 32 Word Order 1: Adverbs101 @ 100% 0 •••
    daar · hier · misschien · nu · soms
    5 words

    Adverbs and Word Order

    Adverbs tell you something about the time, place or manner (the "when", "where", "why") of a verb or adjective. In this skill and the next, you will learn a handful of very common adverbs and see how they affect the Dutch word order.

    Dutch word order is very flexible and very strict at the same time when it comes to adverbs. There are several different places in a sentence where adverbs can be inserted, but there are also a lot of arbitrary rules.

    In most cases, the adverb comes after the verb. If the verb has an object (the person or thing that is receiving the action of the verb), then the adverb comes before or after the object, depending on whether it is definite or indefinite.

    A definite object is either a definite pronoun ("me/mij", "je/jou", etc), or a noun with a definite article ("de", "het") or possessive ("mijn", "jouw", etc). Adverbs usually come after a definite object:

    • Ik eet de boterham nu. - I am eating the sandwich now.

    An indefinite object is an indefinite pronoun ("iets", "iemand", etc) or a noun with an indefinite article ("een") or no article. Adverbs always come before an indefinite object:

    • Ik eet nu een boterham. - I am eating a sandwich now.

    NOTE: It is always possible to put an adverb at the beginning of the sentence, for emphasis. This will cause inversion and is shown in the Word Order 2 skill.

  • 32 Family 193 @ 100% 0 •••
    baby · baby's · broer · broers · dochter · dochters · familie · families · gezin · huis · huisdier · huisdieren · huizen · man · moeder · ouder · ouders · vriend · vrienden · vriendin · vriendinnen · vrouw · zoon · zus · zussen
    25 words
  • 32 Indefinite Pronouns91 @ 100% 0 •••
    alle · allerlei · alles · elk · elke · enige · enkel · enkele · genoeg · ieder · iedere · iedereen · iemand · iets · men · paar · sommige · veel · vele · verschillende · wat · weinig · weinige
    23 words
  • 32 Possessives81 @ 100% 0 •••
    haar · hun · je · jou · jouw · jullie · mij · mijn · naam · namen · ons · onze · roos · saskia · van · willem · zijn
    17 words
    Possessives

    The Dutch possessives are as follows:

    English Dutch
    my mijn
    your (singular) je/jouw*
    your (formal) uw
    his/her/its zijn/haar/zijn**
    our ons/onze***
    your (plural) jullie/je****
    their hun
    • *If you want to stress that the object is owned by 'you', you use jouw
    • **There is no separate possessive pronoun for 'its', so we use the masculine zijn
    • ***Whether you use ons or onze depends on the noun. De-nouns get onze, het-nouns get ons
    • ****You use je to avoid saying jullie twice in a row. For example: 'I give you your books' - Ik geef jullie jullie boeken - Ik geef jullie je boeken

    Independent Possessives

    Independent Possessives do not precede a noun. In English they are one word, but in Dutch you need to include de or het. Which of the two you need depends on the noun you are referring to.

    English Dutch
    mine de/het mijne
    yours (singular) de/het jouwe
    yours (formal) de/het uwe
    his/hers/its de/het zijne/hare/-*
    ours de/het onze**
    yours (plural) -*
    theirs de/het hunne
    • *Dutch does not have independent possessives for 'its' and plural 'yours'
    • **The first person plural independent possessive no longer has the distinction between de- and het-nouns, so it's always onze

    Alternative Possessive

    In Dutch, there is another way of saying something belongs to someone, using the word van.

    English Dutch
    mine van mij
    yours (singular) van jou
    yours (formal) van u
    his/hers/its van hem/haar/-*
    ours van ons
    yours (plural) van jullie
    theirs van hen
    • *To indicate something belongs to 'it', we say ervan or, with stress, hiervan
  • 32 Conjunctions 1: Coordinating82 @ 100% 0 •••
    dus · en · maar · of · want
    5 words

    "Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses." - Schoolhouse Rock Video

    Conjunctions link sentences together and describe some relationship between them. Dutch knows two different types of conjunctions, each with their own grammar rules. In this skill you will only encounter coordinating conjunctions, which link two sentences or words that are roughly of equal importance.

    The common Dutch coordinating conjunctions are: en, of, maar, want and dus.

    There are only five of them, so learn these by heart! In comparison, there are many different subordinating conjunctions. Those bring along complicated rules for word order in subordinate clauses and are treated in a later skill.

    Coordinating conjunctions do not change the word order of the individual sentences that they link. In that regard they are very simple and used in the exact same way as their English equivalents.

  • 32 Adjective Basics71 @ 100% 0 •••
    belangrijk · belangrijke · dure · duur · goede · goedkoop · goedkope · groot · grote · jong · jonge · klein · kleine · kort · korte · koud · koude · lang · lange · langzaam · langzame · leeg · leuk · leuke · licht · lichte · makkelijk · makkelijke · moeilijk · moeilijke · net · nieuw · nieuwe · oud · oude · rustig · rustige · schone · schoon · slecht · slechte · snel · snelle · sterk · sterke · vers · verse · vol · volle · warm · warme · zoals · zwaar · zwak · zwakke · zware
    56 words

    Adjectives

    Adjectives and definite articles

    If an adjective comes before a noun with a definite article ("de" or "het"), it usually gets the ending -e.

    Singular:

    • de grote hond (de hond)
    • het grote huis (het huis)

    Plural:

    • de grote honden
    • de grote huizen

    An -e is also added if there is a demonstrative or possessive pronoun instead of a definite article

    • deze oude hond - this old dog
    • dit oude huis - this old house
    • mijn oude hond - my old dog
    • mijn oude huis - my old house

    Adjectives and indefinite articles

    If the indefinite article ”een" comes before a het-word in the singular, then the adjective does not get the -e ending.

    If it comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

    Singular:

    • een oude hond (de hond)
    • een oud huis (het huis)

    Plural:

    • oude honden (de hond)
    • oude huizen (het huis)

    The following words act like “een” in that the adjective does not get an ending when preceded by them and if the noun being described is a het-word:

    • geen: Dat is geen groot huis. (That is not a big house.)
    • elk: Elk zwart pak is duur. (Every black suit is expensive.)
    • genoeg: Wij hebben genoeg koud water. (We have enough cold water.)
    • ieder: Ieder klein meisje draagt een rok. (Every little girl is wearing a skirt.)
    • veel: Ik koop veel lekker bier. (I am buying a lot of tasty beer.)
    • wat: Zij eet wat nieuw brood. (She is eating some new bread.)
    • weinig: De kinderen eten weinig vers fruit. (The children do not eat much fresh fruit.)
    • welk: Welk oud boek leest hij? (Which old book is he reading?)
    • zo’n: Dat is zo’n groot dier! (That is such a big animal!)
    • zulk: Ze hebben altijd zulk lekker brood. (They always have such tasty bread.)

    Adjectives with no article

    If no article at all comes before a het-word, then the adjective does not get the -e ending either.

    If no article comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

    • (het) water -> koud water
    • (de) koffie -> lekkere koffie

    Predicate adjectives

    Put simply, predicate adjectives are adjectives that follow a linking verb like “to be” that describe the subject.

    The adjective “green” in “The ball is green.” is a predicate adjective.

    In Dutch, predicate adjectives don’t get any ending.

    • Het huis is groot.
    • De hond is groot.
    • De honden zijn duur.

    Unchanging adjectives

    Some adjectives don’t get any ending.

    These include:

    +adjectives ending in -en (this includes participles of verbs acting as adjectives that end in -en) + eigen: mijn eigen hond (my own dog) + tevreden: de tevreden katten (the satisfied cats) + gebroken: de gebroken lamp (the broken lamp) + open: het open boek (the open book) + opgewonden: de opgewonden kinderen (the excited children)

    • Material adjectives with -en
      • gouden: de gouden spiegel (the golden mirror)
      • houten: de houten stoel (the wooden chair)
      • zilveren: het zilveren kettinkje (the silver necklace)
    • And a few without -en
      • plastic: een plastic zak (a plastic bag)
      • rubber: een rubber schoen (a rubber shoe)
    • Adjectives ending in -a or an unstressed -e

      • prima: een prima kans (an excellent opportunity)
      • roze: een roze jurk (a pink dress)
    • Adjectives with ordinal numbers in the first part

      • tweedehands: een tweedehands auto (a second-hand car)
      • derderangs: derderangs producten (third-rate products)

    rechter (right) and linker (left) are not inflected:

    • de rechter tafel (the right table)
    • de linker foto (the left photo)

    NOTE: if the fact that a noun is “left” or “right” is considered a fixed attribute, then “linker” and “rechter” are usually connected to the noun.

    • de linkerhand (the left hand)
    • de rechterkant (the right side)
  • 32 Object pronouns72 @ 100% 0 •••
    haar · hem · hen · het · hun · je · jou · jullie · me · mij · ons · ze
    12 words

    Object Pronouns

    Dutch has two different object pronoun types: stressed and unstressed. The stressed is used for emphasis. The full table:

    English Dutch (unstressed) Dutch (stressed)
    me me mij
    you (singular) je jou
    you (formal) u u
    him/her/it hem/haar/het hem/haar/-*
    us ons ons
    you (plural) jullie jullie
    them (persons) ze hun/hen**
    them (inanimate) ze -*
    • *For the stressed 'it' and inanimate 'them', Dutch uses the Demonstrative pronouns, explained in another skill.
    • **After a preposition or as the direct object, you use hen. As the indirect object, you use hun. When in doubt, it's easiest and always correct to use the unstressed ze
  • 32 Present Simple63 @ 100% 0 •••
    ga · gaan · gaat · geef · geeft · geven · hoor · hoort · horen · ken · kennen · kent · koken · kom · komen · komt · kook · kookt · loop · loopt · lopen · maakt · maken · schrijf · schrijft · schrijven · slaap · slaapt · slapen · speel · speelt · spelen · wil · willen · wilt · zie · zien · ziet · zwem · zwemmen · zwemt
    41 words
    d, t, dt?

    Perhaps the most difficult thing for native Dutch speakers, is to put a -t at the end of a verb at the right time.

    Especially when the verb stem ends with a -d, as is the case with houden (the stem is, of course, houd-). You will often hear natives talking about the -dt ending, but in truth this ending does not exist: if you simply follow the conjugation rules it's just stem + t.

    As a refresher, the verb conjugation table for the present:

    Pronoun Conjugation Example
    Ik [stem] Ik drink (I drink)
    Jij [stem] + t Jij drinkt (You drink)
    Hij/Zij/Het [stem] + t Hij drinkt (He drinks)
    U [stem] + t U drinkt (You drink)
    Wij Infinitive Wij drinken (We drink)
    Jullie Infinitive Jullie drinken (You drink)
    Zij Infinitive Zij drinken (They drink)

    Now let's replace drinken with houden:

    Pronoun Conjugation Example
    Ik [stem] Ik houd
    Jij [stem] + t Jij houdt
    Hij/Zij/Het [stem] + t Hij houdt
    U [stem] + t U houdt
    Wij Infinitive Wij houden
    Jullie Infinitive Jullie houden
    Zij Infinitive Zij houden

    Another difficulty with this arises in sentences which are questions. In particular, the problem-or rather, confusion- is with the second and third person singular, jij and hij. The rules are as follows:

    1. In a question where the second person singular je/jij is directly after the verb, the verb does not get a -t
    2. The third person singular hij/zij/het always gets -t

    So, at first sight you might say Houdt je vader van mij? "Does your father love me?", is incorrect; after all, je is after the verb, so it should not get a -t. However, je is not the second person singular here; it's the possessive. The subject, je vader, can be replaced with hij: Houdt hij van mij? and the rule is that the third person singular always gets the -t.

    There are some more d/t/dt difficulties in other verb tenses, but those are for another skill!

  • 50 Colors121 100 •••
    blauw · blauwe · bruin · bruine · donker · donkere · geel · gele · grijs · grijze · groen · groene · kleur · kleuren · kleurrijk · kleurrijke · oranje · paars · paarse · rode · rood · roze · vlag · vlaggen · wit · witte · zwart · zwarte
    28 words
  • 50 Prepositions 1122 100 •••
    aan · achter · belgië · bij · door · in · krijg · krijgen · krijgt · met · na · naar · naast · nederland · onder · op · over · tafel · tafels · tegen · tijdens · tussen · uit · van · vanwege · voor · wonen · woon · woont · zonder
    30 words

    To live: wonen or leven?

    As you will see, the verb to live has two main translations, wonen and leven. However, those two verbs do not have the same meaning.

    Wonen denotes the place you reside.

    Ik woon in Nederland. 
    (I live in the Netherlands.)
    
    Ik woon in een klein huis. 
    (I live in a small house.)
    

    Leven means to be alive, to exist.

    Ik leef nog. 
    (I am still alive.)
    
  • 50 Modal and auxiliary verbs182 100 •••
    blijf · blijft · blijven · hoor · hoort · horen · kan · kom · komen · komt · kunnen · kunt · laat · laten · mag · moet · moeten · mogen · wil · willen · zie · zien · ziet
    23 words

    Modal verbs

    Modal verbs are used to indicate how an action is performed, in other words whether it's voluntary, permitted, etc. The following table lists the most common modal verbs:

    Dutch English
    willen to want to
    kunnen can/to be able to
    moeten must/to have to
    mogen may/to be allowed to
    blijven to keep (doing sth.), to stay
    laten to let
    komen to come (in order to do sth.)

    Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb, which is placed at the end of the sentence. In Dutch, the infinitive is always the same as the plural form of the present simple (usually ending on -en). Some examples:

    • "Ik wil zwemmen." = I want to swim.
    • "Ik kan zwemmen." = I can swim.
    • "Ik mag zwemmen." = I am allowed to swim.

    Several of the modal verbs have an irregular conjugation:

    - willen kunnen mogen
    ik wil kan mag
    jij/u wil/wilt* kan/kunt* mag
    hij/zij/het wil kan mag
    wij/jullie/zij willen kunnen mogen

    *both are possible, but in formal writing you should use the form ending on -t.

    Zien, horen & voelen

    These three verbs, all describing sensations, are not modal verbs, but they can behave in exactly the same way. When you see, hear or feel somebody (or something) performing an action, the infinitive comes at the end of the sentence:

    • "Ik zie hem zwemmen." = I see him swim.
    • "Ik hoor haar praten." = I hear her talk.
  • 50 Home183 100 •••
    afval · badkamer · bank · bed · bel · bezem · bureau · deur · gordijn · gordijnen · kamer · kamers · kast · keuken · kussen · kussens · lade · laden · laken · lakens · lamp · lampen · meubels · muur · raam · slaapkamer · slaapkamers · sleutel · slot · sloten · spiegel · stofzuiger · tapijt · tuin · vloer · voorwerp · voorwerpen · vuilnisbak · woonkamer
    39 words
  • 50 Occupations181 100 •••
    acteur · actrice · architect · baan · baas · bakker · bakkers · beroep · bewaker · boer · carrière · dierenarts · directeur · dokter · dokters · kapitein · kok · kunstenaar · kunstenaars · kunstenares · model · modellen · ober · personeel · piloot · schrijfster · schrijfsters · schrijver · secretaresse · secretaris · serveerster · serveersters · slager · slagers · soldaat · soldaten · student · studente · studenten · werk · werkgever · werkgevers · werknemer · werknemers
    44 words
  • 50 Recreation371 100 •••
    bioscoop · dierentuin · kasteel · museum · museums · paleis · speelgoed · torens · vrije tijd · zwembad
    10 words
  • 50 Kitchen & Cooking373 100 •••
    beker · bestek · kom · lepel · mes · vork · vorken
    7 words
  • 50 Comparative and Superlative372 100 •••
    allerbeste · allerliefst · allersnelst · als · belangrijkst · belangrijkste · beste · beter · dan · duurste · even · grootst · grootste · hoe · jonger · jongste · kleinst · kleinste · kortste · langst · langste · liefst · liever · meest · meeste · minst · minste · moeilijkere · net · nog · ouder · oudere · oudste · precies · snelst · sterker · sterkst · sterkste · vaker · zo · zwakker · zwakkere
    42 words

    De trappen van vergelijking

    The "steps of comparison", as they are referred to in Dutch, are used to turn an adjective (good) into a comparative (better) or a superlative (best). These are formed by adding suffixes to the adjective, much like in English. This process is mostly regular, with a few important exceptions.

    Comparative

    The comparative, as the name implies, compares the properties of two objects, or of the same object in different situations or at different times. In English, the comparative is sometimes created with the adverb more. That is not the case in Dutch, where it is usually constructed by adding the suffix -er or -ere, following the standard rules for adjectives about the -e at the end. As usual, the consonant at the end of the adjective's stem might double or change, as a result of the Dutch spelling rules. If the stem ends on the letter r, then the suffix becomes -der or -dere, to make pronunciation easier. Some examples are below:

    • De snellere jongen - The faster boy
    • Een nog sneller meisje - An even faster girl
    • Het meisje is sneller dan de jongen. - The girl is faster than the boy.

    • Duurdere wijn - More expensive wine

    Superlative

    The highest step is the superlative, which compares an object with all other objects, or with all other situations or points in time. Again, Dutch does not normally use the adverb most, but adds the suffix -st or -ste. Like in English, the superlative must always follow a definite article (de or het).

    • De snelste jongen - The fastest boy
    • De duurste wijn - The most expensive wine

    • De jongen is het snelst. - The boy is the fastest.

    Note that even though jongen is a de-word, the superlative in that last sentence becomes het snelst. The reason is that it is a predicate adjective (it comes after the noun), which does not reflect the gender (de/het) of the noun. However, it is also allowed to say:

    • De jongen is de snelste. - The boy is the fastest.

    In this case it is implied that the noun jongen is repeated after the superlative: "De jongen is de snelste (jongen)."

    Graag - Liever - Liefst

    Graag is an adverb, and one of those annoying Dutch words that does not have an English equivalent. It tells you that the subject enjoys performing the action that is described by the verb, often translated as "like to" + infinitive.

    Strangely enough, graag has a comparative and a superlative form: liever and liefst. These mean, respectively, that you prefer doing something over something else, and that you prefer it over anything else. You can translate them as "like more to" and "like best to", or by using some form of "to prefer".

  • 50 Separable Verbs232 100 •••
    aan · aangeraakt · aankomen · af · afspreken · denken · doe · doen · door · doorga · doorgaan · gaan · gaat · houdt · in · invullen · kom · laten · lees · legt · los · loslaten · mee · meedoen · meedoet · meeneemt · meenemen · na · neer · neerzetten · nemen · om · omvallen · opgehaald · ophalen · opschrijven · opstaan · raakt · raken · samengewerkt · samenwerken · schrijf · spreken · staat · tegen · tegenkomt · teruggekeerd · terugkeert · toe · toegevoegd · toevoegen · uit · uitgelegd · valt · vast · vasthouden · voegt · voorlezen · vul · weg · weggaan · zet
    62 words

    Separable verbs consist of two parts: a prefix and a base verb. As the name implies, these can split up and move to different parts of the sentence. Whether this happens depends on the conjugation and on the word order, as explained below.

    While English doesn't have separable verbs, they are somewhat similar to so-called phrasal verbs, such as: stand up, write down, fill in or hang out. Often but not nearly always, a Dutch separable verb can be translated as an English phrasal verb. Using combinations of prepositions and existing verbs, there are an almost unlimited number of separable verbs in Dutch, each with a subtle difference in meaning or connotation.

    Finite verb

    A finite verb is a verb that is conjugated to match the subject. I am happy, because I have seen a beautiful duck. In this sentence, am and have are finite verbs (they match the subject I), but seen is not (it is a past participle). If a Dutch separable verb is finite, then the verb is split in two and the prefix moves to the back of the sentence. For example, the verb "aanraken" (to touch) becomes:

    • Jij raakt me aan. - You touch me.

    Note that while the word "aan" can also be a preposition, in this case it's not. It is a part of the verb!

    An exception to the above rule occurs in subordinate clauses (covered in the Conjunctions 2 skill). There, the finite verb is always moved to the end of the clause, so there is no need to split up the separable verb:

    • Ik word boos, als jij me aanraakt. - I'll get angry if you touch me.

    Infinite verb

    The infinite form (or infinitive) of a separable verb is usually written as one word:

    • Jij wil me aanraken. - You want to touch me.

    In some cases, the infinitive will also be separated. For example, this happens when it is accompanied by "te", which always comes between the prefix and the base verb. When there are multiple infinitives in the sentence, or when the infinitive is part of a subclause, you can often choose whether to split the separable verb or not.

    Past participle

    The past participle of a verb is mostly used in the present perfect (one of the past tense forms). In Dutch, this form is constructed with the prefix "ge-". For separable verbs, this prefix comes in between the original prefix and the base verb. It is written as one word:

    • Jij hebt me aangeraakt. - You have touched me.
  • 50 Shopping231 100 •••
    afdeling · afdelingen · bakkerij · bestellen · bestelt · betaal · betaalt · betalen · bon · boodschappen · cent · contant · creditcard · euro · geleend · gratis · huren · huurt · kassa · kinderafdeling · kledingzaak · kledingzaken · korting · kost · lenen · markt · markten · merk · merken · pas · paskamer · paskamers · passen · past · pinnen · pinpas · portemonnee · prijs · prijzen · procent · rekening · rekeningen · rij · ruil · ruilen · schoenenafdeling · slagerij · slagerijen · supermarkt · supermarkten · te koop · uitverkoop · verkoopt · verkopen · waard · warenhuis · winkel · winkels · winkelwagen
    59 words
  • 50 Health 1291 100 •••
    afspraak · arts · behandeling · dieet · gezond · gezondheid · griep · koorts · medicijn · medicijnen · operatie · operaties · patiënt · patiënte · patiënten · pijn · toestand · verpleegkundige · virus · zieke · ziekte · ziektes
    22 words
  • 50 Verbs: Present Perfect: Strong Verbs292 100 •••
    aangekomen · begonnen · begrepen · gebracht · gedaan · gedacht · gedronken · gegaan · gegeten · gegeven · gehad · gekocht · gekomen · gekozen · gekregen · geleden · gelezen · gelopen · geschreven · geslapen · gestaan · geweest · geworden · gezien · gezocht · gezwommen · nadat · nagedacht · net · vanochtend · vorig · vorige
    32 words

    Present Perfect: Strong Verbs

    For the conjugation of the past tense in Dutch, we can distinguish between weak verbs, strong verbs and completely irregular verbs:

    • Weak verbs follow regular conjugation rules. Their stem does not change in the past tense. If you know the rules, you can conjugate any of these verbs.
    • Strong verbs are irregular, but they still follow certain patterns. The vowel in their stem can change in the past tense. You need to memorize these vowel changes.
    • Completely irregular verbs are exactly what the name implies. Their stem can change entirely in the past tense, not just the vowels. Thankfully there are not many of these.

    Some verbs that are weak in the present perfect might be strong or irregular in the past simple, or the other way around. This skill focuses on strong and irregular verbs in the present perfect.

    For strong verbs, the past participle is formed with the prefix ge- and the suffix -en. As mentioned above, the vowel in the verb's stem often changes. Unfortunately there are no rules for these vowel changes. Some examples:

    Strong verb Past participle
    drinken gedronken
    doen gedaan
    zwemmen gezwommen
    schrijven geschreven
    lezen gelezen
    beginnen begonnen

    Note: words that start with be-, er-, ge-, her-, ont- or ver- do not get the extra prefix ge- in the present perfect. See the last example above.

    More irregular verbs

    In this skill you will also encounter a few truly irregular verbs that do not follow the pattern above. These are:

    Irregular verb Past participle
    zijn geweest
    hebben gehad
    kopen gekocht
    zoeken gezocht
    brengen gebracht
    denken gedacht
  • 50 More Food293 100 •••
    bes · boter · champignons · chocolade · citroen · gebak · gehakt · hartig · kers · knoflook · olie · pindakaas · pittig · slagroom · snoep · spek · uien · zoet · zoete · zure · zuur
    21 words
  • 50 People323 100 •••
    amerikaan · amerikaanse · amerikanen · bevolking · burger · burgers · dames · herken · herkennen · herkent · jeugd · koppel · nederlanders · nederlandse · personen · persoon · spaanse · spanjaard · spanjaarden
    19 words
  • 50 Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns321 100 •••
    aankleden · af · bevind · bevindt · elkaar · erger · ergert · gedragen · herinner · herinneren · je · jezelf · kleed · kleed · kleedt · kleedt · me · mezelf · om · omkleden · ons · realiseer · realiseerde · realiseren · schaam · schaamt · schamen · scheer · scheert · stelt · verbaas · verbaast · verbazen · vergis · vergist · verheug · verheugt · veroorloven · verveel · vervelen · voel · voelen · voor · voorstellen · vraag · vraagt · vragen · zich · zichzelf
    49 words
    Reflexives

    Sometimes, a verb needs the subject to be the object as well. These are reflexive verbs. They exist in English too: "I wash myself", "He teaches himself", etc. In Dutch, they are much more common, however.

    There are two forms of the reflexive pronouns: stressed and unstressed. We don't often use the stressed form, but it's still good to know it.

    English Dutch unstressed Dutch stressed
    myself me mezelf
    yourself je jezelf
    yourself (formal zich uzelf
    himself/herself/itself zich zichzelf
    ourselves ons onszelf
    yourselves je jezelf
    themselves zich zichzelf
  • 50 Demonstrative pronouns262 100 •••
    al · andere · anderen · dat · datzelfde · deze · dezelfde · die · diezelfde · dit · hetzelfde · zo'n · zoiets · zulk · zulke
    15 words
    Demonstrative pronouns

    The demonstrative pronoun always points to something or someone and usually gives some emphasis. It can be used both dependent and independent.

    The dependent demonstrative pronoun always has that which it points to in the same sentence. Example:

    Ik wil dit boek (niet dat boek). - 'I want this book (not that one)'.

    The independent demonstrative pronoun points to something which has been mentioned before or which is already known in some other way. Example:

    Die is van mij. - 'That one is mine.'

  • 50 Verbs: The Imperative261 100 •••
    dans · dansen · doen · ga · kom · laten · lees · niet · roken · rook · wacht · wees · zing · zingen
    14 words
    Imperative

    Dutch uses the present tense of the first person singular for the imperative. An exception is the imperative of zijn ('to be'), which uses wees (1st pers. sing. of wezen), which is an old-fashioned form of zijn.

    For a more polite imperative, you use the present tense of the formal u. This form is officially also used when addressing multiple people, but hardly anyone ever actually does; the normal imperative is used instead.

    An exception is when the 'command' is given in a general sense, like 'No smoking'. In this case we simply use the infinitive: Niet roken.

  • 50 Geography263 100 •••
    berg · bergen · bos · brug · eiland · engeland · gebied · gebieden · grens · heuvel · hoofdstad · kanaal · kanalen · kust · land · landen · landschap · noorden · oosten · regio's · rivier · rotsen · ten · vallei · veld · velden · wereld · westen · woestijn · zuiden
    30 words
  • 50 Abstract Nouns 1421 100 •••
    belang · dood · geluk · haat · hoop · leven · moeite · slaap · succes · woede
    10 words
  • 50 Media & Internet423 100 •••
    internet · journaliste · media · netwerk · nieuws · pers · roman · romans · toegang
    9 words
  • 50 Shapes & Sizes422 100 •••
    achterstevoren · binnenkant · binnenstebuiten · buitenkant · midden · ondersteboven · overkant · voorkant
    8 words
  • 50 Verbs: Present Perfect: Review341 100 •••
    afgesproken · betaald · bezocht · eergisteren · gebeurd · gebleven · genomen · geopend · gepakt · gereisd · gesproken · gestolen · geteld · getoond · gevolgd · gezongen · meegenomen · ontmoet · opgestaan · veranderd · vergeten · verkocht · vertrokken
    23 words

    In this skill you will practice with both weak and strong verbs in the present perfect. For extensive grammar notes, please review the previous two skills on this topic.

  • 50 Nature342 100 •••
    elektriciteit · gewas · gewassen · gras · grond · grot · grotten · hitte · ijs · klimaat · kloof · kou · land · licht · lichten · lucht · milieu · natuur · plant · planten · rook · stof · tulp · tulpen · vulkaan · vulkanen · vuur · zand
    28 words
  • 50 Traffic343 100 •••
    bus · metro · openbaar vervoer · spits · stoep · taxi · tram · verkeer · verkeersinformatie · voorrang
    10 words
  • 50 The Future Tense361 100 •••
    bedekken · bellen · geven · helpen · kiezen · kijken · leren · maken · missen · ontvangen · ooit · overmorgen · regenen · vallen · veranderen · verliezen · vertrekken · vinden · weten · winnen
    20 words
    Future

    The future tense can be formed in two ways in Dutch:

    1. gaan + infinitive, meaning "to go"
    2. zullen + infinitive, meaning "shall" or "will"

    These two can also be used together, just like in English.

    Zullen + infinitive is used in the following cases:

    1. when saying something will likely take place
    2. when emphasizing that something will definitely happen
    3. to promise or propose something

    The conjugation:

    Person Future Translation
    Ik zal schrijven I will write
    Jij zal/zult* schrijven You will write
    U zal/zult* schrijven You will write (formal)
    Hij/Zij/Het zal schrijven He/She/It will write
    Wij zullen schrijven We will write
    Jullie zullen schrijven You will write (plural)
    Zij zullen schrijven They will write

    *Both zal and zult are correct, but zal is considered informal.

    Gaan + infinitive is used as follows:

    1. when expressing an intended action
    2. when something is going to take place, without expressing probability
    Person Future Translation
    Ik ga schrijven I am going to write
    Jij gaat schrijven You are going to write
    U gaat schrijven You are going to write (formal)
    Hij/Zij/Het gaat schrijven He/She/It is going to write
    Wij gaan schrijven We are going to write
    Jullie gaan schrijven You are going to write (plural)
    Zij gaan schrijven They are going to write
  • 50 Adverbs 1152 100 •••
    al · alleen · allemaal · bijna · dan · eindelijk · goed · graag · heel · helemaal · langzaam · meestal · meteen · nog · ook · opeens · rustig · samen · snel · steeds · straks · vaak · weer · weg · zelf · zo
    26 words
    Dutch adverbs

    Adverbs say something about a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs only have one form.

    • Duo kan goed zwemmen - 'Duo can swim well'.
    • Duo is een heel goede zanger - 'Duo is a very good singer.'
    • Duo zingt behoorlijk goed - 'Duo sings rather well.'

    When adjectives function as adverbs, they are not inflected:

    • Kristine heeft mooi gezongen - 'Kristine has sung beautifully.
    • Luis heeft vandaag hard gewerkt - 'Luis has worked hard today.'

    Adverbs of place

    These are:

    • hier ('here')
    • daar ('there')
    • links(af) ('(to the) left')
    • rechts(af) ('(to the) right')
    • uit ('from')
    • ergens ('somewhere')

    Wonen zij hier? - 'Do they live here?'


    Adverbs of time

    The adjectives of time:

    • nu ('now')
    • toen ('then')
    • morgen ('tomorrow')
    • soms ('sometimes')
    • daarna ('afterwards')
    • dan ('then')
    • vaak ('often')

    Het is nu mooi weer - 'The weather is nice now.

    Note! In an affirmative clause, an adverb of time mostly comes before an adverb of place.

    Hij was gisteren hier - 'He was here yesterday


    Connecting adverbs

    Some adverbs are used to connect two parts. They are:

    • daarom ('so/therefore')
    • daardoor ('therefore/consequently')

    Hij snoept heel veel, daardoor wordt hij erg dik - 'He eats a lot of sweets, therefore he is getting very fat.'


    Other common adverbs

    There are some other, common adverbs:

    • ook ('also')
    • niet ('not')
    • bijna ('almost')
    • erg ('very')
    • misschien ('perhaps')
    • helemaal ('totally')
    • heel ('very')

    Ga je ook naar het feest? - 'Are you also going to the party?'

  • 50 Places151 100 •••
    adres · bank · banken · bar · bibliotheek · binnen · boerderij · buiten · buurt · centrum · dorp · dorpen · ergens · gebouw · gevangenis · grond · havens · hoek · hotel · hotels · kantoor · landgoed · locatie · locaties · om · overal · plaats · plaatsen · plein · restaurant · restaurants · route · station · stations · steden · strand · thuis · vliegveld
    38 words
  • 50 Time154 100 •••
    's · altijd · avond · avonds · dag · duren · duurt · eerder · half · hoe laat · hoelang · keer · klok · kwart · kwartier · laat · lang · later · maandags · middag · middags · minuten · minuut · moment · momenten · morgen · nacht · nachts · ochtend · ochtends · om · over · overdag · per · seconde · seconden · tijd · tot · uur · vanavond · vandaag · vanmiddag · voor · vroeg · vroege · woensdags
    46 words
    Reading the clock: half to or half past?

    The Dutch read the clock as follows:

    • 6:00 - Zes uur
    • 6:15 - Kwart over zes
    • 6:30 - Half zeven
    • 6:45 - Kwart voor zeven

    In other words, half zeven means half an hour to seven, not past seven. This is especially confusing for the British, who refer to 7:30 as "half seven".


    's

    When in English you say in the morning", or "at night" etc., you could literally translate it to in de ochtend or in de nacht. However, Dutch has a more common and shorter way of saying it: 's ochtends or 's avonds.

    The 's is short for des, which is an old Dutch word meaning van de or in de. In time it was shortened to just 's. So, while in old Dutch it would be des ochtends or des nachts, we now say 's ochtends or 's nachts.


    Capitalization

    When 's morgens or anything else starting with 's is at the start of the sentence, something interesting happens with the capitalization. You might expect the 's to become 'S; however, that is not the case, as the "s" is actually the end of a word (see the explanation above). Instead, the capital skips to the next word: 's Morgens.


    Capitals in dates

    In English, days of the week and months of the year always start with a capital. Dutch doesn't do this. So while in English you say "It is the first Monday of July," in Dutch you say Het is de eerste maandag van juli.

  • 50 Simple Past 1311 100 •••
    betaalde · deden · deed · gebeurde · gebruikte · gebruikten · had · hadden · hoefde · hoefden · hoorde · hoorden · kende · kookte · kookten · luisterde · luisterden · maakten · praatte · praatten · regende · speelde · speelden · toen · vroeger · waren · was · wilde · wilden
    29 words

    Simple Past: Weak Verbs

    Just like English, Dutch has a second way to describe actions in the past, beside the frequently used present perfect. The past simple (a.k.a imperfectum or “onvoltooid verleden tijd” (OVT) in Dutch) is used as a storytelling tense. It describes a past event or past situation from the perspective of the past, often as a part of a longer story. This is in contrast to the present perfect, which focuses on the results of a past action. However, the two tenses are interchangeable in many cases.

    The past simple in Dutch can be translated to either the past simple or the past continuous in English, whichever sounds more natural.

    For weak (regular) verbs, the simple past is formed with the suffix -de(n) or -te(n). Which one you use is determined by the same rules as for the past participle: if the verb’s stem end on a ch, f, k, p, s or t (the consonants of soft ketchup), then the simple past ends on -te(n). If not, one uses -de(n). The -n is added for plural conjugations (wij, jullie, zij).

    Verb Stem Soft Ketchup? Simple Past
    Leren leer no leerde(n)
    Werken werk yes werkte(n)
    Fietsten fiets yes fietste(n)
    Willen wil no wilde(n)

    If the stem already ends on a -d or -t, then it gets an extra one. For example, the verb "praten" (to talk) becomes "praatte(n)". Note that "praten" and "praatten" are pronounced the same; when listening, you need to determine the tense from context. Some more examples:

    Dutch English
    Ik leerde snel. I learned quickly.
    Wij werkten in de bakkerij. We were working in the bakery.
    Hij fietste naar huis. He biked home.
    Wilden jullie ook koffie? Did you also want coffee?
    De mannen praatten de hele nacht The men were talking all night.

    In this skill, you will also encounter the simple past conjugations of a few irregular verbs:

    --- Zijn Hebben Doen
    Singular: was had deed
    Plural: waren hadden deden
  • 50 Dutch Baking, Food and Snacks552 100 •••
    hagelslag · haring · vla
    3 words

    These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

  • 50 Belgian Culture553 100 •••
    antwerpen · atomium · brugge · brussel · eupen · gent · gravensteen · hasselt · leuven · luik · manneken pis · rode duivels · stoofvlees · vlaanderen · wallonië
    15 words

    These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

  • 50 Dutch Geography, Landmarks & Infrastructure551 100 •••
    afsluitdijk · drenthe · flevoland · friesland · gelderland · gouda · groningen · hunebedden · ijsselmeer · limburg · noord-brabant · noord-holland · noordzee · overijssel · rotterdam · utrecht · veluwe · zeeland · zuid-holland
    19 words

    These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

  • 50 University473 100 •••
    aanmelding · aanmeldingen · aantekeningen · biologie · cursus · cursussen · filosofie · geneeskunde · instituut · lezing · natuurkunde · professor · programma · programma's · scheikunde · sociologie · taalkunde · training · universiteit · universiteiten
    20 words
  • 50 Suffixes472 100 •••
    anders · eerlijkheid · hopelijk · iets · lekkers · leuks · moeilijkheden · moeilijkheid · moois · persoonlijke · schoonheid · vrijheid
    12 words

    Why waste a good word when you can use it to make some other words? Just like English speakers, the Dutch love adding suffixes to derive new words from the ones you already know. In this skill, you will encounter some of the most common ones. In fact, you have already come across many of them! Think about:

    • gevaar (danger) - gevaarlijk (dangerous)
    • gezond (healthy) - gezondheid (health)
    • vertalen (to translate) - vertaling (translation)
    • geluk (happiness) - gelukkig (happy)

    Unfortunately there is usually no one-to-one correspondence between Dutch and English suffixes. Practice is the only solution! Below you'll find a table with common Dutch suffixes.

    Suffix from to English de/het
    -heid adj. noun -ness/-y/-dom/? de
    -ing verb noun -tion/-ment/-ance/? de
    -lijk noun adj./adv. -ly/? -
    -ig noun adj./adv. -y/? -
    -loos noun adj./adv. -less -
    -baar* verb adj./adv. -ble -
    -s adj. noun indefinite het

    *not taught in this skill

    The s-form of an adjective

    If an adjective follows an indefinite pronoun (like "iets" or "niets"), it gets the ending -s. This is a remnant of the old genitive case. In the last lesson of this skill, you will get some practice with this. A few examples:

    • "Ik ruik iets lekkers." - I smell something tasty.
    • "Ik heb niets leuks te doen." - I don't have anything fun to do.
    • "Zie je iemand anders?" - Do you see anyone else?
  • 50 The Gerund513 100 •••
    denken · fietsen · gaan · leven · presenteren · rennen · verliezen · winnen · zingen · zwemmen
    10 words
  • 50 Feelings 2511 100 •••
    ademloos · beu · gefascineerd · geschrokken · geïrriteerd · opgewonden · tevreden
    7 words
    Gezellig

    Gezellig is a famous Dutch word. It owes its fame to being impossible to literally translate into English; it's a feeling which simply doesn't exist as such. There are many words which approximate the feeling ("nice", "cozy", "pleasant", to name but a few), but none of them are quite sufficient.

    Gezellig is the feeling of having a good time with other people. Whether these people are friends, family, acquaintances or total strangers is unimportant. It's a warm, positive feeling. When in English you can say 'I had a good time', in Dutch you can say Het was gezellig or Ik vond het gezellig.

  • 50 Politics 1512 100 •••
    koning · koninkrijk · politiek · rechterlijke macht · rechtvaardigheid · uitvoerende macht · wetgevende macht
    7 words
  • 50 Verbs 1132 100 •••
    blijf · blijft · blijven · denk · denkt · fiets · fietsen · fietst · gebruik · gebruiken · gebruikt · heb · hebben · heeft · heet · helpen · helpt · heten · houd · houden · houdt · jesper · koop · koopt · kopen · leer · leert · leren · neem · neemt · nemen · nodig · regent · sta · staan · staat · van · vinden · vindt · weet · werk · werken · werkt · wordt · zeg · zeggen · zegt · zoek · zoekt
    49 words
  • 50 Questions 2131 100 •••
    antwoord · doe · doen · doet · hoe · hoeveel · stel · stellen · stelt · vraag · vragen · waar · waarom · wanneer · wat · welk · welke · wie · wiens
    19 words
    Questions

    There are two types of questions, both in English and in Dutch: open and closed.

    Closed questions

    Closed questions can only be answered with 'yes' (ja) or 'no' (nee).

    Example:

    1. Does he work? -Yes
    2. Is she ill? -No

    What you'll notice about English closed questions, is that they are often formed with an auxiliary verb like 'to do'.

    Example:

    1. He works – Does he work?
    2. I kiss her – Do I kiss her?

    Other times, English applies something called inversion.

    Example:

    1. I will leave – Will I leave?
    2. We have done that – Have we done that?

    Dutch only applies inversion to form closed questions. Example:

    1. Jullie zijn klaar - You are done
    2. Zijn jullie klaar? - Are you done?
    3. Jij zwemt - You swim
    4. Zwem jij? - Do you swim?

    Open questions

    Open questions normally start with a so-called interrogative pronoun like:

    1. 'who' (wie)
    2. 'what' (wat)
    3. 'where' (waar) etc.

    Example:

    1. Wie is dat? – Who is that?
    2. Wat doe je? – What are you doing?
    3. Waar kom je vandaan? – Where are you from?
  • 50 Numbers 1133 100 •••
    acht · achtste · achttien · dan · derde · dertien · dertiende · drie · eerste · elf · hoeveelheid · kilometer · laatste · maar · meer · meter · minder · negen · negentien · nog · nul · nullen · nummer · nummers · te · tien · twaalf · tweede · twintig · veertien · vier · vierde · vijf · vijftien · zes · zesde · zestien · zeven · zeventien · één
    40 words
  • 50 Verbs: Present Perfect: Weak Verbs221 100 •••
    ben · gebruikt · gefietst · gehoord · gekookt · geleerd · gelegd · geluisterd · gemaakt · geprobeerd · geregend · gerend · gespeeld · gestopt · gevraagd · gewacht · gewerkt · gewoond · gezegd · gezet · gisteren · is · nog nooit · zijn
    24 words

    Present Perfect: Weak Verbs

    The name of the present perfect is deceiving: it describes actions that happened in the past, not those happening in the present. In Dutch, the present perfect is a very common way to refer to the past, far more so than in English. In fact, the Dutch present perfect can not always be translated as the English present perfect, or vice verse. They serve slightly different roles, as we will see below.

    The present perfect in Dutch describes a past action, but from the point of the view of the present. It draws attention to the results of the action, rather than the action itself. When translating this tense to English, it is best to use either the present perfect or the past simple, depending on the context. There are some exceptions and special cases, a few of which are discussed at the end of this note.

    Weak and Strong Verbs

    For the conjugation of the past tense in Dutch, we can distinguish between weak verbs, strong verbs and completely irregular verbs:

    • Weak verbs follow regular conjugation rules. Their stem does not change in the past tense. If you know the rules, you can conjugate any of these verbs.
    • Strong verbs are irregular, but they still follow certain patterns. The vowel in their stem can change in the past tense. You need to memorize these vowel changes.
    • Completely irregular verbs are exactly what the name implies. Their stem can change entirely in the past tense, not just the vowels. Thankfully there are not many of these.

    Some verbs that are strong in the present perfect might be weak or irregular in the past simple, or the other way around. However, this skill only focuses on weak verbs in the present perfect. You will encounter the other cases in later skills.

    How to use the Present Perfect

    Dutch English
    Ik heb iets geleerd. I (have) learned something.
    Jij hebt hard gewerkt. You (have) worked hard.
    We zijn naar huis gefietst. We (have) biked home.

    Looking at the examples above, there are a few things that stand out:

    • Like in English, the present perfect is constructed with an auxiliary verb (i.e. to have) and a past participle (e.g. learned, worked, biked, etc.)
    • In Dutch the auxiliary verb can be either “hebben” or “zijn”.
    • The present participle of a weak verb is formed with the prefix ge- and the suffix -d or -t. There are exceptions to this and strong verbs have different rules.
    • The present participle is placed at the end of the sentence, after the object or any adverbs.

    When should you use “hebben” or “zijn”? That depends on the verb; the vast majority use “hebben”. Verbs that describe a motion in a particular direction often use “zijn” (as in the last example above). So do intransitive verbs (i.e. without an object) that describe a change or development (e.g. “komen”, “beginnen”, “groeien”, etc.). Lastly, linking verbs such as “zijn” itself, “worden” and “blijven” all use “zijn” as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect.

    When should you use -d or -t as a prefix? That depends on the last letter of the verb’s stem. Most verbs get the -d ending, except those whose stem ends in ch, f, k, p, s or t (there are a few more, but those are highly uncommon). A word that could help you to remember these is the word 't kofschip. Another mnemonic is soft ketchup. If the stem ends on a consonant that is in these mnemonics, the participle receives a -t. If the stem already ends in a -d or -t, it does not get another one added to it. Applying these rules to the examples above gives:

    Verb Stem Soft Ketchup? Participle
    Leren leer no geleerd
    Werken werk yes gewerkt
    Fietsen fiets yes gefietst

    Words that start with be-, er-, ge-, her-, ont- or ver- do not get the extra prefix ge- in the present perfect.

    Translation Tips

    • In Dutch it is common to use the present perfect together with an adjective which specifies a time in the past, something that is not allowed in English. In these cases, you must use the simple past in your translation. “Ik heb gisteren hard gewerkt.” -> I worked hard yesterday. WRONG: I have worked hard yesterday.
    • In English one can use the present perfect continuous to describe actions that are still ongoing. This is not impossible in Dutch. Instead, you must use the present tense together with the adverb “al”: I have been waiting for hours. -> “Ik wacht al uren.” or “Ik ben al uren aan het wachten.”
  • 50 Bathroom333 100 •••
    droge · droog · kam · nat · natte · schaar · scheermes · tandenborstel · tandenborstels · tandpasta · zeep
    11 words
  • 50 Verbs 3332 100 •••
    steunt
    1 words
  • 50 Er172 100 •••
    al · bijna · ding · dingen · er · eten · feest · feesten · fles · flessen · geld · graag · loopt · maken · muziek · naar · neemt · nog · potlood · probleem · problemen · regent · spelen · stoel · stoelen · stukje · stukjes · telefoon · telefoons · wat · wc · werken · wie · woon · zwemt
    35 words

    Er

    Introducing... the most annoying, versatile and untranslatable word in the Dutch language. The particle er gives many learners nightmares and is known to have at least five separate uses. In this skill, you will encounter only two of them. Other uses will follow in later skills.

    Often, but not always, er can be translated as "there". It is used to express the existence of something:

    Dutch English
    Er is een probleem. There is a problem.
    Er is iemand in mijn huis. There is somebody in my house.

    But unlike in English, it can be combined with verbs other than "to be":

    Dutch English
    Er slaapt iemand in mijn bed. There is somebody sleeping in my bed.
    Somebody is sleeping in my bed.

    In fact, it is often necessary to include er when the subject is indefinite (i.e. doesn't point to a specific person or object). In the above example, you cannot leave it out without adding some strange, unnatural emphasis:

    Dutch English
    Awkward: Iemand slaapt in mijn bed. Somebody is sleeping in my bed.

    Indeed, the reason behind these particular rules is emphasis: the first element of the sentence receives a special emphasis, which sounds odd when combined with an indefinite subject. That is why the subject is replaced by er, which is always unstressed. And that is also why the addition of er is unnecessary when there is already a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence:

    Dutch English
    In mijn bed slaapt iemand. In my bed, there is somebody sleeping.

    In questions with "who", it is also common to include er, although it is not strictly necessary. In this case, it cannot be translated in English.

    Dutch English
    Wie slaapt er in mijn bed? Who is sleeping in my bed?
    Less natural: Wie slaapt in mijn bed?

    Locative "er"

    Finally, er can also refer to a location, as an unstressed form of "hier" or "daar".

    Dutch English
    Zijn we er al? Are we there yet?
    Ik werk er graag. I like working there.

    You will see other uses of er in the skills Numbers 2, Pronominal Adverbs and Passive Voice.

  • 50 Emergency242 100 •••
    ambulance · ambulances · arrestatie · bel · bellen · beschermen · beschermt · blus · blussen · brand · brandblusser · brandweer · brandweerman · brandweervrouw · dief · gered · gewond · gewonde · hulp · misdaad · misdaden · noodgeval · noodgevallen · plegen · politie · politieagent · politieagenten · ramp · redden · schade · slachtoffer · slachtoffers · steelt · stelen · taak · taken · waarschuwing · waarschuwingen · ziekenhuis
    39 words
  • 50 Feelings 1243 100 •••
    bang · bezorgd · bezorgde · blij · boos · emoties · gelukkig · gelukkige · gevoel · gevoelens · huil · huilen · huilt · humeur · lach · lachen · lacht · moe · onzeker · trots · veilig · verdrietig · verdrietige · verlegen · verrast · zeker
    26 words
  • 50 Te + infinitive verbs241 100 •••
    begin · begint · beloof · belooft · beloven · besluit · besluiten · beveel · beveelt · bevelen · blijk · blijken · blijkt · durf · durft · durven · dwing · dwingen · dwingt · hoef · hoeven · leren · lig · liggen · ligt · om · probeer · probeert · proberen · sta · staat · te · vergeet · vergeten · weiger · weigert · zonder
    37 words

    Te+infinitive

    Sometimes, auxiliary verbs cannot be followed by just the infinitive, but need the preposition te first. This can happen in several situations.

    1) Staan - Zitten - Liggen - Lopen - Hangen

    The Dutch continuous aspect can be formed in several different ways. One of these is

    STAAN/ZITTEN/LIGGEN/LOPEN/HANGEN + TE + INFINITIVE

    With this construction one can specify in which position the subject is. And yes, mostly it really doesn't matter, but still we add it.

    Dutch English Additional thought
    Hij ligt te slapen. He is sleeping. (while he is lying)
    Ze zit te lezen. She is reading. (while she is sitting)

    2) Verbable

    The verbable is an equivalent for an adjective derived from a verb.

    It is created using the following pattern:

    ZIJN/BLIJVEN/VALLEN + TE + INFINITIVE

    Verbable construction Adjective construction English
    Dat is te begrijpen. Dat is begrijpelijk. That is understandable.
    Valt het te repareren? Is het repareerbaar? Is it repairable?

    3) Verbs always + te + infinitive

    Since these verbs have little in common, you'll have to try to memorize them.

    DURVEN | HEBBEN | HOEVEN

    Dutch English
    Hij durft te springen. He dares to jump.
    Hij hoeft niet te vertrekken. He doesn't have to leave.
    Ik heb niets te doen. I have nothing to do.

    For hebben this isn't always the case; when it means owning something, it can be used without te. For komen, te is only necessary when it is in the sense of something being about to happen.

    ! In the perfect tense, the te is dropped after these verbs. (see the Modal Perfect skill)

    4) Short subclauses

    A short subclause is a special type of subclause. The subject is ommited. This structure also exists in English so it should not look too complicated.

    Short subclause Normal subclause
    Ik beloof dat te doen. Ik beloof dat ik dat zal doen.

    5) Gerund after preposition

    Dutch English
    Zonder na te denken Without thinking
    Door te springen By/through jumping

    6) Nothing to do

    Dutch English
    Niets te zeggen Nothing to say
    Iets te drinken Something to drink
  • 50 The past perfect/pluperfect443 100 •••
    beloofd · besloten · gebeld · gegaan · geholpen · gehoord · gemist · geprobeerd · gereden · geroepen · gesloten · gevallen · gezien · had · hadden · verloren · verwacht · waren · was
    19 words
    Pluperfect

    The pluperfect, or past perfect, is used when referring to something that happened in the past, before something else which also happened in the past. In Dutch, it's made exactly like the present perfect, except with the simple past tense of hebben or zijn.

    Person Past Perfect Translation
    Ik had geschreven I had written
    Jij had geschreven You had written
    U had geschreven You had written (formal)
    Hij/Zij/Het had geschreven He/She/It had written
    Wij hadden geschreven We had written
    Jullie hadden geschreven You had written
    Zij hadden geschreven They had written
    Person Past Perfect Translation
    Ik was gevallen I had fallen
    Jij was gevallen You had fallen
    U was gevallen You had fallen (formal)
    Hij/Zij/Het was gevallen He/She/It had fallen
    Wij waren gevallen We had fallen
    Jullie waren gevallen You had fallen
    Zij waren gevallen They had fallen
  • 50 Adverbs 3442 100 •••
    blijkbaar · doorgaans · duidelijk · echter · gesproken · intussen · mogelijk · momenteel · nauwelijks · nogal · noodzakelijk · normaal · perfect · sowieso · stiekem · tegelijk · telkens · tenminste · vanzelf · voldoende · volstrekt · voorlopig · zeer · zeker
    24 words
  • 50 Mapping the World441 100 •••
    afrika · antarctica · australië · azië · berlijn · brazilië · china · europa · geboorteland · griekenland · ierland · india · italië · japan · londen · marokko · noord-amerika · parijs · polen · portugal · rijn · rusland · spanje · ter wereld · turkije · zuid-amerika · zweden
    27 words
  • 50 (Dutch) Holidays543 100 •••
    carnaval · nieuwjaar · oudejaarsavond · pakjesavond · pasen · prinsjesdag · sinterklaas
    7 words

    These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

  • 50 History541 100 •••
    beeldenstorm · der · indonesië · middeleeuwen · nederlanden · onafhankelijkheid · prehistorie · slavernij · suriname · tachtigjarige · verzet · zuid-afrika
    12 words

    These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

    Dutch history is pretty exciting! It's full of wars, exploration, (state-sponsored) piracy, slavery, oppression and drama. The sentences that you will find in this skill offer only a tiny slice of the rich history of the Low Lands. Note that Dutch people are very proud of their history, yet they do not like to be confronted by the uncomfortable bits. There is still a lot of denial.

    Grammar tip: when talking about historical events, we typically use the simple past tense!

  • 50 Arts 1411 100 •••
    doek · kunst · lijn · lijnen · liniaal · schets · schetsen · schilder · schilderij · schilderijen · tekenen · tekening · tekeningen · tekent · verf
    15 words
  • 50 Adjectives 3413 100 •••
    algemeen · algemene · definitief · fantastisch · fantastische · historisch · historische · mogelijk · mogelijke · onmogelijk · serieuze · tegengestelde · toekomstig · toekomstige · verantwoordelijk · verantwoordelijke
    16 words
  • 50 Family 2212 100 •••
    bruiloft · echtgenoot · echtgenote · ex · geboren · generatie · generaties · gescheiden · getrouwd · grootmoeder · grootouders · grootvader · halfbroer · halfbroers · halfzus · huwelijk · kleindochters · kleinkind · kleinzoon · ma · neef · neven · nicht · nichten · oma · oom · ooms · opa · pa · stamboom · stiefmoeder · stiefvader · stiefzussen · tante · tantes
    35 words
  • 50 Prepositions 2211 100 •••
    behalve · dankzij · dicht bij · door · door middel van · heen · in · in plaats van · in tegenstelling tot · langs · naar · naartoe · ondanks · onder · over · rondom · sinds · tegenover · toe · tot en met · tussen · vanaf · volgens · voorbij
    24 words

    Prepositions and Circumpositions

    Prepositions come before a (pro)noun and describe some kind of relationship to this noun. They are one of the basic building blocks of language. However, Dutch also has circumpositions. These words act like prepositions, but they have two parts which can split up and come on either side of the noun. Usually the first part is a regular preposition and the second part - the postposition (similar to a preposition, but it comes after the word it refers to) - changes the meaning slightly.

    For example, consider the word "naartoe". In most sentences it will split up and become:

    • Ik ga naar jou toe. - I am going towards you.

    The addition of "toe" adds some movement to the preposition "naar", which normally just describes a direction. The same is true for some of the other circumpositions, like "doorheen", "overheen" and "onderdoor", all of which show movement. You will get to practice these words in Lesson 4 of this skill.

  • 50 Science 1483 100 •••
    bewijs · bewijzen · concept · conclusie · definitie · definities · formule · formules · methode · ontdekking · oplossing · oplossingen · pas · toe · toegepast · toepassen · wetenschappelijke · wetenschapper · wetenschappers
    19 words
  • 50 Health 2481 100 •••
    buikpijn · ehbo · hoofdpijn · verkouden
    4 words
  • 50 Looks482 100 •••
    horloge · horloges
    2 words
  • 50 Pronominal Adverbs282 100 •••
    ergens · ervandaan · hier · hiermee · nergens · overal · tussen
    7 words

    Pronominal adverbs do exist in English, but they are rare and you are most likely to find them in legal texts. Here are some examples:

    • Therefore = for that, because of that
    • Hereby = by this
    • Wherein = in which

    While these English words might not be used very much, this same construction appears everywhere in Dutch. You cannot avoid it!

    What is a pronominal adverb?

    Pronominal adverbs appear whenever you have the combination of a preposition and a pronoun, as long as the pronoun does not refer to a person. The pronoun is replaced by an adverb of location (here, there, etc) and the preposition is glued behind it, sometimes changing its form slightly. See the English examples above to get a feeling for this. Dutch examples will follow.

    This table shows which pronouns turn into which locative (=showing location) adverbs. In the third column, you see an example of the corresponding pronominal adverb, formed with the preposition "in".

    Pronoun Locative Adverb Pronominal Adverb Meaning
    het er erin in it
    dat daar daarin in that
    dit hier hierin in this
    wat waar waarin in what/which
    alles overal overal in in everything
    iets ergens ergens in in something
    niets nergens nergens in not in anything

    By far the most common pronominal adverbs are formed with er. In English these translate to preposition + it , referring back to some object that was already mentioned.

    • Je hebt een doos. Wat zit erin? - You have a box. What is in it?

    Notice that in English you can also say "What is in there?". Replacing it by there could be a remnant from when English also used pronominal adverbs!

    If you are referring to specific things nearby or far away from you, you can use hier or daar to form the adverb. This corresponds to a preposition + this/that in English.

    • Hierna gaan we naar bed. - After this, we're going to bed.
    • Wat doe je daarmee? - What are you doing with that?

    Splitting the adverb

    Pronominal adverbs with 'er', 'hier', 'daar' or 'waar' are usually spelled as one word. However, in many cases they can be split up, for example by another adverb or by an indefinite object (see the Word Order 1 skill). Occasionally this is even mandatory (e.g. with an indefinite subject). Some examples:

    • Wat zit er nu in? - What is in there now?
    • Er zit niets in. - There is nothing in it.
    • Ik stop er iets in. - I put something in it.
  • 50 Present Participle451 100 •••
    al · levende
    2 words

    The present participle of a verb is a form that can be used as an adjective or an adverb. It tells you that the corresponding noun is performing a certain action at the moment (in the case of an adjective) or that the action is performed alongside the main verb of the sentence (in the case of an adverb). Some examples will make this more clear:

    • De lopende man - The walking man
    • De man gaat lopend naar huis - The man goes home walking (or: on foot)

    In English, the present participle ends on -ing. This is a very common form, which is also used in the present continuous (I am walking), as a gerund (I like walking) and in various other constructions. In Dutch, however, the participle is far more rare and only used as an adjective or adverb.

    The Dutch present participle is formed by adding -d or -de after the infinitive. When used as an adjective, it follows the standard rules for adding -e at the end:

    • De zingende man
    • Een zingende man
    • Het zingende meisje
    • Een zingend meisje
  • 50 Arts 2452 100 •••
    fotografie · inspiratie · literatuur · mode · ontwerp · ontwerpt · ontworpen · poëzie · publiek
    9 words
  • 50 Sports453 100 •••
    basketbal · coach · hockey · marathon · racket · ski · skiede · skiën · sport · sporten · tennis · voetbal · volleybal
    13 words
  • 50 Conditional431 100 •••
    doen · eten · geweest · had · hadden · hebben · helpen · kiezen · kunnen · leren · maken · moeten · stoppen · veranderen · verliezen · vinden · was · willen · zijn · zou · zouden
    21 words
    Conditional

    The conditional is very similar to the Future tense in how it's made. However, instead of the present tense zullen, we use its past tense: zouden. The conditional is used to refer to hypothetical situations.

    Person Conditional Translation
    Ik zou schrijven I would write
    Jij zou schrijven You would write
    U zou schrijven You would write (formal)
    Hij/Zij/Het zou schrijven He/She/It would write
    Wij zouden schrijven We would write
    Jullie zouden schrijven You would write (plural)
    Zij zouden schrijven They would write

    In addition to meaning "would" on its own, "zouden" can carry other meanings in combination with certain modal verbs.

    "zouden" + "moeten" gives you "should".

    • "Je zou moeten slapen." = "You should sleep."

    "zouden" + "kunnen", literally "would (+) be able to", gives you "could".

    • "Wij zouden hier kunnen eten." = "We could eat here."

    Conditional vs. the Simple Past

    Like in English, it is sometimes possible to use the simple past in a conditional construction, rather than the official "zouden" (would). Note that Dutch does not have a subjunctive mood anymore (If I were...).

  • 50 Space432 100 •••
    aarde · atmosfeer · baan · maan · melkweg · planeet · planeten · rond · ruimte · sterrenstelsel · sterrenstelsels · universum · zonnestelsel
    13 words
  • 50 Adverbs 2274 100 •••
    behoorlijk · bijvoorbeeld · binnenkort · dichtbij · echt · eens · eigenlijk · even · gelukkig · gemakkelijk · gewoon · helaas · natuurlijk · ongeveer · onmiddellijk · opnieuw · precies · toch · vooral · waarschijnlijk · zelfs
    21 words
  • 50 Common Phrases 2272 100 •••
    beste · de rest · gefeliciteerd · graag gedaan · hoogachtend · inderdaad · jammer · liefs · pas op · prima · succes · vaarwel · van harte · veel plezier · welkom · wens · wenst · zin
    18 words
  • 50 Directions271 100 •••
    achteruit · beneden · bovenaan · bovenop · in · linkerschoen · links · linksaf · omhoog · omlaag · op · opzij · rechtdoor · rechts · rechtsaf · slaat · uit · van · vooruit
    19 words

    Postpositions

    To describe the direction of movement, the prepositions "in", "op" and "uit" are placed after the noun, instead of before it. In other words, they are used as postpositions. Some examples:

    • "Ik ga de berg op." - I am going up the mountain.
    • "Ik kom mijn kamer uit." - I am coming out of my room.
    • "Ik loop het bos in." - I am walking into the forest.

    Note that all of these indicate a direction. Compare that last sentence to:

    • "Ik loop in het bos." - I am walking in the forest.

    Here, the preposition indicates a location, rather than a direction.

    These postpositions can be quite confusing, since it's easy to mistake them for part of a separable verb. In the last lesson of this skill, you get to practice with sentences such as these.

  • 50 Politics 2531 100 •••
    geweld · leden · luchtmacht · macht · veiligheid · vijand · vijanden · vrede · zeemacht
    9 words
  • 50 Spirituality & Religion533 100 •••
    geloof · gelovige · hebzucht · ijdelheid · jaloezie · kerk · lot · luiheid · magie · vraatzucht
    10 words
  • 50 Language392 100 •••
    betekenen · betekenis · betekenissen · betekent · chinees · duits · frans · hebreeuws · hoofdstuk · pagina · pagina's · portugees · russisch · spaans · tweetalig
    15 words
  • 50 Weather391 100 •••
    bewolkt · bewolkte · bliksem · donder · graden · hagel · hagelt · heet · komst · mist · onweer · orkaan · orkanen · overstroming · overstromingen · paraplu · regen · regenboog · regenbuien · schijnt · sneeuw · sneeuwman · sneeuwt · temperatuur · thermometer · vochtig · voorspeld · voorspellen · voorspelt · vriest · vriezen · waaien · waait · weer · weerbericht · weerman · weersvoorspelling · weervrouw · wind · wolk · wolken · zon · zonnig
    43 words
  • 50 Simple Past 2: Strong Verbs393 100 •••
    at · aten · begon · begonnen · bleef · bleven · dacht · dronk · dronken · gaf · gaven · ging · gingen · hield · hielden · keek · keken · kon · konden · kreeg · kregen · kwam · kwamen · las · lazen · mocht · mochten · moest · moesten · nam · namen · schreef · schreven · sliep · sprak · spraken · stond · vond · vonden · wist · zag · zagen · zei · zeiden
    44 words

    Simple Past: Strong Verbs

    For strong verbs, the simple past is fully irregular and needs to be learned by heart. In case of a singular subject, we use the stem of the verb with the vowel changed. For plural, the suffix -en is added. Note that the vowel change is sometimes different from the past participle. For example:

    Verb Past Participle Simple Past Singular Simple Past Plural
    Lezen gelezen las lazen
    Zwemmen gezwommen zwom zwommen
    Spreken gesproken sprak spraken
    Liggen gelegen lag lagen
    Kijken gekeken keek keken

    This skill also includes some verbs that are even more irregular: not only the vowel changes, but also some of the consonants. Some examples:

    Verb Past Participle Simple Past Singular Simple Past Plural
    Zeggen gezegd zei zeiden
    Kopen gekocht kocht kochten
    Zien gezien zag zagen
    Mogen gemogen* mocht mochten
    Moeten gemoeten* moest moesten
    Houden gehouden hield hielden
    Weten geweten wist wisten
    Komen gekomen kwam kwamen

    *These forms are not commonly used. See the Modal Perfect skill for an explanation.

  • 50 Compound Nouns252 100 •••
    aardbeiensap · appelsap · citroensap · dinsdagmiddag · donderdagavond · groentesoep · hoofdkantoor · kinderkleren · kinderschoenen · kippensoep · maandagmiddag · morgenavond · morgenochtend · sinaasappelsap · tomatensoep · varkensvlees · vrijdagmiddag · vrouwenkleren · wc-papier · winkelcentrum · winterkleren · woonplaats · zitplaats · zomerkleren · zondagochtend · zwembroek · zwembroeken
    27 words
  • 50 Adjectives 2251 100 •••
    arme · bijzonder · bijzondere · echte · eigen · eng · enge · favoriete · geheime · gek · gekke · gevaarlijk · gevaarlijke · geweldig · geweldige · heel · hele · ingewikkeld · ingewikkelde · kapot · kapotte · klaar · lief · lieve · nederlands · nederlandse · normaal · normale · open · raar · rare · rijk · rijke · saai · schattig · schattige · slim · slimme · speciaal · stil · stom · stomme · stout · stoute · verkeerd · verkeerde · volgend · volgende · voorzichtig
    49 words
  • 50 Past Participle502 100 •••
    beschermd · beschermde · betaalde · gebruikte · gekookt · gekookte · geleende · geleends · gelezen · gerepareerde · gestolen · gewassen · omgevallen · on · toegepaste · toegevoegde · vertaalde
    17 words

    The past participle of a verb is the form most commonly used in the present perfect. However, it can also have the function of an adjective:

    • I have cooked the potato.
    • The cooked potato

    When used as an adjective, the past participle has a passive meaning. In other words, the corresponding noun ("potato") is the object of the verb ("to cook"), not the subject. This is a difference between the present and past participle (in addition to the difference in tense!).

    In Dutch, the past participle can be used in exactly the same way:

    • Ik heb de aardappel gekookt.
    • De gekookte aardappel

    If the verb is weak (i.e. regular, like "koken"), then the past participle ends on either -d or -t (see: Present Perfect 1). In this case, it might get the extra ending -e as an adjective, like in the example above. This follows the standard rules of adjective declension:

    • De gekookte aardappel
    • Een gekookte aardappel
    • Het gekookte ei
    • Een gekookt ei

    However, if the verb is strong (i.e. irregular, such as "snijden" = to cut), then the past participle ends on -en (see: Present Perfect 2). In this case, the adjective never gets the ending -e:

    • Ik heb de aardappel gesneden.
    • De gesneden aardappel

    The form "gesnedene" does not exist!

  • 50 Romance & Relationships501 100 •••
    hetero · homo · liefde · liefdesverdriet · relatie · verkering · vertrouw · vertrouwt
    8 words
  • 50 Pronouns relative383 100 •••
    dat · datgene · degene · die · diegene · van · waar · wat · wie · wiens
    10 words
    Relative pronouns

    A relative pronoun refers back to a person or object that already appears elsewhere in the sentence: The man who is walking his dog. The hat that the man is wearing.

    In English, the relative pronoun can often be left out. In Dutch, however, this is not possible; the relative pronoun is an essential part of the sentence. Each pronoun has certain rules for its usage, which differ significantly from English, as can be seen in the examples below.

    Die: refers back to a de-word.

    • "De man die zijn hond uitlaat" - The man who is walking his dog

    Dat: refers back to a het-word.

    • "Het boek dat op tafel ligt" - That book that is lying on the table

    Preposition + Wie: refers back to a person.

    • "De man van wie ik houd" - The man whom I love

    Waar + preposition: refers back to an object. See also the Pronominal Adverbs skill.

    • "Het boek waarvan ik houd" - The book that I love

    Wat: refers to a whole sentence, to an indefinite pronoun ("alles", "iets", "niets", etc.) or to an adjective that is used as a noun.

    • "Hij wil zwemmen, wat ik een goed idee vindt." - He wants to swim, which I think is a good idea.
    • "Alles wat je kan zien" - Everything that you can see
    • "Het mooiste wat ik ooit heb gezien" - The prettiest thing I have ever seen

    Wiens: a possessive reflexive pronoun, equivalent to the English "whose". This form is slightly archaic and is mostly being replaced by "van wie". Originally it could only refer to masculine nouns.

  • 50 Materials381 100 •••
    goud · gouden · hout · houten · ijzer · ijzeren · metaal · metalen · plastic · zilver · zilveren
    11 words

    Materials

    1) Adjectives

    Sometimes you want to describe what stuff is made out of. To make an adjective of a material, add the suffix -en to the noun. Unlike regular adjectives, these are not declined, so they do not change depending on what word comes after. They do not get an additional -e. Here are some examples:

    Meaning Noun Adjective Meaning
    wood hout - houten wooden
    wool wol - wollen woolen
    concrete beton - betonnen made of concrete
    glass glas - glazen made of glass
    silk zijde - zijden made of silk

    There are two exceptions to this rule: plastic and aluminium do not get the suffix -en.

    However, unlike English, you cannot use the noun form as an adjective.

    For example:

    • A golden spoon = Een gouden lepel
    • A gold spoon = Een gouden lepel

    2) Predicative adjective

    The predicative form doesn't exist for these -en adjectives. Instead, you will have to use van + noun. This is short for gemaakt van ("made of"), but the verb can be safely dropped.

    For example:

    • The towel is made of silk. = De handdoek is van zijde.
    • The floor is made of concrete = De vloer is van beton.

    This form can also appear without a predicate:

    • A golden spoon = Een lepel van goud
  • 50 School382 100 •••
    aardrijkskunde · doelstelling · gedeelte · geschiedenis · gestudeerd · huiswerk · klas · klassen · leraar · leraren · lerares · leraressen · les · lijm · oefening · oefeningen · onderwijs · op · opgevoed · opvoeding · pen · pennen · plakband · presentatie · presentaties · toets · toetsen · uitleg · voed · voorbeeld · voorbeelden · voorbereiding · wiskunde
    33 words

    The Dutch school system

    The Dutch law requires all children between the ages of 4 and 16 to be in school. There is a division between primary and secondary school. Almost all schools in the Netherlands are public. There are no uniforms and boarding schools are nearly non-existent.

    Primary school

    "De basisschool" is for children from 4 to 12 years old. In most schools, children will stay in the same class during this entire period. The teacher of the class might change from year to year. Starting at age 6, children will be taught to read and write and do basic arithmetic.

    In their last year of primary school, all students do a standardized test (the CITO test). Their score determines (in part) what kind of secondary school the student can go to.

    Secondary school

    At age 12, children will go to a "middelbare school", technically known as "voortgezet onderwijs" (literally: continued education). There are secondary schools of different levels:

    • "Voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) (vmbo): preparatory middle-level vocational education. 4 years; students can choose between theoretical or vocational education, or a mixture of both. A vmbo diploma lets you go to a trade school (MBO) afterwards.
    • "Hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs" (havo): higher general continued education. 5 years; a havo diploma allows you to go to a "hogeschool" (vocational university or university of applied sciences), known as HBO.
    • "Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs" (vwo): preuniversity secondary education. 6 years; a vwo diploma allows you to go to any Dutch university (WO).

    At many schools, students only decide after their first or second year (a so-called "brugklas") at which level they want to study. After graduating at a certain level (passing the standardized final exams), it is possible to continue at a higher level (typically taking an additional year).

    Students have some freedom to choose what classes to take in secondary school, allowing them to start specializing in a topic of interest as early as age 14 or 15. They must choose one of four profiles or sectors, with a focus on natural sciences, life sciences, humanities or economics. This choice will affect their options for post-secondary eduction.

  • 50 Modal Perfect493 100 •••
    blijven · horen · kunnen · laten · moeten · willen · zien
    7 words

    Something strange happens in Dutch when you want to use the present perfect or past perfect in combination with an auxiliary verb (such a "willen", "kunnen", "laten", etc). Instead of using the past participle (formed with the prefix ge- and suffix -d or -t for regular weak verbs), the infinitive is used. That is why this quirky grammar rule is known as the "vervangende infinitief" in Dutch, or the replacement infinitive. Snobby linguists might refer to it as the infinitivo pro participio (infinitive instead of participle).

    Dutch English
    Ik zie haar. I see her.
    Ik zie haar dansen. I see her dance.
    Ik heb haar gezien. I have seen her.
    Ik heb haar zien dansen. I have seen her dance.

    This last sentence is in the past tense, yet none of the verbs use a past tense conjugation! That can be very confusing – if you are not aware of the construction. Note that "zien" acts as an auxiliary verb in the last sentence, whereas it is the main verb in the third.

    The rule does not apply to auxiliary verbs that use "te"+infinitive, such as "proberen". Only the verbs that you learned in the Modal skill are affected. One exception is the odd modal verb "hoeven", which does use the replacement infinitive.

  • 50 Business492 100 •••
    boekhouding · concurrentie · deal · klantenservice · levering · zaken
    6 words
  • 50 Society491 100 •••
    armoede · chaos · culturen · cultuur · discriminatie · diversiteit · gelijkheid · gemeenschap · globalisering · lokaal · lokale · ongelijkheid · samenwerking · stichting · traditioneel · vooruitgang · welvaart
    17 words
  • 50 Diminutives301 100 •••
    biertje · doosje · mandje · mannetje · vriendje
    5 words
    Diminutives

    Diminutives are very common in Dutch. They always end in -je, are all het-words and, depending on the phonology of the word, other letters may have to be added before it. There are quite a few possible combinations, but apart from -je there are four main ones:

    1. -tje, which is added to:
      • nouns ending in a vowel or w
      • nouns that end in a long vowel followed by l, n or r *nouns ending in unstressed -el, -en, or -er when the "e" is mute
    2. -etje, which is added to nouns ending in a short vowel followed by a single l, n, ng, m or r
    3. -kje, which is added to nouns ending in an unstressed -ing
    4. -pje, which is added to:
      • nouns ending in a long vowel followed by -m
      • unstressed -em when the "e" is mute

    More complicated rules and forms exist, but the above details the basics of the Dutch diminutives.

    Use

    Diminutives can be used to do the following in Dutch:

    1. express how small something is:

    kat "cat" + -tje = kitten

    1. express mistrust or contempt:

    De kaas heeft een vreemd smaakje. = "The cheese has an odd taste."

    Wat spreken die Nederlanders toch een raar taaltje. = "What a strange language those Dutch speak."

    1. express cuteness:

    Wat een leuk vliegtuigje! = "What a cute (little) airplane!"

    1. express something positive:

    Lekker wijntje! = "Delicious wine!"

    Some diminutives are no longer necessarily regarded as diminutive forms, but are used alongside the basis words on their own:

    1. grap/grapje = "joke"
    2. kop/kopje = "cup"
    3. vraag/vraagje = "question"

    Many diminutives obtain a different meaning from the basis words:

    1. de telefoon "telephone"; het telefoontje "phone call"
    2. het ijs "ice, i.e. frozen water); het ijsje "ice cream"
  • 50 Travel302 100 •••
    aankomst · aanvragen · ambassade · amerika · avonturen · avontuur · bagage · bezienswaardigheden · bezienswaardigheid · bezoek · bezoeken · boek · boeken · boot · buitenland · duitsland · frankrijk · gids · internationaal · internationale · kaartje · kaartjes · koffer · koffers · paspoort · paspoorten · reis · reist · reizen · rugzak · schepen · schip · toerist · toeristen · trein · vaart · vakantie · varen · veerboot · ver · vertrek · vertrekt · visum · vlieg · vliegen · vliegt · vliegtuig · vlucht · vraag · zeilboot · zeilboten
    51 words
  • 50 Buildings353 100 •••
    begane grond · dak · verwarming
    3 words
  • 50 Communication351 100 •••
    bericht · communicatie · discussie · discussies · e-mail · e-mails · gesprek · informatie · post · ruzie
    10 words
  • 50 Present Continuous202 100 •••
    aan · ben · doen · fietsen · is · koken · lezen · lopen · schrijven · spelen · wachten · werken · zijn · zwemmen
    14 words
    Continuous

    In Dutch, the continuous is not as common as it is in English, but it's still fairly common. There are six ways of making a continuous:

    • -The most common way is to start with a form of zijn, followed by aan and then a gerund (verb used as a noun). 'He is writing' would become Hij is aan het schrijven.
    • -A dramatic, very uncommon way is to use a form of zijn with the present participle. So to dramatically say 'He is writing', you could say Hij is schrijvende.
    • -You can also use a verb expressing a physical position followed by the infinitive. This means that another way of saying 'He is writing', is Hij zit te schrijven. Now you have specified that he is sitting down while writing. If you want to say that he is standing while writing, you would say Hij staat te schrijven.
    • -Another uncommon method is using a form of zijn, followed by bezig met and the gerund. With 'He is writing', this creates Hij is bezig met schrijven. The more literal English translation of this sentence would be 'He is busy writing'.
    • -A very uncommon method is similar to the above, but instead of met followed by the gerund, you use the full infinitive starting with te. So, for 'He is writing' we now get Hij is bezig te schrijven.
    • -Finally we have a special form which means the subject is away to do the activity. It is made with a form of zijn followed by the infinitive. So if you want to imply that he has gone away to write, you can say Hij is schrijven.
  • 50 Calendar201 100 •••
    april · augustus · datum · december · decennia · decennium · dinsdag · donderdag · eeuw · februari · herfst · jaar · januari · juli · juni · kalender · leeftijd · maand · maandag · maandagen · maanden · maart · mei · november · oktober · periode · seizoen · seizoenen · september · toekomst · verjaardagen · verleden · vrijdag · week · weekend · weken · winter · winters · woensdag · zaterdag · zaterdagen · zomer · zondag · zondagen
    44 words
  • 50 Verbs 2192 100 •••
    beginnen · begint · begrijp · duw · duwen · duwt · gebeurt · geloof · gelooft · geloven · haalt · hangen · hangt · hoop · hopen · open · openen · opent · pak · pakken · pakt · ren · rennen · rent · stoppen · stopt · tonen · toon · toont · trekken · trekt · veranderen · verandert · volgen · volgt · vraag · vraagt
    37 words
  • 50 Body191 100 •••
    arm · armen · been · benen · bloed · borst · bot · botten · buik · gezicht · handen · hart · hersenen · hoofd · hoofden · huid · keel · knie · knieën · lichaam · lichaamsdeel · lichaamsdelen · lippen · maag · magen · nek · rug · schouder · schouders · tand · tanden · teen · tenen · vingers · zorg · zorgen · zorgt
    37 words
  • 50 Numbers 2193 100 •••
    achtentwintig · dertig · drieduizend zeshonderd · drieëntwintig · eenentwintig · er · gemiddelde · helft · honderd · meerderheid · miljoen · negenennegentig · negenentwintig · negentig · som · tachtig · totaal · totale · tweeëntwintig · tweeënveertig · veertig · vierentwintig · vijfentwintig · vijftig · zesentwintig · zestig · zevenentwintig · zeventig · zoveel
    29 words

    Er: describing a quantity (lesson 5)

    When placed before a number, “er” means of them. This is best shown in some examples:

    • Ik houd van katten. Ik heb er vijf. - I like cats. I have five of them.
    • Ik heb koekjes gebakken. Wil je er een? - I baked cookies. Do you want one (of them)?

    Sometimes it doesn’t need to be translated, like in the second example. You cannot leave out “er” in the Dutch sentence, though!

  • 50 Negatives 2162 100 •••
    geen enkel · geen enkele · helemaal geen · helemaal niet · meer · nergens · niemand · niet eens · niets · niks · noch · nog niet · nooit
    13 words
  • 50 Senses163 100 •••
    bekijk · bekijken · bekijkt · foto · foto's · geluid · geluiden · geur · hard · harde · kijken · kijkt · klinken · klinkt · lawaai · lelijk · lelijke · lijk · lijken · lijkt · luister · luisteren · luistert · mond · mooi · muziek · neus · neuzen · ogen · oog · oor · oren · parfum · parfums · proef · proeft · ruiken · ruikt · smaak · smaakt · smaken · stem · stemmen · stinken · stinkt · tong · uitzicht · vies · vieze · voel · voelt · zacht · zachte
    53 words
  • 50 Conjunctions 2: Subordinating141 100 •••
    dat · doordat · hoe · hoeveel · hoewel · of · omdat · tenzij · terwijl · totdat · voordat · waar · waarom · wanneer · wie · zodat · zodra · zowel
    18 words

    Subordinating Conjunctions

    Conjunctions connect two sentences or phrases. You already learned the basic coordinating conjunctions, such as en, of, maar, want and dus. Nearly all other conjunctions are subordinating. These introduce a subordinate clause and link it with the main part of the sentence. Subordinating conjunctions have various functions:

    • -contrast: hoewel
    • -cause: omdat, doordat
    • -consequence: zodat
    • -condition: als, tenzij
    • -time: terwijl, zodra, wanneer, totdat, voordat
    • -providing a subclause as an object: dat, of*

    A subordinate clause uses a special word order, something that most learners really struggle with. Instead of using V2 ("verb second") word order, the verbs in a subordinate clause always come at the end.

    • Het boek is duur, omdat het oud is.

    If the subordinate clause is placed before the main clause (for emphasis), then the main clause will be inverted; that is, the subject and the verb will switch places.

    • Omdat het oud is, is het boek duur.

    Note that clauses which follow a coordinating conjunction (like want, of or dus) can never be moved to the beginning of the sentence.

    *Of is coordinating when it means "or", but subordinating when it means "whether/if".

  • 50 Zitten/Liggen/Staan142 100 •••
    amsterdam · auto · bal · bomen · boom · deken · dekens · doos · dozen · in · leg · leggen · legt · liggen · ligt · mand · op · papier · park · parken · staan · staat · stop · stoppen · stopt · woord · woorden · zet · zetten · zit · zitten
    31 words

    In Dutch, something cannot just be somewhere. When describing its location, it is either lying, standing or sitting there. The glass you are drinking from is standing on a table, the wine is sitting in the glass and the cat is lying on the floor. For each of these three examples, using the verb "to be" would be very unnatural in Dutch. For English speakers, this can be quite confusing! When are you supposed to use which verb?

    Zitten

    The verb ‘zitten’ (= to sit) is used to describe the location of:

    1. an object that is located inside of something else, such as a box, a bag or a cupboard (usually together with the preposition "in").

    • “De kikker zit in de koffer.” = The frog is (sitting) in(side) the suitcase.
    • “Er zit koffie in het kopje.” = There is coffee (sitting) in the cup.
    • “De jongens zitten in de klas.” = The boys are (sitting) in class.

    2. a person or an animal that is explicitly sitting down.

    • "De kinderen zitten op de bank." = The children are sitting on the couch.

    Liggen

    The verb ‘liggen’ (= to lie) is used to describe the location of:

    1. an object that is lying on its side. Or, if it has no side, in any position where it is wider than it is tall.

    • “Het boek ligt op de tafel.” = The book is (lying) on the table.
    • “De handdoeken liggen op de grond.” = The towels are (lying) on the ground.

    2. a geographical area or feature, such as a country, mountain, city, neighborhood, park, field, etc.

    • “Nederland ligt ten noorden van Frankrijk.” = The Netherlands is/lies north of France.
    • “Die stad ligt in België.” = That city is/lies in Belgium.

    3. a person or animal that is explicitly lying down, or dead.

    • "Zij ligt in het gras." = She is lying down on the grass.

    Staan

    The verb ‘staan’ (= to stand) is used to describe the location of:

    1. an object that is the right way up. Or, if there is no right way up, in any position where it is taller than it is wide.

    • "Het bord staat op de tafel." = The plate is on the table.
    • “Het boek staat op de plank.” = The book is (standing) on the shelf.

    2. an object that is resting on legs or wheels, such as a table or a car.

    • “De auto staat in die straat.” = The car is (standing/parked) in that street.

    3. text or images. These are always described as ‘standing’ on whatever surface they are written/drawn/printed/painted/displayed on.

    • “De woorden staan op de muur.” = The words are (written) on the wall.
    • “Mijn foto staat in de krant.” = My photo is (printed) in the newspaper.

    4. All buildings use "staan", unless it's a complex of buildings or it includes some land around it. Then you can also use "liggen".

    • “Het huis staat in Amsterdam” = The house is (standing/located) in Amsterdam.
    • "Het vliegveld ligt ten westen van Londen" = The airport is west of London.

    5. a person or animal that is explicitly standing up.

    • "De man staat naast de vrouw." = The man is standing next to the woman.

    What about "zijn"?

    There are some exceptions, where "zijn" (=to be) can also describe a location:

    1. The location of an event.
    2. The location of a person or animal that is not explicitly standing, sitting or lying down, or whose posture is unknown.
    3. If the emphasis is on the existence of the object, instead of its position.

    Putting things in their place

    There is also a corresponding verb for putting an object in its location for each of these verbs describing the location of an object.

    Action Result of action
    leggen - liggen
    zetten - staan
    stoppen / doen - zitten

    Some examples may make this more clear:

    • Ik leg het boek op de tafel -> Het boek ligt op de tafel.
    • Ik zet de doos op de tafel -> De doos staat op de tafel.
    • Ik stop het boek in de doos -> Het boek zit in de doos.

    All three verbs could be translated as "to put" in English, but they're not interchangeable!

  • 50 Opinions462 100 •••
    eens · gelijk · kritiek · respect
    4 words
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    13 words
  • 50 Abstract Nouns 2522 100 •••
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    15 words
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    31 words
  • 50 Science 2521 100 •••
    chemicaliën · conferentie · conferenties · energie · kilogram · liter · materie
    7 words
  • 50 Passive voice402 100 •••
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    21 words

    Passive

    The passive voice is used to describe actions from the point of view of the object of the verb: "I am being seen." or "The book has been read". This way, the subject (the person who is seeing me, or who has read the book) is eliminated from the sentence.

    In Dutch the passive is constructed using the past participle (also used in the present perfect) and an auxiliary verb. There are two different auxiliary verbs used in the Dutch passive: worden for the dynamical passive voice and zijn for the stative passive voice. This distinction does not really exist in English, but it roughly corresponds to the different tenses, as explained below.


    Worden (lesson 1)

    The dynamical passive voice is constructed with the auxiliary verb worden, to describe ongoing actions. In the present tense, this refers to things that are going on right now, that will happen in the near future, or that happen repeatedly. In English this often translates to the continuous aspect. For example:

    • Het boek wordt gelezen. - "The book is being read."
    • Ik word gezien. - "I am being seen."
    • De maaltijd wordt gekookt. - "The meal is being cooked."

    But in some cases, especially recurring events or general truths, the present simple works as well:

    • Het boek wordt vaak gelezen. - "The book is read often."

    In English one can also use the informal "get"-construction for the dynamical passive voice:

    • Het boek wordt gelezen. - "The book gets/is getting read."

    Note: The subject, who performs the action, can still be added to the sentence using the preposition door.

    • Het boek wordt door mij gelezen. - "The book is being read by me."

    Zijn (lesson 2)

    The stative passive voice is constructed with the auxiliary verb zijn, to describe the state of things after something has been done to them. This corresponds to the perfect aspect: the action has been completed, it lies in the past. There are several ways to translate this to English, the most natural one being the present perfect passive:

    • Het boek is gelezen. - "The book has been read."
    • Ik ben gezien. - "I have been seen."
    • De maaltijd is gekookt. - "The meal has been cooked."

    However, it is also possible to use the past simple, or in some cases, the present:

    • Het boek is gelezen. - "The book was read."
    • Het is gedaan. - "It is done."

    Werden (lesson 3)

    Whereas the perfect perfect in the passive voice is constructed with zijn, the past simple uses werden (i.e. the past tense of worden). A lot of the time, this conveys a *continuous aspect.

    • Het boek werd gelezen. - "The book was (being) read."
    • Ik werd gezien. - "I was seen."
    • De maaltijd werd gekookt. - "The meal was (being) cooked.

    The Impersonal Passive Voice (lesson 4)

    Unlike English, Dutch can also use the passive voice with intransitive verbs: verbs that do not have an object. In this case, the place of the object is taken by that versatile and infuriating little word, er. The advantage is that one can use a verb to describe an action without any subject or object. The disadvantage is that there is simply no good way to translate this construction literally into English. For example:

    • Er wordt gelopen.

    This means that someone, somewhere, is walking. Who and where should be derived from context, the sentence only states that walking is what is happening. The best we can do in English is to use the gerund (a noun created from a verb with the suffix "-ing"):

    • Er wordt gelopen. - "There is walking (going on)."

    Another option is to introduce an undetermined subject:

    • "Somebody is walking."
    • "People are walking."

    In other cases, it might be best to completely change the structure of the sentence.

    The impersonal passive voice is used a lot in Dutch, and finding an English translation is always awkward. It can be used both with worden and with zijn as an auxiliary. If you are confused, do not be afraid to use the hints.

  • 50 Technology401 100 •••
    computer · ketting · machine · mobiele · motor · motors · radio · telefoon · televisie · wiel · wielen
    11 words

2019-09-08
0.067

Basics 1 updated 2018-10-25

Welkom!

Welcome to the Dutch course! Dutch is a Germanic language, with grammar and vocabulary similar to other European languages. You might recognize some words from English as well! Even so, Dutch is a language with grammatical genders. These genders have influence on endings on words, for example.


Gender and articles

In Dutch, there are three (grammatical) genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Each gender has their own definite article (‘the’): both singular masculine and feminine nouns use de and singular neuter nouns use het. For plural nouns, de is always used. The definite articles de and het don't have very clear rules for when you're supposed to use which; this will mostly be learning by heart and developing a feeling for it. However, there are some guidelines to help you along:

De words:

  1. De is always used for plural nouns
  2. De is always used for professions: de kok (‘the chef’), de leraar (‘the teacher’)
  3. De tends to be used for people with an identified gender, such as: de vader (‘the father’), de dochter (‘the daughter’)
  4. De is used for vegetables, fruits, trees and plants, names of mountains, and rivers
  5. Furthermore, de is used for most words ending on -ie, -ij, -heid, -teit, -schap, -tie, -sie, -aar, -eur, -er, and -or.
  6. Finally, de is used for written-out numbers and letters: de drie (‘the three’), de a (‘the a’).

Het words:

  1. Het is always used for diminutives. Diminutives can be recognised by their suffix; they end in -je, -tje, -etje, -pje, or -mpje.
  2. Het is always used for words consisting of two syllables and starting with be-, ge-, ver-, and ont-
  3. Het is always used for verbs used as nouns. When the infinitive form of a verb is used as a noun (e.g. 'the walking of the dog'), Dutch uses het (het lopen van de hond).
  4. Het is always used for languages and names of metals
  5. Het is also used for names of compass points: het noorden (‘the North’)
  6. Het is used for names of sports and games: het schaken (‘chess’), het voetbal (‘football/soccer’)
  7. Furthermore, het is used for words ending on -isme and -ment

Dutch speakers actually never tend to think about the gender of words. Rather than knowing whether a word is originally feminine or masculine, the only distinction that has to be remembered is the difference between the de words and het words. This is because it has grammatical consequences (in terms of possessives, question words, demonstratives, adjectives, and even relative pronouns). This is why when you learn a new noun, it is very important to memorize whether it is a de or het word.


Pronouns

The Dutch pronouns are as follows:

English Dutch
I Ik
You (singular) Jij (Je*)
He/She/It Hij/Zij (Ze*)/Het
You (formal) U
We Wij (We*)
You (plural) Jullie
They Zij (Ze*)
  • *Je, ze and we are un-emphasized forms of jij, zij and wij. The difference will be taught in another skill.

Verb conjugation

In Dutch, verbs can be recognised by the ending -en. For example, eten (‘to eat’) and drinken (‘to drink’). Verb conjugation in Dutch can get rather difficult, since there are lots of exceptions (welcome to Dutch, where exceptions are the rule!). The most basic rule is: find the stem and add the right ending to it. To find the stem of the word, you take the infinitive of the word – the basic form that you can find in the dictionary – and take off the ending, i.e. -en. So in the example of 'drinken', (to drink), the stem would be drink-. For the simple present, the conjugation is as follows:

Pronoun Conjugation Example
Ik [stem] Ik drink (I drink)
Jij [stem]+t Jij drinkt (You drink)
Hij/Zij/Het [stem]+t Hij drinkt (He drinks)
U [stem]+t U drinkt (You drink)
Wij Infinitive Wij drinken (We drink)
Jullie Infinitive Jullie drinken (You drink)
Zij Infinitive Zij drinken (They drink)

Alphabet and pronunciation

The Dutch alphabet has 26 letters – just like in English. In fact, you don’t have to learn any new letters! Hurrah!
However, there are a lot of differences and peculiarities in pronunciation. Some letters are pronounced differently, and there can be combinations of letters that may throw you for a loop. Don’t worry, we are not discussing the letters just now.

Basics 2 updated 2018-10-25

Irregular verbs

In Basics 1 the regular verb conjugations have been explained. Unfortunately, Dutch also has irregular verbs. Fortunately, there are only 6 verbs that are completely irregular. There are more which aren't entirely regular, but you'll meet those in the Past tense.

These are the irregular verbs:

  1. Hebben (to have)
  2. Kunnen (can)
  3. Mogen (may)
  4. Willen (to want)
  5. Zijn (to be)
  6. Zullen (shall)

The most common of these are Hebben and Zijn, so here are their conjugations in the present tense:

Hebben Zijn
Ik heb Ik ben
Jij hebt Jij bent
U hebt/U heeft U bent
Hij/Zij/Het heeft Hij/Zij/Het is
Wij hebben Wij zijn
Jullie hebben Jullie zijn
Zij hebben Zij zijn

Pronunciation

The way Dutch vowels sound depends on whether they are in open or closed syllables. A syllable is closed if it is in a consonant sandwich (e.g. bed, ‘bed’) and it is open if it is not (e.g. ga, ‘go’).

Dutch IPA, Notes
A [ɑ] (short), like in father. [a:] (long), like in car (Australian/New Zealand English)
B [b], like in bait. At the end of a word: [p]
C [s] or [k] depending on the vowel after the c
D [d], like in duck. At the end of a word: [t]
E [ɛ] (short), like in bed. [e:] (long), like in made. [ə], an ‘uh’ sound, like again; mostly at the end of verbs.
F [f], like in feather
G [ɣ] / [x], the infamous Dutch sound. It sounds a bit like loch (Scottish English). [g] (*goal, ‘goal’) or [ʒ] (bagage, ‘luggage’) in loan words
H [ɦ], like in behind
I [ɪ] (short), like in sit. [i] (long), like in deep
J [j], like in yard
K [k], like in kiss
L [l], like in land
M [m], like in man
N [n], like in neck
O [ɔ] (short), like in soft. [o:] (long), roughly like in bone**
P [p], like in pen
Q [k], only in foreign words and loanwords
R [ʀ], an uvular trill (rolling r in back of the throat). However, there are more ways to pronounce the r in Dutch, depending on the place in a word: [ɹ] (alveolar approximant, "tap r"), [r] (alveolar trill, “rolling r”), and [ʁ] (uvular approximant, German/French r).
S [s], like in sock
T [t], like in tea
U [ʏ] (short), roughly like future. [y] (long), roughly like new
V [v], like in very
W [ʋ], between wine and vine
X [ks], only in foreign words and loanwords
Y [j], only in foreign words and loanwords
Z [z], like in zip

Common Phrases 1 updated 2018-10-25

Greetings throughout the day

As in English, Dutch has many different ways of greeting others. The most common one, which you can use all day, is Hallo.

An easy way of greeting people throughout the day, is to say the time of day and add goede- "good" in front of it - just like in English. If the time of day starts with a vowel, you squish an -n- in between (an exception being "goedendag"). As follows:

Time of day Greeting
Morgen (morning) Goedemorgen
Middag (midday) Goedemiddag
Avond (evening) Goedenavond
Nacht (night) Goedenacht
Dag (day) Goedendag

More pronunciation

Besides the letters of the alphabet, Dutch has a lot of combinations of letters that have their own sound. The most common ones are discussed below.

Dutch IPA, Notes
ch [ɣ] / [x], the infamous Dutch sound (again). It sounds a bit like loch (Scottish English). [ʃ] in loanwords, like chocolade and China. Can also sound like [tʃ], like in check.
ng [ŋ], like in long
nj [ɲ], like the Spanish ñ
nk [ŋk], the ng sound followed by a k
sch [sɣ] / [sx] at the beginning of words. At the end of a word, it sounds like [s]
tie [tsi], at the end of words
tj [c], is followed by an e, sounds like cheer
au, ou [ʌu], like in out
ei, ij [ɛi], roughly like may
eu [øː], roughly like earth or bird
oe [u], like boot
ui [œy], tricky. Roughly like house (Scottish English)

Negatives 1: Niet & Geen updated 2018-10-25

Negation

In Dutch, there are two words that are used to negate things: niet and geen. They are, however, not interchangeable. And since this is Dutch, there are some exceptions to this rule as well.

Geen

Geen is used to negate a noun that, if not negated, would be preceded by een. You can say that geen translates to ‘not a’. Geen is also used if the noun is not preceded by any article, like some plural and uncountable nouns.

Dutch English
Is dat een man? – Nee, dat is geen man. Is that a man? – No, that is not a man.
Hebben zij boeken? – Nee, zij hebben geen boeken. Do they have books? – No, they don’t have books.

Note that geen can always be translated as the English word "no": That is no man. They have no books. For niet, this is almost never the case.

Niet

Niet is essentially used in all other situations:

  1. To negate verbs, thoughts, adjectives, or any other sentence elements that aren’t nouns.
  2. To negate nouns preceded by a definite article or possessive pronoun.
Dutch English
Ik ren niet. I do not run.
Hij is niet zo oud. He is not that old.
Zij hebben de boeken niet. They do not have the books.

As you can see in the last example, niet comes after the object, unlike geen. If it is used to negate an adjective or adverb, it comes directly before that word.

Questions 1: Yes/No updated 2018-10-25

Questions?

Turning a sentence into a question is relatively easy in Dutch. Unlike in English, where you often have to add the auxiliary verb "to do", you only have to change the word order of the sentence to form a question. For example:

  • Hij spreekt Nederlands. - He speaks Dutch.
  • Spreekt hij Nederlands? - Does he speak Dutch?

As you can see, the subject and the verb switch places in a question. This is called inversion and you will also encounter it when you learn more complicated sentence structures.

Dropping the -t for "je"

When a sentence is inverted, that is, the verb comes before the subject, an odd thing can happen: if the subject is je (or the stressed form "jij"), then the verb loses the -t at the end.

  • Je spreekt Nederlands. - You speak Dutch.
  • Spreek je Nederlands? - Do you speak Dutch?

This does not happen for any other subject, like hij or ze! So keep a close eye out for the combination of inversion + je.

Plurals updated 2018-10-25

Plurals

Dutch has four ways of making a plural, two of which are very rare.

The most common way of making a plural is noun + en. The first lesson of this skill has only these.

The second most common way of making a plural is noun + s. You'll see this in the last lesson of this skill!

The two rare ways are noun + eren, and plurals ending in -a. That last one is only used for words which come from Latin, and for all of these it's also correct to just pluralize it with -s.

As with many things in Dutch grammar, the rules for when to use which aren't very clear. There are some guidelines, but the best way to learn them is by slowly developing a feeling for it.

With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Noun + en

  1. Always maintain vowel length. If a vowel sounds long, make sure it keeps sounding long (for instance, schaap becomes schapen). If a vowel sounds short, keep it short for instance, kat becomes katten).
  2. Hard consonants become soft consonants. If the noun normally ends in an 's' or an 'f' (hard consonants), the plural replaces these with a 'z' or a 'v' respectively. For instance, muis becomes muizen.

Noun + s

  1. If the noun ends with a single vowel, you cannot just add the -s. Instead, you first add an apostrophe, and then add the -s. For instance, menu becomes menu's.
  2. There is an exception to the above rule: words ending with an -e. Those never get the apostrophe.

Stressed Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Stressed and unstressed pronouns

Dutch knows two types of pronouns: stressed (or marked) and unstressed (or unmarked) pronouns. The difference lies in the fact that stressed pronouns, as suggested, receive emphasis whereas unstressed pronouns do not. The stressed and unstressed personal pronouns that are taught in this skill are listed below:

Dutch (unstressed/unmarked) Dutch (stressed/marked) English
Je Jij You (singular)
Ze Zij She, They
We Wij We

The other personal pronouns (ik, u, hij, het, and jullie) don’t have a different stressed and unstressed personal pronoun in written language. In speaking, there are other ways to denote emphasis for these (see below).

There are also stressed forms of certain object pronouns (me/mij, je/jou) and possessives (je/jouw), but you will learn about those later.


When do we use marked pronouns?

Marked pronouns are less used than the unmarked ones, but they are important nonetheless. In some situations (such as comparisons) the meaning of the sentence forces you to emphasize the pronoun, so that it would be unnatural to use the unstressed form. This skill will demonstrate some of those cases, so that you can develop a feeling for this use of emphasis.

However, in most sentences the pronouns can be either stressed or unstressed, depending heavily on context and intonation. That is why in Duolingo exercises (which lack both of those), the two forms are usually interchangeable. The pronunciation is different though, so pay extra attention during listening exercises!


How do we emphasize the pronoun?

  1. We use the stressed pronoun, as described above
  2. When we emphasize the pronoun, we also increase our pitch
  3. We tend to slightly increase our volume
  4. In addition, the word is pronounced “longer” (its duration is stretched in comparison to that of the unmarked pronoun).

In contrast, when you’re using an unmarked pronoun, you should emphasize another part of the sentence, like the verb or the object!


Stressed vs unstressed

Dutch English
Jij moet dat doen. You have to do that. (it's not my job)
Je moet dat doen. You have to do that. (and not something else)
Zij gaan naar huis. They are going home. (while we are staying here)
Ze gaan naar huis. They are going home. (and not downtown)

Present Simple updated 2018-10-25

d, t, dt?

Perhaps the most difficult thing for native Dutch speakers, is to put a -t at the end of a verb at the right time.

Especially when the verb stem ends with a -d, as is the case with houden (the stem is, of course, houd-). You will often hear natives talking about the -dt ending, but in truth this ending does not exist: if you simply follow the conjugation rules it's just stem + t.

As a refresher, the verb conjugation table for the present:

Pronoun Conjugation Example
Ik [stem] Ik drink (I drink)
Jij [stem] + t Jij drinkt (You drink)
Hij/Zij/Het [stem] + t Hij drinkt (He drinks)
U [stem] + t U drinkt (You drink)
Wij Infinitive Wij drinken (We drink)
Jullie Infinitive Jullie drinken (You drink)
Zij Infinitive Zij drinken (They drink)

Now let's replace drinken with houden:

Pronoun Conjugation Example
Ik [stem] Ik houd
Jij [stem] + t Jij houdt
Hij/Zij/Het [stem] + t Hij houdt
U [stem] + t U houdt
Wij Infinitive Wij houden
Jullie Infinitive Jullie houden
Zij Infinitive Zij houden

Another difficulty with this arises in sentences which are questions. In particular, the problem-or rather, confusion- is with the second and third person singular, jij and hij. The rules are as follows:

  1. In a question where the second person singular je/jij is directly after the verb, the verb does not get a -t
  2. The third person singular hij/zij/het always gets -t

So, at first sight you might say Houdt je vader van mij? "Does your father love me?", is incorrect; after all, je is after the verb, so it should not get a -t. However, je is not the second person singular here; it's the possessive. The subject, je vader, can be replaced with hij: Houdt hij van mij? and the rule is that the third person singular always gets the -t.

There are some more d/t/dt difficulties in other verb tenses, but those are for another skill!

Adjective Basics updated 2018-10-25

Adjectives

Adjectives and definite articles

If an adjective comes before a noun with a definite article ("de" or "het"), it usually gets the ending -e.

Singular:

  • de grote hond (de hond)
  • het grote huis (het huis)

Plural:

  • de grote honden
  • de grote huizen

An -e is also added if there is a demonstrative or possessive pronoun instead of a definite article

  • deze oude hond - this old dog
  • dit oude huis - this old house
  • mijn oude hond - my old dog
  • mijn oude huis - my old house

Adjectives and indefinite articles

If the indefinite article ”een" comes before a het-word in the singular, then the adjective does not get the -e ending.

If it comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

Singular:

  • een oude hond (de hond)
  • een oud huis (het huis)

Plural:

  • oude honden (de hond)
  • oude huizen (het huis)

The following words act like “een” in that the adjective does not get an ending when preceded by them and if the noun being described is a het-word:

  • geen: Dat is geen groot huis. (That is not a big house.)
  • elk: Elk zwart pak is duur. (Every black suit is expensive.)
  • genoeg: Wij hebben genoeg koud water. (We have enough cold water.)
  • ieder: Ieder klein meisje draagt een rok. (Every little girl is wearing a skirt.)
  • veel: Ik koop veel lekker bier. (I am buying a lot of tasty beer.)
  • wat: Zij eet wat nieuw brood. (She is eating some new bread.)
  • weinig: De kinderen eten weinig vers fruit. (The children do not eat much fresh fruit.)
  • welk: Welk oud boek leest hij? (Which old book is he reading?)
  • zo’n: Dat is zo’n groot dier! (That is such a big animal!)
  • zulk: Ze hebben altijd zulk lekker brood. (They always have such tasty bread.)

Adjectives with no article

If no article at all comes before a het-word, then the adjective does not get the -e ending either.

If no article comes before a de-word, it does get the ending.

  • (het) water -> koud water
  • (de) koffie -> lekkere koffie

Predicate adjectives

Put simply, predicate adjectives are adjectives that follow a linking verb like “to be” that describe the subject.

The adjective “green” in “The ball is green.” is a predicate adjective.

In Dutch, predicate adjectives don’t get any ending.

  • Het huis is groot.
  • De hond is groot.
  • De honden zijn duur.

Unchanging adjectives

Some adjectives don’t get any ending.

These include:

+adjectives ending in -en (this includes participles of verbs acting as adjectives that end in -en) + eigen: mijn eigen hond (my own dog) + tevreden: de tevreden katten (the satisfied cats) + gebroken: de gebroken lamp (the broken lamp) + open: het open boek (the open book) + opgewonden: de opgewonden kinderen (the excited children)

  • Material adjectives with -en
    • gouden: de gouden spiegel (the golden mirror)
    • houten: de houten stoel (the wooden chair)
    • zilveren: het zilveren kettinkje (the silver necklace)
  • And a few without -en
    • plastic: een plastic zak (a plastic bag)
    • rubber: een rubber schoen (a rubber shoe)
  • Adjectives ending in -a or an unstressed -e

    • prima: een prima kans (an excellent opportunity)
    • roze: een roze jurk (a pink dress)
  • Adjectives with ordinal numbers in the first part

    • tweedehands: een tweedehands auto (a second-hand car)
    • derderangs: derderangs producten (third-rate products)

rechter (right) and linker (left) are not inflected:

  • de rechter tafel (the right table)
  • de linker foto (the left photo)

NOTE: if the fact that a noun is “left” or “right” is considered a fixed attribute, then “linker” and “rechter” are usually connected to the noun.

  • de linkerhand (the left hand)
  • de rechterkant (the right side)

Object pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Object Pronouns

Dutch has two different object pronoun types: stressed and unstressed. The stressed is used for emphasis. The full table:

English Dutch (unstressed) Dutch (stressed)
me me mij
you (singular) je jou
you (formal) u u
him/her/it hem/haar/het hem/haar/-*
us ons ons
you (plural) jullie jullie
them (persons) ze hun/hen**
them (inanimate) ze -*
  • *For the stressed 'it' and inanimate 'them', Dutch uses the Demonstrative pronouns, explained in another skill.
  • **After a preposition or as the direct object, you use hen. As the indirect object, you use hun. When in doubt, it's easiest and always correct to use the unstressed ze

Possessives updated 2018-10-25

Possessives

The Dutch possessives are as follows:

English Dutch
my mijn
your (singular) je/jouw*
your (formal) uw
his/her/its zijn/haar/zijn**
our ons/onze***
your (plural) jullie/je****
their hun
  • *If you want to stress that the object is owned by 'you', you use jouw
  • **There is no separate possessive pronoun for 'its', so we use the masculine zijn
  • ***Whether you use ons or onze depends on the noun. De-nouns get onze, het-nouns get ons
  • ****You use je to avoid saying jullie twice in a row. For example: 'I give you your books' - Ik geef jullie jullie boeken - Ik geef jullie je boeken

Independent Possessives

Independent Possessives do not precede a noun. In English they are one word, but in Dutch you need to include de or het. Which of the two you need depends on the noun you are referring to.

English Dutch
mine de/het mijne
yours (singular) de/het jouwe
yours (formal) de/het uwe
his/hers/its de/het zijne/hare/-*
ours de/het onze**
yours (plural) -*
theirs de/het hunne
  • *Dutch does not have independent possessives for 'its' and plural 'yours'
  • **The first person plural independent possessive no longer has the distinction between de- and het-nouns, so it's always onze

Alternative Possessive

In Dutch, there is another way of saying something belongs to someone, using the word van.

English Dutch
mine van mij
yours (singular) van jou
yours (formal) van u
his/hers/its van hem/haar/-*
ours van ons
yours (plural) van jullie
theirs van hen
  • *To indicate something belongs to 'it', we say ervan or, with stress, hiervan

Conjunctions 1: Coordinating updated 2018-10-25

"Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses." - Schoolhouse Rock Video

Conjunctions link sentences together and describe some relationship between them. Dutch knows two different types of conjunctions, each with their own grammar rules. In this skill you will only encounter coordinating conjunctions, which link two sentences or words that are roughly of equal importance.

The common Dutch coordinating conjunctions are: en, of, maar, want and dus.

There are only five of them, so learn these by heart! In comparison, there are many different subordinating conjunctions. Those bring along complicated rules for word order in subordinate clauses and are treated in a later skill.

Coordinating conjunctions do not change the word order of the individual sentences that they link. In that regard they are very simple and used in the exact same way as their English equivalents.

Formal updated 2018-10-25

Formal

A common mistake with the formal 'you' in Dutch (u), even amongst native speakers, is to capitalize the u. This should only be reserved for deities. Being polite to others is a very good thing, but addressing them as deities might be a bit too much.

So, write Heeft u een kat?, not Heeft U een kat?

Unless of course you're asking the deity of your choice whether he/she/it owns a cat.

Word Order 1: Adverbs updated 2018-10-25

Adverbs and Word Order

Adverbs tell you something about the time, place or manner (the "when", "where", "why") of a verb or adjective. In this skill and the next, you will learn a handful of very common adverbs and see how they affect the Dutch word order.

Dutch word order is very flexible and very strict at the same time when it comes to adverbs. There are several different places in a sentence where adverbs can be inserted, but there are also a lot of arbitrary rules.

In most cases, the adverb comes after the verb. If the verb has an object (the person or thing that is receiving the action of the verb), then the adverb comes before or after the object, depending on whether it is definite or indefinite.

A definite object is either a definite pronoun ("me/mij", "je/jou", etc), or a noun with a definite article ("de", "het") or possessive ("mijn", "jouw", etc). Adverbs usually come after a definite object:

  • Ik eet de boterham nu. - I am eating the sandwich now.

An indefinite object is an indefinite pronoun ("iets", "iemand", etc) or a noun with an indefinite article ("een") or no article. Adverbs always come before an indefinite object:

  • Ik eet nu een boterham. - I am eating a sandwich now.

NOTE: It is always possible to put an adverb at the beginning of the sentence, for emphasis. This will cause inversion and is shown in the Word Order 2 skill.

Word Order 2: Inversion updated 2018-10-25

V2 (Verb 2nd) Word Order

Linguists say that Dutch has a V2 word order. This means that the verb is always the second element of the sentence (except in yes or no questions and commands). If you are struggling with Dutch word order, this is the most important rule to remember!

In Dutch, just like in English, you can move words to the beginning of the sentence to give them more emphasis. However, the V2 word order requires that the verb must remain in the second place. Therefore, as another word is moved to the first place, the verb switches places with the subject. This is called inversion.

  • Ik eet nu een boterham. - I am eating a sandwich now.
  • Nu eet ik een boterham. - Now I am eating a sandwich.

It follows the same rules as yes/no questions: if the subject is "je" or "jij", then the verb loses its -t after inversion.

Adverbs are often moved to the beginning for emphasis, but the same can be done with the object of the sentence. This will change the word order to OVS (Object-Verb-Subject), which can make a sentence very ambiguous! Furthermore, prepositional phrases and subclauses can also cause inversion, but you will see this in later skills.

Dutch word order can get extremely complicated, but don't get discouraged! People will still understand you if you mess this up.

Prepositions 1 updated 2018-10-25

To live: wonen or leven?

As you will see, the verb to live has two main translations, wonen and leven. However, those two verbs do not have the same meaning.

Wonen denotes the place you reside.

Ik woon in Nederland. 
(I live in the Netherlands.)

Ik woon in een klein huis. 
(I live in a small house.)

Leven means to be alive, to exist.

Ik leef nog. 
(I am still alive.)

Questions 2 updated 2018-10-25

Questions

There are two types of questions, both in English and in Dutch: open and closed.

Closed questions

Closed questions can only be answered with 'yes' (ja) or 'no' (nee).

Example:

  1. Does he work? -Yes
  2. Is she ill? -No

What you'll notice about English closed questions, is that they are often formed with an auxiliary verb like 'to do'.

Example:

  1. He works – Does he work?
  2. I kiss her – Do I kiss her?

Other times, English applies something called inversion.

Example:

  1. I will leave – Will I leave?
  2. We have done that – Have we done that?

Dutch only applies inversion to form closed questions. Example:

  1. Jullie zijn klaar - You are done
  2. Zijn jullie klaar? - Are you done?
  3. Jij zwemt - You swim
  4. Zwem jij? - Do you swim?

Open questions

Open questions normally start with a so-called interrogative pronoun like:

  1. 'who' (wie)
  2. 'what' (wat)
  3. 'where' (waar) etc.

Example:

  1. Wie is dat? – Who is that?
  2. Wat doe je? – What are you doing?
  3. Waar kom je vandaan? – Where are you from?

Conjunctions 2: Subordinating updated 2018-10-25

Subordinating Conjunctions

Conjunctions connect two sentences or phrases. You already learned the basic coordinating conjunctions, such as en, of, maar, want and dus. Nearly all other conjunctions are subordinating. These introduce a subordinate clause and link it with the main part of the sentence. Subordinating conjunctions have various functions:

  • -contrast: hoewel
  • -cause: omdat, doordat
  • -consequence: zodat
  • -condition: als, tenzij
  • -time: terwijl, zodra, wanneer, totdat, voordat
  • -providing a subclause as an object: dat, of*

A subordinate clause uses a special word order, something that most learners really struggle with. Instead of using V2 ("verb second") word order, the verbs in a subordinate clause always come at the end.

  • Het boek is duur, omdat het oud is.

If the subordinate clause is placed before the main clause (for emphasis), then the main clause will be inverted; that is, the subject and the verb will switch places.

  • Omdat het oud is, is het boek duur.

Note that clauses which follow a coordinating conjunction (like want, of or dus) can never be moved to the beginning of the sentence.

*Of is coordinating when it means "or", but subordinating when it means "whether/if".

Zitten/Liggen/Staan updated 2018-10-25

In Dutch, something cannot just be somewhere. When describing its location, it is either lying, standing or sitting there. The glass you are drinking from is standing on a table, the wine is sitting in the glass and the cat is lying on the floor. For each of these three examples, using the verb "to be" would be very unnatural in Dutch. For English speakers, this can be quite confusing! When are you supposed to use which verb?

Zitten

The verb ‘zitten’ (= to sit) is used to describe the location of:

1. an object that is located inside of something else, such as a box, a bag or a cupboard (usually together with the preposition "in").

  • “De kikker zit in de koffer.” = The frog is (sitting) in(side) the suitcase.
  • “Er zit koffie in het kopje.” = There is coffee (sitting) in the cup.
  • “De jongens zitten in de klas.” = The boys are (sitting) in class.

2. a person or an animal that is explicitly sitting down.

  • "De kinderen zitten op de bank." = The children are sitting on the couch.

Liggen

The verb ‘liggen’ (= to lie) is used to describe the location of:

1. an object that is lying on its side. Or, if it has no side, in any position where it is wider than it is tall.

  • “Het boek ligt op de tafel.” = The book is (lying) on the table.
  • “De handdoeken liggen op de grond.” = The towels are (lying) on the ground.

2. a geographical area or feature, such as a country, mountain, city, neighborhood, park, field, etc.

  • “Nederland ligt ten noorden van Frankrijk.” = The Netherlands is/lies north of France.
  • “Die stad ligt in België.” = That city is/lies in Belgium.

3. a person or animal that is explicitly lying down, or dead.

  • "Zij ligt in het gras." = She is lying down on the grass.

Staan

The verb ‘staan’ (= to stand) is used to describe the location of:

1. an object that is the right way up. Or, if there is no right way up, in any position where it is taller than it is wide.

  • "Het bord staat op de tafel." = The plate is on the table.
  • “Het boek staat op de plank.” = The book is (standing) on the shelf.

2. an object that is resting on legs or wheels, such as a table or a car.

  • “De auto staat in die straat.” = The car is (standing/parked) in that street.

3. text or images. These are always described as ‘standing’ on whatever surface they are written/drawn/printed/painted/displayed on.

  • “De woorden staan op de muur.” = The words are (written) on the wall.
  • “Mijn foto staat in de krant.” = My photo is (printed) in the newspaper.

4. All buildings use "staan", unless it's a complex of buildings or it includes some land around it. Then you can also use "liggen".

  • “Het huis staat in Amsterdam” = The house is (standing/located) in Amsterdam.
  • "Het vliegveld ligt ten westen van Londen" = The airport is west of London.

5. a person or animal that is explicitly standing up.

  • "De man staat naast de vrouw." = The man is standing next to the woman.

What about "zijn"?

There are some exceptions, where "zijn" (=to be) can also describe a location:

  1. The location of an event.
  2. The location of a person or animal that is not explicitly standing, sitting or lying down, or whose posture is unknown.
  3. If the emphasis is on the existence of the object, instead of its position.

Putting things in their place

There is also a corresponding verb for putting an object in its location for each of these verbs describing the location of an object.

Action Result of action
leggen - liggen
zetten - staan
stoppen / doen - zitten

Some examples may make this more clear:

  • Ik leg het boek op de tafel -> Het boek ligt op de tafel.
  • Ik zet de doos op de tafel -> De doos staat op de tafel.
  • Ik stop het boek in de doos -> Het boek zit in de doos.

All three verbs could be translated as "to put" in English, but they're not interchangeable!

Adverbs 1 updated 2018-10-25

Dutch adverbs

Adverbs say something about a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs only have one form.

  • Duo kan goed zwemmen - 'Duo can swim well'.
  • Duo is een heel goede zanger - 'Duo is a very good singer.'
  • Duo zingt behoorlijk goed - 'Duo sings rather well.'

When adjectives function as adverbs, they are not inflected:

  • Kristine heeft mooi gezongen - 'Kristine has sung beautifully.
  • Luis heeft vandaag hard gewerkt - 'Luis has worked hard today.'

Adverbs of place

These are:

  • hier ('here')
  • daar ('there')
  • links(af) ('(to the) left')
  • rechts(af) ('(to the) right')
  • uit ('from')
  • ergens ('somewhere')

Wonen zij hier? - 'Do they live here?'


Adverbs of time

The adjectives of time:

  • nu ('now')
  • toen ('then')
  • morgen ('tomorrow')
  • soms ('sometimes')
  • daarna ('afterwards')
  • dan ('then')
  • vaak ('often')

Het is nu mooi weer - 'The weather is nice now.

Note! In an affirmative clause, an adverb of time mostly comes before an adverb of place.

Hij was gisteren hier - 'He was here yesterday


Connecting adverbs

Some adverbs are used to connect two parts. They are:

  • daarom ('so/therefore')
  • daardoor ('therefore/consequently')

Hij snoept heel veel, daardoor wordt hij erg dik - 'He eats a lot of sweets, therefore he is getting very fat.'


Other common adverbs

There are some other, common adverbs:

  • ook ('also')
  • niet ('not')
  • bijna ('almost')
  • erg ('very')
  • misschien ('perhaps')
  • helemaal ('totally')
  • heel ('very')

Ga je ook naar het feest? - 'Are you also going to the party?'

Time updated 2018-10-25

Reading the clock: half to or half past?

The Dutch read the clock as follows:

  • 6:00 - Zes uur
  • 6:15 - Kwart over zes
  • 6:30 - Half zeven
  • 6:45 - Kwart voor zeven

In other words, half zeven means half an hour to seven, not past seven. This is especially confusing for the British, who refer to 7:30 as "half seven".


's

When in English you say in the morning", or "at night" etc., you could literally translate it to in de ochtend or in de nacht. However, Dutch has a more common and shorter way of saying it: 's ochtends or 's avonds.

The 's is short for des, which is an old Dutch word meaning van de or in de. In time it was shortened to just 's. So, while in old Dutch it would be des ochtends or des nachts, we now say 's ochtends or 's nachts.


Capitalization

When 's morgens or anything else starting with 's is at the start of the sentence, something interesting happens with the capitalization. You might expect the 's to become 'S; however, that is not the case, as the "s" is actually the end of a word (see the explanation above). Instead, the capital skips to the next word: 's Morgens.


Capitals in dates

In English, days of the week and months of the year always start with a capital. Dutch doesn't do this. So while in English you say "It is the first Monday of July," in Dutch you say Het is de eerste maandag van juli.

Er updated 2018-10-25

Er

Introducing... the most annoying, versatile and untranslatable word in the Dutch language. The particle er gives many learners nightmares and is known to have at least five separate uses. In this skill, you will encounter only two of them. Other uses will follow in later skills.

Often, but not always, er can be translated as "there". It is used to express the existence of something:

Dutch English
Er is een probleem. There is a problem.
Er is iemand in mijn huis. There is somebody in my house.

But unlike in English, it can be combined with verbs other than "to be":

Dutch English
Er slaapt iemand in mijn bed. There is somebody sleeping in my bed.
Somebody is sleeping in my bed.

In fact, it is often necessary to include er when the subject is indefinite (i.e. doesn't point to a specific person or object). In the above example, you cannot leave it out without adding some strange, unnatural emphasis:

Dutch English
Awkward: Iemand slaapt in mijn bed. Somebody is sleeping in my bed.

Indeed, the reason behind these particular rules is emphasis: the first element of the sentence receives a special emphasis, which sounds odd when combined with an indefinite subject. That is why the subject is replaced by er, which is always unstressed. And that is also why the addition of er is unnecessary when there is already a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence:

Dutch English
In mijn bed slaapt iemand. In my bed, there is somebody sleeping.

In questions with "who", it is also common to include er, although it is not strictly necessary. In this case, it cannot be translated in English.

Dutch English
Wie slaapt er in mijn bed? Who is sleeping in my bed?
Less natural: Wie slaapt in mijn bed?

Locative "er"

Finally, er can also refer to a location, as an unstressed form of "hier" or "daar".

Dutch English
Zijn we er al? Are we there yet?
Ik werk er graag. I like working there.

You will see other uses of er in the skills Numbers 2, Pronominal Adverbs and Passive Voice.

Modal and auxiliary verbs updated 2018-10-25

Modal verbs

Modal verbs are used to indicate how an action is performed, in other words whether it's voluntary, permitted, etc. The following table lists the most common modal verbs:

Dutch English
willen to want to
kunnen can/to be able to
moeten must/to have to
mogen may/to be allowed to
blijven to keep (doing sth.), to stay
laten to let
komen to come (in order to do sth.)

Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb, which is placed at the end of the sentence. In Dutch, the infinitive is always the same as the plural form of the present simple (usually ending on -en). Some examples:

  • "Ik wil zwemmen." = I want to swim.
  • "Ik kan zwemmen." = I can swim.
  • "Ik mag zwemmen." = I am allowed to swim.

Several of the modal verbs have an irregular conjugation:

- willen kunnen mogen
ik wil kan mag
jij/u wil/wilt* kan/kunt* mag
hij/zij/het wil kan mag
wij/jullie/zij willen kunnen mogen

*both are possible, but in formal writing you should use the form ending on -t.

Zien, horen & voelen

These three verbs, all describing sensations, are not modal verbs, but they can behave in exactly the same way. When you see, hear or feel somebody (or something) performing an action, the infinitive comes at the end of the sentence:

  • "Ik zie hem zwemmen." = I see him swim.
  • "Ik hoor haar praten." = I hear her talk.

Numbers 2 updated 2018-10-25

Er: describing a quantity (lesson 5)

When placed before a number, “er” means of them. This is best shown in some examples:

  • Ik houd van katten. Ik heb er vijf. - I like cats. I have five of them.
  • Ik heb koekjes gebakken. Wil je er een? - I baked cookies. Do you want one (of them)?

Sometimes it doesn’t need to be translated, like in the second example. You cannot leave out “er” in the Dutch sentence, though!

Present Continuous updated 2018-10-25

Continuous

In Dutch, the continuous is not as common as it is in English, but it's still fairly common. There are six ways of making a continuous:

  • -The most common way is to start with a form of zijn, followed by aan and then a gerund (verb used as a noun). 'He is writing' would become Hij is aan het schrijven.
  • -A dramatic, very uncommon way is to use a form of zijn with the present participle. So to dramatically say 'He is writing', you could say Hij is schrijvende.
  • -You can also use a verb expressing a physical position followed by the infinitive. This means that another way of saying 'He is writing', is Hij zit te schrijven. Now you have specified that he is sitting down while writing. If you want to say that he is standing while writing, you would say Hij staat te schrijven.
  • -Another uncommon method is using a form of zijn, followed by bezig met and the gerund. With 'He is writing', this creates Hij is bezig met schrijven. The more literal English translation of this sentence would be 'He is busy writing'.
  • -A very uncommon method is similar to the above, but instead of met followed by the gerund, you use the full infinitive starting with te. So, for 'He is writing' we now get Hij is bezig te schrijven.
  • -Finally we have a special form which means the subject is away to do the activity. It is made with a form of zijn followed by the infinitive. So if you want to imply that he has gone away to write, you can say Hij is schrijven.

Prepositions 2 updated 2018-10-25

Prepositions and Circumpositions

Prepositions come before a (pro)noun and describe some kind of relationship to this noun. They are one of the basic building blocks of language. However, Dutch also has circumpositions. These words act like prepositions, but they have two parts which can split up and come on either side of the noun. Usually the first part is a regular preposition and the second part - the postposition (similar to a preposition, but it comes after the word it refers to) - changes the meaning slightly.

For example, consider the word "naartoe". In most sentences it will split up and become:

  • Ik ga naar jou toe. - I am going towards you.

The addition of "toe" adds some movement to the preposition "naar", which normally just describes a direction. The same is true for some of the other circumpositions, like "doorheen", "overheen" and "onderdoor", all of which show movement. You will get to practice these words in Lesson 4 of this skill.

Verbs: Present Perfect: Weak Verbs updated 2019-10-29

Present Perfect: Weak Verbs

The name of the present perfect is deceiving: it describes actions that happened in the past, not those happening in the present. In Dutch, the present perfect is a very common way to refer to the past, far more so than in English. In fact, the Dutch present perfect can not always be translated as the English present perfect, or vice verse. They serve slightly different roles, as we will see below.

The present perfect in Dutch describes a past action, but from the point of the view of the present. It draws attention to the results of the action, rather than the action itself. When translating this tense to English, it is best to use either the present perfect or the past simple, depending on the context. There are some exceptions and special cases, a few of which are discussed at the end of this note.

Weak and Strong Verbs

For the conjugation of the past tense in Dutch, we can distinguish between weak verbs, strong verbs and completely irregular verbs:

  • Weak verbs follow regular conjugation rules. Their stem does not change in the past tense. If you know the rules, you can conjugate any of these verbs.
  • Strong verbs are irregular, but they still follow certain patterns. The vowel in their stem can change in the past tense. You need to memorize these vowel changes.
  • Completely irregular verbs are exactly what the name implies. Their stem can change entirely in the past tense, not just the vowels. Thankfully there are not many of these.

Some verbs that are strong in the present perfect might be weak or irregular in the past simple, or the other way around. However, this skill only focuses on weak verbs in the present perfect. You will encounter the other cases in later skills.

How to use the Present Perfect

Dutch English
Ik heb iets geleerd. I (have) learned something.
Jij hebt hard gewerkt. You (have) worked hard.
We zijn naar huis gefietst. We (have) biked home.

Looking at the examples above, there are a few things that stand out:

  • Like in English, the present perfect is constructed with an auxiliary verb (i.e. to have) and a past participle (e.g. learned, worked, biked, etc.)
  • In Dutch the auxiliary verb can be either “hebben” or “zijn”.
  • The past participle of a weak verb is formed with the prefix ge- and the suffix -d or -t. There are exceptions to this and strong verbs have different rules.
  • The past participle is placed at the end of the sentence, after the object or any adverbs.

When should you use “hebben” or “zijn”? That depends on the verb; the vast majority use “hebben”. Verbs that describe a motion in a particular direction often use “zijn” (as in the last example above). So do intransitive verbs (i.e. without an object) that describe a change or development (e.g. “komen”, “beginnen”, “groeien”, etc.). Lastly, linking verbs such as “zijn” itself, “worden” and “blijven” all use “zijn” as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect.

When should you use -d or -t as a suffix? That depends on the last letter of the verb’s stem. Most verbs get the -d ending, except those whose stem ends in ch, f, k, p, s or t (there are a few more, but those are highly uncommon). A word that could help you to remember these is the word 't kofschip. Another mnemonic is soft ketchup. If the stem ends on a consonant that is in these mnemonics, the participle receives a -t. If the stem already ends in a -d or -t, it does not get another one added to it. Applying these rules to the examples above gives:

Verb Stem Soft Ketchup? Participle
Leren leer no geleerd
Werken werk yes gewerkt
Fietsen fiets yes gefietst

Words that start with be-, er-, ge-, her-, ont- or ver- do not get the extra prefix ge- in the present perfect.

Translation Tips

  • In Dutch it is common to use the present perfect together with an adjective which specifies a time in the past, something that is not allowed in English. In these cases, you must use the simple past in your translation. “Ik heb gisteren hard gewerkt.” -> I worked hard yesterday. WRONG: I have worked hard yesterday.
  • In English one can use the present perfect continuous to describe actions that are still ongoing. This is not possible in Dutch. Instead, you must use the present tense together with the adverb “al”: I have been waiting for hours. -> “Ik wacht al uren.” or “Ik ben al uren aan het wachten.”

Separable Verbs updated 2018-10-25

Separable verbs consist of two parts: a prefix and a base verb. As the name implies, these can split up and move to different parts of the sentence. Whether this happens depends on the conjugation and on the word order, as explained below.

While English doesn't have separable verbs, they are somewhat similar to so-called phrasal verbs, such as: stand up, write down, fill in or hang out. Often but not nearly always, a Dutch separable verb can be translated as an English phrasal verb. Using combinations of prepositions and existing verbs, there are an almost unlimited number of separable verbs in Dutch, each with a subtle difference in meaning or connotation.

Finite verb

A finite verb is a verb that is conjugated to match the subject. I am happy, because I have seen a beautiful duck. In this sentence, am and have are finite verbs (they match the subject I), but seen is not (it is a past participle). If a Dutch separable verb is finite, then the verb is split in two and the prefix moves to the back of the sentence. For example, the verb "aanraken" (to touch) becomes:

  • Jij raakt me aan. - You touch me.

Note that while the word "aan" can also be a preposition, in this case it's not. It is a part of the verb!

An exception to the above rule occurs in subordinate clauses (covered in the Conjunctions 2 skill). There, the finite verb is always moved to the end of the clause, so there is no need to split up the separable verb:

  • Ik word boos, als jij me aanraakt. - I'll get angry if you touch me.

Infinite verb

The infinite form (or infinitive) of a separable verb is usually written as one word:

  • Jij wil me aanraken. - You want to touch me.

In some cases, the infinitive will also be separated. For example, this happens when it is accompanied by "te", which always comes between the prefix and the base verb. When there are multiple infinitives in the sentence, or when the infinitive is part of a subclause, you can often choose whether to split the separable verb or not.

Past participle

The past participle of a verb is mostly used in the present perfect (one of the past tense forms). In Dutch, this form is constructed with the prefix "ge-". For separable verbs, this prefix comes in between the original prefix and the base verb. It is written as one word:

  • Jij hebt me aangeraakt. - You have touched me.

Te + infinitive verbs updated 2018-10-25

Te+infinitive

Sometimes, auxiliary verbs cannot be followed by just the infinitive, but need the preposition te first. This can happen in several situations.

1) Staan - Zitten - Liggen - Lopen - Hangen

The Dutch continuous aspect can be formed in several different ways. One of these is

STAAN/ZITTEN/LIGGEN/LOPEN/HANGEN + TE + INFINITIVE

With this construction one can specify in which position the subject is. And yes, mostly it really doesn't matter, but still we add it.

Dutch English Additional thought
Hij ligt te slapen. He is sleeping. (while he is lying)
Ze zit te lezen. She is reading. (while she is sitting)

2) Verbable

The verbable is an equivalent for an adjective derived from a verb.

It is created using the following pattern:

ZIJN/BLIJVEN/VALLEN + TE + INFINITIVE

Verbable construction Adjective construction English
Dat is te begrijpen. Dat is begrijpelijk. That is understandable.
Valt het te repareren? Is het repareerbaar? Is it repairable?

3) Verbs always + te + infinitive

Since these verbs have little in common, you'll have to try to memorize them.

DURVEN | HEBBEN | HOEVEN

Dutch English
Hij durft te springen. He dares to jump.
Hij hoeft niet te vertrekken. He doesn't have to leave.
Ik heb niets te doen. I have nothing to do.

For hebben this isn't always the case; when it means owning something, it can be used without te. For komen, te is only necessary when it is in the sense of something being about to happen.

! In the perfect tense, the te is dropped after these verbs. (see the Modal Perfect skill)

4) Short subclauses

A short subclause is a special type of subclause. The subject is ommited. This structure also exists in English so it should not look too complicated.

Short subclause Normal subclause
Ik beloof dat te doen. Ik beloof dat ik dat zal doen.

5) Gerund after preposition

Dutch English
Zonder na te denken Without thinking
Door te springen By/through jumping

6) Nothing to do

Dutch English
Niets te zeggen Nothing to say
Iets te drinken Something to drink

Verbs: The Imperative updated 2018-10-25

Imperative

Dutch uses the present tense of the first person singular for the imperative. An exception is the imperative of zijn ('to be'), which uses wees (1st pers. sing. of wezen), which is an old-fashioned form of zijn.

For a more polite imperative, you use the present tense of the formal u. This form is officially also used when addressing multiple people, but hardly anyone ever actually does; the normal imperative is used instead.

An exception is when the 'command' is given in a general sense, like 'No smoking'. In this case we simply use the infinitive: Niet roken.

Demonstrative pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Demonstrative pronouns

The demonstrative pronoun always points to something or someone and usually gives some emphasis. It can be used both dependent and independent.

The dependent demonstrative pronoun always has that which it points to in the same sentence. Example:

Ik wil dit boek (niet dat boek). - 'I want this book (not that one)'.

The independent demonstrative pronoun points to something which has been mentioned before or which is already known in some other way. Example:

Die is van mij. - 'That one is mine.'

Directions updated 2018-10-25

Postpositions

To describe the direction of movement, the prepositions "in", "op" and "uit" are placed after the noun, instead of before it. In other words, they are used as postpositions. Some examples:

  • "Ik ga de berg op." - I am going up the mountain.
  • "Ik kom mijn kamer uit." - I am coming out of my room.
  • "Ik loop het bos in." - I am walking into the forest.

Note that all of these indicate a direction. Compare that last sentence to:

  • "Ik loop in het bos." - I am walking in the forest.

Here, the preposition indicates a location, rather than a direction.

These postpositions can be quite confusing, since it's easy to mistake them for part of a separable verb. In the last lesson of this skill, you get to practice with sentences such as these.

Pronominal Adverbs updated 2018-10-25

Pronominal adverbs do exist in English, but they are rare and you are most likely to find them in legal texts. Here are some examples:

  • Therefore = for that, because of that
  • Hereby = by this
  • Wherein = in which

While these English words might not be used very much, this same construction appears everywhere in Dutch. You cannot avoid it!

What is a pronominal adverb?

Pronominal adverbs appear whenever you have the combination of a preposition and a pronoun, as long as the pronoun does not refer to a person. The pronoun is replaced by an adverb of location (here, there, etc) and the preposition is glued behind it, sometimes changing its form slightly. See the English examples above to get a feeling for this. Dutch examples will follow.

This table shows which pronouns turn into which locative (=showing location) adverbs. In the third column, you see an example of the corresponding pronominal adverb, formed with the preposition "in".

Pronoun Locative Adverb Pronominal Adverb Meaning
het er erin in it
dat daar daarin in that
dit hier hierin in this
wat waar waarin in what/which
alles overal overal in in everything
iets ergens ergens in in something
niets nergens nergens in not in anything

By far the most common pronominal adverbs are formed with er. In English these translate to preposition + it , referring back to some object that was already mentioned.

  • Je hebt een doos. Wat zit erin? - You have a box. What is in it?

Notice that in English you can also say "What is in there?". Replacing it by there could be a remnant from when English also used pronominal adverbs!

If you are referring to specific things nearby or far away from you, you can use hier or daar to form the adverb. This corresponds to a preposition + this/that in English.

  • Hierna gaan we naar bed. - After this, we're going to bed.
  • Wat doe je daarmee? - What are you doing with that?

Splitting the adverb

Pronominal adverbs with 'er', 'hier', 'daar' or 'waar' are usually spelled as one word. However, in many cases they can be split up, for example by another adverb or by an indefinite object (see the Word Order 1 skill). Occasionally this is even mandatory (e.g. with an indefinite subject). Some examples:

  • Wat zit er nu in? - What is in there now?
  • Er zit niets in. - There is nothing in it.
  • Ik stop er iets in. - I put something in it.

Verbs: Present Perfect: Strong Verbs updated 2018-10-25

Present Perfect: Strong Verbs

For the conjugation of the past tense in Dutch, we can distinguish between weak verbs, strong verbs and completely irregular verbs:

  • Weak verbs follow regular conjugation rules. Their stem does not change in the past tense. If you know the rules, you can conjugate any of these verbs.
  • Strong verbs are irregular, but they still follow certain patterns. The vowel in their stem can change in the past tense. You need to memorize these vowel changes.
  • Completely irregular verbs are exactly what the name implies. Their stem can change entirely in the past tense, not just the vowels. Thankfully there are not many of these.

Some verbs that are weak in the present perfect might be strong or irregular in the past simple, or the other way around. This skill focuses on strong and irregular verbs in the present perfect.

For strong verbs, the past participle is formed with the prefix ge- and the suffix -en. As mentioned above, the vowel in the verb's stem often changes. Unfortunately there are no rules for these vowel changes. Some examples:

Strong verb Past participle
drinken gedronken
doen gedaan
zwemmen gezwommen
schrijven geschreven
lezen gelezen
beginnen begonnen

Note: words that start with be-, er-, ge-, her-, ont- or ver- do not get the extra prefix ge- in the present perfect. See the last example above.

More irregular verbs

In this skill you will also encounter a few truly irregular verbs that do not follow the pattern above. These are:

Irregular verb Past participle
zijn geweest
hebben gehad
kopen gekocht
zoeken gezocht
brengen gebracht
denken gedacht

Diminutives updated 2019-01-11

Diminutives

Diminutives are very common in Dutch. They always end in -je, are all het-words and, depending on the phonology of the word, other letters may have to be added before it. There are quite a few possible combinations, but apart from -je there are four main ones:

  1. -tje, which is added to:
    • nouns ending in a vowel or w
    • nouns that end in a long vowel followed by l, n or r *nouns ending in unstressed -el, -en, or -er when the "e" is mute
  2. -etje, which is added to nouns ending in a short vowel followed by a single l, n, ng, m or r
  3. -kje, which is added to nouns ending in an unstressed -ing
  4. -pje, which is added to:
    • nouns ending in a long vowel followed by -m
    • unstressed -em when the "e" is mute

More complicated rules and forms exist, but the above details the basics of the Dutch diminutives.

Use

Diminutives can be used to do the following in Dutch:

  1. express how small something is:

kat "cat" + -je = kitten

  1. express mistrust or contempt:

De kaas heeft een vreemd smaakje. = "The cheese has an odd taste."

Wat spreken die Nederlanders toch een raar taaltje. = "What a strange language those Dutch speak."

  1. express cuteness:

Wat een leuk vliegtuigje! = "What a cute (little) airplane!"

  1. express something positive:

Lekker wijntje! = "Delicious wine!"

Some diminutives are no longer necessarily regarded as diminutive forms, but are used alongside the basis words on their own:

  1. grap/grapje = "joke"
  2. kop/kopje = "cup"
  3. vraag/vraagje = "question"

Many diminutives obtain a different meaning from the basis words:

  1. de telefoon "telephone"; het telefoontje "phone call"
  2. het ijs "ice, i.e. frozen water); het ijsje "ice cream"

Simple Past 1 updated 2018-10-25

Simple Past: Weak Verbs

Just like English, Dutch has a second way to describe actions in the past, beside the frequently used present perfect. The past simple (a.k.a imperfectum or “onvoltooid verleden tijd” (OVT) in Dutch) is used as a storytelling tense. It describes a past event or past situation from the perspective of the past, often as a part of a longer story. This is in contrast to the present perfect, which focuses on the results of a past action. However, the two tenses are interchangeable in many cases.

The past simple in Dutch can be translated to either the past simple or the past continuous in English, whichever sounds more natural.

For weak (regular) verbs, the simple past is formed with the suffix -de(n) or -te(n). Which one you use is determined by the same rules as for the past participle: if the verb’s stem end on a ch, f, k, p, s or t (the consonants of soft ketchup), then the simple past ends on -te(n). If not, one uses -de(n). The -n is added for plural conjugations (wij, jullie, zij).

Verb Stem Soft Ketchup? Simple Past
Leren leer no leerde(n)
Werken werk yes werkte(n)
Fietsten fiets yes fietste(n)
Willen wil no wilde(n)

If the stem already ends on a -d or -t, then it gets an extra one. For example, the verb "praten" (to talk) becomes "praatte(n)". Note that "praten" and "praatten" are pronounced the same; when listening, you need to determine the tense from context. Some more examples:

Dutch English
Ik leerde snel. I learned quickly.
Wij werkten in de bakkerij. We were working in the bakery.
Hij fietste naar huis. He biked home.
Wilden jullie ook koffie? Did you also want coffee?
De mannen praatten de hele nacht The men were talking all night.

In this skill, you will also encounter the simple past conjugations of a few irregular verbs:

--- Zijn Hebben Doen
Singular: was had deed
Plural: waren hadden deden

Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Reflexives

Sometimes, a verb needs the subject to be the object as well. These are reflexive verbs. They exist in English too: "I wash myself", "He teaches himself", etc. In Dutch, they are much more common, however.

There are two forms of the reflexive pronouns: stressed and unstressed. We don't often use the stressed form, but it's still good to know it.

English Dutch unstressed Dutch stressed
myself me mezelf
yourself je jezelf
yourself (formal zich uzelf
himself/herself/itself zich zichzelf
ourselves ons onszelf
yourselves je jezelf
themselves zich zichzelf

Verbs: Present Perfect: Review updated 2018-10-25

In this skill you will practice with both weak and strong verbs in the present perfect. For extensive grammar notes, please review the previous two skills on this topic.

The Future Tense updated 2018-10-25

Future

The future tense can be formed in two ways in Dutch:

  1. gaan + infinitive, meaning "to go"
  2. zullen + infinitive, meaning "shall" or "will"

These two can also be used together, just like in English.

Zullen + infinitive is used in the following cases:

  1. when saying something will likely take place
  2. when emphasizing that something will definitely happen
  3. to promise or propose something

The conjugation:

Person Future Translation
Ik zal schrijven I will write
Jij zal/zult* schrijven You will write
U zal/zult* schrijven You will write (formal)
Hij/Zij/Het zal schrijven He/She/It will write
Wij zullen schrijven We will write
Jullie zullen schrijven You will write (plural)
Zij zullen schrijven They will write

*Both zal and zult are correct, but zal is considered informal.

Gaan + infinitive is used as follows:

  1. when expressing an intended action
  2. when something is going to take place, without expressing probability
Person Future Translation
Ik ga schrijven I am going to write
Jij gaat schrijven You are going to write
U gaat schrijven You are going to write (formal)
Hij/Zij/Het gaat schrijven He/She/It is going to write
Wij gaan schrijven We are going to write
Jullie gaan schrijven You are going to write (plural)
Zij gaan schrijven They are going to write

Comparative and Superlative updated 2018-10-25

De trappen van vergelijking

The "steps of comparison", as they are referred to in Dutch, are used to turn an adjective (good) into a comparative (better) or a superlative (best). These are formed by adding suffixes to the adjective, much like in English. This process is mostly regular, with a few important exceptions.

Comparative

The comparative, as the name implies, compares the properties of two objects, or of the same object in different situations or at different times. In English, the comparative is sometimes created with the adverb more. That is not the case in Dutch, where it is usually constructed by adding the suffix -er or -ere, following the standard rules for adjectives about the -e at the end. As usual, the consonant at the end of the adjective's stem might double or change, as a result of the Dutch spelling rules. If the stem ends on the letter r, then the suffix becomes -der or -dere, to make pronunciation easier. Some examples are below:

  • De snellere jongen - The faster boy
  • Een nog sneller meisje - An even faster girl
  • Het meisje is sneller dan de jongen. - The girl is faster than the boy.

  • Duurdere wijn - More expensive wine

Superlative

The highest step is the superlative, which compares an object with all other objects, or with all other situations or points in time. Again, Dutch does not normally use the adverb most, but adds the suffix -st or -ste. Like in English, the superlative must always follow a definite article (de or het).

  • De snelste jongen - The fastest boy
  • De duurste wijn - The most expensive wine

  • De jongen is het snelst. - The boy is the fastest.

Note that even though jongen is a de-word, the superlative in that last sentence becomes het snelst. The reason is that it is a predicate adjective (it comes after the noun), which does not reflect the gender (de/het) of the noun. However, it is also allowed to say:

  • De jongen is de snelste. - The boy is the fastest.

In this case it is implied that the noun jongen is repeated after the superlative: "De jongen is de snelste (jongen)."

Graag - Liever - Liefst

Graag is an adverb, and one of those annoying Dutch words that does not have an English equivalent. It tells you that the subject enjoys performing the action that is described by the verb, often translated as "like to" + infinitive.

Strangely enough, graag has a comparative and a superlative form: liever and liefst. These mean, respectively, that you prefer doing something over something else, and that you prefer it over anything else. You can translate them as "like more to" and "like best to", or by using some form of "to prefer".

Materials updated 2018-10-25

Materials

1) Adjectives

Sometimes you want to describe what stuff is made out of. To make an adjective of a material, add the suffix -en to the noun. Unlike regular adjectives, these are not declined, so they do not change depending on what word comes after. They do not get an additional -e. Here are some examples:

Meaning Noun Adjective Meaning
wood hout - houten wooden
wool wol - wollen woolen
concrete beton - betonnen made of concrete
glass glas - glazen made of glass
silk zijde - zijden made of silk

There are two exceptions to this rule: plastic and aluminium do not get the suffix -en.

However, unlike English, you cannot use the noun form as an adjective.

For example:

  • A golden spoon = Een gouden lepel
  • A gold spoon = Een gouden lepel

2) Predicative adjective

The predicative form doesn't exist for these -en adjectives. Instead, you will have to use van + noun. This is short for gemaakt van ("made of"), but the verb can be safely dropped.

For example:

  • The towel is made of silk. = De handdoek is van zijde.
  • The floor is made of concrete = De vloer is van beton.

This form can also appear without a predicate:

  • A golden spoon = Een lepel van goud

School updated 2018-10-25

The Dutch school system

The Dutch law requires all children between the ages of 4 and 16 to be in school. There is a division between primary and secondary school. Almost all schools in the Netherlands are public. There are no uniforms and boarding schools are nearly non-existent.

Primary school

"De basisschool" is for children from 4 to 12 years old. In most schools, children will stay in the same class during this entire period. The teacher of the class might change from year to year. Starting at age 6, children will be taught to read and write and do basic arithmetic.

In their last year of primary school, all students do a standardized test (the CITO test). Their score determines (in part) what kind of secondary school the student can go to.

Secondary school

At age 12, children will go to a "middelbare school", technically known as "voortgezet onderwijs" (literally: continued education). There are secondary schools of different levels:

  • "Voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) (vmbo): preparatory middle-level vocational education. 4 years; students can choose between theoretical or vocational education, or a mixture of both. A vmbo diploma lets you go to a trade school (MBO) afterwards.
  • "Hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs" (havo): higher general continued education. 5 years; a havo diploma allows you to go to a "hogeschool" (vocational university or university of applied sciences), known as HBO.
  • "Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs" (vwo): preuniversity secondary education. 6 years; a vwo diploma allows you to go to any Dutch university (WO).

At many schools, students only decide after their first or second year (a so-called "brugklas") at which level they want to study. After graduating at a certain level (passing the standardized final exams), it is possible to continue at a higher level (typically taking an additional year).

Students have some freedom to choose what classes to take in secondary school, allowing them to start specializing in a topic of interest as early as age 14 or 15. They must choose one of four profiles or sectors, with a focus on natural sciences, life sciences, humanities or economics. This choice will affect their options for post-secondary eduction.

Pronouns relative updated 2018-10-25

Relative pronouns

A relative pronoun refers back to a person or object that already appears elsewhere in the sentence: The man who is walking his dog. The hat that the man is wearing.

In English, the relative pronoun can often be left out. In Dutch, however, this is not possible; the relative pronoun is an essential part of the sentence. Each pronoun has certain rules for its usage, which differ significantly from English, as can be seen in the examples below.

Die: refers back to a de-word.

  • "De man die zijn hond uitlaat" - The man who is walking his dog

Dat: refers back to a het-word.

  • "Het boek dat op tafel ligt" - That book that is lying on the table

Preposition + Wie: refers back to a person.

  • "De man van wie ik houd" - The man whom I love

Waar + preposition: refers back to an object. See also the Pronominal Adverbs skill.

  • "Het boek waarvan ik houd" - The book that I love

Wat: refers to a whole sentence, to an indefinite pronoun ("alles", "iets", "niets", etc.) or to an adjective that is used as a noun.

  • "Hij wil zwemmen, wat ik een goed idee vindt." - He wants to swim, which I think is a good idea.
  • "Alles wat je kan zien" - Everything that you can see
  • "Het mooiste wat ik ooit heb gezien" - The prettiest thing I have ever seen

Wiens: a possessive reflexive pronoun, equivalent to the English "whose". This form is slightly archaic and is mostly being replaced by "van wie". Originally it could only refer to masculine nouns.

Simple Past 2: Strong Verbs updated 2018-10-25

Simple Past: Strong Verbs

For strong verbs, the simple past is fully irregular and needs to be learned by heart. In case of a singular subject, we use the stem of the verb with the vowel changed. For plural, the suffix -en is added. Note that the vowel change is sometimes different from the past participle. For example:

Verb Past Participle Simple Past Singular Simple Past Plural
Lezen gelezen las lazen
Zwemmen gezwommen zwom zwommen
Spreken gesproken sprak spraken
Liggen gelegen lag lagen
Kijken gekeken keek keken

This skill also includes some verbs that are even more irregular: not only the vowel changes, but also some of the consonants. Some examples:

Verb Past Participle Simple Past Singular Simple Past Plural
Zeggen gezegd zei zeiden
Kopen gekocht kocht kochten
Zien gezien zag zagen
Mogen gemogen* mocht mochten
Moeten gemoeten* moest moesten
Houden gehouden hield hielden
Weten geweten wist wisten
Komen gekomen kwam kwamen

*These forms are not commonly used. See the Modal Perfect skill for an explanation.

Passive voice updated 2018-10-25

Passive

The passive voice is used to describe actions from the point of view of the object of the verb: "I am being seen." or "The book has been read". This way, the subject (the person who is seeing me, or who has read the book) is eliminated from the sentence.

In Dutch the passive is constructed using the past participle (also used in the present perfect) and an auxiliary verb. There are two different auxiliary verbs used in the Dutch passive: worden for the dynamical passive voice and zijn for the stative passive voice. This distinction does not really exist in English, but it roughly corresponds to the different tenses, as explained below.


Worden (lesson 1)

The dynamical passive voice is constructed with the auxiliary verb worden, to describe ongoing actions. In the present tense, this refers to things that are going on right now, that will happen in the near future, or that happen repeatedly. In English this often translates to the continuous aspect. For example:

  • Het boek wordt gelezen. - "The book is being read."
  • Ik word gezien. - "I am being seen."
  • De maaltijd wordt gekookt. - "The meal is being cooked."

But in some cases, especially recurring events or general truths, the present simple works as well:

  • Het boek wordt vaak gelezen. - "The book is read often."

In English one can also use the informal "get"-construction for the dynamical passive voice:

  • Het boek wordt gelezen. - "The book gets/is getting read."

Note: The subject, who performs the action, can still be added to the sentence using the preposition door.

  • Het boek wordt door mij gelezen. - "The book is being read by me."

Zijn (lesson 2)

The stative passive voice is constructed with the auxiliary verb zijn, to describe the state of things after something has been done to them. This corresponds to the perfect aspect: the action has been completed, it lies in the past. There are several ways to translate this to English, the most natural one being the present perfect passive:

  • Het boek is gelezen. - "The book has been read."
  • Ik ben gezien. - "I have been seen."
  • De maaltijd is gekookt. - "The meal has been cooked."

However, it is also possible to use the past simple, or in some cases, the present:

  • Het boek is gelezen. - "The book was read."
  • Het is gedaan. - "It is done."

Werden (lesson 3)

Whereas the perfect perfect in the passive voice is constructed with zijn, the past simple uses werden (i.e. the past tense of worden). A lot of the time, this conveys a *continuous aspect.

  • Het boek werd gelezen. - "The book was (being) read."
  • Ik werd gezien. - "I was seen."
  • De maaltijd werd gekookt. - "The meal was (being) cooked.

The Impersonal Passive Voice (lesson 4)

Unlike English, Dutch can also use the passive voice with intransitive verbs: verbs that do not have an object. In this case, the place of the object is taken by that versatile and infuriating little word, er. The advantage is that one can use a verb to describe an action without any subject or object. The disadvantage is that there is simply no good way to translate this construction literally into English. For example:

  • Er wordt gelopen.

This means that someone, somewhere, is walking. Who and where should be derived from context, the sentence only states that walking is what is happening. The best we can do in English is to use the gerund (a noun created from a verb with the suffix "-ing"):

  • Er wordt gelopen. - "There is walking (going on)."

Another option is to introduce an undetermined subject:

  • "Somebody is walking."
  • "People are walking."

In other cases, it might be best to completely change the structure of the sentence.

The impersonal passive voice is used a lot in Dutch, and finding an English translation is always awkward. It can be used both with worden and with zijn as an auxiliary. If you are confused, do not be afraid to use the hints.

Conditional updated 2018-10-25

Conditional

The conditional is very similar to the Future tense in how it's made. However, instead of the present tense zullen, we use its past tense: zouden. The conditional is used to refer to hypothetical situations.

Person Conditional Translation
Ik zou schrijven I would write
Jij zou schrijven You would write
U zou schrijven You would write (formal)
Hij/Zij/Het zou schrijven He/She/It would write
Wij zouden schrijven We would write
Jullie zouden schrijven You would write (plural)
Zij zouden schrijven They would write

In addition to meaning "would" on its own, "zouden" can carry other meanings in combination with certain modal verbs.

"zouden" + "moeten" gives you "should".

  • "Je zou moeten slapen." = "You should sleep."

"zouden" + "kunnen", literally "would (+) be able to", gives you "could".

  • "Wij zouden hier kunnen eten." = "We could eat here."

Conditional vs. the Simple Past

Like in English, it is sometimes possible to use the simple past in a conditional construction, rather than the official "zouden" (would). Note that Dutch does not have a subjunctive mood anymore (If I were...).

The past perfect/pluperfect updated 2019-02-20

Pluperfect

The pluperfect, or past perfect, is used when referring to something that happened in the past, before something else which also happened in the past. In Dutch, it's made exactly like the present perfect, except with the simple past tense of hebben or zijn.

Person Past Perfect Translation
Ik had geschreven I had written
Jij had geschreven You had written
U had geschreven You had written (formal)
Hij/Zij/Het had geschreven He/She/It had written
Wij hadden geschreven We had written
Jullie hadden geschreven You had written
Zij hadden geschreven They had written
Person Past Perfect Translation
Ik was gevallen I had fallen
Jij was gevallen You had fallen
U was gevallen You had fallen (formal)
Hij/Zij/Het was gevallen He/She/It had fallen
Wij waren gevallen We had fallen
Jullie waren gevallen You had fallen
Zij waren gevallen They had fallen

Present Participle updated 2018-10-25

The present participle of a verb is a form that can be used as an adjective or an adverb. It tells you that the corresponding noun is performing a certain action at the moment (in the case of an adjective) or that the action is performed alongside the main verb of the sentence (in the case of an adverb). Some examples will make this more clear:

  • De lopende man - The walking man
  • De man gaat lopend naar huis - The man goes home walking (or: on foot)

In English, the present participle ends on -ing. This is a very common form, which is also used in the present continuous (I am walking), as a gerund (I like walking) and in various other constructions. In Dutch, however, the participle is far more rare and only used as an adjective or adverb.

The Dutch present participle is formed by adding -d or -de after the infinitive. When used as an adjective, it follows the standard rules for adding -e at the end:

  • De zingende man
  • Een zingende man
  • Het zingende meisje
  • Een zingend meisje

Suffixes updated 2018-10-25

Why waste a good word when you can use it to make some other words? Just like English speakers, the Dutch love adding suffixes to derive new words from the ones you already know. In this skill, you will encounter some of the most common ones. In fact, you have already come across many of them! Think about:

  • gevaar (danger) - gevaarlijk (dangerous)
  • gezond (healthy) - gezondheid (health)
  • vertalen (to translate) - vertaling (translation)
  • geluk (happiness) - gelukkig (happy)

Unfortunately there is usually no one-to-one correspondence between Dutch and English suffixes. Practice is the only solution! Below you'll find a table with common Dutch suffixes.

Suffix from to English de/het
-heid adj. noun -ness/-y/-dom/? de
-ing verb noun -tion/-ment/-ance/? de
-lijk noun adj./adv. -ly/? -
-ig noun adj./adv. -y/? -
-loos noun adj./adv. -less -
-baar* verb adj./adv. -ble -
-s adj. noun indefinite het

*not taught in this skill

The s-form of an adjective

If an adjective follows an indefinite pronoun (like "iets" or "niets"), it gets the ending -s. This is a remnant of the old genitive case. In the last lesson of this skill, you will get some practice with this. A few examples:

  • "Ik ruik iets lekkers." - I smell something tasty.
  • "Ik heb niets leuks te doen." - I don't have anything fun to do.
  • "Zie je iemand anders?" - Do you see anyone else?

Modal Perfect updated 2018-10-25

Something strange happens in Dutch when you want to use the present perfect or past perfect in combination with an auxiliary verb (such a "willen", "kunnen", "laten", etc). Instead of using the past participle (formed with the prefix ge- and suffix -d or -t for regular weak verbs), the infinitive is used. That is why this quirky grammar rule is known as the "vervangende infinitief" in Dutch, or the replacement infinitive. Snobby linguists might refer to it as the infinitivo pro participio (infinitive instead of participle).

Dutch English
Ik zie haar. I see her.
Ik zie haar dansen. I see her dance.
Ik heb haar gezien. I have seen her.
Ik heb haar zien dansen. I have seen her dance.

This last sentence is in the past tense, yet none of the verbs use a past tense conjugation! That can be very confusing – if you are not aware of the construction. Note that "zien" acts as an auxiliary verb in the last sentence, whereas it is the main verb in the third.

The rule does not apply to auxiliary verbs that use "te"+infinitive, such as "proberen". Only the verbs that you learned in the Modal skill are affected. One exception is the odd modal verb "hoeven", which does use the replacement infinitive.

Past Participle updated 2018-10-25

The past participle of a verb is the form most commonly used in the present perfect. However, it can also have the function of an adjective:

  • I have cooked the potato.
  • The cooked potato

When used as an adjective, the past participle has a passive meaning. In other words, the corresponding noun ("potato") is the object of the verb ("to cook"), not the subject. This is a difference between the present and past participle (in addition to the difference in tense!).

In Dutch, the past participle can be used in exactly the same way:

  • Ik heb de aardappel gekookt.
  • De gekookte aardappel

If the verb is weak (i.e. regular, like "koken"), then the past participle ends on either -d or -t (see: Present Perfect 1). In this case, it might get the extra ending -e as an adjective, like in the example above. This follows the standard rules of adjective declension:

  • De gekookte aardappel
  • Een gekookte aardappel
  • Het gekookte ei
  • Een gekookt ei

However, if the verb is strong (i.e. irregular, such as "snijden" = to cut), then the past participle ends on -en (see: Present Perfect 2). In this case, the adjective never gets the ending -e:

  • Ik heb de aardappel gesneden.
  • De gesneden aardappel

The form "gesnedene" does not exist!

Feelings 2 updated 2018-10-25

Gezellig

Gezellig is a famous Dutch word. It owes its fame to being impossible to literally translate into English; it's a feeling which simply doesn't exist as such. There are many words which approximate the feeling ("nice", "cozy", "pleasant", to name but a few), but none of them are quite sufficient.

Gezellig is the feeling of having a good time with other people. Whether these people are friends, family, acquaintances or total strangers is unimportant. It's a warm, positive feeling. When in English you can say 'I had a good time', in Dutch you can say Het was gezellig or Ik vond het gezellig.

History updated 2018-10-25

These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

Dutch history is pretty exciting! It's full of wars, exploration, (state-sponsored) piracy, slavery, oppression and drama. The sentences that you will find in this skill offer only a tiny slice of the rich history of the Low Lands. Note that Dutch people are very proud of their history, yet they do not like to be confronted by the uncomfortable bits. There is still a lot of denial.

Grammar tip: when talking about historical events, we typically use the simple past tense!

(Dutch) Holidays updated 2018-10-25

These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

Dutch Geography, Landmarks & Infrastructure updated 2019-02-20

These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

Dutch Baking, Food and Snacks updated 2019-02-20

These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.

Belgian Culture updated 2019-02-20

These last five skills contain a lot of words that are specific to the Netherlands and Belgium. They are supposed to teach you a bit about the Dutch and Belgian cultures, rather than the language. We advise you to keep Wikipedia and/or a map handy so that you can easily find out what these sentences are about.


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