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Dutch Summary:
The Most Important Pronunciation, Spelling and Grammar

On this one page I brought together short versions of the most important Dutch pronunciation, spelling and grammar rules from my website. Find links to the pages that offer a more complete treatment and more examples at the end of the paragraphs and chapters. I also incorporated many common problems with Dutch that I see and hear in students. Read or study the page as a refresher, for quick reference or maybe as a first introduction to Dutch rules.
See also: Common Problems with Dutch

Of course you also need words and phrases. The most useful selection for your active vocabulary are the about 1000 words of my Dutch version of Basic English - but it is just a list of words, maybe a bit boring. My Pictures Dictionary offers a more entertaining learning experience. The Easy Dutch pages offer another approach to vocabulary and pronunciation. See also: Vocabulary Overview

Learning Dutch, you could study the many useful resource pages on my website according to your own plan, or you could follow my suggestions on the Learning Dutch? page. There is also a series of lessons, starting with Lesson 1.

The Article: 'De' and 'Het' Words

As you probably have noted, the definite article ('the') in Dutch can be either 'de' click to hear or 'het' click to hear ('het' is often shortened to " 't " click to hear - note the vowel change.)
Dutchmen usually almost 'automatically' know the article of a word because they hear and see the words so often, but it's difficult for foreign students.
All plurals take 'de' and all diminutives (words ending in '-je') are 'het'- words, but I think those are the only useful rules there are. Otherwise, you'll just have to memorize which words take 'het.' A majority of Dutch words take 'de' (probably 60 or 65%) so in case of doubt use 'de.'
The indefinite article ('a') for both 'de' and 'het' words is een click to hear - often (and more phonetically correct) written as 'n. For emphasis you can say één click to hear ('one.')

Pronunciation and Spelling

The page mainly focuses on differences with English. If you speak another language than English, it may be other sounds that pose a challenge.

'Long' and 'Short' Vowels

Dutch vowels can be 'long' or 'short.' It's a traditional name - the difference is actually more a matter of tone.
short A click to hear
long A click to hear
short E click to hear
long E click to hear
'voiceless E' ('schwa') click to hear
short I click to hear
long I (IE) click to hear
short O click to hear
long O click to hear
short U click to hear
long U click to hear
Dutch 'long A' sounds to me like the A in 'Chicago.'
Dutch 'voiceless E' sounds exactly the same as Dutch 'short U.' more later
There is no sound in English like Dutch 'long U.' more later
In Dutch, Y is almost always pronounced as Dutch I, either long or short.
Vowels are very often represented by other letters in English - more below. For instance, Dutch 'long E' sounds like English A with silent E, and the sound of English EE is like Dutch IE/'long I.'
More: Lesson 1 - Easy Dutch

The Spelling of 'Long' and 'Short' Vowels

See and hear examples:
ma click to hear
('Mom')
man click to hear
('a man, a male')
maan click to hear
('moon')
vlo click to hear 2
('flea')
vlot click to hear 2 3
('raft')
vloot click to hear 2
('fleet')
vlot ('raft') - think of: to float'
vloot ('fleet' - a set of ships)

The Dutch way to represent 'long' and 'short' vowels in writing is fairly systematic and logical. Please take a moment to study the rules.

mannen click to hear 2 3 (man-nen)
('men, males')
manen click to hear 2 (ma-nen)
('moons')
vlotten click to hear 2 3 (vlot-ten)
('rafts')
vloten click to hear 2 (vlo-ten)
('fleets')

See and hear examples:

kasteel click to hear (kas-teel)
castle
reactie click to hear (re-ac-tie)
reaction
creatie click to hear 2 (cre-a-tie)
creation
havik click to hear 2 (ha-vik)
hawk
mening click to hear (me-ning)
opinion - think of: 'meaning'
hotel click to hear (ho-tel)
hotel
merrie click to hear 2 3 (mer-rie)
mare
taktiek click to hear 2 (tak-tiek)
tactics
concert click to hear (con-cert)
concert
sentimenteel click to hear 2 (sen-ti-men-teel)
sentimental
uniek click to hear 2 (u-niek)
unique
welkom click to hear 2 (wel-kom)
welcome
duel click to hear 2 (du-el)
duel
lening click to hear (le-ning)
loan
experiment click to hear (ex-pe-ri-ment)
experiment
cursus click to hear (cur-sus)
course, class
paspoort click to hear (pas-poort)
passport
olifant click to hear (o-li-fant)
elephant
modern click to hear 2 (mo-dern)
modern
combinatie click to hear 2 (com-bi-na-tie)
combination
piano click to hear (pi-a-no)
piano
alcohol click to hear 2 (al-co-hol)
alcohol
monnik click to hear 2 (mon-nik)
monk
moment click to hear (mo-ment)
moment
politiek click to hear (po-li-tiek)
politics; political

Much More: I've written about this quite often, for instance on these pages: Vowels Compared - Lesson 3 - Dutch Pronunciation Reference Page

'Voiceless,' 'Unstressed' E ('schwa') click to hear - The Elephant in The Room

In the examples above I have carefully avoided them, but like English, Dutch has many 'voiceless, unstressed' E's. As I said above, a single vowel can be either 'long' or 'short' - but a single E can also be 'voiceless, unstressed' click to hear - also called the 'schwa.' As the name implies, E's that don't have emphasis in a word are 'unstressed.' The suffix and prefix rules below are useful, but there are more 'voiceless E's' and they may be hard to identify, especially in compound words. I'm afraid it's one of the biggest problems for foreign students of Dutch. examples:
aarde click to hear (the earth; soil, dirt) - ziekte click to hear (sickness, disease) - eerste click to hear 2 (first) - groente click to hear (vegetable(s) - think green)
bevrijding click to hear (liberation - 'freeing') - gevecht click to hear (fight, battle) - geheel click to hear (whole; complete)
geluid click to hear (sound - think of: 'loud') - verlies click to hear (loss) - binnen click to hear 2 (inside)
hamer click to hear (hammer) - zomer click to hear (Summer) - winter click to hear (Winter) - appel click to hear (apple) - nagel click to hear (nail - human, animal)
moeder click to hear (mother) - vader click to hear (father) - dochter click to hear (daughter) - zusje click to hear (sister)
Nederland click to hear 2 (Holland, The Netherlands) - gebroken click to hear (broken, cracked) - gedachte click to hear (thought) - geboorte click to hear (birth)

Much More: Lesson 4 - Dutch Pronunciation

Dutch Sounds Not Found in English

There are a few sounds in Dutch that are not found in English. If you didn't grow up with these sounds I'm afraid it will be difficult to pronounce them correctly, or even to recognize them ->>. Listen closely to what I say and try to repeat. It may be a good idea to record yourself and listen back to it or to ask a friend to listen to you and compare with my pronunciation.
CH = G click to hear "like (softly) clearing your throat" - it is like J in European Spanish and there is a sound like it in Hebrew, Arabic and Persian.
To Dutchmen CH and G are not entirely identical, but the difference is very slight. Students shouldn't worry about it.
lach click to hear (laugh) - zacht click to hear (soft) - wacht click to hear (wait!) - nacht click to hear (night) - dag click to hear 2 (day; goodbye) - gast click to hear 2 (guest)
lachen click to hear 2 (to laugh) ->> - vlaggen click to hear 2 (flags) - more examples: CH - G
EI = IJ click to hear The sound is somewhere "between FATE and FIGHT" - hear Dutch feit click to hear ('fact.')
To avoid confusion, it should clearly be different from Dutch 'long E' click to
    hear - if you can't say it in the Dutch way, say it like English 'I.'
Hear and compare: mees / meis / maïs click to hear 2 - mees click to hear (a bird) - meis click to hear ("girl" - slang) - maïs click to hear ('corn')
Also compare: haai click to hear (shark) / hij click to hear (he) - baai click to hear (bay) / bij click to hear (bee; at, near) - taai click to hear (tough) / tij click to hear (tide)
ijs click to hear (ice) - vrij click to hear (free) - rij click to hear 2 (row, line, queue) - prijs click to hear 2 (price) - pijn click to hear (pain') - stijl click to hear (style)
trein click to hear (train) - leider click to hear (leader) - eind click to hear 2 (end) - vallei click to hear (valley) - meisje click to hear (girl - think of: 'maiden') - more examples: EI - IJ
EU click to hear Like in French deux click to hear ('2') and in German schön click to hear 2 3 ('beautiful') and the writer Goethe click to hear
deur click to hear 2 (door) - neus click to hear (nose) - heup click to hear (hip - body part) - nerveus click to hear 2 (nervous)
kleur click to hear 2 (color) - breuk click to hear 2 (break, crack) - leugen click to hear (lie, untruth) - more examples
UI click to hear like in French l'oeil click to hear ('the eye')
huis click to hear 2 (house) - uit click to hear 2 (out) - duim click to hear 2 (thumb) - suiker click to hear (sugar) - zuid click to hear 2 (South) - buiten click to hear 2 (outside) - more examples
UU click to hear
(long U)
like in French cru or dur click to hear and in German Hügel and Muesli click to
 hear
vuur click to hear 2 (fire) - puur click to hear 2 'pure' - zuur click to hear 2 (sour; acid) - duur click to hear (expensive - think of: 'dear') - juli click to hear (July) - more examples
Now It Can Be Said - Many personal pronouns have both an IJ and a 'voiceless E' variety. The IJ-form is used for emphasis. ->>
The 'voiceless E' is sometimes represented by an apostrophe.
mijn click to hear
m'n click to hear
my
mij click to hear
me click to hear
me
jij click to hear
je click to
    hear also: 'your'
you (singular, informal)
zij click to hear
ze click to hear
she
zijn click to hear
z'n click to hear
his
wij click to hear
we click to hear
we
zij click to hear
ze click to hear
they
personal pronouns
Much More: Lesson 2 (diphthongs) - Easy Dutch - Dutch Pronunciation Reference Page

Dutch Sounds Represented by Different Letters in English

Next to the vowels that are represented by other letters, some Dutch consonants also have a rather different pronunciation.
Consonants
Dutch J is like English Consonant Y. A sound like English J is rarely found in Dutch.

Jan click to hear ('John') - ja click to hear 5 (yes) - jaar click to hear (year) - jakkes! click to hear (yikes, yuck!)
Dutch NG is always pronounced as NG in English THING, and NEVER as NG in DANGER or LINGER
ding click to hear (thing) - ringvinger click to hear (ring finger) - honger click to hear (hunger) - zanger click to hear (singer' - male) - brengen click to hear 2 'to bring' >>
Dutch R doesn't 'roll' like English R and is formed further back in the mouth
er click to hear (~there) - rijst click to hear (rice) - borst click to hear (breast) - drie click to hear (3) - gras click to hear (grass) - droog click to hear (dry) - broer click to hear 2 (brother)
Dutch W is formed with the upper teeth about halfway on the lower lip, not like in English with lips rounded as for a kiss
wakker click to hear (awake) - waarde click to hear (worth, value) - werk click to hear (work) - wens click to hear (wish) - wind click to hear (wind) - woord click to hear (word)
wijn click to hear 2 (wine) - kwart click to hear (quarter, ¼) - zwaan click to hear (swan) >> - zwaard click to hear (sword) >>

Vowels and Diphthongs
Just a few examples. English spelling is too irregular for a good comparison of vowels. See and hear Vowels above.
Dutch AU and OU are like OU in English OUCH! or OW in English NOW
au! click to hear (ouch!) - dauw click to hear (dew) - klauw click to hear 2 (claw) - saus click to hear 2 (sauce) - nauw click to hear (narrow)
nou click to hear (now) - jouw click to hear (your - informal, singular) - oud click to hear (old) - koud click to hear (cold) - zout click to hear 2 (salt)
Dutch 'long E' sounds like English A with silent E
English 'bake' sounds like Dutch beek click to hear (a brook) - English 'vale' sounds like Dutch veel click to hear ('much, many')
Dutch 'long I'/IE sounds like English EE
zie! click to hear (see!) - zien click to hear (to see) - diep click to hear 2 (deep) - bier click to hear (beer) - koffie click to hear (coffee) - flexibel click to hear 2 (flexible)
Dutch IEUW is like EW in English NEW
nieuw click to hear (new) - nieuws click to hear (news) - Dat is goed nieuws. click to hear (That's good news.)
Dutch OE is like English OO (and Dutch OO is like most English OE's)
voet click to hear 2 (foot) - voedsel click to hear (food) - boek click to hear (book) - goed click to hear 2 (good; well) - bloesem click to hear (blossom) - schoen click to hear (shoe)
More: Lesson 8 (consonants) - Lesson 1 (vowels) - Lesson 2 (diphthongs) - Lesson 10 (various) - Easy Dutch - Dutch Pronunciation Reference Page

Exceptions to Phonetic Spelling

Dutch spelling is rather phonetic. There is usually just one way to pronounce a letter and each sound is usually represented by just one letter. Almost all exceptions like the 'long' or 'short' single vowels are logical and according to simple rules. And very few letters are dropped.

As I mentioned at the top of the page, the indefinite article een click to hear ('a') is pronounced with 'voiceless, unstressed E' click to hear and NOT with the 'long E' click to hear that you would expect from the spelling. Often it's more phonetically correct written as " 'n " click to hear
Double consonants are not pronounced 'long' or with a pause in between. Double consonants usually only indicate that a preceding single vowel is 'short.'

'A' unexpectedly 'short.' When the stress is on another syllable, an 'A' in the first syllable is often 'short' - while according to the spelling rules it should be 'long' (followed by one consonant and another vowel)
familie click to hear (family, relatives) - katoen click to hear (cotton) - kwaliteit click to hear 2 (quality) - manier click to hear (manner, way of doing) - paniek click to hear (panic)
papier click to hear 2 - (paper - material) - paraplu click to hear (umbrella) - kanaal click to hear (channel; canal) - kapot click to hear (broken, not working)
B and D at the end of words are pronounced as P and T respectively:
ik heb click to hear (I have) - ik had click to hear (I had)
Only at the end of words - in other positions B and D are like in English:
hebben click to hear (to have) - midden click to hear (middle) - wij hadden click to hear 2 (we had)
C is pronounced either as S or as K - according to the same rules as in English:
- as K before A, O, U and consonants:
compleet click to hear (complete) - contact click to hear (contact, touch) - correct click to hear (correct, right) - structuur click to hear (structure) - collega click to hear (colleague)
- as S before E, I, IJ and Y:
cel click to hear 2 (cell) - centrum click to hear (center) - cirkel click to hear (circle) - precies click to hear (precisely, exactly) - citroenen click to hear (lemons)
cijfer click to hear (number, figure) - cyclus click to hear (cycle) - cylinder click to hear (cylinder) - centimeter click to hear (centimeter)
accent click to hear 2 3 (accent) - succes click to hear 2 (succes)
H after T is not pronounced - except in compound words
thee click to hear (tea) - theorie click to hear 2 (theory) - thermometer click to hear (thermometer) - apotheker click to hear 2 (pharmacist) - Thijs click to hear Theo click to hear (boys' names)
- but:
witheet (wit-heet) click to hear 2 ([white] red-hot)
The I in the -IG ending click to hear is pronounced as 'voiceless E'
mistig click to hear 2 (misty, foggy) - dorstig click to hear 2 (thirsty) - zonnig click to hear (sunny) - bezig click to hear 2 (busy with) - zondig click to hear (sinful)
The I in the -ISCH ending click to hear is pronounced as English EES (Dutch IES)
kritisch click to hear 2 (critical - comments) - komisch click to hear 2 (comical, funny) - logisch click to hear (logical) - medisch click to hear (medical) >>
cynisch click to hear 2 (cynical) - elektrisch click to hear (electrical) >>
The IJ in the -LIJK ending click to hear 2 is pronounced as 'voiceless E'
vriendelijk click to hear (friendly, kind) - vrijelijk click to hear (freely, liberally) - belachelijk click to hear 2 ('laughable' - ridiculous) - natuurlijk click to hear ('naturally' - of course)
Dutch SCHR is pronounced as SR - the CH is dropped.
schroef click to hear (screw) - schroeven click to hear (screws) - schrapen click to hear 2 (to scrape) - schril click to hear 2 (shrill)
The single U in 'uw' is always long: 'Uw' click to hear ('your' - polite)
sluw click to hear 2 (sly, cunning) - schuw click to hear (extremely shy) - ruw click to hear 2 (rough) - zwaluw click to hear (swallow - a bird) - schaduw click to hear (shadow) - juweel click to hear 2 (jewel)
Dutch W before R is pronounced as V - WR is pronounced as VR
wrak click to hear (wreck) - scheepswrak click to hear (sunken, wrecked ship) - wrat click to hear 2 (wart) - wrijven click to hear 2 (to rub) - wrijving click to hear 2 (friction)

More: Lesson 10 - Dutch Pronunciation Reference Page - Easy Dutch

Plurals

In Dutch, the plural gets either an -S or an -EN ending; there are some special cases like kind/kinderen click to hear ('child/children') and a few very common words have a vowel change in the plural, like weg / wegen click to hear ('way, road'/'roads') and pad/paden click to hear ('path'/'paths') - I recommend you read through the list of those words >>
Most one-syllable words have an -EN ending:
wiel click to hear 2 / wielen click to hear (wheel/wheels) - hand click to hear / handen click to hear (hand/hands)
while most longer, modern words and words ending in a syllable with 'voiceless, unstressed E' click to hear ('schwa') have an -S ending:
koekje click to hear / koekjes click to hear (cookie/cookies) - vogel click to hear 2 / vogels click to hear 2 (bird/birds (think of: 'fowl')
When a word ends in a single or double vowel followed by a single consonant, adding an -E ending will cause spelling changes.
- In case of a single vowel, the consonant will be doubled.
- A double vowel will become a single vowel.
Adding an -E (or -EN, -ER etc.) ending will move the last consonant of a word to the new syllable created by that ending.
- A previously double 'long' vowel will now be written as a single vowel, because it is now in an 'open' syllable. According to Dutch spelling/pronunciation rules, a single vowel in an 'open' syllable is 'long.' *
- To keep a single vowel 'short' a previously single final consonant of the word will be doubled, leaving one at the end of the now before-last syllable and 'closing' it. Dutch spelling/pronunciation rules say a single vowel in a closed syllable is 'short.'
See and hear the examples:
maan click to hear / manen (ma-nen) click to hear - man click to hear / mannen (man-nen) click to hear - (manen click to hear 'moons' - mannen click to hear 'men')
vloot click to hear 2 / vloten (vlo-ten) click to hear 2 - vlot click to hear 2 3 / vlotten (vlot-ten) click to hear 2 3 rafts - (vloten click to hear 2 'fleets' (sets of ships) - vlotten click to hear 2 3 'rafts')
Diphthongs (and IE) are always 'long,' so there is no need for a spelling change
boek click to hear / boeken click to hear (book/books) - dijk click to hear / dijken click to hear (levee, dike/levees) - duin click to hear / duinen click to hear (dune/dunes) - rivier click to hear / rivieren click to hear (river/rivers)
When adding an -E ending to words ending in more than one consonant, usually one or more are left to keep the syllable at the end of the original word 'closed,' so there are no vowel changes:
krant click to hear / kranten click to hear (newspaper/newspapers - think of: current events) - maand / maanden click to hear - (month/months) - vuist / vuisten click to hear 2 (fist/fists)
Dutch words 'cannot' end in V or Z. The Dutch mouth is not used to it. Words that have a root ending in V or Z will change it to F or S at the end of a word. (Some English words also have this F/V shift.)
hoef / hoeven click to hear 2 (hoof/hooves) - dief / dieven click to hear 2 (thief/thieves) - duif / duiven click to hear (dove, pigeon/doves)
huis / huizen click to hear (house/houses) - neus click to hear / neuzen click to hear 2 (nose/noses) - kaas click to hear 2 / kazen click to hear (cheese/cheeses)

Much More: The Spelling of 'Long' and 'Short' Vowels see above - Dutch Plurals

Adjectives and Adverbs

In dictionaries and word lists you will find the root form of adjectives, which is also the adverb, but in the real world adjectives almost always have an E ('voiceless, unstressed E' click to hear) ending. Only not for 'het'-words after 'een' ('a') = 'één' ('one') - 'geen' ('no, zero') or no article.
De appel is groen - de groene appel - een groene appel - het groene appeltje - een groen appeltje click to hear
De lange man - een lange man - het lange boek - een lang boek - de baby slaapt lang click to hear
- But don't worry too much about it when you start speaking Dutch, you won't go wrong very often when you say all adjectives with an 'e.'.
adjective noun
The adjective is always placed before the noun it adds meaning to.
Adding the -E ending will lead to similar spelling changes as explained in plurals above. Just some examples:









rood / rode
click to hear
geel / gele
click to hear
wit / witte
click to hear 2 3
groen / groene
click to hear
blauw / blauwe
click to hear 2
bruin / bruine
click to hear
paars / paarse
click to hear
zwart / zwarte
click to hear
grijs / grijze
click to hear
hoog / hoge click to hear (high) - groot / grote click to hear 2 (large, tall, big, great) - breed / brede click to hear 2 (wide - think of 'broad') - heel / hele click to hear 2 (whole; very)
vol / volle click to hear (full, whole) - los / losse click to hear 2 (loose) - dik / dikke click to hear 2 3 (fat' - think of: 'thick') - dun / dunne click to hear 2 (skinny, thin)
kort / korte click to hear (short) - lang / lange click to hear (long, tall) - licht / lichte click to hear (light) - vals / valse click to hear 2 false
barbaars / barbaarse click to hear (barbaric) - gevreesd / gevreesde click to hear (feared, dreaded) - Vlaams click to hear / Vlaamse click to hear 2 (Flemish)
lief / lieve click to hear (dear, sweet - think of: 'love') - wijs / wijze click to hear 2 wise, sensible, prudent

A feature not explained above in plurals are endings in a syllable with 'voiceless E' (like -ER) or with that sound (like -IG and -LIJK.) 'Voiceless E' is not at risk of becoming 'long' or 'short' so there are no other spelling changes than adding the -E ending.
beter / betere click to hear (better) - ander / andere click to hear 2 (other) - donker / donkere click to hear (dark) - lekker / lekkere click to hear 2 (enjoyable - think of 'like')
mager / magere click to hear 2 (skinny, thin - think of: 'meager') - vriendelijk / vriendelijke click to hear (kind, friendly) - heilig click to hear / heilige click to hear (holy)

Much More: Lesson 5 - Lesson 11 - Colors, Materials and Examples - A Collection of Adjectives and Adverbs

Verbs

Dutch verbs have more forms than English verbs, but the spelling is more regular and you may find many similarities with English.

The Verb Stem

Dutch infinitives almost always end in -EN. Remove that -EN to get the stem of the verb. The conjugations of the verb start with the stem.
The spelling rules for long and short vowels >> and for the V/F and Z/S shift >> apply throughout.
English infinitive remove -en stem comment
(to think) denken denk denk following the basic rule (two consonants)
(to ride; to drive) rijden rijd rijd following the basic rule (diphthong)
(to walk) lopen lop loop long vowel
(to run) rennen renn ren short vowel
(to remain) blijven blijv blijf no V at the end of a word
(to read) lezen lez lees Z/S shift -and- long vowel
More: Lesson 9

The Simple Present

Personal Pronouns Simple Present Model example long vowel example short vowel example two consonants

(I ) ik click to hear
(you - singular informal) jij click to hear / je click to
  hear
(he ) hij click to hear
(we ) wij click to hear / we click to hear
(you - plural informal) jullie click to hear
(they ) zij click to hear / ze click to hear
(you - polite) U click to hear
more about personal pronouns

ik STEM
jij STEM+t
hij STEM+t
wij INFINITIVE (=STEM+en)
jullie INFINITIVE (=STEM+en)
zij INFINITIVE (=STEM+en)
U STEM+t
vragen
ik vraag
jij vraagt
hij vraagt
wij vragen
jullie vragen
zij vragen
U vraagt
click to hear 2
(to ask)
(I ask)
(you ask)
(he asks)
(we ask)
(you ask)
(they ask)
(you ask)
zeggen
ik zeg
jij zegt
hij zegt
wij zeggen
jullie zeggen
zij zeggen
U zegt
click to hear
(to say)
(I say)
(you say)
(he says)
(we say)
(you say)
(they say)
(you say)
denken
ik denk
jij denkt
hij denkt
wij denken
jullie denken
zij denken
U denkt
click to hear
(to think)
(I think)
(you think)
(he thinks)
(we think)
(you think)
(they think)
(you think)

Third person singular alternates zij click to hear / ze click to hear ('she') and het click to hear / 't click to hear ('it') will take the same endings as hij ('he.')

Much More: The Simple Present Tense: Lesson 9 - Dutch Verbs - The Most Common Dutch Verbs
The Complete Conjugation of about 60 Common Dutch Verbs

The Simple Past

In the simple past tense, Dutch verbs just have two forms: one for the singular and one for the plural, but there are three types of verbs:
strong verbs weak verbs
" 't kofschip" type
weak verbs
ending in other letters
ik STRONG-PAST-STEM
jij STRONG-PAST-STEM
hij STRONG-PAST-STEM
wij STRONG-PAST-STEM+en
jullie STRONG-PAST-STEM+en
zij STRONG-PAST-STEM+en
U STRONG-PAST-STEM
ik STEM+te
jij STEM+te
hij STEM+te
wij STEM+ten
jullie STEM+ten
zij STEM+ten
U STEM+te
ik STEM+de
jij STEM+de
hij STEM+de
wij STEM+den
jullie STEM+den
zij STEM+den
U STEM+de
(I )
(you - singular informal)
(he )
(we )
(you - plural informal)
(they )
(you - polite)
strong verb strong verb strong verb 't kofschip verb other verb
vragento ask zeggento say denkento think hopento hope halento get, bring in
vragen
ik vroeg
jij vroeg
hij vroeg
wij vroegen
jullie vroegen
zij vroegen
U vroeg
click to hear
(to ask)
(I asked)
(you asked)
(he asked)
(we asked)
(you asked)
(they asked)
(you asked)

ik zei
jij zei
hij zei
wij zeiden
jullie zeiden
zij zeiden
U zei
click to hear

(I said)
(you said)
(he said)
(we said)
(you said)
(they said)
(you said)

ik dacht
jij dacht
hij dacht
wij dachten
jullie dachten
zij dachten
U dacht
click to hear 2

(I thought)
(you thought)
(he thought)
(we thought)
(you thought)
(they thought)
(you thought)

ik hoopte
jij hoopte
hij hoopte
wij hoopten
jullie hoopten
zij hoopten
U hoopte
click to hear

I hoped
you hoped
he hoped
we hoped
you hoped
they hoped
you hoped

ik haalde
jij haalde
hij haalde
wij haalden
jullie haalden
zij haalden
U haalde
click to hear

I got
you got
he got
we got
you got
they got
you got
The most common verbs are often the most irregular. Eventually, you'll have to memorize the forms of the common strong verbs. You can find links to my lists below, but there is also a helpful page to start with of verbs that are somewhat similar to English verbs: Easy Dutch 3.

Much More: The Simple Past Tense: Lesson 12 - Dutch Verbs
The Most Common Dutch Verbs - A List of Strong Verbs - 't kofschip-exemption
The Complete Conjugation of about 60 Common Dutch Verbs

Hebben en Zijn - to Have and to Be

The most common verbs are often the most irregular.
hebben
ik heb
jij hebt
hij heeft
wij hebben
jullie hebben
zij hebben
U heeft
click to hear
(to have)
(I have)
(you have)
(he has)
(we have)
(you have)
(they have)
(you have)


ik had
jij had
hij had
wij hadden
jullie hadden
zij hadden
U had
click to hear

(I had)
(you had)
(he had)
(we had)
(you had)
(they had)
(you had)

zijn
ik ben
jij bent
hij is
wij zijn
jullie zijn
zij zijn
U bent
click to hear
(to be)
(I am)
(you are)
(he is)
(we are)
(you are)
(they are)
(you are)


ik was
jij was
hij was
wij waren
jullie waren
zij waren
U was
click to hear

(I was)
(you were)
(he was)
(we were)
(you were)
(they were)
(you were)



(you - singular)


(you - plural)

(you - polite)

'U hebt' click to hear is also said.

Do note that the simple past tense of zijn (was/waren) has a 'short' A in the singular, but a 'long' A in the plural - almost all strong verbs with A in the past tense have that - hebben (had/hadden) is a rare exception.

Much More: 'Zijn' Sentence Examples - 'Hebben' Sentence Examples

The Perfect Tense

Like in English, the perfect tense uses the auxiliary verb hebben click to hear ('to have') and a past participle - but a minority of verbs (mostly verbs of motion) use zijn click to hear ('to be.') You'll have to memorize which verbs take zijn.
The past participle is formed by adding a prefix GE- to the verb stem and adding an ending, like -EN for most strong verbs, -T for 't kofschip-verbs and -D for other verbs - but there are many irregularities with the past participle.
D and T at the end of words are both pronounced as T, so in speaking 't kofschip or not doesn't matter, but when the past participle is used as an adjective it usually gets an -E ending, and then D and T have a different pronunciation.
Unlike in English, Dutch doesn't differtiate sharply between simple past and perfect present tenses. They're usually interchangeable.
ik heb gehad click to hear
ik had gehad click to hear 2
I have had
I had had
ik ben geweest click to  hear
ik was geweest click to hear 2
I have been
I had been
ik heb gegeten click to hear
ik heb gedronken click to hear
ik ben gegaan click to hear
I have eaten
I have drunk
I have gone
Verbs of motion often take zijn ('to be') as the auxiliary when it's about the destination and hebben ('to have') when it's about the time spent.
Ik ben naar Veenendaal gefietst click to hear 2
Ik heb een uur gefietst click to hear 2
I rode a bike to Veenendaal
I have ridden a bike for an hour
Much More: The Perfect Tense: Lesson 12 - Dutch Verbs
The Most Common Dutch Verbs - A List of Strong Verbs - 't kofschip-exemption
See also: Word Order: Secondary Verbs to The End of The Line

The Passive Voice

In the passive voice, the object is passively subjected to an activity: The book is read - or - The house was built. For the passive voice Dutch uses the auxiliary verb worden click to hear 2 with (like in English) the past participle of the verb.
active: Ik verf het huis click to hear
passive: Het huis wordt geverfd click to hear
passive: Het huis wordt door mij geverfd click to hear
passive: Ik word geschopt door Jan click to hear
passive: Hij werd gemarteld click to hear 2
I'm painting the house
The house is being painted
The house is being painted by me
I am kicked by John
He was tortured
ik word
jij wordt
hij wordt
wij worden
jullie worden
zij worden
U wordt
click to hear
(I am)
(you are)
(he is)
(we are)
(you are)
(they are)
(you are)

word ik?
word jij?
wordt hij?
worden wij?
worden jullie?
worden zij?
wordt U?
click to hear
(am I?)
(are you?)
(is he?)
(are we?)
(are you?)
(are they?)
(are you?)

ik werd
jij werd
hij werd
wij werden
jullie werden
zij werden
U werd
click to hear
(I was)
(you were)
(he was)
(we were)
(you were)
(they were)
(you were)


(you - singular, informal)


(you - plural, informal)

(you - polite)
Do note that word and wordt are pronounced exactly the same. ik word click to hear 2 / hij wordt click to hear 2
English uses 'to be' as the auxiliary verb for the passive voice; Dutch uses zijn ('to be') for the perfect tense of some verbs. It is confusing when comparing English and Dutch or looking at Dutch with English translations. To make it even more complicated, Dutch leaves out the past participle or 'worden' in the perfect tense of the passive voice.
ik heb geschopt click to hear
ik ben geschopt geworden click to hear 2
I have kicked
I have been kicked
Ik word gevraagd click to hear 2
Ik werd gevraagd click to hear 2
Ik heb gevraagd click to hear 2
Ik ben gevraagd geworden click to hear 2
I am asked
I was asked
I have asked - I have put a question
I have been asked - to perform a task, or fill a position or job
Hij wordt gemarteld click to hear 2
Hij werd gemarteld click to hear 2
Hij is gemarteld geworden click to hear 2
He is (being) tortured
He was tortured
He has been tortured
Ik heb gegeten click to hear
The ghost of a cow or pig could say: Ik ben gegeten geworden click to hear
I have eaten
I was eaten
'Worden' can also mean 'to become' in the sense of change or development:
't Wordt donker click to hear
Wat is er van hem geworden? click to hear 2
It is getting dark
Whatever became of him?
Much More about The Passive Voice: Lesson 13 - Dutch Verbs

The Continuous

In English, you often find the 'continuous' or 'present and past progressive tense' [... is verb-ing ...] to indicate an ongoing event or activity, where Dutch uses just a single, regular verb form.
For instance: 't regent click to hear 2 'it is raining'
't regende click to hear 2 'it was raining'
Dutch has other grammar figures to indicate an ongoing activity but they're not as common as the English continuous. Beginning students shouldn't worry about it.

For later study: Lesson 15 - Dutch Verbs

The Future Tense

For the future tense, Dutch uses the auxiliary verb zullen click to hear ('shall'/'will') with (like in English) the verb infinitive - and also like in English, gaan click to hear ('to go') is used as an informal future tense.
The 'past tense' of zullen is used for hypothetical statements and some polite questions.
ik zal
jij zult
hij zal
wij zullen
jullie zullen
zij zullen
U zult
click to hear
(I will/shall)
(you will)
(he will)
(we will/shall)
(you will)
(they will)
(you will)
zal ik?
zul jij?
zal hij?
zullen wij?
zullen jullie?
zullen zij?
zult U?
click to hear
(will/shall I?)
(will you?)
(will he?)
(will/shall we?)
(will you?)
(will they?)
(will you?)
ik zou
jij zou
hij zou
wij zouden
jullie zouden
zij zouden
U zou
click to hear
(I would)
(you would)
(he would)
(we would)
(you would)
(they would)
(you would)
ik ga
jij gaat
hij gaat
wij gaan
jullie gaan
zij gaan
U gaat
click to hear
(I go)
(you go)
(he goes)
(we go)
(you go)
(they go)
(you go)
ga ik?
ga jij?
gaat hij?
gaan wij?
gaan jullie?
gaan zij?
gaat U?
click to hear
(do I go ?)
(do you go ?)
(does he go ?)
(do we go?)
(do you go ?)
(do they go ?)
(do you go?)
ik ging
jij ging
hij ging
wij gingen
jullie gingen
zij gingen
U ging
click to hear 2
I went
you went
he went
we went
you went
they went
you went
Jij zal click to hear 2 and 'zal jij?' click to hear 2 are also correct. Note that there is no T in jij zal and hij zal.
Ik zal opschieten click to hear 2 I'll hurry
We zullen wel zien click to hear 2 We'll see
Hoe zal 't aflopen? click to hear How will it end?
Zullen we gaan zwemmen? click to hear Shall we go [swim] for a swim?
Wat zou U aanraden? click to hear 2 3 What would you recommend?
Niet wat je zou verwachten click to hear Not what you'd expect
Wat zou er gebeuren? click to hear 2 What would happen?
Het gaat regenen click to hear It's going to rain
Hij gaat 't proberen click to hear He's going to try [it]
Morgen gaat hij naar Den Haag click to hear 2 Tomorrow he's going to The Hague
Much More: Lesson 14 - Dutch Verbs

Suggestions, Commands

For suggestions and commands, Dutch uses the verb stem:
Luister! click to hear 2 Listen!
Vraag niet waarom click to hear Don't ask why
Zeg het voort click to hear 2 [Say it forth] Pass it on (the message)
Breng 't aan de kook click to hear 2 3
Laat 't twintig minuten koken click to hear 2 3
Kook de aardappels zeventien minuten click to hear
Bring it to a boil
[Let it boil] Keep it boiling for 20 minutes
Boil the potatoes for 17 minutes
Much More Imperative: Lesson 14 - Dutch Verbs

Splitting Verbs

Some Dutch compound verbs 'boldly' split in the simple present and simple past tense, for instance:
optillen
to lift
- ik til op
I lift
- wij tillen op
we lift
- ik tilde op
I lifted
- wij tilden op
we lifted
- ik heb opgetild click to hear >>
I have lifted
There is a group of verbs with 'inseparable prefixes' and in other compound verbs the prefixes sometimes split off, sometimes not. It looks to me like it depends on where the emphasis in the word is: the compound verbs that have the stress on the preposition do split up, while the compound verbs with the stress on the verb do not split up.
more: Lesson 12 - For later study: Compound Verbs in Conditional Sub-Sentences: Lesson 15

The Question Mode - Questions and The Second Person Singular

Turn the verb and subject around to make a statement sentence into a question.
't Is koud click to hear
Is 't koud? click to hear 2
It's cold
Is it cold?
Is er genoeg brood? click to hear 2 3
Er is genoeg brood click to hear 2
is there enough bread?
there is enough bread
Ben je ziek? click to hear 2
Ik ben ziek click to hear 2 3
Ik ben niet ziek click to hear 2 3
are you sick?
'I'm sick'
'I'm not sick'
In English, turning around verb and subject only 'works' with a few verbs like 'to be' (most other verbs use 'to do' as an auxiliary) - but in Dutch you can do this with all verbs.
Zie je 't verschil? click to hear 2 3 Do you see the difference?
Hoor je hoe stil 't is? click to hear 2 Do you hear how quiet it is?
Ga jij? click to hear 2
Ga je mee? click to hear
Ga je weg? click to hear 2
[Go you?] Are you going? (Like, to an event)
Are you coming along? (with us, with me)
Are you [going away] leaving?
Heb je een auto? click to hear Do you have a car?
Schijnt de zon? click to hear
Regent 't? click to hear
Schijnt de zon of regent 't? click to hear
Is the sun shining?
Is it raining?
Does the sun shine or is it raining?
De zon ging onder click to hear 2 3
Ging de zon onder? click to hear 2
The sun went down
Did the sun go donw?
Note that the T is dropped from the verb when it comes before the second person singular je/jij, like for instance in questions:
Wat zeg je? click to hear 2 3
Wat denk jij d'r van? click to hear 2
What [do] did you say? (informal) - (Dutch uses the present tense)
What do you think of it?
Many More Questions: Lesson13 - Lesson 14 - Word Order
'The more we learn, the more questions come up'

Word Order

In basic sentences, the word order in English and Dutch is the same, but in more complicated sentences, differences come up. For instance, when there is more than one verb, the secondary verbs are placed at the end of the line.

Simple Sentences: Subject and Verb

Very simple sentences can just be a subject and a verb

subject verb

Zij zingt. click to hear She sings.
De trein vertrok. click to hear 2 The train left.
Het concert begon. click to hear The concert started.
Varkens knorren. click to hear Pigs oink.
Note again that Dutch often uses just one verb where English uses the Continuous (.. is verb-ing ...)
De zon schijnt. click to hear The sun [shines] is shining.
De wind waait. click to hear A wind is blowing.
More Simple Sentences: Lesson 13 - Word Order - A Dutch Continuous: Lesson 15 - Dutch Verbs

Adding a Complement

Say something more about the verb by adding something like an adverb. Some grammarians call this part of the sentence a complement. The word order is the same as in English.

subject verb complement
't Regende hard. click to hear It was raining hard.
Hij is oud. click to hear He is old.
't Was koud. click to hear It was cold.
't Werd koud. click to hear It [became] turned cold.
De koffie is klaar. click to hear Coffee is ready.
't Is dringend. click to hear 2 It's urgent.
Zij zingt mooi. click to hear She sings beautifully.
Het duurt lang. click to hear It takes [long] a long time.
More Examples: Lesson 13 - Word Order

Adding an Object

Subject and verb can interact with an object. The word order is still the same as in English. But note small differences between Dutch and English.

subject verb object
Ik zei: "Nee." click to hear I said: "No."
Hij schopt de bal. click to hear He kicks the ball.
Ik hoor een vliegtuig. click to hear I hear a plane.
Zij leest een boek. click to hear She [reads] is reading a book.
Hij eet een appel. click to hear He [eats] is eating an apple.
Tijd is geld. click to hear 2 Time is money.
Hij drinkt bier. click to hear He [drinks] is drinking beer.
Hij drinkt een kopje thee. click to hear He [drinks] is having a cup of tea.
Zij is een zangeres. click to hear She is a [lady] singer.
Hij speelt gitaar. click to hear He plays the guitar.
Ik heb hoofdpijn. click to hear I have a headache.
More Examples: Lesson 13 - Word Order

The Indirect Object

Actually, there are two kinds of objects. The most common, and the one in the examples above, is called the 'direct object' in English. The second class of objects is called the 'indirect object.' It's usually found in sentences with verbs like 'to give' (geven click to hear 2), 'to say' (zeggen click to
  hear) and 'to tell' (vertellen click to hear), that describe someone receiving something, a transfer material or immaterial. Its usual position is right after the verb, before the direct object.

subject verb indirect object direct object
Jan geeft Piet een boek. click to hear Jan gives Piet a book.
Karel geeft Elly een ring. click to hear Karel gives [Elly a ring] a ring to Elly. (ring for finger)
Het is mij een genoegen .... click to hear [It is a pleasure to me ...] It is with pleasure that I ...
Het geeft de mensen hoop. click to hear It gives the people hope.
Ik vertel je de waarheid. click to hear I'm telling you the truth.
Ik geef Marietje bloemen. click to hear I'm giving Marietje flowers.

It may be easier and reduce confusion to use prepositions like 'to' (aan click to hear) or 'for' (voor click to hear 2) - and both Dutch and English place it after the direct object.

subject verb direct object indirect object with preposition

Jan geeft een boek aan Piet. click to hear Jan gives a book to Piet.
Ik geef bloemen aan Marietje. click to hear I'm giving flowers to Marietje.
Zij zingen een lied voor mij. click to hear 2 They are singing a song for me.
More Examples: Lesson 13

Combining Complement and Object

In sentences with both a complement and an object, English and Dutch have more than one rule for the word order, and those rules are not the same between the two languages. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to deduce and formulate the Dutch rules. Maybe the website of one of my esteemed colleagues can tell you. >>

1.
subject verb object complement
2.
subject verb complement object
Hij schopt de bal hard. click to hear He kicks the ball hard.
Hij schopt de bal heel hard. click to hear He kicks the ball very hard.
Hij verft het houten huis wit. click to hear 2 He is painting the wooden house white.
Honger maakt rauwe bonen zoet. click to hear 2 3 Hunger makes raw beans [taste] sweet.
Ik kende die mensen goed. click to hear 2 I knew those people well.
Hij verfde het huis snel. click to hear 2 He painted the house quickly.
Je spreekt goed Nederlands. click to hear 2 You speak Dutch well.
Hij speelt heel goed gitaar. click to hear 2 He plays the guitar very well.
Hij drinkt snel een biertje. click to hear 2 He is quickly drinking a beer.
Ik gaf haar snel een knipoogje. click to hear I quickly [gave her a wink]
winked at her.
Hij vertelde ons snel een paar mopjes. click to hear 2 He quickly told us a few jokes.
More Examples: Lesson 13

Negative Statements

Niet click to hear 2 ('not') - geen click to hear ('no' - zero quantity) - nee click to hear ('no' - opposite of 'yes')
The negatives niet and geen are used just like adverbs and adjectives. Dutch doesn't use 'to do' like English.
't Regent. click to hear 2 3
't Regent hard. click to hear 2
't Regent niet. click to hear
It is raining.
It is raining hard.
It is not raining.
Je kon heel ver zien. click to hear
Je kon niet ver zien. click to hear
You could see [very far] for miles.
[You couldn't see far] Visibility was low.
Er zijn groene tomaten. click to hear
Er zijn geen tomaten. click to hear 2
There are green tomatoes.
There are no tomatoes.
Er zijn geen bergen in Nederland. click to hear There are no mountains in Holland.
Ik heb geen ontbijt gehad. click to hear 2 I [had no breakfast] did not have breakfast.
Wel click to hear is sometimes used to amplify a positive - often translated in English with 'to do'
Er zijn geen bananen. click to hear
Er zijn wel sinaasappels. click to hear
There are no bananas.
[But] we do have oranges.
Ik heb 't niet gedaan click to hear
Ik heb 't wel gedaan click to hear
'I didn't do it'
'I did do it'
More Examples: Word Order

Secondary Verbs at the End of the Sentence

Dutch is notorious for putting some of the verbs at the end of the sentence.
Simple sentences have just one verb. It is called the 'working verb.' The 'working verb' changes with the subject: I am, you are, he is.
In Dutch, the verbs that are not the 'working verb,' like the past participle of the perfect tense or other verb forms like infinitives are usually put at the end of the sentence.

subject working verb (object) / (complement) other verbs
Hij gaat het proberen. click to hear He's going to try [it.]
't Had erger kunnen zijn. click to hear 2 It could have been worse.
We hebben de oorlog gewonnen. click to hear We have won the war.
Ik heb het raam opengedaan. click to hear I have opened the window.
Jan heeft Piet een boek gegeven. click to hear Jan has given Piet a book.
Ik was 't helemaal vergeten. click to hear I had forgotten all about it
Ik heb al m'n boeken verkocht. click to hear 2 I have sold all my books.
Jan heeft een boek aan Piet gegeven. click to hear 2 Jan has given a book to Piet.
Het brood is niet goed gerezen. click to hear 2 The bread didn't rise [well] properly.
Ik heb een paar jaar pianoles gehad. click to hear I have had piano lessons for a [couple of] few years.
Je kunt nog even blijven liggen. click to hear slow
Ik had willen blijven liggen. click to hear 2 3
You can [remain lying down] stay in bed for a little longer.
I would have liked to [remain lying down] stay in bed.
Ik wil niks verloren laten gaan. click to hear 2 I [want nothing] don't want anything to go to waste.
Ik heb moeten leren improviseren. click to hear 2 I've had to learn [to improvise] improvisation.
More Examples: Lesson 14 - Word Order

Time and Place

Time and place are usually put right after the working verb, time usually before place. I think in English place usually comes before time. Occasionally, Dutch place is put after the secondary verbs: I'll give some examples of that but the regular sequence is just as good, don't see it as an extra rule.

subject working verb (time) (place) (object) (complement) (other verbs)
Het regende gisteren. click to hear It was raining yesterday.
't Is koud buiten. click to hear It's cold outside.
Ik heb thuis gegeten. click to hear I [have eaten] had dinner at home.
Ik was gisteren ziek. click to hear I was sick yesterday.
Ik was gisteren bij de tandarts. click to hear I was at the dentist yesterday.
Ik ga morgen naar de kapper. click to hear I'm going [to the barber] to
get a haircut tomorrow.
We gaan morgen voetballen. click to hear We'll play soccer tomorrow.
We gaan overmorgen op reis click to hear We will [go on a journey] travel
the day after tomorrow.
Ik ga morgen bij m'n moeder eten. click to hear I'll have dinner at my mother's
house tomorrow.
Het heeft gisteren in Nederland geregend. click to hear Yesterday it rained in Holland.
Het heeft gisteren geregend in Nederland. click to hear 2 Yesterday it rained in Holland.
Het heeft gisteren in Nederland hard geregend. click to hear Yesterday it rained hard in Holland.
Hij heeft gisteren in Almelo een fiets gekocht. click to hear He's bought a bike in Almelo yesterday.
More Examples: Word Order
You can also start a sentence with a statement of time or place - but in Dutch that will change the word order, put the verb before the subject. See below

Questions, Commands and Suggestions

As mentioned before in the 'Verbs' section, in Dutch questions the active verb is placed before the subject.
In questions, commands and suggestions the verbs other than the working verb are also put at the end of the line.
The imperative is the verb stem. (The plural imperative is very unusual.)

working verb subject (object) (complement) (other verbs)
Heb je genoeg gedronken? click to hear 2 Did you drink enough?
Heb je lekker gegeten? click to hear Did you eat well, did you enjoy your meal?
Heb je 't leuk gehad? click to hear Did you enjoy yourself, did you have a good time?
Gaat 't hard regenen? click to hear Is it going to rain hard?
More Questions: Lesson 13 - Lesson 14 - Word Order
Ga meteen je huiswerk maken. click to hear Do your homework right away.
Moet je niet doen! click to hear [Don't do that!] Not a good idea to do that.
(Je moet stil zijn. click to hear You have to be quiet. >>)
More Commands and Suggestions: Lesson 14 - Word Order

Query Words

Query Words: Wie click to hear 2 (Who) -Wat click to hear (What) -Waar click to hear (Where) -Wanneer click to hear (When) -Hoe click to hear (How) -Waarom click to hear 2 (Why)
In questions with query words, the query word comes first, before the working verb - like in English. It is a question, so in Dutch you would expect the verb before the subject, but you could say the query words are very important subjects.

query word working verb subject (object) (complement) (other verbs)

Wie heeft de wedstrijd gewonnen? click to hear Who has won the match?
Wie zal dat betalen? click to hear 2 Who [will] is going to pay for that?
Wat is dat? click to hear What's that?
Wat is er aan de hand? click to hear What's [~on hand] going on?
Waar is de uitgang? click to hear Where is the exit?
Hoe heb je dat gedaan? click to hear How did you do that?
Hoe is 't afgelopen? click to hear
Hoe zal 't aflopen? click to hear
How did it end?
How will it end?
Waarom ben je boos? click to hear Why are you angry?
Waarom zijn de bananen krom? click to hear 2 Why are bananas not straight? (a rhetorical question)
More Examples: Lesson 14 - Word Order

The Sentence after A Statement of Time, Place or a Condition

When starting a sentence with a condition or a statement of time or place, the working verb is placed before the subject. This is a significant difference with English, where word order doesn't change in this kind of sentences. It may be a little difficult for foreign students, but getting this right will make your Dutch more authentic. It will be worth the time spent working on this.

statement of time, place or condition working verb subject (time) (place) (object) (complement) (other verbs)

Compare the place of the verb and the subject in the following Dutch and English lines:

Het is donker. click to hear 2
's Nachts is het donker. click to hear 2
Het werd donker. click to
  hear
En toen werd het donker. click to hear 2
It is dark.
At night it is dark.
It [became] got dark.
And then it got dark.
De zon ging onder. click to hear 2 3
's Avonds ging de zon onder. click to hear 2
The sun went down.
In the evening, the sun went down.
Nederland werd een koninkrijk in 1813. click to hear
In 1813 werd Nederland een koninkrijk. click to hear
Holland became a kingdom in 1813.
In 1813 Holland became a kingdom.
Het is vaak bewolkt in Nederland. click to hear
In Nederland is het vaak bewolkt. click to hear
It's often overcast in Holland.
In Holland, it's often overcast.
M'n vader was tweeëndertig toen de oorlog begon. click to hear
Toen de oorlog begon was m'n vader tweeëndertig. click to hear
My Dad was 32 when the war started.
When the war started, my Dad was 32.
More Examples: Lesson 15 - Word Order

Problematic 'Sub-Sentences' (Subordinate Clauses)

The time or place statement can be just a single word or a noun with an adjective. But it can also be a sub-sentence indicating a condition, starting with words like als click to hear ('if' and 'when') or omdat click to hear ('because.') If that sub-sentence is just a subject and a verb, it's in the regular order (subject followed by verb, just like in English) but if there is an object and/or a complement the word order in Dutch changes. Then the object and/or complement are usually placed between the subject and the verb. You could say it's because the complement or object give the most important information. Sub-sentences like this cannot stand on their own, they have to be part of a larger sentence.

condition word subject (complement) (object) working verb
Condition Words
('Conjunctions'?)
als click to hear ('if, when')
omdat click to hear ('because')
wanneer click to hear ('when' - indicating condition)
toen click to hear 2 ('when' - indicating time)
waar click to hear ('where')
hoe click to hear ('how')
wie click to hear 2 ('who')
wat click to hear ('what')
tenzij click to hear 2 ('unless')
alsof click to hear ('as if')

't Regent. click to hear
't Regent hard. click to hear 2
Ik blijf thuis. click to hear 2 3
It's raining.
There's a heavy rain.
I'm staying home.
Als 't regent wordt de wedstrijd afgelast. click to hear
Als 't hard regent blijf ik thuis. click to hear 2
If it rains the game will be canceled.
If there's heavy rain I'll stay home.

Ik eet vis. click to hear 2
Je moet wat drinken. click to hear 2
I'm [eating] having fish.
You should drink something.
Als je vis eet moet je ook wat drinken. click to hear 2 When you're having fish,
you should also drink something.

Het werd donker. click to hear
We gingen naar huis. click to hear 2
't Was donker. click to hear
It [became] turned dark.
We went home.
It was dark.
Toen het donker werd gingen we naar huis. click to hear
We gingen naar huis toen het donker werd. click to hear 2
Toen we naar huis gingen was het donker. click to hear 2
When it got dark we went home.
We went home when it got dark
When we went home it was dark.

[traffic light - red] [traffic light - orange] [traffic light - green]
stoplicht click to hear 2
rood click to hear red

oranje click to hear orange

groen click to hear green
Het licht is rood. click to hear 2 The light is red.
Het licht wordt groen. click to hear 2 The light is turning green.
Als het licht rood is moet je stoppen. click to hear 2 When the light is red you have to stop.
Als het licht rood wordt moet je stoppen. click to hear 2 When the light turns red you have to stop.
Als het licht groen is mag je doorrijden. click to hear 2 When the light is green you may drive on.
Toen het licht groen werd reden we weg. click to hear 2 When the light turned green we drove off.
Sometimes you can make your Dutch life easier by just using an 'and' sentence.
Het licht werd groen en we reden weg. click to hear 2 The light turned green and we drove off.
More Examples: Lesson 15 - Word Order

'That' Problem

Sub-sentences like in the chapter above can also be found at the end of a sentence, often after lines like 'They say that ...' or 'I think that ...'
Dutch 'dat' click to hear like English 'That' can mean three things, like in the (correct, but not very literary) sentence below:
Dat boek zegt dat hij dat gedaan heeft. click to hear 2 3 That book says that he did that.
Dat1 boek zegt dat2 hij dat3 gedaan heeft.
Dat1: pointing at, indicating which book
Dat2: what is said
Dat3: short for, referring to, replacing something mentioned before
This paragraph will be about sentences with dat2, which (if I'm informed right) is called a conjunction by grammarians. Occasionally, other words function like this dat - for instance omdat click to hear ('because') and other words from the 'condition words' and 'query words' lists.

'dat' subject (object) (complement) working verb

Het is te laat click to hear
Ik denk dat het te laat is. click to hear
It is too late.
I think it's too late.
Er is niet genoeg tijd. click to hear
Ze zeggen dat er niet genoeg tijd is. click to hear
There is not enough time.
They say there's not enough time.
Het is mooi weer. click to hear
Ik ben blij dat het mooi weer is. click to hear
It's nice weather.
I'm glad the weather is nice.
Ik ben blij dat de zon schijnt. click to hear
Ik ben blij als de zon schijnt. click to hear
I am glad that the sun is shining.
I am happy when the sun is shining.
Wie is hij? click to hear 2
Weet jij wie hij is? click to hear
Ik weet niet wie hij is. click to hear
Who is he?
Do you know who he is?

I don't know who he is.
Waar is de sleutel? click to hear 2 3
Weet jij waar de sleutel is? click to hear 2
Where is the key?
Do you know where the key is?
Hoe werkt 't? click to hear 2
Ik begrijp niet hoe het werkt. click to hear 2
How does it work?
I don't understand how it works.
Ik ben bang dat de avocado's nog niet rijp zijn. click to hear 2
Ik ben bang dat het nog niet klaar is. click to hear
I'm afraid [that] the avocados are not ripe yet.
I'm afraid [that] it is not ready yet.
Ik weet niet wat de oorzaak is. click to hear
Ik weet niet wat de reden is. click to hear
I don't know [what the cause is] what's causing it.
I don't know what the reason is.
Ik kan niet zien waar het lekt. click to hear I can't see where [it's leaking] the leak is.
More Examples: Word Order

Secondary Verbs in Sub-Sentences

Secondary verbs make lines of this kind even more problematic. You'll probably not need this or come across it very often, so feel free to return to it later.

If the secondary verb in lines like this is a past participle, Dutchmen often place the working verb after it - but it is not wrong to follow the general rule and place the working verb before the past participle.
If the secondary verb is an infinitive, or if there is a series of infinitives, the active verb is always placed before them, following the general rule.

condition word subject (complement) (object) past participle / working verb
Het heeft vannacht geregend. click to hear 2
Ik ben blij dat het vannacht geregend heeft. click to hear 2
It rained last night.
I am glad that it rained last night.
Ik ben blij dat je gekomen bent. click to hear 2 3 I'm glad that you have come.
Hij denkt dat ik het gedroomd heb. click to hear 2 He thinks (that) I [dreamed it] saw it in a dream.
Ik was kwaad omdat ik weer voor m'n rijexamen gezakt was. click to hear 2 I was angry because I failed the driving test again.
Ze bleven een week in Delft ... click to hear They stayed in Delft for a week ...
... want er was zoveel te zien click to hear 2
... omdat er zoveel te zien was click to hear
... because there was so much to see
condition word subject (complement) (object) working verbinfinitive or infinitives
Het was niet wat hij wilde horen. click to hear It was not what he wanted to hear.
Zij denkt dat het nog gaat gebeuren. click to hear She thinks (that) it's still going to happen.
Het weerbericht zegt dat het morgen gaat regenen. click to hear The weather report says it's going to rain tomorrow.
Hij zei dat ik het aan Jan moest geven click to hear He said I should give it to Jan.
Er is geen reden waarom hij niet zou kunnen winnen. click to hear There's no reason why he [shouldn't be able to] couldn't win.
Als ik jou was zou ik niet gaan. click to hear If I were you I wouldn't go.
More Examples: Word Order - See also: Compound Verbs: Lesson 15


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Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2