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Introduction to Dutch Verbs - Smartphones Page

Dutch verbs are a little more complicated than English verbs. The verb stem is not as obvious as in English and the present tense has three forms, compared to two in English. Dutch also has separate words for 'you' in singular and plural, and there is a 'polite you.'
(het) werkwoord click to hear ['work-word'] 'verb'
(de) vervoeging click to hear 2 'conjugation'
(het) enkelvoud click to hear 2 'singular'
(het) meervoud click to hear 2 'plural'

The Verb Stem

The Present Tense (Introduction)

(de) tegenwoordige tijd click to hear 2 3 'present tense'

See and hear for example:

zoeken to search, to seek
ik zoek I'm searching
jij zoekt you're searching (singular, informal you)
hij zoekt he's searching
wij zoeken we're searching
jullie zoeken you're searching (plural, informal you)
zij zoeken they're searching
U zoekt you're searching (polite you)
click to hear 2

Dutch does not have a simple 'continuous' ('I am searching') like English, but has other ways to indicate an ongoing activity. There will be a page about that.

Several Dutch personal pronouns have an alternate form with a 'voiceless, unstressed E' (the schwa) click to hear instead of IJ click to hear 2 In most cases you can use the 'E'-form ->>

jij click to hear
je click to hear
you (singular)
zij click to hear
ze click to hear
she
wij click to hear
we click to hear
we
zij click to hear
ze click to hear
they

For the third person singular, instead of hij click to hear ('he') you can also say (if appropriate) zij click to hear / ze click to hear ('she') or het click to hear 2 3 ('it') - the last is often shortened to 't click to hear (do note the vowel change) ->>

Slang: For the third person plural -- 'they' -- some Dutchmen, encouraged by soccer legend Johan Cruijff click to hear 2 will say hun click to hear 2 ('them') instead of zij click to hear or ze click to hear ('they.') In proper Dutch, 'hun' is possessive pronoun ('their') or the object or the indirect object for the third person plural ('them.')

More verb examples:

[bicyclist (I ride a bike)]
ik fiets click to hear 'I bike,' I'm riding a bike
fietsen to ride a bike
ik fiets I'm riding a bike
jij fietst you are riding a bike (singular, informal you)
hij fiets he is riding a bike
wij fietsen we are riding a bike
jullie fietsen you are riding a bike (plural, informal you)
zij fietsen they are riding a bike
U fietst you are riding a bike(polite you)
click to hear 2

[me thinking]
ik denk click to hear 'I think,' I'm thinking
denken to think
ik denk I'm thinking
jij denkt you are thinking
hij denkt he is thinking
wij denken we are thinking
jullie denken y'all are thinking
zij denken they are thinking
U denkt you are thinking
click to hear

- The Smartphone Simple Present Tense Page

The Past Tense: 'Strong' and 'Weak' Verbs (Introduction)

(de) verleden tijd click to hear 2 3 the past tense
sterke werkwoorden click to hear 2 'strong verbs'
zwakke werkwoorden click to hear 2 3 'weak verbs'

The simple past tense has two forms (singular and plural) - English has just one. Like English, Dutch has many 'strong verbs,' that have a vowel change and sometimes a consonant change for the past tense. There is often some similarity in the forms of the Dutch and English strong verbs, for instance:

(zoeken click to hear 2 ) to search, to seek
ik zocht I searched, I sought
jij zocht you searched, you sought
hij zocht he searched, he sought
wij zochten we searched, we sought
jullie zochten y'all searched, y'all sought
zij zochten they searched, they sought
U zocht you searched, you sought
click to hear 2

The Past Tense, Weak Verbs: 't kofschip

Dutch has two classes of 'weak verbs,' known by the 't kofschip-rule: verb stems ending in T, K, F, S, CH and P have past endings with T, while the other verbs have endings with D.
't kofschip click to hear

(fietsen click to hear 2 ) to ride a bike
ik fietste I rode a bike
jij fietste you rode a bike
hij fietste he rode a bike
wij fietsten we rode a bike
jullie fietsten y'all rode a bike
zij fietsten they rode a bike
U fietste you rode a bike
click to hear

(willen click to hear 2 ) ~to want to, desire
ik wilde I wanted
jij wilde you wanted
hij wilde he wanted
wij wilden we wanted
jullie wilden y'all wanted
zij wilden they wanted
U wilde you wanted
click to hear

- The Simple Past Tense Smartphone Page

Irregular Verbs (Introduction)

Some of the most common verbs are irregular, do not follow the rules for the tenses mentioned above, for instance
zijn to be
ik ben I am
jij bent you are(singular, informal you)
hij is he is
wij zijn we are
jullie zijn you are(plural, informal you)
zij zijn they are
U bent you are(polite you)
click to hear

hebben to have
ik heb I have
jij hebt you have(singular, informal you)
hij heeft he has
wij hebben we have
jullie hebben you have(plural, informal you)
zij hebben they have
U heeft you have(polite you)
click to hear
'U hebt' click to hear is also said.

The Perfect Tense (Introduction)

For the perfect tenses, Dutch uses the auxiliary verb hebben, like English 'to have,' with the past participle of the main verb - but a small group of common Dutch verbs take zijn ('to be') as the auxiliary verb for the perfect tense.
The Dutch past participle is usually formed by adding a GE- prefix and a -D, -T or -EN suffix to the verb stem.
(het) hulpwerkwoord click to hear ['helping verb'] - auxiliary verb
(de) voltooide tijd click to hear 2 3 perfect tense
(het) voltooid deelwoord click to hear past participle

ik heb gehad click to hear I have had
ik heb gewacht click to hear I have waited
ik heb gegeven click to hear I have given
ik ben geweest click to hear I have been
ik ben gevallen click to hear 2 3 I have fallen
ik ben gegaan click to hear I have gone

Unlike in English, there is little difference between the Dutch simple past tense and the present perfect tense.
Ik leerde hem kennen in het leger click to hear 2 3
Ik heb hem leren kennen in het leger click to hear 2 3 (4)
I came to know him in the army (I first met him when I was in the army)

- The Smartphone Perfect Tenses Page

The Future Tense and The Passive Voice (Introduction)

Dutch has the auxiliary verb zullen click to hear ('shall/will') for the future tense, and the auxiliary verb worden click to hear 2 for the passive voice.
de toekomende tijd click to hear 2 the future tense
(de) lijdende vorm click to hear the passive voice

Wie zal dat betalen? click to hear 2 Who'll pay for that?
Who's going to pay for that?
Hij wordt gemarteld click to hear 2 He is being tortured

Word Order

In Dutch, 'secondary verbs' like infinitives and past participles are usually put at the end of the line >>

Jan heeft een boek aan Piet gegeven. click to hear 2
Jan has given a book to Piet.

Ik zal Jan morgen in Amsterdam geld geven click to hear
Tomorrow in Amsterdam I'll give Jan money

De bal werd door Jan in het doel geschopt click to hear 2
The ball was kicked into the goal by Jan

Verbs Library

Next to the pages with rules and forms for the various tenses of the verb, there will be separate pages with the full conjugation of about sixty common Dutch verbs and simple sample sentences.

Dutchmen don't spend much time in school learning grammar, correct usage and things like that, just some study of fine points. When you hear the correct use around you from a young age it will all come 'naturally' and incorrect use will feel 'wrong.'

Start Studying Dutch Verbs: The Verb Stem >>

Smartphone Verbs Home

More Good Dutch Smartphone Pages

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Gij zult niet stelen click to hear 'Thou shalt not steal'