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Dutch Verbs

Smartphone Verbs Home
  1. The Verb Stem
  2. The Present Tense
  3. The Past Tense
  4. Recapitulation
  5. To Have and To Be
  6. The Perfect Tense
  1. The Future Tense
  2. The Passive
  3. The Imperative
  4. Verbs as Nouns and Adjectives
  5. The Continuous
  6. Irregular and Confusing
The Dutch verb is in many ways similar to the English verb, though a slightly larger number of endings makes it a little more complicated. Dutch spelling, on the other hand, is much more straightforward than English.
Find a newer version of the introduction to Dutch verbs in Lesson 9.
In the Lessons you can find newer versions of some of the material of this Verbs page: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
kennento know

wetento know

gaanto go
ik ken
jij kent
hij kent
wij kennen
jullie kennen
zij kennen
U kent
click to hear
(I know)
(you know)
(he knows)
(we know)
(you know)
(they know)
(you know)

ik weet
jij weet
hij weet
wij weten
jullie weten
zij weten
U weet
click to hear
(I know)
(you know)
(he knows)
(we know)
(you know)
(they know)
(you know)

ik ga
jij gaat
hij gaat
wij gaan
jullie gaan
zij gaan
U gaat
click to hear 2
(I go)
(you go)
(he goes)
(we go)
(you go)
(they go)
(you go)

(you - singular)

(you - plural)

(you - polite)
In each of the verbs above, the vowel length doesn't change.
A double vowel is always long, but a single vowel can be either long or short.
The spelling rules to remember: Also note that the final 'e' in the '-en' endings is voiceless: 'uh.'

The beautiful dance of single and double vowels and consonants is an important feature of Dutch spelling. It is explained at length in many of my pages, like Vowels and Diphthongs Compared, the Adjectives section of Lesson 11, and the Plurals page.

The Verb Stem

Basic Rule: Remove the -en that's usually found at the end of the infinitive of Dutch verbs to get the verb stem.

Exceptions Regular:
If removing the -en would result in a stem ending in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, then that single vowel will be doubled.
When removing the -en would result in a stem ending in a double consonant, then one of the consonants is dropped. (See Spelling Rules)


following the basic rule
following the basic rule
the vowel is long
the infinitive's double 'p' indicates that the 'a' is short

Exceptions Regular:
In Dutch, 'v' and 'z' only occur before a vowel: in alll other positions they with change to 'f' or 's,' respectively



Exceptions Irregular:
doen, zien - stem: doe, zie
gaan, staan - stem: ga, sta
zijn, hebben(to be, to have) - very irregular verbs, see below
zullen (future tense auxiliary verb) - irregular, see below
mogen, kunnen (to be allowed to, to be able to) - very irregular verbs, see below

Present Tense

Simple Present Model
jij STEM+t
hij STEM+t
(I )
(you [singular])
(he )
(we )
(you [plural])
(they )
(you [polite])

dankento thank
stemmen to vote or to tune
ik dank
jij dankt
hij dankt
wij danken
jullie danken
zij danken
U dankt
click to hear
(I thank)
(you thank)
(he thanks)
(we thank)
(you thank)
(they thank)
(you thank)

ik stem
jij stemt
hij stemt
wij stemmen
jullie stemmen
zij stemmen
U stemt
click to hear
(I vote)
(you vote)
(he votes)
(we vote)
(you vote)
(they vote)
(you vote)

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.')
hij - zij - het - 't click to hear
See also: Personal Pronouns

In question mode and in some sentence structures the verb will precede the personal pronoun; in those cases, for second person singular (je, jij) the 't' will be dropped. (Only in the present tense.)
dank jij? - stem jij? click to hear

If there's a consonant at the end of the stem, a preceding single vowel is short: then that consonant at the end is usually doubled for the -en in the plural.

A few verbs are irregular, like zijn en hebben >>
A few common Dutch verbs have a short vowel in the singular and a long vowel in the plural, either in the present or in the past tense, or in both. For instance: komen >>

Dutch verbs with a stem ending in T do not add an extra T for the second and third person singular:
zitten: ik zit, jij zit, hij zit >> (to sit)
weten: ik weet, jij weet, hij weet >> (to know things)
praten: ik praat, jij praat, hij praat >> (to talk, to chat)
more examples: eten (to eat) - wachten (to wait) - moeten (to have to, 'must')
Dutch verbs with a stem ending in D do add a T for the second and third person singular (it's a problem for many Dutchmen too) - but it does not change the pronunciation because D at the end of a word is pronounced as T, and DT is pronounced as T:
worden: ik word, jij wordt, hij wordt >> (to become/the passive) - hear: ik word - hij wordt click to hear 2
vinden: ik vind, jij vindt, hij vindt >> (to find)
bidden: ik bid, jij bidt, hij bidt: >> (to pray)
more examples: snijden (to cut with a knife) - lijden / leiden (to suffer / to lead) - rijden (to drive; to ride)

Past Tense

Find a newer version explaining the past tense in Lesson 12.
Like in English, many common verbs are strong, which means they have a vowel change for the past tense; like in the present tense, -en is added for the plural (and consonants may be doubled).
Weak verbs ending in t,k,f,s, ch or p (the mnemonic is: 't kofschip - click to hear) add -te to the stem for the simple past singular, -ten to the stem for the simple past plural.
Exception: -de(n) will be added to f or s from an infinitive that ended in -ven or -zen.
suizen/bruisen - suisde/bruiste click to hear
All other weak verbs add -de for the simple past singular, -den for the simple past plural.
In the past tense, there's no exception for the 'je/jij' question mode.

Simple Past Model
strong verbs weak verbs
" 't kofschip" type other weak verbs
ik STEM+te
jij STEM+te
hij STEM+te
wij STEM+ten
jullie STEM+ten
zij STEM+ten
ik STEM+de
jij STEM+de
hij STEM+de
wij STEM+den
jullie STEM+den
zij STEM+den
(I )
(you [singular])
(he )
(we )
(you [plural])
(they )
(you [polite])
Strong Verbs
vragento ask
rijdento drive or to ride
ik vroeg
jij vroeg
hij vroeg
wij vroegen
jullie vroegen
zij vroegen
U vroeg
click to hear
(I asked)
(you asked)
(he asked)
(we asked)
(you asked)
(they asked)
(you asked)

ik reed
jij reed
hij reed
wij reden
jullie reden
zij reden
U reed
click to hear
(I drove)
(you drove)
(he drove)
(we drove)
(you drove)
(they drove)
(you drove)
vroeg jij?(did you ask?) reed jij?(did you drive?) click to hear
A more or less complete list of strong verbs.
Weak Verbs
'kofschip' type 'non-kofschip' type
danken to thank stemmento vote
ik dankte
jij dankte
hij dankte
wij dankten
jullie dankten
zij dankten
U dankte
click to hear
(I thanked)
(you thanked)
(he thanked)
(we thanked)
(you thanked)
(they thanked)
(you thanked)

ik stemde
jij stemde
hij stemde
wij stemden
jullie stemden
zij stemden
U stemde
click to hear
(I voted)
(you voted)
(he voted)
(we voted)
(you voted)
(they voted)
(you voted)
dankte jij?(did you thank?) stemde jij?(did you vote?) click to hear

Two Examples, Various Exceptions (Recapitulation)

'Geven' (to give) shows the v/f shift, change between double and single vowels, and (in the past tense) different vowel lengths for singular and plural.

simple present simple past
gevento give geven
ik geef
jij geeft
hij geeft
wij geven
jullie geven
zij geven
U geeft
click to hear
(I give)
(you give)
(he gives)
(we give)
(you give)
(they give)
(you give)

ik gaf
jij gaf
hij gaf
wij gaven
jullie gaven
zij gaven
U gaf
click to hear
(I gave)
(you gave)
(he gave)
(we gave)
(you gave)
(they gave)
(you gave)
geef jij?(do you give?) gaf jij?(did you give?) click to hear

'Komen' (to come) has different vowel lengths for singular and plural in both the present and in the past tense.

ik kom
jij komt
hij komt
wij komen
jullie komen
zij komen
U komt
click to hear
(I come)
(you come)
(he comes)
(we come)
(you come)
(they come)
(you come)

ik kwam
jij kwam
hij kwam
wij kwamen
jullie kwamen
zij kwamen
U kwam
click to hear
(I came)
(you came)
(he came)
(we came)
(you came)
(they came)
(you came)

Hebben (to have) en Zijn (to be)

Find a newer version explaining these verbs in Lesson 7, Lesson 8 and Lesson 11.
present tense
hebbento have zijnto be
ik heb
jij hebt
hij heeft
wij hebben
jullie hebben
zij hebben
U heeft
click to hear
I have
you have
he has
we have
you have
they have
you have

ik ben
jij bent
hij is
wij zijn
jullie zijn
zij zijn
U bent
click to hear
I am
you are
he is
we are
you are
they are
you are
'U hebt' is also said.
past tense
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

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

The Perfect Tense

Find a newer version explaining the perfect tenses in Lesson 12.
In English, the perfect tense is formed by using 'to have' with a past participle (I have been.) Dutch uses either hebben ('to have') or zijn ('to be.') There are hardly any useful rules for when to use which, the student of Dutch will have to memorize which verbs take zijn.
Most verbs of motion take 'zijn' when a destination is mentioned, 'hebben' when it's about the motion itself:
Ik ben naar Amsterdam gefietst - Ik heb een uur gefietst. I biked to Amsterdam - I biked for an hour.
Ik heb een uur gefietst click to hear 2 (I rode a bike for an hour)
Ik ben naar Veenendaal gefietst click to hear 2 (I rode a bike to Veenendaal)
(Notice also that Dutch and English perfect tense are not used exactly in the same manner.)

The past participle is usually formed by prefixing the verb stem with ge-, and adding an ending:


simple past
perfect tense
to have
ik had
ik heb gehad click to hear
to be
ik was/wij waren
ik ben geweest click to hear
to know
ik kende
ik heb gekend click to hear
to know
ik wist
ik heb geweten click to hear
to thank
ik dankte
ik heb gedankt click to hear
to vote
ik stemde
ik heb gestemd click to hear
to ask
ik vroeg
ik heb gevraagd click to hear
to drive,
to ride

ik reed
ik heb/ben gereden click to hear
to give
ik gaf/wij gaven
ik heb gegeven click to hear
to come
ik kwam/wij kwamen
ik ben gekomen click to hear
to walk
ik liep
ik heb/ben gelopen click to hear
to go
ik ging
ik ben gegaan click to hear
to get
ik haalde
ik heb gehaald click to hear
to pray
ik bad/wij baden
ik heb gebeden click to hear

to take
ik nam/wij namen
ik heb genomen click to hear
to bring
ik bracht
ik heb gebracht click to hear
to think
ik dacht
ik heb gedacht click to hear
to eat
ik at/wij aten
ik heb gegeten click to hear
to honor
ik eerde
ik heb geëerd * click to hear

More Exceptions

Verbs that already feature a so-called 'inseparable prefix' (be-, er-, ge-, her-, ont- and ver-) will not add ge- for their past participle, there will only be the past participle ending.
to promise
ik beloofde
ik heb beloofd click to hear
to pay
ik betaalde
ik heb betaald click to hear
to acknowledge
ik erkende
ik heb erkend click to hear
to believe
ik geloofde
ik heb geloofd click to hear
to repeat
ik herhaalde
ik heb herhaald click to hear
to discover
ik ontdekte
ik heb ontdekt click to hear
to forget
ik vergat
ik ben vergeten click to hear

Some verbs form compound words with other prepositions; those verbs often (but not always) split up in the simple tenses. In the past participle of these splitting compound verbs, the ge- is usually inserted between the preposition and the basic verb.
Unfortunately, sometimes these prepositions do not split from the verb, and then no ge- is inserted for the past participle.
It looks to me like the compound verbs that have the stress on the preposition do split up, while the compound verbs with the stress on the basic verb do not split up.


simple present
simple past
perfect tense
to leave behind
ik laat achter
ik liet achter
ik heb achtergelaten
click to hear
to retrieve, find out
ik achterhaal
ik achterhaalde
ik heb achterhaald
click to hear
~to pursue
ik achtervolg
ik achtervolgde
ik heb achtervolgd
click to hear
to collect, pick up
(ik haal af)
ik haalde af
ik heb afgehaald
click to hear
to await, wait for
(ik wacht af)
ik wachtte af
ik heb afgewacht
click to hear
to take along
ik neem mee
ik nam mee
ik heb meegenomen
click to hear
to go into hiding
ik duik onder
ik dook onder
ik ben ondergedoken
click to hear
to maintain
(ik onderhoud)
ik onderhield
ik heb onderhouden
click to hear
to persuade
ik haal over
ik haalde over
ik heb overgehaald
click to hear
to convince
ik overtuig
ik overtuigde
ik heb overtuigd
click to hear
to advance (money)
(ik schiet voor)
ik schoot voor
ik heb voorgeschoten
click to hear
to show, demonstrate
ik doe voor
ik deed voor
ik heb voorgedaan
click to hear

Notice that most of the English verbs in this list are of French and Latin origin, while Dutch uses basic (Germanic) verbs with (Germanic) prepositions.

English example to say I say we say I said we said I have said
to clean schoonmaken ik maak schoon wij maken schoon ik maakte schoon wij maakten schoon ik heb schoongemaakt click to hear >>
to tidy up, clear opruimen ik ruim op wij ruimen op ik ruimde op wij ruimden op ik heb opgeruimd click to hear

The Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense uses the simple past tense of the auxiliary verbs hebben en zijn:
ik had gehad click to hear 2 I had had
ik was geweest click to hear 2 I had been
ik had gedacht click to hear 2 I had thought
ik had gehoopt click to hear I had hoped
ik had gewild click to hear 2 I had wanted
ik had teveel gegeten click to hear I had eaten too much

The Future Tense

Find a newer version explaining the future tense in Lesson 14.
The future tense uses the auxiliary verb 'zullen' with a verb inifinive:
Ik zal komen - (I will come.)

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?)
'Jij zal' and 'zal jij?' is also correct.

Conditional Tense ('Future Past')
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)
'Jij zal' click to hear 2 and 'zal jij?' click to hear are acceptable variations.
Verbs of motion, especially 'gaan' (to go) can (like in English) also be used as an informal future tense:
ik ga naar huis click to hear I'm going home
hij gaat naar Rotterdam click to hear 2 he's going to Rotterdam
morgen gaat hij naar Den Haag click to hear 2 he'll go to The Hague tomorrow
Als de dagen lengen, gaan de nachten strengen click to hear As the days get longer, the nights will get more severe (i.e. colder)
morgen gaan we lijnen click to hear tomorrow we'll start dieting
hij vertrekt morgen naar Afrika click to hear he'll leave for Africa tomorrow

The Passive Form

Find a newer version explaining the passive voice in Lesson 13.
In the passive form, the object is passively subjected to an activity: The book is read. or The house was built. In Dutch, the passive form uses the auxiliary verb 'worden' with the past participle of the relevant verb.
ik word geschopt door Jan click to hear I am kicked by John
A fairly common expression is: "Ik word geleefd." click to hear [I am lived] ~ I have no life of my own.
English uses 'to be' for the passive form. Confusion may arise because Dutch sometimes uses 'zijn' (to be) as an auxiliary for the perfect tense.
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)

The perfect tense of 'worden' uses 'zijn' (to be) - and the 'geworden' is usually dropped.
ik ben geschopt click to hear I have been kicked
Note the different use of 'is' in English and Dutch in the following sentences:
he is stung by a wasp click to hear hij wordt door een wesp gestoken!
he has been stung by a wasp click to hear hij is door een wesp gestoken

'Worden' is also used in the sense of 'to become:'
"Wat wil je later worden?" click to hear What are you going to be when you grow up?
Wat is er van hem geworden? click to hear 2 Whatever became of him?
't Wordt donker click to hear It is getting dark

The Imperative

The verb stem is the imperative - (de) gebiedende wijs click to hear 2 3 . Like in English, there is no subject and the sentences usually start with the verb. 'The imperative' and 'de gebiedende wijs' may sound a bit forbidding, but next to commands it's also used for suggestions and instructions.
It's almost always used in the singular, even when directed at crowds or the public in general. Political campaigns will say stem ... click to hear ('vote ...') - the plural (which adds a T) would sound a bit old-fashioned.
Zwijg! click to hear 2 Be silent! (Don't speak! Shut up!)
Luister! click to hear 2 Listen!
Hoor! click to hear Hear! (Hark!)
Kom terug! click to hear 2 Come back!
Haal diep adem. click to hear Take a deep breath.
Verroer je niet! click to hear Don't move! ('yourself')
Neem de tweede weg rechts. click to hear Take the second road to the right.
Kook de aardappels zeventien minuten. click to hear Boil the potatoes for 17 minutes.
Ga direct naar huis! click to hear 2 Go home immediately!
Doe alsjeblieft de deur dicht! click to hear 2 Please close the door!
Geef 't goede voorbeeld. click to hear [Give] Set the right example
Zeg het voort click to hear 2
Zegt het voort click to hear 2
Pass it on (a message)
Pass it on (a message) - a rare example of the plural imperative
more imperative

Verbs as Nouns and Adjectives

The infinitive of verbs can be used as a noun, taking 'het' as its article.
Het eten van varkensvlees is verboden click to hear Eating pork is not allowed.
Het drinken van alcohol is toegestaan click to hear Drinking alcohol is allowed.

Adding a '-d(e)' ending to the verb infinitive will make it into an adjective of the ongoing action of the verb; the past participle can be used as an adjective of when the verb's action is finished ('e' in endings.)

het schip zinkt click to hear the ship is sinking
het zinkende schip click to hear the sinking ship
het schip is gezonken click to hear the ship has sunk
't schip - het is gezonken click to hear the ship - it has sunk
het gezonken schip click to hear the sunken ship
het zinken van het schip click to hear the sinking of the ship
The Dutch last line above, het zinken van het schip just describes the ship going down, and does NOT have a second meaning 'making the ship go down' like in English. For that, when a ship is bombed, torpedoed or scuttled there's the phrase:
tot zinken brengen click to hear 2 3 'to sink' a ship

de aardappels koken click to hear the potatoes are [boiling] cooking
de kokende aardappels click to hear the boiling potatoes
de aardappels zijn gekookt click to hear the potatoes have been [boiled] cooked
de gekookte aardappels click to hear the [boiled] cooked potatoes

het naderend onheil click to hear the approaching disaster
het gesproken boek click to hear the [spoken] audio book
een sprekend voorbeeld click to hear a telling example
de zangeres lacht click to hear the lady singer laughs
de lachende zangeres click to hear the laughing singer

Only in a few expressions (that are already becoming obsolete) the stem + de adjective is found with zijn (to be):

hij was druk doende click to hear he was busy [doing]
wat is er gaande? click to hear 2 What's going on?

The Continuous

Find a newer version explaining Dutch forms of a continuous in Lesson 15.
Dutch does not have a Continuous like English (you are reading, I am waiting), but a similar meaning can be conveyed using appropriate verbs like 'zitten' (to sit, to be seated), 'liggen' (to lie), 'staan' (to stand, to be standing) or 'lopen' (to walk).
I'm thinking of a present - Ik zit te denken aan een cadeau - click to hear
I was thinking of ... - Ik zat te denken aan ... - click to hear
I was waiting for a phone call - Ik zat te wachten op een telefoontje - click to hear
I was waiting for ... - Ik zat te wachten op ... - click to hear
They were sleeping - Ze lagen te slapen - click to hear
He was talking to Pete - Hij stond te praten met Piet - click to hear
He was talking to ... - Hij stond te praten met ... - click to hear
He is swearing, cursing out - Hij loopt te schelden - click to hear
to sit, to be sitting zitten ik zit wij zitten ik zat wij zaten ik heb gezeten click to hear 2 more
to lie (like, in bed) liggen ik lig wij liggen ik lag wij lagen ik heb gelegen click to hear more
to stand, to be standing staan ik sta wij staan ik stond wij stonden ik heb gestaan click to hear 2 more
to walk lopen ik loop wij lopen ik liep wij liepen ik ben/heb gelopen click to hear 2 more

Occasionally, you may find aan het + verb infinitive:

ik ben aan 't koken click to hear I am cooking (preparing food) (Dutch koken means both 'to boil' and 'to cook, prepare food.')

Irregular and Confusing Verbs

mogen (to be allowed to
- 'may')

kunnen (to be able to
- 'can')
ik mag
jij mag
hij mag
wij mogen
jullie mogen
zij mogen
U mag
click to hear
(I 'may')
(you 'may')
(he 'may')
(we 'may')
(you 'may')
(they 'may')
(you 'may')

ik kan
jij kunt
hij kan
wij kunnen
jullie kunnen
zij kunnen
U kunt
click to hear
(I 'can')
(you 'can')
(he 'can')
(we 'can')
(you 'can')
(they 'can')
(you 'can')
'Jij kan' en 'U kan' is also correct.
mag jij?(are you allowed to?)
kun jij?(are you able to?) click to hear
ik mocht
jij mocht
hij mocht
wij mochten
jullie mochten
zij mochten
U mocht
click to hear
(I was allowed)
(you were allowed)
(he was allowed)
(we were allowed)
(you were allowed)
(they were allowed)
(you were allowed)

ik kon
jij kon
hij kon
wij konden
jullie konden
zij konden
U kon
click to hear
(I 'could')
(you 'could')
(he 'could')
(we 'could')
(you 'could')
(they 'could')
(you 'could')

In long verbs, we may find a verb stem already ending in a syllable with voiceless E: that voiceless E is not going to change - neither a double E for a long E, nor will the final consonant be doubled.

to shop winkelen ik winkel wij winkelen ik winkelde wij winkelden ik heb gewinkeld
click to hear
to walk, to hike wandelen ik wandel wij wandelen ik wandelde wij wandelden ik heb/ben gewandeld
click to hear
to split; to share delen ik deel wij delen ik deelde wij deelden ik heb gedeeld
click to hear
to divide, apportion verdelen ik verdeel wij verdelen ik verdeelde wij verdeelden ik heb verdeeld
click to hear 2
to tell, relate vertellen ik vertel wij vertellen ik vertelde wij vertelden ik heb verteld
click to hear 2

The English verbs 'to lie' and 'to lay' are confusing to some people; in Dutch there is a similar problem:

to lie (like, in bed) liggen ik lig wij liggen ik lag wij lagen ik heb gelegen click to hear >>
to lay (like, to put) leggen ik leg wij leggen ik legde wij legden ik heb gelegd click to hear 2
to lie (to say what's not) liegen ik lieg wij liegen ik loog wij logen ik heb gelogen click to hear

Marco Schuffelen - email
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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