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Dutch Verbs: A Continuous - Smartphones Page

Introduction
The Auxiliary Verbs

Examples:
Simple Tenses
- Zitten
- Liggen
- Staan
- Lopen

Perfect Tenses
- Zitten
- Lopen
Another Common Use of the 'Continuous Verbs'
Another Continuous

English fairly often uses a construction called the Continuous or Progressive of 'to be' with a present participle (verb-ing) - for instance 'I am reading.' It usually indicates a temporary event happening at a certain time (but many activites are like that, isn't it?) I often translate the Dutch simple present as a continuous in English, like below:
De zon schijnt click to hear The sun [shines] is shining 't Regent  click to hear 2 3 4 It is raining Ik typ click to hear I'm typing
Ik zoek een kamer click to hear 2 I'm looking for a room (to rent) Ik loop in 't bos click to hear 2 3 I'm walking in the forest

Dutch does have ways to indicate ongoing activity, but they're not as common as the English continuous. They can only be used for people, occasionally for animals. One way to say in Dutch that an activity is ongoing is the verbs
'zitten' click to hear (to sit, to be seated),
'liggen' click to hear 2 (to lie, be lying down),
'staan' click to hear (to stand, to be standing) or
'lopen' click to hear 2 (to walk)
with te click to hear and a verb infinitive. (This is one of the few places where Dutch uses 'te' with a verb in the sense of English 'to.')
(de) duurvorm click to hear 2

[reading in bed]
ik lig te lezen click to hear I'm reading

There is not always an activity involved like the zitten etc. verbs indicate. For instance, I don't have to be sitting down when I say:
Ik zit te denken aan een cadeau click to hear ('I'm thinking of a present.') This Dutch continuous is almost only used for people, occasionally for animals.

in de weg click to hear 2 'in de way' - usually making access difficult or impossible, but also said of people blocking plans or schemes in de weg zitten click to hear 2 3 to be in the way 't Zit in de weg click to hear 2 3 4 It's in the way Ik wil je niet in de weg zitten click to hear 2 3
Ik wil je niet in de weg lopen click to hear 2 I don't want to be in your way Dan zit ik je niet in de weg click to hear 2 Then I'm not in your way

The Auxiliary Verbs

zitten to sit, be sitting, be seated
ik zit I sit
wij zitten we sit
ik zat I sat
wij zaten we sat
ik heb gezeten I have sat
click to hear - more

liggen to lie down
ik lig I'm lying down
wij liggen we lie down
ik lag I lay down
wij lagen we lay down
ik heb gelegen I have lain down
click to hear - more

staan to stand, be standing
ik sta I stand
wij staan we stand
ik stond I stood
wij stonden we stood
ik heb gestaan I have stood
click to hear 2 - more

lopen to walk
ik loop I walk
wij lopen we walk
ik liep I walked
wij liepen we walked
ik ben gelopen
ik heb gelopen
I have walked
click to hear 2 - more
(For the continuous, only the 'hebben' perfect is used)

Examples: The Simple Tenses

Ik zat te denken aan ... click to hear I was thinking of ... Ik zit te denken aan een cadeau click to hear I'm thinking of a present

Ik zat te wachten op ... click to hear I was waiting for ... Ik zat te wachten op een telefoontje click to hear I was waiting for a phone call Ze zit erop te wachten click to hear 2 3 She's sitting around waiting for it - she expects or needs it soon

We zitten te wachten click to hear 2 We're waiting

We zitten te eten click to hear [We're eating] - We're having [food] dinner (or lunch)

We zitten te luisteren click to hear 2 3 We are listening We zaten te luisteren click to hear 2 3 We were listening

We zaten gezellig te praten click to hear 2 We were having a pleasant conversation, a nice chat

(herinneringen ophalen click to hear 2 to reminisce, bringing up memories) We zaten gezellig herinneringen op te halen click to hear 2 We were reminiscing pleasantly, we were having a good time chatting about the past

Hij zit te zwammen. click to hear He's talking nonsense.

Hij zit te zeuren. click to hear 2 He is nagging, talking about irrelevant things in a very annoying way. Zit niet zo te zeuren! click to hear 2 Now stop that nagging! (de) zeurpiet click to hear nagging person

Hij zit niet goed op te letten click to hear 2 3 He's not paying close attention

Ik zit te vernikkelen. click to hear 2 I'm freezing, I'm cold.

niksen click to hear 2 3 'doing nothing,' lazing about, no useful activity Hij zit te niksen click to hear 2 3 He's doing nothing, idling, he's lazing about suffen click to hear 2 3 not being entirely awake and alert, not paying attention // woolgathering Ik zit te suffen click to hear 2 3 I'm not paying attention, I'm absent-minded - when my Dad said "Ik zit te suffen"  (with a different intonation than above) he meant he was thinking, letting ideas flow and associate

(borderline)
D'r zit een hond te blaffen click to hear 2 3 4 A dog is barking Wat zit die vogel te piepen! click to hear 2 3 How that bird is tweeting!

Ik lig te lezen click to hear I'm reading Hij ligt te lezen. click to hear He's reading. (Probably lying down doing that.) Lekker lui liggen lezen click to hear Enjoying a lazy read

Ze lagen te slapen click to hear They were sleeping

Hij ligt te etteren. click to hear 2 He's engaging in provocative, useless talk or actions, making a nuisance of himself - obnoxious, being a pest (probably not lying down while doing that)

Hij stond te praten met ... click to hear He was talking to ... Hij stond te praten met Piet click to hear He was talking to Piet

We staan te wachten op een taxi. click to hear 2 3 We're waiting for a taxi.

Ik sta te trillen op m'n benen click to hear 2 ['I'm shaking on my legs'] - 'I'm trembling with fear or from exhaustion'

Ik sta nergens meer van te kijken click to hear 2 Nothing [is surprising] surprises me anymore

Dat staat ons ook te wachten click to hear 2 That is waiting for us too, we can expect that too

Er staat iemand bijbels uit te delen click to hear 2
There's a guy handing out bibles

Hij loopt te schelden click to hear He is swearing, cursing out

Er loopt een dronken man te schreeuwen click to hear 2 There's a drunk guy shouting

We liepen naar de vogels te luisteren click to hear 2 We were listening to the birds

hangen
to hang
- hing
hung
- gehangen
hung
click to hear
Maybe hangen click to hear 'to hang' (but not 'to kill by hanging') is the fifth auxiliary verb of the continuous:
De was hangt te drogen click to hear 2 3 4 The laundry is hanging out to dry

Examples: The Perfect Tense

The Dutch 'continuous' is not often used in the perfect tense - but when it does there is not the past participle but the infinitive. I usually leave out the 'te' for the other verb, but it isn't wrong to keep it like in the imperfect (simple) tenses.

Hij heeft de hele middag zitten typen. click to hear 2 He has been typing all afternoon. (Hij heeft de hele middag zitten te typen. click to hear 2 He has been typing all afternoon.)

We hadden zitten kaarten click to hear 2 3
We hadden zitten te kaarten click to hear 2 We had been playing cards

We hebben zitten luisteren click to hear 2 3
(We hebben zitten te luisteren click to hear 2 3 4) We were listening

Hij heeft er een uur over zitten nadenken click to hear 2 3
Hij heeft er een uur over zitten na te denken click to hear 2 He's been thinking about it for an hour

Hij heeft de hele week lopen klagen. click to hear 2 He's been complaining all week.
(Hij heeft de hele dag lopen te klagen. click to hear He's been complaining all day.)

We hebben lopen demonstreren. click to
    hear
(We hebbe lope demonstrere click to hear 2 3) We have been in a protest march.

Compare with non-continuous use, not combined with other verbs - where the past participle is used:

Ik heb een uur gelopen click to hear 2 I (have) walked for an hour Ik ben naar Amsterdam gelopen click to hear 2 I have walked to Amsterdam
Ik ben naar huis gelopen click to hear 2 I (have) walked home

Ik heb de hele dag gelopen click to hear 2 3 I walked all day, I've been walking all day

Ik heb de hele nacht wakker gelegen click to hear 2 I've lain awake all night

Another Common Use of the Continuous Verbs

Dutch often uses the verbs zitten, staan, liggen  and lopen  to indicate the location of the subject or 'in relation to' something else (as my dictionary has it) - but I can't give you good rules for this use. English usually has 'to be' in this kind of lines.

Er zit een gat in 't dak click to hear 2 There's a hole in the roof Hij zit in de tweede klas click to hear 2 He's in second grade Ze zit in een rolstoel click to hear 2 3 She's in a wheelchair

Er loopt een kat in de tuin click to hear 2 There's a cat in the yard

"Mijn deur staat altijd open" click to hear 2 3 'My door [stands] is always open' (you can come in and talk to me anytime)

ik probeer om tien uur in bed te liggen click to hear 2 I try to [lie] be in bed by 10 o'clock

More examples: zitten - staan - lopen - liggen

Another Continuous

There is another, less common way to indicate an ongoing activity with 'zijn' click to hear ('to be' ->>) and "aan 't" click to hear 2 with a verb infinitive - maybe related to English 'a' in forms like 'asleep,' and 'awake.' ("I'm gonna be a-wed.")
You'll see this figure used, but I do not recommend its use by students. To me, it only sounds right in very specific situations but I can't think of rules for its use. My feeling is that it's mostly used for I and we and physical-activites verbs.

subject zijn
(to be)
aan 't verb
infinitive

Ik ben aan 't koken. click to hear I'm preparing dinner (or other hot food)

Ik ben een brood aan 't bakken. click to hear 2 I'm baking bread.

Wat ben je aan 't doen? click to hear What are you doing, what are you working on, busy with?

Ik ben aan 't opnemen click to hear 2 3 I am recording (sound)

Ik ben aan 't winkelen click to hear 2 'I am shopping'
Ik was aan 't winkelen click to hear 'I was shopping'

aan 't schrijven click to hear 2 3 writing

Dan heb je de poppen aan het dansen click to hear 2 3 (saying) - ['Then you'll have the puppets dancing' - the show will start] - 'then the fat is in the fire, all hell will break loose'

When used with a noun, "aan 't" just takes the literal meaning 'at the'

Ze zijn aan het goede adres. click to hear 2 They came to the right address, they're at the right place (usually figuratively)

"Aan 't werk" click to hear 2 3 4 means 'let's get working' - To work! Let's get started! Let's start working!

Laten we aan 't werk gaan. click to hear 2 3 Let's get to work, start working.
Aan de slag! click to hear 2 To work! Let's get started! Let's start working!

zitten - liggen - staan - lopen

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