In this blog, we will discuss verb conjugation in Dutch with you.  Roughly, Dutch verbs can be grouped into the regular and irregular verbs. The irregular verbs are the ones that make the Dutch language so complicated. We will discuss both categories here.

Conjugating verbs form the absolute basis of learning a language. Verbs are used in almost every sentence and they need to be conjugated in practically every sentence.

We will start with discussing the regular verbs - placing those in different times. Then we will discuss some of the most common irregular verbs. We hope to make this subject as clear as possible for you. Learn more about Dutch verb conjugation

The verb conjugation of regular verbs in the Dutch language

Regular verbs are, not surprisingly, always conjugated the same way.

First of all, we will show you the conjugations for the different times that exist in the Dutch language. As mentioned in our previous blog, there are 8 different times that are used in the Dutch language.

  1. onvoltooid tegenwoordige tijd (ott) - loosely translated to imperfect present tense
    ik werk - I am working
  2. onvoltooid verleden tijd (ovt) - loosely translated to imperfect past tense
    ik werkte - I worked
  3. voltooid tegenwoordige tijd (vtt) loosely translated to perfect present tense
    ik heb gewerkt - I have worked
  4. voltooid verleden tijd (vvt) loosely translated to perfect past tense
    ik had gewerkt - I had worked
  5. onvoltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd (ottt) loosely translated as imperfect present future tense
    ik zal werken - I will work
  6. onvoltooid verleden toekomende tijd (ovtt) loosely translated as imperfect past future tense
    ik zou werken - I would work
  7. voltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd (vttt) loosely translated as perfect future tense
    ik zal hebben gewerkt - I will have worked
  8. voltooid verleden toekomende tijd (vvtt)
    ik zou hebben gewerkt - I would have worked

Persoonlijke voornaamwoorden are the next subject that will be handled.  In English these would be called personal pronouns.

  • 1st singular
    ik (I)
  • 2nd singular
    je/u (you, whereby in Dutch je is informal and u is formal)
  • 3rd singular
    hij/ze/het (he, she, it)
  • 1st multiple
    we (we)
  • 2nd multiple
    jullie (you, multiple)
  • 3rd multiple
    ze (they)

How do we conjugate the verbs when it comes to these personal pronouns?

  • Ik werk
  • Je/u werkt
  • Hij/ze/het werkt
  • We werken
  • Jullie werken
  • Ze werken

This applies to all regular verbs!

To be able to conjugate the verbs you need to know what the stem of the verb is. With the verb 'werken,' the stem is werk and that is the basis for further conjugating it. Now, how do you establish the stem? The stem is always the infinitive of the verb minus -en. Zo werken (to work) becomes werk.

Dutch verb conjugation can be complicated
The Dutch language can be complicated.

Conjugations besides those in 'time tenses'

Besides the conjugations in time tenses that we discussed before, we will also discuss four other possibilities here. There are many exceptions and other conjugations but these are commonly used in the Dutch language.

  1. Lijdende vorm (direct object)

For example: hij wordt gezien. Which means: he is being seen. These sentence can be independent and do not have a subject. The verbs are conjugated in the same way as mentioned above (the - hij - version). The - wij - version would be: wij worden gezien, and so forth.

2. Gebiedende wijs (Imperative)

The gebiedende wijs, or imperative in English, is used to order someone. In Dutch, when you are using the gebiedende wijs, in singular form you will use the stem of the verb, as discussed above. Werk! means work! and Loop! means to walk. In multiple form you add - en. Zo lopen and werken!

3. Verb/adjective

This conjugation is used when a verb is in fact used as an adjective. This is, for example, the case in the following sentence: een werkende man, which means a working man. If the verb that is used is a regular verb then the conjugation is, again, always the same. So, in the case of a singular personal pronoun the verb is conjugated as followed.  +de is added to the complete verb (which typically ends with en). When a multiple personal pronoun is used an n must be added to the end.

4. Verb/noun

This conjugation is used when a certain combination is made of a noun and a verb. This is the case in, for example, the following sentence: het opgaan van de zon, which means: the rising of the sun. The sun does not have a particular place in this sentence, one cannot establish that it is a noun per se. In these kind of combinations, the verb is almost always conjugated by adding -ing to the end.

We understand that this is a tricky subject and we have genuinely tried to make it as simple as possible for you. We hope that you are still with us. Now, we will venture onwards with the subject of irregular verbs in the Dutch language.

Dutch verb conjugation
But the Dutch language can be fun to!

The conjugation of irregular verbs in the Dutch language

Up till now everything seems rather simple. However, the Dutch language contains a relative large amount of irregular verbs, mainly compared with a lot of other languages including English.

Usually in Dutch irregular verbs are referred to as sterk (strong) verbs and regular verbs are referred to as zwakke (weak) verbs. Fortunately, irregular verbs are only so when they are in perfect and past tense. We have listed a few of these strong verbs for you and their conjugations.  We have only mentioned the past tense singular and the past tense multiple.

Infinitive      Past tense singular    Paste tense multiple

Bevelen        Beval                             Bevolen

Blazen          Blies                              Bliezen

Helpen         Hielp                             Hielpen

Kiezen          Koos                              Kozen

Rijden          Reed                              Reden

As you can see all these verbs have their own individual characteristics. There are no rules in this regard that can make it easier. You simply have to learn irregular verbs by heart.

In Dutch there are 11 verbs that can be defined as completely irregular verbs. We will give you the present tense and paste tense of 5 of these verbs for all personal pronouns.

  • zijn (to be)

Present tense:                                                  Past tense:

Ik ben            We zijn                                        Ik was        We waren

Je bent          Jullie zijn                                    Je was        Jullie waren

Hij is              Ze zijn                                         Hij was       Ze waren

  • hebben (to have)

Present tense:                                                  Paste tense:

Ik heb           We hebben                                 Ik had           We hadden

Je hebt         Jullie hebben                             Je had           Jullie hadden

Hij heeft       Ze hebben                                  Hij had         Ze hadden

  • zullen (shall)

Present tense:                                                   Paste tense:

Ik zal             We zullen                                   Ik zou            We zouden

Je zal/zult    Jullie zulllen                              Je zou            Jullie zouden

Hij zal           Ze zullen                                     Hij zou           Ze zouden

  • kunnen (can)

Present tense:                                                    Paste tense:

Ik kan             We kunnen                               Ik kon            We konden

Je kan/kunt  Jullie kunnen                           Je kon            Jullie konden

Hij kan           Ze kunnen                                 Hij kon          Ze konden

  • gaan (to go)

Present tense:                                                  Paste tense:

Ik ga                 We gaan                                  Ik ging            We gingen

Je gaat             Jullie gaan                              Je ging            Jullie gingen

Hij gaat           Ze gaan                                    Hij ging          Ze gingen

These are a few of the most important verbs in the Dutch language. They form the absolute basis for you to learn the Dutch language. Therefore they are the starting point for learning Dutch grammar. Learns these verbs by heart!

The Dutch verbs can be learnt.
We are sure that you will learn.

Combined verbs

The next subject that we need to discuss here is the subject of combined verbs. In another blog, we have discussed combined nouns before and also how much the Dutch seem te like them. Combined verbs usually consist of a verb and another word. These words can be an adverb or an article.

In these examples the other word is a adverb:

  1. goed (well)
  2. hard (hard, fast, tough)
    hardlopen (lopen = to run, so fast running, or jogging)
  3. zwart (black)

Nonetheless, most combined verbs consist of a verbs and a article, like aan, om or achter.

The following words are some examples:

  1. aan
  2. om

A distinction must finally be made between dividable and non-dividable combined verbs. With dividable verbs, the article can be divided from the verb. With undividable combined verbs this is not the case. All of the verbs mentioned in this section are dividable combined verbs.

Our conclusions about this subject

In this blog, we have discussed conjugating Dutch verbs with you. We started out with discussing the conjugation of regular verbs. These verbs have a standard way of being conjugated and we have discussed those in different time tenses and for different personal pronouns.

Next, we discussed some other conjugations that are often used in the Dutch language. After that, we moved on to the subject of irregular verbs. This is definitely a more complicated category. That is primarily due to the fact that all conjugations of these verbs are different than the other ones. Therefore, in this blog, we choose to discuss a few of the most commonly used verbs.

Compared with many different languages, and definitely compared to English, conjugating verbs in Dutch is pretty complicated. We hope, however, to have given you some guidelines and rules, so that you can work with this subject just that bit easier.

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