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Beginner’s Guide to Dutch Verb Conjugation

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Why is it so important to study Dutch verb conjugation? Verbs are a crucial aspect of any language, and Dutch is no exception. But to be able to use verbs well, you have to understand their conjugation. What verb form should you use, when and why? 

First, it’s important to understand the concept of conjugation and how it influences the Dutch language. After that, you can proceed to learning the different types of Dutch verbs. And with that information, you’ll have the tools to start understanding Dutch verb conjugation. 

Conjugation is a basic skill that you need to really understand the Dutch language. But don’t panic; we’re here to help you. In this Beginner’s Guide, we’ll take you by the hand and explain everything you need to know about Dutch verb conjugation.

Is making Dutch sentences still a challenge for you? Then have a look at our Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. What is Conjugation?
  2. The Five Types of Verbs
  3. Present Simple
  4. Past Simple
  5. The Present & Past Perfect
  6. Future Simple
  7. Future Perfect
  8. Conditional
  9. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. What is Conjugation?

Top Verbs
Dutch verb conjugation defines how the verbs change depending on the person, the number of subjects, the politeness level, and the tense.

Okay, but what does that mean? Let’s give you some examples.

1- Persons, number of subjects, and politeness level

1st person singularik“I”
2nd person singularjij / u“you” (casual) / “you” (formal)
3rd person singularhij / zij“he” / “she”
1st person pluralwij“we”
2nd person pluraljullie“you”
3rd person pluralzij“they”

Quite similarly to English, Dutch regular verbs don’t change with every different person. However, irregular verbs are a different story.

For example, the irregular verb zijn (“to be”) in present tense:

  • Ik ben (“I am”)
  • Hij is (“He is”)
  • U/Jij bent (“You are” formal/casual)
  • Wij zijn (“We are”)
  • Jullie zijn (“You are”)
  • Zij zijn (“They are”)

As you can see, the Dutch verb conjugation also changes because of the number of subjects (for example, see the difference between “you” and “they”).

The politeness level doesn’t have such a big influence on the Dutch language, unless you use hebben (“to have”) in the present tense. Take a look at this brief Dutch conjugation table:

Dutch conjugation of hebben (“to have”)Jij hebt (“you have” casual)U heeft (“you have” formal)

2- The Dutch verb tenses

The Dutch language has two main tenses: the present simple and the past simple. Besides these two tenses, there are also some “semi-tenses.” The six semi-tenses appear when the present or past tense interacts with an aspect (temporary or continuing) or a mood (factual or hypothetical). 

Thus, the Dutch language has, in total, eight tenses. Each one has a different use:

The eight tenses of the regular verb praten (“to talk”)
1. Onvoltooid Tegenwoordige Tijd (“Present Simple”)Used to describe something that is happening now.Ik praat.“I talk.”
2. Onvoltooid Verleden Tijd (“Past Simple”)Used to describe a situation that happened in the past.Ik praatte.“I talked.”
3. Voltooid Tegenwoordige Tijd (“Present Perfect”)Used to describe something that happened in the past and has already ended.Ik heb gepraat.“I have talked.”
4. Voltooid Verleden Tijd (“Past Perfect”)Used to describe an action or event that happened in the past and ended in the past.Ik had gepraat.“I had talked.”
5. Onvoltooid Tegenwoordige Toekomende Tijd (“Future Simple”)Used to talk about something that will happen in the future. Ik zal praten.“I will talk.”
6. Voltooid Tegenwoordige Toekomende Tijd (“Future Perfect”)Used to describe an action that will have been completed before another action in the future.Ik zal hebben gepraat.“I will have talked.”
7. Onvoltooid Verleden Toekomende Tijd (“Conditional”)Used in a “what if” scenario; used to speculate about something.Ik zou praten.“I would talk.”
8. Voltooid Verleden Toekomende Tijd (“Conditional Perfect”)Used to describe a future hypothetical situation in the past.Ik zou hebben gepraat.“I would have talked.”

The Dutch verb praten is a regular (weak) verb, which makes the above exercise a bit easier. Let’s have a look at all of the five types of Dutch verbs.

2. The Five Types of Verbs

More Essential Verbs

In the Dutch language, there exist five types of verbs:

  • Irregular verbs
  • Weak verbs of the T-class
  • Weak verbs of the D-class
  • Strong verbs
  • Mixed verbs

1- Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are difficult as they’re quite unpredictable. Unfortunately, several important Dutch verbs are irregular. We already showed this before with the irregular verb zijn (“to be”). Another example of Dutch irregular verbs conjugation is the Dutch hebben (“to have”) conjugation:

  • Ik heb (“I have”)
  • Jij hebt (“You have” casual)
  • U heeft (“You have” formal)
  • Hij heeft (“He has”)
  • Wij hebben (“We have”)
  • Jullie hebben (“You have”)
  • Zij hebben (“They have”)


Some other irregular Dutch verbs are willen (conjugation in Dutch) and mogen (conjugation in Dutch).

2- Weak verbs of the T-class

Luckily, not everything is irregular in the Dutch language. A great example of this are the weak verbs. 

Weak verbs are the most common type of verb in Dutch. They’re regular and end with -d or -t. Let’s first show you the Dutch weak verbs of the T-class; these always have a t in the past tense:

Fietsen (“to bike”)Ik fiets (“I bike”)Ik fietste (“I biked”)Ik heb gefietst (“I have biked”)

3- Weak verbs of the D-class

Let’s continue and have a look at the weak verbs of the D-class. These are regular verbs that always have a -d in the past tense:

Redden (“to save”)Ik red (“I save”)Ik redde (“I saved”)Ik heb gered (“I have saved”)

4- Strong verbs

In strong verbs, the vowel changes when going from the simple present tense to other tenses. You can also recognize a strong verb in the past participle, which often ends with -en.

Let’s have a look at some examples in this Dutch verb conjugation chart:

Geven (“to give”)Ik geef (“I give”)Ik gaf (“I gave”)Ik heb gegeven (“I have given”)
Lopen (“to walk”)Ik loop (“I walk”)Ik liep (“I walked”)Ik heb gelopen (“I have walked”)
Sluiten (“to close”)Ik sluit (“I close”)Ik sloot (“I closed”)Ik heb gesloten (“I have closed”)

5- Mixed verbs

Last but not least, there are also verbs that have a mixture of strong and weak elements. These so-called “mixed verbs” are quite common in the Dutch language.

The most common mixed verb form is the one that has a weak past tense, but a strong past participle ending with -en:

Vouwen (“to fold”)Ik vouw (“I fold”)Ik vouwde (“I folded”)Ik heb gevouwen (“I have folded”)
Lachen (“to laugh”)Ik lach (“I laugh”)Ik lachte (“I laughed”)Ik heb gelachen (“I have laughed”)

However, there also exist a smaller group of verbs with the reverse situation: a strong past tense, but a weak past participle.

Vraag (“to ask”)Ik vraag (“I ask”)Ik vroeg (“I asked”)Ik heb gevraagd (“I have asked”)
Jagen (“to hunt”)Ik jaag (“I hunt”)Ik joeg (“I hunted”)Ik heb gejaagd (“I have hunted”)

Okay, we know all about the different types of Dutch verbs. Let’s now dive into the wonderful world of Dutch verb conjugation. 

3. Present Simple

Negative Verbs
    →Used to describe something that is happening now.

1- Weak and strong verbs

In the present simple tense, you can’t see the difference between strong verbs, weak verbs of the T-class, or weak verbs of the D-class. Let’s have a look at the Dutch present tense conjugation of weak and strong verbs. 

To conjugate the singular form (I, you, he, she, it), you can take the infinitive, remove the -en to get the crude stem, and add the -t. However, it’s not always this easy. There are some exceptions:

  • Does the crude stem end with a -z? Then the first person singular ends with an -s. For example: Reizen – ik reis (“To travel” – “I travel”).
  • Does the crude stem end with a -v? Then the first person singular ends with an -f. For example: Schrijven ik schrijf (“To write” – “I write”).
  • Is there a double-consonant ending? Then remove one of the consonants. For example: Vallen – ik val (“To fall” – “I fall”).
  • Does the vowel of the crude stem sound different than the vowel of the infinitive? Then this must be adapted by changing the vowel. For example, a becomes aa or o becomes oo. Let’s have a look: Lopen – ik loop (“To walk” – “I walk”).

In the case of the plural form (we, you, they), you can use the infinitive directly.

Simple Present – Dutch verb conjugation chart
For weak and strong verbs 
Example: voelen (“to feel”)
SingularPlural
I + stem
(“I feel”)
Ik + stem
(Ik voel)
We + infinitive
(“We feel”)
We/Wij + infinitive
(We/Wij voelen)
Casual – 
You + stem + t 
(“You feel”)

Formal – 
You + stem + t 
(“You feel”)
Jij + stem + t
(Jij voelt)


U + stem + t
(U voelt)
You (plural) + infinitive
(“You feel”)
Jullie + infinitive 
(Jullie voelen)
He/She/It + stem + t

(“He/She/It feels)
Hij/Zij/Het + stem + t 

(Hij/Zij/Het voelt)
They + infinitive
(“They feel”)
Zij + infinitive
(Zij voelen)
    →Do you need some help recognizing the infinitive of a Dutch verb? When you look up a verb in the Dutch dictionary, you’ll find the infinitive. The Dutch infinitives are the plural and present tense verbs. They usually end with en, like in praten (“to talk”), and sometimes with only n, like in zijn (“to be”). 
    →Is the verb separable? Then remove the separable prefix from the verb, and add it to the end of the phrase as a separate word (for example: aanbellen (“to ring”) – ik bel aan).
A Woman Studying and Laughing

2- Verbs having an –aan ending

Does the infinitive of a verb have an -aan ending? Then remove the -n to get the stem.

Let’s look at an example of a verb with an -aan ending:

Gaan (“to go”) in simple present
SingularPlural
“I go”Ik ga“We go”We gaan
“You go”Jij gaat“You go”Jullie staan
“He goes”Hij gaat“They go”Ze gaan

In the first person conjugation, it looks like a letter is missing, but the pronunciation of a or aa is the same in Dutch. Therefore, this is the correct spelling.

3- Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are unpredictable. All you can do is memorize them. The Dutch language has six completely irregular verbs. 

Let’s have a look at them in the present simple tense in this Dutch verb conjugation chart:

SubjectHebben conjugation Dutch (“to have”)Kunnen conjugation Dutch (“can”)Mogen conjugation Dutch (“to be allowed to”)Willen conjugation Dutch (“to want”)Zijn conjugation Dutch (“to be”)Zullen conjugation Dutch (“shall”)
Ikhebkanmagwilbenzal
Jij, uhebtkuntmagwiltbentzult
Hij, zij, hetheeftkanmagwiliszalzal
Wijhebbenkunnenmogenwillenzijnzullen
Julliehebbenkunnenmogenwillenzijnzullen
Zijhebbenkunnenmogenwillenzijnzullen

4. Past Simple

    →Used to describe a situation that happened in the past.

1- Weak verbs

A weak verb can either belong to the T-class or D-class. But how can you recognize which class a weak verb belongs to?

  • Step 1: Remove the -en to get the crude stem.
  • Step 2: Have a look at the last letter of the crude stem.
  • Step 3: Check if it is one of the following: f, ch, s, t, k, p
  • Step 4: Is it? Then it’s a T-verb. If not, it’s a D-verb. 

For example, see the verb voelen (“to feel”). The crude stem is voel, the last letter of the crude stem is –l, and this isn’t one of the endings mentioned. Therefore, it belongs to the D-class: Ik voelde (“I felt”).

Another example is the verb haten (“to hate”). The crude stem is haat (add an a to make the vowel sound the same as in the infinitive), and the last letter of the crude stem is -t, making it a T-verb: Ik haatte (“I hated”).

Simple Past for Weak Verbs of the T-class – Dutch Verb Conjugation Chart
Stem + te (singular) or Stem + ten (plural)
SingularPlural
I stem + teIk stem + teWe stem + tenWe stem + ten
You stem + te (casual)
You stem + te (formal)
Je stem + te 
U stem + te
You stem + ten (plural)Jullie stem + ten
He stem + te
She stem + te
It stem + te
Hij stem + te 
Ze stem + te 
Het stem + te
They stem + tenZe stem + ten

You can replace the stem with the stem of a T-class verb. For example, zet from the verb zetten (“to put”): 

  • Ik zette 
  • Je zette 
  • Hij zette 
  • We zetten 
  • Jullie zetten 
  • Ze zetten
Simple Past for Weak Verbs of the D-class – Dutch Verb Conjugation Chart
Stem + de (singular) or Stem + den (plural)
SingularPlural
I stem + deIk stem + deWe stem + denWe stem + den
You stem + de (casual)
You stem + de (formal)
Je stem + de 
U stem + de
You stem + den (plural)Jullie stem + den
He stem + de
She stem + de
It stem + de
Hij stem + de 
Ze stem + de 
Het stem + de
They stem + denZe stem + den

You can replace the stem with the stem of a D-class verb. For example, voel from the verb voelen (“to feel”): 

  • Ik voelde 
  • Je voelde 
  • Hij voelde 
  • We voelden 
  • Jullie voelden 
  • Ze voelden

2- Strong verbs

A Strong Dutch Kid

As in the present tense, vowel changes can also occur in the past tense. The Dutch language has a lot of different strong verbs; however, we’ve divided them into groups in this Dutch verb conjugation table.

Groups of strong verbsVerbExample
e in the infinitive gets ie in the past form.Werpen
(“to throw”)
Ik wierp
(“I threw”)
ij in the infinitive gets ee in the past form.Blijven
(“to stay”)
Ik bleef
(“I stayed”)
e in the infinitive gets o in the past form.Vechten
(“to fight”)
Ik vocht 
(“I fought”)
e in the infinitive gets a in the past form.Nemen
(“to take”)
Ik nam
(“I took”)
i in the infinitive gets a in the past form.Bidden
(“to pray”)
Ik bad
(“I prayed”)
a in the infinitive gets ie in the past form.Slapen
(“to sleep”)
Ik sliep 
(“I slept”)
ui in the infinitive gets oo in the past form.Sluiten
(“to close”)
Ik sloot
(“I closed”)
a in the infinitive gets oe in the past form.Dragen 
(“to carry”)
Ik droeg
 (“I carried”)
Ik droeg
 (“I carried”)
 Vergeten  
(“to forget”)
Ik vergat 
(“I forgot”)
a in the infinitive gets i in the past form.Vangen
(“to catch”)
Ik ving 
(“I caught”)
o in the infinitive gets ie in the past form.Lopen
(“to walk”)
Ik liep
(“I walked”)
iez in the infinitive gets oor in the past form. Vriezen 
(“to freeze”)
Ik vroor 
(“I froze”)
i in the infinitive gets o in the past form. Drinken 
(“to drink”)
Ik dronk 
(“I drank”)
ends in -cht in the past form.Denken 
(“to think”)
 Ik dacht 
(“I thought”)

3- Irregular verbs

This Dutch verb conjugation chart shows you the conjugation of the six Dutch irregular verbs in the past tense:

SubjectHebben conjugation Dutch (“to have”)Kunnen conjugation Dutch (“can”)Mogen 
conjugation Dutch (“to be allowed to”)
Willen conjugation Dutch (“to want”)Zijn conjugation Dutch (“to be”)Zullen conjugation Dutch (“shall”)
Ik (“I”)hadkonmochtwildewaszou
Jij, u (“you”)hadkonmochtwildewaszou
Hij, zij, het (“he, she, it”)hadkonmochtwildewaszou
Wij (“we”)haddenkondenmochtenwildenwarenzouden
Jullie (“you”)haddenkondenmochtenwildenwarenzouden
Zij (“they”)haddenkondenmochtenwildenwarenzouden

5. The Present & Past Perfect

1- The past participle

There are different rules for the past participle of weak and strong verbs.

Let’s start with the weak verbs. Here, the following rule applies:

ge- (prefix) + stem + -t/-d (ending)

    →Regarding the prefix, if the verb already starts with a prefix (ge-, be-, er-, her-, ver-, ont-), then you don’t have to add the ge-.
    →Regarding the ending, have a look at the stem of the verb. Does it end with one of these letters: f, ch, s, t, k, p? Then the past participle ends with a -t. If not, then it ends with a -d.
    →Does the stem end in -t or –d? Then no extra -t or -d has to be added.

For example, the verb voelen (“to feel”): voel is the stem and gevoeld is the past participle.

For example, the verb fietsen (“to bike”): fiets is the stem and gefietst is the past participle.

The strong verbs have the following past participle rule:

ge- (prefix) + stem + -en (ending)

For example, the verb lopen (“to walk”): loop is the stem and gelopen is the past participle.

For example, the verb zingen (“to sing”): zing is the stem and gezongen is the past participle.

    →Remember, in strong verbs, the vowel may change! 
    →Remember, if the verb already starts with a prefix (ge-, be-, er-, her-, ver-, ont-), then you don’t have to add the ge-.

2- Present perfect

    →Used to describe something that happened in the past and has already ended. 

To master the Dutch verb conjugation rules for present perfect, you need to know the following things:

  • The present tense of zijn (“to be”) or hebben (“to have”).
  • The past participle of your verb.

So, the present perfect is:

Subject + present tense of zijn/hebben + past participle

Let’s have a look at some examples:

Ik heb gelezen (“I have read”) — Present tense of the Dutch hebben conjugation + past participle of strong verb lezen

Hij is gegroeid (“He has grown”) — Present tense of zijn (notice that in Dutch, we say “He is grown”) + past participle of weak verb groeien

3- Past perfect

    →Used to describe an action or event that happened in the past and ended in the past. 

To be able to use the past perfect, you need to know:

  • The past tense of zijn (“to be”), hebben (“to have”), or worden (“to become”).
  • The past participle of your verb.

So, the past perfect is:

Subject + past tense of zijn/hebben/worden + past participle

Let’s give you some examples:

Hij had gewacht (“He had waited”) — Past tense of the Dutch hebben conjugation + past participle of weak verb wachten

We zijn begonnen (“We have started”) — Past tense of zijn (in Dutch, we say “We are started”) + past participle of strong verb beginnen

Ik werd gebracht (“I was brought”) — Past tense of worden + past participle of weak verb brengen

6. Future Simple

    →Used to talk about something that will happen in the future. 
A Guy daydreaming

Follow this simple rule to make the Dutch simple future:
Present tense zullen (“shall”) + infinitive

SubjectFormSchrijven 
(“to write”)
Kijken 
(“to watch”)
Ik (“I”)zal + infinitiveIk zal schrijvenIk zal kijken
Jij, u (“you”)zult + infinitiveJij zult schrijvenJij zal kijken
Hij, zij, het (“he, she, it”)zal + infinitiveZij zal schrijvenZij zal kijken
Wij (“we”)zullen + infinitiveWij zullen schrijvenWij zullen kijken
Jullie (“you”)zullen + infinitiveJullie zullen schrijvenJullie zullen kijken
Zij (“they”)zullen + infinitiveZij zullen schrijvenZij zullen kijken

7. Future Perfect

    →Used to describe an action that will have been completed before another action in the future.

Knowing the simple future, you can now also make the future perfect:

Future simple of Dutch conjugation hebben or zijn + past participle 

Or…

Zullen (“shall”) + Dutch conjugation of hebben or zijn + past participle

SubjectFormLachen
(“to laugh”)
Gaan
(“to go”)
Ik (“I”)zal + hebben/zijn + past participleIk zal hebben gelachenIk zal zijn gegaan
Jij, u (“you”)zult + hebben/zijn + past participleJij zult hebben gelachenJij zult zijn gegaan
Hij, zij, het (“he, she, it”)zal + hebben/zijn + past participleHij zal hebben gelachenHij zal zijn gegaan
Wij (“we”)zullen +hebben/zijn + past participleWij zullen hebben gelachenWij zullen zijn gegaan
Jullie (“you”)zullen +hebben/zijn + past participleJullie zullen hebben gelachenJullie zullen zijn gegaan
Zij (“they”)zullen +hebben/zijn + past participleZij zullen hebben gelachenZij zullen zijn gegaan

8. Conditional

    →Used in a “what if” scenario; used to speculate about something.

Follow the following rule to make the Dutch conditional tense:

Zouden (“would”) + infinitive

SubjectFormRennen (“to run”)
Ik (“I”)zou + infinitiveIk zou rennen
Jij, u (“you”)zou + infinitiveJij zou rennen
Hij, zij, het (“he, she, it”)zou + infinitiveHij zou rennen
Wij (“we”)zouden + infinitiveWij zouden rennen
Jullie (“you”)zouden + infinitiveJullie zouden rennen
Zij (“they”)zouden + infinitiveZij zouden rennen

1- Dutch conditional perfect 

    →Used to describe a future hypothetical situation in the past.

The conjugation of the Dutch conditional perfect is very similar to the conjugation of the future perfect tense. The following rule is used to form the conditional perfect:

Zouden (past tense of zullen [“shall”]) + Dutch conjugation of hebben/zijn + past participle

SubjectFormSchreeuwen
(“to scream”)
Verdronken (“to drown”)
Ik (“I”)zou + hebben/zijn + infinitiveIk zou hebben geschreeuwdIk zou zijn verdronken
Jij, u (“you”)zou + hebben/zijn + infinitiveJij zou hebben geschreeuwdU zou zijn verdronken
Hij, zij, het (“he, she, it”)zou + hebben/zijn + infinitiveZij zou hebben geschreeuwdHij zou zijn verdronken
Wij (“we”)zouden + hebben/zijn + infinitiveWij zouden hebben geschreeuwdWij zouden zijn verdronken
Jullie (“you”)zouden + hebben/zijn + infinitiveJullie zouden hebben geschreeuwdJullie zouden zijn verdronken
Zij (“they”)zouden + hebben/zijn + infinitiveZij zouden hebben geschreeuwdZij zouden zijn verdronken
A Woman Studying on the Bus

9. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned all about the Dutch verb conjugations, from the five different types of Dutch verbs to the eight Dutch tenses. You now know how to deal with all of them.

Are you ready to rumble and start using the Dutch verb conjugation in your daily life? Or would you like to get some more help?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com as it has a lot to offer, such as the multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources. Start practicing Dutch conjugations with DutchPod101’s tools, and learn new words and verbs while you’re at it. Practice is key! 

Would you like some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the MyTeacher Premium PLUS service. Here, you can practice Dutch verb conjugation with your own private teacher and really master the Dutch tenses. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, you can master the Dutch language in no time.

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