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Archive for the 'Dutch Grammar' Category

Dutch Negation Rules: How to Say No in Dutch

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The word nee (“no”) is crucial in any language. It allows you to express your desires, clarify things, and even talk about your experiences. Saying no may sometimes be viewed as rude, insensitive, or socially disruptive, but it’s simply a necessary part of life and of society. 

Luckily, the Dutch are quite direct and are not afraid of using some true Dutch negations. While we may sometimes sugarcoat things, honesty and the Dutch directness triumph over being vague or fake.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about negation in the Dutch language: 

  • The basic Dutch negation rules
  • Common negative words with lots of examples 
  • Negative questions and their matching negative answers

Ready? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Dutch Negation – Using Niet (“Not”)
  2. Some Important Negation Rules
  3. More Negative Words
  4. Negative Questions
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. The Basics of Dutch Negation – Using Niet (“Not”)

A Woman Holding Out Both Hands in Front of Her to Indicate No or Stop

How to say no in Dutch…

A. When to use niet

The most basic way to make a Dutch sentence negative is to simply add the word niet (“not”). For example:

  • Ik ben niet moe. (“I am not tired.”)
  • Hij woont niet hier. (“He doesn’t live here.”)
  • Wij werken niet. (“We don’t work.”)
  • Ik werk in Amsterdam, niet in Rotterdam. (“I work in Amsterdam, not in Rotterdam.”)

Because this word is so crucial to negation in Dutch grammar, it’s important that you know exactly when to use it. The Dutch use the word niet in the following cases:

  • To negate any element that is not a noun, such as verbs, adjectives, or thoughts.  
    • Verbs: Ik fiets niet. (“I don’t cycle.”)
    • Adjectives: Zij is niet oud. (“She is not old.”)
    • Thoughts: Ik denk niet dat ik mooi ben. (“I don’t think I am beautiful.”)
  • To negate nouns that are preceded by a definite article or a possessive pronoun.
    • Definite article: Zij is niet de burgemeester van Amsterdam. (“She is not the mayor of Amsterdam.”)
    • Possessive pronoun: Dat is niet mijn auto. (“That’s not my car.”) 

So you now know when to use niet, but where does it go in a sentence? 

B. How to use niet 

A Woman in a Yellow Long-sleeved Shirt Thinking

Do you know where to place the word niet?

The position of niet in a sentence depends on what you’re negating. 

In case of an adverb or adjective, niet is put right in front of it:

  • Adverb: Zijn auto is niet snel. (“His car isn’t fast.”) 
  • Adjective: Mijn kat is niet dik. (“My cat isn’t fat.”) 

In most other cases, the word niet comes after the middle part of the sentence, where you usually find the time, manner, and place:

  • Time: Zij was vorige week niet op werk. (“She was not at work last week.”)
  • Manner: Ik kon door het drukke verkeer niet op tijd op het werk komen. (“I could not get to work on time because of the busy traffic.”)

However, regarding the “place” of the sentence, the situation is a bit different. The word niet usually comes before it when the place indicates a direction:

  • Place [direction]: Wij gaan niet naar Breda. (“We are not going to Breda.”)

However, if you want to stress that something isn’t (or will not be done) a certain way, but rather another way, then you have to put niet in front of the time, manner, and place:

  • Ik rijd niet met jou naar huis vandaag, maar met hem. (“I’m not driving home with you today, but with him.”)

These cases also relate to the fact that the word niet always goes before a preposition:

  • Ik kom niet uit Frankrijk. (“I am not from France.”)
  • Zij woont niet in Rotterdam. (“She doesn’t live in Rotterdam.”)

2. Some Important Negation Rules

A Woman Holding Out a Palm to Say No or Stop

Learn how to say no in Dutch with these important Dutch negation rules.

A. Negation with the word geen (“none”)

Another common way to make a negative sentence in Dutch is to use the word geen (“none”). Here are a couple of situations where you would use this Dutch negation word:

  • When negating a noun that would have needed the word een (“a” / “an”) in a positive sentence. 
    • Zij heeft geen baan. (“She doesn’t have a job.”)
  • When negating plural and uncountable nouns that do not have an article in front of them.
    • Ik heb geen boeken bij me. (“I don’t have any books with me.”)

Geen is always connected to a noun. And as you can see, it always comes before the noun.


B. How to use the verbs “to be” and “to have” in negative forms

Two of the most essential verbs in Dutch are zijn (“to be”) and hebben (“to have”). Unfortunately, both of these verbs are irregular. This makes it imperative to learn not only their conjugations, but also how they work in the context of a negative sentence. 

Let’s have a look at them in the present simple tense:

SubjectHebben conjugation Dutch (“to have”)Zijn conjugation Dutch (“to be”)
Ik (“I”)heb (“have”)ben (“am”)
Jij, u (“You” casual, “you” formal)hebt (“have”)bent (“are”)
Hij, zij, het (“He,” “she,” “it”)heeft (“has”)is (“is”)
Wij (“We”)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)
Jullie (“You” plural)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)
Zij (“They”)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)

Let’s start with some examples of sentences using the verb hebben in negative form: 

  • Ik heb geen auto. (“I don’t have a car.”)
  • Wij hebben geen haast. (“We are not in a hurry.”) 
  • Zij heeft geen kwade bedoelingen. (“She has no bad intentions.”)

As you may have noticed, when using the verb hebben, we use the negation word geen. This is logical, as hebben is mostly used when talking about possessions (and therefore nouns).

Now have a look at some Dutch negations with the verb zijn

  • Ik ben niet moe. (“I am not tired.”)
  • Zij is niet jarig. (“It’s not her birthday.”)
  • Wij zijn niet naar Frankrijk op vakantie gegaan. (“We did not go on holiday to France.”)

As you can see, we use niet when negating this verb. This is because zijn is mostly used to describe something about one’s identity, feelings, or situation. Therefore, prepositions, adjectives, and adverbs are often used in these sentences.

C. Negative Dutch expressions

You now know the basic Dutch negation rules. Let’s now go over some essential negative statements that will come in handy when traveling in the Netherlands.

Nederlands (“Dutch”)Engels (“English”)
Ik heb geen tijd.“I don’t have time.”
Ik weet het niet.“I don’t know.”
Ik begrijp het/je niet.“I don’t understand it/you.”
Ik heb geen pen.“I don’t have a pen.”
Ik vind het niet leuk.“I don’t like it.”
Ik heb geen idee.“I have no idea.”
Ik heb geen zin.“I do not feel like it.”
Ik weet niet waar ik ben.“I don’t know where I am.”
Ik ben het niet met je eens.“I don’t agree with you.”
Geen probleem.“No problem.”
Het maakt niet uit.“It doesn’t matter.”


3. More Negative Words

Below is a table of the most useful words and phrases for performing negation in the Dutch language. For your convenience, we’ve provided a couple of examples for each word.

A Guy Flexing with One Strong Arm and One Weak Arm

Feel strong using these Dutch negation words.

Nooit (“Never”)
  • Jij bent nooit op tijd. (“You are never on time.”)
  • Ik heb jou nooit leuk gevonden. (“I have never liked you”)
Niemand (“Nobody”)
  • Niemand weet mijn geheim. (“Nobody knows my secret.”)
  • Hij heeft vandaag niemand gezien. (“He hasn’t seen anyone today.”)
Niets (“Nothing”)
  • Zij heeft niets gepland voor deze zomer. (“She has nothing planned for this summer.”)
  • Ik heb zondag helemaal niets gedaan. (“I have done nothing this Sunday.”)
Nog niet (“Not yet”)
  • Ik ben nog niet klaar. (“I am not ready yet.”)
  • Hij is nog niet afgestudeerd. (“He hasn’t graduated yet.”)

Nog niet is used to make a negative sentence nicer and not so abrupt.

For example, if someone asks: 

Is de bakkerij open?(“Is the bakery open?”)

You could say:

Nee, de bakkerij is niet open. (“No, the bakery isn’t open.”)

But that would be quite abrupt. It’s nicer to say: 

Nee, de bakkerij is nog niet open. (“No, the bakery isn’t open yet.”)
Nergens (“Nowhere”)
  • Ik kan nergens zo lekker eten als in dit restaurant. (“Nowhere can I eat better than in this restaurant.”)
  • Hij gaat nergens naartoe. (“He is going nowhere.”)
Niet meer (“Not anymore”)
  • Hij werkt niet meer bij mij op kantoor. (“He no longer works at my office.”)
  • Ik ben niet meer verliefd op jou. (“I am no longer in love with you.”)
Niet eens (“Not even”)
  • Hij komt niet eens naar mijn feestje! (“He doesn’t even come to my party!”)
  • Ik ben niet eens uit geweest zaterdagavond. (“I didn’t even go out on Saturday night.”)
Niet altijd (“Not always”)
  • Ik ben niet altijd aan het werken. (“I am not always working.”)
  • Onze kat is niet altijd even aardig. (“Our cat is not always that nice.”)
Noch … noch … (“Neither … nor …”)
  • Noch ik noch mijn vader houden van bier drinken. (“Neither I nor my dad like to drink beer.”)
  • Ik eet noch vlees noch vis. (“I don’t eat meat nor fish.”)


4. Negative Questions

Do you know how to make a question negative in Dutch? Below, you’ll find information on how to do this for both open-ended and closed-ended questions! 

A. Negative Open Questions

An open question starts with an interrogative word (who, what, where, how, etc.). These questions require at least a simple sentence as a reply; you can’t just answer with “yes” or “no.”

There’s a special structure used for questions like this. The question word comes first, the conjugated verb second, and the subject third: 

Question word + Verb + Subject + Niet

Let’s have a look at two simple examples:

  • Waarom lach je niet? (“Why don’t you laugh?”)
  • Wie gaat er niet? (“Who’s not going?”)

Got it? Then let’s move on to some more complex negative questions and their possible negative replies. 

Wat
(“What”)
Wat ga jij morgen niet doen? (“What aren’t you going to do tomorrow?”)Ik ga morgen niet bij mijn ouders op bezoek. (“I’m not going to visit my parents tomorrow.”)
Waarom
(“Why”)
Waarom is je vriendin niet bij jou? (“Why is your girlfriend not here?”)Mijn vriendin is niet hier want ze is op vakantie. (“My girlfriend is not here because she is on holiday.”)
Waar
(“Where”)
Waar ben jij nog nooit geweest? (“Where have you never been to?”)Ik ben nog nooit in Marokko geweest. (“I have never been to Morocco.”)
Wie
(“Who”)
Wie wil jij niet meer zien? (“Who don’t you want to see anymore?”)Ik wil mijn ex vriendje Pieter echt nooit meer zien. (“I never want to see my ex boyfriend Pieter again.”)

B. Negative Closed Questions

Another common type of question Dutch people use is the closed question; these are the questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Questions like these have a different word order, with the verb coming first:

Verb + Subject + Niet

For example:

  • Kom je niet? (“Aren’t you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij niet? (“Doesn’t he work?”)

As you can see here, the subject and verb are inverted to create yes-or-no questions. 

Remember that when jij or je (“you”) follows the verb, the -t at the end of the verb is dropped:

  • Ga je morgen niet naar school? (“Are you not going to school tomorrow?”)
    • Instead of: Je gaat morgen niet naar school. (“You are not going to school tomorrow.”)
  • Heb je vandaag niet met je oma gepraat? (“Didn’t you talk to your grandmother today?”)
    • Instead of: Je hebt vandaag niet met je oma gepraat. (“You didn’t talk with your grandmother today.”)

The answer for these questions is simple: Nee. (“No.”)


5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

A Woman Holding Out Her Palm, Which Has NO Written on It

You now know How to say no in Dutch.

In this guide, you’ve learned all about Dutch negations, from the basics of negation in Dutch to more advanced rules. You’ve also picked up a few useful words for negation and have a better idea of how to use them. 

Do you already have a favorite Dutch negation word or negative sentence? Or do you still feel like you need some help with the Dutch negation rules?

If you’re feeling stuck, remember that DutchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to help you master this and many other parts of the Dutch language.

Would you like to practice with your own private teacher? Then make use of Premium PLUS MyTeacher service and get personal one-on-one coaching. Through interactive exercises, pronunciation advice, and personalized feedback, you’ll really master those Dutch negative sentences and questions! 

Start saying no in Dutch like a native with DutchPod101!

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Can You Learn Dutch Fast? Here’s How Long it Will Take.

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How long does it take to learn Dutch? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from aspiring Dutch learners, but it has no definite answer. It depends on many things, such as your native language, educational background, experience with languages, exposure, and motivation. It also depends on what “learning Dutch” means to you: Are you hoping to achieve a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level? These are all different goals with different timeframes. But whatever level you wish to achieve, there are some great tools you can use to learn Dutch faster.

In this article, you’ll learn how to realistically estimate how long it will take to learn Dutch, depending on your background and the proficiency level you have in mind. Then, we’ll give you some useful strategies you can employ to really master this language.

A Man in a Plaid Shirt Checking His Watch

How long does it take to learn Dutch?


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors Involved
  2. From Beginner to Advanced
  3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster
  4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

1. The Many Factors Involved


There are a few factors involved in determining how long it takes to learn the Dutch language. Because these things will impact your learning progress, you should take them into consideration as you plan your course of study. 

Your Native Language vs. Dutch

Knowing a language with similar roots as Dutch will make it easier and quicker for you to learn this language. If you’re reading this article, it means your English level is already really strong, and this is great news for your Dutch learning! 

Dutch is very similar to English and German, as these three languages are all part of the Indo-European family of languages and belong to the Germanic branch. This makes it much easier for English- and German-speakers to pick up the language, compared to speakers of other languages. (And lucky for you, Dutch won’t make you put up with difficult grammar like that found in German!)

So if you speak one of these languages, even if it’s not your native language, it will give you a headstart in your Dutch learning process. 

Your Language Learning Experience 

Have you ever learned another language before? If you already speak a foreign language, this knowledge and experience will help you a lot when learning a third language. 

Your brain is accustomed to the challenges of language learning and you already know how to study a language. You’re familiar with the best ways to memorize vocabulary, practice your conversation skills, and understand those tricky tenses. Languages have a certain logic to them, and the more languages you learn, the more you start to understand how their grammar and structure work in general. 

For these reasons, bilinguals often find it easier to learn a third language. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably save yourself quite a lot of time when learning Dutch.

Your Motivation

Why do you want to learn Dutch? 

Do you just want to learn another language? Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Are you planning to study in this country? Or are you dating a nice Dutchie?

Whatever your reason may be, this motivation will impact your level of commitment and the amount of time you’re willing to invest in learning Dutch. Your motivation will also help you continue your studies and convince you not to stop, even when things get difficult. If you have a strong motivation, you’ll have a strong will to work hard and learn fast.

A Female Fitness Instructor with a Megaphone

Have you already found your motivation to learn Dutch?

Your Approach

Your learning method plays a key role in how fast you’ll make progress. For a good learning method, it’s often advisable to combine different learning techniques, such as taking online Dutch lessons, finding a language exchange partner to help you practice your conversation skills, and listening to Dutch music or movies to train your listening skills. And of course, how successful your learning method is also depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in your studies.

Don’t worry about this yet, though. We’ll discuss some useful Dutch learning strategies in a few moments!

2. From Beginner to Advanced

Now, for the main topic at hand: How long does it take to learn Dutch as an English speaker?

According to FSI (Foreign Service Institute), an American government institution in charge of foreign language teaching to American diplomats and officials, it takes English speakers around 24 weeks of intensive classroom study to reach a general professional proficiency in Dutch. 

However, be aware that this is based on the FSI approach. This is a very intensive study routine where students are taught in small classes of around 6 students, spend 6 hours daily with a teacher, and do 2 hours of self-study each day. In other words, it takes around 600 classroom hours for a student to be able to work professionally with the language.

Let’s see what this means for the different Dutch proficiency levels. 

We’ll use the CEFR system (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). This classification shows one’s proficiency level in a foreign language on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners to C2 for those who have mastered a language. In this article, we’ll focus only on the A1 / B1 / C1 levels (not the second level for each), as these are a good reflection of what it takes to achieve the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. 

    → Speaking of which, if you’re interested in doing a Dutch language exam, we have a complete guide to help you successfully pass these tests.

1 – Beginner Level

A Woman with Thought Bubbles Above Her Head, Two with an Exclamation Mark and One with a Question Mark

Do you want to reach the Dutch beginner level?

Let’s start with the beginner level, A1.

    ★ How long does it take to reach A1? Around 80-100 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and use everyday expressions as well as simple statements about practical needs.
  • Introduce yourself and others.
  • Ask and answer questions about personal matters.
  • Use the present tense and the right word order in simple affirmative sentences and questions.
  • Have basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and articulates clearly.

To be able to do this, you need to build a foundation to start understanding how the language works. This means studying things like:

  • Word order
  • Present tense
  • Basic conjugation

Vocabulary is also important, but in this beginning phase, your focus will be on building lots of different sentences using few words. Don’t clutter your brain yet with too much vocabulary. With some basic nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you’ll be able to have basic conversations. 

Try to practice your pronunciation from the beginning, as this will prevent you from making the same mistakes when you’re improving your Dutch in the next stages. Listen to a lot of Dutch music to become familiar with the pronunciation, practice your speaking skills with others, and record yourself so you can listen to your own pronunciation and find things to improve.

At the beginner level, flashcards will come in handy. You can use them to remember words, simple phrases, useful questions, or conjugated verbs—basically anything you want or need. 

    → Also have a look at the DutchPod101 Absolute Beginner lesson pathway. This is the perfect pathway for learning the Dutch basics, containing 25 lessons (about 5.5 hours of material) that cover topics ranging from self-introductions to writing a postcard.

2 – Intermediate Level

B1 is the intermediate level.

    ★ How long does it take to reach B1? Around 350 to 400 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and communicate in common everyday situations, such as at work or school.
  • Handle most daily interactions when traveling in the Netherlands or through Flanders.
  • Write simple Dutch texts about familiar topics or subjects you’re interested in.
  • Talk about events, experiences, dreams, expectations, and desires. You’re also able to express your opinions, reasons, and plans.

To reach B1, you have to pass through the beginner level (A1) and the lower-intermediate level (A2). So there’s quite some ground to cover! 

As you progress toward this stage, you’ll be learning more about Dutch-language patterns, structures, and vocabulary. This is also the level where you’ll start learning new tenses and new types of words, such as adverbs. You’ll start to understand the pronouns better, which will allow you to make smoother sentences. Using all of this new knowledge, you’ll be able to get into more details when speaking or writing Dutch. 

If you’re not studying Dutch at school or university, this would be a good time to start some lessons with a teacher at a language school. Alternatively, you could try to find some affordable online coaching to make sure you’re on the right track.

    → Have a look at the DutchPod101 Lower Intermediate lessons to break out of the beginner level and pass through to the intermediate level. In only 25 lessons (around 4.5 hours), you’ll notice some improvement.

3 – Advanced Level

So, how long does it take to learn Dutch fluently? C1 is the advanced level.

A Little Kid with Glasses and a Graduation Cap

Ready to achieve the advanced level?

    ★ How long does it take to reach C1? Around 850 to 900 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand long texts and their implicit meaning, humor, and wit.
  • Speak spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much.
  • Use the language flexibly and efficiently at home, work, or school.
  • Express your opinion on complex topics in a clear and structured manner.
  • Write clear, well-structured, and detailed texts about complex subjects.

Now you know how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently. You have to pass through the A1, A2, B1, and B2 levels. It’s double the time and effort of the intermediate level, but it’s worth it!

When you reach this stage, you’ll have expanded your vocabulary greatly, you understand the tenses, and you’re able to write and speak Dutch at a high level. You feel confident as you (almost) fully understand the language and you can discuss the most complex topics in Dutch.

To reach such a level of proficiency, you can, of course, use language classes or online teachers. However, try to really immerse yourself in the language as well. Read Dutch books, watch Dutch TV or movies, listen to music in Dutch, and try to find a native speaker you can talk with on a regular basis. 

This all helps, but at the end of the day, the best way to improve your Dutch to an advanced level is to live in the country or to spend a few months there.

    → Have a look at our official curated pathway for Level 5, the best tool to help you become an advanced Dutch learner. These 50 lessons (around 2 hours) will help you go from fully intermediate to an advanced learner.

3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster

As we mentioned before, how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently depends on your exposure to the language, how much time and effort you put into it, and the strategies you use.

With the right strategies, you’ll be able to learn Dutch faster and more effectively! 

1 – Make Use of Online Classes

Wondering how to learn Dutch online? We hear you! 

With online classes, you can learn Dutch anywhere and anytime you want. There are online classes for every level and they’re more affordable than private lessons or language schools. They’re also the most flexible option, as you can adapt them to your schedule. 

There are many websites you can choose from. Some are entirely free, while others have a mixture of free resources and paid resources with advanced services. Try to choose a website where you can track your progress and work over time; this way, you can really be aware of your improvement.

A Woman Reading a Book on a Bus

Be efficient and learn where and when you can.

    → Check out DutchPod101 to see what online lessons we offer. Even without a paid subscription, you can access a lot of free content, including vocabulary lists, a YouTube channel, and countless lessons for students at every level.

2 – Make Learning Dutch Fun

Try to make learning Dutch as enjoyable as possible—learning a new language shouldn’t be boring.

Of course there are some boring parts, such as grammar rules or those endless lists of verb conjugations, but try to mix it up with some entertaining learning tools. For example, you might enjoy watching a Dutch TV show with subtitles, or listening to Dutch music and trying to translate or understand the lyrics. Studying this way will make you more inclined to continue your Dutch studies! 


3 – Practice is Key

To really learn a language, you have to practice it a lot. So try speaking, reading, writing, and listening in Dutch as much as you can. It’s okay to make mistakes, and you don’t even need that many words or an extensive knowledge of complicated grammar rules to express yourself.

Try to put everything you learn into practice, as this is truly the only way to improve your Dutch. Really immerse yourself in the language through TV series, books, music, or even podcasts. Start writing Dutch stories and talk to every Dutch person you meet. You can do it!

4 – Use Word Lists to Build Up a Solid Vocabulary

Are you struggling to practice the language because you feel like you don’t have a solid vocabulary yet? Then use vocabulary word lists to expand your personal word bank. You can choose a topic you find interesting and learn words related to that topic. DutchPod101 has vocabulary lists on many topics, such as love, family, animals, work, and more.

You may even want to set yourself some vocabulary learning goals. For example, to memorize one or two vocabulary lists a week, or one new word a day. 

5 – Create a Study Schedule and Set Some Goals

When learning a new language, structure is key. Language learning is a big task, and there’s so much to learn. Therefore, it’s very important that you create a clear study schedule and set some goals. This will give you the motivation to continue and not give up. With every goal you achieve, you know you’re improving and you’ll be motivated to continue with your other goals. A study schedule gives you the consistency needed to achieve them.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

In this guide, you learned that the time it takes to learn Dutch depends on certain factors, such as the level of proficiency you want to reach and the Dutch learning strategies you employ. We also gave you pointers on how to learn Dutch effectively at each stage. 

Did we forget any important language learning tips? Do you already feel motivated to start learning Dutch? 

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you learn Dutch quickly and efficiently. Our vocabulary lists are another great way to improve your knowledge of Dutch words and their pronunciation. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching with a private teacher who will help you master the Dutch language even faster. He or she will give you interesting exercises, useful recorded audio samples, and personalized feedback so that you can become fluent in Dutch before you know it.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

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Dutch Proverbs & Sayings About Life, Love, and All the Rest

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Proverbs are little phrases of wisdom, passed down from one generation to the next. While some proverbs seem to extend across borders, others are unique to a specific culture or way of living. 

For this reason, learning Dutch proverbs and sayings is a great way to expand your vocabulary and gain cultural insight. These nuggets of practical advice and observations can really serve as a window into the age-old wisdom and traditions of the Dutch. 

They may be old-fashioned, but the Dutch still use these old proverbs on a daily basis. They serve as a reflection of who they are and the values they stand for. 

In this article, you’ll learn thirty of the most common Dutch proverbs about love, success, life, personality, weather, and family and friends. Studying them will help you learn more about the Dutch, while memorizing and using them in conversation is sure to impress native speakers!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Proverbs About Love
  2. Dutch Proverbs About Success
  3. Dutch Proverbs About Life
  4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality
  5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends
  6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Proverbs About Love

Four People Making Hearts with Their Hands

Let’s discover that Dutch love…

They say that love is what makes the world go ‘round. With that in mind, let’s kick off our list with a few popular Dutch love proverbs! 

#1

DutchGa niet op het uiterlijk af.
Equivalent“Never judge by appearance.”
This Dutch proverb is used to warn against falling in love with someone for only their looks. Looks are not the most important thing, so instead of judging someone by their appearance, you should rather have eyes for someone’s personality.

#2

DutchAls de armoede binnenkomt, vliegt de liefde het raam uit.
Literally“When poverty comes in, love flies out the window.”
MeaningPoverty often means the end of relationships.
Having money troubles often causes relationship troubles as well. When there’s stress about money, the tension in a relationship often rises. This is an old Dutch proverb about love that’s used less nowadays, but there’s still some truth to it. It’s most often used in reference to romantic relationships, but can also be used when talking about friendships.


#3

DutchVan liefde rookt de schoorsteen niet.
Literally“The chimney does not smoke from love.”
MeaningYou cannot live on love alone.
This Dutch proverb reflects the typical level-headedness of the Dutch. It may not be that romantic, but it’s true: you cannot live on love alone.

#4

DutchLiefde maakt blind.
Equivalent“Love makes blind.”
This proverb is the same in Dutch as it is in English. It’s frequently used in songs and literature.

#5

DutchIets bedekken met de mantel der liefde.
Literally“Covering something with the cloak of love.”
MeaningThis refers to not discussing something with others, but rather keeping silent and accepting the situation.
It may feel a bit contradictory to the Dutch directness and honesty, but even the Dutch sometimes prefer to keep quiet about something, out of love for the other person. This old Dutch proverb is a true classic and is often associated with motherly love. 

    → Would you like to learn some more Dutch sayings about love? Then have a look at our Dutch Quotes About Love vocabulary list.

2. Dutch Proverbs About Success

Silhouette of Three People Raising Their Arms in Victory Atop a Mountain

Here’s how to achieve success, according to the Dutch.

While success can mean different things to different people, there are some basic truths and words of advice we can all relate to. Here are some Dutch idioms and proverbs related to success and hard work—we hope they inspire you! 

#6

DutchEen kat in de zak kopen.
Literally“Buying a cat in the bag.”
EquivalentTo buy a pig in a poke.
If you buy “a pig in a poke,” it means you’ve just made a bad purchase. The Dutch use this saying when someone buys something that’s very disappointing or breaks down very quickly. 

This saying dates back to when people would buy a pig or hare in a sack, only to come home and find out it’s a cat instead. It’s a bad purchase because you can create a tasty dish with a pig or hare, but not with a cat. The Spanish language has a similar proverb: dar gato por liebre, meaning “to give someone a cat instead of a hare.”

#7

DutchHoge bomen vangen veel wind.
Literally“High trees catch a lot of wind.”
MeaningPeople in a high position face a lot of criticism.
Those who hold a high position have to face a lot of criticism. Just like tall trees, which rise above the small ones and are most exposed to the wind, high-ranking people are exposed to all kinds of judgment, hatred, and envy.

A variant of this Dutch proverb is: Hoge masten vangen veel wind. / “High masts catch a lot of wind.”

#8

DutchAls de berg niet tot Muhammad wil komen, dan moet Muhammad naar de berg gaan.
Equivalent“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.”
MeaningIf you cannot get what you want, you must adapt to the circumstances or adopt a different approach.
This is another Dutch proverb that has the exact same meaning as its English equivalent. Both are based on the legend in which Muhammad ordered a mountain to come to him, which did not happen. Afterward, he supposedly uttered the words: “Well, mountain, since you do not want to come to Muhammad, Muhammad will come to you.”

#9

DutchEen ezel stoot zich niet twee keer aan dezelfde steen.
Literally“A donkey doesn’t stub itself against the same boulder twice.”
EquivalentFool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
One should not make the same mistake twice. According to this Dutch proverb, only a fool would do so. 

#10

DutchWie het eerst komt, wie het eerst maalt.
Equivalent“First come, first served.”
MeaningWho comes first is helped first.
This saying means that whoever is first to pick up or buy something can be sure that what they want is still available. Those who come later may be too late, and everything may already be gone.

This old saying originates from the time when wheat had to be brought to a mill to be grinded. So, the one who arrived first with their wheat could count on it being grinded first.

#11

DutchSchoenmaker, blijf bij je leest.
Literally“A shoemaker must not go beyond his last.”
MeaningYou should stick to what you know.
The Dutch might say this to someone who judges something of which he or she has no knowledge.

This old Dutch proverb comes from a story about the famous Greek painter Apelles, who lived in the fourth century B.C. The artist liked to hide behind his paintings so that he could hear what spectators really thought of his artwork. One day, he heard a shoemaker comment on the shoes in one of his paintings, which was missing a shoelace hole. Apelles adjusted his work, but the shoemaker still found something to complain about. Apelles was fed up and said these famous words to the shoemaker: Sutor, ne ultra crepidam. / “Shoemaker, no further than the shoe.”


3. Dutch Proverbs About Life

A Little Girl Throwing Autumn Leaves Up into the Air

Some inspirational Dutch proverbs to help you enjoy life to its fullest…

For time immemorial, people have been asking themselves how to live life well. There are several idioms and proverbs in Dutch on the topic, and studying them can give you a glimpse of how the Dutch view this topic. 

#12

DutchBelofte maakt schuld.
Literally“Promise is debt.”
MeaningIf you promise something, you should honor that commitment.
This Dutch proverb reflects two things the Dutch value highly: honesty and loyalty. If you promise to do something, you have to stick to that promise.

#13

DutchWie goed doet, goed ontmoet.
Literally“Who does good, meets well.”
EquivalentIf you do good, good will be done to you.
This old Dutch proverb is still very true today. It means that if someone does good things for other people, that person can sometimes expect good things in return. It’s sort of a Dutch karma mindset, related to their highly valued honesty.

#14

DutchDoor de bomen het bos niet meer zien.
Literally“Can’t see the forest through the trees.”
EquivalentMissing the forest because of the trees.
When you pay too much attention to details (the trees), you’ll lose sight of the whole picture (the forest). For example, there’s so much information on the internet that it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. 

#15

DutchGeld moet rollen.
Literally“Money must roll.”
EquivalentMoney is there to be spent.
You might say the Dutch are a pragmatic and responsible group of people, but they also have their impulsive and crazy moments. In the Netherlands, when someone comments about someone else’s (irresponsible) spending, that person may respond: Geld moet rollen. Many people also say this to encourage spending for the sake of the Dutch economy.

#16

DutchNood breekt wet.
Literally“Necessity breaks the law.”
EquivalentNecessity has no law.
The Dutch are quite the law-abiding citizens. Even though they value their freedom, they also know that they have this freedom because people respect the law. However, in emergency situations, things are permitted that would otherwise not be permitted.

#17

DutchEen gewaarschuwd mens telt voor twee.
Literally“A warned man counts as two.”
EquivalentForewarned is forearmed.
This Dutch proverb about life reflects the typical pragmatic and practical attitude of the Dutch. Someone who knows in advance what can go wrong should prepare for it. 


4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality

Someone Holding Two Signs Up, One with a Smiley Face and the Other a Frowny Face

Which Dutch proverb reflects your personality?

No two people are exactly alike, though there are some common personality and character traits we can easily pinpoint in others. Below are a few Dutch proverbs and sayings on this very topic! 

#18

DutchAls je hem een vinger geeft, neemt hij de hele hand. 
Literally“If you give him a finger, he takes the whole hand.”
EquivalentGive him an inch and he will take a yard.
This Dutch proverb refers to the greediness of people. If you help someone one time, they’ll come back for more. If you give someone a little bit of something, he or she will want more and more.

#19

DutchVan een mug een olifant maken. 
Literally“To make an elephant out of a mosquito.”
EquivalentTo make a mountain out of a molehill.
This common Dutch saying refers to people who are exaggerating. The Dutch are very down-to-earth and they don’t really like too much drama. They often use this proverb when someone is turning a small problem into a big one.

#20

DutchAls er één schaap over de dam is, volgen er meer.
Literally“If one sheep crosses the dam, more will follow.”
MeaningIf one person tries something new, others will have the courage to do so as well.
If someone sets an example, there will soon be people who follow that example.

#21

DutchAl draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding. 
Literally“A monkey may wear a golden ring, but it will always be an ugly thing.”
EquivalentYou cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
This is a widely known Dutch proverb, and it may be one of the most amusing ones as it also rhymes. It can refer to someone’s ugly personality: one’s appearance doesn’t make up for their negative personality. But it may also refer to someone who is not very good-looking: if someone dresses nicely, it doesn’t improve the natural appearance of that person. 

#22

DutchBlaffende honden bijten niet.
Literally“Barking dogs don’t bite.”
EquivalentBarking dogs seldom bite.
This common Dutch proverb may be used in reference to actual barking dogs, but it’s also used when talking about “barking” people. People who make the loudest threats are the least likely to take action.

    → Which Dutch adjective describes your personality best? Discover this in our useful vocabulary list, and practice your pronunciation with the included audio recordings.

5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends

A Family at the Mall Eating Ice Cream

Now for some Dutch proverbs that reflect some of the Dutch family values.

Family and friends are the most important people in one’s life, so it makes sense that there would be at least a few Dutch proverbs touching on these unique relationships. 

#23

DutchAls de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen op tafel.
Literally“When the cat leaves the house, the mice dance on the table.”
EquivalentWhen the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Without supervision, people do whatever they like.

This Dutch proverb is often used by parents when talking about their children. When they leave them without supervision, the children will do whatever they like.

#24

DutchBeter één vogel in de hand dan tien in de lucht.
Literally“Better to have one bird in the hand than ten in the air.”
EquivalentA bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This common Dutch proverb refers to the value of having a few very close friends, rather than having a lot of friends that you hardly ever see. A variant of this saying is: Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend. / “Better a good neighbor than a distant friend.”

The proverb may also mean that it’s better to have something little than nothing at all. Or that small, concrete results are better than big plans. (There’s the Dutch pragmatism again!)

#25

DutchDe appel valt niet ver van de boom. 
Literally“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
EquivalentA chip off the old block.
Children often resemble their parents. This is a common saying in the Netherlands, often said when a child has the same looks, interests, or talents as their parents.

#26

DutchZo vader, zo zoon. 
Equivalent“Like father, like son.”
Like the previous saying, this one also states that children inherit the characteristics of their parents. There’s also a variant: Zo moeder, zo dochter. / “Like mother, like daughter.”

There used to be a Dutch television program called Zo vader, zo zoon. The program revolved around guessing the father of a son from a group of four. A permanent panel had to try to guess by asking questions and presenting situations that would reveal which one the father was. 

#27

DutchBeter alleen, dan in kwaad gezelschap.
Literally“It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.”
This Dutch proverb already says it all: It’s better to be alone, than to be with bad people.


6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather

Raindrops Falling on a Body of Water

The Dutch know their rain.

People often use different aspects of weather and the seasons as an analogy for things we experience in life. Here are just a few examples of how the Dutch do this…

#28

DutchHet regent pijpenstelen. 
Literally“It is raining pipes.”
EquivalentIt is raining cats and dogs.
Knowing the Dutch weather, it’s no surprise that the Dutch have a few sayings about the rain. Like its English equivalent, this one is often used when it’s raining very hard. 

#29

DutchNa regen komt zonneschijn.
Equivalent“After rain comes sunshine.”
Although this proverb might refer to the weather, it’s most often used to say that there will be better times after a period of adversity.

#30

DutchDoor wind en weer gaan.
Literally“Going through wind and weather.”
MeaningNothing can stop you.
This saying is a symbolic reflection of the Dutch stamina and their attitude toward facing bad weather. This is directly reflected in the Dutch bike culture. It doesn’t matter if it rains or if the wind blows strongly—the Dutch will take their bike and gaan door wind and weer, or “go through wind and weather.”

    → Expand your Dutch weather vocabulary with these useful lists of must-know terms for summer and autumn.

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned about the most important Dutch proverbs and sayings on a variety of topics. Do you already feel inspired and motivated to learn more about the Dutch language, culture, and history? 

Then it’s definitely time to discover DutchPod101! Our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources are designed to boost your Dutch studies and keep your Dutch learning fresh and entertaining.

Would you prefer some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members. With this service, you can practice everything you’re learning with your personal tutor. You’ll quickly master the Dutch language through your teacher’s personalized feedback, fun assignments, and pronunciation advice.

Happy learning with DutchPod101!

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A Guide to Dutch Grammar Rules

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Are you thinking about learning Dutch and wondering what to study first? Or are you already studying Dutch but getting a bit lost in the Dutch grammar

Then you’re in the right place! This comprehensive Dutch grammar overview from DutchPod101 is the perfect place to start your studies or refresh yourself on the basics. 

This one page contains a breakdown of the concepts of Dutch grammar you really need to know, including the more difficult aspects. You’ll walk away from this lesson with a greater understanding of Dutch, from word types and tenses to tips on avoiding the most common Dutch grammar mistakes.

It may be a challenge, but we know you can face it with the best tool in town!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Verbs & Tenses
  3. Dutch Nouns
  4. Gender & Articles
  5. Avoid the Most Common Dutch Grammar Mistakes
  6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. General Rules

Let’s start on a positive note: From a grammatical perspective, the Dutch language has a lot in common with both English and German. It has similar types of words, a lot of loanwords from these languages (but also from others, such as French and Hebrew; nearly one-third of the Dutch language is borrowed), and many similar grammatical structures.

As you can see, knowing either English or German will help you a lot when studying Dutch grammar. 

Dutch Word Types

Like most Germanic languages, Dutch has the following word types:

  • Articles (indefinite or definite):
    De kat (“The cat”)
  • Nouns:
    De kat (“The cat“)
  • Verbs:
    Wij lopen. (“We walk.”)
  • Adjectives (used to describe a noun):
    De kleine kat (“The little cat”)
  • Adverbs (used to describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb):
    Ik ga morgen naar school. (“I will go to school tomorrow.”)

  • Pronouns (singular or plural):
    Wij lopen. (“We walk.”)

  • Conjunctions (used to connect words or phrases)
    Een hond en een kat (“A dog and a cat”)

  • Prepositions (followed by nouns, verbs, or pronouns)
    De hond is in het huis. (“The dog is in the house.”)

So when you compare Dutch grammar with English grammar, you can see that all of these word types have a direct equivalent in English.

Dutch Word Order

In Dutch grammar, the word order for the most basic sentences consists of a subject and a verb:

Subject + Verb

  • Ik praat. (“I talk.”)
  • De jongen verft. (“The boy paints.”)

In Dutch, the subject is almost never dropped; the sentence structure is simply not complete without the subject.

    → How do you make a negative sentence? Place the word niet (“not”) AFTER the verb.

So that’s step one. Let’s make it a bit more complicated by adding an object. The (direct) object in Dutch is usually placed right after the verb.

Subject + Verb + (Direct) Object

  • Ik praat met mijn vader. (“I talk to my father.”)
  • De jongen verft de deur. (“The boy paints the door.”)

These are direct objects because they’re a person or thing that is directly affected by the actions of the subject. But in Dutch, there are also indirect objects, which are a person or thing that is somehow involved in the action.

The indirect object can be placed after the direct object.

Subject + Verb + Direct object + Indirect object 

  • Ik praat met mijn vader over ons huis. (“I talk to my father about our home.”)
  • De jongen verft de deur met verf. (“The boy paints the door with paint.”)

DutchPod101 also has a comprehensive Dutch Word Order Guide. Make sure to check it out for more detailed information on how this works!

2. Verbs & Tenses

Learning Verbs

In Dutch grammar, verbs conjugate for number (singular and plural) and person (first, second, and third person), just like they do in English. For reference, here’s a table of the grammatical persons in singular and plural:

SingularPlural
First PersonIk (“I”)Wij (“We”)
Second PersonJij (“You,” casual) 
U (“You,” formal)
Jullie (“You”)
Third PersonHij (“He”)
Zij (“She”)
Het (“It”)
Zij (“They”)

It may be a bit overwhelming at first, but let’s just go through the basics, step-by-step.

The Infinitive

What’s the infinitive in Dutch? Well, a Dutch infinitive verb is the plural and present tense of a verb (also known as the entire verb). They usually end with -en, as in lopen (“to walk”). 

Before the Dutch infinitive, you can almost always put Ik kan (“I can”): 

  • Ik kan fietsen.
    “I can cycle.”

or 

  • Ik kan werken.
    “I can work.”

Conjugation Basics

Let’s give you a quick overview of the eight basic tenses that exist in Dutch.

There are two main tenses: the present and the past. 

Then, there are six “semi-tenses” that appear when these two main tenses (present or past) interact with a mood (factual or hypothetical) or an aspect (temporary or continuing).

The eight tenses of the verb Praten (“To talk”)
1.
Onvoltooid tegenwoordige tijd 
(“Present Simple”)
Ik praat“I talk”
2.
Onvoltooid verleden tijd 
(“Past Simple”) 
Ik praatte“I talked”
3.
Voltooid tegenwoordige tijd 
(“Present Perfect”)
Ik heb gepraat“I have talked”
4.
Voltooid verleden tijd 
(“Past Perfect”)
Ik had gepraat“I had talked”
5.
Onvoltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd 
(“Future Simple”)
Ik zal praten“I will talk”
6.
Voltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd 
(“Future Perfect”)
Ik zal hebben gepraat“I will have talked”
7.
Onvoltooid verleden toekomende tijd 
(“Conditional”)
Ik zou praten“I would talk”
8.
Voltooid verleden toekomende tijd 
(“Conditional Perfect”)
Ik zou hebben gepraat“I would have talked”

Please note that praten is a regular verb, meaning it follows the normal conjugation rules. Things get a bit more complicated when you throw irregular verbs into the mix!

The 2 Most Important Verbs


Now that you know the basics of Dutch conjugation, let’s have a look at two crucial verbs. The first one, unfortunately, is irregular and doesn’t follow normal conjugation rules:

  • Zijn (“To be”)

    Ik ben (“I am”) / Jij bent (“You are,” singular) / Hij is (“He is”) / Wij zijn (“We are”) / Jullie zijn (“You are,” plural) / Zij zijn (“They are”)

    For example: Ik ben gelukkig. (“I’m happy.”)

The second one, luckily, is a regular verb:
  • Hebben (“To have”)

    Ik heb (“I have”) / Jij hebt (“You have,” singular) / Hij heeft (“He has”) / Wij hebben (“We have”) / Jullie hebben (“You have,” plural) / Zij hebben (“They have”)

    For example: Wij hebben een kat. (“We have a cat.”)

Want to learn more? Have a look at our vocabulary list of the 50 Most Common Verbs and our Beginner’s Guide to Dutch Conjugation

3. Dutch Nouns

In the Dutch language, a given noun can be singular or plural, and each noun has a grammatical gender. The gender isn’t overtly marked, so it has to be learned for every case. However, we’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to recognize the gender (and thus, the correct article) in the next section.

The Dutch Plural

Do You Already Know How to Make Dutch Nouns Plural

The Dutch plural is made by changing the end of the word, similarly to how English plurals are formed. The most common way to make a noun plural is by adding -en or -s.

Most of the time, we add -en:

SingularPlural
Kat (“Cat”)Katten (“Cats”)
Kus (“Kiss”)Kussen (“Kisses”)

However, sometimes we add -s. For example, when the word ends with an -en, -el, -em, or -er:

SingularPlural
Tante (“Aunt”)Tantes (“Aunts”)
Appel (“Apple”)Appels (“Apples”)

When a relatively modern noun ends in a long vowel, an -‘s (with an apostrophe) is often used in the plural. What if they end in -ee or ? Then no apostrophe is used. Older words generally use -en or -ën (with diaeresis).

SingularPlural
Baby (“Baby”)Baby´s (“Babies”)
Café (“Bar”)Cafés (“Bars”)
Ree (“Deer”)Reeën (“Deer”)

But there are also other, less common endings for plural nouns: -eren and -a.

  • Het kind (“The child”) is singular. / De kinderen (“The children”) is plural.
    Het museum (“The museum”) is singular. / De musea (“The museums”) is plural.

There are more rules and exceptions, but let’s just stick with the basics for now.

The Dutch Diminutive

The Dutch love to use the diminutive, and not only for small things. Really, it can be used for anything that’s cute, funny, sweet, young, old, or even annoying. 

The basic formula for the diminutive is noun + je:

  • Het kindje (“The little child”)

Only a -je is added when the word ends with: -b, -c, -d, -f, -g, -ch, -k, -p, -q, -s, -sj, -t, -v, -x, or -z.

However, sometimes the diminutive is formed with -tje, -etje, -pje, or -kje.

Is the vowel of the last syllable both short and stressed, and followed by a sonorant? Then use -etje:

  • Het dingetje (“The little thing”)
  • Het vriendinnetje (“The little girlfriend”)

In almost all other cases, the basic form -tje is used:

  • Het vrouwtje (“The little woman”)
  • Het schooltje (“The little school”)
Diminutives in Dutch Are Perfect for When You Like Someone.

4. Gender & Articles

De and het are both definite articles that mean “the.” The masculine and feminine words generally get de, while all neuter words get het. Let’s have a look:

MasculineFeminineNeuter
Definite singularDe man (“The man”)De vrouw (“The woman”)Het huis (“The house”)
Definite pluralDe mannen (“The men”)De vrouwen (“The women”)De huizen (“The houses”)
Indefinite singularEen man (“A man”)Een vrouw (“A woman”)Een huis (“A house”)

However, there’s not always a good explanation for why a Dutch word has a specific gender—not to mention that Dutch words don’t have a clear gender indication. Luckily, there are a few indications that can help you:

  • All words referring to persons (individuals) are de-words. 
    • de voetballer (“the football player”) / de president (“the president”)
  • All plural words get de
    • de katten (“the cats”) / de stoelen (“the chairs”)
  • All words made smaller with (e)(t/d)je are neuter. 
    • het kindje (“the little child”) / het bloemetje (“the little flower”)
  • Words ending with -el or -er are often de-words.
    • de tafel (“the table”) / de bakker (“the baker”)
  • All infinitive verbs that are used as a noun have the neuter het.
    • het fietsen (“the cycling”) / het schrijven (“the writing”)
  • Words with standard prefixes like ge-, ver-, ont-, and be- and without an -ing ending are neuter.
    • het verhaal (“the story”) / het ontslag (“the resignation”)
  • Almost all words with the standard suffixes -ing, -ij, -ie, -e, and -heid are feminine.
    • de politie (“the police”) / de schoonheid (“the beauty”) / de drukkerij (“the printing company”) / de dame (“the lady”)

5. Avoid the Most Common Dutch Grammar Mistakes

Are you feeling confident with the Dutch grammar basics so far? 

If so, great! And if not, don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it with time.

Before we close, let’s have a look at some of the most common Dutch grammar mistakes that learners make. Knowing what to watch for will greatly help you come to grips with the language!

Dt-ending

Although the Dutch present tense might look easy, one of the most common Dutch grammar mistakes is to misuse the dt-ending. The dt-ending is used on verbs that have a -d root ending, when they’re used with certain subjects. 

So how do you get the root of your verb? You simply remove the -en ending of the infinitive (the plural and present tense of the verb). So in this case, fiets is the root of fietsen and antwoord of antwoorden.

SubjectFietsen present tense (“to cycle”)Antwoorden present tense (“to reply”)
Ik (“I”)fietsantwoord
Jij, u (“You”)fietstantwoordt
Hij, zij, het (“He, she, it”)fietstantwoordt
Wij (“We”)fietsenantwoorden
Zij (“They”)fietsenantwoorden

As you can see, in the verb antwoorden, because the root ends with a -d, it becomes -dt in the “You” and “He, she, it” subjects. And in fietsen, because the root ends with an -s (and not a -d), only a -t is added.

It may be good to look over a few different conjugation charts to really get this concept ingrained in your memory! 

Yes/No Questions

Let’s Master Those Yes/No Questions in Dutch.

One thing that tends to be difficult about Dutch grammar for English speakers is how similar the two languages are. This can make it tempting to apply English grammar rules to Dutch, even when it’s incorrect to do so. For example, using the Dutch word doe (“to do”) in yes/no questions is grammatically incorrect; the Dutch don’t use the auxiliary “do” in questions.

Let’s see some examples:

Example 1: “Do you like dancing?”

  • Correct: Houd je van dansen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij houden van dansen?

Example 2: “Do you want to marry me?”

  • Correct: Wil je met me trouwen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij met me willen trouwen?

Let’s have a look at the correct word order:

Working verb + Subject + (Object +) Other verb ?

Some simple examples:

  • Kom je? (“Are you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij? (“Does he work?”)

For more question examples, don’t forget to have a look at our Top 25 Questions You Need to Know!

Splitting Verbs

The Dutch love to use a lot of verbs in their sentences and split them: one part of the verb will be at the beginning of the sentence and other parts will be at the end. 

So try to be aware of this. Be cautious when using the present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs, as you may need to add a verb at the end of the sentence.

Let’s have a look at the sentence structure for these tenses:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

Here’s an example for each of the six Dutch tenses that can require a verb at the end of the sentence:

  • Present perfect: De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd. (“The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Past perfect: De jongen had in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd. (“The boy had painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future simple: De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven. (“The boy will paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future perfect: De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd. (“The boy will have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional: De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven. (“The boy would paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional perfect: De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd. (“The boy would have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)

Are you just beginning your Dutch studies? Then don’t worry too much about this! First, have a look at this useful lesson series on the Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners.

6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Dutch grammar rules guide, you’ve learned a lot of essential Dutch grammar concepts, from general rules to some useful tips on how to avoid common Dutch grammar mistakes.

Whether you’re just starting Dutch or strengthening your knowledge, you can use this overview as a useful guide whenever you need quick access to the basic Dutch grammar rules. Did we forget any important Dutch grammar topic you would like to learn more about?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com! Boost your studies with our useful vocabulary lists and plenty of other free resources to practice your language skills with. We are the best place to learn about Dutch grammar online!

Would you like some personal one-on-one coaching? Then check out our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. We’ll connect you with a private teacher who will help you improve your Dutch grammar through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

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Is Dutch Hard to Learn?

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Are fear and uncertainty keeping you from getting started with Dutch? 

This is a common issue for many potential Dutch-learners. They tend to wonder things like: “Is Dutch hard to learn?” and “Is learning Dutch really worth it?”  

If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to answer all of your questions and clear up any doubts you may be having. 

At first, Dutch might seem like a very difficult language, but it’s surprisingly easy for English- and German-speakers. Dutch has even been described as a combination of the English and German languages! This makes it one of the easiest languages to learn for speakers of either language. That said, learning Dutch will take some time and effort, no matter what your native language is. 

So, is Dutch hard to learn? No, it isn’t. And in this article, we’ll show you why. 

DutchPod101 will give you a clear overview of what things might make Dutch hard to learn, and which parts are easy-peasy for new learners. With the right tools, you can overcome even the more challenging aspects of the language. We’ll show you that you can master the Dutch language, and we’ll even tell you how.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Is Dutch a Hard Language to Learn?
  2. Why is Dutch Easy to Learn?
  3. What are the Best Ways to Start Learning Dutch?
  4. Why is DutchPod101 Great for Learning Dutch?
  5. Summing it Up…

1. Is Dutch a Hard Language to Learn?

Is Dutch Really So Hard to Learn?

So, let’s start with the more challenging side of the Dutch language: Why is Dutch hard to learn? 

Every language has some tricky parts, and the only way to manage them is to be aware of them. In the long run, this will make learning Dutch a lot easier for you and provide you with a solid learning base. 

1. Tricky Pronunciation

Many new learners find Dutch hard to pronounce.

Even the most fluent foreign Dutch-speakers struggle with this, as the language has the weirdest combinations of letters. For example, there are consonant combinations like: nk, sch, ng, and nk. In addition, you’ll find some consonant combinations that form one sound, and others that form two sounds. 

Consonant combinations that form one sound:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample 
ngIt sounds like the [ng] in the English word “cling” or “thing.”lang (“long”)
chThe ch has three different pronunciations:
1) Like the Dutch “g,”
2) like [sh] in the English word “ship,” and
3) as [k] in the English word “Christ.”
1) licht (“light”),
2) douche (“shower”), and
3) Chris (“Chris,” the name)
sjIt’s pronounced like [sh] in the English word “ship.”sjaal (“scarf”)

Now let’s look at the combinations that form two separate sounds:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample 
schIt’s pronounced like an [s] followed by a harsh [ch], as in the Scottish word “loch.”schaap (“sheep”)
nkIt’s the same sound as in the English word “link.”pink (“little finger”)
knUnlike in English, a k before an n is pronounced. You’ll hear both sounds separately.knoop (“button”)
psUnlike in English, a p before an s is pronounced. You’ll hear both sounds separately.psycholoog (“psychologist”)

And it’s not just the consonants! There’s another tricky aspect to Dutch pronunciation: diphthongs. These are combinations of two vowels that make a fluid sound that no vowel makes on its own in Dutch:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiThis Dutch diphthong is pronounced  as [I] like in “I am” in English.mais (“corn”)
auIt’s pronounced like [ow] in the English word “now.”auto (“car”)
eiIt’s pronounced as the [i] in the English word “find.”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
ieIt’s pronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee.”mier (“ant”)
ijIt’s pronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthong.wijn (“wine”)
oeIt’s pronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool.”moe (“tired”)
ouThis diphthong has exactly the same sound as the Dutch au diphthong. koud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” followed by a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)



All you can do is practice, practice, and practice even more. Luckily, DutchPod101 is here to help.


The Difficult Dutch Pronunciation

2. Confusing Word Order 

So let’s continue with another reason why people find the Dutch language hard to learn: the confusing word order.

Of course, simple sentences can just be made with a subject and a verb: 

Subject + Verb

  • Ik praat. (“I talk.”)
  • De jongen verft. (“The boy paints.”)

Adding a direct object to the mix is rather easy as well:

Subject + Verb + (Direct) Object

  • Ik praat met mijn vader. (“I talk to my father.”)
  • De jongen verft de deur. (“The boy paints the door.”)

The direct object in Dutch is called lijdend voorwerp (“leading entity/object”). It normally comes right after the verb.

However, when the sentences get longer, the word order gets more confusing. It becomes especially difficult when there are several verbs in the mix, because you’ll have to start splitting the verbs—something you don’t do in English. So be aware.

How do you know if you should split a verb or not? Be cautious when using the present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs. When you use them, you may need to put a verb at the end of a sentence:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

Here are examples for all six Dutch tenses that can make sentences end with a verb:

  • Present perfect: 
    De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd
    (“The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Past perfect: 
    De jongen had in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd
    (“The boy had painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future simple: 
    De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven
    (“The boy will paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future perfect: 
    De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd
    (“The boy will have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional: 
    De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven
    (“The boy would paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional perfect: 
    De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd
    (“The boy would have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)

Do you find this very confusing? Try not to worry too much about it. When you’ve just started learning Dutch, you don’t have to worry about little details like this yet. For now, just be aware that these rules exist; it will help a lot when you’re a more advanced Dutch-learner.


3. De vs. Het – Two Ways to Say “The”


The Dutch language has two different ways to say the word “the”: de and het. In theory, all masculine and feminine words get de while all neuter words get het:

  • De vrouw (“The woman”) 
  • De man (“The man”)
  • Het kind (“The child,” neuter) 

However, a lot of Dutch words don’t have a clear gender indication, so it can be quite challenging to know which word to use. It’s something you just have to hear, memorize, and develop a knack for. 

Here are some tips to help you overcome this confusing ordeal:

  • All words referring to persons (individuals) are de-words (de voetballer = “the football player” / de president = “the president”).
  • All plural words get de (de katten = “the cats” / de stoelen = “the chairs”).
  • All words made smaller with (e)(t/d)je are neuter (het kindje = “the little child” / het bloemetje = “the little flower”).
  • Words ending with -el or -er are often de-words (de tafel = “the table” / de bakker = “the baker”).
  • All infinitive verbs that are used as a noun have the neuter het (het fietsen = “the cycling” / het schrijven = “the writing”).
  • Words with standard prefixes like ge-, ver-, ont-, and be-, and those without an -ing ending, are neuter (het verhaal = “the story” / het ontslag = “the resignation”).
  • Almost all words with the standard suffixes -ing, -ij, -ie, -e, and -heid are feminine (de politie = “the police” / de schoonheid = “the beauty” / de drukkerij = “the printing company” / de dame = “the lady”).

We know, we know. Why is Dutch so hard to learn? 

Now that we’ve shown you some of the trickier aspects of the Dutch language—and how to learn them well—let’s get to the good news.

Are You Already Getting Confused?

2. Why is Dutch Easy to Learn?

You’ve just survived the three most challenging parts of the Dutch language, but we promise that it’s not all bad. Dutch is actually a pretty easy language to learn with the right tools. Let’s show you why.

1. Dutch is Very Similar to English and German

As we mentioned in the introduction, Dutch is very similar to English and German. We’re guessing that you already speak one of those two languages (probably English since you’re reading this article). That’s great! It means that you have a head-start: Dutch is one of the easiest languages to learn for native English– or German-speakers. 

Why is that? 

Dutch is part of the Indo-European family of languages and belongs to the Germanic branch, as do English and German. That’s why Dutch is quite similar to those languages (but without the difficult grammar of the German language, lucky for you).

2. You Already Know Some Dutch Words

You may not realize it, but you probably already know some Dutch words. 

Back in the day, the Dutch had quite some influence all over the world, and they brought their language with them. That’s why some English words have Dutch origins, as do some other languages such as German, Spanish, and French. 

But these won’t be the only words you already know! It also works the other way around, as the Dutch language adopts a lot of foreign words and expressions. German, English, and French words are often used in Dutch conversations.

Here are some examples:

  • From German: Bühne (“Stage”), Folie (“Foil”), Föhn (“Hairdryer”)
  • From English: Bar, Editor, Manager
  • From French: Abonnement (“Subscription”), Actrice (“Actress”), Capuchon (“Hood,” of a jacket)

And don’t forget those more modern words that the Dutch adopt into their language: whatsappen (“to whatsapp”), bad hair day, out-of-the-box denken (“to think out of the box”), netflixen (“to Netflix”).

3. Dutch People Appreciate Your Efforts

The Dutch are used to foreigners speaking English with them. They don’t really mind it, as they accept that their language isn’t very popular or widely spoken. However, when foreigners (try to) speak Dutch, native speakers are pleasantly surprised and are happy to help. They’ll appreciate your effort, try to speak extra-slow, and help you whenever you get stuck. 

You might need to make it clear first that you really prefer to speak Dutch, as they’ll switch to English out of habit if you don’t. But once that’s cleared up, their willingness to help will turn out to be one of the best things about learning the language.

4. Your Pronunciation and Grammar Don’t Have to be Perfect 

The Dutch aren’t too picky or arrogant regarding their language. Mistakes are okay, and even Dutch natives can be quite sloppy with their own language. Grammar rules aren’t always taken into account and even pronunciation isn’t always perfect. 

The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of dialects and accents from region to region. That’s why there’s no such thing as perfect Dutch pronunciation. Take, for example, the hard g sound in the north and the soft g sound in the south.

Of course, you should try to learn Dutch the best you can, but it’s simply okay to make mistakes.

3. What are the Best Ways to Start Learning Dutch?

Would you like to learn Dutch? There are many reasons why you would benefit from learning the Dutch language: it broadens your mind, gives you new opportunities, and is a great way to get to know another culture.

With the right motivation and some useful learning tips, you’ll be able to master this not-so-complicated language. So how can you learn the Dutch language quickly and easily?

How to Study Dutch

1. Create a Study Schedule and Set Some Goals

Learning a new language can be quite overwhelming—there’s so much to learn! So how can you approach this big task in an orderly manner? 

Structure is key. Many new language-learners get started quite unorganized. They start off strong, but after a few weeks, they begin to lose motivation. To avoid this fate, it’s very important that you create a clear study schedule and set some goals. Goals give you motivation and something to strive for; a study schedule gives you the consistency needed to achieve those goals.

2. Use Word Lists to Build Up a Solid Vocabulary Base

If you want to speak and understand Dutch, you need a solid vocabulary base. But with so many words to learn, where should you start? Luckily, there are some tools available to help you build up your vocabulary, such as our word lists.

Just choose a topic that you find interesting and learn words related to that topic, one at a time. DutchPod101 has vocabulary lists on nationalities, animal names, occupations, and so much more. 

You may even want to set yourself some learning goals. For example, to memorize one or two vocabulary lists a week, or one new word a day. 

3. Don’t be Afraid to Make Mistakes

As we said before, it’s okay to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes when they start learning a language, and it’s the only way to really start understanding it. So make mistakes, learn from them, and improve your Dutch. 

The most important thing is that you practice your Dutch; with time, those mistakes will happen less frequently.


4. Practice is Key

Learning Dutch vocabulary and grammar is great, but it’s not everything. To really learn a language, it’s important that you take every opportunity you have to practice. Whether it’s with your private teacher or with the baker in your Dutch neighborhood, just try to talk and put everything you’ve learned into practice. You don’t need that many words or extensive knowledge of complicated grammar rules to communicate. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you keep on speaking, listening, reading, and writing Dutch.

Practice is the only way to improve your Dutch, so go ahead and dive into the Dutch language. Watch Dutch series, read books in Dutch, listen to Dutch music, or tune in for a podcast. Talk with every Dutchie you meet and start writing stories in Dutch. Practice at every opportunity! 

5. Make Learning Dutch Fun

Learning a new language shouldn’t be boring. When it’s boring, you definitely won’t be able to stick with it. So try to make learning Dutch as enjoyable as possible. 

Of course, you can’t ignore learning the Dutch grammar rules or those endless lists of verb conjugations. But you can mix some fun into your learning by combining this dry type of studying with things you enjoy. For example, watching a Dutch TV show with subtitles, or listening to Dutch music and trying to translate or understand the lyrics.

This way, you’ll be more inclined to study!

    → Would you like to start watching Dutch TV? Luckily, the Netherlands has some great Dutch TV shows and series for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced learners.

4. Why is DutchPod101 Great for Learning Dutch?

To summarize, let’s go back to the main question: Is Dutch a hard language to learn? No, but like any language, it has its challenging parts. However, with the right tools, you’ll be able to learn it with little problem. This is where DutchPod101 comes in. We’ll make your Dutch learning experience fun, fast, and simpler than you think!

How to Master Your Dutch Tests

1. An Integrated Approach

DutchPod101 works with an integrated approach by blending several skills into every lesson. So in just one lesson, you’ll be working on your reading, listening, and writing skills. This is because we provide audio recordings for you to listen to, transcripts and vocabulary words to read, and writing exercises to try it out for yourself.

This will make your Dutch learning more natural and effective. In one solid package, you’ll be able to work on all of the most crucial language skills.

2. A Massive Offering of Free Content

Whatever your learning level, DutchPod101 offers a great collection of content to help you advance. After you take the assessment test, you’ll be directed to the level that matches your needs. There, you’ll find a wide variety of free content, from vocabulary lists to customizable flashcards. 

On DutchPod101.com, you’ll find many other free tools that can be tailored to your needs. Some of these resources can even be downloaded and used offline.

3. Premium Personal Coaching

So DutchPod101 offers great content to practice your reading, writing, and listening skills, but how about those important speaking skills? To practice your Dutch speaking, you can rely on premium personal coaching with our MyTeacher service. Improve your pronunciation with feedback from your own private tutor! 

And your tutor will focus on much more than your speaking skills. They’ll also guide you through the wonders of the Dutch language with interactive assignments and personalized exercises. Together, you’ll focus on the areas you need the most help with and improve your overall language skills.

5. Summing it Up…

So, is the Dutch language hard or easy? 

We’ve shown you the most challenging aspects of the Dutch language, and why it might be easier than you think, from similarities with English to patient Dutchies. Learning a language is always a challenge, but we think you’ll agree that Dutch’s lighter side will make the learning process fairly simple for you. 

Do you feel ready to start learning Dutch? Or do you need some more guidance?

Another important aspect of mastering a language is having the right learning tools. Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and many useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings to learn new words.

Remember that you can also use our premium MyTeacher service for personal one-on-one coaching. This way, you can really practice your Dutch speaking skills with your own private teacher through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

Get started with DutchPod101!

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The 10 Most Common Dutch Mistakes When Learning the Language

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Are you afraid to make mistakes in Dutch? In your studies, you’re bound to make a few. And that’s no big deal! 

Making mistakes is human, and even Dutch natives make some of the mistakes we’ll cover in this article. It’s through expressing yourself and making mistakes that you’ll really master the language. So making mistakes in the first place is no problem, but always try to learn from them!

That said, wouldn’t it be nice to be aware of some of the most common mistakes in learning Dutch? 

This is exactly what DutchPod101 has in mind for you with this guide. Have a look at the ten most common Dutch mistakes and impress your new Dutch friends with your great language skills.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. Vocabulary – Dutch Word Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Common Dutch Grammar Errors
  5. A Special Dutch Mistake
  6. The Biggest Mistake in Dutch Language-Learning
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Pronunciation Mistakes

Autocensuring yourself because of your Dutch pronunciation mistakes

Dutch pronunciation is tricky, even for fluent Dutch-speakers. Dutch is known for its weird sounds and long words with the strangest combinations of letters.

So, let’s have a look at two common pronunciation mistakes for Dutch-learners. 

1. Pronouncing diphthongs incorrectly

Do you remember those tricky diphthongs? A diphthong is the combination of two vowels that, together, make a particular sound—a sound that no vowel in Dutch makes on its own. 

A common mistake Dutch-learners make is to pronounce the letters separately, rather than as one fluid sound.

So let’s recap and master, once and for all, the challenging sounds of the nine Dutch diphthongs:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiPronounced as [I], as in “I am” in Englishmais (“corn”)
auPronounced like [ow] in the English word “now”auto (“car”)
eiPronounced as the [i] in the English word “find”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
iePronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee”mier (“ant”)
ijPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthongwijn (“wine”)
oePronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool”moe (“tired”)
ouThis diphthong has exactly the same sound as the Dutch au diphthong. koud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” followed by a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)

2. Pronouncing sch as sk

As you’ve probably noticed, Dutch is a language with a lot of g-sounds, more than you’re probably used to in your own language. And those g-sounds may surprise you, as they even occur in the ch and sch consonant combinations. Well, you’re not alone in your struggle. The pronunciation of sch as sk is one of the most common pronunciation mistakes for Dutch-learners (who often make too much of a k-sound).

Let’s have a look at how you should pronounce this: 

Letter(English) PronunciationExample 
schPronounced like an [s] followed by a harsh [ch], as in the Scottish word “loch.”schaap (“sheep”)


2. Vocabulary – Dutch Word Mistakes

Girl Can’t Remember Dutch Vocabulary

You’re learning your Dutch vocabulary and are feeling quite confident. However, confusion is near. It may be because of words with multiple meanings or because of those extremely long Dutch words.

Let’s have a look at two common mistakes in learning Dutch vocabulary.

3. Confusing words with multiple meanings 

The Dutch language is full of words with multiple meanings (homonymes), so a common mistake of Dutch-learners is to not learn the different meanings of a Dutch word. Only by mastering the multiple meanings can you use and understand them correctly in a given context. 

Here are some funny examples:

WordMeaning 1Meaning 2
Arm“Arm” (the body part)“Poor”
Gerecht“Dish”“Court”
Kussen“Pillow”“To kiss” / “Kisses”
Kater“Male cat”“Hangover”
Weer“Weather”“Again”

4. Splitting up compound words 

Okay, let’s now continue with those confusing compound words. The Dutch language is known for its long words, so be aware of this common mistake of Dutch-learners: splitting up the compound words. 

All you can do here is be aware of this peculiar characteristic of the Dutch language and keep on improving your Dutch vocabulary. 

Here are some examples of compound words consisting of two, three, and even five parts:

PartsDutch Compound WordMeaning in English
2Broodmes“Breadknife”
3Langeafstandloper“Long-distance runner”
… to 5Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamheden
(This is the longest word in the Dutch language.)
“Preparation activities plan for a children’s carnival procession”

How to Manage Those Long Dutch Words?

    → Are you having difficulties understanding compound words? Try to divide them into smaller parts and see if you can understand the different parts. 

3. Word Order Mistakes

Dutch word order can be confusing, possibly because of its similarities to English or because of its weird habit of splitting up verbs.

5. Using the word doe in yes/no questions

Dutch can be quite similar to English, so you’re bound to mix the rules up sometimes. This fifth most common Dutch mistake is to use the Dutch word doe (“to do”) in yes/no questions. 

Contrary to English, Dutch doesn’t use the auxiliary “do” in questions. So don’t use it, otherwise your Dutch question word order will be incorrect.

Here are some examples:

Example 1: “Do you like dancing?”

  • Correct: Houd je van dansen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij houden van dansen?

Example 2: “Do you want to marry me?”

  • Correct: Wil je met me trouwen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij met me willen trouwen?

Let’s have a look at the word order:

Working verb + Subject + (Object +) Other verb

Some simple examples:

  • Kom je? (“Are you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij? (“Does he work?”)


6. Not knowing when to split the verbs in sentences

Dutch word order can be even more confusing when a sentence has many words. Even more so when there are several verbs in the mix, in which case one part of the verb will be at the beginning of the sentence and other parts will be at the end. 

How do you know when to split a verb? Be cautious when using the present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs. Here, you may need to add a verb to the end of a sentence.

Let’s have a look at the sentence structure for these tenses:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

Let’s give you an example for each of the six aforementioned Dutch tenses:

  • Present perfect: 
    De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd. 
    “The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
  • Past perfect:
    De jongen had in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd
    “The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
  • Future simple: 
    De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven
    “The boy will paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
  • Future perfect: 
    De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd
    “The boy will have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
  • Conditional: 
    De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven
    “The boy would paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
  • Conditional perfect: 
    De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd
    “The boy would have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”
Practicing These Sentence Patterns Will Help You Avoid Dutch Word Order Mistakes

    → Try to think of easy sentences that you can use like this. This way, you can improve your own Dutch sentence structures and learn how to avoid this common mistake of Dutch-learners.


4. Common Dutch Grammar Errors

Grammar is a challenge in every language, and Dutch is no exception. Let’s learn from our mistakes! 

7. Mixing up the dt ending

Although the Dutch present tense might look easy, be aware of one of the most common Dutch grammar mistakes: mixing up the dt ending. 

So when should you use the dt ending? It has to be used with certain subjects when the verb used has a -d root ending.

Let’s take this mistake in Dutch grammar step-by-step:

How do you get the infinitive in Dutch? Well, Dutch infinitives are the plural and present tense verbs. They usually end with -en, as in lopen (“to walk”). Sometimes, they end with only -n, as in zijn (“to be”).

Before the Dutch infinitive, you can almost always put Ik kan (“I can”): 

  • Ik kan fietsen.
    “I can cycle.”

Or:

  • Ik kan antwoorden.
    “I can answer.”

So how do you get the root of your verb? You simply remove the -en ending. So in this case, fiets is the root of fietsen and antwoord of antwoorden.

SubjectFietsen present tense (“to cycle”)Antwoorden present tense (“to reply”)
Ik (“I”)fietsantwoord
Jij, u (“You”)fietstantwoordt
Hij, zij, het (“He, she, it”)fietstantwoordt
Wij (“We”)fietsenantwoorden
Zij (“They”)fietsenantwoorden

As you can see, in the verb antwoorden, because the root ends with a -d, it becomes -dt for the “you” and “he, she, it” subjects. So when in doubt, look at the conjugation of a verb that doesn’t end with a -d (such as fietsen), and you’ll know what to do. 

8. Making words plural with an -s instead of -en

English and Dutch have many similarities. Just like English, Dutch makes words plural by changing that word’s ending. However, avoid the common mistake in Dutch of making plural words with an -s instead of -en

There are some cases where we can add an -s, but most of the time, we add -en.

SingularPlural
Kat (“Cat”)Katten (“Cats”)
Kus (“Kiss”)Kussen (“Kisses”)
Stoel (“Chair”)Stoelen (“Chairs”)
Bord (“Plate”)Borden (“Plates”)
Banaan (“Banana”)Bananen (“Bananas”)

5. A Special Dutch Mistake

A typical Dutch Mistake

Every culture has its own peculiarities. So what’s a Dutch-learning mistake that’s closely connected to Dutch culture?

9. Switching to English every time you struggle speaking Dutch

This may not be a grammar or vocabulary blunder, but it’s a common mistake in learning Dutch. 

Many Dutch people speak English very well, so it might be tempting to switch from Dutch to English every time you start to struggle. Try not to do that too much, as you’ll only master Dutch if you really practice the language.

This impulse to switch to English may not even come from you, as the Dutch are always happy to speak English. When they see you struggle, or even notice the littlest hint of an accent, they’ll try to “help” you by suggesting you switch to English. So it can definitely be called a typical cultural challenge that Dutch-learners face

Instead of switching, just try to explain that you’re practicing their beautiful language. They’ll be patient, and maybe even flattered that you’re trying to speak their language (as a lot of foreigners don’t even bother). 

6. The Biggest Mistake in Dutch Language-Learning

Last, but definitely not least, try to avoid the biggest mistake: mixing up de and het.

10. “The” in Dutch: het vs. de

Mixing up articles: this is seen as the most common and most typical mistake of Dutch-learners.

In Dutch, there are two options for “the”: de and het. It’s very common to hear Dutch-learners mix them up, and for a good reason: the Dutch language lacks a clear explanation of which one to use in what situations. In theory, all masculine and feminine words get de, while all neuter words get het:

  • De vrouw (“The woman”) 
  • De man (“The man”)
  • Het kind (“The child” – is neuter) 

However, in practice, this won’t help you that much as there’s not always a good explanation as to why a word is feminine, masculine, or neuter. Dutch words don’t have a clear gender indication. 

Luckily, there are a few indications that can help you:

  • All words referring to people are de-words (de voetballer [“the football player”] / de president [“the president”]).
  • All plural words get de (de katten [“the cats”] / de stoelen [“the chairs”]).
  • All words made smaller with (e)(t/d)je are neuter (het kindje [“the little child”] / het bloemetje [“the little flower”]).
  • Words ending with -el or -er are often de-words (de tafel [“the table”] / de bakker [“the baker”]).
  • All infinitive verbs that are used as a noun have the neuter het (het fietsen [“the cycling”] / het schrijven [“the writing”]).
  • Words with standard prefixes like ge-, ver-, ont-, and be-, and without an -ing ending, are neuter (het verhaal [“the story”] / het ontslag [“the resignation”]).
  • Almost all words with the standard suffixes -ing, -ij, -ie, -e, and -heid are feminine (de politie [“the police”] / de schoonheid [“the beauty”] / de drukkerij [“the printing company”] /, de dame [“the lady”]).

Practice is key. When in doubt, look up the word in the dictionary (it will say [m], [v], or [o] behind the word). This way, you’ll learn the combinations, and with time, you’ll develop the instinct of when to use de and when to use het

In the meantime, remember that it’s okay to make mistakes in Dutch, because it means that you’re learning.


Asking Questions Will Help You Improve Your Dutch

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned all about the ten most common mistakes in Dutch. You know what to do and what not to do. We’ve made you aware of the most common mistakes and gave you some hints on how to avoid them. 

Yes, you’re bound to make mistakes in Dutch, but this guide has given you some tools to recognize them. From the common pronunciation mistakes for Dutch-learners, vocabulary word mistakes, and word order mistakes, to the “biggest mistake of all.”

So are you already feeling more confident about your Dutch? Which one of the mistakes do you make the most and how can you avoid it in the future?

Start avoiding these mistakes today with the help of DutchPod101.com. Boost your studies with our useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources.

Would you like some personal one-on-one coaching? Check out our premium MyTeacher service. We’ll connect you with a private teacher who will help you improve your Dutch through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

Practice Dutch and learn from your mistakes with DutchPod101!

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The 10 Most Common Questions in Dutch & How to Answer

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Are you in the Netherlands, wanting to get to know some nice Dutch people, but you don’t know how? Making friends and getting to know people can be hard, especially when you’re in another country. Luckily, there’s an easy way to break the ice: asking questions in Dutch. This is a great way to start conversations—and keep them going. 

Through asking questions, you’ll get to know your conversation partner, get personal, and maybe even become friends. And you’ll be able to practice your Dutch listening and speaking skills at the same time!

In this guide, you’ll learn everything about asking questions in Dutch, from the Dutch question words to making yes/no questions. We’ll also introduce you to the ten most common Dutch questions and the different answers you can give. By the end of this article, you’ll not only know how to make questions in Dutch, but also how to answer them!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Golden Rules of Dutch Questions
  2. The 10 Most Common Dutch Questions
  3. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. The Golden Rules of Dutch Questions

Before we go to our list of the ten most common Dutch questions, there are some basics you need to understand concerning how to make those questions in Dutch.

A- Questions Beginning with Dutch Question Words

The English Question Words

How? What? Why? Where? Who? When? 

You know the English ones, so let’s learn more about question words in Dutch!

There’s a special Dutch question structure for questions that use interrogative words at the beginning. The question word comes first, the conjugated verb second, and the subject third: 

Question word + Verb + Subject 

Let’s have a look at two simple examples:

  • Waarom lach je? (“Why do you laugh?”)
  • Wanneer trouwt je zoon? (“When does your son get married?”)

Now have a look at more Dutch question words:

Hoe
(“How”)
Hoe voel je je?
(“How are you feeling?”)
Wat
(“What”)
Wat doe je morgen?
(“What are you doing tomorrow?”)
Waarom
(“Why”)
Waarom is je vriendin boos?
(“Why is your girlfriend mad?”)
Waar
(“Where”)
Waar ligt Den Bosch?
(“Where is Den Bosch?”)
Wie
(“Who”)
Wie ben jij?(“Who are you?”)
Wanneer
(“When”)
Wanneer is zijn verjaardag?
(“When is his birthday?”)

B- Yes/No Questions

Another common question form Dutch people use is the yes/no question; as you know, these are questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Questions like this have a different word order, with the verb coming first:

Verb + Subject 

For example:

  • Kom je? (“Are you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij? (“Does he work?”)

As you can see here, the subject and verb are inverted to create yes/no questions. 

Remember that when jij or je (“you”) follows the verb, the -t at the end of the verb is dropped: 

  • Ga je morgen naar school? (“Are you going to school tomorrow?”)
    • Instead of: Je gaat morgen naar school. (“You are going to school tomorrow.”)
  • Heb je vandaag met je oma gepraat? (“Did you talk to your grandmother today?”)
    • Instead of: Je hebt vandaag met je oma gepraat. (“You talked with your grandmother today.”)

2. The 10 Most Common Dutch Questions

Now that you know the golden rules of forming basic Dutch questions, it’s time to dive into the ten most common questions in Dutch.

A Man Holding Up a Big Question Mark Sign

1. How are you?

This basic Dutch question is the most common way to start talking to someone, whether you’ve met before or not.

However, be aware that in the Netherlands, this question isn’t just a formality. In some cultures (such as Spanish or French), someone can ask this question without really expecting a comprehensive answer. This is not so much the case in the Netherlands. When the Dutch ask this question, they’re usually interested in the answer. Of course, your answer may be more or less detailed depending on how well you know the other person.

How are you?

  • Hoe gaat het met je? [Casual]
  • Hoe gaat het met u? [Formal]

Another informal way to ask this question is: Alles goed? (“Everything fine?”)

Possible answers for this question include:

    Het gaat goed met me. (“I am doing great.”)
    Ik voel me niet goed. (“I am not feeling well.”)
    Het gaat wel. (“I am fine.”)
    Ik heb het erg druk. (“I am very busy.”)

As you can see, we used the question word hoe (“how”), followed by the conjugated verb. 

As you go through the rest of this article, ask yourself which structure each question uses: the one with a question word at the beginning or the yes/no structure.

2. What are you doing?

If you know someone well and want to know what they’re up to, this question is perfect.

However, it’s not the way to go when talking with strangers, as this random Dutch question can seem quite invasive (especially with the sometimes distant Dutch people).

What are you doing?

  • Wat doe je? [Casual]
  • Wat doet u? [Formal]

Let’s see some possible answers:

    Ik lees. (“I am reading.”)
    Ik kijk een film. (“I am watching a movie.”)
    Ik ben aan het studeren. (“I am studying.”)
    Ik ben aan het koken. (“I am cooking.”)

In the ik ben aan het + verb structure, you can replace the verb (studeren or koken) with the verb that’s applicable to your situation.


3. What’s your name?

First Encounter

Are you meeting someone new in the Netherlands? Then it’s crucial to be able to ask for their name. This is also a great ice-breaker, as it shows your interest in that person. And once the conversation’s been started, there will be plenty more questions to come! 

What’s your name?

  • Wat is je naam?  [Casual]
  • Wat is uw naam? [Formal]

Another way to ask this question in Dutch is: 

  • Hoe heet je? [Casual]
  • Hoe heet u? [Formal]

Let’s now have a look at the answers:

    Ik heet Sophie. (“My name is Sophie.”)
    Mijn naam is Sophie. (“My name is Sophie.”)
    Ik ben Sophie. (“I am Sophie.”)

4. Where are you from?

As a foreigner in the Netherlands, you’ll often hear this question. By learning how to ask this question in Dutch, you’ll have the perfect way to stimulate a conversation. While you can ask this to a foreigner, asking this to a Dutch person may help them open up about their hometown or the region they’re from.

Where are you from?

  • Waar kom je vandaan? [Casual]
  • Waar komt u vandaan? [Formal]

Let’s have a look at some possible answers:

    Foreign answers
    Ik ben Duits. (“I’m German.”)
    Ik kom uit Frankrijk. (“I’m from France.”)

    Local answers
    Ik kom uit Amsterdam. (“I’m from Amsterdam.”)
    Ik ben een Rotterdammer. (“I’m a Rotterdammer.” – a person from Rotterdam)
    Ik kom uit Brabant. (“I’m from Brabant.”)

Has your interlocutor given you the name of a place you’re not familiar with? Then you can ask this: 

Where is it?

  • Waar is dat?
  • Waar ligt dat?

      In het Zuiden van Nederland. (“In the south of the Netherlands.”)
      Vlakbij Den Haag. (“Close to The Hague.”)
      Het is een stad in Noord-Italië. (“It is a city in northern Italy.”)
A Woman Struggling to Understand What a Man Is Saying

5. Where do you live?

It’s nice to know where someone is from, but it may be more useful to know where someone is living. Let’s have a look at this common Dutch question:

Where do you live?

  • Waar woon je? [Casual]
  • Waar woont u? [Formal]

      Ik woon in Breda. (“I live in Breda.”)
      Ik woon in de provincie Groningen. (“I live in the province of Groningen.”)
    → Do you live in the Netherlands, but still struggle with the pronunciation of city names? Then have a look at our major Dutch cities list with audio recordings.

6. Have you been to [place]?

You’ve just told someone where you’re from or where you live. Let’s keep that conversation going and ask if they’ve ever been to that place. This way, you’ll show your interest and get to know more about someone’s (traveling) past.

Have you been to [place]? 

  • Bent u in [place] geweest? [Casual]
  • Ben je in [place] geweest? [Formal]
    → As you can see, this is a yes/no question that starts with the verb, followed by the subject.

Other ways to ask this question are:

  • Ben je ooit in Brussel geweest? (“Have you ever been to Brussel?”)
  • Heb je door Zuid-Amerika gereisd? (“Have you traveled through South America?”)

Possible answers include:

    Ja, ik ken [place] erg goed. (“Yes, I know [place] very well.”)
    Ja, ik ben er vorig jaar nog geweest. (“Yes, I went there last year.”)
    Ik ben er heel lang geleden geweest. (“I was there a long time ago.”)
    Nee, ik ben daar nog nooit geweest. (“No, I’ve never been there.”)

7. Do you speak Dutch?

Introducing yourself

The language question: another crucial Dutch question for any foreigner in the Netherlands. You’ll receive this question a lot yourself, but learning this structure will be useful for you too. You never know when you’ll need to communicate in your native language or a different common language.

Do you speak Dutch? 

  • Spreek je Nederlands? (“Do you speak Dutch?”) – Casual
  • Spreekt u Nederlands? (“Do you speak Dutch?”) – Formal
  • Spreek je Engels? (“Do you speak English?”) – Casual
  • Spreekt u Engels? (“Do you speak English?”) – Formal


Let’s have a look at some possible answers:

    Ik spreek een beetje Nederland. (“I speak a little Dutch.”)
    Ik spreek vloeiend Engels. (“I speak English fluently.”)
    Min of meer. (“So-so.”)

8. What do you do?

Different Jobs Means Many Possible Answers

You know how your new acquaintance is doing, you know their name, and you know where they’re from and where they live. You even know the languages they speak. What’s left to ask? A logical followup question is to ask about someone’s work or study. 

What do you do?

  • Wat doe je? [Casual]
  • Wat doet u? [Formal]

If you’re in a bar and you just say Wat doe je? the other person could be caught off guard by this random Dutch question, and answer “I am drinking a beer, why?” So when you ask this question out of nowhere, it may be better to be a bit more specific:

  • Wat voor werk doe je? (“What kind of work do you do?”)
  • Wat is jouw baan? (“What’s your job?”)
  • Waar werk je? (“Where do you work?”)
  • Wat voor een studie doe je? (“What kind of study do you do?”)
  • Wat studeer je? (“What do you study?”)
  • Waar studeer je? (“Where do you study?”)
    → The questions from this point on are in the casual, more common Jij/Je form, but you could make them more formal by using U or Uw.

Some possible answers are:

    Ik ben politieagent. (“I’m a police officer.”)
    Ik werk in IT. (“I work in IT.”)
    Ik werk in een kledingwinkel. (“I work in a clothing store.”)
    Ik studeer anthropologie. (“I study anthropology.”)
    Ik studeer aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. (“I study at the University of Amsterdam.”)
    → Not sure how to talk about your job in Dutch? Have a look at our free vocabulary list on Jobs.

9. What are your hobbies?

For the Dutch, their work is important. But many believe that their hobbies and interests define them more than their work. So a great way to show your interest in the other person and find common ground is to ask them about their hobbies.

What are your hobbies? 

  • Wat zijn je hobby’s?
  • Wat doe je graag in je vrije tijd? (“What do you do in your free time?”)

      Ik ga graag naar de bioscoop. (“I like going to the cinema.”)
      Ik hou van wandelen. (“I love hiking.”)
      Ik maak foto’s. (“I take pictures.”)
    → Find your favorite hobbies in our free vocabulary list with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation.

10. Do you like ___?

People Making Heart Sign with Hands Toward the Sky

Let’s get personal and find out what our Dutch acquaintance here likes or dislikes. There’s no better way to get to know someone! 

The Dutch are quite direct, and you can usually say whatever you’re thinking. However, try to stay respectful toward your host country. The Dutch don’t mind a bit of criticism, but don’t be too negative or you might hurt their feelings.

Do you like ___? 

  • Houd je van winkelen? (“Do you like to shop?”) 
    • Literally, it says “to love,” but in this instance, it’s more similar to the English “to like.”
  • Houd je van de Nederlandse keuken? (“Do you like Dutch cuisine?”)
  • Houd je van bier? (“Do you like beer?”)

And possible answers:

    Ja, ik houd ervan! (“Yes, I love it!”)
    Nee, ik vind het niet echt leuk. (“No, I don’t really like it.”)
    Nee, ik haat het. (“No, I hate it.”)
    Het ligt eraan. (“It depends.”)
      This answer is vague enough to keep yourself out of trouble!

Some other ways to ask this question:

  • Vind je Nederland leuk? (“Do you like the Netherlands?”)
  • Vind je je werk leuk? (“Do you like your work?”)
  • Heb je het naar je zin in Amsterdam? (“Do you enjoy Amsterdam?”)

    Ja, ik houd van Amsterdam. (“Yes, I love Amsterdam.”)
    Ja, maar het is wel erg druk. (“Yes, but it’s quite busy.”)
    Het gaat wel. (“It’s fine.”)
    Nee, ik vind het niet leuk. (“No, I do not like it.”)

3. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned how to make questions in Dutch, with plenty of example answers to keep that conversation going. You now have the tools to make conversation with your soon-to-be new Dutch friends.

So are you ready to put this useful knowledge into action? Do you feel ready to start asking basic Dutch questions using everything you’ve learned today?

You can start using and practicing these questions with the help of DutchPod101. Boost your studies with our useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources.

Would you like to practice with your own private teacher? Then make use of our premium MyTeacher service and get personal one-on-one coaching. Through interactive exercises, pronunciation advice, and personalized feedback, you’ll really master those Dutch questions! 

Start asking questions in Dutch (and getting answers) with DutchPod101!

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The Top 10 Easy Dutch Sentence Patterns

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Learning a new language can be tricky; there’s so much to learn. Where should you start? And what should you focus on? 

You may already be learning grammar rules, memorizing conjugation tables, and studying vocabulary lists. However, to really learn Dutch, it’s important that you speak it as early as you can. That’s the only way you’ll really improve your Dutch language skills.

Are you still hesitant to speak Dutch? Then try to learn some useful and easy Dutch sentence patterns. This will allow you to form hundreds of natural sentences that you can use in many daily situations. You’ll be able to communicate your thoughts, doubts, or opinions to your Dutch friends or colleagues with ease and confidence. Sure, it won’t enable you to express the most complicated lines of thought, but it will cover a wide range of typical day-to-day interactions. Moreover, it will give you the confidence boost you need to start speaking Dutch.

In this article, you’ll learn ten easy Dutch sentence patterns, covering situations from giving a description to expressing your desires. For each of these Dutch-to-English sentence patterns, we’ll include many examples. This way you’ll really have the tools to master the Dutch sentence structure and sentence patterns.

Good luck!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Linking Two Nouns
  2. Using Adjectives to Describe Something
  3. Making a Comparison
  4. Expressing Your Desires
  5. Expressing Your Needs
  6. Expressing Your Preferences
  7. Giving Orders
  8. Asking for Information
  9. Asking About Time
  10. Asking About Location or Position
  11. How DutchPod101.com Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Linking Two Nouns

Sentence patterns

We’ll start with an easy Dutch sentence pattern that will allow you to link two nouns: the “A is B” pattern. 

This can also be called the [A] [B] [C] pattern: A (noun/subject) + B (verb) + C (noun/object).

A noun (subject) is linked by a verb to a noun (object), giving substance to a sentence. The way to do this is to use the verb zijn (“to be”). You can find details about its conjugation right here.

Let’s have a look at some examples:

  • Jan is mijn vriend. (“Jan is my friend.”)
  • Charlotte was mijn baas. (“Charlotte was my boss.”)
  • Mijn broer is politieagent. (“My brother is a police officer.”)
  • Dit horloge is een cadeau van mijn vrouw geweest. (“This watch was a gift from my wife.”)
  • Nederland is het land van mijn dromen. (“The Netherlands is the country of my dreams.”)

2. Using Adjectives to Describe Something

Okay, let’s continue with another basic Dutch sentence structure, similar to the one above. This sentence pattern has the same kind of structure (A is B). However, the verb zijn (“to be”) here doesn’t connect two nouns; instead, it connects a noun and an adjective. 

So the pattern is: A (noun/subject) is B (adjective).

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Marlies is mooi. (“Marlies is beautiful.”)
  • Kai is heel jong. (“Kai is very young.”)
  • Deze baan was erg belangrijk voor mij. (“This job was very important to me.”)
  • Hij zou nu erg oud zijn geweest. (“He would have been very old now.”)
  • De film die we gisteravond hebben bekeken was eng. (“The movie we watched last night was scary.”)

3. Making a Comparison

Making a Comparison: the Boy is Taller than the Girl

Let’s take it one step further with this more complex (but still easy) Dutch sentence pattern: A is [adjective] than B. 

Use this sentence pattern to make a comparison.

Let’s have a look at the different parts of this sentence pattern, that again is connected by the verb zijn (“to be”): A (noun/subject) + zijn (“to be”) + B (adjective in comparative form) + dan (“than”) + C (noun).

Let’s now see some examples of how to form Dutch sentences like this with the verb zijn:

  • Ik ben mooier dan mijn zus. (“I am more beautiful than my sister.”)
  • Mijn man was slimmer dan ik. (“My husband was smarter than me.”)
  • Hij is grappiger dan mijn vader. (“He’s funnier than my dad.”)
  • Nederland is leuker dan België. (“The Netherlands is nicer than Belgium.”)
  • De vorige minister-president was beter dan de huidige. (“The previous prime minister was better than the current one.”)

However, you can also make comparisons with other verbs. For example:

  • Mijn kat rent harder dan mijn hond. (“My cat runs faster than my dog.”)
  • Hij loopt beter dan ik. (“He walks better than me.”)
  • Deze achtbaan ging sneller dan de vorige. (“This roller coaster went faster than the last one.”)
  • In Amsterdam praten ze duidelijker dan in Limburg. (“In Amsterdam, they talk more clearly than in Limburg.”)

4. Expressing Your Desires

Now let’s go another way and see a different kind of Dutch sentence structure. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could express your desires in Dutch? To be able to say things like “I want to go to the bathroom” or “I want a sandwich with gouda cheese.” Crucial stuff to know in the Netherlands.

Having a Desire for Cake

For this Dutch sentence pattern, we use the verb willen (“to want”), and it works quite similarly to how it does in English. It uses the indicative mood for something you WANT and the subjunctive mood for something you WOULD LIKE:

  • Ik wil (“I want”)
  • Ik zou willen (“I would like”)

This sentence structure follows the pattern:

A [object] + willen + B (noun) 

or  

A [object] + willen + B (noun) + C (verb)

For example:

  • Ik wil koffie. (“I want coffee.”)
  • Ik wil je zien. (“I want to see you”.)
  • Mijn broer wil Nederland bezoeken. (“My brother wants to visit the Netherlands.”)
  • Ik zou van de wc gebruik willen maken. (“I would like to use the toilet.”)
  • Hij zou graag de hond willen aaien. (“He would like to pet the dog.”)

And let’s not forget “I don’t want,” as the Dutch have no problem at all saying what they don’t want…

  • Ik wil geen fruit. (“I don’t want fruit.”)
  • Ik zou niet naar Groningen willen verhuizen. (“I would not want to move to Groningen.”) 
    → You can find the full conjugation table for willen right here.

5. Expressing Your Needs

Sentence Components

Let’s add some urgency and learn one of the most important Dutch sentence structures: how to express your needs. This is something you’re likely to do daily, on a variety of occasions: at work (Ik heb meer tijd nodig “I need more time”), at home (Ik moet de vaat nog wassen – “I need to wash the dishes”) or with friends (Ik heb echt een biertje nodig – “I really need a beer”). 

As you can see in these examples, there are different ways in Dutch to express your needs:

  • Moeten (“To have to”)
Ik moet + Infinitive verbIk moet plassen. (“I have to pee.”)
  • Nodig hebben (“To need to”)
Ik heb + Nominal + nodigIk heb jou nodig. (“I need you.”)

Here are some more Dutch sentence examples:

  • Ik heb rust nodig. (“I need to rest.”)
  • Ik moet met je praten. (“I need to talk to you.”)
  • Ik heb een nieuwe jas nodig. (“I need a new jacket.”)
  • We hadden gisteren jouw hulp nodig. (“We needed your help yesterday.”)
  • Zij moesten vorige week onverwachts naar Duitsland reizen. (“They had to travel to Germany unexpectedly last week.”)

6. Expressing Your Preferences

You’ve expressed your desires and needs, now it’s time to talk about the things that you like or even love… 

Just like in English, we have a verb for “to like” (leuk vinden) and a verb for “to love” (houden van). In general, the Dutch are quite careful with their expressions of love; it’s quickly seen as dramatic or overdone to use this word. However, if you really like something or someone, you can use it, of course. 

Expressing Your Love
  • Leuk vinden (“To like [to]”)
Ik vind + Nominal + leuk Ik vind mijn collega leuk. (“I like my colleague.”)
Ik vind + Infinitive verb + leuk Ik vind tekenen leuk. (“I like to draw.”)
  • Houden van (“To love [to]”)
Ik houd van + Nominal or NounIk houd van jou. (“I love you.”)
Ik houd van + Infinitive verbIk houd van fietsen. (“I love to bike.”)

Let’s have a look at some examples:

  • Ik vind deze film leuk. (“I like this movie.”)
  • Ik vind je leuk. ( “I like you.”)
  • Mijn vader houdt veel van mijn moeder. (“My father loves my mother a lot.”)
  • De kinderen hielden vroeger van buiten spelen. (“In the past, the children loved playing outside.”)
  • Ik vind bier lekker, maar ik houd meer van wijn. (“I like beer, but I prefer wine.” Literally: “I love wine more.”)

7. Giving Orders

Would you like to get bossy in Dutch? Or just be able to express your limits? Then you need this sentence pattern with the Dutch imperative. For this, we use the present tense of the first person singular. However, in the case of regular verbs, the imperative is the verb stem.

This is the sentence pattern: A (imperative verb) + niet (+ B [noun]). In English, this means: Don’t + A (conjugated verb).

Let’s see this Dutch sentence construction in action:

    Ga niet weg! (“Don’t go away!”)
  • Lach niet. (“Don’t laugh.”)
  • Wees niet onbeleefd. (“Don’t be rude.”)
  • Vertel me niet wat ik moet doen. (“Don’t tell me what to do.”)
  • Doe de deur niet dicht. (“Don’t close the door.”)

8. Asking for Information

A Woman with Many Questions

Let’s now move on to some questions. Especially as a foreigner, it’s so important to be able to ask basic questions; you need to know how to ask for information. So what’s an easy way to do this in Dutch?

  • Wat + zijn + A (noun)? (“What + to be + A [noun]?”)

As you can see, it’s quite similar to its English counterpart. Let’s see a few examples of this Dutch language sentence structure:

  • Wat is dat? (“What is this?”)
  • Wat is jouw naam? (“What is your name?”)
  • Wat was haar beroep? (“What was her profession?”)
  • Wat was het gerecht dat we de vorige keer aten? (“What was the dish we ate last time?”)
  • Wat zou je ideale feest zijn geweest? (“What would have been your ideal party?”)

In the sentences above, note the conjugation of the verb zijn (“to be”). 

9. Asking About Time

After the “what” questions, it’s time to look at the “when” questions:

  • Wanneer + zijn + A (noun)? (“When + to be + A [noun]?”)

This Dutch sentence pattern is also quite similar to the English version. The zijn (“to be”) conjugation is also crucial for this question. Let’s see some examples:

    Wanneer is je verjaardag? (“When is your birthday?”)
  • Wanneer is de vergadering? (“When is the meeting?”)
  • Wanneer was jouw feest? (“When was your party?”)
  • Wanneer was je boos op je zus? (“When were you angry with your sister?”)
  • Wanneer zou jouw trein aankomen? (“When would your train arrive?”)
    → Would you like to learn more about the vocabulary for the days in Dutch? Have a look at this useful vocabulary list on Talking About Days with audio recordings.

10. Asking About Location or Position

Last, but definitely not least, a very useful Dutch sentence pattern is that for asking “where” questions. 

These are crucial for when you get lost and need to ask for directions, or when you just want to socialize with someone and ask them where in the Netherlands they’re from:

  • Waar + zijn + A (noun)? (“Where + to be + A [noun]?”)

This question can also use different conjugations of the verb zijn (“to be”):

  • Waar is dat? (“Where is that?”)
  • Waar is de wc? (“Where is the toilet?”)
  • Waar was ik gebleven? (“Where was I?”)
  • Waar ben jij geboren? (“Where were you born?”)
  • Waar ben jij het liefste op jouw verjaardag? (“Where do you prefer to be on your birthday?”)
    → Want to see more Dutch-to-English sentence patterns? Make sure to visit our vocabulary list on the Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners, with useful audio recordings to improve your pronunciation.

11. How DutchPod101.com Can Help You Learn More Dutch

Learn More Words to Form More Sentences

You’ve just learned the top ten Dutch sentence patterns. You can use these patterns to form sentences for just about any situation! 

Are you ready to put this knowledge into practice? Do you feel like speaking in Dutch to complete strangers using these Dutch sentence patterns?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have many free resources that will help you form perfect sentences. Have a look at our vocabulary lists with audio recordings; they’re a great way to practice Dutch words and their pronunciation.

Remember that DutchPod101 also offers personal one-on-one coaching with our premium MyTeacher service. This way, you can practice the Dutch sentence structures with your own private teacher, through interactive exercises, personalized feedback, and much more.

Happy learning!

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List of the 100 Must-Know Dutch Adverbs

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Adverbs bring some clarity, fun, and emotion to a language. Could you imagine a language without them? It would surely make everything much more ambiguous and boring. We need adverbs to form phrases, to express our emotions, to give some perspective, and to spice up our conversations. 

Luckily, there are plenty of Dutch adverbs to choose from. From adverbs describing time and frequency, to those useful adverbs that help you connect your thoughts. Through these fun adverbs, you’ll be able to explain yourself better and more clearly express your mood, opinions, and feelings.

Are you already intrigued? Then let’s start with a short guide on the use of Dutch adverbs. After this, we’ll continue with a useful Dutch adverbs list with 100 must-know adverbs. Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Adverbs User Guide
  2. Adverbs of Time
  3. Adverbs of Frequency
  4. Adverbs of Place
  5. Adverbs of Manner
  6. Adverbs of Degree
  7. Adverbs to Connect Thoughts
  8. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Adverbs User Guide

1- What are Adverbs?

Adverbs give more information about the words they’re connected to. They work together with a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, to change its meaning or to make its meaning more precise. Adverbs can change the tone of the sentence completely or set another mood.

So let’s show you some examples to help you understand the Dutch grammar of adverbs:

Combination of an adverb and a verb:

  • Ik ga morgen naar school. (“I will go to school tomorrow.”)

Here, the adverb morgen (“tomorrow”) defines the verb gaan (“to go”).

Combination of Dutch adjectives and adverbs:

  • Ik ben zeer goed in het leren van talen. (“I am very good at learning languages.”)

The Dutch adverb zeer (“very”) influences the word goed, which is an adjective.

    Learn more about the difference between adverbs and adjectives.

Combination of an adverb with another adverb:

  • Later deze week reis ik naar Nederland. (“Later this week, I travel to the Netherlands.”)

Here, you can see how the adverb later (“later”) and the adverb deze week (“this week”) define each other.

Top Verbs

2- Dutch Adverb Order

For the Dutch adverb placement, it’s very common to place the adverb as closely as possible after the verb. For example:

  • Ik spreek zachtjes. (“I speak softly.”)

However, if you’d like to emphasize the adverb, you can put it at the beginning of the sentence:

  • Bovendien, heb ik al plannen. (“Moreover, I already have plans.”)

Do you want to use more than one adverb? Then the following Dutch adverb placement is most common:

Time-Manner-Place

So adverbs of time come before adverbs of manner, and adverbs of manner come before adverbs of place.

Now that you’ve learned something about the Dutch grammar of adverbs, let’s start with our Dutch adverbs list and dive into the different adverbs. In the following sections, we’ll be covering adverbs in Dutch related to time, frequency, place, manner, degree, and those special thought connectors.

2. Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time will tell you when something takes place.

Man Looking at His Watch

1.

Gisteren
“Yesterday”
Gisteren was ik erg moe.
“Yesterday, I was very tired.”

2.

Deze week
“This week”
Deze week begin ik met mijn nieuwe baan.
“This week, I start with my new job.”

3.

Straks
“Later”
Ik bel je straks.
“I’ll call you later.”

4.

Vandaag
“Today”
Mijn zus gaat vandaag trouwen.
“My sister gets married today.”

5.

Morgen
“Tomorrow”
Ik kan niet werken morgen.
“I can’t work tomorrow.”

6.

Dan
“Then”
Hij komt dan naar huis.
“He then comes home.”

7.

Later
“Later”
Later als ik groot ben…
“Later, when I grow up…”

8.

Vanavond
“Tonight”
Ik heb een date vanavond.
“I have a date tonight.”

9.

Nu
“Right now”
Kom nu naar huis.
“Come home right now.”

10.

Gisteravond
“Last night”
Gisteravond gingen we laat slapen.
“Last night we went to bed late.”

11.

Vanmorgen
“This morning”
Vanmorgen kon ik mijn bed niet uit komen.
“This morning, I couldn’t get out of bed.”

12.

Volgende week
“Next week”
Volgende week reizen we naar Amsterdam.
“Next week, we will travel to Amsterdam.”

13.

Al
“Already”
Ik wacht al een uur op je.
“I’ve already been waiting for you for an hour.”

14.

Onlangs
“Recently”
Ik ben onlangs oma geworden.
“I recently became a grandmother.”

15.

De laatste tijd
“Lately”
De laatste tijd kan ik niet goed slapen.
“Lately, I can’t sleep very well.”

16.

Snel
“Soon”
Ik zie je snel.
“I will see you soon.”

17.

Meteen
“Immediately”
Ik duik meteen in het zwembad.
“I immediately dive into the pool.”

18.

Nog
“Still”
Hij is nog aan het bellen.
“He is still calling.”

19.

Nog steeds
“Still”
Ik ben nog steeds verliefd op jou.
“I am still in love with you.”

As you can see, nog and nog steeds both mean “still.” However, nog steeds in general refers to a longer time, so something that continues over a longer time period.

20.

Geleden
“Ago”
Zeven jaar geleden ging ik naar Argentinië.
“Seven years ago, I went to Argentina.”

    →Make sure to visit our vocabulary list on Talking about Time and discover the pronunciation of various Dutch adverbs of time.

3. Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency will give you some information on how often something takes place.

21.

Bijna
“Almost”
Ik ga bijna nooit uit eten.
“I almost never eat out.”

22.

Altijd
“Always”
Zaterdag ga ik altijd winkelen.
“I always go shopping on Saturday.”

23.

Vaak
“Often”
Hij is vaak boos.
“He is often angry.”

24.

Gewoonlijk
“Usually”
Ik werk gewoonlijk tot zes uur.
“Usually, I work until six.”

25.

Soms
“Sometimes”
Ik kijk soms het nieuws.
“I sometimes watch the news.”

26.

Af en toe
“Occasionally”
Mijn vriend en ik gaan af en toe naar de bioscoop.
“My boyfriend and I occasionally go to the movies.”

27.

Zelden
“Rarely”
Mijn broer reist zelden met de auto.
“My brother rarely travels by car.”

28.

Nooit
“Never”
Ik ga nooit trouwen.
“I will never get married.”

29.

Ooit
“Someday”
Ooit wil ik graag de wereld over reizen.
“Someday, I want to travel all over the world.”

30.

Meestal
“Usually”
Ik ben meestal wel thuis.
“I’m usually at home.”

31.

Bijna nooit
“Almost never”
Ze liegt bijna nooit tegen me.
“She almost never lies to me.”

32.

Regelmatig
“Regularly”
Hij gaat regelmatig voetballen.
“He plays football regularly.”

4. Adverbs of Place

More Essential Verbs

Adverbs of place tell you more about where something takes place.

33.

Hier
“Here”
Kom hier!
“Come here!”

34.

Daar
“There”
Ik ga daar niet naartoe.
“I’m not going there.”

35.

Daarginds
“Over there”
Daarginds woont mijn moeder.
“My mother lives over there.”

36.

Overal
“Everywhere”
Er zijn overal camera’s.
“There are cameras everywhere.”

37.

Nergens
“Nowhere”
De hond is nergens te vinden.
“The dog is nowhere to be found.”

38.

Thuis
“Home”
Hij is thuis.
“He is at home.”

39.

Buiten
“Outside”
Ik zit buiten.
“I’m sitting outside.”

40.

Binnen
“Inside”
Binnen is het lekker warm.
“Inside, it’s nice and warm.”

41.

Ergens
“Somewhere”
De sleutels liggen ergens in de la.
“The keys are somewhere in the drawer.”

5. Adverbs of Manner

How does something happen? That’s what the adverbs of manner describe. 

42.

Nogal
“Quite”
Ze was nogal boos.
“She was quite mad.”

43.

Echt
“Really”
Hij is echt geschrokken.
“He is really shocked.”

44.

Snel
“Quickly”
De man rijdt snel naar huis.
“The man drives home quickly.”

45.

Voorzichtig
“Carefully”
Ik maak de kast voorzichtig open.
“I carefully open the cupboard.”

46.

Langzaam
“Slowly”
Langzaam fietsen we door de sneeuw.
“Slowly, we cycle through the snow.”

47.

Goed
“Well”
Het gaat goed met mij.
“I am doing well.”

48.

Hard
“Fast”
Hij fietst hard door de bossen.
“He cycles fast through the woods.”

49.

Liefdevol
“Lovingly”
Ze kijkt liefdevol naar haar vriendje.
“She looks lovingly at her boyfriend.”

50.

Nauwelijks
“Hardly”
Ik kan je nauwelijks bijhouden.
“I can hardly keep up with you.”

51.

Merendeels
“Mostly”
De zoon woont merendeels bij zijn moeder.
“The son mostly lives with his mother.”

52.

Samen
“Together”
Wij gaan samen winkelen.
“We go shopping together.”

53.

Alleen
“Alone”
Ik ben niet graag alleen.
“I don’t like to be alone.”

54.

Stom
“Stupidly”
Hij lachte stom om haar flauwe grap.
“He laughed stupidly at her silly joke.”

55.

Slecht
“Badly”
Ik dans slecht.
“I dance badly.”

56.

Mooi
“Beautifully”
De vrouw zingt mooi.
“The woman sings beautifully.”

57.

Kwaad
“Angrily”
Hij liep kwaad weg.
“He walked away angrily.”

6. Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree tell you to what extent something happens or is true. 

A Woman with a Scale

58.

Heel
“Very”
Onze hond is heel lief.
“Our dog is very sweet.”

59.

Erg
“Very”
Ik ben erg gelukkig met jou.
“I am very happy with you.”

60.

Zeer
“Very”
Ik vind mijn studie zeer interessant.
“I find my study very interesting.”

As you can see, there are (at least) three different ways to say “very” in Dutch. Heel and erg are the most common ones. Zeer is a more serious way of saying “very.”

61.

Helemaal
“Completely”
Hij eet zijn bord helemaal leeg.
“He eats his plate completely empty.”

62.

Graag
“Like” / “Gladly”
Zij wil graag met hem trouwen.
“She would like to marry him.”

63.

Redelijk
“Quite”
Het is al redelijk laat.
“It is already quite late.”

64.

Vrij
“Quite”
Ik ben vrij moe.
“I am quite tired.”

65.

Absoluut
“Absolutely”
Hij kan absoluut het beste koken.
“He can definitely (absolutely) cook the best.”

66.

Veel
“A lot”
In de doos zitten veel bloemen.
“There are a lot of flowers in the box.”

67.

Weinig
“Not much”
Ik zie hem weinig.
“I don’t see him much.”

68.

Min of meer
“More or less”
Ik ga min of meer twee keer per jaar op vakantie.
“I go on holiday twice a year, more or less.”

69.

Genoeg
“Enough”
Dat is genoeg.
“That’s enough.”

70.

Nauwelijk
“Hardly”
Je kunt het nauwelijks zien.
“You can hardly see it.”

71.

Een beetje
“A bit”
Ik ben een beetje teleurgesteld in jou.
“I am a bit disappointed in you.”

72.

Wat
“Something”
Ik heb zeker wat geleerd van mijn Nederlandse les.
“I definitely learned something from my Dutch class.”

73.

Niets
“Nothing”
Ik heb niets verkeerd gedaan.
“I have done nothing wrong.”

74.

Minder
“Less”
Hij is minder grappig.
“He is less funny.”

75.

Onvoldoende
“Not enough”
Ik heb onvoldoende gestudeerd.
“I have not studied enough.”

    →Learn How to Express Quantity with DutchPod101.com and have a look at which words are adverbs (see the words with “adv”).

7. Adverbs to Connect Thoughts

Some adverbs help you connect thoughts. With these, you’ll be able to form sentences and express opinions.

76.

Ook
“Also”
Ik ben ook moe.
“I am also tired.”

77.

Natuurlijk
“Of course”
Hij is natuurlijk weer te laat.
“He is, of course, too late again.”

78.

Echter
“However”
Ik ben echter wel benieuwd.
“However, I am curious.”

79.

Daarom
“Therefore”
Daarom ga ik vandaag naar de dokter.
“Therefore, I am going to the doctor today.”

80.

Aan de andere kant
“On the other hand”
Aan de andere kant wil zij liever vrij zijn.
“On the other hand, she would rather be free.”

81.

Ongetwijfeld
“Undoubtedly”
Mexicaans eten is ongetwijfeld heel lekker.
“Mexican food is undoubtedly very tasty.”

82.

In feite
“In fact”
In feite is het helemaal niet zo ingewikkeld.
“In fact, it’s not that complicated at all.”

83.

Eindelijk
“Finally”
Ik studeer vandaag eindelijk af.
“I’m finally graduating today.”

84.

Niettemin
“Nevertheless”
Niettemin zal ik proberen vandaag plezier te hebben.
“Nevertheless, I will try to have fun today.”

85.

Inderdaad
“Indeed”
Het is inderdaad een uitdaging.
“It is indeed a challenge.”

86.

In plaats van
“Instead”
Zij kiest voor hem in plaats van haar beste vriendin.
“She chooses him instead of her best friend.”

87.

Bovendien
“Moreover”
Ik ga bovendien al over 2 dagen op vakantie.
“Moreover, I will go on holiday in two days.”

88.

Ondertussen
“Meanwhile”
Zij is ondertussen al getrouwd.
“Meanwhile, she already got married.”

89.

Uiteindelijk
“Eventually” / “In the end”
Uiteindelijk hebben ze gekozen voor iets nieuws.
“In the end, they opted for something new.”

90.

Trouwens
“Besides” / “By the way”
Trouwens, wist je al dat Bob en Kim uit elkaar zijn?
“By the way, did you know Bob and Kim separated?”

91.

Zeker
“Certainly”
Zij is zeker heel mooi.
“She is certainly very beautiful.”

92.

Daarbij
“In addition”
Daarbij ga ik graag naar school.
“In addition, I like to go to school.”

93.

Niet
“Not”
Dat is niet grappig.
“That’s not funny.”

94.

Misschien
“Maybe”
Ik ben misschien wel wat voorbarig geweest.
“I was maybe a bit presumptuous.”

95.

Helaas
“Unfortunately”
Helaas kan ik je niet verder helpen.
“Unfortunately, I can’t help you further.”

96.

Eigenlijk
“Actually”
Ik ben eigenlijk wel opgelucht.
“Actually, I’m relieved.”

97.

Toch
“Anyway”
Zij gaat toch naar huis.
“She’s going home anyway.”

98.

Hè?
“Huh?”
Dat vind je wel leuk, hè?
“You like that, huh?”

is a common Dutch catchword, and it’s a popular way to end a question.

A Dutch Woman Thinking Hè

99.

Zeg
“Say”
Dat heeft ze goed gedaan, zeg.
“She did well, I say.”

Zeg means “say,” and it’s usually used to put emphasis on something said before.

100.

Blijkbaar
“Apparently”
Blijkbaar is zij verliefd op hem.
“Apparently, she is in love with him.”


8. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, we’ve shown you the ins and outs of Dutch adverbs: Dutch adverb order, Dutch adverb placement in sentences, and a massive Dutch adverbs list. In our list of the 100 most useful Dutch adverbs, you learned all about the Dutch grammar of adverbs as well.

Are you ready now to take this new knowledge into your daily life? Are you ready to put these adverbs into practice? To do this, you need to be able to form sentences with Verbs and Pronouns.

Would you like some special attention? Remember that we also offer a Premium PLUS service with personal one-on-one coaching: MyTeacher. Let your private teacher help you with Dutch adjectives and adverbs, verbs, pronunciation, and much more. You’ll receive personalized exercises, constructive feedback, and interactive assignments.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Dutch

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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