As is the case with many other languages, it’s helpful to learn Dutch grammar by comparing it to English grammar. Like English, the Dutch language is based on subjects, verbs, and objects. That’s one of the similarities, but it’s really the differences that make learning a new language difficult. However, simple explanations can go a long way toward resolving that difficulty. For example, one of the differences between these two languages is that in Dutch, gender is assigned to all nouns. These genders are divided into male, female, and neuter. For example:
• Man (man), father (vader), and liar (leugenaaar) are all masculine.
• Woman (vrouw), mother (moeder), and knowledge (kennis) are all feminine.
• Forest (bos), girl (meisje), and Europe (europa) are all neuter.
That may seem a little confusing, especially when you notice that girl (meisje), of all words, is neuter! Fortunately, there are a few simple rules you can keep in mind to make life easier for you in this regard. For instance:
• If a word ends in –aar, -er, or –erd, then it’s probably masculine.
• If it ends in –heid, -nis, or –schap, then it’s probably feminine.
• If it ends in –the, then it’s called a “diminutive,” and it’s neuter.
Articles are another area where Dutch grammar is similar to its English counterpart, in that there are three of them. Here again, however, there is also a difference. That is, the articles in the Dutch Language have multiple forms depending on the gender of their corresponding nouns. “De” and “Het” are both definite articles that mean “the.” “De” is used with masculine and feminine nouns, and “Het” is used with neuter nouns. Here are three more examples to help you understand:
• de vader = the father
• de moeder = the mother
• het bos = the forest
Of course, just as there are definite articles, there are also indefinite articles. In English, these are “a” and “an.” In Dutch, the indefinite article is “een,” and it can be used with all nouns, regardless of gender.
Dutch grammar also has rules governing making words plural. Basically, you have to add “en” to the word. However, if the word has a long vowel sound, then you need to take out one of the vowels, and you need to double consonants that follow short vowel sounds. As with any other language, there are often exceptions to these general rules, but these observations will get you started. There are also rules about pronouns, adjectives, and conjugation in the Dutch language, and these are actually very similar to their corresponding rules in English.