There is far more to learning the Dutch language than memorizing lists of vocabulary or developing your own accent so that you feel more comfortable communicating with native speakers. In order to be truly functional with the conversational elements of the language, as well as being able to read larger portions of text such as books or magazines, you will need to have a grasp of Dutch verbs.
Verbs are a critical element of language, and provide not just the action that moves a conversation or narrative moving forward but the context that allows a reader or listener to understand when and how that action is occurring in relation to the present moment. Being able to properly conjugate Dutch verbs will increase your ability to communicate effectively and naturally, and heighten your listening and reading comprehension skills.
The verbs of the Dutch language are not the simplest thing to learn. There are complex rules and conditions that regulate the usage of such verbs and because some of the forms do not translate into the English grammatical rules some people may find it difficult to understand them in the beginning. But, like learning your native language, consistent exposure and regular usage will help you to learn naturally.
Conjugation of Dutch verbsdepends on, just as it does in English, the two grammatical numbers and three grammatical persons of the language. This means that there is a singular and a plural, and a first, second, and third person within the language. The grammatical persons are as follows, singular and then plural respectively:
First Person: ik, wij
Second Person: jij; gij; u, jullie; gij; u
Third Person: hij; zij; het, zij
Beyond the grammatical numbers and persons of the verbs in the Dutch languageconjugation utilizes a variety of forms. The first to understand are the infinitives.
The present infinitive indicates that an action is being performed at that moment, and is formed by adding –en, -n, or –an to the root.
The future infinitive indicates that an action will be done at some point in the future, and is formed by placing “te zullen” in front of the present infinitive.
The present perfect infinitive indicates that a person is familiar with the action (“I have danced” as opposed to “I dance”), and is formed by putting “hebben” or “zijn” behind the present infinitive.
The future perfect infinitive indicates that a person while have become familiar with an action at some point in the future (“I am going to have danced”), and is formed by adding “te zullen hebben” or “te zullen zijn” after the present infinitive.
The verb form “gerund” refers to the situations in which the verb in used as a noun. In these situations the words are always singular and do not have a male or female inclination.
There are four participles as can be applied to Dutch verbs. These are:
The present participle
The future participle
The perfect participle
The perfect future participle
In Dutch the indicative is the most commonly used verb form. This is the form that indicates the party that is performing the action. There are several such forms:
The simple present tense
The simple past tense
The simple future tense
The simple past future tense
The present perfect tense
The past perfect tense
The future perfect tense
The past future perfect tense
Neither the simple past future tense nor the past future perfect tense exists in the English language.
Other forms of verb conjugation are more complex and involve irregular forms and mixed verbs. Understanding these tenses will likely not occur until later in your language study.