Verbs according to function 4
Verbs according to meaning 7
Verbs according to form 3
Verbs according to conjugation 6
For purposes of conjugation Dutch verbs can be divided into regular and irregular verbs. Regular verbs follow a certain pattern in the way they are conjugated, whereas irregular verbs do not follow a pattern at all. The group of regular verbs is the largest, and this group can be divided further into weak verbs and strong verbs. The conjugation of a new verb (e.g. a verb borrowed from English) normally follows the rules of weak verbs.
Revision exercises: verbs 1
The present tense of the verb is used to indicate that the activity or event described in the sentence is taking place in the present time, or at least not in the past (see how the present tense can be used in the formation of future aspect). The stem of the verb (stam) is the main building block when forming the present tense. In regular verbs it is easy to find, but, the tenses of irregular verbs you will have to learn by heart. This lesson covers the present tense of regular and irregular verbs, and the special rules for the second person singular (familiar, i.e. je/jij).
Present tense of regular verbs
To be able to form the present tense of regular verbs, it is important that you are able to determine the stem of the verb. The stem of the verb is the basic form from which all others derive, and therefore an important building block.
In order to find the stem of a verb, you take the infinitive and take off the ending –en. You then have to follow the rules of spelling to arrive at the first person singular, because the length of the vowel in the stem will have to mirror the length of the vowel in the infinitive. Also remember that Dutch words never end in a double consonant. In some cases you will not have to change anything.
|infinitive||infinitive without -en||stem (after application of spelling rules)||English infinitive|
Once you have the stem of the verb, forming the present tense is easy. For singular forms, the stem is used for the first person (ik) and stem +t is used for the second and third persons (jij/u, hij/zij). In the plural all forms (wij, jullie, zij), are identical to the infinitive, except the formal form of the second person (u) which is identical to the second person in the singular (see Personal pronouns).
These are the conjugations in the present tense of the above verbs:
Notes on spelling and pronunciation of verbs whose stem end in -d or -t
- In the second and third person singular of verbs whose stem ends in –d, the –t of the conjugation does not alter the pronunciation of the word. So, for example, (ik) vind is sounds the same as (hij) vindt.
- Dutch spelling does not allow double consonants at the ends of words, so in the second and third person singular of verbs whose stem ends in –t (for example ontmoeten), the -t is not repeated in (ik ontmoet, jij ontmoet, hij ontmoet).
Present tense of irregular verbs
There are no rules for the formation of the present tense of irregular verbs, and you will have to learn the conjugation of the most commonly used irregular verbs by heart. Below you will find the conjugation of the present tense of hebben (to have) and zijn (to be). These are widely used, and crucial for the formation of other tenses, so make sure you master them!
A very important thing to remember is that the verb form of the second person singular informal (jij/je) consists of stem +t when the pronoun precedes the verb, but the –t is dropped when the pronoun follows the verb. More schematically:
jij/je – stem +t
stem – jij/je
|jij/je – stem +t||Zo, jij studeert bedrijfskunde.
So, you study business studies.
|stem – jij/je||Wat studeer je in Rotterdam?
What do you study in Rotterdam?
Other cases of inversion
|jij/je – stem +t||Oh, jij bent ook twintig jaar oud.
Oh, you are also twenty years old.
|stem – jij/je||Zo oud ben jij ook.
You are also that age.