Lets not be so simple…with our sentences!

Posted on 05. Mar, 2015 by in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Vocabulary

When learning a language, we can sometimes be our worst enemies. We strive for perfection and yet miss a homework assignment or two (or gasp! class), we want to talk about more than the weather and colors but we don’t learn new words. For adults, our enemy is sometimes our intelligence. I don’t mean to sound presumptuous in saying I am so smart, but talking in simple sentences irritates me. I want to say more because I can think of more complex things than my vocabulary allows.

Learning new vocabulary is a great way to improve how we express ourselves. I like to prepare myself ahead of time when I think of an interesting topic by looking up words beforehand (like in the post about shopping).

Another great way to improve our expression of thoughts and ideas is via complex sentences. We don’t always think in basic sentence structure subject + werkwoord in persoonsvorm + rest.

Conjuncties Part I

The most basic group of conjuncties are en, maar, want en dus.

These are simple to use because both parts of the sentence (before and after the conjunction) are hoofdzinnen or independent clauses and maintain their regular Nederlands word order.

Ik wil naar het restaurant gaan en ik wil een tosti eten.

Vandag had ik les maar morgern kan ik thuis blijven.

Ik heb dit boek gekocht maar ik ken de schrijver niet.

Ik ben moe want ik had veel werk te doen dus ik ga vroeger naar bed.

Conjuncties Part II

The second group of conjunctions are tricky because they require you to use a bijzin. For the part that is the bijzin or the subordinate clause, you must throw the verb to the end of the sentence. These little tricksters are als, omdat, zodra, zodat, terwijl, hoewel, nadat, toen and voordat.

Ik zal vlaai kopen als je morgen komt.

Ik wil niet naar de bioscoop gaan omdat de film al is begonnen.

Mijn moeder zal naar hier komen zodra haar vakantie begint.

Ik zal sneller eten zodat we vroeger naar Amsterdam kunnen gaan.

Ik maak broodjes terwijl je doucht.

Ik zal naar jullie gaan hoewel ik hoofdpijn heb.

Ik was de kleren nadat jullie sporten.

Let op!

The bijzin isn’t always the second part of the sentence! It could very well be at the beginning of the sentence forcing the hoofdzin to do inversie (verb + subject).

Hoewel ik hoofdpijn heb, zal ik naar jullie gaan.

Als je morgen komt, koop ik vlaai. 

Tips and Notebooks

At first, I had a VERY hard time remembering all of these conjunctions. I always carry in my purse a small notebook in case I get ideas or need to write something down. Part of this notebook is dedicated to Dutch words and expressions. Writing the words down already helps me remember the word better, but knowing I can consult my notebook at anytime gives me peace of mind. Perhaps doing this can be useful for you!

My little Dutch notebook  (personal photograph)

My little Dutch notebook
(personal photograph)

Back to basics: Giving Directions

Posted on 02. Mar, 2015 by in Dutch Vocabulary, Travel

Lately, I feel like the more I advance with Dutch, the more I forget the basic things I learned right at the beginning. Perhaps these are the words and situations we encounter less, perhaps its a normal part of the language acquisition (the same happened with Italian). It is because of this that I decided to go back to basics, and, in this case, talk about giving directions.

The basic vocabulary for giving directions is the following:

rechts- right

links- left

rechtdoor- straight (straight ahead)

rechtsaf- go right or turn right

linksaf- go left or turn left

aan de rechterkant-  on the right side

aan de linkerkant- on the left side

de hoek- corner

de rotonde- the turnaround/turnabout

het stoplicht- de stoplight

tegenover- across or across from

tussen- in between

With these words, you can give directions. One example of the sentence structure for giving directions is the following. I will give a couple examples so that I can use all the words.

Ga rechdoor tot het stoplicht. Op de hoek, ga linskaf. De winkel is tegenover de apotheek. 

Op de hoek, ga rechtsaf. Aan de rotonde, neem de derde afrit. Mijn huis is tussen het park en de basisschool.

I found the following video on YouTube about the dangers of not knowing where you are going in the Netherlands. I don’t know if this is real, but it sure made me laugh! Can any of you relate to the men in the video?

YouTube Preview Image


How do you destroy a house in Dutch?

Posted on 26. Feb, 2015 by in Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

In December, I wrote about looking for a new house and financing a house. Since then, Riccardo and I have been busy renovating our future home. It’s been a messy process, and we’ve had our share of surprises, but the house is starting to look more like a house and less like a construction site.

The first part of the verbouwing was to tear down or to afbreken: tegels, behangpapier, badmeubels, keuken, tapijt, baksteen and what seemed like meters and meters of kabels. In order to properly do this, we relied on the use of many power tools such as a behangafstomer, a boor, hamer, and lots of manpower. In this process, I realized that we had access to many businesses that rent all sorts of power tools. I am not sure if I had never noticed this in the U.S. or in Mexico because I had never needed this there or if there is truly a “cultural difference.” Perhaps the do-it-yourself stores do rent these things, and I had just never noticed!

During the verbouwing, we were faced with many surprises…many! We found hidden tile underneath tile, mystery pijpen behind the bathroom wall (turned out to be the neighbor’s washing machine pipe), stopcontacten without elektriciteit, and crooked doors. Fortunately, Riccardo and I count on an amazing group of friends and family that have dedicated their weekends, Christmas break and their evenings to help us tear down everything we didn’t like to make space for what we want.

Working on the verbouwing!  (persona photo)

Working on the verbouwing!
(personal photo)

In order to make a plan for what we wanted to do with the house, Riccardo and I talked about what we needed in the house and asked each other many many questions!

Willen wij tegels of laminaat of pvc vloer voor de woonkamer, eetkamer en keuken?

Welke kleur voor de muren, vloeren en tegels is goed voor onze stijl?

Wat hebben wij in de keuken nodig? (oven, koelkast, ruimte, een bar, etc.)

Hoe kunnen wij meer ruimte hebben?

Wat willen wij in de badkamer? (in-loop douche, een bad, een wastafel of twee, etc.)

Wat willen wij op de zolder? 

Is vloerverwarming beter voor ons?

Willen wij de haard?

These were just some of the questions we had to answer together in order to make choices for the house. We are almost done and I think the house will look absolutely great once it is done!

Have you ever remodeled a house? What were your experiences?