Let’s start a Dutch verb boot camp, shall we? Verbs are such an important part of most languages, including Dutch, that it makes sense for us to take a closer look at them. Today we will make a quick overview of Dutch verb tenses and a couple of other important components but before we do, make sure you familiarise yourself with the Dutch spelling rules (here and here) and the information on personal pronouns.
In order to fully conjugate a Dutch verb, you must know its three principal parts: infinitive, past and past participle. We will talk about the past and the past participle in later posts but here is some information about the infinitive.
- The Infinitive – The starting point for the conjugation of a verb is the present infinitive active. This is the form you find in dictionaries. The majority of Dutch infinitives end in –en (e.g. kijken). A few verbs end in –n (e.g. gaan).
The stem of the infinitive is also an important element. To find the infinitive stem, take off the –en or –n ending (e.g. bouwen -> bouw). Remember that you will need to apply the spelling rules to the stem (e.g. dragen -> draag).
Strong and Weak Verbs
Another thing you will need to keep in mind during our boot camp is the difference between strong and weak verbs. Dutch verbs can be divided into regular and irregular verbs. Regular verbs follow a certain pattern in the way they are conjugated, and irregular verbs do not follow a pattern.
There are more regular verbs than irregular verbs (luckily!), and the group of regular verbs can be divided further into weak verbs and strong verbs.
Weak verbs are the most regular type of verb. All the rules for forming the present, perfect and imperfect tenses apply. Strong verbs on the other hand are also regular, but their regularity works slightly differently. The good news is there are some patterns to how strong verbs work that can help make learning them a bit easier.
The Dutch verb is conjugated according to the following:
- Mood: Indicative, Conditional, Imperative
- Voice: Active, Passive
- Tense: Present, Past, Future, Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Future Perfect
If your eyes have started to glaze over with visions of grammar classes back when you were in high school, don’t worry. We will take the tenses slowly and one at a time.