Dutch Language Blog

Back to Basics: D and dt endings Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in Dutch Language

NTR: SchoolTV recently released a very catchy song explaining the use of -d and -dt when conjugating verbs in Dutch. For the section Snapje? meaning Do you understand?, SchoolTV teamed up with the Dutch alternative rock band De Staat to create a catchy tune to help us all figure out when to use just a -d ending or a -dt ending when conjugating in the present tense.

Theory Behind This

Just to review, when conjugating a verb in the present, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Find the root of your verb. Lets use lopen. The root of lopen is loop. How did we get to this? First, you remove the -en ending to the verb….so lopen becomes lop. Before we move on, we need to figure out if then “o” is a long or short vowel. We go back to lopen and we check if the “o” is long or short. We separate the verb into syllables lo-pen. The “o” on the first syllable has no consonant to lock it in, so it is a long vowel. By taking out the -en, we leave the “o” locked in so we must add the second “o” to show it is a long vowel.
  2. So now that we have the root loop,  we need to figure out the subject. These would be the conjugations:
    ik loop
    jij loopt

    hij/zij loopt
    wij lopen
    zij lopenThe first conjugations (ik) uses the root verb. The second and third, jij,  hij or zij, get a -t added to it. The last two conjugations use the full verb form which is lopen in this case. This rule applies to most verbs (there are some exceptions with irregular verbs such as zijn and hebben). 


The steps to conjugate seem pretty simple and straightforwrad. However, the uitspraak or the pronunciation is what makes this a bit complicated. If you remember, a “d” at the end of a word sounds like a “t”. So the “d” in stad and the “t” in kat sound the same…as a “t.”

But what do you do when you are trying to write down what you are hearing or when you learned a new word someone used but don’t know if its written with a “t” or a “d”?

It is at this point that the song by De Staat helps us figure out….at least when we are talking about verbs.

De Staat “d en dt”

What the song does is create a catchy tune for the way Dutch kids are taught how to write verbs that end in -d- or -dt. The trick is to check if you would use a -t ending with the verb lopen. If you would add a -t to lopen, then you would also add it to another verb, like vinden, even though it has a “d” at the end.

So if you are unsure if vinden ends in a -d or -dt, you would compare conjugations with lopen.

Ik loop          ik vind
Jij loop          jij vindt
Hij loopt          hij vindt

Because “hij loopt” had a -t ending, you would at the -t to vind even though it will be pronounced the same way for ik and for hij.

I know for a fact the song is much better at describing this so here is the video!

Do you know any other tricks for learning Dutch?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Peter Simon:

    I’m afraid what you call “a catchy tune” is several minutes of terribly boring and irritating flat singing that can’t be properly heard because of het geluid from the bumps on the ‘trommels’ … Let’s face it, miuziek is not a feature endearing most to Nederlandse cultuur. Natuurlijk, it’s up to one’s taste … But your explanation is reasonable.