Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Verb Boot Camp: The Present Tense Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Today we will take a look at the present tense in Dutch. The good news is that to form the present tense in Dutch, you just apply the appropriate ending to the stem of the verb. Don’t remember how to find the stem? Have a look at our introduction post on Dutch verbs.

“But which endings?” I hear you ask. These ones:

  • the first person singular has no ending
  • the second and third person singular add –t
  • and the plural forms add –en

Still with me? Good. Let’s see an example, shall we?

kijken = to view, look (at)

stem = kijk

ik kijk wij kijken
jij kijkt jullie kijken
u kijkt u kijkt
hij, zij, het kijkt zij



  • The polite form “u” takes a singular ending even in the plural form.
  • Technically you can use –en or –t for the second person plural (e.g. jullie kijkt or jullie kijken) but the –en ending tends to be used more often.
  • If a verb’s infinitive form ends in –n rather than –en, use only –n when conjugated in the plural (staan –> sta (stem) –> ik sta –> wij staan). Hopefully you also noticed that when we remove the –n to find the stem, we also get rid of one of the double a’s. Have a look at the spelling rules part one and part two, if you need a refresher as to why.
  • You may also need to adjust the spelling in other words (see praten below), again see the spelling rules if you need a refresher.
  • You do not add the –t ending onto the 2nd or 3rd person singular because the stem ends in a –t already. In Dutch, words to not end with double consonants. 

praten = to talk, chat

stem = praat

ik praat wij praten
jij praat jullie praten
u praat u praat
hij, zij, het praat zij praten


Of course, as will all languages, there are some exceptions. Two examples are the verbs hebben and zijn, which we have covered before.


In inversions, such as questions, the –t ending is dropped on the second person singular.

jij kijkt becomes kijk je? when inverted


Dutch present tense works basically the same way that present tense works in English. However, in Dutch there is only one present tense form. Therefore there is no extra form equivelant to the English progressive form “she is looking” or the emphatic form “she does look.”

In Dutch, zij kijkt may mean “she looks,” “she is looking” or “she does look” – it depends on the context.

If extra emphasis is needed to show that the action is currently in progress, then the Dutch will typically do one of two things:

1. use the inflected verb “to be” and a prepositional phrase starting with “aan”

Zij is aan ‘t kijken. (She is watching/looking.)

2. combine an inflected verb indicating position (staan, zitten, liggen) with te + the infinitive

Zij staat naar ons te kijken. (She is looking at/watching us.)

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  1. rr:

    thank you so much for doing all this! awesome!!!!!!!!!!

    • heather:

      @rr Geen dank! Your welcome! 🙂

  2. Dimitris Psarrakis:

    Dank je wel Heather! Mooi!

  3. Ann McCloskey:

    I love those reminders of how to add emphasis when using present tense: Ik ben aan ‘t Nederlands studeren, of…Ik zit nu thuis te studeren.

    I’m working to reclaim Dutch, having spoken it over 40 years ago during a year in Nederland. This blog is helping me!