Dutch Language Blog

Why We Do What We Do Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Dutch Grammar

Part of communicating is explaining why we do something. This “why” could refer to our motivation, to explain more or be more specific, or even something as simple as to the function of things.

In Dutch, this can be explained with the words om + te +  _______ (infinitief).

If I want to explain why I am studying the language, I can say

Ik studeer Nederlands om beter te begrijpen.

If I want why I am choosing a particular beach for vacation, I can say

Marseille is een leuke stad om op vakantie te gaan.

If I want to explain how I use a device in the kitchen, I can say

Ik gebruik het koffieapparaat ook om met warm water thee te makken. 

The combination of om with te + infinitief already alerts the listener or reader as to why you are doing something. A common mistake from English speakers might be to use voor instead of om. This is understandable given the use of “for” in English. However, it is incorrect even if your listener/reader is be able to understand what you are saying.

The following video shows a new device ambulances in the Netherlands can use. Try answering the questions that follow.

Wat doet het apparaat?

Hoe kan het apparaat de mensen helpen?

Waarom denk je dat ambulancepersoneel hun baan doen? 

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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!