Dutch Language Blog

Word Order in Indirect Speech Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Phew, we made it!  Four weeks of looking at word order in Dutch.  We have stumbled through main clauses, sub-clauses and now lastly we are coming up to indirect speech.  By no means have we covered it all but hopefully you have learned some tips and understood some of the rules that have helped in knowing which word part goes where.  So let’s get to it, word order in indirect speech.

What is Indirect Speech?
Indirect speech, also known as reported speech, refers to a sentence that reports what someone else has said.

Spotting Them in Dutch
An indirect statement, typically, begins with the conjunction dat.  Indirect questions can begin with a question word or for yes/no questions, with of.

Indirect statements are often introduced with verbs like:
  • Zeggen (say)
  • Menen/denken (think)
  • Beweren (maintain)
For example:  Jaap zegt dat hij in Parijs woont. (Jaap says that he lives in Paris.)
Indirect questions often begin with words like:
  • Hij/zij vraagt (he/she asks)
  • Ik wil weten (I want to know)
  • Kun je me vertellen (can you tell me)
What Happens With the Word Order?

1.  Sentences in indirect speech are subordinated sentences, so the verb moves to the end.

Hij zegt dat hij Parijs leuk vindt. (He says that he likes Paris.)

2.  In sentences that contain a modal or other auxiliary verb, this verb can be placed before or after the main verb (but before is more common).

Hij zegt dat hij een nieuwe baan wil vinden/vinden wil. (He says that he wants to find a new job.)

3.  In sentences with more than one infinitive, the finite verb goes before the infinitives.

Marloes zegt dat zij minder frietjes zou moeten eten. (Marloes says she should eat less fries.)

4.  Don’t forget that when you make an indirect statement, you are most likely going to have to change the pronouns.

Mama:  Heeft ze het leuk? (Is she having a good time?)
Alex:  Mama vraagt of je het leuk hebt. (Mum asks if you’re having a good time.)

Answers from Tuesday’s Post:
1.  Karin en Denny waren in Parijs toen ze naar het Louvre gingen.
2.  Ze aten veel croissants en ze dronken de beste cafe au lait.
3.  Karin maakte foto’s terwijl Denny met een andere Nederlandse toerist praatte.

Put the sentences into indirect speech.

1.  Marian:  “Het weer is bijna altijd goed.”
Hans:  Zij zegt ___________.

2.  Marian:  “Lopen jullie twee keer per dag met de hond?”
Hans:  Zij vraagt __________.

3.  Marian: “Hoe gaat het thuis?”
Hans:  Zij vraagt __________.
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