Dutch Lesson 5

Adjectives, Adverbs, and Questions in Dutch

Lesson 5: Adjectives, Adverbs, and Questions in Dutch

After the difficult lesson you’ve just done we’ll make things a little easier. In this lesson we’ll teach you how to use adjectives in Dutch.


An adjective tells something about a noun, it describes a property of a noun. It usually appears next to the noun, although it can also be separated from the noun using the verb “zijn” (in English: “to be”). Note that in such a construction the “independent” adjective is never a direct object!
 Het huis is groot.  The house is big.
 Het kind is jong.  The child is young.
 De vrouw is oud.  The woman is old.
 De appels zijn rood.  The apples are red.
This is an easy construction. The Dutch adjective is never conjugated in any way in such a construction. A somewhat more difficult but more common construction is to use the adjective next to the noun. In this case the Dutch adjective conjugates and gets one extra E. Note that you might have to drop one vowel of a double vowel to retain the same sound:
 Het grote huis.  The big house.
 Het jonge kind.  The young child.
 De oude vrouw.  The old woman.
 De rode appels.  The red apples.
Well..this isn’t all very complicated. Just add an E and don’t forget to remove a double vowel if it would otherwise appear at the end of a syllable. But there’s one exception. If the the noun is neuter and the indefinite article (een) is used, or if no article at all is used, then the E is not added! So:
 Het grote kind  The big child
 Een groot kind  A big child
 groot kind  big child


Now we can move on to the matter of adverbs. An adverb can be compared to an adjective but instead it says something about a verb instead of a noun. It’s easy to form an adverb in Dutch, because an adverb remains unconjugated and is the same as the full unconjugated adjective form.
 Hij rent snel  He runs fast
 Ik praat langzaam  I speak slowly
 Hij vliegt laag  He flies low
 Zij zwemmen diep  They swim deep
Now you also know how to form adverbs. It’s really easy.

Asking questions

We can continue with asking question in Dutch. To tell things is nice, but once in a while you might need to ask something of someone. We’ll teach you. The word order in a Dutch question is almost the same as in English, although in English we use the helper verb “do”. In Dutch, there’s no such helper verb. Where in English we’d use “do”, the Dutch use the real main verb, in the correct conjugation that matches with the subject. Some questions:
 Wat is uw huis?  What is your house?
 Waar is hij?  Where is he?
 Wanneer komt hij?  When does he come?
 Wie is die oude man?  Who is that old man?
 Wat zie je?  What do you see?
 Wat zien we?  What do we see?
 Wat ziet hij?  What does he see?
This is also easy to understand. Just remember that the Dutch don’t use a helper verb such as “do”. Instead of it they use their main verb in the corresct conjugation. You’ve also seen some interrogative pronouns now (the words used to ask question: such as: “what?” etc…)


Learn the following words. From now on there will also appears adjectives and adverbs in the list (as well as interrogative pronouns in this lesson).


 vliegen  to fly
 zwemmen  to swim
 willen  to want
 spelen  to play
 komen  to come
 snel  fast
 langzaam  slow
 old  oud
 jong  young
 goed  good
 slecht  bad
 leuk  nice
 aardig  kind
 nieuw  new
 de fiets  the bike
 wat?  what?
 wie?  who?
 van wie?  whose?
 welke?  which?
 waarom?  why?
 wanneer?  when?
 hoeveel?  how much/many?
 heel  very


Exercise A: Translate to English: 1) Dat is een aardige man. 2) Wie is dat leuke kind? 3) Waarom vlieg jij laag? 4) Wat is dat? 5) Dat grote huis is hun huis. 6) Hij rent snel. 7) Mijn oude oma is heel aardig. 8) Ik wil een nieuwe fiets. 9) Dit zijn hele leuke aardige dieren. 10) Wat zie jij daar? 11) Mijn oude opa rent heel snel. Exercise B: Translate to Dutch: 1) I want a new chair. 2) I see an old woman. 3) The kind man says: “who are you?” 4) She is not old. 5) They fly fast. 6) Our grandmother is an old woman. 7) These children play. 8) The young child sees a high table. 9) What does the bad dog see? 10) When does that kind cat come here?


Solution of Exercise A: 1) That is a kind man. 2) Who is that nice child? 3) Why do you fly low? 4) What is that? 5) That big house is their house. 6) He runs fast. 7) My old grandmother is very kind. 8) I want a new bike. 9) These are very nice kind animals. 10) What do you see there? 11) My old grandfather runs very fast. Solution of Exercise B: 1) Ik wil een nieuwe stoel. 2) Ik zie een oude vrouw. 3) De aardige man zegt: “Wie ben jij?” OR De aardige man zegt: “Wie bent u?” 4) Zij is niet oud. 5) Zij vliegen snel. 6) Onze oma is een oude vrouw. 7) Deze kinderen spelen. 8) Het jonge kind ziet een hoge tafel. 9) Wat ziet de slechte hond? 10) Wanneer komt die aardige kat hier?

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