Dutch Lesson 4

Regular  Verbs and Negation You’ve already worked your way through three chapters. Make sure you understood everything that appeared in those chapters. Make sure you understand the grammar and vocabulary and do make the exercises to practice. Also make sure you try to pronounce every Dutch sentence so you can practice your pronunciation.

Regular verbs

Let’s start now by learning a regular Dutch verb: “zeggen” (“to say” in English). In Dutch a regular verb in the present tense always has the same ending. That ending is underlined in the following example. The part of the verb that’s not underlined is called the stem, the part of the verb that always remains the same (although it might occur that the last consonant of the stem is repeated so the vowel before it retains the same sound. This is the case with this verb).
 Ik zeg  I say
 Jij zegt  You say also applies to the formal form “u”
 Hij/Zij/Het zegt  He/She/It says
 Wij zeggen  We say
 Jullie zeggen  You say
 Zij zeggen  They say
We’ll now discuss this conjugation somewhat more. The first person singular (“Ik”) is easy. It uses the full stem without any specific ending. The second person singular (“Jij”) gets an extra T behind the stem. So does the 3rdperson singular (“Hij/Zij/Het”). Now all the plural forms have the same conjugation. Usually EN is added, except when the stem already ends in an E. Then only N is added. When the stem ends in a T it’s also unnecessary to add another T. But something strange can occur. The last consonant of the stem has to be repeated when it’s preceded by a vowel that would otherwise get a different sound. “zeg” is pronounced somewhat like “zech” (pronounce the ch like in the scottish word “loch”). And “zeggen” is pronounced like “zech-un”. When the last consonant wasn’t repeated it would say “zegen” and would be pronounced like “zai-chun”. So you see that’s you have to repeat the consonant in some occasions because the sound of the stressed vowel might change otherwise, and that never happens with regular verbs. Now a simpler verb: “kijken”, meaning “to look/to watch”.
 Ik kijk  I watch
 Jij kijkt  You watch
 Hij/Zij/Het kijkt  He/She/It watches
 Wij kijken  We watch
 Jullie kijken  You watch
 Zij kijken  They watch
Note that the infinitive verb (the unconjugated form, in English preceded by “to” as in “to see”) ends on EN in Dutch. Drop the EN and you have the stem of the verb. Then you can go conjugate it. You already know that the stressed vowel in a regular verb always has the same sound. This sound is copied from the infinitive verb. So besides adding an extra consonant there is also the matter of adding an extra vowel. Before you continue reading, make very sure you understand everything about the Dutch pronunciation. Let’s take a look at the verb “praten” (“to speak / to talk”) for example. The infinitive verb is pronounced as “pra-tun” (with the A pronounced differently than in English, with a long open sound). It has this special long sound because the A appears at the end of a syllable. When you would say “Ik prat” then that special sound would be lost because an “A” in the middle of a syllable has a very different sound. That’s why instead of “ik prat” they say “ik praat”, to retain the same sound as in the infinitive verb. Remember this! Note that in the 1stperson plural (“wij”), it’s not needed to use this double vowel (double vowels never occur at the end of a syllable): “Wij praten”. The full conjugation of “praten” can be found below:
 Ik praat  I speak
 Jij praat  You speak
 Hij/Zij/Het praat  He/she/it speaks
 Wij praten  We speak
 Jullie praten  You speak
 Zij praten  They speak
There are actually three types of regular verbs (strong verbs and two types of weak verbs) but this only effects the past tense of the verb. The present tense is equal to all three types, so we won’t look into this matter now.


Now we’re going to talk about negation, because you might want to say: “That is NOT a house”, “and that is NO dog”. In Dutch there are two word for “no”: “geen” and “niet”. “geen” is used when talking about nouns. It’s a kind of adjective. “niet” is used with verbs. It’s a kind of adverb. For example, when denying quantity of a specific noun you use “geen”, as in “ik heb geen hond” (“I have no dog”). “niet” can be used to deny a verb. “Ik kijk niet” (“I am not looking”). It then appears after the verb and the direct object (at the end of the sentence). “geen” always appears directly after the verb and before the direct object. A little trick to remember whether to use “geen” or “niet”: “geen” applies to having “none” of something; “niet” can never be substituted by “none”. That’s enough material for now. Make sure you understand it. It’s quite hard, so don’t hesitate to reread this lesson a couple of times.


Learn the following words. From now on there will also be regular verbs (or at least verbs that are regular in the present tense) in the list.


 kijken  to watch / to look
 weten  to know
 praten  to speak
 zeggen  to say
 lopen  to walk
 rennen  to run
 zien  to see
 het kind  het child (plural: de kinderen)
 de man  the man
 de vrouw  the woman
 de appel  the apple
 nederlands  dutch
 engels  english

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