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The Dutch language, it's origin and explanation on the weak verbs

By Edited Apr 15, 2016 0 0

Dutch is a language that is spoken by about 27 million people, most of whom are living in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Other countries where the language exist are Belgium, Suriname and the other former colonies of the Netherlands. It is a West Germanic language and therefore has many things in common with languages such as German. Another language that's very similar to Dutch is Afrikaans, one of the official languages spoken in South-Africa. This is caused by the Dutch invasion of South-Africa centuries ago. Even though the Netherlands is a small country, the language isn't as infamous as one would think. I, being a native speaker of Dutch, know this.

Dutch, the language and it's origin

Dutch, or Nederlands as the language is called in Dutch, has a long history, going back to the time of the Francs who lived in Europa around 450-500 AD. From this moment on the language started to develop and as with all Germanic languages, the language went through three phases.

  • Old Dutch ( 450-1150)
  • Middle Dutch ( 1150-1500)
  • Modern Dutch ( 1500 - present)

Even though it seems as if the language hasn't changed much since the year 1500 when looking at the fact that nowadays the language is still called Modern Dutch, this is not true. Native speakers of Dutch will hardly understand, or won't understand at all, the Dutch that was written around 1500.

Nowadays there is a standard kind of Dutch called ABN ( Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands), this doesn't mean however, that there are no dialects. The most famous dialect of Dutch is Flemish, which is spoken in Belgium.

The language

The language isn't the easiest one to learn, although it doesn't look to complicated for example those who are known the English language. However, the pronunciation is really tricky and the grammar and spelling of the language aren't as easy as they seem at the first glance. In this article I will spend time explaining something about weak verbs in Dutch.

VERBS

There exist four kinds of verbs in Dutch:

1. Weak verbs

2. Strong verbs

3. Mixed verbs

4. Irregular verbs

The persons are as follows:

Ik I

Jij you

Hij/zij/het/u he/she/it/you(formal)

Wij we

Jullie you

Zij/u they/you(formal)

Weak verbs

Weak verbs are by far the easiest type of verb that exist in Dutch because they are completely regular.

For explaining I will take the following verbs: werken ( to work) en leren ( to learn).

The present tense is always regular:

Person

Werken

Leren

Ik

Werk

Leer

Jij

Werkt

leert

Hij/zij/het/u

Werkt

Leert

Wij

Werken

Leren

Jullie

Werken

Leren

Zij

Werken

Leren

When watching the present tense carefully you will notice how easy this tense really is in case of a weak verb. I will explain why:

All weak verbs in Dutch and with: -en. The rest of the verb is called the 'stam'. You simply take the 'stam' and add the endings that are needed to it. This are the letters in black. Notice that the plural forms are always equal to the verb and that the second and third person singular are the same. Furthermore the first person singular doesn't get anything.

This is easy, however, be aware of one thing. If the 'stam' of a verb ends with consonant,vowel,consonant, as is the case with the verb leren, you need to duplicate the vowel in the singular cases of the verb.

The past tense

The past tense in the case of weak vowels is rather easy too. You simply add -de, -den, -te or -ten the stam. There is one easy rule that tells you which one you need to take.

If the stam ends at t,k,f,s,ch or p, you choose -te or -ten. You add -te to the persons in singular and -ten to those persons who imply a plural form. If the verb is not ending with one of these letters, choose the other option.

Person

Werken

Leren

Ik

Werkte

Leerde

jij

Werkte

Leerde

Hij/zij/het/u

Werkte

Leerde

Wij

Werkten

Leerden

Jullie

Werkten

Leerden

Zij

Werkten

Leerden

The rule for duplicating vowels is still there as you can see in the case of Leren. As the stam of Leren ends with an r, we use -de and -den.

The perfect participle

The third way in which the weak verbs in Dutch occur is the easiest of all. Take the 'stam' of the verb. Add ge in front of the stam and at last add a 'd' or a 't'. Whether you have to add a 'd' or a 't' depends on the letter you needed in the past tense.

You simply create the perfect participle and make a combination of the perfect participle with the person and the verb to have. The verb to have is irregular though and you can use both the present and past tense of the verb.

Ik heb/had

Jij hebt/had

Hij heeft/had

Wij hebben/hadden

Jullie hebben/hadden

Zij hebben/hadden

The first word is the present, the second the past. Anyway, you will get the following phrases when doing this:

Ik heb gewerkt

Ik had gewerkt

Ik heb geleerd

Ik had geleerd

Taking Ik heb geleerd and Ik had geleerd as an example, I will explain the difference between the two forms. In the first case you mention you have worked in the past, which is something you do on regular basis. In the second phrase you mention you worked, but this is something that's actually rare. In both cases you have finished doing what you were doing.

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