Dutch conjugation

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This article explains the conjugation of Dutch verbs.

Classification of verbs[edit]

See also: Germanic verb

There are two different ways in which Dutch verbs can be grouped: by conjugational class and by derivation. These two types of grouping aren't mutually exclusive, but describe different aspects of a verb's conjugation and therefore complement each other.

By conjugational class[edit]

Dutch verbs can be grouped by their conjugational class, as follows:

  • Weak verbs: past tense and past participle formed with a dental suffix
    • Weak verbs with past in -de
    • Weak verbs with past in -te
  • Strong verbs: past tense formed by changing the vowel of the stem, past participle in -en
    • Class 1: pattern ij-ee-ee
    • Class 2: pattern ie-oo-oo or ui-oo-oo
    • Class 3: pattern i-o-o or e-o-o
    • Class 4: pattern ee-a/aa-oo
    • Class 5: pattern ee-a/aa-ee or i-a/aa-ee
    • Class 6: pattern aa-oe-aa
    • Class 7: pattern X-ie-X (specifically, oo-ie-oo, a-ie-a, a-i-a, ou-iel-ou, aa-ie-aa or oe-ie-oe)
    • Other strong verbs, which don't follow any of the above patterns
  • Mixed verbs
    • Weak past tense (-de or -te), but strong past participle (-en)
    • Strong past tense (vowel change), but weak past participle (-d or -t)
  • Irregular verbs: verbs that do not clearly conjugate as any of the above
    • Preterite-present verbs: verbs that originally had present tense forms identical to the past of a strong verb
    • Weak verbs with past in -cht
    • Other irregular verbs

By derivation[edit]

Another way to group verbs is by the type of derivation. The following can be distinguished:

  • Basic: underived, compounded, or derived without prefixation
  • Prefixed: with an unstressed prefix
  • Separable: with a stressed adverbial (or rarely object-like) prefix

Most of this article shows the conjugation of basic verbs. The differences in prefixed and separable verbs are described here, and can be applied to any verb regardless of conjugation.

Prefixed verbs[edit]

Prefixed verbs are verbs whose stem begins with an unstressed prefix. The prefix is usually one of be-, ge-, her-, ont-, ver-, but others are also possible, often derived from adverbs or prepositions. Prefixed verbs are conjugated like basic verbs, except in the past participle. In the past participle, the inflectional prefix ge- is replaced by the verb's own prefix, and it is not added on. The past participle of heropenen ("to reopen") is heropend (not *geheropend), and for betalen ("to pay") it is betaald (not *gebetaald).

In some cases, two verbs exist that are spelled identically, but with one treating an adverb as a prefix, while the other treats it as separable. Such pairs are stressed and thus pronounced differently, and accent marks are sometimes written when there is a chance of confusion: voorkómen ("to prevent", prefixed) versus vóórkomen ("to occur", separable), or ondergáán ("to undergo", prefixed) versus óndergaan ("to go under, to set", separable).

Prefixed verbs can be derived from basic verbs or from another prefixed verb. With the prefix her- ("again, re-"), it is also possible to derive prefixed verbs from separable verbs, but such verbs are often defective, with the separated (V2-affected) forms often being avoided by speakers. For example, the verb herinrichten ("to rearrange, to redecorate") is a combination of the prefix her- and the separable verb inrichten. According to the syntactical rules, this must become Ik richt de kamer herin. ("I redecorate the room"), but using herin as a separable particle is often avoided as it is not an independent word (unlike the separable particles of most other verbs). Many speakers choose to rephrase it using the adverb opnieuw ("again, anew"): Ik richt de kamer opnieuw in.. In subordinate clauses or with a non-finite verb, there is less objection: Mijn vriend keek toe, terwijl ik de kamer herinrichtte. ("My friend looked on, while I redecorated the room.") or Ik heb de kamer heringericht. ("I have redecorated the room.").

Separable verbs[edit]

See also: Separable verb

Separable verbs are combinations of a main verb (which can be basic or prefixed) and a particle. This particle is usually an adverb, but sometimes it can be a direct object or adjective instead. The particle is stressed more strongly than the main verb, which distinguishes separable verbs from prefixed verbs in pronunciation. The main verb of a separable verb is conjugated like it otherwise would, and can be basic (with ge- in the past participle) or prefixed (without ge-).

The particle is treated syntactically as a separate verb, and is placed before or after the main verb as syntax dictates:

  • When the V2 rule is in effect (in main clauses with a finite verb), the particle is placed after the main verb and separated from it with a space. It can also be separated from it by other words, just like in a sentence with multiple distinct verbs.
  • When the V2 rule is not applied (in subordinate clauses or with a non-finite verb), the particle is placed directly before the main verb and is attached to it without a space.

The following table shows some examples of this in practice:

Infinitive With V2 Without V2
(subordinate clause)
Without V2
(non-finite verb)
omvallen ("to fall over")
basic main verb, strong class 7
Ik val om.
I fall over.
Hij ziet niet dat ik omval.
He doesn't see that I fall over.
Ik ben omgevallen.
I have fallen over.
uitkomen ("to come true")
basic main verb, strong class 4
Mijn wens kwam vandaag uit.
My wish came true today.
Het is ongelooflijk dat mijn wens vandaag uitkwam.
It is unbelievable that my wish came true today.
Mijn wens is vandaag uitgekomen.
My wish has come true today.
uitbetalen ("to pay out")
prefixed main verb, weak in -d
Gisteren betaalde zij het geld uit.
Yesterday she paid out the money.
Ik weet niet of zij het geld gisteren uitbetaalde.
I don't know if she paid out the money yesterday.
Zij heeft het geld uitbetaald.
She has paid out the money.

Forms and endings[edit]

Dutch verbs conjugate for tense in present and past, and for mood in indicative, subjunctive and imperative. The subjunctive mood is archaic or formal, and is rarely used. There are two grammatical numbers (singular and plural) and three grammatical persons. However, many forms are identical to others, so the conjugation doesn't have distinct forms for all possible combinations of these factors (that is, there is considerable syncretism). In particular, there is always just one form for the plural, and only in the present indicative is there a clear distinction among the different singular persons.

Each second-person pronoun may have its own form. The following can be distinguished:

  • singular informal jij
  • singular and plural formal u
  • singular and plural southern gij
  • plural informal jullie

All regular verbs, whether weak, strong or mixed, form the present tense in the same way. This also includes the infinitive and present participle. Only the formation of the past tense differs among regular verbs, depending on whether the verb is strong, weak or mixed. The endings are as follows:

Infinitive -en
Indicative mood
Present Weak past Strong past
1st sing. - -de, -te -
2nd sing. jij -(t)1 2 -de, -te -
2nd sg+pl gij -t1 -de(t), -te(t)3 -(t)1 3
2nd sg+pl u -t1 -de, -te -
3rd sing. -t1 -de, -te -
Plural -en -den, -ten -en
Subjunctive mood
Present Weak past Strong past
Singular -e -de, -te -e
Plural -en -den, -ten -en
Imperative mood
General -
Plural -t1
Participles
Present Weak past Strong past
-end (ge-) -d, (ge-) -t1 4 (ge-) -en4

Notes:

  1. When the stem of a verb ends in -t already, the ending -t is not added on as a word cannot end in -tt. Similarly, when the stem ends in -d the additional -d in the weak past participle is not added.
  2. When the second-person jij-form is followed immediately by the subject pronoun itself (jij or je), it loses its -t: Jij werktWerk jij? ("You work" → "Do you work?"). The -t is present in all other cases.
  3. The additional -t of the second-person gij-form is optional in the past tense. It is usually considered archaic.
  4. The prefix ge- of the past participle is not added when the verb is a prefixed verb. See above for more information.

All forms of a given regular verb can be predicted from just three forms, or sometimes four. These are the principal parts of a verb.

  • The infinitive, which represents the present tense.
  • The past singular, which represents the past tense (except the past participle).
  • The past plural, for some strong verbs. Normally, the past plural can be predicted from the past singular, but in class 4 and 5 strong verbs, the past singular has a short vowel while it is long in the plural. The past subjunctive singular, and the past indicative second-person singular gij form have the same long vowel as the past plural, if it is distinct.
  • The past participle, by itself.

In the sections that follow, only the principal parts of each verb are given when this is sufficient to describe the full conjugation of the verb.

Present tense[edit]

As noted above, the present tense of all regular verbs is formed the same, and follows the same rules. The following table shows the conjugation of two verbs in the present tense:

Infinitive
vullen ("to fill")
Indicative mood
1st sing. vul
2nd sing. jij vul(t)
2nd sg+pl gij vult
2nd sg+pl u vult
3rd sing. vult
Plural vullen
Subjunctive mood
Singular vulle
Plural vullen
Imperative mood
General vul
Plural vult
Participle
vullend
Infinitive
leren ("to learn, to teach")
Indicative mood
1st sing. leer
2nd sing. jij leer(t)
2nd sg+pl gij leert
2nd sg+pl u leert
3rd sing. leert
Plural leren
Subjunctive mood
Singular lere
Plural leren
Imperative mood
General leer
Plural leert
Participle
lerend

If the stem ends in -v or -z, then these are spelled -f and -s at the end of a syllable.

Infinitive
leven ("to live")
Indicative mood
1st sing. leef
2nd sing. jij leef(t)
2nd sg+pl gij leeft
2nd sg+pl u leeft
3rd sing. leeft
Plural leven
Subjunctive mood
Singular leve
Plural leven
Imperative mood
General leef
Plural leeft
Participle
levend
Infinitive
blozen ("to blush")
Indicative mood
1st sing. bloos
2nd sing. jij bloos(t)
2nd sg+pl gij bloost
2nd sg+pl u bloost
3rd sing. bloost
Plural blozen
Subjunctive mood
Singular bloze
Plural blozen
Imperative mood
General bloos
Plural bloost
Participle
blozend

If the stem ends in -t, then no additional -t ending is added when this would otherwise be required, as a word cannot end in a double consonant (-tt in this case) in Dutch spelling. This makes all present singular forms identical.

Infinitive
zetten ("to set, to place")
Indicative mood
1st sing. zet
2nd sing. jij zet
2nd sg+pl gij zet
2nd sg+pl u zet
3rd sing. zet
Plural zetten
Subjunctive mood
Singular zette
Plural zetten
Imperative mood
General zet
Plural zet
Participle
zettend

Past tense[edit]

The past tense is formed differently depending on whether the verb is weak, strong or mixed.

Weak verbs[edit]

Weak verbs are the most common type of verb in Dutch, and the only productive type (all newly created verbs are weak). They form their past tense with an ending containing a dental consonant, -d- or -t-.

Whether -d- is used depends on the final consonant of the verb stem. If the stem ends in a voiceless consonant, then -t- is used, otherwise -d-. It is often summarised with the mnemonic "'t kofschip": if the verb stem ends with one of the consonants of 't kofschip (t, k, f, s, ch, p), then the past tense will have -t-. However, it also applies for c, q and x and any other letter that is voiceless in pronunciation.

The following tables show the past tense forms of a weak verb with a past tense in -d- (stem does not end in voiceless consonant), and with a past tense in -t- (stem ends in voiceless consonant).

Infinitive
vullen ("to fill")
Indicative mood
1st sing. vulde
2nd sing. jij vulde
2nd sg+pl gij vulde(t)
2nd sg+pl u vulde
3rd sing. vulde
Plural vulden
Subjunctive mood
Singular vulde
Plural vulden
Participle
gevuld
Infinitive
werken ("to work")
Indicative mood
1st sing. werkte
2nd sing. jij werkte
2nd sg+pl gij werkte(t)
2nd sg+pl u werkte
3rd sing. werkte
Plural werkten
Subjunctive mood
Singular werkte
Plural werkten
Participle
gewerkt

If the stem ends in -v or -z, then these are spelled -f and -s at the end of a syllable, as in the present tense. However, they are still pronounced as voiced /v/ and /z/ when the past tense ending is added, so the stem is still considered voiced, and the past endings have -d-:

  • leven, leefde, geleefd ("to live")
  • blozen, bloosde, gebloosd ("to blush")

If the stem ends in -d or -t, then no ending is added in the past participle, as a word cannot end in a double consonant (-dd- or -tt in this case) in Dutch spelling. The past tense stem will be pronounced the same as the present, but it is still spelled with -dd- or -tt-, even when the spelling rules would allow this to be simplified. Thus:

  • baden, baadde, gebaad ("to bathe").
  • redden, redde, gered ("to save, to rescue").
  • praten, praatte, gepraat ("to talk").
  • zetten, zette, gezet ("to set, to place").

Compare this to English set, which has a similar homophony between present and past.

Strong verbs[edit]

Strong verbs form their past tenses by changing the vowel of the stem, a process known as ablaut. There are far fewer strong verbs than weak verbs in Dutch, but many of the most commonly used verbs are strong, so they are encountered frequently. There are about 150 strong roots, giving rise to about 800 strong verbs in total, if all derived verbs with separable and inseparable prefixes are included.

Strong verbs use a different set of endings from weak verbs. However, the same rules for final -t, -v, -z apply.

Infinitive
schijnen ("to shine")
Indicative mood
1st sing. scheen
2nd sing. jij scheen
2nd sg+pl gij scheen(t)
2nd sg+pl u scheen
3rd sing. scheen
Plural schenen
Subjunctive mood
Singular schene
Plural schenen
Participle
geschenen
Infinitive
geven ("to give")
Indicative mood
1st sing. gaf
2nd sing. jij gaf
2nd sg+pl gij gaf, gaaf(t)
2nd sg+pl u gaf
3rd sing. gaf
Plural gaven
Subjunctive mood
Singular gave
Plural gaven
Participle
gegeven
Infinitive
sluiten ("to close")
Indicative mood
1st sing. sloot
2nd sing. jij sloot
2nd sg+pl gij sloot
2nd sg+pl u sloot
3rd sing. sloot
Plural sloten
Subjunctive mood
Singular slote
Plural sloten
Participle
gesloten

The vowels that occur in present and past are not random, but follow clear patterns. These patterns can be divided into seven "classes", some with subgroups. Some verbs are a mixture of two classes or belong to none of the existing classes. In the following subsections, the vowel patterns of each class are described. Long vowels written doubled in the patterns, for clarity. In the actual conjugated verb, they will be single or double according to normal Dutch spelling rules.

Class 1[edit]

Class 1 follows the vowel pattern ij-ee-ee:

  • schijnen, scheen, geschenen ("to shine").
  • blijven, bleef, gebleven ("to stay, to remain").

Class 2[edit]

Class 2 is divided into two subclasses.

Class 2a follows the vowel pattern ie-oo-oo:

  • bieden, bood, geboden ("to offer").
  • schieten, schoot, geschoten ("to shoot").

Class 2b follows the vowel pattern ui-oo-oo:

  • sluiten, sloot, gesloten ("to close").
  • buigen, boog, gebogen ("to bend").

The verbs vriezen and verliezen show grammatischer Wechsel, with s/z changing to r in the past tense:

  • vriezen, vroor, gevroren ("to freeze").
  • verliezen, verloor, verloren ("to lose"; a prefixed verb, so no ge- in the past participle).

Class 3[edit]

Class 3 is divided into two subclasses.

Class 3a follows the vowel pattern i-o-o:

  • drinken, dronk, gedronken ("to drink").
  • binden, bond, gebonden ("to bind").

The vowel is usually followed by m or n and another consonant.

Class 3b follows e-o-o:

  • smelten, smolt, gesmolten ("to melt").
  • vechten, vocht, gevochten ("to fight").

The vowel is usually followed by l or r and another consonant.

Class 4[edit]

Class 4 follows the vowel pattern ee-a/aa-oo:

  • stelen, stal/stalen, gestolen ("to steal").
  • nemen, nam/namen, genomen ("to take").

The vowel in these verbs is usually followed by l, r, m or n and no other consonant.

The verb komen has an irregular pattern with short o in the present singular, long oo in the remaining present tense, and an additional w in the past:

  • kom/komen, kwam/kwamen, gekomen ("to come").

Class 5[edit]

Class 5 follows the vowel pattern ee-a/aa-ee, with the same change in length as in class 4:

  • geven, gaf/gaven, gegeven ("to give").
  • lezen, las/lazen, gelezen ("to read").

The vowel is usually followed by an obstruent consonant.

The verbs bidden, liggen and zitten follow the pattern i-a/aa-ee instead:

  • bidden, bad/baden, gebeden ("to pray").
  • liggen, lag/lagen, gelegen ("to lie (down)").
  • zitten, zat/zaten, gezeten ("to sit").

These three verbs are descended from the old Germanic j-present verbs, which had an additional suffix -j- before the endings in the present tense. This suffix caused doubling of the preceding consonant (the West Germanic gemination) and changed the preceding vowel from e to i.

The verb eten is regular but has an extra -g- in the past participle:

  • eten, at/aten, gegeten ("to eat").

Originally, it was simply geten, contracted from earlier ge-eten. An additional ge- was added on later. Compare German essen, gegessen, which shows the same development.

Class 6[edit]

Class 6 follows the vowel pattern aa-oe-aa. It is the smallest of the strong verb classes, with only a few verbs.

  • graven, groef, gegraven ("to dig").
  • dragen, droeg, gedragen ("to carry").

Class 7[edit]

Class 7 follows the vowel pattern X-ie-X, where the two X's are identical. There were originally five subgroups depending on the vowel of the present tense. Class 7a (with ee or ei in the present) has disappeared in Dutch, so only four subgroups remain.

Class 7b has oo in the present tense:

  • lopen, liep, gelopen ("to walk, to run").

Class 7c has a in the present tense:

  • vallen, viel, gevallen ("to fall").

Two verbs have shortened the past tense vowel to i:

  • hangen, hing, gehangen ("to hang").
  • vangen, ving, gevangen ("to catch").

In present tense of the verb houden, the original combination -ald- underwent L-vocalization, and became -oud-.

  • houden, hield, gehouden ("to hold, to keep").

It also has an alternative form which lacks -d when it occurs at the end: hou alongside the regular houd.

Class 7d has aa in the present tense:

  • laten, liet, gelaten ("to let, to allow").

Class 7e has oe in the present tense:

  • roepen, riep, geroepen ("to call").

Other strong verbs[edit]

Several strong verbs have vowel patterns that don't fit with any of the above types.

A number of class 3b strong verbs have replaced their original past tense vowel with the -ie- of class 7, creating a "hybrid" class. The past participle vowel o of class 3 remains.

  • helpen, hielp, geholpen ("to help")
  • sterven, stierf, gestorven ("to die")
  • werpen, wierp, geworpen ("to throw")
  • werven, wierf, geworven ("to recruit")
  • zwerven, zwierf, gezworven ("to wander, to roam")

The verb worden also belonged to class 3b, but the past and present vowels appear to have been swapped:

  • worden, werd, geworden ("to become").

Contrast this with German werden, which kept the older vowel.

Class 6 originally had three j-present verbs, like liggen of class 5. These verbs originally followed the pattern e-oe-aa. All three have changed this in one way or another in modern Dutch:

  • heffen, hief, geheven ("to lift, to raise"). This now has a class 7 past, and its past participle vowel was changed to ee.
  • scheppen, schiep, geschapen ("to create"). This now has a class 7 past.
  • zweren, zwoer, gezworen ("to swear, (an oath)"). This kept its class 6 past, but replaced the past participle vowel with the oo of class 4.

Two verbs appear to follow a class 3b pattern, but have a long vowel instead of a short one:

  • wegen, woog, gewogen ("to weigh"). Originally class 5.
  • scheren, schoor, geschoren ("to shave, to shear"). Originally class 4.

The verb uitscheiden is the only remaining class 7a verb, but it now has a class 1 past (note that ei and ij are pronounced the same):

  • uitscheiden, scheed uit, uitgescheiden ("to excrete"; this is a separable verb).

Even the form scheed uit is falling out of use, and is being replaced with a weak past scheidde uit, making it a mixed verb.

Mixed verbs[edit]

Some verbs have a mixture of strong and weak forms. These are called "mixed verbs" and are relatively common in Dutch. Most mixed verbs are originally strong verbs that have replaced some strong forms with weak forms. However, a few were originally weak but have become strong by analogy.

The most common type of mixed verb has a weak past tense, but a strong past participle in -en. Most mixed verbs of this type have the same vowel in the present and in the past participle, and therefore appear to be original class 6 and 7 verbs. A few still have the older strong past as an archaic form.

Mixed verbs that originally had class 6 pasts:

  • bakken, bakte, gebakken ("to bake").
  • lachen, lachte, gelachen ("to laugh"). The strong past loech still exists, but is archaic.
  • laden, laadde, geladen ("to load").
  • malen, maalde, gemalen ("to grind").
  • varen, vaarde, gevaren ("to fare"). The sense "to travel by boat" has a class 6 past voer.

Mixed verbs that originally had class 7 pasts:

  • bannen, bande, gebannen ("to ban").
  • brouwen, brouwde, gebrouwen ("to brew").
  • houwen, houwde, gehouwen ("to hew"). The strong past hieuw still exists, but is archaic.
  • raden, raadde, geraden ("to guess"). The strong past ried still exists, but is archaic.
  • scheiden, scheidde, gescheiden ("to separate"). But note uitscheiden has the alternative past scheed uit.
  • spannen, spande, gespannen ("to span, to stretch").
  • stoten, stootte, gestoten ("to bump, to knock"). The strong past stiet still exists, but is archaic.
  • vouwen, vouwde, gevouwen ("to fold"). From older vouden with loss of -d- as is common in Dutch; the past originally had -ield- like houden.
  • wassen, waste, gewassen ("to wash"). The strong past wies still exists, but is archaic.
  • zouten, zoutte, gezouten ("to salt"). The past originally had -ielt-, like houden.

Mixed verbs from other classes:

  • barsten, barstte, gebarsten ("to burst, to crack"). Originally class 3; the older vowels e and o changed to a in standard Dutch, but are still found in some dialects.
  • wreken, wreekte, gewroken ("to take revenge"). Originally class 4, like breken.
  • weven, weefde, geweven ("to weave"). Originally class 5, like geven.

A smaller group of verbs, all belonging to class 6, has the reverse situation. The past tense is strong, but the past participle is weak.

  • jagen, joeg, gejaagd ("to hunt"). The weak past jaagde also occurs.
  • vragen, vroeg, gevraagd ("to ask"). The weak past vraagde also occurs, rarely.
  • waaien, woei, gewaaid ("to blow (of the wind)"). The weak past waaide also occurs.

Irregular verbs[edit]

The following verbs are very irregular, and may not fit neatly into the strong-weak split.

An important subset of these verbs are the preterite-present verbs, which are shared by all Germanic languages. In the present tense, they originally conjugated like the past tense of a strong verb. In Dutch, this means that they lack the -t in the third-person singular present indicative, much like their English equivalents which lack the -s. Their past tense forms are weak, but irregularly so. Most of these verbs have become auxiliary verbs, so they may be missing imperative forms, and perhaps the participles as well.

zijn[edit]

The verb zijn "to be" is suppletive, and uses a different root in the present and past. Its present tense is highly irregular, and the past shows grammatischer Wechsel like the strong verb vriezen (s/z becomes r).

Infinitive zijn "to be"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. ben was
2nd sing. jij ben(t) was
2nd sg+pl gij zijt waart, was
2nd sg+pl u bent, is (archaic) was
3rd sing. is was
Plural zijn waren
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular zij ware
Plural zijn waren
Imperative mood
General wees, ben (colloquial)
Plural weest
Participles
Present Past
zijnd geweest

hebben[edit]

The verb hebben "to have" is weak in origin, but has many other irregularities.

Infinitive hebben "to have"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. heb had
2nd sing. jij heb(t) had
2nd sg+pl gij hebt had(t)
2nd sg+pl u hebt, heeft had
3rd sing. heeft had
Plural hebben hadden
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular hebbe hadde
Plural hebben hadden
Imperative mood
General heb
Plural hebt
Participles
Present Past
hebbend gehad

weten[edit]

The verb weten is regular in the present. The past ends in -st.

Infinitive weten "to know (have knowledge)"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. weet wist
2nd sing. jij weet wist
2nd sg+pl gij weet wist
2nd sg+pl u weet wist
3rd sing. weet wist
Plural weten wisten
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular wete wiste
Plural weten wisten
Imperative mood
General weet
Plural weet
Participles
Present Past
wetend geweten

moeten[edit]

The verb moeten is very similar to weten.

Infinitive moeten "must, to have to"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. moet moest
2nd sing. jij moet moest
2nd sg+pl gij moet moest
2nd sg+pl u moet moest
3rd sing. moet moest
Plural moeten moesten
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular moete moeste
Plural moeten moesten
Imperative mood
General
Plural
Participles
Present Past
moetend gemoeten

mogen[edit]

The verb mogen is relatively regular. It has a vowel change in the present between singular and plural, reflecting the original vowel change between the singular and plural strong past. The past ends in -cht.

Infinitive mogen "may, to be allowed"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. mag mocht
2nd sing. jij mag mocht
2nd sg+pl gij moogt, mag mocht
2nd sg+pl u mag mocht
3rd sing. mag mocht
Plural mogen mochten
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular moge mochte
Plural mogen mochten
Imperative mood
General
Plural
Participles
Present Past
mogend gemogen, gemoogd, gemocht

kunnen[edit]

The verb kunnen also has a vowel change in the present, and a variety of alternative forms. In the past tense, it has both a vowel change and, in the plural, the weak dental suffix.

Infinitive kunnen "can, to be able"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. kan kon
2nd sing. jij kun(t), kan kon
2nd sg+pl gij kunt kon(dt)
2nd sg+pl u kunt, kan kon
3rd sing. kan kon
Plural kunnen konden
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular kunne konde
Plural kunnen konden
Imperative mood
General
Plural
Participles
Present Past
kunnende gekund

zullen[edit]

The verb zullen is the most irregular of the preterite-presents. In the present, the forms strongly resemble those of kunnen. The past is different, and has changed earlier -old- to -oud-, and then dropped the -d- in many forms.

Like its English equivalent would, the past tense zou does not literally indicate past time. Instead, the distinction is one of certainty: the present indicates certain future time, while the past indicates a conditional event. Compare:

  • Zonder eten zal ik niet kunnen slapen. "Without food, I will not be able to sleep." (The speaker knows this for sure)
  • Zonder eten zou ik niet kunnen slapen. "Without food, I would not be able to sleep." (The speaker expects this, hypothetically)
Infinitive zullen "will, shall, to be going to"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. zal zou
2nd sing. jij zul(t), zal zou
2nd sg+pl gij zult zou(dt)
2nd sg+pl u zult, zal zou
3rd sing. zal zou
Plural zullen zouden
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular zulle zoude
Plural zullen zouden
Imperative mood
General
Plural
Participles
Present Past
zullend

willen[edit]

The verb willen is not a preterite-present verb in origin, but nowadays it inflects much the same.

There are two different past tense forms. The original form wou(den) has a change of -old- to -oud-, like in zullen, but this form is now considered colloquial or dialectal. The newer, regular form wilde(n) is considered more standard.

Infinitive willen "to want"
Indicative mood
Present Past
1st sing. wil wilde or wou
2nd sing. jij wil, wil(t) wilde or wou
2nd sg+pl gij wilt wilde(t) or wou(dt)
2nd sg+pl u wilt, wil wilde or wou
3rd sing. wil wilde or wou
Plural willen wilden or wouden
Subjunctive mood
Present Past
Singular wille wilde or woude
Plural willen wilden or wouden
Imperative mood
General wil
Plural wilt
Participles
Present Past
willend gewild

Contracted vowel stems[edit]

A handful of common verbs have a stem ending in a vowel in the present tense. The endings contract with the stem, losing any -e- in the ending. The following table shows an example.

Infinitive
gaan ("to go")
Indicative mood
1st sing. ga
2nd sing. jij ga, gaat
2nd sg+pl gij gaat
2nd sg+pl u gaat
3rd sing. gaat
Plural gaan
Subjunctive mood
Singular ga
Plural gaan
Imperative mood
General ga
Plural gaat
Participle
gaand

The verbs have a variety of past tense forms, reflecting their differing origins:

  • zien, zag/zagen, gezien ("to see"). This is a class 5 strong verb that originally had -h- in the stem, which disappeared. Grammatischer Wechsel occurred in the past.
  • slaan, sloeg, geslagen ("to hit, to beat"). As zien, but class 6.
  • doen, deed, gedaan ("to do, to put"). The past looks like it's weak, but actually shows the remnants of older reduplication.
  • gaan, ging, gegaan ("to go"). The past comes from a different, extended form of the stem (gang-), which was class 7 like vangen and hangen.
  • staan, stond, gestaan ("to stand"). The past comes from a different, extended form of the stem (stand-, like the English verb).

Weak verbs with past in -cht[edit]

A few verbs form their past with irregularly because of an early Germanic development called the "Germanic spirant law". Both the vowel and the consonant change, sometimes in rather unexpected ways. However, these verbs are still weak even though the vowel changes, because the past tense and participle have a dental suffix (-t-). The vowel change is not caused by ablaut (which is the origin of the vowel changes in strong verbs), but by an entirely different phenomenon called Rückumlaut.

Six verbs have this type of conjugation. Note that their English equivalents often have similar changes.

  • brengen, bracht/brachten, gebracht ("to bring").
  • denken, dacht/dachten, gedacht ("to think").
  • dunken, docht/dochten, gedocht ("to seem, to be considered"). The irregular past is rare and archaic, the regular weak dunkte is more common.
  • kopen, kocht/kochten, gekocht ("to buy"). In this case the -cht is from earlier -ft (a regular change in Dutch).
  • plegen, placht/plachten, geplacht ("to do habitually"). Rarely used.
  • zoeken, zocht/zochten, gezocht ("to seek, to look for")

zeggen[edit]

The verb zeggen ("to say") is weak, but is often conjugated irregularly in the past. There is also a regular conjugation, which is more common in the south.

  • Irregular: zeggen, zei/zeiden, gezegd. The gij-form of the past is zeidt or zei.
  • Regular: zeggen, zegde/zegden, gezegd.