Talk:Afrikaans grammar

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ʕSome links to all those grammatical terms would be nice. Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 23:42, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

You are quite right, I think it would be easier to understand if the terms were hyperlinked. --payxystaxna 13:41, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Afrikaans Infinitive[edit]

All afrikaans infinitive does not look exactly like the present form, instead there is an infinitive construction:

The correct form of the present (and future) infinitive for the afrikaans verb "speel" (to play) is "om te speel".
A past infinitive can also be formed, for speel this infitive is om te gespeel het.

Notably these infinitives are remarkably like the english full infinitives to play and to have played

Note that just like English, Afrikaans has a short or bare infinitive form that does look exactly like the present form.


  1. Ek hou van speel - I like playing (short form)
  2. Ek het vergeet om te speel - I forgot to play (full form)
  3. Om te gespeel het was 'n voorreg - To have played was an honour.

I am a native afrikaans speaker, but would still like having the input of other speakers before editing these comments into the article. --payxystaxna 14:10, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Why do they use 'om' before 'te' in the infinitive? Ozdaren 16:22, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Our present infinitives form that way (they do not necessarily look exactly like the present form), I am not sure why. Though it seems to me now that this is almost exclusively when using the action of a verb as the object of another verb. Maybe somewhat like the Latin gerund.
We were taught at school that the all infinitives are of the form "om te ..." which is why I made this comment in the first place. The shortened form that I refer to above is a gerund while the "om te ..." construction is the infinitive. --payxystaxna (talk) 14:38, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Preterite form[edit]

About the preterite form, the page says: "The preterite has been completely replaced by the perfect. Once again, the verb wees is the only exception to this rule, which admits the preterite form was." Immediately after that, there's a list of preterite forms (sou/kon/wis etc.) That's confusing. Perhaps someones who speaks Afrikaans can improve this.

To clarify, the page states that the preterite form has been completely replaced by the perfect. This is true for all normal verbs. The only exceptions (as the page states) is the modal verbs sal, wil, kan, moet and mag (these translate as will, want to, can, have to and may / might, which are modal verbs of English as well.) and the only truly irregular Afrikaans verbs, wees and . Wees has a preterite form was while its present form is is. While has an (archaic) preterite form had, which has mostly fallen out of use and has been replaced by the perfect form het gehad.
It is important to note that Afrikaans speakers make no distinction in meaning between the preterite and perfect forms. And it is often a difficult distinction to teach young children the distinction when learning European languages. --payxystaxna (talk) 14:49, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

"To school"[edit]

I seem to remember being told that, while Dutch has "naar school", Afrikaans has IPA /skweltu/ - not sure how it's written... If true, is this an influence from one of the substratum languages? Thanks. Jpaulm 14:44, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

You are probably thinking of skool toe, for example:-

Elke môre loop ek skool toe. Every morning I walk to school.

Toe of course is the Afrikaans cognate of the English to and they sound very similar, it is just that the word order is slightly different, literally 'Every morning walk I school to'.Booshank 12:57, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Does it add anything to have the comparison with Dutch in this article on Afrikaans grammar? I do not think it does and makes things a bit confusing but I'll wait to see what others think before removing it. Afrikaans does have a cognate of the Dutch naar which is na. For example: Ek kyk na die maan - I look to the moon. Or, I look at the moon. Booshank 20:05, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Slightly different?! It is very different from the majority of European languages - hence my question: was the word order perhaps influenced by a substratum language? Jpaulm 00:10, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Does use of the preposition 'toe' at the end of the sentence reflect its role as a separable prefix from the verb. German has a similar use eg. anrufen (to call) ich ruf ihn an (i call him). Is the verb therefore 'toeloop' which is then split into 'loop ... ... ... toe'. Just curious. Ozdaren 01:50, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
The verb is just 'loop' with toe being a preposition denoting movement towards. Afrikaans does have verbs with separable prefixes [to translate your German example we have the slightly archaic 'aanroep' which separates to 'roep .... aan'. This might translate as 'to call' or 'to call upon']. All the examples of these separable verbs that come to readily mind are of Germanic origin and are not in daily use any longer, except maybe for 'saamgaan/saam gaan' (I am not sure whether it is one word or two) which becomes 'gaan ... saam'. The word(s) mean to go along (from 'gaan'-to go and 'saam' - together)payxystaxna (talk) 13:53, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
Word order in Afrikaans is largely as in Dutch, German and other Germanic languages (including incidentally Old English). It is quite different though from normal word order in Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian,etc.) and modern English (whose syntax was influenced by French). (talk) 13:02, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
I posted this on Jpaulm's page a while ago, thought it might be interesting to put it here aswell:
The question I am afraid proved a little more complex than I originally expected. I would like to answer for you, indeed I enjoy when others show an interest in the language of my mother (though I am not sure if you are still interested in the question).
Truly Afikaans does have "skooltoe" (IPA: /skweltu/ or maybe more accurately /skɔ:l tu/) which does translate as "to school". Afrikaans also has the phrase "na die skool" which is an acceptable translation of the Dutch "naar school". Important to note is that the use of "-toe" is similar to the suffix "-ward" as used in English.. The words "huistoe" and "skooltoe" are only used in phrases to describe motion towards. "Ek gaan skooltoe" translates as "I am going to school" not "I am going to the school". The latter becomes "Ek gaan na die skool" in translation. Similarly "Ek gaan huistoe" would translate "I'm going home", or "I'm homeward bound". As to the question of the source of this specific feature, I cannot be sure. The similarity between the Afrikaans and English examples may be due to both being Germanic languages (with Dutch or German possibly having a similar construct that I am unaware of). It might also show contamination from English itself or by French, though I am unaware of any such construct in the Romance languages.
I doubt a contribution from any other source languages of our Afrikaans pidgin. The other contributory languages do not behave similarly enough grammatically to allow much borrowing other than lexicon.
A last possibility is that of natural evolution. The phrase "Ek gaan na die skool toe" is perfectly acceptable in even current usage (notice that the "toe" in this case is a postposition and not a suffix). I assume that the "toe" is our way of coping with the loss of the case system that Afrikaans shows (as might also be the situation with English). In this case the postposition just relays (and doubles) the notion of movement towards. Contraction easily accounts for the shortening to "Ek gaan skooltoe". I was unable to find any literature in my school textbooks to ratify any of these possibilities, but hope that I have given at least some clarification.payxystaxna (talk) 13:53, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Past Participles as attributives[edit]

Can I use past participles as attributives in Afrikaans as much as in German or Dutch? For example, can I say: die deursoeke woning (die durchsuchte Wohnung, de doorzochte woning)?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:48, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes Roger (talk) 13:32, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Just a note: the past participle (verlede deelwoord) of deursoek is desursoekte and not deursoeke payxystaxna (talk) 15:44, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Analytic Language[edit]

I am aware that Afrikaans is a very anylitcal language and that it indeed is relatively simple compared to the other Indo-European languages, but I cannot find a reference to back up this fact. I have accessed the first book referenced in he article using google books, but did not find any comparative linguistic treatment of the language. I am adding a tag requesting an inline citation. payxystaxna (talk) 11:49, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

The closest reference I could find (online, thanks to google) is on page eleven of the "Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics" by Hadumod Bussmann, Gregory Trauth, Kerstin Kazzazi. Published by Taylor & Francis, 1996 (ISBN 0415203198, 978041520319)
It states "Structurally, Afrikaans demonstrates even more morphological simplicity than Dutch". payxystaxna (talk) 12:16, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

STOMPI example?[edit]

Does someone have an example of a sentence that contains everything in STOMPI (Subject, v1, time, object, manner, place, v2, infinitive)? Maybe this is a good example in the article to fully explain what the rule is? Lundgren8 15:13, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Die man het gister sy skoene netjies onder die bed gebêre om dit weg te pak.

Die man / het / gister / sy skoene / netjies / onder die bed / gebêre / om dit weg te pak.

S   v1     T     O       M         P       v2          I  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:08, 10 November 2010 (UTC) 

In the sample-sentence above the last two elements "gebêre" and "om dit weg te pak" is a duplication. It more or less translate to "...were put away (in order) to put it away". I would have replaced "om dit weg te pak" with something different? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 17 January 2014 (UTC)


The part of nouns discussing how plurals are formed is a bit skeletal in my opinion. It doesn't even state how Afrikaans most commonly creates plurals, such as the removal of a vowel +e in nouns where diphthongs aa, ee, uu and oo can be found is used, eg. aap (monkey) -> ape, meer (lake) -> mere, muur (wall) -> mure, boom (tree) -> bome. Nor the the doubling of the consonant +e in cases where the noun ends on a consonant, eg. tak (branch) -> takke.

Another thing I would like to see a bit more elaborated upon is possessive adjectives (my/myne, jou/joune, sy/syne/haar/hare, ons/ons s'n, julle/julle s'n, hulle/hulle s'n)...

And why is diminutives not even touched upon? <insert shocked emoticon here>

I would appreciate seeing these things added by someone else more capable, but I'll add it if noone else does or want to. CeNobiteElf (talk) 18:59, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

I have studied Dutch, and my impression on single and double vowels/consonants is that it's generally a spelling convention, depending on which syllable is stressed or something like that. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 21:09, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
I.e. if the plural ends on -s (I think I've seen "kinders" in Afrikaans, for instance), the spelling would be retained, since syllable stress doesn't change. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 08:05, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think this has a place here as it is a spelling convention rather than part of the grammar. When a noun ends in a long vowel and then a consonant and the plural is formed with -e, the double vowel spelling is eliminated as redundant, eg boom (tree) > bome (trees). On the other hand if a noun ends in a short vowel and then a consonant and the plural is formed with -e then the consontant is doubled eg tak (branch) > takke (branches).
It is only a spelling convention because bome and takke are pronouced with exactly the same plural ending. It's the same thing as English changing the spelling of words ending in -y to -ies eg story > stories as opposed to those ending in -ey staying as -eys eg monkey > monkeys. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:49, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
It's not quite so simple. Let's use the example of "tak" (branch) plural "takke" and compare it to "taak" (task) plural "take". "Takke" retains the short vowel of "tak" while "take" has the long vowel of "taak". Roger (talk) 08:51, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Actually that is actually exactly what I meant and why this is just a spelling convention rather a grammatical one. The doubling of the k from "tak" to "takke" is only a matter of spelling, because the word is pronounced the same (with the exception of the plural ending). Same with the deletion of e from "taak" to "take". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:19, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Indeed it's not quite that simple, take the word rob (final b is generally pronounced more like a p so [rop]) in plural it becomes robbe [ro-be] (this example is actually from the AWS btw), same thing happens with final d, though can't think of any good examples where d is preceded by 'n short vowel. In addition, what of words ending on g? Their plurals are mostly e as well, but its not just adding e then, e.g. vlag -> vlae, dag -> dae, maag -> mae, wig -> wîe, rug -> rûe, another common plural for words ending on g is wag -> wagte, geveg -> gevegte, mag -> magte. My point is, there are general rules for most plurals, they should be mentioned, it shouldn't just be said "Hey most of the Afrikaans nouns get an e or s stuck after the stem to make them plural, so you can figure it out!". Anyway, I think I'll expand the noun section when I have time, anyone who'd like to be picky about it can edit it later. CeNobiteElf (talk) 09:10, 21 March 2011 (UTC)