This page will attempt to outline the grammar of Dutch.
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- Tom [subject] eet [verb] kaas [object]
(Tom eats cheese)
- Petra ziet de kat
(Petra sees the cat)
- Adjectives always come before the noun to which they belong.
Rode appels - red apples
- In statements, the subject always comes first or third and the auxiliary verb comes second. If there is no auxiliary verb, the main verb comes second. If there is a separable prefix, the prefix goes on the end of the sentence, as does the main verb (with separable prefix on the beginning of the verb) if there is an auxiliary verb.
- In yes/no questions, the verb usually comes first and the subject comes second. If there is an auxiliary verb or separable prefix, it follows the same rules as the previous one outlined for putting parts on the end. If the subject comes before the verb, this often implies disbelief, like in English: "The prisoner escaped?" vs. "Did the prisoner escape?".
- In a command, the verb comes first, followed by 'we' if taking to a group with the speaker included, followed by the modifiers and the rest of the sentence.
- The time aspect usually comes before the place aspect.
NounsIn Dutch, nouns generally describe persons, places, things, and abstract ideas, and are treated as grammatically distinct from verbs. In Dutch there are three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. Every noun is associated with one gender, and the gender must be learned when learning the noun. Nouns are also marked for number, size and definiteness.
Definite articleWhen you want to refer to one particular person or item, you use the definite article de for masculine-feminine words and het or "'t" for neuter words.
- de man - the man
- de vrouw - the woman
- het / 't huis - the house
- de mannen - the men
- de vrouwen - the women
- de huizen - the houses
- een / 'n huis - a house
- huizen - houses
On the other hand, Dutch preserves relics of the old Germanic noun case system in its pronouns. The full set of cases are listed below; note that there is no distinction in number for the second person pronoun.
Person: 1st singular 3rd singular 1st plural 3rd plural 2nd interrogative Nominative ik hij, ie, ze, zij, het, 't we ze, zij jullie wie Accusative me, mij hem, 'm, haar, d'r, het, 't ons hen jij wie Genitive mijn zijn, z'n, haar, d'r ons, onze hun jouw, je wiens, wier Dative mij, me zijn, haar, het ons hun jou, je wien
The genitive also applies to nouns:
Without an article, all nouns get -s, and the adjectives get -e for mascular and feminine. This is a very common construction.
With an article, things get a little different:
Mascular Feminine Neuter determined Neuter indetermined Plural Noun des (noun)(e)s der (noun) des (noun)(e)s ener (noun)(e)s der (noun) Adjective (adjective)en (adjective)er (adjective)en (adjective) der (noun)
This construction sounds very official and formal (just like the -(e)r / -(e)s behind the pronouns) and therefore is only used in formal language (and when one wants to impress one with his knowledge of the Dutch language). This construction is used more: van de/het/een (noun), and van (pronoun). Inflection is then normal.