Verb couples

Verb couples

In Dutch there are three ways of combining two verbs:

  1. Using the past participle
      You do this when the first verb is:

    • hebben – to have
      ik heb een tekening gemaakt (I have made a drawing)
    • zijn – to be
      de tekening is gemaakt – the drawing is made
    • worden – to be(-come) (often is being)
      de tekening wordt gemaakt (the drawing is being(/becomes)made)
  2. Using the infinitive
      You do this when the first verb is:

    • blijven – to stay
      hij blijft slapen – he’s staying to sleep
    • gaan – to go
      hij gaat fietsen – he is going to ride a bicycle
    • komen – to come
      hij komt eten – he’s coming to eat (‘he’s coming fordinner’)
    • kunnen – to can/to be able to
      ik kan niet komen – I can’t come
    • laten – to let/to have something done
      ik laat mijn haar knippen – I let my hair cut (havemy hair cut)
      ik laat hem gaan – I let him go
    • moeten – to must/to have to
      ik moet gaan – I have to go
    • mogen – to may/to be allowed to
      je mag dat niet doen – you are not allowed to do that
    • willen – to want
      ik wil eten – I want to eat
    • zullen – to will/to shall
      ik zal zien – I’ll see
    • horen when it literally means tohear
      ik hoor hem schreeuwen – I hear him shout
    • voelen – to feel
      ik voel het groeien – I feel it growing
    • zien when it literally means tosee
      ik zie de zon schijnen – I see the sun shining
    • leren – to learn: optional
      ik leer fietsen (most current) or
      ik leer te fietsen – I’m learning to ride a bicycle
  3. Using the infinitive + teYou do this when the first verb is none of the aboveIk probeer te komen
        – I try to come

    Ik begin het te leren

        – I’m beginning to learn it

Remarks on all this:

  • Note that in Dutch there is no way to express the difference between English forms as in The door is closed and The door has been closed. Both become De deur is gesloten.
  • There’s also no difference for the Dutch between He stays asleep, He remains sleeping and He is staying to sleep – it’s all Hij blijft slapen.
  • So speaking Dutch you might try to use only the above mentioned combinations. There are more possibilities – you could even use up to five (theoretically even more) verbs in a sentence – but they’re so complex that they’re really just an invitation to make silly mistakes.

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