Lesson 6 Beginner

Lesson 6 – Tweede straat links


This lesson deals with addressing people, and asking and giving directions. There will also be a lot of attention for the present tense of verbs – both regular and irregular forms.


If you’re lost somewhere in the Netherlands, you might want to ask someone for directions and the first thing you want is to address someone without being too impolite.

That’s probably not going to be very hard: besides the fact that the Dutch don’t consider someone impolite very quickly, addressing someone in Dutch can be very simple, since you could just use a simple ‘sorry’. If you want to say a bit more than that, you could try Pardon, meneer orPardon, mevrouw (note that in Dutch the emphasis is on the last syllable!), perhaps followed by Mag ik u iets vragen? (‘may I ask you something?’).

The reply you get is mostly a friendly Ja, hoor, Natuurlijk or Zegt u het maar, after which you can ask your question.

Your question could have different forms:

Text 6.1 – Ik zoek …
  • Waar is het Vondelpark?
  • Kunt u mij vertellen waar het Rembrandtplein is?
  • Weet u waar de Vermeerweg is?
  • Ik zoek de Ruysdaelstraat.
  • Ik ben op zoek naar de Herengracht.

In fact Ik zoek and Ik ben op zoek would both be translated as ‘I’m looking for’. The other phrases should be quite clear (‘Where is…, Can you tell me where …, Do you know where …’).

Here’s a complete conversation:

Text 6.2 – Pardon meneer …
  • Pardon meneer, mag ik u iets vragen?
  • Ja, hoor.
  • Weet u waar de Vermeerweg is?
  • Ehmmm, even kijken…
  • … u moet hier rechtdoor…
  • … bij de stoplichten gaat u rechtsaf…
  • … dan bij de volgende kruising weer rechts…
  • … en dan de tweede straat links.
  • Dank u wel, meneer.
  • Graag gedaan.

Some additional notes:

  • The phrase even kijken, is often used like the English ‘let’s see’, to take some time to think.
  • The phrase Graag gedaan means literally ‘done with pleasure’ and has the same function as the English ‘My pleasure’. Another phrase that’s frequently used as a reply to someone thanking is the more formal tot uw dienst (‘at your service’).
  • For more phrases on ‘showing the way’, see ‘Extra’.
  • The words for right, left and straight on are: rechts, links, rechtdoor. You could translate rechtsaf and linksaf as ‘to the right’ and ‘to theleft’.
  • The Dutch words for ‘first, second, third, fourth, fifth’ are: eerste, tweede, derde, vierde, vijfde. In fact for all the numbers up until ‘nineteen’ you add -de (like in zesde) except for ‘one’ (eerste) and ‘eight’ (achtste). The rest gets -ste.


In the phrases above there two verbs – kunnen, mogen and moeten – that form, together with willen and zullen a group that’s quite particular. First, they can be used on their own, where you would expect another verb. You might have noticed that in the phrases on shopping and ordering: in Dutch Mag ik een appelsap is sufficient to get an appeljuice, while in English you would say ‘May I have an appeljuice’. The same thing is seen in Ik moet naar het toilet which means I have to go to the toilet’…

Second, these verbs are – except for moeten – irregular in present tense. Fortunately, together with hebben and zijn, they’re the only ones.

To know what makes them irregular, of course, you first have to know what happens to regular verbs in Dutch – and that’s explained in a few lines:

  • from the infinitive of the verb, you take of the -en,
  • you take care that what’s left does not end on a -v- or -z- (change them to -f- and -s-) or on a double consonant (just make it single),
  • if there’s a long vocal in the infinitive – like the -o- in lopen (‘to walk’) – you have to double it to keep it long – like loop,
  • now you have the form for the first person singular,
  • for second and third person singular, add a -t,
  • however, you don’t have a double -t- at the end of a verb: eet does not get an additional -t in jij eet.
  • for plurals, just use the infinitive form, so including the -en,
  • for jij there’s something exceptional happening when subject and verb are switched (inversion): the form loses the -t. So, for schrijven (‘to write’) it would be:
    jij schrijft – schrijf jij
    This happens only for jij or je, not for u, hij, zij and het: they keep their -t.

Here are a few regular verbs: fietsen (to ride a bicycle), geloven (to believe – watch what happens to the -o- and the -v-), stoppen (to stop) and eten (to eat – no extra -t here)

Text 6.3 – Present – regular verbs
infinitive fietsen geloven stoppen eten
ik fiets geloof stop eet
jij fietst gelooft stopt eet
u fietst gelooft stopt laat
hij/zij/het fietst gelooft stopt eet
wij fietsen geloven stoppen eten
jullie fietsen geloven stoppen eten
zij fietsen geloven stoppen eten


The irregular verbs kunnen, zullen, willen and mogen look like this:

Text 6.4 – Present – irregular verbs
infinitive kunnen zullen willen mogen
ik kan zal wil mag
jij kan/kunt zal/zult wil/wilt mag
u kan/kunt zal/zult wil/wilt mag
hij/zij/het kan zal wil mag
wij kunnen zullen willen mogen
jullie kunnen zullen willen mogen
zij kunnen zullen willen mogen

So, for three of the verbs there are two forms you can chose for second person singular. Nevertheless, it’s easiest to remember just that you can use kan, zal, wil en mag for all singulars.


de appelsap the appeljuice
de dienst the service
(de) eerste first
eten to eat
fietsen to ride a bicycle
geloven to believe
kunnen to can
links left
linksaf to the left
mij me
moeten to must, to have to
pardon (I beg your) pardon
recht straight
rechtdoor straight on
rechts right (direction)
rechtsaf to the right
schrijven to write
het stoplicht the traffic light
stoppen to stop
het toilet the toilet
uw your
vertellen to tell
vragen to ask
weg the road, way
weten to know
zoeken to look for
zullen to shall, will


More …

  • Before you move on to the next chapter you should study:
  • You can exercise giving directions by trying to describe the way to your work, the nearest bus station, the nearest supermarket and the post office in Dutch.
  • Try to make a habit of giving all the forms in the present tense for every new verb you learn (kijken – ik kijk – jij kijkt – hij/zij kijkt – wij kijken – …). You might also give all these forms in an inverted sequence (kijken – kijk ik? – kijk jij? – …).


Try to complete the test about this lesson!

Learning dutch for free Introduction to dutch