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 The present tense conjugation

Regular verbs

As a teacher, I highly recommend learning the present verb conjugation in Dutch as it is one of the most important building blocks of the language. As you progress in your Dutch language learning journey, the present tense will be the foundation upon which other tenses and more complex grammatical structures will be built. Being able to accurately use the present tense will help you express yourself more clearly and efficiently in everyday conversations. So, don't skip over this crucial step, take the time to master the present tense and it will pay dividends in your ability to communicate effectively in Dutch.

See the most used Dutch verbs first.

In English, there are three different forms of the present tense: "I run", "I am running", and "I do run". However, in Dutch, all three of these tenses are translated as a single present tense form. This form is typically formed by taking the verb stem (which is the infinitive form minus the "-en" ending) and adding the appropriate endings depending on the subject pronoun. 

So, here how it works:

Subject PronounVerb EndingExample Verb (lopen)
Ik (I)-ik loop
Jij (you, informal singular)-tjij loopt
Hij/Zij/Het (he/she/it)-thij loopt
Wij (we)-enwij lopen
Jullie (you, informal plural)-enjullie lopen
Zij (they)-enzij lopen

The rules for conjugating regular Dutch verbs in the present tense are fairly straightforward:

  1. Take the infinitive form of the verb and remove the "-en" ending to get the verb stem (e.g. lopen -> loop-).

  2. Add the appropriate endings to the stem based on the subject pronoun.

  3. For the first person singular (Ik), there is no ending added to the stem.

  4. For the second person singular (Jij), as well as the third person singular (Hij/Zij/Het), add "-t" to the stem.

  5. For the first person plural (Wij), as well as the second person plural (Jullie) and third person plural (Zij), add "-en" to the stem.

Another example:

Subject PronounVerb EndingExample Verb (werken)
Ik (I)-ik werk
Jij (you, informal singular)-tjij werkt
Hij/Zij/Het (he/she/it)-thij werkt
Wij (we)-enwij werken
Jullie (you, informal plural)-enjullie werken
Zij (they)-enzij werken

Irregular verbs

In addition to regular verbs, Dutch also has many irregular verbs. Irregular verbs have conjugation patterns that do not follow the regular pattern of adding "-en" to the stem and then adding the appropriate endings depending on the subject pronoun.

One of the most common irregular verbs in Dutch is "zijn" (to be). Here is its present tense conjugation:

Subject PronounVerbExample (zijn)
Ik (I)benik ben
Jij (you, informal singular)bentjij bent
Hij/Zij/Het (he/she/it)ishij is
Wij (we)zijnwij zijn
Jullie (you, informal plural)zijnjullie zijn
Zij (they)zijnzij zijn

As you can see, "zijn" has its own unique conjugation pattern in the present tense, and it is not formed in the same way as regular verbs.

Other common irregular verbs in Dutch include "hebben" (to have), "kunnen" (to be able to), "mogen" (to be allowed to), and "willen" (to want to). Each of these verbs has its own unique conjugation pattern that must be learned individually.

Here's the present tense conjugation for the irregular Dutch verb "hebben" (to have):

Subject PronounVerbExample (hebben)
Ik (I)hebik heb
Jij (you, informal singular)hebtjij hebt
Hij/Zij/Het (he/she/it)heefthij heeft
Wij (we)hebbenwij hebben
Jullie (you, informal plural)hebbenjullie hebben
Zij (they)hebbenzij hebben

It's important to keep in mind that irregular verbs can be a bit more difficult to learn and remember than regular verbs, so it's a good idea to spend extra time practicing and memorizing them.

Now try to conjugate these verbs alone

VerbEnglish meaning
zijnto be
hebbento have
kunnento be able to
willento want to
moetento have to/must
doento do
zeggento say
gaanto go
komento come
vindento find
ziento see
horento hear
denkento think
gevento give
nemento take
sprekento speak
werkento work
lezento read
schrijvento write
lerento learn
etento eat
drinkento drink
slapento sleep
lopento walk
fietsento cycle