LANGUAGE TIP: make Dutch easier with one word!

There are features of Dutch that make it difficult to learn. The word order is confusing and pronunciation is hard. Here are some more examples.

But there are also some aspects that make Dutch easy to learn. For example you can start right away because it looks like other languages. Also, despite the belief of quite a few students from the Dutch Summer School, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The Dutch language has many different pronunciatons. Also, the Dutch themselves make quite a few mistakes when they speak and write Dutch.

In this blog I will give you a language tip that will help you with learning Dutch.

First, finally something logical in Dutch!

Voetbal – voetballen – voetballer

There is some logic to be found in Dutch, although you might think you have to look hard. Here, I talk about different words that are derived from one word.

If you have a noun, you can work out the verb, and also what to call the person doing it.

How does it work?

Let’s start with a noun, like

  • de voetbal

If you want to turn this into a verb, you just add –en.

  • voetballen

And you conjugate it like this:

  • Ik voetbal elke zondag met mijn vrienden.

So you don’t have to say ‘Ik speel voetbal elke zondag met mijn vrienden.’

Other sporting examples are:

  • Hockey : hockeyen
  • Basketbal : Basketballen
  • Honkbal (baseball) : Honkballen

Not only sport but other things like:

  • Fiets (bicycle) : fietsen (to ride a bike)
  • Douche (shower) : douchen (take a shower)
  • Kam (a comb) : kammen (to comb)
  • Was (the laundry) : wassen
  • Antwoord (the answer) : antwoorden (to answer)
  • Huur (the rent) : huren

Turn it into a person by adding –er (male) or –ster (female)

De voetballer – de voetbalster

  • Hockey : hockeyen : Hockeyer / hockeyster
  • Basketbal : Basketballen : basketballer / basketbalster
  • Honkbal : Honkballen : Honkballer / honkbalster

Also for the other verbs

  • Fiets (bicycle) : fietsen (to ride a bike) : fietser
  • Was : wassen : wasser
  • huur : huren : huurder

Het fietsen is leuk!

You can add the article ‘het’ in front of a verb, and it becomes a noun.

  • Het fietsen is leuk
  • Het wassen van de kleding duurt erg lang

Youtube – Youtube – Youtuber

And you might know, the Dutch are open to other languages. And in more recent years this language has been English. We take these words and turn them into Dutch verbs.

  • Facebook : facebooken
  • Netflix : netflixen
  • Whatsapp : (whats)appen
  • E-mail : e-mailen

And sometimes you can also make this a person.

A facebooker is someone who uses Facebook.

Like a youtuber is someone who uses Youtube (like me).

Watch out! It’ doesn’t always work like this. Some examples where this rule doesn’t apply:

We don’t say the verbs deriving from

  • Tablet – tabletten,\
  • Smartphone – smartphonen
  • iPad – iPadden

We use these in combination with ‘gebruiken’. So you have to say:

  • Ik gebruik de tablet / smartphone / iPad.

You can always try

Especially in the last few years, English loanwords have been turned into Dutch verbs. And one of the main aspects of learning a language is trying and so making mistakes.

So next time you’re looking for a noun or a verb, you can always try to adapt a word you already know!

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School