Dutch main clauses

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In this subchapter you will learn about the Dutch main clauses. The main clauses are independent sentences. To understand the main clauses, the word order must be explained. 

Dutch word order  

To understand the word order in the Dutch language, we divide the sentence in six different sections. The table below shows the different sections and what words can be placed there. 

Place1. First position2. Verb3. Subject4. Middle part5. Last verb place6. Final position 
What words can take the places. 
  • Subject 
  • Object 
  • Adverbs 
  • Question words
  • Always taken by the verb, except when asking a 'yes/no' question, because the first position will be empty.
  • The subject if It is not placed on the first position.
  • This position can contain all the other possible sentence parts (adverbs, pronouns, objects, object pronouns etc.). 
  • Past participle
  • Infinitive 
  • The prefix of a separable verb
  • Prepositional phrases 
  • Subclauses 
  • 'Om' + 'te' + infinitive 

The main clause is an independent sentence. The Dutch main clause contains the most important elements: the subject and verb. The object or another verb can be added to the main clause as well. Below you will find the word order of Dutch main clause sentences.  

Only subject and finite verb in Dutch sentence 

There could be only a subject and verb in a Dutch basic sentence.  

1. Subject2. Finite verbTranslation
De belging.The bell rang. 

Subject, verb and object in Dutch sentence 

To give more meaning to a sentence an object can be added, called 'het lijdend voorwerp' in Dutch.

1. Subject2. Finite verb3. ObjectTranslation
Zijkooptde bloemen.She buys the flowers.

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Subject, finite verb, object and more verbs in Dutch  

The Dutch language also sometimes adds a verb at the end of the sentence. This is usually the past perfect or infinitive.  

1. Subject2. Finite verb3. Object4. Past perfect / infinitiveTranslation
Zijheeftde bloemengekocht.She has bought the flowers. 

enlightenedThe time and place are put behind the finite verb, time before place.  

The subordinate clause is dependent on the main clause and connected through conjunctions. The first verb in these type of clauses is usually at the end of the sentence.  

Train your skills with the Dutch sentence structure exercises below!