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Dutch present simple (onvoltooid tegenwoordige tijd)

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Definition and usage of the present simple  

The present tense is mainly used to describe something that is happening now. The table shows you the situations in which the present tense is used in Dutch.  

You want to describe something that is happening now. 
  • Ik ga nu naar school. 
  • Ik lees mijn boek.  
  • I am going to school now.
  • I am reading my book.
You want to describe a fact. 
  • Het Rijksmuseum is in Amsterdam.
  • De koning viert zijn verjaardag op 27 april.  
  • The Rijksmuseum is in Amsterdam.
  • The king celebrates his birthday on the 27th of April. 

You want to describe an action that takes place, never takes place or is repeated constantly. 

  • Ik werk bij een supermarkt. 
  • De krant komt iedere ochtend. 
  • I work at a grocery store. 
  • The newspaper arrives every morning. 
You want to describe an event that is happening in the future.  
  • Morgen eet ik bij oma.  
  • Over een week begint school.  
  • I eat at grandma's house tomorrow. 
  • School starts in a week.
You want to speculate about what could happen. (conditionals) 
  • Als het regent, dan wordt het gras nat.  
  • Als je niet opschiet, dan mis je de trein.  
  • When it rains, the grass will get wet.
  • If you don't hurry, you will miss the train. 

enlightenedRemember: you can recognize the use of the present when the sentence contains words as:

  • vandaag (today) 
  • nu (now)
  • straks (later on) 
  • later (later)
  • tijdens (during)

or other words that indicate a time in the present. 

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1) Regular conjugation of Dutch verbs in the present simple

To form a present sentence, you need to find the stem of the verb to be able to conjugate it. Dutch verbs always end in '-en'. The stem is found when you leave out the '-en' part.  

In the table below an example of the conjugation with the verb 'werken' (to work) is given.  

Ik (I)stemwerk
Jij, u (you)stem + twerkt
Hij, zij, het (he, she, it)stem + twerkt
Wij (we)stem + enwerken
Jullie (you)stem + enwerken
Zij (they)stem + enwerken 

Question sentence for the singular you-form: 

The given rules apply to all sentences, but there is one exception: if you write a question with the second person singular, for example 'werk jij?', the '–t' disappears. This exception does not count for 'u' (formal you), for example 'werkt u?', the '-t' stays. 

There are some extra rules to keep in mind when finding the stem:

1. Long vowel verbs have long vowel stems.  
enlightened The verb lopen (to walk) is the verb, the I-form will be 'ik loop' instead of 'ik lop'.  

2. The stem never ends with two identical consonants, therefore, the last one will just disappear. 
enlightenedThe verb pakken (to grab), the I-form will be 'ik pak' instead of 'ik pakk'.  

3. The stem cannot end in v or z.  
enlightenedThe verb leven (to live), the I-form will be 'ik leef' instead of 'ik lev'. This is an example of the long vowel stem and a stem ending on a v.  

4. Infinitives that end in '-iën' have a stem that ends in '-ie'. 
enlightenedThe verb ruziën (to argue), the I-form will be 'ik ruzie' instead of 'ik ruzi'.

Once the stem has been found for these exceptions, the conjugation will follow as the table above shows.  

Conjugation with stems that ends in –t or –d  

If a stem ends in a '-t', the ending '–t' for the second and third person singular does not have to be added. The table shows you the construction with the verb 'onderschatten' (to underestimate).  

SubjectInfinitive: onderschatten
Jij, uonderschat
Hij, zij, hetonderschat

enlightened If a stem ends in a '–d', you do have to add the extra '-t', even though you already hear the sound of a '–t'. In the table below an example of the verb 'worden' (to become) is given. 

SubjectInfinitive: worden
Jij, uwordt
Hij, zij, hetwordt

2) Dutch irregular verbs in the present simple

The Dutch language has 6 completely irregular verbs.

Subjecthebben (to have)kunnen (to be able to)mogen (to be allowed to)willen (to want)zijn (to be)zullen (to will)
Ik hebkanmagwilbenzal
Jij, uhebtkuntmagwiltbentzult
Hij, zij, hetheeftkanmagwiliszal

Train your skills by doing the exercises below!


  1. Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular verbs)
  2. Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (irregular verbs)
  3. Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular and irregular) 1
  4. Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular and irregular) 2

Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular verbs)

Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (irregular verbs)

Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular and irregular) 1

Exercise to practice Dutch present tense (regular and irregular) 2

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