Questions?

Check our FAQs for the quickest support.

FAQ

Did not find your answer?
Contact us

Dutch sentence structure

Our teachers

Looking for a language tutor? Contact one of our teachers!

Find a teacher

In this chapter you will learn the basic Dutch sentence structure. You can find the explanation of the Dutch main clauses, negations and interrogatives.  

Elements in Dutch sentences 

The Dutch sentences contains various elements; the most important are subject, verb, the direct object and the indirect object: 

Have a question?

Take online language lessons with a professional teacher

  1. Native & verified teachers
  2. Free trial lesson
  3. Learning materials included

1) The subject (onderwerp)  

The subject is the person, or object that performs the action in a sentence. The subject can be one or more words.  

To find the subject in de sentence, you can ask the question: 'Who or what does something in the sentence?' 

ExampleTranslationSubject
Hij gaat morgen naar school.He is going to school tomorrow.Hij (he)
Paula eet veel kaas.Paula eats a lot of cheese.Paula

enlightenedNot all sentences have a subject, for example sentences with an imperative have no subject.  

2) The finite verb (persoonsvorm)

The finite verb tells you what something or someone is doing. A sentence can contain multiple verbs, but only one is the finite verb.  

To determine what verb of the sentence is the finite one, you can change the tense of the sentence. The verb that changes when doing this, is the finite verb.  

ExampleTranslationFinite verb
Zij kookt eten vanavond.She cooks dinner tonight.Kookt (cooks)
Herman en Helma zijn tien jaar getrouwd.Herman and Helma have been married for ten years.Zijn (have)

3) The direct object (lijdend voorwerp)

The direct objects undergo the actions of the sentence.  

ExampleTranslationDirect object
Ik eet een banaan.I eat a banana.Banaan (banana)
Zij zoeken een boek.They are looking for a book.Boek (book)

enlightenedNot all sentences have direct objects.  

4) The indirect object (meewerkend voorwerp)

The indirect object is the one which receives the direct object of the sentence.  

ExampleTranslationIndirect object
Ik ga naar het strand met mijn moeder.I go to the beach with my mum.Mijn moeder (my mum)
Hij geeft de rozen aan haar.He gives her roses.Haar (her)

enlightenedNot all sentences have direct objects.  

5) The prepositional object (voorzetselvoorwerp)

The prepositional object is a part of the sentence with a fixed preposition. The prepositional object always starts with a preposition that belongs to the main verb in the sentence. 
To find the prepositional object the following three aspects are important:

1. The part of the sentence starts with a preposition. 
2. The preposition can not be replaced by another preposition without changing the meaning of the sentence. 
3. The preposition forms a fixed combination with the predicate. 

ExampleTranslationPrepositional object
Ik wacht op de bus. I wait for the bus. Op de bus (for the bus)
Hij lijkt op zijn moeder. He looks like his mum.Op zijn moeder (like his mum)

6) Adverbial clause

In Dutch the adverbial clause gives more information about what is expressed in the predicate. The adverbial clause can consist of:

  • An adverb 
  • A noun 
  • A part of the sentence with a preposition 
  • A subclause 

You can find the adverbial clause by asking one of the following questions:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • How many?
  • How often?
  • Where to?
  • Why?
  • With what? 
ExampleTranslationAdverbial clause
 Gisteren ging hij zwemmen.Yesterday he went swimming.Gisteren (yesterday)
Ik heb vijftig kilometer gefietst.I biked fifity kilometers. Vijftig kilometer (fifty kilometers)

Types of Dutch sentences

1) Dutch main clauses

The Dutch main clauses are independent sentences.

  • Ik blijf thuis. = I stay home.
  • Mijn ouders zijn oud. = My parents are old.

2) Dutch negative clauses

The Dutch negation is indicated by 'niet' or 'geen'.

  • Sara heeft geen broer. = Sara has no brother.
  • Het eten is nog niet klaar. = The meal is not ready yet.

3) Dutch interrogatives

The Dutch interrogatives are formed by having the verb and the subject switch places.  

  • Hoe is het weer? = How is the weather?
  • Hebben jullie al een tafel gereserveerd? = Have you already booked a table?

4) Dutch conditionals 

A conditional is used to describe a certain proviso and the result if the condition is fulfilled.

  • Als het regent, neemt zij een paraplu. = When it rains, she takes an umbrella. 
  • Als hij meer had gestudeerd, zou hij al afgestudeerd zijn. = If he had studied more, he would have graduated already.

5) Dutch relatives

The relative clauses are used to refer to something in the main clause. The clauses begin with a relative pronoun or adverb.

  • Ik hoop dat ze niet te laat aankomen. = I hope they do not arrive too late.
  • Wij hebben jouw zus ontmoet met wie Jan nu danst. = We have met your sister with whom Jan is dancing now.

6) Dutch conjunctions

A conjunction usually connects sentences (or sentence parts). The Dutch language knows two kinds of conjunctions:

  1. Nevenschikkende voegwoorden (coordinating conjunctions)
  2. Onderschikkende voegwoorden (subordinating conjunctions)

Examples:

  • Ze eten bananen en peren. = They eat bananas and pears. 
  • Ik zou graag Nederlands leren omdat een belangrijk taal is. = I would like to learn Dutch because it is an important language.

And now train your skills with the exercices below!

What our students say

Unlike in other platforms, all our teachers are manually verified by our professional team. Trust in the experiences of our students.
4.94/5
Hands down one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of working with. Very knowledgeable in all aspects of Bulgarian (grammar rules, expressions, ...) but also in both English and French, which helps whenever you have a more in-depth question on the how or why something is the way it is in Bulgarian. Furthermore he has his own material and always comes prepared, but he is equally open to changing the subject of a lesson to suit your needs. He is patient, positive and not too scholarly, which is what you need as an adult learning day- to- day Bulgarian.I have been working with him for 18 months now and still look forward to our lessons every week.
An's Bulgarian has tremendously improved since she gave it go a year and a half ago. Of course, It goes without saying that I am pleased to work with such an enthusiastic learner who is living proof that, through hard work and perseverance, everyone can succeed in their language goals. An, you are now an independant user of the language who is able to successfully lead real-live conversations. Pat yourself on the back.
5/5
Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
5/5
Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
5/5
I would highly recommend Tove. Her lessons are fantastic and I learn exactly what I'm interested in. Tove is very friendly, our chemistry goes well together and I really enjoy being tought by her.
Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
5/5
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
Translated by Google Translate
Fabrizio's children are learning French very fast, I have the impression that these lessons online have been helpful for them and I am sure they will master the language easily. They are very interested in learning.
5/5
Daniela is a very pleasant and brisk teacher who has the talent to make you feel at ease immediately. Her lessons are a nice mix of conversation and theory. Again and again it is a nice hour to look forward to !! Thank you Daniela !!
Translated by Google Translate
Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
It is always a pleasure to have English lessons with Corinne. The lessons are always a lot of fun and extremely interesting concerning on current affairs and unfortunately the time always ends too early. Very recommended.
Thank you, Danilo. It is always a pleasure having lessons with you and I have enjoyed our many conversations together. And what a joy that over time they have become easier for both of us to understand! :D
5/5
Carmen is really prepared and very very nice. She takes you by the hand and introduces you to portuguese language in a really pleasant way. I learned 3-4 sentences already on the first lesson!
Fabia is a very nice student and learns very quickly. It is a pleasure to teach her as she really likes to learn a difficult language like Portuguese and improved a lot.
5/5
It was very nice to take a lesson from Theano (Anny). She is adaptable to the student's level and is prepared to help the student as necessary. She is a friendly and caring teacher!
Σ' ευχαριστώ πολύ Μέγκαν! I'm glad you had a good experience and that you enjoyed it. Your excitment about learning greek motivates me even more :)
5/5
Marissa is a very professional teacher who can put the student at ease. It is precise, effective and oriented towards achieving the objectives: highly recommended.
Translated by Google Translate
Thanks so much Paola!!! I LOVE working with you guys and have enjoyed every moment. Even after this brief period, we can already start to see some changes. :-)
5/5
I have had many lessons with Luisa and I always look forward to them. We begin by chatting about the past week's events and them move to Espresso which I find very useful as a good review of material I have done in the past. There is often additional words used I had not met before. Luisa is always a pleasure to talk with and is a kind and pleasant teacher. She corrects me gently and offers useful words or meanings when appropriate.
Dear Martin thank you so much ! It's my pleasure taking class with you. And thanks a lot for your suggestion about Us movies ( Just Mercy) or Us books
5/5
I had my first lesson a couple of days ago and everything went super good! Karin was attentive, transmiting her positivism and helping me with every doubt I had. She really focus on teaching how to pronounce and talk a language, so this is really interesting for me, to practise it & be able to use it in my day by day. I really recommend her to everyone willing to learn a new language :)
Hi Alba! Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I enjoyed our class too & I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects :-)
5/5
A prepared and kind teacher, ready to teach with patience and good humor. He provided me with very useful materials to study and review even after the lesson. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a language with a smile. Thanks Silvia :)
Translated by Google Translate
Thank you so much for the Chiara review! It was a real pleasure to have this lesson with you. I wish you a nice trip with the German language!
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
The lesson with Celia was perfect! She was puntcual, kind and her teaching method is effective and funny. She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary. Absolutely raccomended.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
5/5
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!
5/5