https://www.duolingo.com/grey236

Word Order, help?

grey236
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Can someone explain Dutch words order in simple speak? I've been to many websites but I just get really confused. Help (and if you can help don't give me the link to a website becuase chances are I've been to it and it confused me)

3 years ago

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lelieblad

Okay, giving a crash course on all aspects of Dutch word order is practically impossible. If you want to know all about it, I'd recommend this: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=WordOrder.00 Yes it's difficult, but it covers everything. You've probably been to it and had it confuse you (it confused me), but it's worth studying.

Some simple tips which might help though:

If you add stuff before the subject+verb of a sentence, it becomes stuff+verb+subject instead of subject+verb+stuff. Vandaag ben ik een appel vs. ik ben een appel vandaag.

And/or/but/as/so are simple. 'Ik ben een appel en hij is een sinaasappel.' Subject+verb order doesn't change.

Because, while, and so on, are somewhat more complicated. 'Ik ben een appel doordat mijn mama een appel is.' The verb goes to the end.

Questions. '❤❤❤ ben je een appel?' If you want a rough and probably inaccurate rule of thumb, think '❤❤❤' comes before 'subject+verb' so subject+verb are switched, just like any other time.

Other verbs: Any other verbs other than the main one are basically always added onto the end. 'Ik ben een appel aan het eten.' 'I am eating an apple.' However, you can still add time/stuff afterwards. 'Ik ben een appel aan het eten vandaag', though this seems a bit redundant in this example, because 'aan het+infinitive' pretty much implies that something is happening right now.

Any questions? :P I only covered the stuff that I guessed you might be confused by.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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I think Lelieblad gave a pretty good basic summary, but I'll add a bit (learned from the link she shared; I understand that it's a lot to go through but it's really helped me by taking it slow and going through a bit every day or so).

General sentence order: subject+main verb+indirect objects+some direct objects+time+manner+place+other direct objects+other verbs.

You know what a subject and the main verb is, and Lelieblad already talked about the other verbs. So I'll talk a bit about the objects and the modifiers (time, manner, and place). Since modifiers are a bit easier to explain, I'll start there. :)

As you can see, the middle of the sentence is given to all the things that tell you when, where, and how the main verb is taking place. The general accepted word order there is to have the time first, then how the action is done, then where it is done. But my understanding is that it doesn't usually matter too much how you arrange those elements. Examples:

Hij had me het cadeau gisteren vrolijk in mijn huis gegeven. (He had given me the gift yesterday cheerfully in my house.)

Technically, by the guideline above, this should be a correct sentence. But it sounds a bit strange to say "given me the gift yesterday cheerfully," doesn't it? So there's a case where I might rather put "vrolijk" before "gisteren." (Note: I'm not a native speaker, so I don't know if that's what they'd do, but to my ears it sounds better swapped there.)

Here's another example with the same sentence:

Gisteren had hij vrolijk me het cadeau in mijn huis gegeven.

Notice I changed the position of "gisteren" and "vrolijk." As Lelieblad explained, if you put something at the beginning of the sentence other than the subject, you have to reverse the verb and the subject. That's why it became "Gisteren had hij." And I moved "vrolijk" before "me" just because I like it better that way (it sounds clearer to me), but I don't think that's required.

Now let me address the direct object situation here. You'll notice that in my format for a "general sentence order," I have the vague terms "some direct objects" and "other direct objects." The short version of the difference between the two: the direct objects that go closer to the front are personal pronouns, direct objects that start with de/het or a possessive or demonstrative pronoun (like "mijn kat" or "deze kip" or something), and proper names. The direct objects that I listed as "other direct objects" are direct objects that start with an indefinite article (een), a cardinal number (drie, twee), or an indefinite pronoun (geen, enkele, veel). In my example sentence, the direct object was "het cadeau." This starts with het, so it goes in front.

Another way to remember which direct objects go where: "specific" ones go in front, "unspecific" ones go toward the back. If you think about it, the things going in the front are "the gift," "my cat," "this book," and "Amsterdam." They're very specific things! Whereas the ones going towards the back are "a cat," "two dogs," and "a few books." Not so specific. So really, we could change the general word order for a sentence to say:

subject+verb+indirect objects+specific direct objects+time+manner+place+unspecific direct objects+other verbs

This is surely not a perfect explanation, but I hope it makes sense and helps you out a bit. :) When in doubt, remember to go with subject+main verb+details+other verbs and invert the subject and main verb if you put something else at the beginning of the sentence!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/grey236
grey236
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Ok I'm starting to understand. So it's basically SV(IO)O plus all the descriptive things, then the less specific. That makes it MUCH easier but I still need to learn more words and all the prepositions that go with verbs. Thank you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/grey236
grey236
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But why does Duolingo say stuff like this "aangezien de man oud is, rent hij niet"? I don't understand why "is" is at the end and I think they're just mixing up hij and rent. Because if I said it, I would I say, "aangezien de man is oud, hij rent niet." If there is a logical explanation as to why it's switched in the first sentence I Windows like to know

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lelieblad

This is another example of what I was talking about before. In English you can both say, 'Since the man is old, he does not run.' or 'The man does not run since he is old.'

In Dutch you can say, 'Aangezien de man oud is, rent hij niet.' or if switched around, 'De man rent niet aangezien hij oud is.' (though keep in mind, these two sentences are very different in terms of emphasis).

Remember how I said that a phrase after something like 'because' causes the verb to go to the end? This doesn't change even if you put 'Because + phrase' to the beginning of a sentence. So Aangezien being used means that it has to go Angezien + subject + object + verb instead of the normal subject + verb + object.

It's 'rent hij niet' instead of 'hij rent niet' simply because there was stuff added to the beginning of the sentence, so the subject + verb get's switched around.

It doesn't matter if the stuff at the beginning is 'Vandaag,' or 'Aangezien de man oud is', if you put that stuff first, you need to switch the subject+verb of whatever comes next.

Hope this makes sense?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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You explained that better than I ever could. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/grey236
grey236
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Dank u wel veel! (I think that's right)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lelieblad

Geen dank. (No problem!) And it's perfect if you change it to 'Dank u wel!' :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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Glad you're starting to get it! :) Keep up the good work!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/grey236
grey236
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Dank u wel veel! (Is that correct?)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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Probably not the "veel," but you could say "Dank u wel" or "Hartelijk dank" :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Multitaal
Multitaal
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Make that het cadeau please. Also het bureau, het niveau.

I am a native speaker so I don't know rules for word order. Still in your example I would not mind placing "het cadeau" to the back. "Hij had me gisteren vrolijk in mijn huis het cadeau gegeven".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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Het cadeau, right ;) Thanks, I'll change it. (I should've checked that, shouldn't I?)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lelieblad

Dutch word order is very flexible, just like in English. It's almost easier to learn what you can't do vs. what you can. :)

Thanks for explaining the other main stuff! I would have done that too, but I didn't want to make a post that would be probably bigger than yours and mine combined, hehe.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WordFitlySpoken
WordFitlySpoken
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That's true, haha. I'd love a post like that. "What You Can't Change in Dutch Word Order." ;)

I completely understand! I had some time and I wanted to try my hand at explaining something that once greatly confused me, so I added a bit.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/renee503657

It is daunting to say the least, but I think you are correct, a little at a time will hopefully help with the feelings of overwhelmed. Thank you Lelieblad for the link. I plan to head there next.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/howk_tomo
howk_tomo
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As a native Dutch speaker I can tell you that many Dutch people themselves, including me, often struggle with these things. So be kind to yourself :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/renee503657

I know, even my partner, who is native Dutch can not remember the rules to my questions. He says that Dutch is confusing to him as well. pffff

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/howk_tomo
howk_tomo
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Haha, ... Nou dat is echt motiverend dan :-)

3 years ago
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