1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Hij kan een visum aanvragen …

"Hij kan een visum aanvragen bij de ambassade in Amsterdam."

Translation:He can apply for a visa at the embassy in Amsterdam.

August 6, 2014



Why does "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" go after the verb? I tried to put 'bij de ambassade' before 'aanvragen', in the "place" part of "time manner place". Does this always happen with bij?


I would also like to know this (other posters don't seem to have answered right?)


"Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aanvragen" should be accepted.


'aanvragen' at the end of the sentence is correct, but because "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" is so long it's more common to put "aanvragen" in the front.

However, "Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade aanvragen" or "Hij kan een visum in Amsterdam aanvragen" are perfect sentences.


What? So there is not a strict rule about word order? "hmm, this sentence became too long lets put the verb in the middle..."

I've been doing German lessons too, i think i haven't seen something similar like this. (Bringing up German to the topic because both languages are similar when it comes to the sentence structure)


"Bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" is what we call in Dutch a "Bijwoordelijke bepaling van plaats" (Adverbial phrase of place).

An adverbial phrase is something you add to the main sentence. As long as the subject + conjugated verb (Hij + kan) stay together, it doesn't really matter where you put this adverbial.

So all of the following sentences are gramatically correct in Dutch: 1. Bij de ambassade in Amsterdam kan hij een visum aanvragen. 2. Hij kan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam een visum aanvragen. 3. Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aanvragen. 4. Hij kan een visum aanvragen bij de ambassade in Amsterdam.

In sentence 1 you have to switch SV to VS, because there's another part of the sentence (the adverbial) before the subject (hij).

As a native speaker sentence 4 sounds the best, because the object (een visum aanvragen) stays together and the adverbial is at the end as extra information.


Following a general European trend, all Germanic languages are in the process of moving from SOV word order to SVO. The V2 word order of Dutch and German is just an intermediate stage. Dutch is moving a bit faster in this direction than German, but hasn't progressed as far as English yet. So it's natural to find a few details in word order where Dutch is more English-like than German-like.

In this particular case, the same worder is actually possible in my native German; it's just quite unusual and typically a sign that the speaker didn't think the sentence through completely before beginning to speak. This is why you are explicitly not learning it in a German course. You can say "Er kann ein Visum beantragen bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam". It's just by no means a natural word order yet. Whether you call it grammatical says more about your concept of grammar than about the language. The difference is that in Dutch it's unquestionably grammatical and (I believe) it's good style.

As to why - "bij de ambassade" is a longish adverbial. These tend to be added as afterthoughts in separate, elliptic sentences: "Er kann ein Visum beantragen. Bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam." (This in turn is licensed by the possibility of the following kind of dialogue: "Er kann ein Visum beantragen. - Wo? - Bei der Botschaft in Amsterdam.") It's only a small step of the type typical for language change to join the two sentences into one.


Thank you IsaSoulie for your explanations! I must admit that, with 9 years of German, I had the German sentence construction model in mind too, that is to say the verb at the very end...


"Time manner place" word order applies to the subject of the sentence. The "ambassade" is the object in this sentence (the subject is "Hij"). "In Amsterdam" refers to the "ambassade," so it is treated as one clause: "the ambassade in Amsterdam."


I thougt the object was "visum"


I'll try asking this again...why is "aanvragen" not at the end of the sentence? Is the following wrong? "Hij kan een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aanvragen."


It's correct as well.


Duo is giving false information. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands but not the Seat of Government or the headquarters of the various diplomatic missions. The embassies are in The Hague not Amsterdam. However, if you wanted a visa you would probably go to the General Consulate which you might find in Amsterdam.


I thought aanvragen has to be at the end in sentences with kunnen and other modals? No?


Yes and no.

Yes: V2 basically means that all the verb group except for one word - the finite (= conjugated) verb - comes at the end of the main clause. If the verb group is a conjugated form of aanvragen kunnen, the finite verb is a conjugated form of kunnen, and the remainder of the verb group that is moved to the end of the main clause consists just of the infinitive aanvragen.

No: There are two good explanations why the adverbial clause bij de ambassade in Amsterdam comes (or just: can come) after aanvragen. I am not sure which of them is the correct one, and it's quite possible that both of them are correct and there are simply two equally good ways to analyse this sentence.

  1. Maybe one can consider the adverbial clause as part of the verb group. In this interpretation, the complete verb group is aanvragen kunnen bij de ambassade in Amsterdam, and what remains after removing kunnen (which turns into the finite verb) is what is moved to the end of the main clause.
  2. Maybe adverbials - which are not among the most basic parts of speech (such as subject, verb group, object) of which we are generally thinking when talking about the most fundamental word order rules such as V2 - can be placed so freely that they can appear even after the verb group. After all, they have some similarity to subordinate clauses, and of course these can appear after the main clause.

In general, Dutch seems to be moving rather quickly from a more conservative (German-like) word order to one that is more English-like. The word order in this sentence would sound a bit inelegant or even unnatural in my native German but seems to be normal in Dutch. So I guess that its acceptability is at least in part due to relatively recent changes in Dutch.


Thank you very much. This is very interesting. I actually thought that the Dutch grammatical rules were as strict as the German ones. (In German I am taught to put the infinite verb at the end "no matter what".) It is very interesting to see that this may sometimes not always be the case in Dutch.


I think the word order rules of both languages are probably similarly strict. But since those of Dutch are changing more quickly, they are slightly different. It takes a long time for the old rules to become absolutely wrong. Therefore, to the somewhat limited extent that speaking Dutch with a German word order is not correct, I think it's mostly just a bit unidiomatic - not as wrong as using Shakespeare's word order in ordinary English speech today, for example.


Are the rules about how to split separable verbs also not so strict as they are in German? That is, is "Hij vraagt een visum aan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" also a correct sentence, or only "Hij vraagt een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aan" is?


Both variants are actually correct both in Dutch and in my native German. The difference is only in the relative frequency with which they are used. As usual, Dutch is more progressive. This is because all Germanic languages are moving to SVO word order. English has just been doing the conversion very quickly and German is very slow. Dutch has also been very fast since it branched off German.


All right, but which one would be the more common and idiomatic? In Dutch I mean.


In both languages it depends on how you parse the sentence. What does "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" provide details to?

  1. It refers to the verb aanvragen. Result: "Hij vraagt een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aan." (The separated preposition is part of the verb phrase, which comes at the end of the sentence.)
  2. It refers to the entire sentence "Hij vraagt een visum aan" and therefore comes after it. Result: "Hij vraagt een visum aan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam."

As an intermediate step between the old rule (remainder of the verb phrase comes last) and whatever is the new rule that better fits SVO word order, interpretation 2 is recently becoming more popular in German than it used to be, though interpretation 1 is still the default. Dutch is more progressive, so interpretation 2 is already more popular, even though interpretation 1 is still possible. Sooner or later, Dutch speakers will stop using variant 1 and will use variant 2 exclusively even if in the few cases when it's clear that "bij de ambassade in Amsterdam" (or the corresponding phrase) unambiguously refers to the verb only.


I was sort of disappointed by your answer in the beginning, as I had been hoping for a more definite one in the line of "the first" or "the second", but then I found out that all that is far more than very interesting. What you call "referring to" or "providing details to" I am more at ease calling "focusing on" or "stressing", but that's just a matter of tastes I guess. Your explanation is wonderfully clear. I would like to hear those two sentences spoken, in order to find out whether there is a vocal stress on one part of the one and of the other, I fancy something like "Hij vraagt een visum bij de ambassade in Amsterdam aan" and "Hij vraagt een visum aan bij de ambassade in Amsterdam." In some languages the word order appears to be more free, but it is just a delusion, I think, for the order you choose turns out most of times stressing one item or another.


I got this wrong because i used 'in' & 'at' in the opposite places.......would be acceptable either way in English i believe.


Any specific reason that it is not "Hij kan voor een visum..." other than that it is just not used in Dutch, i.e. literal translations are not always what you want?


If the word that is said (audio) is not shown as an option to click on and show as part of the answer how can we be expected to get it right!!! And it is not shown as an option to "Report" either.


Why does the voice for this one always sound like "Hij kan de vieze man vragen..."


lots of Consulates in Amsterdam but nearly all the embassies are in the Hague.


Visas are usually given by consulates, not embassies


yo dudes. sometimes "visum" is the correct answer in dutch, sometimes "visa" is... make up your minds or accept both


"visum" is singular, "visa" is plural.


In Dutch that is, in English visa is singular. Visums can be used for plural in Dutch too btw.


True, but using plurals like visums and museums for Latin loanwords you'll sound like you never had more education than primary school (unlike using the common visa, musea, etc.).

I think the only exception to that is fora = Roman type squares, forums = discussion boards on the internet.


You'll sound like you never had more education than primary school

That's a bit hypocritical. Visum comes from the Latin charta visa. Visum has been 'made up' in Dutch. The reason for the change from visa to visum is the search for regularity (a process called Analogy). The very same process created the alternative plural form museums.


You're right in spotting that when it comes to Latin I clearly am at a primary school level (I had one lesson of Latin in my life if I remember correctly). But I never claimed to know anything about Latin.

And I probably should have added to many people before you'll sound like, since now it looks like it is my opinion instead of me explaining what a lot of people think. Mea culpa. ;)

Also there's a reason I used the primary school example and not smart: it wasn't my intention to judge anyone in my post, but to indicate that to a lot of people feel that the -s plural is used by people with limited education. I think this has to do with the fact that until recently only the musea type plurals were correct for Latin loanwords. So using the -s form for these words will still come across as wrong to a lot of people.

It's probably similar to speaking any dialect, or saying deze meisje instead of dit meisje. People are easy to judge anything that is different from the way they themselves do things, and it doesn't matter if that other is incorrect (deze meisje) or not (dialect).


Visum hasn't just been made up in Dutch but also in German, the Skandinavian languages, Czech and Slovak. Or maybe German made it up and the others got it from there. It's not poor Latin either, as it refers to a single thing that has been seen (passport) as opposed to many that have been seen (papers). Italian is following the same logic with the singular word visto. By the way, the French word with which it all started (visé) was ambiguous about number.

In English this isn't felt as much, but in many languages it is jarring to refer to an obvious plural such as visa as a singular.


Again on the topic, different languages have different rules for the formation of plurals of foreign words, loan words and words that have become part of the language. Forming plurals according to the foreign language rules (like forum -> fora, or pasta -> paste, club -> clubs) sounds like a cool idea until you have to make a plural in a language you don't know (here is my kippah, here are yours kipp.. mmm ... :-) and then you have to look it up.

Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.