1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Ik ben niet aan het schrijve…

"Ik ben niet aan het schrijven."

Translation:I am not writing.

October 18, 2014



The problem is, all these sentences are given without context. I'm still learning but here's how I see the difference:

"Zij leest een boek." or "She is reading a book." might be said in response to, "What's Rose doing today?" It's used in a more general sense. "Zij leest boeken" could mean, "She reads books." Like, "Does she have a hobby?" "She reads books."

"Ik ben een boek aan het lezen!" or "I am reading a book!" might be used in response to, "You've been in the bathroom for an hour! What's taking you so long?"


You could use "Ik lees even boek!" In the last example, more likely actually. The Dutch continuous is only used for things happening RIGHT NOW, in many cases you could just use present simple instead of continuous though, mos too the time it's just stresses you're doing smh


Hmm, so when would you use the continuous? I was thinking that the person might be reading on the toilet, someone says, "What's taking you so long in there?", and they respond in an annoyed voice, "Ik ben een boek aan het lezen!"


Continuous stresses you're doing something right now, you can always use present simple instead of it.


I know. Which is why I thought my example was fitting, but maybe I was wrong. Like, 'I'm reading a book right now! Stop bothering me.'


Personally, I would just say "Ik lees een boek", but that differs from person to person I guess, you're example is correct though ;)


I'm still not sure I understand the purpose of 'aan het' in these sentences. :(


"Zijn aan het" + infinitive is the Dutch continuous construction. There's a good explanation here. In short, it indicates that the action (in this case, (not) writing) is going on right now.


I get that it makes the sentence present-continuous, but isn't it already continuous without the "aan het"? Why doesn't "ik ben schrijven" work?


You need "aan het" for the continuous construction. I did not come up with that, so I can't tell you why. It is simply how the Dutch grammar works.

Technically you could say: "Ik ben schrijvende"
In that case, "schrijvende" has the function of an adjective. However, this construction is not used much and sounds very rather awkward.


Sorry, but I can't seem to open the link you posted, with the explanation. Would you mind posting it again? I'm also a bit confused about aan het, so I'd like to read more


Have a read through this: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/4298404

Or through this: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Verbs.Ot02

In short, if in Dutch you want to emphasise that something is happening at this moment you can use the "continuous" which is "a conjugation of zijn + aan het + infinitive of the verb_.


  • Ik ben aan het lopen - I am walking
  • Wij zijn aan het eten - We are eating
  • Hij is naar school aan het fietsen - He is cycling to school
  • Zij zijn door het bos aan het wandelen - They are walking through the forest.


why not "Ik schrijven niet" or Is "Ik ben niet aan het schrijven" a kind of formal Dutch


"ik schrijven niet" is incorrect Dutch, "ik schrijf niet" means "I am not writing" or "I don't write (ever)" depending on context, "Ik ben niet aan het schrijven" means "I am not writing (right now)", it's clearer.

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