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A Dutch Question

Hoi allemaal!

I'm gonna get straight to the point. Here's what I'm trying to say:

A few days ago, my mother saw me sending a message to you in French.

Here's what I have: Een paar dagen geleden, heeft mijn moeder mij een bericht aan jou in Frans gezien sturen.

Here's what my friend (she's Dutch) has: Een paar dagen geleden, heeft mijn moeder mij een bericht aan jou in Frans zien sturen.

I don't know how to make the 'saw me sending a message' phrase, especially because sending is not a regular verb. I didn't know where to put this. Can someone tell me why I'm wrong, why my friend is right, and if so, explain the *heeft zien construction?

Bedankt! Matt

February 18, 2015



"heeft gezien sturen" literally translates as "has seen send" and that does not work in English or Dutch. There is no direct equivalent for the continuous form in Dutch. "saw me sending a message" should be translated as "zag me een bericht sturen" or "zag me bezig met een bericht sturen".

In your translated sentence I would leave out the comma and add "het". So:

Een paar dagen geleden heeft mijn moeder mij een bericht aan jou in het Frans zien sturen.

Why "het"? Because.


Hi Matt!

The construction that your friend is using is known as a "vervangend infinitief" (replacement infinitive). That's some advanced Dutch grammar! It is only used with auxiliary verbs (like "zien" is auxiliary to "sturen" in your sentence).


So without indulging myself into somewhere where I'm bound to get confused, when would I use this 'heeft zien' form? Would it work for other verbs as well? If I wanted to say "My dad saw me playing soccer." Mijn vader heeft mij voetbal zien spelen. Mijn vader zag mij voetbal spelen. Do both work? And lastly, should I just use the simple past forms of verbs until I understand this better in these types of sentences? Thanks so much for the help!


Yes, both work.


vervangende infinitief dat heb ik nooit gehad bij grammatica vroeger..

This form (replacement infinitive) is not formally taught in school but it is commonly used.

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