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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsWe will now look at the word order in Dutch sentences. You cannot simply place words in a random order. There are some rules we have to follow. In this section, we'll look at the word order in the main clause, in the main clause we'll emphasise elements, and then questions. A general rule is-- the rule of thumb-- the conjugated verb stands in the second position, as you can see in the following sentences. [DUTCH SPOKEN] Ik woon in het centrum. Het is niet zo goed. We gaan samen op vakantie. Dat klopt. When we want to emphasise an element, we can put that in the first position, then the verb still keeps to the second position, but the subject goes to the third.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondSo [DUTCH SPOKEN] Nu woon ik in het centrum. Dan moet ik weg. In Toronto woont mijn zus. In Dutch, we can emphasise an element by moving it to the first position. In other languages, however, for example, English, this is just done by simply changing the volume. But in Dutch, it's by changing the word order. Let's look at these sentences. [DUTCH SPOKEN] Mijn opa woont in Zwitserland. In Zwitserland woont mijn opa. They both mean my grandfather lives in Switzerland. You could translate it such as, it is in Switzerland that my grandfather lives. Well, this sounds rather awkward in English. But in Dutch, this word order is quite normal.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 secondsSome more examples, and mind the position of the verb, the second spot. [DUTCH SPOKEN] Ik woon nu in Nederland. Nu woon ik in Nederland. Ik zeg dat niet! Dat zeg ik niet! In questions, the word order changes. Look at these examples. "Ja-nee vraag" Yes/no questions-- [DUTCH SPOKEN] Woon je ook in het centrum? Hebben jullie ook vakantie? Studeer je? "Vraagwoord-vraag" Other questions-- [DUTCH SPOKEN] Hoe laat beginnen we? Waar kom je vandaan? Wat ga jij doen? Wie is jullie docent? First, in yes/no questions, what's the position of the verb? As you can see, it's the very first position. [DUTCH SPOKEN] Woon je ook in het centrum? Hebben jullie ook vakantie? Studeer je?

Skip to 3 minutes and 12 secondsIn other questions, starting with a question word, we can see the verb moving to the second position. Look at these examples. [DUTCH SPOKEN] Hoe laat beginnen we? Waar kom je vandaag? Wat ga jij doen? Wie is jullie docent? In case of more complex sentences, for example, a sentence with two verbs we have this general rule. The conjugated part of the verb stands in the second position. The other parts of the verbal group usually come at the end of the sentence. So [DUTCH SPOKEN] We [DUTCH SPOKEN] We kunnen nu bij mij eten. Nu moet ik sporten.

Watch and read: word order

Watch the video about word order and read the explanation below.

Word order

In Dutch the position of the verb is very important in the word order of a sentence. The position of the verb depends on the type of clause.

Main clause

In the main clause, the conjugated verb stands in second position.

The word order is:

subject – conjugated verb – rest

For example:

Ik woon in het centrum. I live in the city centre
We gaan op vakantie. We are going on holiday.

An emphasized element can be put in the first position. The verb still stays in the second position, followed by the subject. This is called inversion.

This is the word order.

stressed element - conjugated verb - subject - rest

For example:

Nu woon ik in het centrum. Now I live in the centre.
Dan moet ik weg. I have to leave then.
In Toronto woont mijn zus. My sister lives in Toronto.

Questions

In questions, the word order changes.

The word order of a yes/no question is as follows:

conjugated verb – subject – rest

For example:

Woon je ook in het centrum? Do you also live in the centre?
Hebben jullie ook vakantie? Do you also have a holiday?

And the word order of a question formed with a question word is:

question word – conjugated verb – subject – rest

For example:

Hoe laat beginnen we? What time do we start?
Waar kom je vandaan? Where do you come from?
Wat ga jij doen? What are you going to do?

Sentences with two verbs

In a sentence with more than one verb, the conjugated verb comes in the second position and the other verbs are at the end.

For example:

We kunnen bij mij eten. We can eat at my place.
Nu moet ik sporten. Now I have to do some exercise.

Practise with Quizlet

Would you like to practise Dutch grammar? Please visit our grammar section on the word order on Quizlet (if you prefer Quizlet to open in a separate window, click the CTRL key while clicking the link).

Do you have any questions about Dutch grammar? Follow the links below for more information. Share your comments and questions in the discussion below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Dutch

University of Groningen

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

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    Watch and/or read about the principles of telling the time, with practical phrases, in Dutch.

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