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Dutch: Grammar > To be & to have

Knowing some of the Dutch grammar will help you understand how the language is build up, and it will also help you to understand the basic phrases better. The Dutch grammar guide presented at LanguageTrav.com should in no way be considered as complete, and if you would like to acquire an in-depth understanding we recomment you to purchase books or DVDs for further learning.

The good news is that especially when you are traveling to The Netherlands, virtually everyone will speak English as a second language. However, it is a polite gesture to ask first.

The verb "to be":

The verb to be is an irregular verb. In Dutch it is used:

- to state who you are (what your name is),
- to state how old you are,
- to express a feeling or a physical state,
- to state a profession,
- in combination with other verbs for grammatical purposes.
All verbs are always used in combination with the appropriate pronouns, which are placed in front of the verb. The simple present and past tenses together with their pronouns are displayed below:

present
tense:
Dutch (zijn) English (to be)
ik ben I am
jij bent you are (second person singular, informal / familiar)
u bent you are (second person singular, formal)
hij/zij/het is he/she/it is
wij zijn we are
jullie zijn you are (second person plural)
zij zijn they are
Past
tense:
Dutch (zijn) English (to be)
ik was I was
jij was you were (second person singular, informal / familiar)
u was you were (second person singular, formal)
hij/zij/het was he/she/it was
wij waren we were
jullie waren you were (second person plural)
zij waren they were

The verb "to have":

The verb to have is used to express possessions. Furthermore it is also used in grammatical constructions. The tables below illustrate the verb in the simple present and past tenses:

present
tense:
Dutch (hebben) English (to have)
ik heb I have
jij hebt you have (second person singular, informal / familiar)
u hebt/heeft you have (second person singular, formal)
hij/zij/het heeft he/she/it heeft
wij hebben we have
jullie hebben you have (second person plural)
zij hebben they have
Past
tense:
Dutch (hebben) English (to have)
ik had I had
jij had you had (second person singular, informal / familiar)
u had you had (second person singular, formal)
hij/zij/het had he/she/it had
wij hadden we had
jullie hadden you had (second person plural)
zij hadden they had

It is important to notice that in the present tense, the pronoun u can take both hebt and heeft. You can use them as you like.

<< Pronouns Present tense >>

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