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The usage of verbs that can or cannot be split in Dutch languague



Verbs in Dutch can be composed of separate parts.

Sometimes a verb is combined with an adverb, like in hardlopen (walk fast).
Most often a verb is combined with a preposition, like in aankomen (to arrive) or achterlaten (to leave behind).

Some compound verbs can be separated, some can't.

I think this is comparable to Chinese were e.g. 散步 and 打字 are separable verbs.

See this page for an introduction to this subject in English.

How do you know if a verb is separable?

Most verbs are separable.

The criterium is simple: in separable verbs the emphasis is on the preposition (or adverb), in inseparable verbs the emphasis is on the verb part. Any good dictionary can show you where the emphasis is.

There is also another guideline, but it's much more complex. Inseparable verbs can only contain about 10 prepositions. You can see them in the table on this page in English.

But these same prepositions sometimes also occur in separable verbs. If a verb contains a preposition other than the one's mentioned in the table, you're 100% sure it's a separable verb.

How to conjugate separable verbs

Simple present and simple past tense

Separable compound verbs are split up in the simple present and simple past.


See also this page in English.

Perfect tense

The perfect tense is slightly more complicated to form, but the verb isn't split up.

In my example with the word aankomen it would be for example: ik ben aangekomen (I have arrived).

It's explained in more detail (and in English) on this page.

List of common separable verbs
It's quite a small list, but it will probably be expanded later.
Inseparable compound verbs
Starting at this page you can find 5 more pages about the subject of separable and inseparable verbs (in English). Click on 'NEXT PAGE' at the bottom to go to the next one in the series.


© Henk Dalmolen
Reageer via E-mail (dalmolen@xs4all.nl)

Deze pagina is voor het laatst gewijzigd op: 13-4-2013 16:44:22