zondag 18 juni 2017

Dutch lesson: where to place subject and verbs (inversion)

When do we place subjects and verbs in Dutch? For English and German natives, it's quite straightforward as more or less the same rules apply as in English and German. However, others might struggle with the verbs' placement.

The most common structure of a sentence is:

  • Subject-verb-others
  • Ik ben Pieter. (= I am Pieter)
With the verb in second place - as it is the case in most cases. However, in questions, the verb and subject switch positions:
  • Ben ik Pieter? (Am I Pieter?)
An interrogative pronoun (who, where, when...) can be placed in front:
  • Wie ben ik? (who am I?)
The subject will always be just next to the main verb, before or after. Sometimes, a complement (time, place...) will be first.
  • Nu ben ik Pieter. (Now I am Pieter)
  • In het huis ben ik Pieter. (In the house, I am Pieter)
Video: the explanation completely in Dutch!

If one wants to stress the object or indirect object, one can put it in front too.
  • Die cola drink ik. (That coke I'm drinking)
  • Met hem spreek ik af. (With him I meet)

Subsentences are a special case: these start with the subject and end with the verb(s).
  • Ik drink die cola, omdat die smaak mij meer energie geeft. (I drink that coke, because that taste gives me more energy)
  • Ik denk dat hij 's avonds cola drinkt. (I think he drinks coke in the evening)
If it's a that/who sentence about a word, there can be no subject (since the word is the subject), but the verb is at the end.
  • Ik ben de man die nu drinkt. (I know the man that is drinking now)

Exercises (translate, use inversion where you can):
  1. Who is that man?
  2. He is here. 
  3. I come after the break.
  4. I drink water because it's good now.
  5. I drink the water the man drinks in the evening.
  6. I drink water coming from the shop.

  1. Wie is die man?
  2. Hier is hij.
  3. Na de pauze kom ik.
  4. Ik drink water omdat het nu goed is.
  5. Ik drink het water dat de man 's avonds drinkt.
  6. Ik drink water dat van de winkel komt.

maandag 5 juni 2017

Learn your language with flashcards - tips

Ever heard of flashcards? They're little cards, with two sides. So how can you learn languages with them? Usually, there's a word on the one side, and the translation on the other side. Put them in a bag together, and you can take them out, one by one. Then, translate all the words. You can do it over and over again. Those you know, remove them from your bag.

Flashcards are a great way to learn those parts that are more challenging. If you have difficulties learning body parts, just make flashcards of the body parts. You can do them with drawings. Or with pictures. That's even better, so your mind stays in the language you're learning. And you might even remember the words you're learning by making the flashcards.

Make sure to put the articles and the plural if it's important in the language you're learning. Also use them for conjugations and expressions.

Many flashcards are available for sale. However, it's best to make them yourself. Only you know which words are important to you. And which conjugations and expressions you might use. Moreover, you can get inspired by other people's work. Check the 100 most used words to start with.

Use the websites that provide flashcards for free. Cram.com is one example. One of its advantages is that you can play the sound of the most spoken languages. So you can check the pronunciation as well.

More tips in my book and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

10 funny Dutch expressions

Expressions are a great way to learn new languages. First of all, there's the new vocabulary. Second, you'll learn about the way sentences are structured. And third, you can surprise natives with you knowledge. So let's see 10 funny expressions in Dutch.

Iemand in het ootje nemen.
Literally, that's 'to take someone in the little o'. Which of course is a very silly thing to say in English. However, in Dutch it means to fool someone.

Het hek is van de dam.
Meaning the gate is from the dam. Well, that's silly again. But in Dutch it means there's a situation where everyone does what he or she wants. Chaos.

De ochtendstond heeft goud in de mond.
The morning has gold in its mouth. Why? Well, if you work a lot in the morning, while others are sleeping, you will get rich. So wake up early to become a millionaire!

Een ezel stoot zich geen twee keer aan dezelfde steen.
A donkey doesn't hit his head twice on the same stone. Means that you shouldn't make the same mistake twice.

De mosterd halen bij.
That's to get the mustard with someone or something. Meaning you're getting your inspiration from somewhere else, which is not specified here. It still has to be added after 'bij'.

Iemand bij de kraag vatten.
To catch someone with the collar. It means to apprehend someone.

Een oogje dichtknijpen.
Literally, that's to close one little eye. Meaning you'll allow someone to do something he or she shouldn't do.

Uit de doeken doen.
To do something from the clothes. That's an expression just to say to explain.

Tegen de lamp lopen.
To run against the lamp. That's when you get apprehended, when you're caught doing something you shouldn't.

Twee handen op één buik.
Two hands on one belly. When two persons really get along, you can say it.

Learn more Dutch with this 3.5 hours course.