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.

Solutions:
  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.





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