This page is an introduction to word order in Dutch sentences, to help with conversational Dutch. I am not a grammarian so for elaborate rules you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Dutch has a word order that is markedly different from English, which presents a problem for some learning Dutch. A simple example often used in Dutch language classes and text books is – 

“Ik kan mijn pen niet vinden omdat het veel te donker is”  word-for-word translates to “I can my pen not find because it much too dark is” but actually translates to “I can’t find my pen because it’s much too dark”.

This can be explained by saying that the first (main) verb goes at the beginning of the sentence while all the remaining verbs go to the end. It must also be noted that Dutch (like German) often splits larger sentences into smaller ones, each of which can have distinctly different grammatical rules depending on what is actually being said and where the emphasis is placed.

Over the years Dutch written grammar has simplified, now cases are mainly used for the pronouns, such as ik (I), mij, me (me), mijn (my), wie (who), wiens (whose: masculine or feminine singular), wier (whose: masculine or feminine plural).

Nouns and adjectives are not case inflected (except for the genitive of proper nouns (names): -s, -‘s or -‘).

Examples:

  1. een mooi huis.  (a beautiful house)
  2. het mooie huis. (the beautiful house)
  3. mooie huizen.  (beautiful houses)
  4. de mooie huizen.  (the beautiful houses)
  5. een mooie vrouw. (a beautiful woman)

We will be posting more lessons in the ‘word order series’ to help you with conversational Dutch. If you have any feedback/suggestions please do let us know.