Dutch Modal Verbs

Learn how to conjugate modal verbs in Dutch

The Netherlands  Belgium  Suriname

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Dutch Modal Verbs

 

In Dutch, there are four modals: kunnen - to be able to, can; moeten - to have to, must; mogen - to be allowed to, may; and willen - to want to. Modals can be used with other infinitives without the use of prepositions.


  kunnen moeten mogen willen
ik
jij / u
hij / zij / het
wij
jullie
zij
kan
kan / kunt
kan
kunnen
kunnen
kunnen
moet
moet
moet
moeten
moeten
moeten
mag
mag
mag
mogen
mogen
mogen
wil
wil / wilt
wil
willen
willen
willen

The -t of kunt and wilt are dropped in inversions with jij, but not with moet. Kan and kunt are used interchangeably for the second person singular form of kunnen, so jij kan and jij kunt as well as jij wil and jij wilt are both possible. The main difference is that kan and wil are considered slightly more informal with jij than kunt or wilt.

Common verbs, such as doen and gaan, can be omitted in Dutch after modals, but not in the English translation. In addition, impersonal constructions with het/dat + modals are used.

Dat kan. That's possible/can be done.
Het moet.
It must be done.

When modals are used with other verbs, the other verb is in the infinitive and placed at the end of the clause or sentence.


 

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