Afrikaans Verbs

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Afrikaans Verbs

Learn common verbs in Afrikaans

Verbs in Afrikaans don’t actually conjugate as in other languages. The infinitive, present tense, and imperative are identical for all verbs (except wees and ) regardless of the subject. Verbs with separable prefixes, such as aan-, op-, toe-, uit-, place this prefix at the end of the sentence in the present and imperative.

to arrive aankom
to become word
to begin begin
to build bou
to buy koop
to carry / wear dra
to close / shut toemaak / sluit
to come kom
to do doen
to drink drink
to drive ry
to earn verdien
to eat eet
to feel voel
to finish klaarmaak
to fly vlieg
to forget vergeet
to get up opstaan
to give gee
to go gaan
to hate haat
to hear hoor
to invite uitnooi
to know ken (iemand) / weet (iets)
to learn leer
to leave verlaat
to listen luister
to live woon
to lose verloor
to make maak
to meet ontmoet
to play speel
to prefer verkies
to put sit
to read lees
to receive ontvang
to remember onthou
to repeat herhaal
to see sien
to sell verkoop
to send stuur
to sit sit
to smile glimlag
to speak praat
to spend bestee
to study studeer
to take neem
to teach leer
to tell vertel
to think dink
to throw gooi
to try probeer
to understand verstaan
to watch kyk
to work werk
to write skryf


To Love

The verb to love has some pecularities in Afrikaans. The infinitive is liefhê and so it is conjugated with lief as a separable prefix: Ek het lief. However, is lief is much more commonly used for the present tense: Ek is lief (I love). The past tense (I loved) is ek het lief gehad. If using a personal pronoun or noun, the preposition vir is placed before it. Therefore, I love you is Ek is lief vir jou while I loved you is ek het jou lief gehad. (It is of course possible to say Ek het jou lief in the present tense as well, but it is not as common.)

Past Tense

The past tense is formed by using het and the past participle, which is usually created by adding the prefix ge- to the infinitive. The past participle is placed at the end of the sentence. Verbs beginning with inseparable prefixes, such as be-, er-, her-, ont- and ver-, do not add ge- to form the past participle. This means that there is only form of these verbs; the infinitive, present, imperative and past participle are identical. Verbs beginning with separable prefixes place the ge between the separable prefix and the verb stem.

Future Tense

The future tense uses sal where English uses will and places the infinitive at the end of the sentence. It is also possible to use gaan like in English, to express to be going to + infinitive.

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Dr. Jennifer Wagner

PhD in Applied Linguistics, ESL/French teacher, author of two French books, and helping others to learn languages online at