Be and Have in Afrikaans

Learn Afrikaans language: Free online tutorial to learn Afrikaans

Be and Have in Afrikaans

Learn how to use the verbs be and have in Afrikaans

wees – to be
I am ek is I was ek was
you are jy / u is you were jy / u was
he is hy is he was hy was
she is sy is she was sy was
it is dit is it was dit was
we are ons is we were ons was
you are julle is you were julle was
they are hulle is they were hulle was


– to have
I have ek het I had ek het … gehad
you have jy / u het you had jy / u het … gehad
he has hy het he had hy het … gehad
she has sy het she had sy het … gehad
it has dit het it had dit het … gehad
we have ons het we had ons het … gehad
you have julle het you had julle het … gehad
they have hulle het they had hulle het … gehad

Wees and are the only two verbs that have irregular forms in the present tense. In speech, is and het are often reduced to ‘s and ‘t and fused to the preceding subject pronoun: ek’s = ek is; sy’t = sy het

The past tense included above is the simple past tense or preterite for wees and the present perfect tense for , which is also used for almost every other verb in Afrikaans. The present perfect tense uses the present tense of hê (het) and the past participle of the main verb, which is usually formed by adding the prefix ge- to the infinitive/present/imperative form. The verb hê, however, has an irregular past participle (gehad, not gehê!)

The major difference with word order in English is that the past participle is placed at the very end of the sentence.

Ons het ‘n wonderlike dag gehad. We had a wonderful day.

For the future tense, use sal before the infinitive just as we use will before the infinitive in English. The infinitive of the main verb is placed at the very end of the sentence. Any objects must go before the infinitive.

Ek sal die boek lees. I will read the book. (literally: I will the book read)

For basic negation , add nie (not) after the verb and another nie at the end of the sentence. The second nie is not required if the sentence only contains a subject and verb or a subject, verb and personal object (either a pronoun or noun).

Ek weet nie. I don’t know. (subject + verb; second nie not required)
Hy praat nie Russies nie. He doesn’t speak Russian. (subejct + verb + non-personal object; second nie required)

You may also be interested in:

Dr. Jennifer Wagner

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