Dutch Simple Past Tense of Verbs

Learn how to conjugate Dutch verbs in the simple past tense

The Netherlands  Belgium  Suriname

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Dutch Simple Past Tense


The simple past tense in Dutch corresponds to the simple past tense in English.  It is not a compound tense like the perfect tense, and some verbs have vowel changes, as in English.  Generally, the simple past tense is indicated in English by adding -ed to the verb (for regular verbs, at least.)  This tense is used for actions that happened in the past and that are completely done.  To form the past tense, add -te (or -de) to the stem for the singular persons and -ten (or -den) to the stem for the plural persons.  If the verb stem ends in p, t, k, f, s, or ch, add -te or -ten; for all other endings, add -de or -den.  Verbs that have either v or z as the final consonant of the stem change them to f or s first and then add -de and -den.

  ik, jij, u, hij, zij wij, jullie, zij
wonen - to live woonde woonden
geloven - to believe geloofde geloofden
praten - to talk praatte praatten
spelen - to play speelde speelden
trouwen - to marry trouwde trouwden
werken - to work werkte werkten
fietsen - to cycle fietste fietsten

Irregular Stems in Simple Past Tense


For some verbs, the internal vowel of the stem changes in the past tense.  The stem with the changed vowel then acts as the past tense for all persons of the singular, while the plural adds -en to the changed stem.  In addition, there are some irregular verbs that change more than the vowel, but still add nothing for the singular and -en for the plural.

  ik, jij, u, hij, zij wij, jullie, zij
zijn - to be was waren
hebben - to have had hadden
gaan - to go ging gingen
weten - to know wist wisten
denken - to think dacht dachten
blijven - to stay bleef bleven
drinken - to drink dronk dronken
eten - to eat at aten
breken - to break brak braken
bijten - to bite beet beten
gieten - to pour goot goten


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