Dutch Verb Meanings

Learn the meanings of some common verbs in Dutch

The Netherlands  Belgium  Suriname

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Dutch Verb Meanings


Some verbs in English are expressed in Dutch as two different verbs and vice versa.  The most common are:

kennen: to know a person or a place; to be acquainted with (general familiarity)
weten: to know facts (specific knowledge)

leven: to be alive, to exist, to subsist
wonen: to reside, to dwell

betekenen: to signify
bedoelen: to intend

noemen: to call, name
heten: to be called, be named

lenen aan: to lend to
lenen van: to borrow from

leren: to teach (someone something)
leren (van): to learn (from someone)


Blijven and Laten


Blijven (to remain) can be used with an infinitive to express a continuous or repeated action.  Blijven acts like a modal verb in the sentence; blijven is conjugated and the other verb remains in the infinitive and goes to the end of the sentence.

De kat blijft naar de muis kijken.  The cat keeps looking at the mouse.
Blijft u maar zitten!  Please remain seated!

Laten (to let, leave) can also behave like a modal verb when used with another verb.  It corresponds to "to let" or "to have something done (by someone else)."  In the perfect tense, laten also behaves like a modal because the infinitive is used instead of the past participle when it occurs with another verb.

Laten we naar huis gaan.  Let's go home.
Zij laat haar kamer verven.  She's having her room painted.
Hij heeft zijn auto laten wassen.  He's had his car washed.


Staan, liggen and zitten


These verbs are all translated as "to be" in certain cases.  When an object is in an upright position, staan is used.  When an object is lying down, liggen is used.  When an object is inside of something else, zitten is used.

De auto staat voor het huis.  The car is in front of the house.
De krant ligt op de grond.  The newspaper is on the floor.
De pen zit in de tas.  The pen is in the bag.


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