Literal translation – Dutch

Services and auto-translators like Google translate and others take entire sentences and put together a meaning from all the different parts present. When learning a language, however, it’s sometimes more beneficial to see word-for-word translations, as it gives you a better idea of the most common sentence structures. In this post I’ll go over a few Dutch sentences. A Swedish version will come in the future! So here are some sentences in their original Dutch, a word-for-word translation, and then a reworded translation:

Hoe laat kom je morgen?
How late come you tomorrow?
What time are you coming tomorrow?

Ik moet het morgen halen.
I must it tomorrow get.
I must get it tomorrow.

Look at the above example. Dutch has a rule that, once you have one verb in a sentence, all of the following verbs get pushed to the back of the sentence. In this case, “halen” (“to get/to retrieve”) gets pushed to the back because “moet” (“must”) is already at the front.

Ik ga ze morgenochtend ophalen.
I go them tomorrow-morning up-get.
I’m going to pick them up tomorrow morning.

Ik hoop dat ik het kan doen.
I hope that I it can do.
I hope that I can do it.

Ik weet niet of ik het kan doen.
I know not whether I it can do.
I don’t know whether I can do it.

In the above example, you’ll notice that the “niet” (“not”) is placed right next to the first verb in Dutch. So, to negate a sentence, put “niet” after the first verb.

Ik denk dat ze dat al weet.
I think that she that already knows.
I think that she already knows that.

Ik heb het niet gekocht omdat ik het niet kon vinden.
I have it not bought because I it not could find.
I haven’t bought it because I couldn’t find it.

Occasionally, like in the above sentence, you will have a case where the “niet” goes by the second verb. That’s because the sentence is in past tense, in a tense I like to call the “diving past tense” (equivalent to “I have done it”, “I have seen it”, etc. in English). In these sentences, the “niet” goes by the second verb.

Ze kunnen het later doen als ze willen.
They can it later do if they want.
They can do it later if they want.

Als je hier na een halfjaar terug komt, heb je veel gemist.
If you here after a half-year back come, have you much missed.
If you come back here after a half-year, you’ve missed a lot.

Getting the hang of it? How would you word “I don’t know why I did that” in Dutch? If you want to practice, don’t read further ’til you’ve gotten it! …Got it? That sentence would be “I know not why I that did.” Did you get it? 😀 The Dutch sentence would be “Ik weet niet waarom ik dat deed.”

Look for a Swedish version of some literally translated sentences sometime in the future!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.