The 20 Most Common Dutch Verbs

Learning Dutch will help you get around not only the Netherlands, but also Belgium, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Suriname. And the uTalk app will help get you started with around 2,500 useful words and phrases from travel to social phrases – all with native speaker audio and lots of pronunciation practice. But, if you’ve covered the basics and want to go on to the next level, you’ll need to learn a few verbs. In this post, you’ll learn about the 20 most common Dutch verbs, as well as how to conjugate them in the present, past, and future tenses.

Let’s learn some Dutch verbs together!

Dutch, like English, is part of the Germanic language family, so you might notice a few similarities between the verbs you see in this post and the ones you already know. Still, they do change a little more than we’re used to in English, so it’s worth looking out for those differences and learning them now so that later on it’ll be second nature to conjugate your verbs correctly.

In this post, we’ve collected the 20 most common Dutch verbs (taken from this Wiktionary frequency list) and conjugated them in the present, past, and future tenses for you. We’ve also added some notes and phrases that might help you with their usage and teach you something new.

Let’s take a quick look at the different tenses first, though.

The tenses

A verb tense is a change to a verb that tells us when an action takes place. For example, compare I say and I said in English. I say something right now, but if I said something, then it happened in the past.

Different languages, of course, have different ways of showing tenses. Even though Dutch and English are quite closely related, that’s still true. We’ve conjugated the verbs in this post in the three simple tenses you’ll need first: the present, the past, and the future.

The present tense

The present tense expresses an action or state in the present time. It is also used to express things that are usual or characteristic.

The past tense

The past tense expresses an action or state that happened in the past.

The future tense

The future tense expresses actions or states that are yet to come.

Personal pronouns

You might already know the personal pronouns you’re going to come across here, but just in case, here’s a quick refresher:

jullieyou (plural)

Note that hijzij, and het (he, she, and it) all take the same verb conjugation in Dutch. We’ve represented that with hij in the tables below for ease and because zij (‘she’) and zij (‘they’) look the same!

The verbs

These verbs are likely ones you’ll come across pretty quickly once you start learning Dutch – and you’ll find yourself using them a lot – so they’re good to know!

1. zijn – to be

ikbenwaszal zijn / wezen
jijbentwaszult zijn / wezen
hijiswaszal zijn / wezen
wijzijnwarenzullen zijn / wezen
julliezijnwarenzullen zijn / wezen
zijzijnwarenzullen zijn / wezen

As well as meaning ‘to be’, zijn is sometimes also used as an auxiliary (helper) verb when you want to express the perfect tense in Dutch. This is similar in English: I did it versus. have done it. Like in English, hebben can take a similar function.

2. hebben – to have

ikhebhadzal hebben
jijhebthadzult hebben
hijheefthadzal hebben
wijhebbenhaddenzullen hebben
julliehebbenhaddenzullen hebben
zijhebbenhaddenzullen hebben

If you’re in Belgium, you might hear the phrase graag hebben, which means ‘to like someone’.

Like with zijn above, hebben can be used as an auxiliary (helper) verb to express the perfect tense in Dutch.

3. weten – to know

ikweetwistzal weten
jijweetwistzult weten
hijweetwistzal weten
wijwetenwistenzullen weten
julliewetenwistenzullen weten
zijwetenwistenzullen weten

You use weten when referring to facts or things that you know. If you’re talking about knowing a person, then you will use the verb kennen instead.

4. kunnen – to be able to, can

ikkankonzal kunnen
jijkuntkonzult kunnen
hijkankonzal kunnen
wijkunnenkondenzullen kunnen
julliekunnenkondenzullen kunnen
zijkunnenkondenzullen kunnen

If you’re using kunnen with another verb (e.g. I can run), then the second verb should be in the infinitive – the form you see in the dictionary, or in the headers of this article! So for example, ‘I can run’ in Dutch would be Ik kan rennen.

5. moeten – to have to, must

ikmoetmoestzal moeten
jijmoetmoestzult moeten
hijmoetmoestzal moeten
wijmoetenmoestenzullen moeten
julliemoetenmoestenzullen moeten
zijmoetenmoestenzullen moeten

Like kunnen, moeten goes along with nouns, or with second verbs in their infinitive forms. For example, ‘I have to do my homework’ becomes Ik moet mijn huiswerk maken.

6. doen – to do

ikdoedeedzal doen
jijdoetdeedzult doen
hijdoetdeedzal doen
wijdoendedenzullen doen
julliedoendedenzullen doen
zijdoendedenzullen doen

The Dutch phrase doen alsof is the equivalent of the French faire comme si – ‘to act as if’ or ‘to pretend’.

Ik ga niet net doen alsof ik weet hoe ik dat moet doen. – I’m not going to pretend I know how to do that.

7. gaan – to go

ikgagingzal gaan
jijgaatgingzult gaan
hijgaatgingzal gaan
wijgaangingenzullen gaan
julliegaangingenzullen gaan
zijgaangingenzullen gaan

Gaan is also used to form the future tense with other verbs, similar to the English ‘I am going to…’. This means that the future tense with zullen (zal gaan etc., in the table above) is considered to be more formal.

8. komen – to come

ikkomkwamzal komen
jijkomtkwamzult komen
hijkomtkwamzal komen
wijkomenkwamenzullen komen
julliekomenkwamenzullen komen
zijkomenkwamenzullen komen

The Dutch verb komen doesn’t just mean ‘to come’; it also can mean ‘to happen’, or ‘to be caused’.

Waarom valt alles altijd naar beneden? – Dat komt door de zwaartekracht. – Why does everything alway fall downwards? – That happens because of gravity.

9. zullen – should, shall

ikzalzouzal zullen
jijzult; zalzouzult zullen
hijzalzouzal zullen
wijzullenzoudenzullen zullen
julliezullenzoudenzullen zullen
zijzullenzoudenzullen zullen

Zullen is used with an infinitive to form the present tense of a verb. In the present tense, there are two conjugated forms for ‘you’, but neither is more common and both will be understood when you’re talking to other Dutch speakers.

10. denken – to think

ikdenkdachtzal denken
jijdenktdachtzult denken
hijdenktdachtzal denken
wijdenkendachtenzullen denken
julliedenkendachtenzullen denken
zijdenkendachtenzullen denken

If you want to say ‘to think of’ or ‘to think about’, then make sure to add the preposition aan before the object that is being thought of.

Waar denkt u aan? – What are you thinking about?

11. zien – to see

ikziezagzal zien
jijzietzagzult zien
hijzietzagzal zien
wijzienzagenzullen zien
julliezienzagenzullen zien
zijzienzagenzullen zien

In Belgium, the phrase graag zien means ‘to love (someone)’.

Ik zie u graag. – I love you.

12. laten – to let, to leave

iklaatlietzal laten
jijlaatlietzult laten
hijlaatlietzal laten
wijlatenlietenzullen laten
jullielatenlietenzullen laten
zijlatenlietenzullen laten

In Suriname, laten is also used to say ‘to leave someone’, as in to break up with a romantic partner.

13. worden – to become

ikwordwerdzal worden
jijwordtwerdzult worden
hijwordtwerdzal worden
wijwordenwerdenzullen worden
julliewordenwerdenzullen worden
zijwordenwerdenzullen worden

The verb worden is used to mean ‘to become’, but is also used to form the imperfect tense of the passive voice. The passive voice is when the subject is either omitted or the object is emphasised. For example: De muur werd geschilderd. – The wall was being painted.

If you are using the passive voice in the perfect tense (e.g. De muur is geschilderd. – The wall has been painted.), then you use the verb zijn.

14. leven – to live, to be alive

ikleefleefdezal leven
jijleeftleefdezult leven
hijleeftleefdezal leven
wijlevenleefdenzullen leven
jullielevenleefdenzullen leven
zijlevenleefdenzullen leven

The Dutch word leeftijd, meaning ‘age’, is made up of the root of leven (‘to live’) and tijd (‘time’).

15. kijken – to look

ikkijkkeekzal kijken
jijkijktkeekzult kijken
hijkijktkeekzal kijken
wijkijkenkekenzullen kijken
julliekijkenkekenzullen kijken
zijkijkenkekenzullen kijken

Want to say you’re looking ‘at’ something? Make sure to add the preposition naar before the object.

Ik kijk graag naar de sterrenhemel op een heldere nacht. – I like looking at the starry sky on a clear night.

16. zeggen – to say

ikzegzei; zegdezal zeggen
jijzegtzei; zegdezult zeggen
hijzegtzei; zegdezal zeggen
wijzeggenzeien; zegdenzullen zeggen
julliezeggenzeien; zegdenzullen zeggen
zijzeggenzeien; zegdenzullen zeggen

If you’re listening to someone speaking Dutch, then you might hear the words zeg maar. This is an expression used to show hesitation by the speaker, usually because they can’t find the right word to describe what they’re talking about. In English, we might say ‘you know’, ‘like’, or ‘let’s say’.

Ik voel me raar vandaag, zeg maar gewoon verdrietig. – I feel weird today, you know, just sad.

17. maken – to make

ikmaakmaaktezal maken
jijmaaktmaaktezult maken
hijmaaktmaaktezal maken
wijmakenmaaktenzullen maken
julliemakenmaaktenzullen maken
zijmakenmaaktenzullen maken

As well as ‘to make’, maken can also mean ‘to repair’, so you might see signs like: De Fietsenmaker, which means bicycle repair, not makers!

18. mogen – may, to be allowed

ikmagmochtzal mogen
jijmagmochtzult mogen
hijmagmochtzal mogen
wijmogenmochtenzullen mogen
julliemogenmochtenzullen mogen
zijmogenmochtenzullen mogen

Like zullen, moeten, and kunnenmogen is a modal verb, which means it is often used with an infinitive, like in English, e.g. We mogen toch komen. – We can come after all.

Mogen can also be used to say ‘to like’.

Iedereen mag hem. – Everybody likes him.

19. willen – to want (to), to wish

ikwilwou; wildezal willen
jijwiltwou; wildezult willen
hijwilwou; wildezal willen
wijwillenwouden; wildenzullen willen
julliewillenwouden; wildenzullen willen
zijwillenwouden; wildenzullen willen

Wou or wouden are the forms most often used in the past tense, but mostly in informal language. When speaking formally, wilde and wilden are preferred by many people, but wou and wouden are still recognised as correct standard Dutch.

20. zitten – to sit

ikzitzatzal zitten
jijzitzatzult zitten
hijzitzatzal zitten
wijzittenzatenzullen zitten
julliezittenzatenzullen zitten
zijzittenzatenzullen zitten

Although zitten means ‘to sit’, it can also be used in the sense of ‘to be placed’ or ‘to be located’.

Ik zit in de trein. – I am on the train (literally: I sit in the train).

Zitten is also used to express an action that is ongoing (e.g. I am watching versus I watch).

Terwijl jij rustig je tijd neemt, zit ik hier voor niets te wachten. – While you’re taking your time, I am waiting here for nothing.

What’s next?

Now you’ve learnt all about the 20 most common Dutch verbs, you should put them into practice! See how many crop up in your next conversation with a Dutch speaker, the next Dutch magazine you skim, or the next Dutch broadcast you listen to. You can also revisit the uTalk app and spot which phrases you’ve learnt include some of these key verbs.

But maybe you haven’t tried uTalk yet? Or you have, and your subscription has expired? Well – we have a little treat for you. Click this link and get 40% off your next subscription.

Happy language learning!

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