Afrikaans/Lesson 02

Afrikaans Les Twee: Descriptions

Definite and Indefinite ArticlesEdit


Many languages will give words grammatical gender, but this is not the case for Afrikaans, just like English, there is no gender and thus nouns have no classification.


In English we use the word "the" to point out a specific thing. If someone says, "I ate all of the cake", they aren't referring to any cake, it's a specific one. Afrikaans has the same thing. In Afrikaans this word is "die", and just like in English, it can be used for the singular and the plural.

English: the dogs, the tree, the walls

Afrikaans: die honde, die boom, die mure.


The Afrikaans word for "a" or "an" is " 'n". This is called the indefinite article because it means one thing, but it cannot refer to a specific thing such as in the sentence "I ate a cake". This could be any cake. 'n Is always written with an apostrophe (') and is never capitalized, even if it starts a sentence. If it starts a sentence, then the first letter of the following word gets capitalized.

Forming QuestionsEdit

There are two main ways of forming question words: by starting out with a question word (What language are you learning?) or by turning a statement into a question (You are learning Afrikaans becomes Are you learning Afrikaans?).

Question WordsEdit

English Afrikaans
what wat
who wie
whose wie se
why hoekom / waarom
where waar
when wanneer
which watter
how hoe
how much/many hoeveel

When making simple sentences, these questions will have question word-verb-object word order.

  • English: Who is the president of South Africa?
  • Afrikaans: Wie is die president van Suid-Afrika?
  • English: Where do you live?
  • Afrikaans: Waar woon jy?

Questions Beginning with VerbsEdit

Often we ask questions that don't start with question words, but with verbs. Afrikaans does this too. The difference in word order: in English we say "Do you write letters?" but in Afrikaans it would read "Write you letters?". The verb comes first, followed by the subject, than the object. It is important to remember however that word order will change when we add more complex elements.

  • English: Do you smoke cigars?
  • Afrikaans: Rook julle sigare?


When adjectives are used with the verb wees ("She is sick", "He is blonde") you can use the form of the adjective you'll find in the dictionary. However, when an adjective is directly modifying a noun (as in "She is a sick girl", "He has blonde hair") their form usually alter somewhat. This change is called inflection. As a general rule, polysyllabic adjectives are normally inflected; monosyllabic adjectives may or may not be inflected though, depending mostly on a set of rather complex phonological rules. When an adjective is inflected, it usually takes the ending -e and a series of morphological changes may result. For example, the final t following an /x/ sound, which disappears in uninflected adjectives like reg, is restored when the adjective is inflected (regte). A similar phenomenon applies to the addition of t after /s/. For example, the adjective vas becomes vaste when inflected. Conversely, adjectives ending in -d (pronounced /t/) or -g (pronounced /x/) following a long vowel or diphthong, lose the -d and -g when inflected.

Adjectives come before nouns, like in English.

English Afrikaans
Uninflected Inflected
black swart swarte
fast vinnig vinnige
deaf doof dowe
cold koud koue
low laag lae
high hoog hoë
Adjectives ending in a 'g' — add a 'te'
bad sleg slegte
Adjectives ending in 'f' — change it to two 'w's
silly laf lawwe
good goed goeie
old oud ou, oue
new nuut nuwe

Possessive PronounsEdit

  • "mine" – "myne"
  • "yours" (singular)- "jou" or "u" (joune?)
  • "his" – "sy"
  • "her" – "haar"
  • "our" – "ons" (onse?)
  • "yours" (plural) – "julle"
  • "their" – "hulle"

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