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Intermediate level: cycle 4

Lesson 14 ~ Lesson 14

Naamwoorden van handeling ~ Verbal nouns |}

De vloedgolf van Atjeh.

Text 14-1 - De vloedgolf edit

Na de zware aardbeving in de Indische Oceaan en de erdoor veroorzaakte vloedgolf op de kust van Atjeh is zoals gevreesd het dodental nog steeds stijgend.

De verwoesting en het verlies aan mensenlevens is uitzonderlijk groot, vooral de sterfte onder kinderen.

De behoefte aan hulp van allerlei aard is enorm maar het uitvallen van vrijwel alle verbindingen is een grote hindernis voor een toereikende hulpverlening.

Translation • Lesson 14 • dialogue 14
As feared, the death toll is still on the rise after the severe earthquake in the Indian Ocean and the tsunami that was caused by it on the coast of Aceh. The destruction and the loss of human life is exceptionally large, especially the casualties amongst children. The demand for aid of all sorts is enormous but the interruption of practically all communication is a great obstacle to an adequate relief effort.
YOUR TURN - UW BEURT!! • Lesson 14 • waar of niet waar *
  1. De vloedgolf op de kust van Atjeh werd veroorzaakt door een storm
  2. Er stierven veel kinderen
  3. De hulpverlening werd zwaar gehinderd
  4. De aardbeving gebeurde in India
  5. De vloedgolf was nog steeds stijgend
  6. De hulp van allerlei aard was enorm
SOLUTION • Dutch/Lesson 14 • waar of niet waar *
  1. De vloedgolf op de kust van Atjeh werd veroorzaakt door een storm - niet waar: door een aardbeving
  2. Er stierven veel kinderen: waar: de sterfte was erg groot
  3. De hulpverlening werd zwaar gehinderd - waar, door het uitvallen van de verbindingen
  4. De aardbeving gebeurde in India - niet waar: in de Indische Oceaan
  5. De vloedgolf was nog steeds stijgend - niet waar: het dodental was stijgend
  6. De hulp van allerlei aard was enorm - niet waar: de behoefte aan hulp, niet de hulp

Verbal nouns edit

The -ing problem edit

In English the -ing form is used extensively for a number of rather different functions. Although Dutch also has an ending -ing it does not correspond to the English one in most situations:

  1. he is singing
    hij is aan het zingen
  2. he walked out of the room singing
    hij liep zingend de kamer uit
  3. singing is her profession
    zang is haar beroep

In the above examples singing is used as:

  1. part of the present continuous tense
  2. as a participle
  3. as a verbal noun (gerund).

In Dutch different nouns are used in these three cases none of which ends in -ing

Properly rendering -ing forms in Dutch may therefore present a bit of a problem for an English speaker.

Continuous tenses edit

In the strict sense Dutch does not have continuous times and in many cases where English uses them Dutch will use a simple present or past.

he was walking to school when he saw the UFO
hij liep naar school toen hij de vliegende schotel zag
hij was onderweg naar school toen hij de vliegende schotel zag

To emphasize continuity Dutch can use the infinitive as a neutral noun preceded by the preposition aan:

hij was aan het wandelen
he was going for a walk
zij waren aan het verhuizen
they were busy moving

Another common construction is to use an auxiliary verb like zitten,staan,liggen, lopen

de voetballer liep op de scheidsrechter te schelden.
the soccer player walked around fuming at the umpire.
ik zat te denken
I was just thinking (on my chair)

The "on my chair" or "on my feet" distinction is often of negligible importance and the verbs zitten, liggen etc. are used more or less interchangeably as auxiliaries of the continuous aspect.

Present participles edit

The present participle in Dutch is formed by adding -d(e) (not: -ing) to the infinitive:

lopen – lopend(e)
staan – staand

As in English it can be used as adjective:

flying saucer
vliegende schotel

But it is rarely used as a (static) predicate:

kinine is koortswerend
quinine has the property of abating fever

Using it in a continuous tense construction as in English sounds odd and rather ironic.

ach, was jij schrijvende?
roughly: Wow, did I catch you in writing mode?

Present participles are seldom used to initiate a clause as is common in English:

The second car moving at greater speed could not stop
De tweede auto die sneller reed kon niet stoppen
De tweede, sneller rijdende auto kon niet stoppen

Either the participle rijdend is used as a preceding adjective or it is avoided by paraphrase.

Gerunds edit

The term gerund is seldom used in Dutch grammar. One could argue that Dutch does not have one in the English sense of the word, despite the presence of a rich variety of verbal nouns.

First of all, in many cases Dutch uses the infinitive as a neutral noun where English uses a gerund in -ing and one could argue that this is the Dutch gerund:

addition and subtraction are the basis of arithmetic
optellen en aftrekken vormen de grondslag van het rekenen

There are subtle differences associated with the use or omission of the neutral article het, but the same holds in English:

singing is healthy – zingen is gezond
the singing finally ended – het zingen hield eindelijk op

There is typically no plural. In times past the word did get inflected -as Latin gerunds do-, e.g.:

Tot ziens! - See you!
Willens en wetens - Deliberately.
Een uur gaans - an hour on foot

This -s ending is an old genitive.

The genitive of the gerund actually enjoys a modicum of productivity is expressions with tot ... toe:

tot vervelens toe - until boredom resulted, ad nauseam
tot bloedens toe - until bleeding resulted
Mijn ziel is zeer bedroefd, tot stervens toe (Matthew 26:38) - until death.

Suffix -ing edit

Many Dutch verbs do form a (feminine) verbal noun in -ing, but it usually corresponds more to an English noun with (latinate) ending -ion than to a gerund with -ing:

deze aftrekking is niet juist
this subtraction is incorrect

Note that de aftrekking denotes a particular case of subtraction, where het aftrekken denotes the general process of subtracting

The formation of a verbal noun is -ing is quite common, particularly for verbs with prefixes like ver-, be-, af- etc. It is also a productive suffix, which means that newly formed verbs tend to form their verbal noun this way. It has a plural in -en:

zegening – zegeningen
blessing – blessings

However, the -ing form is certainly not as ubiquitous as in English where only a few verbs like can or must do not possess one. Not all Dutch verbs have an -ing form as there is a number of older ways to form verbal nouns, although most of them are no longer productive.

The -ing verbal noun is feminine and occurs frequently with "ter" (te + the old feminine dative der), which translates roughly into "in order to".

Hij besprak maatregelen ter verbetering daarvan - He discussed methods that could be used to improve that.

This process is still productive:

ter wikifiëring -- to be wikified

Interestingly, this means that even north of the Great Rivers feminine gender is not quite dead yet...

Verbal stems edit

Many strong verbs have a verbal noun based on the stem of the verb with ablaut (vowel change) and lack an -ing form:

helpen – de hulp
na drie dagen kwam er eindelijk hulp
after three days help finally arrived
wreken – de wraak:
wraak is zoet
revenge is sweet
zingen – de zang
hij studeert zang
he is studying voice

Notice that in these cases forms in -ing like *helping, *zinging do not exist in Dutch.

Sometimes the vowel does not change:

lopen – de loop
in de loop van het proces
in the course of the process

These nouns are typically common gender and often lack a plural, but this does not always hold. For example a weak verb like werken has het werk and a plural de werken

Other endings edit

Some verbs add -t or -st to the stem, a process not entirely unfamiliar in English:

vliegen – de vlucht – plural: de vluchten
to fly – the flight
telen – teelt (no plural)
cultivate – cultivation

At times, there is more than one verbal noun:

graven – graf – gracht (<graft 1600s)
to dig – grave – canal


graf – graven
gracht – grachten

After nasals -st is more common:

dienen – de dienst – plural: de diensten
to serve – service
komen – de komst – no plural
come – advent, arrival
vangen – de vangst
catch – catch
de vangst van kabeljauw bij de Canadese kust is gestaakt
cod fishing has been suspended off the coast of Canada

A few verbs have -te:

behoeven – de behoefte
need – need
baren – geboorte
give birth – birth

Plurals have -s: behoeftes, geboortes, sometimes also -n:

denken – gedachten, gedachtes
think – thought(s)

Other verbs have -nis, -enis or -tenis

kennen – kennis
to know – knowledge / acquaintance
gebeuren – gebeurtenis
to happen – event
bekennen – bekentenis
to confess – confession
hinderen – hindernis
to obstruct / bother – hindrance

Plurals get -sen:

kennissen (acquaintances), bekentenissen

In English this ending is more common after adjectives like bald(ness), good(ness). In Dutch this is rare:

sad – sadness
droef – droefenis

Usually Dutch has -heid in such cases: droefheid

Dutch also has latinate endings—as English does—that sometimes compete with the Germanic ones:

The Latin -tio(n) ending is -tie in Dutch and usually pronounced as [tsi] or [si] ('see')

communiceren – communicatie
communicate – communication


archiveren – archivering
to archive – archiving

Prefix ge- edit

Another way to form a verbal noun is to add ge- to a stem. It forms a neuter noun from verbs without prefixes.

vallen – het geval – de gevallen
to fall – the case
missen – het gemis - (no plural)
to miss – the lack, missing
spreken – het gesprek – de gesprekken
to speak – the conversation
voelen – het gevoel – de gevoelens
to feel – the feeling

This type is still productive, at least for verbs that do not carry prefixes. Newly formed nouns carry the connotation of annoying repetition and they usually have no plural:

dat onophoudelijk geblaf moet afgelopen zijn!
enough of that incessant barking!
hij viel op het toneel: gelach en boegeroep in het publiek...
he fell on stage: laughter and boos in the audience...
wat een gedoe!
what a hassle!

Notice the difference with the past participle:

gelach – gelachen
laughing,laughter – laughed

Verbal nouns with ge- tend to have a dysphemic connotation and some are better avoided by a non-native speaker:

gezeur, geëtter, gezeik, gezwam (all ~ bull s#$t)
zeuren – to nag
etter – puss
zeik – urine (four letters..)
zwam – fungus

Subjects and objects edit

As in English the -er suffix denotes the subject of the verb:

geven – gever
to give – giver

As in English the plural is in -s: gevers.

There usually is a feminine version in -ster as well, although under feminist influence it is under considerable pressure especially for functions in society:

voorzitten – voorzitter – voorzitster
to chair a meeting – chairman – chairwoman

Voorzitter is increasingly used, regardless the gender of the chairperson.

There are other feminine endings, e.g. -eres: (plural -eressen)

zingen – zanger – zangeres
to sing – singer (m) – singer (f)

There is also an infrequent -sel suffix indicating an object, e.g.:

scheppen – schepping - schepper - schepsel
to create – creation - creator – creature

Note that in this case English has completely shifted to Latin roots and endings where Dutch has remained faithful to its Germanic roots altogether, at least in religious context. Otherwise creation is often creatie.

The number and type of available verbal nouns differs from verb to verb.

Verbal adjectives edit

Apart from the two participles the verb can form various adjectives as it can in English. One suffix that corresponds to the English latinate ending -able is -baar:

verstaan – verstaanbaar
understand – understandable

Another suffix -heid (cf. English -hood) can be added to turn the adjective into a (feminine) noun:

danken – dankbaar – dankbaarheid
to thank – grateful – gratitude

The -heid suffix (plural -heden) can also be used behind participles.

bergen - geborgen – geborgenheid
to secure – secured, safe – feeling at ease
opletten – oplettend – oplettendheid
to wacht out – attentive – attention

There is also a suffix -elijk , cognate with -ly. (The 'ij' is usually pronounced as a schwa.)

bewerken – bewerkelijk
to process -requiring much work
sterven – sterfelijk - sterfelijkheid
to die – mortal - mortality

Exercise 14 edit

YOUR TURN - UW BEURT!! • Lesson 14 • Verbal nouns

In the above text identify all verbal nouns and adjectives and the verbs they derive from.

SOLUTION • Dutch/Lesson 14 • Verbal nouns
aard (earth)+ beven (quiver, shake) + -ing
veroorzaken (to cause) past participle
vloed-: (flood) verbal noun of vlieden (to flow)
vrezen (to fear) past participle
stijgen (to rise) present participle exceptionally used as predicate.
verwoesten (devastate) + -ing
verliezen stem-noun (to lose)
uitzonderen (to except) + -lijk
sterven (to die) +te, death toll
behoeven (to need) + -te
helpen (to help) stem + ablaut
infinitive (drop out, stop functioning)
verbinden (to connect) + -ing plural
hinderen (to impede) +-nis
toereiken (to reach, to be sufficient) present participle
hulp (see above) + verlenen (to lend) + -ing