Afrikaans Grammar - Verbs


There is no distinction for example between the infinitive and present forms of verbs, with the exception of these verbs:

infinitive form English present indicative form
wees be is
have het

In addition, verbs do not conjugate differently depending on the subject. For example,

Afrikaans Dutch English
ek is ik ben I am
jy/u is jij/U bent you are (sing.)
hy/sy/dit is hij/zij/het is he/she/it is
ons is wij zijn we are
julle is jullie zijn you are (plur.)
hulle is zij zijn they are

For most verbs, the preterite (e.g. I watched) has been completely replaced by the perfect (e.g. I have watched). The only common exceptions to this are the modal verbs (see the following table) and the verb wees "be" (preterite form was).

Modal verbs
present form preterite form
Afrikaans Dutch (3sg) English Afrikaans Dutch (3sg) English
kan kan can kon kon could
sal zal will/shall sou zou would/should
moet moet must moes moest had to
mag mag may mog (arch.) mocht was allowed to
wil wil want wou wilde / wou wanted

The following three full verbs also have (rarely used) preterite forms:

Afrikaans Dutch (3sg) English
present preterite present preterite
dink dag/dog denkt dacht think
het had heeft had have
weet wis weet wist know

Modern Afrikaans also lacks a pluperfect (e.g. I had watched). Instead, the pluperfect, like the preterite, is expressed using the perfect.

The perfect is constructed with the auxiliary verb het + past participle, which—except for the verb (past participle gehad), separable verbs such as reghelp (past participle reggehelp) and verbs with beginnings such as ver- and ont- (verkoop, ontmoet are both infinitive and past participle)—is formed regularly by adding the prefix ge- to the verb's infinitive/present form. For example,

Ek breek - I break
Ek het dit gebreek - I broke it, I have broken it, I had broken it

An object is necessary in this case, otherwise it implies that the person has broken.

The future tense is in turn indicated using the auxiliary sal + infinitive. For example,

Ek sal kom - I will come (or more closely I shall come)

The conditional is indicated by the preterite form sou + infinitive. For example,

Ek sou kom - I would come (or more closely I should come)

Like other Germanic languages, Afrikaans also has an analytic passive voice that is formed in the present tense by using the auxiliary verb word + past participle, and, in the past tense, by using the auxiliary is + past participle. For example,

Dit word gemaak - It is being made
Dit is (Dis) gemaak - It is made, It was made, It has been made (so it already exists)

Formal written Afrikaans also admits the construction of was gemaak to indicate passive voice in the pluperfect, which in this case corresponds to had been made. The meaning of the sentence can change based on which auxiliary verb is used(is/was), e.g. is gemaak implies that something has been made and is still in existence today, whereas was gemaak implies that something had been made, but was destroyed or lost.

Read more about this topic:  Afrikaans Grammar

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