Dutch Word Order

This (probably temporary) page provides opportunity to discuss the WordOrder in the DutchLanguage. Please consult with AalbertTorsius before deletion. Discussion might be in Dutch (below the line).

Copied from WordOrder:

 "... dat ik melk drink." (SOV)                     -> "Ik drink melk." (SV2O[V])                   = "I drink milk." (SVO)
 "... dat ik melk zal moeten kunnen drinken." (SOV) -> "Ik zal melk moeten kunnen drinken." (SV2OV) = "I will have to be able to drink milk." (SVO)

Ah! And does Dutch have a specific word order?

1) Any infinitives in the very end of the sentence like in German?


An example: See above (second example). The difference with German is that the auxilaries need to go before the main verb instead of after it, so you have to rebuild the sentence if you want to add more.

2) What is the position of adjectives? Before the noun? Yes.

[OK So the system is similar to English then.

With latin languages the adjective comes after the noun; but certain adjectives come before the noun [like in French the adjective beau];

To make things even more complex certain adjectives come before or after the noun and their meaning is determined from their position

Ex: un grand homme: un homme grand means two different things; the first one: big in reputation, in accomplishments; the second tall) ar]

3) What if there are many adjectives. What is the order: the little red French car Like this.

4) Adverbs come after the verb I presume like in English (to talk fast) No, they come before the verb. Replace 'drink' with 'talk' and 'milk' with 'fast' in the above example and you've got it.

[So it would be: to fast talk, to slowly walk. Strange! In English and in all latin languages first comes the action (the verb) and then the degree of the action. Ex: He walks slowly --ar]

Keep in mind that this is affected by V2 as well.

 "...dat ik langzaam loop." (SAvV)             -> "Ik loop langzaam." (SV2Av[V])           = "I walk slowly." (SVAv)
 "...dat ik langzaam zal willen lopen." (SAvV) -> "Ik zal langzaam willen lopen." (SV2AvV) = "I will want to walk slowly." (SVAv)

5) Double complement verbs

[In English, 2 possibilities:

Ex: I gave my daughter a nice gift (more commonly used) (subject + dc verb + indirect object (my daughter) + direct object (a nice gift)

or I gave a nice gift to my daughter (subject + dc verb + direct object (a nice gift) + to + indirect object (my daughter)

And in Dutch, which construction? -- ar] Both.

Dutch is very much like German, but I'm no NativeSpeaker? of that language.

Dutch has (like German and probably like some other languages as well) something that is called 'V2' - the regular WordOrder is SOV, but in the main sentence (Dutch: hoofdzin), the flexed verb is moved to second position, as can be seen in the examples. --AalbertTorsius

also chose it because I believed I would ??

Aalbert, why does 'dat ik melk drink' determine the regular WordOrder, instead of 'ik drink melk'? I thought the latter should determine the WordOrder, just like in German.

Well, my linguistic knowledge is a bit rusty, but IIRC the former occurs a lot more in everyday spoken word. The V2-theory explains neatly what happens. Dutch can not be classified as SVO, because as you see even in the main sentence the majority of the verbs remains at the end of the sentence.

The same happens in German, but they're famous for stacking infinitives at the end of the sentence. Dutch has the same capabilities, but we just don't do it that much (cultural difference?). --AalbertTorsius.

Where does this fit in? A third word order:

"Hier drink ik melk." -- Adverb + VSO

Seems to me that this is V2 as well (see below). I even remember that the theory called for some sort of 'null' adverb, used with questions.

 "Hier drink ik melk." AvV2SO[V]
 "Hier heb ik melk gedronken." AvV2SOV
 "[null] Drink ik melk?" [Av]V2SO[V]

Interestingly (and somewhat orthogonally), Afrikaans has kept the word order (syntax) but lost the static typing (endings) in favor of a dynamic or implicit typing approach, e.g.

 "... dat ik melk drink." -> "dat ek melk drink"          
 "... dat ik melk zal moeten kunnen drinken." -> "dat ek melk sal moet kan drink"


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