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Your Definitive Guide to Proper Afrikaans Sentence Structure

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Word order, or syntax, in any language is often a challenging thing to master, and Afrikaans is no exception. But once you’re familiar with the most basic Afrikaans sentence structure rules, you’ll find that the rest comes with less difficulty. At AfrikaansPod101.com, we know how to make it easy for you, so with a bit of effort, you’ll have Afrikaans word order under your belt in no time!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Structural Patterns in Languages
  2. Afrikaans Sentence Structure Rules
  3. STOMPI
  4. Explanation of the Sentence Elements in Sv1TOMPv2I
  5. More Examples of the Basic Afrikaans Sentence Structure: STOMPI
  6. Why AfrikaansPod101 is the Best Choice to Learn Afrikaans Sentence Structures!

1. Structural Patterns in Languages

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To briefly explain what we’re looking at: In linguistic typology as a field of study, the structural and functional features of all languages are studied and compared. 

Syntactic typology, dealing with the order, form, grammar, and choice of words, is a subset of this discipline, and is also the one we’re dealing with here. 

In the largest number of languages in the world, all of the simplest, most basic statement sentences have the following word order pattern:

1) Subject: I

2) Object: Afrikaans

3) Verb: study.

Or: “I Afrikaans study.” (Obviously, neither English nor Afrikaans follow this pattern!)

This Subject – Object – Verb (SOV) sentence pattern or word order gets used in languages such as Japanese,  Korean, Mongolian, Turkish, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, the Dravidian languages, and more.

Other structural patterns in language include:

  • Subject – Verb – Object (SVO)
  • Verb – Object – Subject (VOS) 

Many synthetic languages (including Latin, Greek, Persian, Romanian, Assyrian, Russian, Turkish, Korean, Japanese, Finnish, and Basque) have no strict word order. Rather, the sentence structure is flexible and reflects the practical aspects of what’s being said, according to Wikipedia.

In this sense, then, word order in Afrikaans follows the SVO pattern, meaning that the most basic statement sentence will always look like this:

1) Subject: Ek (I)

2) Verb: studeer (study)

3) Object: Afrikaans. (Afrikaans.)

Ek studeer Afrikaans. (“I study Afrikaans.”)

or

1) Subject: Ek (I)

2) Verb: hou (like)

3) Object: daarvan. (it.)

Ek hou daarvan. (“I like it.”)

If you can manage to remember this, you’ve covered a lot! Also, English follows the same pattern for many basic statement sentences.

Person Confused with Rules

2. Afrikaans Sentence Structure Rules

There’s only one rule concerning Afrikaans sentences – no matter the type of sentence, the first verb, or Verb 1, will always take the second place.

Except for two types of sentences: questions starting with a verb and commands.

Here are some samples. Notice the position of Verb 1.

Questions Starting with a Verb and Command Sentences

Question SentencesTranslationCommand SentencesTranslation
Eet die man vinnig?“Eats the man fast?” / “Does the man eat fast?”Eet vinniger!“Eat faster!”
Skenk hulle geld?“Donate they money?” / “Do they donate money?”Skenk die geld, asseblief.“Donate the money, please.”
Oefen jy jou Afrikaans? Lit. “Practice you your Afrikaans?” / “Do you practice your Afrikaans”Oefen nou jou Afrikaans.“Practice your Afrikaans now.”

Not too difficult, right? And it gets easier – all because of STOMPI.

3. STOMPI

Afrikaans sentence structure is most often illustrated with this acronym, which is very commonly used in language studies. If you’ve been studying Afrikaans sentence structure rules at all, then you’ve probably encountered the famous STOMPI by now. 

It stands for the different parts of the sentence:

Subject

Time

Object

Manner

Place

Infinitive

Note: A stompie in Afrikaans means “short” or “a little piece of.” We also use it to refer to a cigarette butt. Or a really short person. Cute, hey?

If this format seems to lack a thing or two, don’t worry. We use STOMPI because the word falls nicely on the tongue, making it easy to remember! But you’re right—where are the verbs in this format?

The complete format looks like this:

Subject

V1 – Verb 1 (Some call this the Invisible Verb 1!)

Time

Object

Manner

Place

V2 – Verb 2 (And this is the Invisible Verb 2.)

Infinitive

Note: Not all sentences contain all the elements. That would be a much-expanded sentence. However, the acronym is helpful because it shows you exactly where the elements belong, no matter which you use in your sentence.

4. Explanation of the Sentence Elements in Sv1TOMPv2I

Before we proceed to look at how STOMPI is employed in Afrikaans, let’s recap what the different elements mean.

1) SUBJECT:

  • The subject is what the sentence is all about.
  • It’s the answer to the question “Who?” or “What?”
  • The subject is usually found at the beginning of the sentence.

Types of Words Used: 

Nouns, proper nouns, pronouns, and articles.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

Lit: “The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

2) VERB 1:

  • It’s called “Verb 1” because it’s the first verb of the sentence.
  • All Verb 1s fall into one of two groups:
    • 1) Present Tense: Here, Verb 1 is the main and only verb in the sentence.
    • 2) Past and Future Tenses: Here, Verb 1 is always a helping verb or a hulpwerkwoord.

Samples of Afrikaans Helping Verbs: 

Past tenses: het, wou, sou, kon, moes (“have/has, would, could, should have”)

Future tenses: sal, wil, kan, moet (“shall, will, can, must”)

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

(No English translation for the simple past tense het.

Girl Playing a Computer Game

3) TIME:

  • This word or phrase is always the answer to the question “When?”

Types of Words/Phrases Used: 

Adverbs of time such as gister (“yesterday”); more (“tomorrow”); elke dag (“every day”); gewoonlik / (“usually”); oor tien minute / (“in ten minutes”); etc.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

4) OBJECT:

  • This word or phrase can be identified as the thing upon which the action (indicated by the verb) is transferred. For instance, in a sentence such as “The boy kicks the ball,” the ball is the object. This is because the boy is performing an action (kicking) on the ball. Or, the ball is the receiver of the action, so to speak.
  • Sometimes the subject and the object can look the same, depending on what voice is used: Passive or Active.

Types of Words/Phrases Used: 

Nouns, pronouns, and articles.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

5) MANNER:

  • This is the word or phrase that answers the question: “How?”
  • Manner words can have degrees of comparison (e.g. “hard – harder – hardest”).

Types of Words Used: 

This is always an adverb, as it describes Verb 1 or 2 (i.e. the action).

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

6) PLACE:

  • The word or clause you can answer the question “Where?” with is your place word.
  • The place word is always accompanied by a preposition (voorsetsel) such as in (“in”), agter (“behind”), voor (“in front” OR “ahead of”), oor (“over”), bo-op (“on top of”), onder (“under”), etc.

Types of Words Used: 

Prepositions + articles, pronouns, and nouns.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

7) VERB 2:

  • No present tense sentence contains a second verb.
  • Only the future and past tenses have a Verb 2, which is always the main verb.
  • In the past and some future tense sentences, this verb is always conjugated with the prefix ge.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.

“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

(Read about Afrikaans verb conjugation in this blog post!)

8) INFINITIVE:

  • The infinitive is always a phrase in Afrikaans, and it’s the easiest to identify. 
  • It answers the question “Why?” as it explains the reason for the action taken.

Types of Words Used: 

Always includes the words om te (“to”) in some way. In addition: articles, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs.

Example: 

Die kinders het altyd die rekenaarspeletjie luidrugtig in die kamer gespeel om te ontspan.“The children always played the computer game loudly in the room to relax.”

Verbs

Easy, isn’t it? Using the acronyms mentioned under A above, see if you can spot the sentence structure now. Then post it in the comments!

5. More Examples of the Basic Afrikaans Sentence Structure: STOMPI

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When you start sentences with different words, the basic Afrikaans sentence structure (and type!) is modified, but not a lot. In these columns, you should be able to see this very clearly.

Note, however, how Verb 1 is ALWAYS in the second place.

TENSESSubjectverb1TimeObjectMannerPlaceverb2Infinitives
STARTING WITH THE SUBJECT – Sv1TOMPv2I
PresentDie vlieënier


The pilot
vlieg



flies
elke dag



every day
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
in die lug



in the air
/



/
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
PastDie vlieënier


The pilot
het



/
elke dag



every day
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
in die lug



in the air
gevlieg



flew
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
FutureDie vlieënier


The pilot
sal



will
elke dag



every day
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
in die lug



in the air
vlieg



fly
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
TENSESTimeverb1SubjectObjectMannerPlaceverb2Infinitives
STARTING WITH THE TIME – Tv1SOMPv2I
PresentElke dag



Every day
vlieg



flies
die vlieënier


the pilot
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
in die lug



in the air
/



/
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
PastElke dag



Every day
het



/
die vlieënier


the pilot
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
hoog



high
gevlieg



flew
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
FutureElke dag



Every day
sal



will
die vlieënier


the pilot
met die vliegtuig


with the airplane
hoog



high
in die lug



in the air
vlieg



fly
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
TENSESObjectverb1SubjectTimeMannerPlaceverb2Infinitives
STARTING WITH THE OBJECT – Ov1STMPv2I
PresentDie vliegtuig

The airplane
word


is being
deur die vlieënier

by the pilot
elke dag


every day
hoog


high
in die lug


in the air
gevlieg


flown
Note: With this sample sentence, the particular infinitive phrase will be confusing!
PastDie vliegtuig

The airplane
was


has
deur die vlieënier

by the pilot
elke dag


every day
hoog


with the airplane
in die lug


in the air

gevlieg.


flown.
/


/
FutureDie vliegtuig

The airplane
sal



will
deur die vlieënier


by the pilot
elke dag



every day
hoog



with the airplane
in die lug



in the air
gevlieg word.


be flown.
/



/
TENSESMannerverb1SubjectTimeObjectPlaceverb2Infinitives
STARTING WITH THE MANNER – Mv1STOPv2I
PresentHoog



High
vlieg



flies
die vlieënier


the pilot
elke dag



every day
die vliegtuig


the airplane
in die lug



in the air
/



/
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
Past
Hoog



High
het



/
die vlieënier


the pilot
elke dag



every day
die vliegtuig


the airplane
in die lug



in the air
gevlieg



flew
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
FutureHoog



High
sal



will
die vlieënier


the pilot

elke dag



every day
die vliegtuig


the airplane
in die lug



in the air
in die lug



in the air
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
TENSESPlaceverb1SubjectTimeObjectMannerverb2Infinitives
STARTING WITH THE PLACE – Pv1STOMv2I
PresentIn die lug



In the air
vlieg



flies
die vlieënier


the pilot
elke dag



every day
die vliegtuig


the airplane
hoog



high
/



/
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
PastIn die lug



In the air
het



/

die vlieënier


the pilot
elke dag



every day
die vliegtuig


the airplane
hoog



high
gevlieg



flew
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
Future

In die lug



In the air
sal



will
die vlieënier


the pilot
elke dag



every day


die vliegtuig


the airplane

hoog



high
vlieg



fly
om sy werk te doen.

to do his job.
Pilot

6. Why AfrikaansPod101 is the Best Choice to Learn Afrikaans Sentence Structures!

We hope you enjoyed this article! Hopefully you feel more knowledgeable about Afrikaans sentence structure rules, and learned something you can use soon.

In fact, why not write out a simple Afrikaans sentence, using STOMPI and the tips you learned in this lesson? Come on, you know you can! Then share with us in the comments. 😀

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Upon signing up, you’ll immediately receive many free learning tools to help you master Afrikaans sentence structure with no hassle and only a bit of effort every day. 

These tools include:

1. An extensive vocabulary list section, regularly updated

2. A new Afrikaans word every day to memorize and use

3. Fast access to an invaluable Afrikaans Core 100 Word List

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary

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6. Tips on how to Crack the Afrikaans Writing System easily!
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