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Archive for the 'Afrikaans Grammar' Category

Your Easy Guide to Understanding Afrikaans Grammar

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Before we delve into this Afrikaans grammar guide, let’s get this out of our systems: Grammar in any language is a strange bird. Look at this joke in English, for instance:

Question: What is the longest sentence in the English language? 
Answer: “I do.”

Did you get it? If you didn’t and you’re an AfrikaansPod101 Premium PLUS student already, why not ask your tutor?

Male Hands in Handcuffs

If you’re not a member (or a punster), let me explain. “Sentence” means two things in English. This is how the online dictionary defines it:

A “sentence” is:

1. a set of words in most languages that is complete in itself, usually containing a subject and a clause that states something about the subject (A clause is a phrase or a part of a sentence.)

2. the punishment assigned to a defendant found guilty by a court, or fixed by law for a specific offence

Punning is the art of using an alternate meaning of a word in a comical way. This joke would not be funny if you didn’t know the second meaning of “sentence.”

But that’s not all—context is important too. So how does “I do” relate to a long prison sentence? Well, it’s simple, because there’s only one place where you would commonly use those words in relation to a lengthy commitment. Fortunately not for all, but for some, that’s marriage!

Male and Female Hands Together, Showing Wedding Bands

Yes, it’s not simple. Some students compare grammar to math and music studies—quite complex! So, for your convenience, we’ve compiled this free online Afrikaans language grammar guide. Study these principles thoroughly and you will get well ahead on your journey to learn Afrikaans.

Context can only be understood if you know a country’s culture and language well. For this, you’ll need to have the basics of the language’s grammar under your belt! 

The grammar of most languages can be subdivided and explained under two headings: lexicology and syntax.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Afrikaans Grammar: “Lexicology” / Woordleer
  2. Afrikaans Grammar: “Syntax” / Sintaksis
  3. AfrikaansPod101 – Your Excellent Afrikaans Grammar Companion!

1. Afrikaans Grammar: “Lexicology” / Woordleer 

Afrikaans is a West-Germanic language, very closely related to Dutch. These are the basics of its lexicological complexities.

1.1 “NOUN” / NAAMWOORD

DefinitionJust like in English, a naamwoord most often indicates something you can perceive with any one of your senses. These also include abstract things.
How to IdentifyTo spot a noun, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use it with an article, or lidwoord, such as ‘n (“a”) or die (“the”)? 

b) Does it have a plural form?

c) Can I turn it into a diminutive?

If you answer yes to these questions, then it’s a noun!
ExamplesJust like English nouns, Afrikaans nouns decline for number. Different from English, they also inflect for diminutives.

‘n rok / “a dress”
‘n rokkie / “a little dress”
die rokke / “the dresses”
Main Sub-categories
  • Soortnaam / “Appellative” or “Common/concrete noun”

    These are things you can count, such as: stoel (“chair”), Arabier (“Arab”),  waterdruppels (“water drops”), motorkar (“motor car”).

  • Abstrakte naamwoord / “Abstract noun”

    These include abstract things you cannot touch, such as: liefde (“love”), gedagte (“thought”), ideologie (“ideology”).

  • Massanaam / “Uncountable/mass noun”

    These are things you cannot count, such as: goud (“gold”), water (“water”), musiek (“music”), or hout (“wood”).

  • Maatnaam / “Noun of measurement”

    These are words that indicate the measured amount of a mass noun, such as: kilogram goud (“kilogram gold”), druppel water (“drop of water”), sakvol hout (“bagful of wood”).

  • Eienaam / “Proper noun”

    An eienaam can be the name of a specific person, place, publication, organization, brand, and so forth. These sometimes don’t take plural forms, and they can be categorized as: persoonsnaam (“personal names”), pleknaam (“name of a place”), organisasienaam (“name of an organization”), and so on.

  • Kollektiewe selfstandige naamwoord / “Collective noun”

    These nouns represent groups, such as: gehoor (“audience”), koor (“choir”), span (“team”).

  • Saamgestelde selfstandige naamwoord / “Compound noun”

    These are made up of two or more nouns, such as: waterbottel (“water bottle”), seekos (“seafood”), roomys (“ice cream”).

  • Werkwoordelike selfstandige naamwoord / “Verbal noun” 

    These nouns are derived from verbs, such as: die besluit (“the decision”), ‘n aanval (“an attack”), ‘n gebou (“a building”).

Water Droplets on Wood

WATERDRUPPELS OP HOUT (“WATER DROPS ON WOOD”)

1.2 “VERB” / WERKWOORD

DefinitionVerbs usually depict some sort of action, including abstract actions.
How to IdentifyTo identify a verb, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use a pronoun, such as “he,” “she,” or “we” (hy, sy, or ons), in front of it? Or, in other words, can someone or something perform this action?

b) Can it take a past tense form?
ExamplesAfrikaans verbs conjugate for tense, mood, and voice, but not for noun, pronoun, or number. So, we don’t worry about subject-verb agreement in Afrikaans. 

Here, we’ll discuss only the basics of tense conjugation. For more details, take a look at this article: All About Verb Conjugation in Afrikaans.
    Present Tense: Unlike English verbs, Afrikaans verbs conjugate exactly the same way for every pronoun and number in the present tense.

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy vlieg. (“He / She flies.”)
    Ons lag. (“We laugh.”)
    Julle bly. (“You stay/remain.”)
    Die honde blaf. (“The dogs bark.”)
    Past Tense: Afrikaans verbs typically conjugate with an auxiliary verb of time: het (“have” / “has”), which is used in front of a deelwoord (“past participle”). The latter is formed by adding the prefix ge- to the infinitive verb. Again, this conjugation remains the same for all of the pronouns.

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy het gevlieg. (“He / She flew.”) OR (“He / She has flown.”)
    Ons het gelag. (“We laughed.”) OR (“We have laughed.”)
    Julle het gebly. (“You stayed/remained.”) OR (“You have stayed/remained.”)
    Die honde het geblaf. (“The dogs barked.”) OR (“The dogs have barked.”)

    Future Tense: For the future tense, the auxiliary verb of modality (also called a modal verb) sal is used the same way as “will” (i.e., with the infinitive verb).

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy sal vlieg. (“He / She will fly.”)
    Ons sal lag. (“We will laugh.”)
    Julle sal bly. (“You will stay/remain.”)
    Die honde sal blaf. (“The dogs will/would bark.”)
    Historic Present Tense: This tense is sometimes used to describe something that happened in the past, but the verb remains in the present tense. Then we use the word toe (approximate: “when”).

    Example:
    Toe ek opstaan, glimlag hy vir my. (Lit. “When I stand up, he smiles at me.”) 

    It would not be incorrect to change it to the past tense, though.
Main Sub-categories
  • Oorganklike hoofwerkwoord / “Transitive main verb” 

    These verbs are identified when there is an object in the sentence. 

    Example:
    Hy drink koffie. (“He drinks coffee”). 
    “Coffee” is the object.

  • Onoorganklike hoofwerkwoord / “Intransitive main verb”

    These verbs are identified when there’s no object in the sentence. 

    Example:
    Ons slaap. (“We sleep.”)
    Sy lag spontaan. (“She laughs spontaneously.”) 

    Note: spontaan (“spontaneously”) is an adverb.

  • Hulpwerkwoorde / Lit: “Helping Verbs”

    These include two types of auxiliary verbs: the auxiliary verb of time het (“has”) and auxiliary words of modality, or modale hulpwerkwoorde. The latter category includes: sal, wil, moet, and probeer (“shall,” “will,” “must,” and “try”). 

    Example:
      Present: Die honde probeer blaf. (“The dogs try to bark.”)
      Past: Sy het gevlieg. (“She flew.”) / Ons het gelag. (“We laughed.”).
        ♦ Note: het is an auxiliary verb of time.
      Future: Julle sal bly. (Lit.: “You shall stay.”)
        ♦ Note: sal is not considered an auxiliary verb of time, but rather one of modality.

  • Koppelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs 1”

    In Afrikaans, we differentiate between two types of linking verbs. 

    Koppelwerkwoorde link the subject to a quality. Again, these remain unchanged for every pronoun and number. 

    Example:
      Present: Sy is mooi. (“She is pretty.”) / Ons is moeg. / (“We are tired.”)
      Past: Sy was mooi. (“She was pretty.”) / Ons was moeg gewees. (“We were tired.”)
        ♦ Note: gewees can be omitted for the past tense.
      Future: Sy sal mooi wees. (“She will be pretty.”) / Ons sal moeg wees. (“We will be tired.”)
        ♦ Note: the auxiliary verb wees is never omitted for the future tense.

  • Skakelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs 2”

    The second type of linking verb usually links auxiliary verbs with main verbs.

    Example:
      Past: Sy het net gelag. (“She just laughed.”)
      Future: Julle sal kom bly. (Lit.: “You will come stay.”)

A Woman Laughing

SY HET NET GELAG (“SHE JUST LAUGHED”)

1.3 “ADJECTIVE” / BYVOEGLIKE NAAMWOORD or ADJEKTIEF

DefinitionThese types of words modify or describe nouns.
How to IdentifyTo identify an adjective, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use the word in front of a noun?

b) Will it still say something about the noun if I use it after a linking verb (koppelwerkwoord)?

c) Does the word have degrees of comparison?
Examples1. In front of a noun: ‘n Gelukkige man (“a happy man”) / ‘n Opgewonde kind (“an excited child”)

2. After a linking verb / koppelwerkwoord: Hy is gelukkig. (“He is happy.”) / Die kind is opgewonde. (“The child is excited.”)

3. Degrees of comparison: Gelukkig, gelukkiger, gelukkigste (“Happy, happier, happiest”) / Opgewonde, meer opgewonde, die mees opgewonde (“Excited, more excited, the most excited”)
Main Sub-categoriesLike in English, there are two types of adjectives. The classification is based on their position in a sentence relative to the noun.
  • Attributief / “Attributive” – The attributiewe byvoeglike naamwoord (“attributive adjective”) stands in front of the noun.

    Example:
      Die mooi vrou (“The pretty woman”)

  • Predikatief / “Predicative” – Usually, the predikatiewe byvoeglike naamwoord (“predicative adjective”) stands after the koppelwerkwoord (“linking verb”).

    Example:
      Die vrou is gelukkig. (“The woman is happy.”)
Of course, you can use both types in the same sentence: Die mooi vrou is gelukkig. (“The pretty woman is happy.”)

Pretty Woman Laughing

DIE MOOI VROU IS GELUKKIG. (“THE PRETTY WOMAN IS HAPPY”)

1.4 “ADVERB” / BYWOORD

DefinitionThe adverb describes the verb or verbal clause in a sentence.
How to IdentifyWhich word says something about what happens or what is being done? The adverb should answer questions such as, “How?” “When?” “Where?” or “How much?”

Some adverbs have degrees of comparison.
Examples
  • Ons baklei nooit. (“We never fight.”)
  • Die kinders speel buite. (“The children play outside.”)
  • Sy ma is baie oud. (“His mom is very old.”)
Main Sub-categoriesAs you probably noticed in the examples, there are several types of adverbs. Following are the four main categories:
  • Bywoorde van tyd / “Adverbs of time”
    • gister, vandag, more (“yesterday,” “today,” “tomorrow”)
    • Example: Jou pakkie kom vandag. (Lit.: “Your parcel arrives today.”)

  • Bywoorde van plek / “Adverbs of place”
    • daar, hier (“there,” “here”)
    • Example: Die potplant staan hier. (“The potted plant stands here.”)

  • Bywoorde van graad / “Adverbs of degree”
    • ver, lank, werklik, baie (“far,” “long,” “really,” “very”)
    • Example: Die pad was lank. (“The road was long.”)

  • Bywoorde van wyse / “Adverbs of manner”
    • vinnig, stadig, hoog, hard (“fast,” “slow,” “high,” “hard”)
    • Example: Sy werk hard. (“She is working hard.”)

Tarred Road with Mountain on Background

DIE PAD WAS LANK. (“THE ROAD WAS LONG”)

1.5 “PRONOUN” / VOORNAAMWOORD

DefinitionA pronoun is a word that acts as a replacement for a noun in a sentence.
How to IdentifyAsk this question:

Can the word stand in place of the noun? In other words, does it refer to a person or a thing?
Examplesek, jy, hy, ons, dit, niemand, wie, hierdie, daardie (“I,” “you,” “he,” “we/us,” “it,” “nobody,” “who,” “this,” “that”)
Main Sub-categories
  • Persoonlike voornaamwoorde / “Personal pronouns”
    • Hy, sy, julle, ons (“he,” “she,” “you [plural],” “we”)
    • Example: Hy eet. (“He eats.”)

  • Onpersoonlike voornaamwoord / “Impersonal pronoun”
    • dit (“it”)
    • Example: Dit staan in die straat. (“It is standing in the street.”)

  • Besitlike voornaamwoorde / “Possessive pronouns”
    • Syne, hare, joune (“his,” “hers,” “yours”)
    • Example: Die tas is syne. (“The suitcase is his.”)

  • Vraende voornaamwoorde / “Interrogative pronouns”
    • Wie, wat, waar, wanneer (“who,” “what,” “where,” “when”)
    • Example: Wie is hierdie? (“Who is this?”)

  • Aanwysende voornaamwoorde / “Demonstrative pronouns”
    • Hierdie/dié, daardie (“this,” “that”). These function as determiners of the nouns.
    • Example: Hierdie is lekker. (“This is tasty.”)

  • Onbepaalde voornaamwoorde / “Indefinite pronouns”
    • Niemand, menige (“nobody,” “many”)
    • Example: Menige het opgedaag. (“Many came.”)

  • Betreklike voornaamwoord / “Relative pronouns”
    • Wie se, wie, wat (“whose,” “who,” “that”)
    • Example: Die vliegtuig wat nou opstyg is groot. (“The plane that is taking off now is large.”)

  • Wederkerige voornaamwoorde / “Intensive pronouns”
    • Myself, jouself, onsself (“myself,” “yourself,” “ourselves”)
    • Example: Jy vergeet van jouself op die verhoog. (“You forget yourself on stage.”)
    • Note: In sentences with these pronouns, the subject and the object are referring to the same person.

  • Wederkerende voornaamwoord / “Reciprocal pronoun”
    • Mekaar (“each other” / “one another”)
    • Example: Hulle het mekaar lief. (“They love each other.”)
    • Note: In sentences with this pronoun, the subject and the object are not referring to the same person.

A Couple Laughing at a Table

HULLE HET MEKAAR LIEF. (“THEY LOVE EACH OTHER.”)

1.6  “PREPOSITION” / VOORSETSEL

DefinitionPrepositions show a relationship between an object and another element in the sentence. It usually precedes the object of the sentence (which is a noun, a pronoun, or a clause/phrase with either). Prepositions indicate time or location, or introduce an object.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself if you can add an article and/or a noun after a voorsetsel (“preposition”).
Examplesonderaan, langs, agter, by, vir (“underneath,” “next to,” “behind,” “by,” “for”)
Main Sub-categoriesThere are three main types of prepositions.
  • Preposition of Time:
    • teen, voor, na, vandat, vanaf (“by,” “before,” “after,” “since,” “from”)
    • Example: Teen middagete was almal honger. (“By lunchtime everyone was hungry.”).

  • Preposition of Location:
    • op, teen, agter, bo-op, onder, binne in, van (“on,” “against,” “behind,” “on top of,” “under,” “right inside,” “from”). It is usually followed by an article and a noun, except in the case of proper nouns.
    • Example: Hulle is op die strand. (“They are on the beach.”) / Man van Atlantis (“Man from Atlantis”)

  • Preposition Introducing an Object:
    • vir, teenoor (“for/at,” “towards”)
    • Example: Ons lag vir die komediant. (“We laugh at the comedian.”)
Note: A common mistake is to label en (“and”) a preposition. “And” is a conjunction, because it joins words, phrases, and clauses. 

A Rear View of Couple Sitting on Deck Chairs on the Beach

HULLE IS OP DIE STRAND. (“THEY ARE ON THE BEACH.”)

1.7 “ARTICLE” / LIDWOORD

DefinitionArticles are short words that define nouns as nonspecific or specific. They are determiners that modify nouns.
How to IdentifyThere are only two articles in both English and Afrikaans: ‘n (“a”) and die (“the”). 
Examples‘n rekenaar (“a computer”)
die neef (“the cousin”)
Main Sub-categoriesTwo types of articles can be discerned:
  • Bepaalde lidwoord / “Definite article”
    • die (“the”) – This article modifies the noun to indicate only one, specific thing.
    • Example: Koop die rok maar nie die skoene nie. (“Buy the dress but not the shoes.”)

  • Onbepaalde lidwoord / “Indefinite article”
    • ‘n (“a”) – This article modifies the noun to indicate something general and non-specific.
    • Example: Dra ‘n rok, enige rok. (“Wear a dress, any dress.”)

Woman in Long Red Dress

DRA ‘N ROK, ENIGE ROK. (“WEAR A DRESS, ANY DRESS.”)

1.8 “CONJUNCTION” / VOEGWOORD

DefinitionA conjunction links words, phrases, and clauses, or ideas and thoughts—both literally, and in meaning.
How to IdentifyDepending on the conjunction, you could ask yourself this question: 

Can I discern two independent sentences by removing the conjunction?
ExamplesJan slaap terwyl ons werk. (“John sleeps while we work.”)
Patricia en Lukas was by die begrafnis. (“Patricia and Lukas were at the funeral.”)
Main Sub-categoriesUnlike in English, which categorizes conjunctions into three groups, Afrikaans categorizes them into only two groups. Some voegwoorde fall into both categories.

1. Neweskikkende voegwoord / “Coordinating conjunction”

These conjunctions join independent clauses, which are phrases that can function as sentences and still make sense when you remove the conjunctions. These conjunctions include: en, maar, want, of, dog, terwyl (“and,” “but,” “because,” “or,” “yet,” “while”).

Example: Hy slaap en ons werk. (“He sleeps and we work.”)

2. Onderskikkende voegwoord / “Subordinating conjunction”

This type of conjunction only joins dependent clauses. These are clauses that cannot function as a sentence, nor do they make sense when you remove the conjunction. These conjunctions include: hoewel, omdat, terwyl (“however/though,” “because,” “while”).

Example: Terwyl hy slaap, werk. (Lit.: “Though he sleeping was, were we working.”)

Sleeping Man

HY SLAAP EN ONS WERK. (“HE SLEEPS AND WE WORK.”)

1.9 “PARTICLE” / PARTIKEL

DefinitionParticles are short auxiliary words or parts of words that have no semantic meaning on their own. They modify nouns and verbs for negation, possession, comparison, etc.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself questions pertaining to the categories. For example: 

Is the word used to indicate negation? Is it used to indicate possession?
Examplesso…soos (“as”)
nie…nie (“not”)
se / (” ‘s “) – genitive
van (“of”)
Main Sub-categoriesMany of the following Afrikaans partikels are found in English, even though English doesn’t necessarily categorize them as such.
  • Ontkenningspartikel l “Negative particle”

    Afrikaans is known for its system of so-called double negation. It involves using the particle nie (“not”) twice to indicate negation. The two particles usually flank nouns, clauses, or phrases.

    Example: Ek is nie moeg nie. (“I am not tired.”) 

    The first nie is also an adverbial preposition.

  • Besitspartikel / “Genitive particle”

    These particles indicate possession, and include se and van (“genitive ‘s” and “of”).

    Example: Kieran se meisie is mooi. (“Kieran’s girlfriend is pretty.”) / Die meisie van Kieran is mooi. (“The girlfriend of Kieran is pretty.”)

  • Vergelykingspartikel / “Comparison”

    So…soos (“as…as”) are labeled specifically as particles in Afrikaans, and indicate a comparison between two things or ideas.

    Example: so vars soos ‘n oggendbries (“as fresh as a morning breeze”)

  • Deelpartikel / “Preposition”

    The preposition van (“of”) links words and phrases that indicate possession. 

    Example: Sewe van die nege vrouens is blond. (“Seven of the nine women are blond.”)

  • Infinitiefpartikel / “Infinitive particle”

    Om…te (“to + infinitive”) is always used with the base form of a verb to indicate the infinitive.

    Example: Hy sukkel om te loop. (“He struggles to walk.”) / Die kat is gelukkig om hierdie kos te eet. (“The cat is happy to eat this food.”)

  • Werkwoordpartikel / “Verb particle”

    These include op, af, uit, weg (“up,” “down,” “out,” “away”). Like in English, this particle modifies the verb.

    Example: Eet jou kos op. (“Eat up your food.”) / Hulle breek weg van die groep. (“They break away from the group.”) / Sy het haar kêrel afgesê. (“She broke up with her boyfriend.”) 

    Note: Uitmaak and its translation “made out” mean the exact opposite. In Afrikaans, it means that a couple plans to break up their relationship when you say: Hulle gaan uitmaak. However, in the translation “They will make out,” “making out” is an euphemism for sexual intercourse.

  • Graadpartikel / “Adverb particle”

    The particle te (“too”) modifies the verb to indicate excess. 

    Example: Dis te warm in die woestyn. (“It’s too hot in the desert.”)

Desert Dunes

DIS TE WARM IN DIE WOESTYN. (“IT’S TOO HOT IN THE DESERT.”)

1.10 “NUMBER WORDS” / TELWOORDE

DefinitionThese words indicate numbers or an amount.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself these questions:

a) Can I symbolize the word with numbers, like 1,2,3…? (With the exception of onbepaalde hooftelwoorde [“indefinite pronouns”].)

b) Can I turn the word into a rangtelwoord (i.e. ordinal number)?

c) Is it impossible to grade the word? (Number words cannot be expressed in grades. We cannot say, for instance, “one-er” or “one-est.” “One” is and can only be that—a single thing!)

d) Is this word indispensable in its modification of the noun? (A noun in a sentence will still “work” if adjectives are removed. However, most often, determiners such as numbers are indispensable to the meaning of the noun.)
Exampleself (“eleven”)
twee-en-twintig (“twenty-two”)
tiende (“tenth”)
massas (“masses”)
Main Sub-categoriesAll number words function as determiners of nouns (and not as adjectives).
  • Bepaalde hooftelwoord / Lit: “Definite cardinal-number word”

    These words denote quantity: een, twee, drie (“one,” “two,” “three”).

  • Onbepaalde hooftelwoord / Lit: “Indefinite cardinal-number word”

    These are also indefinite pronouns: hordes, massas, talle (“hordes,” “masses,” “many/countless”).

  • Bepaalde rangtelwoord / Lit: “Definite ordinal-number word”

    These words indicate rank: eerste, tweede, derde (“first,” “second,” “third”).

  • Onbepaalde rangtelwoord / Lit: “Indefinite ordinal-number word”

    laaste, soveelste (“last,” “umpteenth”)

1.11 “INTERJECTIONS” / TUSSENWERPSELS

DefinitionAn interjection is an utterance or exclamation that conveys a certain meaning or emotion.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself if the word can:
  • stand alone in a sentence, and
  • be followed by an exclamation mark.
There are some common interjections in every language, such as “Wow!”, and these are easily understood. However, every language also has culture-specific interjections, with nuances that won’t be easily discerned by a non-native speaker. It’s also difficult to describe their meaning to a non-native. Only by regularly practicing your Afrikaans with natives could you gain the subtler meanings of some interjections. (Others you may never fully understand!)
Examples
  • Eina! (“Ouch!”)
  • Sjoe! (Approximate: “Wow!”) This is commonly used in any situation that inspires awe.
  • Aitsa! (Approximate: “Wow! That’s great!”) This is used only if you’re impressed by something, usually positive. 
  • Haai?! (Approximate: “Huh?!”)
  • Siestog / Foeitog (Approximate: “It’s a shame”)
  • Awê (“Hi there”)
  • Aikona (“No”)
Main Sub-categoriesNone.

Woman Looking Amazed

SJOE! (“WOW!”)

Got it? Probably not, but don’t despair. No valuable discipline is ever gained overnight! 

Now let’s move on to the next point of basic Afrikaans grammar: how Afrikaans words get strung together into sentences.

2. Afrikaans Grammar: “Syntax” / Sintaksis

Syntax, which is the basic grammatical structure of sentences, can be a gruellingly complex subject in any language. Correct Afrikaans grammar largely depends on your ability to form sentences according to the proper structures and rules. However, the basics are fairly similar to English. 

Buckle up!

2.1 Enkelvoudige Sin (“Simple Sentence”) VS Saamgestelde Sin (“Compound Sentence”)

A) Simple sentences in both English and Afrikaans follow a simple Subject-Verb (SV) format. For example: Die kind eet. (“The child eats.”)

Notes: 

  • Simple sentences can have only one verb or gesegde. In Afrikaans syntax, single verbs and clauses are referred to as gesegdes (approximately: “clauses”). Read on for more about this.
  • Also remember: a gesegde comprising an auxiliary verb + main verb  = only one verb! 

B) Compound sentences always contain two verbs or gesegdes (“clauses”). For example: Die kind eet terwyl die hond blaf. (“The child eats while the dog barks.”)

2.2 Parts of Simple and Compound Sentences

Sentences consist of other parts, too. Very briefly, the following:

A) Enkelvoudige sinne / “Simple sentences”

1. Onderwerp (“Subject”)
Who or what performs the action in the sentence or phrase? The answer is always the subject. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig. (“Clint flies the airplane.”)

2. Voorwerp (“Object”)
In a sentence, the object usually follows the subject (except in the passive voice). The object is that which the action is performed upon. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig. (“Clint flies the airplane.”)

Note:

  • Direkte voorwerp / “Direct object”

    The direkte voorwerp (“direct object”) always follows the main transitive verb. For example:

      Vlieg (“fly”) = main verb
      Vliegtuig (“airplane”) = direkte voorwerp (“direct object”)

  • The indirekte voorwerp / “Indirect object”

    An indirekte voorwerp (“indirect object”) always follows a preposition. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig vir Paul. (“Clint flies the airplane for Paul.”)

    The preposition vir is followed by Paul, the indirekte voorwerp (“indirect object”).

3. Gesegde (“Clause”)
As mentioned, all verbs and clauses are called a gesegde (approximate: “clause”) in Afrikaans syntax. They are sometimes referred to as a werkwoordstuk. (Lit: “verb piece”).

Example: Clint het die vliegtuig gevlieg. (“Clint flew the airplane.”)

    Het (“has”) = auxiliary verb of time
    gevlieg (“flew”) = main verb, simple past tense

(Refer back to Auxiliary Verbs of Time under the previous section for more information on the prefix ge-.)

Fighter Plane Pilot in the Cockpit

CLINT HET DIE VLIEGTUIG GEVLIEG. (“CLINT FLEW THE AIRPLANE.”)

4. Byvoeglike & Bywoordelike Bepalings (“Adjective and Adverbial Clauses”)

i) Byvoeglike Bepalings: In Afrikaans syntax, all adjective words or clauses are grouped under byvoeglike bepalings. Like in English, these describe nouns.

Example 1 [Single word adjectives]: Die honger kind eet die lekker kos. (“The hungry child eats the tasty food.”) 

Example 2 [Adjective phrases]: Die kind met die rooi trui eet die kos met baie kaas. (“The child with the red jersey eats the food with lots of cheese.”) 

ii) Bywoordelike Bepalings: All adverbial words or clauses are called bywoordelike bepalings in Afrikaans syntax. As in English, these describe actions or verbs. Adverbial words or clauses are divided into four groups: time, place, manner, and degree. 

Refer back to Bywoorde (“Adjectives”) under the previous section for examples of single words that fall into this category. Following are examples of adverbial clauses:

Example 1: Voor haar vertrek moet sy eers groet. (“Before her departure she must first greet.”) 

Here, the underlined = bywoordelike bepaling van tyd (“adverbial clause of time”).

Example 2: Hulle gaan oorslaap in die beste hotel. (“They are going to sleep over in the best hotel.”)

Here, the underlined = bywoordelike bepaling van plek (“adverbial clause of place”).

Couple Standing at a Hotel Reception

HULLE GAAN OORSLAAP IN DIE BESTE HOTEL. (“THEY ARE GOING TO SLEEP OVER IN THE BEST HOTEL.”)

B) Saamgestelde sinne / “Compound sentences” 

Compound sentences consist of two or more clauses or simple sentences with ideas that relate to each other. As mentioned, in Afrikaans syntax these always contain two gesegdes (“verbs” or “clauses”).

1. Neweskikkende sin / “Coordinating sentence”

Parts of sentences are grouped under this heading when they are of equal importance in terms of meaning. In Afrikaans, they also still make sense when the neweskikkende voegwoord (“coordinating sentence”) is removed, and can function as simple sentences.

Example: Jan wil skei maar Marta weier. (“John wants to divorce but Martha refuses.”) 

2. Onderskikkende bysin / “Subordinating sentence”

Compound sentences can also contain a main sentence and one or more subordinating clauses. The latter is identified by the fact that it doesn’t make sense when it stands alone. In such a case, the subordinating sentence or clause is called a bysin.

Example: Die man wat in die rooi sportsmotor ry, moet voor parkeer. (“The man who’s driving the red sports car must park in the front.”

Here, the underlined = Onderskikkende bysin.

Red Sports Car

DIE MAN WAT IN DIE ROOI SPORTSMOTOR RY MOET VOOR PARKEER. (“THE MAN WHO’S DRIVING THE RED SPORTS CAR MUST PARK IN THE FRONT.”)

2.3 Basic Word Order – STOMPI

Like most Germanic languages, such as English, Dutch, and French, the basic Afrikaans sentence follows the SVO pattern:

Subject: Ek
Verb: drink
Object: koffie

Translation: “I drink coffee.”

A Cup of Coffee with Coffee Beans

Obviously, things get more complex as you expand sentences. Throw adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, etc., into the mix, and you soon sit with a more difficult sentence pattern. 

For this, we have a rule-of-thumb in Afrikaans: the oft-quoted STOMPI rule. It’s beguilingly simple because almost every sentence will more-or-less follow this pattern. Stick to this pattern, and you’re very unlikely to mess up your word order.

Note: Only in much-extended sentences will you be able to apply the STOMPI rule completely. This topic is thoroughly covered in our Afrikaans Word Order article, so be sure to study that too.

STOMPI is the easy acronym we use, but since we’re dealing with grammar, that’s not the whole picture. This is because it actually includes two silent verbs, and therefore stands for:

Subject              Die reën
(V1) Verb 1        kom
Time                  soms
Object               vir die Kapenaars
Manner             saggies
Place                 oor die berge
(V2) Verb 2        gesluip
Infinitive             om verligting te bring.

Translation: “The rain sometimes sneaks quietly over the mountains for the Capetonians to bring relief.”

As you can see, this is a very long, descriptive sentence. The following one is simpler, but also correct.

Subject            Die reën
(V1) Verb 1      sluip
Time                soms
Object               –
Manner             
Place                oor die berge
(V2)                   
Infinitive            om verligting te bring.

Translation: “The rain sometimes sneaks over the mountains to bring relief.”

3. AfrikaansPod101 – Your Excellent Afrikaans Grammar Companion!

Well, this is a whopper of a double-cream, super-sized article that hopefully whet your appetite for more! Do you have any comments or Afrikaans grammar questions? Don’t be shy! Post them below.

Also be sure to enroll right away so you can immediately start with some Afrikaans grammar exercises. As you can see, there’s a lot to know. But relax—AfrikaansPod101 really does take the lead in Afrikaans learning.

We offer you several excellent Afrikaans learning tools to help you master the language easily and almost effortlessly. There are so many learning options available! 

Our well-researched tools include:

1. An extensive vocabulary list page, updated regularly.

2. A new Afrikaans word to learn every day. Master these words easily with our recordings and flashcards!

3. Access to numerous recordings, such as those in this Afrikaans Vocab Builder.

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary.

5. An excellent 100 Core Afrikaans Words list!

Learn much faster with the help of a personal tutor, who will first let you take an assessment to personalize your training. From there, he or she will work one-on-one with you to help you reach your goals and overcome obstacles.

Happy learning!

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How Hard is it to Learn Afrikaans?

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This is not an easy question to answer! How hard it is to learn Afrikaans depends on a few things, really.

Afrikaans is the world’s youngest official language. Known as “Cape Dutch” or “Colonial Dutch” back in the day, Afrikaans was only considered a “real language” in the previous century. Over the years, it has been influenced by many other languages, including Arabic, French, and Russian. So it can appear pretty daunting to learn!

However, AfrikaansPod101 is an easy way to learn Afrikaans because we simplify the learning steps for you. We introduce many simple but effective ways to learn Afrikaans while having fun at the same time! And our blog posts are informative and culturally relevant, such as this one on Afrikaans Etiquette in South Africa, and this one on Learning Dates in Afrikaans.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Is Afrikaans Hard to Learn?
  2. Reasons Why Afrikaans is Easy to Learn
  3. Reasons Why Afrikaans Can Be Difficult to Learn
  4. How to Learn Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101 – Fast and Easy Ways at Your Fingertips!

1. Is Afrikaans Hard to Learn?

Hard for whom? 

If your own language has Germanic roots, then no, it’s not that difficult at all. In fact, you may find it much easier to master than other languages, in most respects. 

Afrikaans is the fourth most-spoken Germanic language in the world, preceded by English, German, and Dutch. It’s the majority language of Namibia and South Africa, estimated to be spoken by over 20 million people. This number includes second-language speakers.

Given Afrikaans’ roots, if you can speak Dutch, you’ll find that learning Afrikaans is quite a lot easier, too. The languages are very closely related, even though they differ in grammatical structure. Dutch is the older and, in some respects, more intricate of the two.

Dutch Cultural Symbols Shoes and Tulips

Let’s look at what makes Afrikaans hard to learn for so many people, and a few ways it might be easier than English.

2. Reasons Why Afrikaans is Easy to Learn

Compared to English and most other languages, Afrikaans is simpler in many ways. 

Here are some examples of things that make Afrikaans so easy to learn.

2.1 Inflections /Infleksies

Generally speaking, Afrikaans has fewer inflections than most European languages. According to Writing Explained, inflections are the changes made to verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., depending on what is being expressed (number, gender, case, voice, and so on).

Young Smiling Male Student Learning Language in Front of Laptop with Earphones

These changes can be anything from a simple letter to a more complex affix. An affix is a morpheme (one or more letters) that you can add to a word to change that word’s meaning to some extent. Such as the genitive ‘s to indicate possession (“America’s finest”), the plural “s” to indicate numbers (“husbands”), the comparative “-er” to indicate degree (“faster”), and so forth.

The best-known difference compared to English is probably the fact that Afrikaans verbs don’t conjugate for subject. This is really super-uncomplicated and very easy to learn and understand!

Conjugations are a subset of inflections that occur only in verbs. Afrikaans is very simple that way because, irrespective of the noun, the verb remains the same. It only conjugates for tense, mood, aspect, and voice. 

Following are two examples of Afrikaans verb conjugation. You’ll see that the verb remains the same, irrespective of noun number and gender.

2.1.1 Verb Conjugations – Simple Present Tense / Werkwoord Verbuigings – Teenwoordige Tyd

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Ek isI am
Jy isYou are (singular)
Hy/sy isHe/she is
Julle isYou are (plural)
Hulle isThey are
Ons isWe are
Dit isIt is

2.1.2 Verb Conjugations – Simple Past Tense / Werkwoord Verbuigings – Verlede Tyd

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Ek wasI was
Jy wasYou were (singular)
Hy/sy wasHe/she was
Julle wasYou were (plural)
Hulle wasThey were
Ons wasWe were
Dit wasIt was

Afrikaans only has a simple past tense, a phenomenon not found in other Germanic languages. For instance, in English, we have “I was ill” and “I had been ill.” In Afrikaans, the past remains simple: Ek was siek.

2.2 Gender Classification / Geslag Klassifikasie

Just like English, Afrikaans nouns are not gendered. Therefore, there’s no noun classification or corresponding verb conjugation like in, for instance, French and Italian.

2.3 Definite & Indefinite Articles / Bepaalde & Onbepaalde Lidwoorde

Afrikaans is as easy as English regarding the use of different articles. (In fact, it’s a bit easier, because there’s only one indefinite article in Afrikaans.)

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Bepaalde lidwoorde: die/hierdie/daardieDefinite articles: the/this/that
Onbepaalde lidwoord: ‘nIndefinite articles: an/a
Note: The indefinite article ‘n ALWAYS gets written like this, even at the start of a sentence. In this case, the second word in the sentence (the noun it refers to) starts with a capital letter. 

Like this: ‘n Hond sit voor die deur.





A dog sits in front of the door.
Cute Puppy Sitting in Front of Blue Wooden Wall or Door

2.4 Questions Starting with a Verb / Vrae Wat Met ‘n Werkwoord Begin

Question words are pretty common in most languages, and Afrikaans is no different. However, sometimes questions that are about an action start with a verb instead of a traditional question word. English is more complex in this way compared to Afrikaans, as two or more verbs are needed: “Do/does” + Verb. 

In most instances, this is not the case in Afrikaans. Depending on what it is we want to say, only one verb is necessary in simple questions.

Afrikaans: Waai die wind?
English: “Does the wind blow?”

or

Afrikaans: Werk die plan goed?
English: “Does the plan work well?”

or

Afrikaans: Is die man siek?
English: “Is the man ill?”

or

Afrikaans: Was die maaltyd smaaklik?
English: “Was the meal tasty?”

Happy People at Dining Table, Making a Toast

2.5 Spelling / Spelling

Over the years, Afrikaans spelling has been adapted from Dutch and simplified. For instance: the Dutch mij (“me”) became my in Afrikaans. The pronunciation of zon (“sun”) became son in Afrikaans. English-speakers find many Afrikaans words intuitive and easy to learn.

Afrikaans does pose some challenges, however. So, why is Afrikaans so hard to learn despite the simpler aspects we covered above?

3. Reasons Why Afrikaans Can Be Difficult to Learn

First, let’s clarify this—no language is objectively easy to learn. Asking: “How hard is it to learn Afrikaans?” is the same as asking: “How hard is it to learn the piano?” Learning the piano may be comparatively easier than learning the oboe, for instance, but it still requires a lot of work and effort. If you want to become good at it, it’s going to take effort and commitment. 

At AfrikaansPod101, we know this, which is why we keep our lessons short and accessible—not to mention fun and tailored to your personal needs.

Let’s look at the ways in which Afrikaans is slightly more complex than other Germanic languages.

Asian Girl in Classroom Looking Unhappy

3.1 Afrikaans Negation / Afrikaanse Ontkennende Vorm

This is probably one of the better-known syntactic properties that poses challenges when learning Afrikaans: the so-called “double negative.”

Afrikaners need to make very sure that you get it when they say “No!” A simple word won’t do, nope; we have to repeat ourselves. The basic principle is this: Add a second ‘negation word’ in the final position. This means that a second nie (“no”) is added after the verb, noun, or clause.

Here are a few examples:

Afrikaans Ontkennende Vorm – Double NegativeEnglish
Ek drink nie alkohol NIE.“I don’t drink alcohol.”
Sy kan nie Afrikaans praat NIE.“She can’t speak Afrikaans.”
Hulle is nie so arm NIE.“They are not that poor.”
Wie het nie opgedaag NIE?“Who didn’t arrive?”
Moenie dit doen NIE!“Don’t do it!”

This rule doesn’t apply in simple statement sentences.

For instance:

Afrikaans Ontkennende Vorm – Simple NegativeEnglish
Ek drink nie.“I don’t drink.”
Sy praat nooit.“She never talks.”
Die kat hardloop nie.“The cat doesn’t run.”

Another way in which Afrikaans is slightly more intricate is the way nouns inflect for numbers.

3.2 Numbers / Syfers

In Afrikaans sentences, the noun inflects for numbers with a few suffixes, such as: “-s” / “-e” / “-te.”

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Singular: meisieSingular: “girl”
Plural: meisiesPlural: “girls”
Singular: hondSingular: dog
Plural: hondePlural: dogs
Singular: koffiebekerSingular: “coffee mug”
Plural: koffiebekersPlural: “coffee mugs”
Singular: landSingular: “country”
Plural: landePlural: “countries”

3.3 Afrikaans Trilled “R” / Trillende Afrikaanse “R”

Learning to speak Afrikaans correctly comes a bit difficult for English-speakers. It’s easy to spot a non-native speaker by this one trait only: they battle with their Rs! 

Unlike the guttural R of the Dutch and the French, and the rolling R of the English, the Russian and Afrikaans trilling R is formed in the front of the mouth. This is done by pressing the tongue firmly against the little ridge behind the upper front teeth, like when you form a “t.” Then, air is pressed over the tip of the tongue so that the tongue trills. Not easy to master, but neither is it impossible!

What makes things even more complex is that phonology, or the way the Rs are pronounced, differs by region. Learn a bit more about that in this pronunciation article

But don’t despair. Like learning how to drive, cook properly, or fix a car, learning to speak Afrikaans just takes commitment and a bit of effort. And we have your back all the way!

Woman in Car with Driving Instructor

4. How to Learn Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101 – Fast and Easy Ways at Your Fingertips!

We hope you enjoyed our article about the difficulties of learning the Afrikaans language! Do you feel more confident about learning now, or are there still some things you feel unsure about? Feel free to ask us in the comments!

Also, let us make it easier for you with our innovative approach to language-learning. You can expect the following when you enroll:

  • Many free online tools upon subscription to make your life easier while learning to speak Afrikaans. For instance, this free Afrikaans dictionary
  • Thousands of lessons tailored to meet you at your level of language proficiency, while giving you enough content to help yourself straight away, such as this free list of Afrikaans Key Phrases
  • Several learning options that suit your pocket and your language needs. For instance, fast track your fluency with access to your own online teacher.

Make your Afrikaans learning experience much easier today by enrolling with us at AfrikaansPod101!

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The Most Common Afrikaans Language Learning Mistakes

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We tend to experience mistakes as either Tyrants or Teachers. Sometimes, we make regrettable mistakes that we berate ourselves over; other mistakes slide off us like rainwater.

In Afrikaans, we have a popular idiom: Probeer maak die beste geweer. (Lit. “Trying makes the best gun.”) This roughly means that you won’t know if you can hit a target unless you shoot!

Woman with Gun

The secret is simply to not give up, no matter how often you repeat a mistake in Afrikaans! We understand this very well at AfrikaansPod101.com.

Dig into this guide to avoid making any of these common Afrikaans language mistakes!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Vocabulary and Grammatical Mistakes
  2. Pronunciation Mistakes
  3. Spelling Mistakes – Compounds and Emphasis
  4. Other Common Afrikaans Spelling Mistakes
  5. Why Afrikaans Mistakes are Nothing to Worry About
  6. The Many Ways AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Correct Afrikaans Mistakes

1. Vocabulary and Grammatical Mistakes

There are a number of mistakes in Afrikaans concerning vocabulary and grammar that you should keep an eye out for.

1.1 Don’t be English!

One of the biggest Afrikaans mistakes is to use English syntax or English idiomatic language

Don’t beat yourself up about this, though! The truth is, very few native speakers are educated (or stuck-up!) enough to not engage in some serious language mixing themselves.

English is, after all, one of our national languages, and South Africa is very English in culture. So, this cross-pollination is to be expected.

Three Women Chatting

However, if you want to be taken seriously by the academic intelligencia, then try your best to avoid this. You will undoubtedly hear your Afrikaans friends say:

  • Dit was baie nice gewees! 
    “That was very nice!”

Or, translating “I was like so pissed off with him” to Ek was soos in so kwaad met hom gewees. The errors include using a very modern English interjection (“like so”), and the preposition met, instead of vir. The correct Afrikaans translation would be: Ek was so kwaad vir hom gewees.

By all means, you can talk like this too, if your audience is young and casual. Our young people, especially, talk like this. 

But if your goal is to impress your Afrikaans academic friends or colleagues, then ditch Anglicizing the language.

The following are very popular English terms to pepper your Afrikaans with. Depending on the situation, slang is quite acceptable in our society.

English NounsCorrect Afrikaans
“boot” (not the shoe)kattebak
“cubbyhole”paneelkissie
“show”vertoning, opvoering
“song”liedjie, lied
“jam” (confectionary)konfyt
“lift”hysbak
“movie”film, rolprent
“poet”digter
“chips” (crisps)aartappelskyfies
“fabulous,” “amazing,” “awesome” (pronouns)fantasties, wonderlik, asemrowend

1.2 The pesky plurals

Afrikaans is a bit more difficult than English when it comes to indicating plurals. In English, you just add an “s,” most of the time. Think “one car” but “two cars.” Or “one tree” but “two trees.”

This rule works for some words in Afrikaans. For example: een meisie vs. twee meisies (“one girl” vs. “two girls”) or een seun vs. twee seuns (“one son” vs. “two sons”).

There are very few exceptions to this rule in English. But Afrikaans is a whole different kettle of fish. For the plural, we often modify the noun, and there are plenty of exceptions to the rule of simply adding an “s.” Confusion about this can lead to many mistakes in Afrikaans!

Many Trees in a Forest

For instance, saying booms instead of bome (“trees”) won’t work in Afrikaans. And saying vliegtuigs or vliegtuige instead of vliegtuie (“airplanes”) will earn a few smiles from your Afrikaans friends.

It’s best to dig in and master Afrikaans grammar! 

2. Pronunciation Mistakes

For starters, see this lesson about Afrikaans pronunciation. This will give you a good idea of a broader range of pronunciation issues.

You’ll soon see that Afrikaans pronunciation can be a bit tricky. We have a few uncommon sounds that have no approximates in, for instance, English.

The most common pronunciation mistake Afrikaans learners make is definitely with the pesky “r.”

2.1 The Afrikaans R—Don’t roll with it

Like in some other languages, Afrikaans has trilled Rs. This trilling sound is called the “dental and alveolar tap or flap” or an “alveolar consonant.”

Closed Mouth with Scribbles

It’s made like this: 

  • Lightly press the tip of your tongue against the front edge of your hard palate, where the alveoli are situated. (The alveoli are the sockets of your superior, or front, teeth.) 
  • Your tongue tip should be close to your two front teeth, but not touching them
  • Now, say “t” (like in “train”), but push air through the opening between your tongue tip and your front palate.
  • Your tongue will slightly contract and change position and shape—not a problem. If you’re doing it correctly, your tongue tip will trill.

This is quite a difficult skill to master at first, and we understand that. Trilled Rs definitely don’t have the same sound as the gentler-sounding rolled R common in English pronunciation. 

You won’t sound like a native if you roll your Rs in Afrikaans, but we won’t berate you!

Learn more about pronouncing consonants in Afrikaans with our recorded lessons by native speakers, like this one: The Pronunciation of Consonants in Afrikaans.

2.2 Those difficult diphthongs

The Google dictionary defines a diphthong as a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. When pronouncing a diphthong, the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward the other (as in “coin” and “loud”).

Afrikaans has a few diphthongs of its own that non-native speakers find challenging to pronounce:

IPA Phonetic SymbolAfrikaans DiphthongEnglish Translation
ɪøseun“son”
ɪəmeet“measure”
œimuis“mouse”
ʊəstoot“push”
ɔigoiing“burlap”
œːbrûe“bridges”

To master these, you’ll probably need to learn from a native! Consider signing up for your own Afrikaans tutor with AfrikaansPod101 for nearly constant guidance.

2.3 The guttural G

This is another sound in Afrikaans that learners find difficult!

The “g” is pronounced in the back of the throat for most Afrikaans “g”-words. This sound is called a “fricative,” meaning that it’s produced by passing air through the partly constricted opening of your throat.

The only English approximation is “loch,” as in the Lochness monster. However, don’t pronounce it as “log,” or worse, “lock!” 

Make the sound you would if you had a fishbone stuck in your throat. Or if you were emulating an angry, hissing cat—there, you got the Afrikaans G!

Angry Hissing Cat

2.4 Emphasis is everything

Where you put the emphasis in a word can change its meaning in Afrikaans. This is especially true of compounds.

The part of the compound with the emphasized syllable holds an important focus for the meaning of the word.

For instance, a native will say mieliepap (“grits,” or literally “cornmeal porridge”), with the emphasis on the first syllable. Mielies are corn, which is used to make cornmeal. 

So, by emphasizing this syllable, the exact meaning is conferred—i.e., it’s not porridge made with oats, sorghum, rice, etc.

Sample: Ek eet mieliepap.
Translation: “I eat grits.”

  • If you pronounce the word with the emphasis on the second syllable, you’ll probably not be understood. Mieliepap just sounds funny.

  • Emphasis on the third syllable will sound like you split the words. This will change their meaning. (Splitting the words changes “cornmeal” to “corn” in meaning. And “porridge” changes to “a pulp” in meaning. Not a combination of mielie and pap you’re ever likely to use! Think: Hy slaan die mielie pap. / “He beats the corn to a pulp.”)
Grits

3. Spelling Mistakes – Compounds and Emphasis

Let’s start with a spelling mistake in Afrikaans that trips up native speakers, too: when to join words and when to separate them.

3.1 To join or not to join? — Compound words in Afrikaans

This is an important Afrikaans mistake to avoid, because splitting words that belong together can completely change the meaning of what you’re writing.

Afrikaans language tutors often preach that the rule of thumb is to compound. They’ll tell you that your spelling will, more likely than not, be correct. 

And they’re right! 

Take, for instance: vinger + nael (“fingernail”). This is correctly spelled vingernael. 

Also, tafel + poot (“table leg”), which gets written as one word: tafelpoot.

Female Hand with Fingernail

Exceptions

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. For instance: skool + visse (“shoal of fish”). Joining these two words would completely change the meaning of the word. (Skoolvisse is not incorrect, but it would be a neologism—a newly created word—that’s rarely used. It would refer to fish belonging to a human school.)

Another exception is mediese fonds (“medical aid”). In Afrikaans, like in English, it’s incorrect to join these two words, and it should never be written that way.

Tip: For the more advanced Afrikaans students—a linguist once gave me a tip about compound words in Afrikaans. He pointed out that these, or other words that get written together, are always pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable.

3.2 Sometimes it’s good to split…

Splitting words sometimes changes the meaning legitimately.

Take, for instance, the word opsoek.

This means “looking up someone or something,” like from a directory or at a specific address. Pronounce it with the emphasis on the first syllable.

Sample: Ek gaan my niggie opsoek. (Stress the first syllable when pronouncing.)
Translation: “I’m going to look up my cousin.”

However, splitting the words will turn them into a known term: op soek. This means “to look for someone or something.” (Here, again, pronunciation is important. The emphasis will fall on the second word, which changes the meaning somewhat.)

Sample: Ek is op soek na my niggie.
Translation: “I am looking for my cousin.”

Woman Waving Hi

As you can see, opsoek and op soek are closely related, and the difference in meaning is nuanced. Let me explain by adding context in an example situation.

You, chatting with your partner at the breakfast table: 

  • Ek gaan my niggie Riana opsoek vandag. 
    “I’m going to look up my cousin Riana today.”

Also you, addressing the guy who opened the door at your cousin’s last known address: 

  • Ek is op soek na my niggie Riana. 
    “I’m looking for my cousin Riana.”

4. Other Common Afrikaans Spelling Mistakes

The following mistakes are even common among native Afrikaans-speakers! Avoid embarrassment and impress your Afrikaner boss or friend with your superior spelling skills!

This list is not exhaustive, and you’ll see that some are loan words from other languages.

Mistake in AfrikaansCorrect Afrikaans SpellingTranslation
agressieaggressie“aggression”
asperineasperien“aspirin”
AustralieAustralië“Australia”
brocollibroccoli“broccoli”
burgermeesterburgemeester“mayor”
cappucino / capucinocappuccino“cappuccino”
deurgansdeurgaans“throughout”
defnitiefdefinitief“definitely”
dieëtdieet“diet”
Epos / epose-pos“email”
geintereseerd / geinterresseerdgeïnteresseerd“interested”
graffitti / grafiti / grafittigraffiti“graffiti”
herhinderherinner“remind”
huistoe / winkeltoe / skooltoehuis toe / winkel toe /  skool toe“going home / to the shop / to school”
ingeneur ingenieur“engineer”
interresantinteressant“interesting”
JapanneesJapanees“Japanese”
knië, kniee knieë“knees”
kominukasie / komunikasiekommunikasie“communication”
komittee, kommitee, kommitteekomitee“committee”
leêr lêer“file”
nogalsnogal“kind of”
NamibiaNamibië“Namibia”
ommelet / omelletomelet“omelette”
onmiddelikonmiddellik“immediately”
satelietsatelliet“satelite”
sedertiensedertdien“since”
waardeur / wardeerwaardeer“appreciate”
yogurtjogurt“yogurt”

5. Why Afrikaans Mistakes are Nothing to Worry About

Apparently, children and Nobel Prize winners have a specific trait in common: they don’t allow mistakes to throw them off course.

Girl Learning Chemistry

And it makes sense! Think of how you learned to speak your native tongue. It took many adorable mistakes (and even more tries) before you started sounding human. 

But you didn’t give up just because your speech wasn’t perfect after the third try! You kept at it and now you can speak fluently.

Expect to make many Afrikaans language-learning mistakes. Learn to love them for the teachers they are—over time, they will disappear. Almost like they’re friends for a season.

However, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared! So, while this list of common mistakes in Afrikaans is not exhaustive, we hope that it will help you master the language. That’s our main aim at AfrikaansPod101!

In fact—ask us in the comments if you’re wondering if something is a mistake in Afrikaans! We’d be happy to help you this way.

6. The Many Ways AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Correct Afrikaans Mistakes

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans

Your List of the Top 10 Afrikaans Questions and Answers

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Questions are language constructs we use to elicit information from other people, making them crucial in communication! Knowing stuff helps you navigate your way in this world—every child knows this. 

And any parent will tell you that even babies know how to “ask”!

So, if your plan is to connect and communicate with Afrikaners, it’s very important to learn or brush up on the  most common Afrikaans questions and answers.

Afrikaners are nice—like the country’s climate, they’re warm and friendly. And they love to chat, especially with new friends! So at AfrikaansPod101.com, we make sure that you master the Afrikaans you need to connect with them.

Three People with Drinks Chatting

Learn the most useful Afrikaans questions and answers quickly and easily in this article (and even more when you sign up)! This way, you’ll be able to converse in Afrikaans in no time, and reap all sorts of benefits.

Using Afrikaans questions, and making use of the Afrikaans question word list in this article, will boost your confidence, and can even help you make new friends. Not a bad prospect.

So, let’s not waste time. Get cracking on this list of the top Afrikaans questions and answers!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Wat is jou naam? / What is your name?
  2. Waarvandaan is jy? / “Where are you from (originally)?”
  3. Waar bly jy? / “Where do you live?”
  4. Waar bly jou familie? / “Where does your family live?”
  5. Waar werk jy? / “Where do you work?”
  6. Kan jy Engels praat? / “Can you speak English?”
  7. Hoe oud is jy? / “How old are you?”
  8. Wat is jou foonnommer? / “What is your phone number?”
  9. Wanneer is jou verjaarsdag? / “When is your birthday?”
  10. Hoeveel kos hierdie? / “How much does this cost?”
  11. Bonus: Hoe sê mens ___ in Afrikaans? / “How do you say ___ in Afrikaans?”
  12. AfrikaansPod101 Makes Learning Afrikaans Questions and Answers Super-Easy!

1. Wat is jou naam? / What is your name?

First Encounter

This is a very important question in Afrikaans when introducing yourself and getting to know someone. (Okay, well, it’s important in every language, if you want to get on with people!)

This is a pretty straightforward question, and it’s commonly used in a variety of situations. 

However, there are other ways to ask the same thing.

Alternate Ways of Asking

1.1 Hoe heet jy? / “What are you called?” (Roughly translated)

This is an antiquated way to ask for someone’s name. Because this Afrikaans question is related to Dutch, it doesn’t get used that often anymore; when it does get used, it’s usually by older folks.  

1.2 Wat kan ek jou noem? / “What can I call you?”

Even in English, this question sounds slightly flirtatious, doesn’t it? But fortunately, there’s nothing improper about it. So, if you need to put an Afrikaans-speaking person at ease, this is a nice phrase to use—with a calm, friendly smile and eye contact, of course.

1.3 Wat is jou volle name, asseblief? / “What are your full names, please?”

This is a phrase used to ask for one’s name and surname, and it’s mostly used in official situations. 

Possible Answers

Now, let’s look at some different ways you can answer these Afrikaans questions.

1.4 My naam is Annabel. / “My name is Annabel.”

A straightforward, simple answer, suitable for use in any situation.

1.5 Noem my Annabel. / “Call me Annabel.”

This is a slightly informal response, and it’s good to use if you need to be friendly and engaging.

1.6 Ek heet Annabel. / “I am called Annabel.”

The antiquated response to the antiquated Afrikaans question above (1.2).

1.7 Jy mag my op my naam noem. / “You may call me by my name.”

If someone knows your name and you want to put them at ease, you can tell them this. It indicates that you’re comfortable with a certain level of trust and informality between the two of you. 

If you guessed that this can also be the flirtatious, playful (and cheeky!) reply to question 1.3 above, you’d be right! 

It could also be a rather facetious response, so better not use it when you’re talking to someone very senior to you (e.g. a police officer, the traffic cop stopping you on the road, or a doctor).

2. Waarvandaan is jy? / “Where are you from (originally)?”

Afrikaans-speaking South Africans are, by nature, inquisitive people who want to know things about your personal history straight away! 

Fear not, they’ll be willing to share the same information about themselves. “Open” and “gregarious” are terms that describe Afrikaners well. So, start unpacking your family history already—beginning with one of the most common questions in Afrikaans asked of foreigners!

This Afrikaans question is used interchangeably with another one:

2.1 Waar kom jy vandaan? / “Where do you hail from?”

Most of the time, both questions specifically ask about your place of birth and/or where you grew up.

Possible Answers

2.2 Ek kom van Utrecht af. / “I’m from Utrecht.”

This could imply that you’re still living there, but not necessarily.

2.3 Ek is gebore in Utrecht en het daar grootgeword. / “I was born in Utrecht and grew up there.”

This is a more specific answer that leaves little room for interpretation. 

These Afrikaans questions and answers are often confused with the ones directly below, even by locals! 

3. Waar bly jy? / “Where do you live?”

Yup, this person wants to know where you’re currently residing. This can mean that they’re asking for the location of your temporary or permanent residence. Depending on the situation and how much you trust the person, answer with as many (or as few) details as you prefer.

Next is a question that’s a bit more informal, and asks for the same information but with more details.

3.1 Wat is jou huisadres? / “What is your home address?”

Have it ready on a piece of paper, in case it’s the taxi driver asking! Or better—learn it by heart. Your address is an important bit of information, no matter which country you’re visiting.

Possible Answers

3.2 Ek bly tans in Kaapstad. / “I currently live in Cape Town.”

Obviously, fill in your own city or town of residence!

Answering question 3.1:

3.3 My woonadres is ___ [e.g. Stay Nice Guest House; Main Straat, 48 Blouberg Strand]. / “My residential address is ___.”

The sample (between brackets) is for a temporary address. Again, fill in your own details. You could add your permanent residential address here, too.

As an aside: Just like in any other country, don’t ditch your gut feeling or the habit of keeping personal information safe when visiting.

South Africans are, as a rule, friendly and helpful people, but charlatans and criminals can live anywhere. So, if someone or something looks or feels too good to be true…well, you know how the saying goes.

House

4. Waar bly jou familie? / “Where does your family live?”

This question can be asked in official situations, such as at a police station, in a hospital, or by your South African employer. Answer truthfully. And keep in mind that you’ll very likely be asked this in informal situations too, so don’t say you weren’t warned!

Relax, though. Your newly acquired Afrikaans friend is not a plotting serial killer.

They’re showing that they like and want to know more about you. This instant intimacy is a hallmark of the way we roll at the very southern point of Africa.

Answer vaguely if you don’t feel comfortable with this level of info-sharing yet. Don’t worry! Your Afrikaner friend will understand. 

That said—just don’t lie, especially if you can see this friendship going somewhere good. Later, you’ll regret not being honest. Truthfulness is an important quality in Afrikaner relationships.

Possible Answers

4.1 My familie bly in Utrecht in Nederland. / “My family lives in Utrecht in the Netherlands.”

Pretty self-explanatory. This can refer to where your birth and/or extended family still resides.

A variation of this answer is:

4.2 My familie is van Utrecht. / “My family hails from Utrecht.”

Like in English, there is a distinction. This means that your family is from that area, but not necessarily living there still.

Traditional Family Gathering with Kwanzaa

5. Waar werk jy? / “Where do you work?”

This is very likely something you’ll be asked in both official and social situations. Your answer will probably include the name of a company and a location.

Here’s a similar question:

5.1. Wat doen jy vir ‘n lewe? / “What do you do for a living?”

The difference is nuanced, but, like in English, the answer doesn’t necessarily include the name of your employer.

Possible Answers

5.2 Ek werk vir Vodacom in Kaapstad. / “I work for Vodacom in Cape Town.”

This one is self-explanatory, but keep in mind that it’s the short version. If an official person asks this question, you could include your actual work address. Insert your own employment details, of course.

5.3 Ek is ‘n vliëenier. / “I am a pilot.”

If the conversation is informal, this is all you need to say in reply to question 5.1. 

5.4 Ek het my eie besigheid en werk van die huis af. / “I have my own business and I work from home.”

For the entrepreneurs!

Introduce Yourself

6. Kan jy Engels praat? / “Can you speak English?”

A vital question in Afrikaans! Especially if you’ll battle just to understand the replies. 

Here’s a variation of this question:

6.1 Praat jy Engels? / “Do you speak English?”

This is a slightly more informal way of asking the same thing. Obviously, replace “English” with the language of your choice.

Possible Answers

6.2 Ek praat Afrikaans. / “I speak Afrikaans.”

This reply will imply that you can speak it rather well.

6.3 Ek praat nie Afrikaans nie. / “I don’t speak Afrikaans.”

This is a handy phrase, especially if you’re in deep-rural South Africa. You’d be more likely to get swift assistance if the native speaker understands that you can’t speak Afrikaans well yet.

6.4 Ek leer nog Afrikaans praat. / “I’m still learning to speak Afrikaans.”

At least you’re trying! Like in most other countries, your effort to learn the natives’ language will be much appreciated, admired, and encouraged.
6.5 Ek praat ‘n bietjie Afrikaans. / “I speak a bit of Afrikaans.”

Boy Learning Language

7. Hoe oud is jy? / “How old are you?”

Uhm, not considered the most polite question in social settings—especially when addressing older women!

We also won’t ask you to divulge your age…unless you look twenty years younger than you are. But then, you’re probably used to getting this question anyway.

On the topic of social etiquette, Afrikaners are pretty down-to-earth, pragmatic, and easy-going people. 

So, in our books, there are very few unforgivable social gaffes. These are not even, strictly speaking, social gaffes. It’s your common, garden-variety bad behavior that we frown upon socially.

For instance, don’t hit a child. Nowadays, that’s a crime in South Africa, even if the child is yours. Actually, just don’t hit anyone. 

And don’t be rude, selfish, or insulting. This type of behavior lands guests on the other side of the welcome mat—probably on their butt. Most Afrikaners are great at setting boundaries.

Woman with

You’ll be forgiven many small social sins, especially once we sense that you’re reliable, transparent, and a cool person!

Anyway, take the cue and rather don’t ask this Afrikaans question unless you’re making conversation with one of the kiddos! Then make a fuss of the reply, no matter what.

Possible Answers

7.1 Ek is ___. / “I am ___.”

Insert your age in the blank. (To learn Afrikaans numbers, do visit us at AfrikaansPod101.com. You can learn to count straight away—anywhere and for free!)

The longer version of this reply is:

7.2 Ek is vyf-en-twintig jaar oud. / “I am twenty-five years old.”

Again, just add your own age. Both are commonly used, but the former is the more colloquial reply.

7.3 Ek is vyftig jaar en ses maande oud. / “I’m fifty years and six months old.”

In case you need to be very specific.

Numbers

8. Wat is jou foonnommer? / “What is your phone number?”

Uncomplicated and self-evident, this question can be used in any situation. You can also ask a simpler question:

8.1 Wat is jou nommer? / “What is your number?”

This will only work if the context is clear, of course.

Possible Answers

8.2 My foonnommer is ___. / “My phone number is ___.”

The short version is:

8.3 My nommer is ___. / “My number is ___.”

Guy Pointing to His Celphone

9. Wanneer is jou verjaarsdag? / “When is your birthday?”

Like the question about age, we don’t ask this right after learning a person’s name. But it’s not such a sensitive topic, so you won’t be ostracized if you do ask this of your new Afrikaner friend. 

And we love birthday parties!

This question, though, should not be confused with:

9.1 Wat is jou geboortedatum? / “What is your birth date?”

The difference should be evident.

Possible Answers

9.2 My verjaarsdag is 22 November. / “My birthday is November 22.”

Just fill in your own birthday.

9.3 My geboortedatum is 22 November, 1969. / “My date of birth is November 22, 1969.”

Answering question 9.1.

9.4 Ek is gebore op 22 November, in 1969. / “I was born on November 22, in 1969.”

Kids at Birthday Party

10. Hoeveel kos hierdie? / “How much does this cost?”

In South Africa, you can’t haggle in shops; it’s unacceptable. An item’s price is its price, and it’s almost never negotiable. So, you won’t be using this question to quibble about the cost of something. Save that for the casual street markets!

However, it’s good to know this Afrikaans question when the price isn’t evident. 

A variation:

9.1 Wat is die prys hiervan? / “What is this thing’s price?”

You can use this in restaurants, for instance, to learn the price of a specific dish. It needs to be clear what you’re referring to, of course. 

You can also modify the question by adding: … in Amerikaanse dollars / “…in American dollars.”

Possible Answers

9.2 Dit kos ses-honderd Rand. / “It costs six-hundred Rand.”

The Rand, or ZAR, is South Africa’s monetary unit. This amount will get written like this: R600.

BTW, to learn about Afrikaans money, subscribe to AfrikaansPod101 now for access to a quick lesson!

People Handling Paper Currency

11. Bonus: Hoe sê mens ___ in Afrikaans? / “How do you say ___ in Afrikaans?”

Insert the English word, or indicate what you mean. This question is especially handy when you first start learning Afrikaans, and you’re going to ask this a lot. Shorten it by leaving out in Afrikaans

And fear not—we’re patient with students! We’ll translate for you with a smile.

You can also ask:

10.1 Wat is ___ in Afrikaans? / “What is ___ in Afrikaans?”

The difference between the questions should be evident. Choose the one that best fits your situation.

Possible Answers

10.2 Jy sê ___. / “You say ___.”

10.3 Dit is ‘n ___. / “That is a(n) ___.”

10.4 Dit is ‘n ___ in Afrikaans. / “That is a(n) ___ in Afrikaans.”

This is a more elaborate answer. Leave out the article ‘n when you’re not referring to a specific thing.

10.5 Ek weet nie. / “I don’t know.”

Well, sometimes you just don’t.

Woman Gesturing I Don't Know

Well done! If you know these Afrikaans questions and answers by heart, you’re well-equipped to start a conversation. 

Are there any other questions and answers in Afrikaans you want to know? Let us have them in the comments!

Before we conclude, here’s the promised list of Afrikaans question words:

Afrikaans Question WordEnglish Translation
Wie“Who”
Wat“What”
Waar“Where”
Wanneer“When”
Hoekom“Why”

12. AfrikaansPod101 Makes Learning Afrikaans Questions and Answers Super-Easy!

Afrikaans, which is closely related to Dutch, is both an easy and challenging language to master. This is especially true if your own language is not Germanic-based.

But don’t fear!

We make it easier for you with our innovative approach to language-learning. Outlined below are just some of the perks you can expect when you enroll:

  • Plenty of free online tools upon subscription to make your life easier while learning to speak Afrikaans. (Such as, for instance, this free Afrikaans dictionary.)
  • Thousands of lessons tailored to meet you at your level of language proficiency, while giving you all you need to help yourself straight away, such as this free list of Afrikaans Key Phrases
  • Several learning options that suit your pocket and your language needs. For instance, fast-track your fluency with access to your own online teacher.

Enroll with AfrikaansPod101.com now for a lifetime membership! You’ll be happy with us—there’s no question about it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans

Afrikaans Sentence Patterns – Your Best Guide!

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Afrikaans is a daughter-language of Dutch, which informs about ninety percent of its vocabulary. However, many other languages helped shape Afrikaans! These include Malay and all of the African languages, as well as Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, and even Russian. 

With such a mixed pot, you’d think that Afrikaans sentence patterns would be very complex and difficult to learn. You would be both right and wrong! 

Certain aspects of Afrikaans sentence structures are indeed complex, but the basics are pretty easy to master. With a bit of effort, you could be speaking like a native in no time. 

Also, at AfrikaansPod101.com, we understand that in order to master the content successfully, the learning process needs to be enjoyable. So we make sure to keep our lessons easy and fun!

In this article, we offer you a good number of Afrikaans sentence pattern examples that should help you get the basics under your belt.

But before we proceed with that—why is it important to learn these sentences as soon as you start with your Afrikaans studies?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. 1. Why is it Important to Master Afrikaans Sentence Patterns?
  2. 10 Afrikaans Sentence Patterns
  3. What Makes AfrikaansPod101 Different?

1. Why is it Important to Master Afrikaans Sentence Patterns?

It’s important to quickly learn at least the basic Afrikaans sentence patterns if you wish to:

1) Understand native Afrikaans-speakers more easily

2) Be better understood by native speakers when you speak Afrikaans

3) Understand Afrikaans media, such as news, movies, TV, music, books, etc., more easily

4) Significantly ease your Afrikaans learning process 

NOTEBOOK WITH PENCIL AND WRITING ABC

In fact, mastering any language’s sentence patterns flows naturally from learning its vocabulary—it’s part of the language’s very structure!

So, let’s get you going on these Afrikaans sentence pattern examples. Once you’ve memorized them, you should find that the language will make much more sense to you.

Note: It will also help you a lot to study our Afrikaans sentence word order blog post! 

Sentence Patterns

2. 10 Afrikaans Sentence Patterns

1 – Linking Pronouns and Nouns with the Verbs “Is,” “Am,” and “Are”

The Afrikaans sentence pattern for linking nouns is very similar to that in English. You’ll see that the simplest way to join two nouns follows exactly the same structure.

Of course, more complex sentences follow different patterns, but it’s best to start with the basics first!

1.1 Ek is Gerda. / “I am Gerda.”

1.2 Ek is ‘n skrywer. / “I am a writer.”

1.3 Daardie vrou is my baas. / “That lady is my boss.”

1.4 Daardie ou is my man. / “That guy is my husband.”

1.5 Hy is ‘n vegvlieënier. / “He is a fighter pilot.”

1.6 Ons kinders is internasionale skool studente. / “Our children are international school students.”

1.7 Ons is ‘n gesin wat in die buiteland bly. / “We are a family living abroad.”

KIDS IN SCHOOL UNIFORM

Note: Did you notice that there’s only one verb (is) in Afrikaans that modifies the pronoun and noun? English has three, each one used depending on the noun or pronoun: “is,” “am,” and “are.”

2. Describing Someone or Something

Again, the basic Afrikaans sentence construction is very similar to that in English when we describe someone or something. We use adjectives (byvoeglike naamwoorde) and adverbs (bywoorde) for this purpose. 

2.1 Jy is vriendelik. / “You are friendly.” 

2.2 My man is aantreklik. / “My husband is attractive.”

2.3 Daardie man is ‘n goeie sanger. / “That man is a good singer.” 

2.4 Die groot klavier was ‘n mooi instrument. / “The big piano was a beautiful instrument.” 

2.5 Baie dankie vir die vriendelike uitnodiging. / “Thank you very much for the friendly invitation.” 

3. Expressing Want

Afrikaans phrases for expressing want are a bit more complex than those in English. 

There are two ways to express want. One involves the use of the verb and adverb wil and , and the other simply uses the verb soek.

Here are some useful examples:

3.1 Ek wil ‘n koffie hê, asseblief. / “I want a coffee, please.” (You could also leave out the article ‘n, just like in English.)

3.2 Sy wil suiker hê, asseblief. / “She wants sugar, please.”

3.3 Ek wil ‘n kamer hê, asseblief. / “I want a room, please.” 

This is good and polite Afrikaans. Wil and always flank the object (a noun, or the thing you want) on both sides. 

You could also express want in another way. But, while it’s colloquial and often used, it’s not as grammatically pure as the previous examples.

3.4 Ek soek ‘n dokter, asseblief. / “I’m looking for a doctor, please.” 

3.5 Ek soek dringend hulp, asseblief. / “I am urgently looking for assistance, please.” 

DR WITH YOUNG PATIENT

This one’s a bit tricky, because soek also means “to search for,” as in:

3.6 Ons soek my suster. / “We are searching for my sister.”

3.7 Hulle soek die verlore hond. / “They are searching for the lost dog.” 

You will, of course, be understood if you omit asseblief (“please”), but similarly to some other languages, saying “please” is an indicator of respect in Afrikaans.

4. Expressing Need

Wants are different from needs, and this is clearly expressed in Afrikaans, too. There are two ways to express your needs.

First, the simple Afrikaans sentence structure always sandwiches the noun (object of your need) between the verb het and the adverb nodig.

4.1 Ek het kos nodig. / “I need food.” 

4.2 Die man het kos nodig. / “The man needs food.”

4.3 Ek het ‘n vurk nodig. / “I need a fork.” 

4.4 Daardie vrou het ‘n vurk nodig. / “That woman needs a fork.” 

PEOPLE TOASTING BEFORE A MEAL

This is good colloquial Afrikaans, and is most popularly used.

The other, more formal way of making a need clear uses the verb benodig. Use this in formal documents or speech, such as at work or in court.

4.5 Ek benodig die verslag. / “I need the report.”

4.6 Die baas benodig die syfers. / “The boss needs the figures.” 

More Afrikaans sentence examples:

4.7 Ek het medisyne nodig, asseblief. / “I need medicine, please.” 

4.8 Sy het water nodig. / “She needs water.” 

4.9 Die siek kat het ‘n veearts nodig. / “The ill cat needs a vet.”

4.10 Die polisie benodig jou besonderhede. / “The police need your details.” 

4.11 Jy benodig ander dokumente om ‘n visa te kry. / “You need different documents to get a visa.”

5. Expressing a Like or Preference

When you like something, you use the verb and particle hou van to express it in the simplest Afrikaans, like this:

5.1 Ek hou van jou. / “I like you.”

5.2 Sy hou van roomys. / “She likes ice cream.”

5.3 Die man hou van kuns. / “The man likes art.”

5.4 Ek hou daarvan om op die strand te stap. / “I like taking a stroll on the beach.”

5.5 Hy hou daarvan om in die stort te sing. / “He likes to sing in the shower.”

5.6 Ek hou van Imagine Dragons se musiek. / “I like Imagine Dragons’ music.”

COUPLE WITH DOG ON BEACH

6. Asking Someone to Do Something

Like in English, it’s considered polite and respectful to use “please” (asseblief) when you’re asking someone to do something. It doesn’t matter whether you place it at the beginning or the end of the sentence, or just after the first verb—as long as it’s there! Here are some examples of how to make sentences in Afrikaans when asking someone to do something. 

6.1 Sit, asseblief. / “Sit, please.”

6.2 Sit dit neer, asseblief. / “Put it down, please.” 

6.3 Asseblief gee dit vir my aan. / “Please hand it to me.”

6.4 Groot-asseblief, moenie raas nie! / “Big please, don’t make a racket!”

6.5 Staan asseblief voor die kamera. / “Please stand in front of the camera.”

Note: Body language is very important, as is how you address the person whom you’re asking to do something. 

  • A sharp, short tone will sound like a command. (Try to avoid this, unless you’re in the army and can pull rank!)
  • A smile, a friendly hand gesture, and a calm voice will be more of an invitation to act than an order.
  • A polite request will only require a friendly, calm manner while looking the other person in the eye.
Sentence Components

7. Asking for Permission

Permission-asking is another part of the South African social etiquette. Be sure to memorize Asseblief mag ek … (“Please may I…”), because this phrase is what you can start most permission-asking sentences with.

You could also add asseblief to the end of the sentence; it won’t be incorrect.

7.1 Asseblief mag ek sit? / “Please may I sit?”

7.2 Asseblief mag ek gaan? / “Please may I go?”

7.3 Mag ek ingaan, asseblief? / “May I enter, please?”

7.4 Asseblief mag ek die badkamer gebruik? / “Please may I use the bathroom?”

7.5 Mag ek op hierdie stoel sit, asseblief? / “May I sit on this chair, please?”

7.6 Asseblief mag ek vroeg loop vandag? / “Please may I leave early today?”

Again, if you want a good response, look the person in the eye, and remain friendly and calm. 

You can also use this phrase to ask for something, such as tickets. Like this:

7.7 Mag ek kaartjies kry, asseblief? / “May I have tickets, please?”

7.8 Mag ek koffie kry, asseblief? / “May I have coffee, please?”

COFFEE WITH COFFEE BEANS

8. Asking for Information

South Africa is a fabulous tourist destination, and the natives are generally helpful and friendly. Yet finding your way around the country will always be easier if you know how to ask some basic questions in Afrikaans. 

When asking questions in order to obtain information, always start with a question word:

  • Wat? / “What?”
  • Wie? / “Who?”
  • Waar? / “Where?”
  • Wanneer? / “When?”
  • Hoeveel? / “How much?”
  • Waarom or Hoekom? / “Why?”
  • Hoe? / “How?”

Of course, all of these words on their own can be used as a question to ask information, if the person you’re addressing knows what you’re referring to.

Otherwise, you can use some of the following questions with the most pertinent question words.

A. Wat / “What”

A.1 Wat is hierdie? / “What is this?”

A.2 Wat doen jy? / “What are you doing?”

A.3 Wat doen jy vir ‘n lewe? / “What do you do for a living?”

A.4 Wat moet ek aantrek? / “What must I wear?”

A.5 Wat wil jy nou doen? / “What do you want to do now?”

B. Wie / “Who”

B.1 Wie is jy? / “Who are you?”

B.2 Wie kan ek help? / “Who can I help?”

B.3 Wie kan ek vra? / “Who can I ask?”

B.4 Met wie moet ek praat? / “Who should I talk to?”

B.5 Wie kan my help, asseblief? / “Who can help me, please?”

C. Waar / “Where” AND Waarheen / “Where to”

C.1 Waar is die badkamer, asseblief? / “Where is the bathroom, please?” (Replace badkamer/”bathroom” with any noun, such as polisiestasie/”police station,” hospitaal/”hospital,” lughawe/”airport,” strand/”beach,” ingang/”entrance,” and so forth.)

C.2 Waar bly jy? / “Where do you live?”

C.3 Waar kan ek kos koop? / “Where can I buy food?”

C.4 Waar is die naaste ATM, asseblief? / “Where is the closest ATM, please?” 

(Again, replace ATM with any relevant noun.)

C.5 Waar kan ek ‘n taxi kry? / “Where can I get a taxi?”

C.6 Waarheen gaan hierdie trein? / “Where does this train go?”

C.7 Waarheen kan mens gaan om te dans? / “Where can one go to dance?”

WOMAN AT STATION LOOKING AT WATCH

D. Wanneer and Hoe Laat / “When” and “What time”

D.1 Wanneer kom jy? / “When will you come?”

D.2 Wanneer kom die bus? / “When will the bus come?”

D.3 Hoe laat is jou vlug? / “What time is your flight?”

D.4 Hoe laat begin die vertoning? / “What time does the show start?”

D.5 Wanneer verwag jy hom? / “When are you expecting him?”

D.6 Wanneer arriveer ons? / “When will we arrive?”

Which Afrikaans sentence patterns do you think are the most relevant to you? Share with us in the comments!

3. What Makes AfrikaansPod101 Different?

So, these common Afrikaans sentence patterns will go a long way to help you communicate fast and with clarity. At AfrikaansPod101.com, we make that process even easier with our culturally relevant content, and our practical, fun approach to learning.

When you enroll, you can expect to receive many benefits, including different membership options. Depending on your personal needs, these will unlock functions such as a personal tutor (available via text nearly 24/7), or access to knowledgeable, energetic hosts who are native Afrikaans-speakers. 

You can also get access to downloadable apps and many other tools you can use on your Android or IOS phone, tablet, or laptop—everywhere and anywhere! You can practice, for instance, an Afrikaans word a day or these 100 Core Afrikaans Words, anywhere you are! Or, on your own time, learn with the help of these Afrikaans vocabulary lists.

Get a new lesson delivered every day, and easily learn to speak Afrikaans like a native! Using these basic Afrikaans sentence patterns, you’ll soon be fluent in every way. And with enough practice, you’ll be using them like a native.

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Your Most Comprehensive List of 100 Adverbs in Afrikaans

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So, you’re keen to tell your Afrikaans friends what you’ve been up to. And you have all the right werkwoorde (“verbs“) to manage this well! But if you are, for instance, really excited about something you did, or about something that happened, verbs alone will be inadequate. You’ll have to use an adverb in Afrikaans here. It’s the difference between saying: “The group laughs” and “The group laughs happily.”

In the last sentence, “happily” is the adverb, and its omission could affect the meaning of the sentence, won’t you agree? For this reason, we consider adverbs important at AfrikaansPod101, so let us help you master them easily! In fact, why not start with our blog post that tells you almost everything about Afrikaans verbs? Then, dare to dive into the deep end with these tricky Afrikaans conjugations

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Why is Mastering Adverbs in Afrikaans Important?
  2. Definition of an Adverb in Afrikaans
  3. Adverbs as Adjectives and Vice Versa
  4. Lists of Adverbs in Afrikaans
  5. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Ace Your Adverbs in Afrikaans!

1. Why is Mastering Adverbs in Afrikaans Important?

As mentioned, an adverb can affect the meaning of what’s being expressed. Accuracy when reporting something could be especially crucial in situations like the following (underlined words are bywoorde):

1) When visiting the doctor, it would help if you could say: My elmboog beweeg glad nie. (“My elbow doesn’t move at all.”) Or maybe: Ek sluk moeilik. (“I swallow with difficulty.”) Knowing how to use Afrikaans adverbs properly can help a medical professional help you better!

2) When visiting the police or appearing in court, it would help if you could report: Hy het my baie hard geslaan. (“He hit me very hard.”) Or: Die kar het te vinnig gery. (“The car drove too fast.”)

3) When you have to give directions, it would help if you could instruct: Draai links by die verkeerslig. (“Turn left at the traffic light.”) Or: Stop hier. (“Stop here.”)

MAN TAKING DIRECTIONS FROM WOMAN

4) When you talk to your Afrikaans-speaking manager or employer, it would help if you could say: Ek het gister gewerk. (“I worked yesterday.”) Or: Hy het laat aangekom. (“He arrived late.”)

These are only a few examples, but it should be clear that adverbs are important to know and master!

2. Definition of an Adverb in Afrikaans

As mentioned, an adverb in Afrikaans is called a bywoord. Like in English, it describes or says something about the verb (werkwoord) in a sentence.

According to Wikipedia, adverbs usually give more information about manner, place, time, frequency, degree, and so on. They answer questions about how, when, where, and why something happened, and an adverb can be composed of one word or many words (called an adverbial phrase or clause). 

3. Adverbs as Adjectives and Vice Versa

Did you know that all adjectives can be used as adverbs too?

For instance:

i) Die gelukkige kind lag. (“The happy child laughs.”) 

The bolded words are adjectives. Do you know the grammar rule here? Why is gelukkige considered an adjective? Let us know in the comments!

ii) Hy voel gelukkig. (“He feels happy.”) 

This time, the bolded words are adverbs, because they describe or say more about the action (voel means “feel”).

HAPPY GIRL LAUGHING

4. Lists of Adverbs in Afrikaans

There are several types of adverbs in Afrikaans, grouped according to their functions:

1. Time (Tyd)

2. Place (Plek)

3. Manner (Wyse)

4. Degree and Frequency (Graad / Hoeveelheid)

5. Modality (Modaliteit)

6. Causality (Oorsaak)

7. Circumstance (Omstandigheid)

8. Relation and Restriction (Verhouding en Beperking)

9. Reason (Rede)

10. Measurement (Maat)

11. Purpose (Doel)

12. Inquiring (Vraend)

As you work through these, you will find that the adverbs often overlap in function. 

CLOCK
EnglishAfrikaans
Adverbs of TimeBywoorde van Tyd
“Early” / “Earlier” / “Earliest”
“The rooster crows early. It wakes up the earliest.”
Vroeg / Vroeër / Vroegste
Die haan kraai vroeg. Dit word die vroegste wakker.
“Late” / “Later” / “Latest”
“This train leaves the latest.” / “Rather go later.”
Laat / Later / Laatste
Hierdie trein vertrek die laatste. / Gaan liewer later.
“Next”
“You can go next.”
Volgende
Jy kan volgende gaan.
“Previously”
“He lived in the UK previously.”
Vroeër / voorheen
Hy’t vroeër/voorheen in die VK gebly.
“By day”
“I work by day.”
Bedags
Ek werk bedags.
“At night”
“I sleep at night.”
Snags
Ek slaap snags.
“In time”
“They left in time.”
Betyds
Hulle het betyds vertrek.
“Nowadays”
“Nowadays, we sing.”
Deesdae
Deesdae sing ons.
“In the afternoons”
“We play in the afternoons.”
Smiddae / Smiddags
Ons speel smiddae.
“Seldom”
“The cat seldom eats.”
Selde
Die kat eet selde.
“Quickly”
“Come quickly.”
Gou / gou-gou
Kom gou-gou.
“Soon” / “One of these days”
“He’ll fly soon.”
Eersdaags / Binnekort
Hy sal binnekort vlieg.
“First”
“We first lived here.”
Eers
Ons het eers hier gebly.
“At last”
“At last, he replies.”
Uiteindelik
Uiteindelik antwoord hy.
“Sometimes”
“Sometimes the child cries.”
Soms
Soms huil die kind.
“Henceforth”
“Henceforth, you must drive.”
Voortaan
Voortaan moet jy bestuur.
“Often”
“The girl often dances.”
Gereeld
Die meisie dans gereeld.
“Time and again”
“We are being warned time and again.”
Telkens
Ons word telkens gewaarsku.
“Long”
“I finished long ago.”
Lankal
Ek is lankal klaar.
“Suddenly”
“We suddenly stop.”
Skielik / Meteens
Ons stop skielik.
“Immediately”
“Drink immediately.”
Dadelik / Onmiddelik
Drink dadelik.
“Forever”
“They left forever.”
Vergoed
Hulle is vergoed weg.
“Once”
“Once there was a witch.”
Eenmaal
Eenmaal was daar ‘n heks.
“Meanwhile”
“Meanwhile, he laughed.”
Intussen
Intussen lag hy.
“Yet”
“She is yet to come.”
Nog
Sy moet nog kom.
“Then”
“Then I will write.”
Dan
Dan sal ek skryf.
“Never”
“He never showed up.”
Nooit
Hy het nooit opgedaag nie.
“Always”
“I will always love you.”
Altyd
Ek sal jou altyd liefhê.
MAP OF AFRICA

Adverbs of Place / Bywoorde van Plek

EnglishAfrikaans
“Outside” (1)
“The parrot flies (to the) outside.”
Buitentoe
Die papegaai vlieg buitentoe.
“Outside” (2)
“We barbeque outside.”
Buite
Ons braai buite.
“Inside” (1)
“It’s cold; stay inside.”
Binne
Dis koud – bly binne.
“Inside” (2)
“Look inside.”
Binnekant
Kyk in die binnekant.
“Around”
“He looks around.”
Rond
Hy kyk rond.
“There” (1)
“We will go there.”
Daarheen / Daarnatoe (Used when going somewhere.)
Ons sal daarheen gaan.
“There” (2)
“Look there.”
Daar. (Used when referring to directions.)
Kyk daar.
“Internally”
“He was wounded internally.”
Inwendig
Hy is inwendig gewond.
“Left” & “Right”
“First turn left, then right.”
Links & Regs
Draai eers links, dan regs.
“Up”/”Upwards” & “Down”/”Downwards”
“Look up, then down.”
Op/Opwaarts & Af/Afwaarts
Kyk op, dan af.
“Here” (1)
“Come here.”
Hier/Hiernatoe
Kom hier.
“Here” (2)
“We moved here.”
Hierheen
Ons het hierheen getrek.
“Forwards” & “Backwards”
“First walk forwards, and then backwards.”
Voerentoe & Agtertoe
Loop eers vorentoe, en dan agtertoe.
“All together”
“All together, there were four.”
Als tesame
Als tesame was daar vier.
“There” (3)
“Are you going there?”
Soontoe
Gaan jy soontoe?
“Everywhere”
“I search everywhere.”
Orals
Ek soek orals.
“Together”
“We all stand together.”
Saam
Ons almal staan saam.
Adverbs of Manner Bywoorde van Wyse
DESSERT
“Different”
“He is different.”
Anders
Hy is anders.
“Quietly”
“The snake moves quietly.”
Suutjies / Saggies
Die slang beweeg suutjies.
“Silent” / “Quiet”
“The mouse keeps quiet.”
Stil
Die muis bly stil.
“Delicious”
“The dessert tastes delicious.”
Heerlik
Die nagereg smaak heerlik.
“Beautiful”
“The flowers are beautiful.”
Pragtig
Die blomme is pragtig.
“Pretty”
“The bedroom looks pretty.”
Mooi
Die slaapkamer lyk mooi.
“Bad”
“The bathroom looks bad.”
Sleg
Die badkamer lyk sleg.
“Off”
“The atmosphere feels off.”
Af
Die atmosfeer voel af.
“Blindly”
“He flees blindly.”
Blindelings
Hy vlug blindelings.
“Curtly”
“She replies curtly.”
Kortaf
Sy antwoord kortaf.
“A bit” / “A little”
“It drips a bit.”
Effens
Dit drup effens.
“Wonderfully”
“The orchestra plays wonderfully.”
Wonderlik
Die orkes speel wonderlik.
“Clearly”
“Please speak clearly.”
Duidelik
Asseblief praat duidelik.
“Rather”
“You should rather go home.”
Liewer
Jy moet liewer huistoe gaan.
“Diligently”
“The girl works diligently.”
Fluks
Die meisie werk fluks.
“Upside-down”
“The truck lies upside-down.”
Onderstebo
Die trok lê onderstebo.
“Slowly”
“The old man walks slowly.”
Stadig / Langsaam
Die ou man loop stadig.
Lit. “rest-rest.” Meaning: resting intermittently
“She moves along, resting often.”
Rus-rus
Sy vorder rus-rus.
Lit. “searching-searching.” Meaning: searching around.
“The cat moves (while) searching around.”

Note: The last two are examples of double-adverbs, a speech convention in Afrikaans that denotes and emphasizes continuous action. Other adverbs that can be used like this are:

Laugh
Cry
Sing
Jump
Look
Play

Soek-soek
Die kat beweeg soek-soek rond.







Lag-lag
Huil-huil
Sing-sing
Jump-jump
Kyk-kyk
Speel-speel
“Searchingly”
“He looks searchingly.”
Soekend
Hy kyk soekend.
Adverbs of Degree and Frequency / Bywoorde van Graad en Hoeveelheid
MONEY COINS
“Very”
“The day is very beautiful.”
Baie
Die dag is baie mooi.
“Way too”
“You’re paying way too much for it.”
Veels
Jy betaal veels te veel daarvoor.
“Approximately”
“There are approximately ten places left.”
Ongeveer
Daar is ongeveer tien plekke oor.
“More or less”
“The play is more or less finished.”
Byna
Die opvoering is byna klaar.
“Only”
“He is only five years old.”
Net
Hy is net vyf jaar oud.
“Terribly”
“The test was terribly difficult.”
Vreeslik
Die toets was vreeslik moeilik.
“Fairly”
“We were fairly early.”
Taamlik
Ons was taamlik vroeg.
“Scarcely”
“The old dog can scarcely walk.”
Skaars
Die ou hond kan skaars loop.
“Not at all”
“That is not at all difficult.”
Gladnie
Dit is gladnie moeilik nie.
“Highly”(Very)
“I’m highly pleased with the results.”
Hoogs
Ek is hoogs tevrede met die resultate.
“Totally”
“The movie’s plot was totally outrageous.”
Heeltemal
Die film se plot was heeltemal verregaande.
“Not really”
“They are not really accommodating.”
Nie juis
Hulle is nie juis tegemoetkomend nie.
“Especially”
“The boy, especially, is clever.”
Veral
Die seun veral is slim.
“Mainly”
“We sell mainly software.”
Meestal
Ons verkoop meestal sagteware.
“So”
“He was so happy.”
So
Hy was so gelukkig.
“Almost”
“He almost cried.”
Amper
Hy het amper gehuil.
“Enough”
“Have you had enough?”
Genoeg
Het julle genoeg gehad?
“By far”
“She is, by far, the prettiest.”
Verreweg
Sy is verreweg die mooiste.
“Moreover”
“The priest was moreover late.”
Boonop
Die priester was boonop laat.
Adverbs of Modality / Bywoorde van Modaliteit

DANCING COUPLE


These adverbs in Afrikaans are divided into six categories:
1. Confirmation
2. Denial
3. Doubt
4. Wish
5. Concession
6. Conditional

Note: Don’t break your head too much over these at first! They’re for more advanced Afrikaans studies.
Confirmation:

“Really” (1): “I really don’t know who he is.”
“Really” (2): “He really tried.”
“Indeed”: “We are indeed grateful.”
“Definitely”: “The guy is definitely talented.”
“Truly”: “They are truly good dancers.”

Untranslatable confirmation adverbs of modality:
Bevestiging:

Werklik: Ek weet werklik nie wie hy is nie.
Regtig: Hy het regtig probeer.
Inderdaad: Ons is inderdaad dankbaar.
Beslis: Die ou is beslis talentvol.
Gewis: Hulle is gewis goeie dansers.

immers, mos, bepaald, tog, stellig
Denial:

“Never” (or “never ever”): “I would never do that.”
“Not at all”: “That is not at all what she means.”
“Impossible”: “The task felt impossible.”
“In vain”: “He tries in vain.”
“Yet” / “Not”: “Yet, not all was in vain.”
“(Not) at all”: “Mila doesn’t mind at all.”
“Never even”: “She never even saw it coming.”
“(Not) completely”: “I don’t trust them completely.”
“Absolutely” / “Completely”: “They absolutely refuse to leave.”
Ontkenning:

Nog nooit … nie: Ek sal dit nooit doen nie.
Gladnie … nie: Dit is gladnie wat sy bedoel nie.
Onmoontlik: Die taak het onmoontlik gevoel.
Tevergeefs: Hy probeer tevergeefs.
Tog nie: Alles was tog nie verniet nie.
Geensins: Mila gee geensins om nie.
Nooit eens: Sy het dit nooit eens sien kom nie.
Nie heeltemal nie: Ek vertrou hulle nie heeltemal nie.
Volstrek: Hulle weier volstrek om te gaan.
Doubt:

“Maybe”: “Maybe we’ll go next year.”
“Perhaps”: “Perhaps Paul will join us.”
“Presumably”: “The girl is presumably his daughter.”
“Sure” / “Unsure”: “He is sure this time.”
“Probably”: “The plane is probably leaving on time.”
Twyfel:

Miskien: Miskien gaan ons volgende jaar.
Dalk: Dalk kom Paul saam met ons.
Vermoedelik: Die meisie is vermoedelik sy dogter.
Seker / Onseker: Hy is seker hierdie keer.
Waarskynlik: Die vliegtuig vertrek waarskynlik betyds.
Wish:

“Please”: “Come over, please.”
“Please-please”: “Let him play longer, please-please!”
“If only”: “If only she’d leave!”
Wens:

Asseblief: Kom oor, asseblief.
Asseblieftog: Laat hom langer speel, asseblieftog!
Tog maar … net: As sy tog maar net sal gaan!
Concession: 

“However”: “However, we won’t stay long.”
“Still”: “Still, don’t hurry.”
“Nevertheless”: “He nevertheless left too early.”


Other concession adverbs of modality:
Toegewing:

Egter: Ons sal egter nie lank bly nie.
Nogtans: Moet nogtans nie haastig wees nie.
Desnieteenstaande / Nietemin: Hy het nietemin te gou geloop.

darem, tog, intussen
Conditional:

“Preferably”: “Preferably, be early.”
“Otherwise”: “Otherwise, you’ll have to go see the doctor.”
“Only:” “She will agree only if he asks.”
Voorwaardelik:

Verkieslik: Wees verkieslik vroeg.
Anders: Anders moet jy die dokter gaan sien.

Slegs: Sy sal instem slegs as hy vra.
Adverbs of Causality / Bywoorde van Oorsaaklikheid

MAN TALKING ON THE PHONE

“Therefore”
“He therefore failed.”
Daarom
Hy het daarom misluk.
“About this”
“We need to talk about this.”
Hieroor
Ons moet hieroor praat.
“Through this”
“It was salvaged through this.”
Daardeur
Dit is daardeur gered.
“Hereby”
“I hereby declare you husband and wife.”
Hierdeur
Ek verklaar julle hierdeur man en vrou.
Adverbs of Circumstance / Bywoorde van Omstandigheid
“Incessantly”
“They talk incessantly.”
Onophoudelik
Hulle praat onophoudelik.
“Unexpectedly”
“He returned unexpectedly.”
Onverwags
Hy het onverwags teruggekom.
“Suddenly”
“The night is suddenly quiet.”
Meteens
Die nag is meteens stil.
“Alone”
“The wolf walks alone.”
Alleen
Die wolf loop alleen.
“Together”
“We walk together.”
Saam
Ons loop saam.
“In vain”
“The man knocks in vain.”
Vergeefs
Die man klop vergeefs.
“Playfully”
“She taps his hand playfully.”
Speelsgewys
Sy tik sy hand speelsgewys.
“Unconditionally”
“The woman promises unconditionally.”
Onvoorwaardelik
Die vrou belowe onvoorwaardelik.
Adverbs of Relation and Restriction / Bywoorde van Verhouding en Beperking
“Only” (1)
“The cat only blinks.”
Net
Die kat knip net (sy oë).
“Only” (2)
“It only moves if you touch it.”
Alleen
Dit beweeg alleen as jy dit aanraak.
“Only” (3)
“Three were only wounded.”
Slegs
Drie was slegs gewond.
“In part”
“The finger moves in part.”
Gedeeltelik
Die vinger beweeg gedeeltelik.
“About this”
“The teacher talks about this.”
Hieroor
Die onderwyser praat hieroor.
Adverbs of Reason / Bywoorde van Rede
“Therefore” (1)
“Therefore, she wouldn’t sleep.”
Daarom / Daaroor
Daarom wou sy nie slaap nie.
“Therefore” (2)
“They therefore turn.”
Dus
Hulle draai dus.
“For this reason”
“She came for this reason.”
Hieroor
Sy het hieroor gekom.
Adverbs of Means / Bywoorde van Middel
“With this” / “Herewith”
“I eat with this.”
Hiermee
Ek eet hiermee.
“With (that)”
“The puppy plays with that.”
Daarmee
Die hondjie speel daarmee.
Adverbs of Measurement / Bywoorde van Maat
“Little” (1) / “Less” / “The least”
“The cook dishes up less.”
Min / Minder / Die minste
Die kok skep minder op.
“A lot”
“She drinks a lot.”
Baie
Sy drink baie.
“Little by little”
“The money accumulates little by little.”
Bietjie-bietjie
Die geld vermeerder bietjie-bietjie.
“More” / “The most”
“They want more.”
Meer / Die meeste
Hulle wil meer hê.
“Little” (2)
“The boy gives little.”
Weinig
Die seun gee weinig.
Adverbs of Purpose / Bywoorde van Doel
POURING MEDICINE INTO A SPOON

“For this”
“For this, we use a spoon.”
Hiervoor
Hiervoor gebruik ons ‘n lepel.
“For that”
“For that, we use a knife.”
Daarvoor
Daarvoor gebruik ons ‘n mes.
“With this”
“She rubs the oil with this.”
Hiermee
Sy vryf die olie hiermee.
“With that”
“The car moves with that.”
Daarmee
Die kar beweeg daarmee.
Inquiring or Asking Adverbs / Vraende Bywoorde
These are also adverbs of time, manner, measurement, etc. Each can be used as a question on its own, as well (as long as the context is clear, of course).
“When?”
“When do they arrive?”
Wanneer?
Wanneer kom hulle?
“Why?”
“Why does he laugh?”
Hoekom? / Waarom?
Hoekom lag hy?
“Who?”
“Who walks there?”
Wie?
Wie loop daar?
“Where … from?”
“Where is the lady from?”
Waarvandaan?
Waarvandaan kom die dame?
“Where … to?”
“Where are you going to?”
Waarheen?
Waarheen gaan jy?
“What time?”
“What time does the plane leave?”
Hoe laat?
Hoe laat vertrek die vliegtuig?
“How many?”
“How many guests drink coffee?”
Hoeveel?
Hoeveel gaste drink koffie?
“How big?”
“How big is the snake?”
Hoe groot?
Hoe groot is die slang?
“How tall?” (1)
“How tall is the tower?”
Hoe hoog?
Hoe hoog is die toring?
“How tall?” (2)
“How tall are you?”
Hoe lank? (1)
Hoe lank is jy?
“How long?”
“How long has it been?”
Hoe lank? (2)
Hoe lank is dit nou?
“Which?”
“Which radio plays?”
Watter?
Watter radio speel?
Top Verbs

5. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Ace Your Adverbs in Afrikaans!

With us, you get to learn these adverbs and how to use them in easy, fun ways, and from a native Afrikaans speaker, too! Also, if you sign up with us, you’ll get immediate access to free tools, such as hundreds of vocabulary lists, a comprehensive core word list, a key phrase list, and a word of the day every day. That’s a bargain!

So, sign up now for a free lifetime account, and you’ll immediately be able to use other tools too, such as these hugely helpful Flashcards. You’ll also get space to create your own personalized Word Bank.

With application and persistence, and the help of our fantastic team, you’ll be able to speak Afrikaans like  a native in no time at all! Enroll today.

Before you leave, let us know in the comments if we missed any important adverb in Afrikaans that you still want to know! We’ll be glad to help.

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All About Verb Conjugation in Afrikaans – Your Best Guide!

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So, you know all about verbs in Afrikaans, but you’re still unsure about conjugations. No problem! Let’s learn about Afrikaans verb conjugation together.

In Afrikaans, it’s pretty simple, as verbs conjugate (vervoeg) in only a few instances. In other words, with most Afrikaans tenses, there are some changes to sentence structure and words, but not to the verb. The only exceptions are in the case of past tenses and the present participle. 

Fantastically easy, right? Yes! With AfrikaansPod101, this is definitely the case.

Let’s unpack this grammar rule in more detail, starting with some definitions.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Inflection vs. Conjugation
  2. Afrikaans Verb Inflections and Conjugations
  3. Quiz – Which Ones are Conjugations?
  4. How AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Your Conjugations!

1. Inflection vs. Conjugation

Top Verbs

These two terms are often confused, which is understandable. They’re very closely related. Fortunately, they’re not difficult to distinguish and can, in many instances, be used interchangeably. 

“Inflections” (verbuigings) is a general term that refers to form changes that can occur to sentences, verbs, nouns, etc., based on a number of variables. 

“Conjugations” (vervoegings) is a subset of inflections that applies only to verbs. Its counterpart for nouns is called “declensions.” So, all conjugations are inflections, but not all inflections are conjugations. Also, strictly speaking, calling them “Afrikaans verb conjugations” is a tautology, meaning that the use of “verb” is redundant. This is because, by definition, only verbs can be conjugated! (Think: “The frozen ice is cold!”)

Afrikaans verbs are conjugated for time only, as previously stated. They don’t inflect (change), for instance, for nouns and pronouns, meaning the verb stays the same no matter which noun or pronoun you use. This differs from English and some other Germanic languages, where the verb does change or inflect according to the noun or pronoun.

To illustrate this unique facet of Afrikaans conjugation, take a look at the English and Afrikaans tables below:

ENGLISH

Singular Nouns and Pronouns – Present TensePlural Nouns and Pronouns + “I” – Present Tense
he sits; she sits; it sits; the child sitsI sit; you sit; they sit; we sit; the children sit
he eats; she eats; it eats; the koala bear eatsI eat; you eat; they eat; we eat; the koala bears eat
Singular Nouns and Pronouns – Past TensePlural Nouns and Pronouns + “I” – Past Tense
he sat; she sat; it sat; the child satI sat; you sat; they sat; we sat; the children sat
he ate; she ate; it ate; the koala bear ateI ate; you ate; they ate; we ate; the koala bears ate

From the table above, you should notice that the verbs “sit” and “eat” inflect with an “-s” at the end for singular nouns and pronouns. For plural nouns and pronouns, only the base forms of the verbs are used, meaning the “-s” is omitted. All these changes take place when you’re using the present tense. For past tense use, they inflect again…can you spot the differences? Let us know in the comments! 

Afrikaans, in contrast, is totally easy:

AFRIKAANS

Singular and Plural Nouns and Pronouns – Present Tense
ek sit; sy sit; hy sit; hulle sit; ons sit; die kind sit; die kinders sit
ek eet; sy eet; hy eet; hulle eet; ons eet; die koalabeer eet; die koalabere eet

Here, it’s clear that the verbs (“sit” and “eat”) don’t inflect at all for any of the pronouns and nouns. Super easy! 

KOALA BEAR

With past tenses, as well as the present participle, conjugation in Afrikaans is a different story.

2. Afrikaans Verb Inflections and Conjugations

For the sake of good understanding, let’s take a look at when and how conjugations and verb inflections happen in different types of Afrikaans sentences.

Important Note for Table I: Just a reminder that “inflection” refers to changes that were made to the sentence and any words other than verbs. “Conjugation” refers to changes to verbs only.

Table I

Type of SentenceExamples of Verb Inflections (incl. Conjugations)
Imperative (orders and commands)1. Verb: Kniel / “Bow”
Example: Kniel! / “Bow (down)!”

2. Verb: Praat / “Talk”
Example: Praat sagter! / Lit: “Talk softer!”

Rule: 
  • There is no conjugation. 
  • Sag is inflected with the suffix -er

QUIET WOMAN IN MOVIE THEATER
Infinitive (ongoing action)Present
1. Verbs: Sukkel and Loop / “Battles” and “Walk”
Example: Die man sukkel om te loop. / “The man battles to walk.”

2. Verbs: Hou (daar)van and Lag / “Likes” and “Laugh”
Example: Ek hou daarvan om te lag. / Lit: “I enjoy it to laugh.”
 
Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Always precede the second verb with om te. No conjugation.

Past:
1. Verbs: Sukkel and Loop / “Battles” and “Walk”
Example: Die man het gesukkel om te loop. / “The man battled to walk.”

2. Verbs: Hou (daar)van and Lag / “Likes” and “Laugh”
Example: Ek het daarvan gehou om te lag. / Lit: “I enjoyed it to laugh.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Precede the first verb with the time word het, and the second one with om te
  • Conjugation – Add the prefix ge- to the first verb.
Future: 
1. Verbs: Sukkel and Loop / “Battles” and “Walk”
Example: Die man sal sukkel om te loop. / “The man will battle to walk.”

2. Verbs: Hou (daar)van and Lag / “Likes (to)” and “Laugh”
Example: Ek gaan hou daarvan om te lag. / Lit: “I am going to like it to laugh.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Precede the first verb with the time word gaan / sal / wil, and the second one with om te
  • No conjugation.
Conditional Past, Present, and FuturePast
1. Verb: Wen / “Win” and Be-verbs
Example: Hy sou gewen het as hy fikser was. / “He would’ve won if he had been/was fitter.” 

2. Verb: Werk / “Work”
Example: Hulle sou gewerk het as dit nodig was. / “They would’ve worked if it had been/was necessary.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Always precede the first verb with sou and follow it with het as + conditional clause + appropriate be-verb (in this case, was). 
  • Conjugation – Add the prefix ge- to the verb.
Present: 
1. Verb: Eet / “Eat” and Be-verbs
Example: Die hond sou eet as daar kos was. / “The dog would eat if there were food.”

2. Verb: Dans / “Dance”
Example: Die vrou sou dans as daar musiek was. / “The woman would dance if there were music.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Always precede the first verb with sou, and follow it with as + conditional clause + appropriate be-verb (was, in this case). 
  • No conjugation.
Future: 
1. Verb: Slaap / “Sleep” 
Example: Die baba sal slaap as die kamer donker genoeg is. / “The baby will sleep if the room is dark enough.”

2. Verb: Vertrek / “Leave”
Example: Ons sal vanaand vertrek as die motor reg is. / “We’ll leave tonight if the car is ready.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Always precede the first verb with a time word like sal / gaan / wil and follow it with as + conditional clause + appropriate be-verb (in this case, is). 
  • No conjugation.
Present1. Verb: Val / “Falls”
Example: Die reën val saggies. / “The rain falls quietly.”

2. Verb: Hardloop / “Run”
Example: Hulle hardloop weg. / “They run away.”

Rule: 
  • No conjugation.
Present Participle (forms perfect and passive tenses)1. Verb: Vra / “Ask”
Example: Hy kyk vraend na die vrou. / Lit: “He looks inquiringly (lit. askingly) at the woman.”

2. Verb: Hardloop / “Run”
Example: Die hardlopende bok beweeg na links. / “The running antelope moves to the left.”

Rule: 
  • Conjugation – In the first example, the suffix -end is added to the second verb, which changes its word function to that of an adverb.
  • The second example shows a conjugation with the suffix -ende on the first verb that, in this case, changes its function to that of an adjective. It’s also an example of an irregular conjugation that changes the spelling of the word.
 
Here are other examples of irregular conjugations that change the verb into an adjective or adverb:
  • verloor to verlore / “lost”
  • aankom to aankomende / “coming”
  • vertrek to vertrekkende / “leaving” or “going”
  • beloof to belowende / “promising”
  • skryf to skrywende / “writing”
  • lag to laggende / “laughing”
    loop to lopende / “walking”
    sit to sittende / “sitting”
  • vlieg to vlieënde / “flying”
BOY HOLDING A TOY AIRPLANE
Past1. Verb: Vlieg / “Fly”
Example: Ons het gevlieg. / “We flew.”

2. Verb: Kook / “Cook”
Example: Die kok het vir ons gekook. / “The chef cooked for us.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Add the time word het before the verb. 
  • Conjugation – Add the prefix ge- to the verb.
Past Participle (forms perfect and passive tenses)1. Verb: Vra / “Ask”
Example: Hy het vraend na die vrou gekyk. / “He looked inquiringly at the woman.” (First verb changes function to an adverb.)

2. Verb: Hardloop / “Run”
Example: Die hardlopende bok het na links beweeg. / “The running antelope moved to the left.” (The first verb changes function to an adjective.)

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Add the time word het before the second verb. 
  • Conjugation – Add end orende to the first verb, changing its function to adverb or adjective. If the first verb changes to an adverb, add the prefix ge- to the second verb. As explained above, the second example shows an irregular conjugation.
Future1. Verb: Slaap / “Sleep”
Example: Sy sal slaap. / “She will sleep.” 

2. Verb: Blaf / “Bark”
Example: Die hond gaan blaf. / “The dog will bark.”

Rule: 
  • Change in sentence – Add the time words sal / gaan / wil before the first verb. 
  • No conjugation.

A bit confused?

WOMAN SHRUGGING HER SHOULDERS WITH PALMS FACING UP

That’s totally okay!

Let’s quickly test your knowledge with an easy quiz…

3. Quiz – Which Ones are Conjugations?

More Essential Verbs

Identify the inflected verb (conjugation) in the following sentences and let us know your answers in the comment section!

1. Die man het geëet. / “The man ate.”

2. Ons sal weer lag. / “We will laugh again.”

3. ‘n Perd het kouend gestaan by die dammetjie. / “A horse stood chewing by the pond.”

4. Die mooi vrou praat sag. / “The pretty woman speaks softly.”

5. Die motor het vinnig gery. / “The car drove fast.”

6. Al die blomme is geurig. / “All the flowers smell good.”

In any language, grammar usually takes some time to master. For this reason, it’s best if you team up with…well, the best teachers you possibly can!

4. How AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Your Conjugations!

We hope you enjoyed learning about Afrikaans verbs and their conjugations with us. Are you ready to start practicing, or do you still have questions? Let us know in the comments!

Again, AfrikaansPod101 takes the lead with many excellent Afrikaans learning tools to help you master conjugations, inflections, and so much more—easily and almost effortlessly! While you’re learning about verb conjugations in Afrikaans, lessons like these are helpful, but we have so many more learning options for you, too! 

These tools include:

1. An extensive vocabulary list, updated regularly.

2. A new Afrikaans word to learn everyday. Master these words easily with our recordings and flashcards!

3. Access to numerous recordings, such as this Afrikaans Vocab Builder.

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary.

5. An excellent 100 Core Afrikaans Words list!

Learn much faster with the help of a personal tutor, who will first let you take an assessment test to personalize your training.

They’re very helpful when you bump into challenges during your studies. Your very own friendly, Afrikaans-speaking teacher will be only a text away on a special app, anywhere, anytime. Using a guided learning system, which was developed by experts in language and online education, they’ll be giving you personal feedback and constant support so you can learn and improve quickly. You’ll also be tasked with weekly assignments in reading, writing, and speaking, to really hone your Afrikaans language skills. 

Don’t hesitate—enroll with AfrikaansPod101 now!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Afrikaans

The Best Afrikaans Verbs List at Your Fingertips!

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Verbs are those words in a sentence that tell us what’s being done (or if it’s being done). In other words, a verb refers to an action. 

Afrikaans verbs are, in some ways, easier to master than those in other languages. For instance, in Afrikaans, verb conjugation depends only on time! This means that the verb form remains the same for all pronouns: 

  • Hy eet, ek eet, hulle eet, almal eet!

“He eats, I eat, they eat, everyone eats!”

Great, right?!

At AfrikaansPod101, we’re going to make sure that you understand Afrikaans verbs and their classification with our Afrikaans verbs list. In this blog, we explain the basic types of verbs found in Afrikaans, and offer you easy-to-use lists at your fingertips! 

Let’s not dally, but get busy and jump right in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Types of Verbs
  2. Afrikaans Verbs and Sentence Construction
  3. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Afrikaans Verbs!

1. Types of Verbs

Top Verbs

There are four types of verbs in Afrikaans.

TYPE OF VERB“Independent Verbs”

Selfstandige 

OR 

Hoofwerkwoorde
“Auxiliary Verbs” 

Hulpwerkwoorde 

OR 

Medewerkwoorde
“Linking verbs” 

Koppelwerkwoorde
“Infinitive Verbs” 

Infinitiewe
DESCRIPTIONThese are “doing” words that can only be used in the simple, incomplete present tense. There are four types of independent verbs.Afrikaans auxiliary verbs, which can never stand alone, help independent verbs express time, modality, and form. There are, therefore, three types of auxiliary verbs in Afrikaans.These verbs can also never stand alone. They’re used to link nouns, adjectives, or pronouns with nouns.The infinitive is a verb that’s used together with te or om te. These verbs can be used on their own in a sentence as well.

Let’s take a closer look at these types!

A. “Independent Verbs” / Selfstandige OR Hoofwerkwoorde

Hoofwerkwoorde can stand alone in a sentence. As mentioned in the table above, there are four types of hoofwerkwoorde, also called selfstandige werkwoorde, or “independent verbs” in Afrikaans. They are:

  • “Transitive verbs” (Oorganklike hoofwerkwoorde) AND “Intransitive verbs” (Onoorganklike hoofwerkwoorde)
  • “Reciprocal verbs” (Wederkerende hoofwerkwoorde)
  • “Impersonal verbs” (Onpersoonlike hoofwerkwoorde)

1- “Transitive & Intransitive Verbs” / Oorganklike & Onoorganklike Werkwoorde

Like in English, oorganklike hoofwerkwoorde are always followed by an object in a sentence. Or, in other words, it’s always clear that the action (depicted by the verb) is “transferred” upon a person or object.

Example: bring / “brings”

Afrikaans: Hy bring die sushi. 

Translation: “He brings the sushi.”

Another easy way to identify these types of independent verbs is by trying to answer the “what?” question. As in: “What does he bring?” (Wat bring hy?) If you can’t answer this question with a noun or pronoun, the verb is not transitive.

Man Holding Sushi Trays in Each Hand

Sentences with “intransitive verbs” (onoorganklike hoofwerkwoorde) don’t need an object—usually a noun or a pronoun—to make sense. Or, in other words, there’s no “recipient” of the action.

Example: sing / “sings”

Afrikaans: Sy sing.

Translation: “She sings.”

Also, an intransitive verb can be identified by a clause that tells more about how the action takes place.

Example: praat / “talk”

Afrikaans: Sy praat te sag op die verhoog.

Translation: “She talks too softly on stage.”

However, don’t break your head too much about these two types of independent verbs! Most transitive verbs in Afrikaans can be used as intransitive verbs too. 

In fact, there are very few true transitive verbs in Afrikaans! Here are some of them: 

  • Bring / “Bring”
  • Haak / “Hook”
  • Dra / “Carry”

All of the following independent verbs in Afrikaans can be used either as transitives or intransitives.

Gee / “Give”
Ontvang / “Receive”
– Gooi / “Throw”
Eet / “Eat”
Skink / “Pour”
Sny / “Cut”
Hoor / “Hear”
Skiet / “Shoot”
Lees / “Read”
Brei / “Knit”
Was / “Wash”
Bel / “Phone”
Verloor / “Lose”
Wen / “Win”
Sit / “Sit”
Hardloop / “Run”
Loop / “Walk”
Ry / “Ride”
Bestuur / “Drive”
Vlieg / “Fly”
Swem / “Swim”
Staan / “Stand”
Spring / “Jump”
Slaap / “Sleep”
Skryf / “Write”
Tik / “Type”
Verf / “Paint”
Speel / “Play”
Girl Jumping in Air

2- “Reciprocal verbs” / Wederkerende hoofwerkwoorde

We find these in English too, but they’re slightly different in function in Afrikaans. There are two types of reciprocal verbs in Afrikaans: 

a) Toevallig wederkerende hoofwerkwoord / “Incidental reciprocal verb”

b) Noodsaaklik wederkerende hoofwerkwoord / “Imperative reciprocal verb”

A toevallig wederkerende hoofwerkwoord can be transitive. This means that the verb will always be sandwiched between a subject and an object that can, but does not necessarily, refer to the same person. 

Example: was / “washes”

Afrikaans: Hy was hom.

Translation: “He washes him.”

In this sentence, the verb was (“wash”) can refer to a man who washes himself, or it can refer to a father washing his son, for instance. In other words, it could mean that the action is being done to a second party, which means that the verb is transitive.

The noodsaaklike wederkerende hoofwerkwoord (“imperative reciprocal verb”), however, is always sandwiched between an object and a subject that refers to the same person. There’s no doubt that only one person is being referred to here.

Example: verheug / “rejoices”

Afrikaans: Sy verheug haar oor die nuus.

Translation: “She rejoices over the news.”

Happy woman with Face in Hands

There aren’t many of these verbs in Afrikaans, and please note that their English translations aren’t always used reciprocally. Below is an Afrikaans verbs list to give you a better idea of these words. Afrikaans verbs with no direct translation to English are bolded.

  • vererg / “annoyed”
  • berus / “acquiesces” or “accepts” or “resigns”
  • beroep / “appeals to”
  • bekommer / “worry”
  • bemoei 

There’s no direct translation for this word in English. Bemoei can denote interference or inappropriate meddling with something. But it can also refer to taking action or interest in something one is not expected to, such as a charity.

  • verkyk / “gawks” or “stares in amazement”
  • verlustig

There’s no direct translation for this word either, but it means to take exquisite delight in something, truly savoring the experience.

  • verstom / “stunned”
  • begewe / “to embark on” or “to enter into”

Begewe denotes an action with a certain risk, meaning that you’re embarking on something potentially dangerous or something that could have a negative outcome.

  • bevind / “finds”
  • Misgis / “misjudges”
  • ontferm / “takes care of” (As in little animals, children, anything vulnerable)
  • verstout / “ventures to” (Taking bold action that’s slightly risky, perhaps even a bit naughty!)
  • beroem 

This word doesn’t have an English translation, and is difficult to describe! It denotes that you have a certain skill you’re proud of, almost to the point of being famous for that skill.

  • beywer

This word means something between “to work” and “to campaign” with fervor. It denotes that you put in special, dedicated, and passionate effort into doing something.

  • aanmatig / “presumes”
  • steur

No direct translation, but the closest English approximation is probably “to be bothered.” Steur means to take notice of something, or to pay attention to it. The word is usually used in this sentence: Moet jou nie daaraan steur nie. / “Don’t be bothered by it.” or “Pay it no heed.”

  • bedink / “devise”
  • gedra / “behave”
  • skaam 

This doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it means that you’re ashamed of something or someone.

3- “Impersonal verbs” / Onpersoonlike hoofwerkwoorde

Impersonal verbs are, as the name suggests, verbs that don’t refer to a specific person or place. 

List:

1. Dit reën en blits. (“There’s rain and lightning.”)

2. Dit sneeu in die berge. (“It’s snowing in the mountains.”)

3. Dit hael selde hier by ons. (“It seldom hails here.”)

4. Dit spook in daardie huis. (“The house is haunted.”)

5. Dit wasem op in die kar. (“Condensation is forming in the car.”)

6. Dit word nooit koud nie. (“It never gets cold.”)

7. Dit gaan goed. (“It’s going well.”)

8. Dit is onnodig. (“It’s unnecessary.”)

An easy way to identify impersonal verbs is by the subject in the sentence, which will always be the impersonal pronoun dit (“it”).

Confused and scared yet? Wait until you see the rest! 

Man Peeking from behind Table

No worries, though, because with a bit of consistent practice and some help from AfrikaansPod101, you’ll master all of these eventually. There are so many benefits of learning a new language—it’s worth sticking with it!

Also, for your convenience, here are other informative blog posts to expand your knowledge of Afrikaans grammar: 

B. “Auxiliary Verbs” / Hulpwerkwoorde

As the name suggests, these verbs help the selfstandige werkwoorde (“independent verbs”) in sentences. They help to express time, modality, and form.

1- Hulpwerkwoorde van Tyd / “Auxiliary Verbs of Time”

This is simple. There’s only one auxiliary verb in this category: het. Also, the other verb(s) in the sentence gets conjugated with the prefix ge-, such as in gepraat (“spoke”).

  • Ek het gewerk. (“I worked.”)
  • Hulle het fietsgery. (“They cycled.”)
  • Ons het gevlieg. (“We flew.”)

2- Hulpwerkwoorde van Wyse OR Modaliteit / “Modal Auxiliary Verbs”

Afrikaans modal verbs modulate the meaning of a sentence in regard to the probability, possibility, necessity, or need of the action taken.

  • Die vrou kan dit doen. (“The woman can do it.”)
  • Ons mag saam wees. (“We are allowed to be together.” OR “We could be together.”)
  • The man moet kosmaak. (“The man must prepare food.”)
  • Hulle probeer ‘n vlieër maak. (“They try to make a kite.”)

Other modal auxiliary verbs in Afrikaans:

  • sal / “shall”
  • wil / “will”
  • moes

This verb is used to indicate the past tense of moet, and the other verb also gets conjugated with ge-. For example: Hy moes kosgemaak het. (“He should have cooked.”)

  • behoort / “should”
  • hoef

This Afrikaans verb is always used together with nie, a verbal clause that means “needn’t.” For example: Julle hoef nie vroeg te kom nie. (“You [plural] don’t need to come early.”)

3- Hulpwerkwoorde van Vorm / “Auxiliary Verbs of Form”

There are only two of these auxiliary verbs: word and is. They’re used to indicate the passive voice.

  • Die motor word gewas. (“The car is being washed.”)
  • Daardie huis is verkoop. (“The house was sold.”)
Kite on a Nice Day

C. Koppelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs”

These verbs are used to link nouns, adjectives, or pronouns with other nouns. If used alone in a sentence, the latter won’t make sense. For instance:

  • Die kat is mooi. (“The cat is pretty.”)
  • Hy word groot. (“He is growing up.”)
  • Dit lyk goed. (“That looks good.”)
  • Jy bly mooi. (“You remain attractive.”)

Take note: This is not to be confused with bly, which means “live,” as in a house. Ons bly lekker in hierdie plekkie literally translates as “We live nicely in this little place,” and it means you enjoy living there. This bly is a main or independent verb, since the sentence will still make since if lekker in hierdie plekkie is removed.

  • Die kind klink moeg. (“The child sounds tired.”)
  • Dit wil voorkom asof sy skuldig is. (“It appears she might be guilty.”)

D. Infinitiewe / “Infinitive Verbs”

Negative Verbs

The infinitive form in Afrikaans is indicated with the use of te and om te together with the verb. The verb can be used alone too, where the infinitive is then implicated.

a) Te and a verb

  • Die rok is te koop. (“The dress is for sale.”)
  • Die motor is te huur. (“The car is for hire.”)
  • Hulle behoort hulle te skaam. (“They should be ashamed of themselves.”)

b) Om te and a verb

  • Die sanger hou daarvan om te jodel. (“The singer likes to yodel.”)
  • Sy vra hom om wyn te koop. (“She asks him to buy wine.”)
  • Ek is lief om te droom. (“I love dreaming.”)

c) Omitting om te (but still implicating it)

  • Swem is goed. (Instead of Om te swem is goed.) / “Exercise is good.”
  • Die kind leer klavierspeel. (Instead of Die kind leer om klavier te speel.) / “The child learns to play the piano.”
  • Help my die blomme plant. (Instead of Help my om die blomme te plant.) / “Help me plant the flowers.”
Someone Planting Flowers

Hopefully you’re not too confused! 

Now let’s take a look at the basic word order of an Afrikaans sentence to understand where verbs should take their place. 

2. Afrikaans Verbs and Sentence Construction

More Essential Verbs

The popular way to explain this is with the acronym STOMPI. But before you start, the golden rule to remember is this: In any DECLARATIVE sentence (stelsin) in Afrikaans, the first verb follows the subject

Now, to unpack STOMPI!

Note: While shortcut learning tools like STOMPI always seem more simple than they are, you’ll never be wrong if you stick to this formula! Obviously, the rules change slightly with interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences, but let’s start with declaratives. 

Subject or Who/What

This is the word indicating the person or thing taking the action, meaning pronouns, nouns, or proper nouns (voornaamwoorde, selfstandige naamwoorde en eiename). Or, in other words, the subject describes who or what is busy acting/doing something. 

Examples of a subject:

Sy

“She”

Die kat 

“The cat”

Marie

“Mary”

Silent V1 or Verb 1:

This one didn’t fit into the acronym, ergo its “silent” status! But it’s very important to remember that all declarative sentences in Afrikaans have this first verb AFTER the subject. This verb can be an auxiliary verb or a regular or conjugated verb (hulpwerkwoorde, en werkwoorde).

Time word or When:

This always comes after Verb 1, and answers the question “When?” It always mentions a time of day or a number.

Object or Who/What:

This is a noun or something upon which the action is performed. 

Manner – Adverbs (bywoorde):

These describe how something happens. In other words, they describe the action taking place.

Silent V2 or Verb 2:

This verb will mostly appear in future or past tense sentences.

Place or location:

These are words that indicate a place. 

Also called plekwoorde or “place words.”

Infinitive:

To do an action.

A. Example of STOMPI in action!

Die kat eet vandag die kos gretig uit die bak om te oorleef.

“Today the cat eagerly eats the food from the bowl to survive.”

Subject: die kat (“the cat”)

Silent verb 1: eet (“eats”)

Time word: vandag (“today”)

Object: die kos (“the food”)

Manner: gretig (“eagerly”)

Place: uit die bak (“from the bowl”)

Infinitive: om te oorleef (“to survive”)

Do you notice how the verb (Silent Verb 1) follows the subject in this sentence? (The Silent Verb 2 is omitted because this is set in the simple present tense.)

Here’s another example:

Stefan het gister die bal baie hard op die tennisbaan geslaan om te wen. 

“Yesterday, Stephen hit the ball very hard on the tennis court to win.”

Subject: Stefan (“Stephen”)

Silent verb 1: het (The word literally translates as “has,” but the sentence is written in the simple past tense. “Has” only gets used in one of the perfect past tenses in English, so it’s omitted from this sentence.)

Time word: gister (“yesterday”)

Object: die bal (“the ball”)

Manner: baie hard (“very hard”)

Place: op die tennisbaan (“on the tennis court”)

Silent verb 2: geslaan (“hit”)

Infinitive: om te wen (“to win”)

The sentence above is a simple past tense sentence. As you should see, it contains both Silent Verbs.

3. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Afrikaans Verbs!

Like any language, all this may seem very daunting to master. Don’t fear! We have your back!

Also—why study in ways that are boring and demotivating, when you can learn Afrikaans while having fun?!

That’s our entire aim at AfrikaansPod101. Get access to thousands of enjoyable, culturally relevant, and very interesting lessons

For instance, check out our page on cracking the Afrikaans writing system in minutes! 

You can also explore and expand your Afrikaans vocabulary with extensive vocab lists, a free online dictionary, and a handy Word of the Day feature. Once you have the 100 Core Afrikaans Words under your belt, buckle up to master the Afrikaans Key Phrase List.

Don’t wait—enroll today!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you think we missed any common Afrikaans verbs in our list, or if you have any questions about conjugation. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Afrikaans

Best List of Must-Know Afrikaans Pronouns

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The word “pronoun” in Afrikaans is voornaamwoord. Like pronouns in most languages, Afrikaans pronouns are very necessary words to use and master. Without pronouns, a language could sound clumsy and be much more difficult to understand! But with AfrikaansPod101.com, this doesn’t have to be a problem. We help you learn not only the relevant vocabulary, but also the grammar and proper use of pronouns in Afrikaans—easily and excellently!

Let’s start with the purpose of pronouns. Basically, these are words that take the place of nouns (the very word “pronoun” should give that away!) in a sentence. This keeps us from repeating the same word or words over and over again. Also, as mentioned earlier, they ensure elegant and smooth speech and writing.

An example of a sentence without pronouns:

“Not only is Peter Pan a boy, but Peter Pan is also a fairytale character.”

The meaning of the sentence is correct, but it doesn’t sound very good, right? Here’s the same sentence with a personal pronoun. Can you spot it?

“Not only is Peter Pan a boy, but he is also a fairytale character.”

Yup, in this sentence, “he” is the personal pronoun that takes the place of “Peter Pan,” the proper noun. You can also learn the basics about nouns in Afrikaans in our blog post: Learn the 100 Most Common Nouns in Afrikaans.

Now that we’re on the same page regarding the nature of a pronoun, let’s dig into different examples of pronouns in Afrikaans! In Afrikaans, we classify nine types of pronouns.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Personal Pronouns / Persoonlike Voornaamwoorde
  2. Impersonal Pronouns / Onpersoonlike Voornaamwoorde
  3. Possessive Pronoun / Besitlike Voornaamwoord
  4. Relative Pronouns / Betreklike Voornaamwoorde
  5. Interrogative Pronouns / Vraende Voornaamwoorde
  6. Indefinite Pronouns / Onbepaalde Voornaamwoorde
  7. Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns / Noodsaaklike & Toevallige Wederkerende Voornaamwoorde
  8. Reciprocal Pronouns / Wederkerige Voornaamwoorde
  9. Demonstrative Pronouns / Aanwysende Voornaamwoorde
  10. AfrikaansPod101 and Afrikaans Pronouns—Why We’re the Best!

1. Personal Pronouns / Persoonlike Voornaamwoorde

Introducing Yourself

As the name suggests, Afrikaans personal pronouns specifically take the place of the names of people, places, and things in a sentence.

Personal Pronoun: EnglishPersoonlike Voornaamwoord: Afrikaans
Iek
ekjy
you (formal)u
shesy
hehy
weons
you (formal plural)u
you (informal plural)julle
theyhulle
itdit

Note: Unlike in English, the Afrikaans pronoun used when you refer to yourself (ek / “I”) isn’t always written in capital letters. Ek is written with a capital letter only at the start of a sentence.

See if you can identify every personal pronoun in Afrikaans in the following sentences!

Examples:

Cellphone

Afrikaans: Ek het my selfoon by die huis vergeet. My vriendin het gesê dat sy dit vir my sal bring.

Translation: “I forgot my cell-phone at home. My friend said she would bring it to me.”

Afrikaans: Hy will by julle aansluit.

Translation: “He wants to join you.” (Plural, informal “you”)

Afrikaans: My vriende is hier; ons gaan nou eet.

Translation: “My friends are here; we’re going to eat now.”

Afrikaans: Meneer, kan u Afrikaans praat? U vrou sê sy kan nie.

Translation: “Sir, can you speak Afrikaans? Your wife says she can’t.” (Singular, formal “you”)

Afrikaans: Hulle het ‘n nuwe kar. Dit is baie spoggerig. 

Translation: “They have a new car. It is very grand.”

2. Impersonal Pronouns / Onpersoonlike Voornaamwoorde

There are only two impersonal pronouns in Afrikaans: dit (“it”) and daar (“there”).

Examples:

Afrikaans: Dit reën buite. 

Translation: “It’s raining outside.” 

Note: This dit is used mostly in reference to natural phenomena like the weather.

Man with Umbrella Rain

Afrikaans: Daar is niks wat mens hieraan kan doen nie.

Translation: “There’s nothing one can do about it.”

Note: This Afrikaans pronoun is mostly used in the passive voice. Don’t confuse it with daardie! Read on to learn more about this.

3. Possessive Pronoun / Besitlike Voornaamwoord

As the name suggests, Afrikaans possessive pronouns indicate possession.

Possessive Pronoun: EnglishBesitlike Voornaamwoord: Afrikaans
my / minemy / myne
your / yoursjou / joune
her / hershaar / hare
hissy / syne
our / oursons / ons s’n
your / yours (plural informal)julle / julle s’n
your / yours (plural formal)u / u s’n
their / theirshulle / hulle s’n

Examples:

Afrikaans: Die kaartjie is myne. Dis vir my vlug na London.

Translation: “The ticket is mine. It’s for my flight to London.”

Afrikaans: Dis jou nuwe iPad. Die nuwe skootrekenaar is ook joune.

Translation: “That is your new iPad. The new laptop is also yours.”

Afrikaans: Haar sitplek is hare; sy sitplek is syne.

Translation: “Her seat is hers; his seat is his.”

Afrikaans: Julle hond is julle s’n.

Translation: “Your dog is yours.” (Informal, plural)

A Puppy

Afrikaans: Hulle tafel is hulle s’n. Ons gaan by ons s’n sit.

Translation: “That table is theirs. We’re going to sit at ours.”

Afrikaans: U ete is voorberei. Die vegetariese disse is u s’n.

Translation: “Your meal is prepared. The vegetarian dishes are yours.” (Formal, singular or plural)

4. Relative Pronouns / Betreklike Voornaamwoorde

Afrikaans relative pronouns are relative to, or have to do with, a noun that occurs first in the sentence. They’re used to connect a phrase or a clause to a noun. 

There are four pronouns in this category: wat, wie se, waaroor, and waarin. The literal translations for these pronouns are not used in the same way they are in English. 

In the example sentences below, the noun which is being referred to is underlined.

Examples:

Afrikaans: Die persoon wat praat is die kind se ma.

Translation: “The person who’s speaking is the child’s mother.”

Afrikaans: Die onderwerp waaroor sy praat is belangrik.

Translation: “The topic that she is discussing is important.”

Afrikaans: Die kind wie se tas gevind is, is nie hier nie.

Translation: “The child whose suitcase was found is not here.”

Afrikaans: Die drama waarin hy optree begin vanaand.

Translation: “The drama in which he performs is opening tonight.”

5.  Interrogative Pronouns / Vraende Voornaamwoorde

Basic Questions

As the name suggests, these Afrikaans pronouns are used to ask questions. You’ll see that most of them can be used as relative pronouns too.

Interrogative Pronouns: EnglishVraende Voornaamwoorde: Afrikaans
whowie
whatwat / waarvan
about whatwaaroor
with whatwaarmee
what…forwaarvoor
whichwatter
whichwanneer
whywaarom / hoekom

Tip: If you can answer the question with a noun, then you know there’s a vraende voornaamwoord in the sentence!

Examples:

Afrikaans: Wie het die Lotto gewen?

Translation: “Who won the Lotto?”

Woman Standinding in Money

Afrikaans: Wat gaan jy met die geld doen?

Translation: “What are you going to do with the money?”

Afrikaans: Waarvan hou jy die meeste?

Translation: “What do you like the most?”

Afrikaans: Waaroor wil jy skryf?

Translation: “About what do you want to write?”

Afrikaans: Waarmee wil jy die koffie roer?

Translation: “With what do you want to stir the coffee?”

Afrikaans: Waarvoor gebruik mens hierdie ding?

Translation: “What do you use this thing for?”

Afrikaans: Watter take gaan jy nou aanpak?

Translation: “Which tasks are you going to tackle now?”

Afrikaans: Wanneer is ons reis na Skotland?

Translation: “When is our trip to Scotland?”

Afrikaans: Waarom huil jy?

Translation: “Why are you crying?”

Note: Waarom can be used interchangeably with hoekom. They’re similar in meaning.

6. Indefinite Pronouns / Onbepaalde Voornaamwoorde

These pronouns in Afrikaans don’t refer to any specific thing, place, or person. 

Indefinite Pronouns: EnglishOnbepaalde Voornaamwoorde: Afrikaans
anyenige
anybody / anyoneenigiemand / enigeen
nobodyniemand
somesommige
everybodyalmal
fewmin / enkele
everythingalles
severalverskeie
nogeen
allalle
bothalbei
eachelkeen
enoughgenoeg
muchbaie

Examples:

Afrikaans: Laat hulle enige troeteldiere hier toe?

Translation: “Do they allow any pets here?”

A Cat and Dog

Afrikaans: Vra enigiemand, dis ‘n aangename plek hierdie.

Translation: “Ask anybody, this is a pleasant place.”

Afrikaans: Niemand mag ingaan nie.

Translation: “Nobody may enter.”

Afrikaans: Sommige mense hou van oefening, maar net enkeles neem deel aan professionele sport.

Translation: “Some people like to exercise, but few participate in professional sport.”

Afrikaans: Dis goed ons het baie kos gemaak, want min het oorgebly.

Translation: “It’s good we made a lot of food, because little was left.”

Afrikaans: Die orkaan het almal geaffekteer maar gelukkig het niemand alles verloor nie.

Translation: “The hurricane affected everyone, but fortunately no one lost everything.”

Afrikaans: Daar is verskeie resepte wat enigeen kan kook.

Translation: “There are several recipes that anyone can cook.”

Afrikaans: Geen persoon kan na agtuur inkom nie want alle deure is dan toegesluit.

Translation: “No person can enter after eight o’clock because all doors will be locked then.”

Afrikaans: Albei is my kinders, en ek het genoeg liefde vir elkeen.

Translation: “Both are my children, and I have enough love for each.”

Mother with Two Kids

7. Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns / Noodsaaklike & Toevallige Wederkerende Voornaamwoorde

These pronouns are used when both the subject and object of a verb refer to the same person or thing.
There are two categories of reflexive pronouns in Afrikaans: noodsaaklik wederkerend (reflexive) and toevallig wederkerend (intensive). It’s clear that the former (reflexive) refers to the same subject in a sentence, so that’s easy. However, it’s possible for the latter (intensive) to refer to any person or object, so the –self suffix is added for clarification.

Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns: EnglishWederkerende Voornaamwoord: Afrikaans
I – myselfEk – my
He – himselfHy – hom
She – herselfSy – haar
We – ourselvesOns – ons
They – themselvesHulle – hul

Examples of Reflexive Pronouns / Noodsaaklik Wederkerende Voornaamwoorde:

Afrikaans: Ek verwonder my aan hoe hy hom verspreek het.

Translation: “I am amazed by his slip of the tongue.”

Afrikaans: Sy het haar misgis met hoeveel hulle hul bekommer het.

Translation: “She misjudged how much they worried themselves.”

Afrikaans: Ons het ons gelukkig nie vasgeloop nie.

Meaning: “Fortunately, we didn’t encounter obstacles.” (There is no literal translation for this phrase!)

Tip: The astute will notice the lack of the self suffix! This is omitted when it’s clear who performs the action.

Examples of Intensive Pronouns / Toevallig Wederkerende Voornaamwoorde:

Here, the suffix –self is added for the sake of clarity. This means that, in a sentence, it’s possible that the action can be performed on another object or person.

Afrikaans: Hy was homself.

Translation: “He washes himself.”

Afrikaans: Hulle prys hulself.

Translation: “They praise themselves.”

Afrikaans: Sy trek haarself aan.

Translation: “She dresses herself.”

8. Reciprocal Pronouns / Wederkerige Voornaamwoorde

These pronouns are used to indicate that two or more people are carrying out, or have carried out, a specific action. Only two Afrikaans pronoun forms exist in this category: mekaar (“one another”) and die een die ander (“each other”).

Group Meeting Work

Afrikaans: Ons staan mekaar by met die werk .

Translation: “We support each other with the work.”

Afrikaans: Ons help die een die ander met opruim.

Translation: “We help one another to clean up.”

9. Demonstrative Pronouns / Aanwysende Voornaamwoorde

These pronouns don’t take the place of nouns, but are always used together with the noun. Again, only two words are used as aanwysende voornaamwoorde: hierdie (“this”) and daardie (“that”).

Afrikaans: Hierdie vlug gaan aangenaam wees.

Translation: “This flight will be pleasant.”

Afrikaans: Daardie paartjie is gelukkig.

Translation: “That couple is happy.”

Happy Couple

Well done! Now the question: “What is a pronoun in Afrikaans?” need not mystify you any longer! Also be sure to check out our other blog post, the Essential Afrikaans Adjectives List

10. AfrikaansPod101 and Afrikaans Pronouns—Why We’re the Best!

Improve Listening

With us, you get to learn these pronouns and so much more in easy, fun ways from a native Afrikaans speaker! Also, you get access to free tools, such as hundreds of vocabulary lists, a comprehensive Core Word List, a Key Phrase List, and a Word of the Day every day! 

Sign up for a free lifetime account, and you’ll immediately have access to other tools, including hugely helpful flashcards and space to create your own personalized Word Bank.

With application and persistence—and the help of our fantastic team—you’ll be able to speak Afrikaans like  a native in no time at all! Enroll today.

But before you leave: Which pronouns do you have in your native language? Share three with us in the comments!

How to Tell Time in Afrikaans – It’s Easy!

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Like knowing your way around dates in Afrikaans (learn about that in our blog!), being able to tell time in Afrikaans is an equally important conversational skill to master. Also, it could save you a lot of embarrassment. 

What good would it be if you knew you had to pitch somewhere on Dinsdag (Tuesday), but you didn’t know the meaning of agtuur (“eight o’clock”)? Or which agtuur of the day was being referred to? 

Let AfrikaansPod101 make it easy for you. If you want, you can start with recorded vocabulary lessons like Talking about Time and dialogue examples such as Arriving at the Right Time in South Africa

First, let’s quickly get clarity on the two ways we tell time. Both are used to indicate time in Afrikaans.

Twelve-Hour Clock

This way of telling the time divides the twenty-four-hour day into two twelve-hour periods. These are referred to as a.m. (ante meridiem) and p.m. (post meridiem).  

Wristwatch

Afrikaners use this clock the most. The terms commonly used are voormiddag or the abbreviation v.m. (to indicate “ante meridiem/a.m.”), and namiddag or its abbreviation n.m. (to indicate “post meridiem/p.m.”).

These are most employed in writing, such as in: elf v.m. (“eleven a.m.)” or 09h00 n.m. (“09h00 p.m.”). 

In conversations, though, you’ll most likely use other adjectives that indicate p.m. or a.m. in Afrikaans. Read on for more about this.

Twenty-Four-Hour Clock

The twenty-four-hour clock is also called military or astronomical time. This time format is based on the entire twenty-four-hour period, with each hour of the day having its own number. 

When keeping time this way, the day starts at midnight and is indicated like this: 00:00. The last minute of the day is written as 23:59, or one minute before the next midnight. This system is clever and efficient. Therefore, it’s used by armed forces, pilots and airlines, astronomists, governments, hospitals, emergency services, and so forth. 

Apple Watch

In South Africa, this way of indicating the time isn’t commonly used colloquially, but more in writing.

How to write time in Afrikaans depends on the type of document you’re writing it down for. If you’re indicating the time in a non-fiction document, such as in a formal report, statement, or legal document, you can use either 12h00 or 12:00. Depending on which clock you use, you’ll either omit or add p.m. or a.m. in Afrikaans.

If you’re noting the time in a work of fiction, such as part of a dialogue, you’ll write it out in full, such as in “six o’clock” (sesuur).

Let’s get cracking on how to ask what time it is in Afrikaans, and how to tell it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask for the Time in Afrikaans
  2. Hours / Ure
  3. Minutes / Minute
  4. Periods of Time in Afrikaans
  5. General Time References
  6. Adverbs of Time in Afrikaans
  7. BONUS! Time Proverbs, Sayings, and Odd Terms in Afrikaans
  8. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Tell the Time in Afrikaans in No Time!

1. How to Ask for the Time in Afrikaans

Time

1- Formal

The following are polite and socially refined ways of asking the time in excellent Afrikaans. Use it if you want to impress someone! 

Afrikaans: Kan u my sê wat die tyd is, asseblief?

Translation: “Could you tell me the time, please?”

Note: The u (“you”) in Afrikaans is the formal type of address, mostly used when talking to complete strangers, dignitaries, or older people you don’t know well. You can also use this sentence with the informal “you,” which is jy.

Afrikaans: Mag ek verneem wat die tyd is, asseblief?

Translation: “May I ask the time, please?”

2- Informal

Afrikaans: Hoe laat is dit nou, ‘seblief?

Translation: “What’s the time now, please?”

Note: “How late is it now, please?” is the literal translation of this Afrikaans sentence, but in English, you’d ask the question in a specific context. You’d use it, for instance, if you wanted to know how late at night it is, to which an answer could be: “very late” or “still early.”

In Afrikaans, though, this question is a common way of asking the time. Also note the contraction of asseblief (“please”). If you don’t know the person very well, or if you’re addressing a parent or older family member, it’s polite to use ‘seblief. If it’s your mate and you’re comfortable with one another, it’s okay to omit this word when asking for the time.

Afrikaans: Wat’s die tyd?

Translation: “What’s the time?”

Note: The same applies for ‘seblief as above. Also note the contraction for wat is to wat’s. (Like “what is” becomes “what’s.”)

Afrikaans: Hoe lank gaan dit neem om daar te kom?

Translation: “How long will it take to get there?”

Passengers Walking at Airport

Afrikaans: Hoe laat/Watter tyd moet ons by die lughawe wees?

Translation: “How late/What time must we be at the airport?”

What would the reply look like to questions like these?

2. Hours / Ure

There’s no distinction between a formal and informal way of telling time in Afrikaans. Keep in mind that you can also use an approximation with adverbs or adjectives.

Afrikaans: Dis nou presies agtuur.

Translation: “It’s now exactly eight o’clock.”

Afrikaans: Dit neem ongeveer ‘n uur om daar te kom.

Translation: “It takes approximately an hour to get there.”

Afrikaans: Ons vlieg nege-uur vanaand. So ons moet om-en-by sewe by die lughawe wees.

Translation: “We’re flying at nine o’clock tonight. So we must be at the airport around seven.”

Note: Just like with “o’clock,” the uur is sometimes omitted in casual conversations.

3. Minutes / Minute

Like in most casual and conversational English, noting the precise number of minutes isn’t very common in Afrikaans. Simply add the appropriate number to minuut (singular) or minute (plural). 

Afrikaans: Hy hardloop vir ‘n minuut.

Translation: “He runs for a minute.”

Afrikaans: Ek gaan vir so twintig minute stort.

Translation: “I’m going to shower for approximately twenty minutes.”

Afrikaans: Die winkel is nog oop vir ‘n uur en vyftien minute.

Translation:The shop is still open for an hour and fifteen minutes.”

Frustration, Payphone Wristwatch

Afrikaans: Sy praat nou al vir ses-en-dertig minute!

Translation: “She’s been talking for thirty-six minutes already!”

4. Periods of Time in Afrikaans

Improve Listening

This has got nothing to do with Downton Abbey or Outlander. It refers to the divisions of an hour into quarters and halves. 

This is how we say it in Afrikaans:

Afrikaans: kwart oor drie and kwart voor vyf

Translation: “quarter past three” and “quarter to five”

Note: Here, “quarter” and kwart are contractions of “quarter of an hour” and kwartier. It is, of course, a fifteen-minute increment.

Afrikaans: half vier

Translation: “half past three”

Note: Nope, it’s not wrong, and it can seem confusing. But it’s very easily explained. In English, talking about half of an hour (“half past three”) literally means: “It’s now a half-an-hour past/after three o’clock.” In Afrikaans, instead, talking about half of an hour (half vier) means: “It is now a half-an-hour to/before four o’clock.” Same thing, different angles, so to speak! It takes a bit of practice if you’re not used to it, but once you understand the concept, it’s very easy.

Afrikaans: Ons vertrek oor ‘n halfuur van die huis af.

Translation: “We’re leaving home in half an hour.”

Taxi

Afrikaans: Die taxi gaan oor ‘n driekwartier hier wees.

Translation: “The taxi will be here in three quarters of an hour/forty-five minutes.”

5. General Time References

The following time words in Afrikaans are common references pertaining to time.

Afrikaans: oggend and aand

Translation: “morning” and “evening”

Example: Die oggend is koel, net soos die aand. 

Translation: “The morning is cool, just like the evening.”

Afrikaans: nag and middernag

Translation: “night” and “midnight”

Example: Die nag is stil en middernag is donker.

Translation: “The night is quiet and midnight is dark.”

Afrikaans: vroegoggend and laataand

Translation: “early morning” and “late in the evening”

Example: Ons vertrek vroegoggend en keer laataand terug.

Translation: “We leave early in the morning and will return late in the evening.”

Afrikaans: laatnag

Translation: “late at night”

Example: Hy verkies dit om laatnag te ry.

Translation: “He prefers driving late at night.”

Afrikaans: sonsopkoms

Translation: “sunrise”

Example: Die sonsopkoms is asemrowend mooi. 

Translation: “The sunrise is breathtakingly beautiful.”

Sunrise or Sunset

Afrikaans: sonsondergang

Translation: “sunset”

Example: Die sonsondergang is net so mooi.

Translation: “The sunset is equally beautiful.”

Afrikaans: vanmiddag

Translation: “afternoon”

Example: Wat gaan ons vanmiddag eet? 

Translation: “What are we eating this afternoon?”

Afrikaans: middag

Translation: “midday”

Example: Teen die middag was hy gesond. 

Translation: “By midday, he was well.”

6. Adverbs of Time in Afrikaans

Afrikaans: onmiddelik

Translation: “right now” or “immediately”

Example: Hy wil sy kos onmiddelik hê. 

Translation: “He wants his food right now.”

Man Eating Food

Afrikaans: oombliklik

Translation: “instantly” 

Example: Die kos is oombliklik reg.

Translation: “The food is instantly ready.”

Afrikaans: ‘n oomblik

Translation: “momentarily”

Example: Sy bly ‘n oomblik stil.

Translation: “She pauses momentarily.”

Afrikaans: tans

Translation: “currently”

Example: Dis tans winter by ons.

Translation: “It’s currently winter here.”

Afrikaans: intussen 

Translation: “meanwhile”

Example: Intussen, neem die pynstillers tot die dokter beskikbaar is.

Translation: “Meanwhile, take the painkillers until the doctor is available.”

Afrikaans: voor en na

Translation: “before” and “after” OR “afterward”

Example: Moenie die pille neem voor jy geëet het nie. Neem dit na die tyd.

Translation: “Don’t take the pills before you’ve eaten. Take them afterward.”

Pills

Afrikaans: terselfdertyd OR die selfde tyd

Translation: “simultaneously”

Example: Moenie pille en drank terselfdertyd neem nie.

Translation: “Don’t take pills and alcohol simultaneously.”

Afrikaans: binnekort and amper 

Translation: “soon” and “almost”

Example: Ons gaan binnekort ry. Ek is amper reg.

Translation: “We’re leaving soon. I’m almost ready.”

Afrikaans: nou-nou

Translation: “in a while”

Example: Die taxi is nou-nou hier.

Translation: “The taxi will be here in a while.”

Afrikaans: vir ‘n lang tyd

Translation: “for a long time”

Example: Gaan julle ‘n lang tyd weg?

Translation: “Are you going away for a long time?”

Afrikaans: lankal

Translation: “for a long time already/now”

Example: Ons is al lankal hier.

Translation: “We’ve been here for a long time already.”

Afrikaans: enige tyd 

Translation: “anytime”

Example: Bel my enige tyd.

Translation: “Call me anytime.”

Afrikaans: so gou as moontlik

Translation: “as soon as possible”

Example: Ek sal jou so gou as moontlik kontak.

Translation: “I will call you as soon as possible.”

Phonecall

7. BONUS! Time Proverbs, Sayings, and Odd Terms in Afrikaans

Afrikaans is a colorful, literal language, and some of its sayings about time are very quaint. Here are the most common and interesting Afrikaans time sayings! 

Afrikaans: Moenie wors in ‘n hondehok soek nie.

Translation: “Don’t look for sausage in a kennel.”

Meaning: Don’t waste time on a lost cause!

Afrikaans: draaikous

Translation: Literally, this translates as “turn sock.” Nope, we don’t know either! But it means the same thing as “dawdler.”

Example: Die seun is ‘n regte draaikous!

Meaning: “That boy is a real dawdler!”

Afrikaans: hanna-hanna

Translation: There’s not a literal translation for this term.

Meaning: It’s an old Cape-Afrikaans saying that gets used when someone takes their time doing something.

Example: Jy hanna-hanna nou lekker met jou huiswerk, nê?

Translation: Approximation – “You’re dawdling with your homework, hey?”

Afrikaans: Die oggendstond het goud in die mond.

Translation: “Early dawn has gold in the mouth.”

Meaning: This means that those who rise early get more done.

Afrikaans: hoeka

Translation: Another one without a translation! An approximation would be “for a while now,” which means almost the same as lankal (discussed under the previous heading).

Example: Hy wag hoeka vir daardie verslag. 

Translation: “He’s been waiting a while already for the report.”

Afrikaans: gevrek

Translation: “dead”

Meaning: Literally, it means something is dead, but it’s often used to indicate that someone is very slow and takes their time. It’s not a very flattering or polite way to describe a person, though!

Example: Die diens hier is maar gevrek!

Translation: “The service here is very slow!”

Do you have a favorite proverb or saying about time in your language? Share with us in the comments!

Learning with Languagepod

8. AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Tell the Time in Afrikaans in No Time!

Basic Questions

Don’t be a draaikous and waste precious time—enrol now with AfrikaansPod101! As a beginner, you’ll get access to helpful audio lessons, such as Choosing a Delivery Time in South Africa. Intermediate learners get access to dialogue examples such as What Time is it in South Africa? All of our lessons are designed to teach you how to sound like a native speaker from the word “go!”

That’s not all—you’ll have plenty of FREE learning tools at your disposal, such as many culturally-relevant vocabulary lists, a fantastic online Afrikaans Dictionary, and thousands of lessons in different formats!

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