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All About How to Form the Negative in Afrikaans


Negation is, very simply put, the so-called “negative form” in a language. We use it when we want to express the opposite of a positive or affirmative statement. What is the negative form in Afrikaans? Let’s dig in!

One of the most fascinating features of the Afrikaans language is its use of the double negative, which means that two negatives resolve into one negative. For instance, in English one would say, “He cannot speak Afrikaans,” and only use the word ‘not’ once. However, to express the negative in Afrikaans, we usually have to use the negating word twice:   

Sy kan nie Afrikaans praat nie.
Literally: “She cannot Afrikaans speak not.”

Young Woman Holding up Both Hands to Indicate No or Stop

The negating word in the example above is nie and, as you will have gathered, nie means “not.” It sounds like “knee” in English, but a bit shorter and sharper on the ‘ee’ (like the ‘i’ in it). Nie is equivalent to the German nicht and the Dutch niet, but it’s used differently, of course.

No one really knows where this practice of using the double negative originated. Some say it may have its roots in the French language, and others suggest that it may have been borrowed from the San languages of Southern Africa. Negating with a double negative can also be found in Middle English, such as in Chaucer’s work, who sometimes used a triple negative!

Double negation still appears in regional and ethnical dialects such as Southern American English, African American vernacular English, and various British regional dialects, according to Wikipedia. Think: “You don’t know nothing,” or “He didn’t go nowhere today.” Whatever the source may be, the double negative is not extensively employed and, especially in the dialects, its use is frowned upon by the purists.

British Flag in a Speech Bubble Shape.

Double negation also occurs in other Germanic languages, such as can be found in villages in the center of the Netherlands and in Low Franconian dialects in West-Flanders—and even then, it’s used differently. The way the negative form in Afrikaans is expressed remains unique.  

While using the Afrikaans double negative may seem strange at first, once you grow accustomed to it, it will start to feel quite natural. Learning how to use it isn’t difficult, either.

However, before we begin with that, let’s start with the exception to the rule of the double negative. This exception uses a form more similar to that of other languages and employs only one negation word.  

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. The Rule of “One Knee”
  2. The Rule of “Two Knees”
  3. Changing Meaning – Placement of the First Nie
  4. Adding Color with Adverbs and Adjectives that Express Denial
  5. Converting Instructions and Requests to the Negative
  6. Formal vs. Informal Imperatives
  7. Negating Compound Sentences
  8. Answers to Exercises:
  9. How Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn the Negative in Afrikaans?

1. The Rule of “One Knee”

It may be a bit convoluted, but the mnemonic “one knee” should serve to remind you of the simplicity of singularity. The one nie is used only in straightforward, relatively simple sentences.

  1. The single nie is used mostly in simple statement sentences, including those with reflexive or transitive verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns.
  2. It’s used mostly in present tense sentences. With other tenses, the single nie works only when certain hulpwerkwoorde van tyd (literally: “auxiliary verbs of time”) occur.

Let’s take a closer look at what this means.

A.1 In Simple Statement Sentences

To state the negative in Afrikaans using simple statement sentences, we put only ONE nie (knee!) after the verb, at the end of the sentence. That’s it! It looks like this:

– Short statement sentences: 

  • Hulle sien nie. – “They don’t see.”
  • Die rekenaar werk nie. – “The computer doesn’t work.”

– Statement sentences with a transitive verb and a pronoun:

Sometimes you need to be more specific and would then use a pronoun. In such a case, the One Knee rule applies mostly to statement sentences with transitive verbs in which the object is indicated with a pronoun. Read here all about Afrikaans pronouns!

  • Hulle waardeer haar nie. – “They don’t appreciate her.”
    Literally: “They appreciate her not.”
  • Sy eet dit nie. – “She doesn’t eat it.”
    Literally: “She eats it not.”
Young Woman Gesturing No for Dessert

– Statement sentences with an adjective and/or adverb:

Sometimes you need to be more descriptive in order to illuminate the subject or the action. Adding adjectives and/or adverbs won’t affect the One Knee rule.

  • Die nuwe rekenaar werk ongelukkig nie. – “The new computer, unfortunately, doesn’t work.”
    Literally: “The new computer works unfortunately not.”

A.2 Mostly in the Present Tense

As you may have noticed, these sentences are all in the simple present tense. In fact, this practice is not too dissimilar to negating the present tense verb in English by adding not

  • Hy sing. – “He is singing.” OR “He sings.”
  • Hy sing nie. – “He is not singing.” OR “He doesn’t sing.”
    Literally: “He sings not.”

Note: We don’t have a continuous tense in Afrikaans! Read all about Afrikaans tenses here.

In the Afrikaans past and future tenses, the One Knee rule applies only to very short, simple statement sentences with the following auxiliary verbs that indicate tense in Afrikaans. As mentioned, we call them hulpwerkwoorde van tyd.

Past Tense:      Hy was nie. – “He wasn’t.”
                         Hy wou nie. – “He didn’t want to.”
                         Hy het nie. – “He didn’t.”

Future Tense: Hy sal nie OR Hy gaan nie. – “He won’t.”

Women's Torn Jeans with Two Knees Showing

2. The Rule of “Two Knees”

Although things may seem to be getting a bit more complicated, there’s no need to panic about the negative form in Afrikaans! You simply need to remember to find the first part of the verb (whether it’s a base or an auxiliary verb) in the sentence, put a nie after it, and then put another nie at the very end of the sentence.

As we saw in the previous example, to negate very simply, we could say: Hy sing nie. (Lit. “He sings not.”) However, if we need to be more specific and have to introduce a direct or indirect object, the negation always doubles.

  • Hy sing (base verb) nie in Afrikaans (direct object) nie.
    “He doesn’t sing in Afrikaans.”
  • Hy sing (base verb) nie vir haar (indirect object) nie.
    “He doesn’t sing for her.”
Two Asian Girls and a Guy Singing Karaoke

When we use auxiliary verbs that indicate the past or future tenses, the negation also usually doubles:

  • Hy sal (auxiliary verb, future tense) nie sing nie.
    “He will not sing.”
  • Hy wou (auxiliary verb, past tense) nie sing nie.
    “He didn’t want to sing.”

What About the Be-Verbs?

In the present and past tenses, the be-verb is usually the main verb; in the future tense, the be-verb is an auxiliary verb. However, they all take the double negation.

Take a look at these negatives in Afrikaans:

Be-Verb Negation

PRESENT Tense Affirmative:
is (“is,” “to be”)

Die kat is oulik. 
“The cat is cute.”
PRESENT Tense Negation:
is nie (“is not”)

Die kakkerlak is nie o
ulik nie
“The cockroach is not cute.”
PAST Tense Affirmative:
was (“was”)

Die deur was toe. 
“The door was closed.”
PAST Tense Negation:
was nie (“was not”)

Die deur was nie toe nie
“The door was not closed.”
FUTURE Tense Affirmative:
sal wees / gaan wees (“will be,” “shall be”)

Die weer sal warm wees.
“The weather will be warm.”
FUTURE Tense Negation:
sal nie wees nie (“will not be”)

Die weer sal nie koud wees nie.
“The weather will not be cold.” 

Woman in Winter Gear Feeling Cold

3. Changing Meaning – Placement of the First Nie

While the rule remains true that one should put the first nie after the first verb in the sentence, sentences can sometimes become quite long and complex.

In terms of negation, this means that:

a) the first nie can be placed in various positions after the first werkwoord (“verb”) or hulpwerkwoord van tyd. (Lit. “auxiliary verb of time”); and

b) where one places it can change the meaning of the sentence. 

Consider the following sentence in the future tense: 

  • Sy gaan nie môre met haar nuwe bikini op die strand tan nie. 
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow.”

The entire sentence is negated because the nie is placed directly after what is, in Afrikaans, an auxiliary verb that indicates the future tense: gaan

  • Sy gaan môre nie met haar nuwe bikini op die strand tan nie. Sy sal iets anders dra.
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will wear something else.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes “haar nuwe bikini” (her new bikini) and therefore negates only that phrase.

Young Woman in Bikini Sunbathing on the Beach
  • Sy gaan môre met haar nuwe bikini nie op die strand tan nie. Sy gaan elders tan.
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will tan somewhere else.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes op die strand (on the beach) and therefore negates only that phrase. 

  • Sy gaan môre met haar nuwe bikini op die strand nie tan nie. Sy gaan iets anders doen as tan.
    “She is not going t tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will do something other than tanning.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes the second verb “tan” (tan) and therefore negates only that action. 

It should be clear from the above explanations that one must be sure to place the first nie after the first verb in the sentence, and directly before the phrase or word one wants to negate. 

4. Adding Color with Adverbs and Adjectives that Express Denial

That said, negative sentences in Afrikaans do not always require for the word nie to be the first word of negation. Sometimes, to add a bit of color to your speech, you can use additional negation vocabulary in lieu of the first nie. This strengthens the tone of what you’re saying and makes it more specific and descriptive, like this:

Sy praat nooit Afrikaans nie.
“She never speaks Afrikaans.
“Lit. “She never speaks Afrikaans not.”
Die lesse is gladnie lank nie.
“The lessons are not long at all.
“Lit. “The lessons are not at all long not.”

These additional negation words are adverbs (bywoorde), adjectives (byvoeglike naamwoorde), and auxiliary verbs that express denial and, as you can see, they make the sentence a little more specific and descriptive. Just remember that you still need to add the nie at the end of the sentence! 

Here are some examples of auxiliary verbs, adverbs, and adjectives that can be used for denial. 

D.1 Woorde wat vir Ontkenning Gebruik Word / “Words that are Used for Denial”

enige (“any”) / een (“one”)

Daar is een oefening. 
“There is one exercise.”
geen (“no,” “none,” “not”)

Daar is geen oefeninge nie.
“There are no exercises.”
enigsins (“at all”)

Is dit enigsins moeite vir jou?
“Is it trouble for you at all?”
geensins (“by no means,” “in no way”)

Dit is geensins moeite nie.
“It is no trouble at all.”
êrens (“somewhere”)

Dit is êrens.
“It is somewhere.”
nêrens (“nowhere”)

Ek kan dit nêrens vind nie
“I can’t find it anywhere.”
iemand (“someone”)

Daar was iemand.
“There was someone.”
niemand (“nobody,” “no one”)

Daar was niemand nie
“There was no one.”
iets (“something”)

Die bobbejaan het iets oorgekom.
“Something happened to the baboon.”
niks (“nothing”)

Die bobbejaan het niks oorgekom nie
“Nothing happened to the baboon.”
ooit (“ever”)

Sal jy my ooit verraai?
“Will you ever betray me?”
nooit (“never”)

Ek sal jou nooit verraai nie
“I will never betray you!”
nog (“still”)

Ek kan nog die geraas verdra.
“I can still tolerate the noise.”
nie meer (“no longer”)

Ek kan die geraas nie meer verdra nie!
“I can’t stand that noise anymore!”
beslis (“indeed,” “definitely”)

Dit is beslis ‘n probleem.
“That is definitely a problem.”
gladnie (“not at all”)

Dit is gladnie ‘n probleem nie
“That is not a problem at all.”
al (“yet”)

Het hy al sy werk gedoen?
“Has he done his work yet?”
nog nie (“not yet”)

Hy het nog nie sy werk gedoen nie
“He has not yet done his work.” 
tog (“and yet”)

Daar was amper g’n reën nie; tog is die dam vol. 
“There’s been almost no rain, and yet the dam is full.” 
tog nie (“and yet not”)

Daar was baie reën; tog is the dam nie vol nie.
“There was a lot of rain, and yet the dam is not full.”
heeltemal (“completely”)

Ek is heeltemal verward.
“I am utterly confused.” 
nie heeltemal (“not completely”)

Ek is nie heeltemal verward nie
“I am not completely confused.”
iets (“something”)

Kan ek iets vir jou doen? 
“Can I do something for you?”
niks (“nothing”)

Ek kan niks vir jou doen nie. 
“I can’t do anything/can do nothing for you.” 
moet (“must,” “should”)

Jy moet my later bel. 
“You must call me later.”
moenie (“don’t”)

Jy moenie my later bel nie
“You mustn’t call me later.”

Note: Similar to the English “don’t,” this is the contracted form of moet nie (“do not”).
sal (“will,” “shall”)

Ek sal die boek later lees. 
“I will read the book later.”
sal nie (“will not”)

Ek sal die boek nie later lees nie
“I will not read the book later.”
gaan (“will”)

Ek gaan more studeer.
“I will study tomorrow.”
gaan nie (“will not”)

Ek gaan nie more studeer nie.
“I will not study tomorrow.”

Diploma Hat on Top of a Pile of Books, with a Scroll Next to It

5. Converting Instructions and Requests to the Negative

Giving instructions/commands and making requests are things that we often do, so it’s important to be able to convert these to their negative form. 

E.1 Giving Instructions and Commands

Converting instructions to their negative form is not that difficult. Have a look at this instruction and its negative form:

Instruction: Sit daar! / “Sit there!”
Instruction – Negative Form: Moenie daar sit nie! / “Don’t sit there!” (Literally. “Don’t sit there not.”)

As you can see, we added the word moenie to the instruction and then added nie at the end of the sentence in order to convert it to the negative form. The word moenie (“don’t”) is a contraction of the words moet (do) and nie (not)

In Afrikaans, when you add moenie to the sentence, you must then move the verb (sit, in this case) to the end and follow that with the ubiquitous nie.

A few more examples: 

Instruction – Positive FormInstruction – Negative Form
Staan op! 
“Stand up!”
Moenie opstaan nie!
“Don’t stand up!”
Lit. “Don’t up-stand not!”
Kom later terug!
“Come back later!”
Lit. Come later back! 
Moenie later terugkom nie! 
“Don’t come back later!”
Lit. “Don’t later back come not.” 
Gaan weg!
“Go away!”
Moenie weggaan nie! 
“Don’t go away!” 
Lit. “Don’t away-go not!”
Kyk daar! 
“Look there!”
Moenie daar kyk nie! 
“Don’t look there!”
Lit. “Don’t there look not!”

Two Young Women Pointing to Something on a Laptop Screen.

Did you notice that the verbs and adverbs got switched around in the negative? For example: 

Kyk daar became “Moenie daar kyk nie.”

Where the adverb usually follows the verb in Afrikaans affirmative expressions, the opposite is true of the negative. This is a rule you should take note of. This switching sometimes results in the formation of a compound verb. Consider this: 

Gaan weg!” becomes “Moenie weggaan nie!” and “Staan op!” becomes “Moenie opstaan nie!


Why not try to negate in Afrikaans yourself? Read the affirmative expressions, write your negative answers (using moenie) down somewhere, and check them against the list of answers at the end of this article. Don’t worry, you won’t have to combine any verbs and adverbs! 

Eet die kos! – “Eat the food!”
Drink jou medisyne! – “Drink your medicine!”
Sing hard! – “Sing loudly!”
Praat vinnig! – “Speak quickly!”

6. Formal vs. Informal Imperatives

While the rule is that you should add moenie to an instruction (also called an imperative) in order to make it negative, a formal, more polite imperative will get an asseblief (“please”). As soon as you do this, there is another set of rules that apply. Have a look at the following: 

Informal imperative: Moenie opstaan nie! / “Don’t stand up!”
Formal imperative: Moet asseblief nie opstaan nie. / “Please don’t stand up.”

As you can see, when you add asseblief to the negative sentence, you need to: 

  1. break the compound moenie into its component words moet and nie;
  2. put the asseblief (“please”) between the moet and the nie; and
  3. remember to add the final nie at the end! 

Here are some more examples using the same informal instructions as in exercise E.1, but now converted to formal imperatives.

Informal ImperativeFormal Imperative
Moenie later terug kom nie! 
“Don’t come back later!”
Moet asseblief nie later terugkom nie.
“Please don’t come back later.”
Moenie daar kyk nie! 
“Don’t look there!”
Moet asseblief nie daar kyk nie. 
“Please don’t look there.”
Moenie weggaan nie! 
“Don’t go away!”
Moet asseblief nie weggaan nie!
“Please don’t go away!”


Your turn again, if you’d like. Just as before, read the formal affirmative expressions and write the negative down somewhere. Then check them against the list of answers at the end of this article. 

Ry vinnig, asseblief. – “Drive fast, please.”
Loop vinniger, asseblief. – “Walk faster, please.”
Gooi die bal, asseblief. – “Throw the ball, please.”
Tel die vuilgoed op, asseblief. – “Pick the rubbish up, please.”

7. Negating Compound Sentences

Ek Sien Hom Maar hy Sien my Nie. - I See Him but He Doesn't See Me.

Quick grammar note: A simple sentence is one in which there is only a subject and a predicate, as illustrated by this sentence: 

Ek (subject) sien hom (predicate).
“I see him.”

Obviously, a compound sentence then contains more than one subject and more than one predicate. It consists of multiple clauses. Consider this compound sentence: 

Ek (subject) sien hom (predicate), maar hy (subject) sien my nie (predicate)
“I see him, but he doesn’t see me.”
Lit. “I see him, but he sees me not.”

When looking at compound sentences, an important point to remember is that if you’re negating the main clause, you should negate it as you would a standalone, simple sentence. Consider the following examples: 

Hy ry nie, want die verkeerslig is nie groen nie
“He’s not driving because the traffic light is not green.”
Lit. “He drives not, because the traffic light is not green not.”

Ek is nie fiks genoeg nie; dus sal ek nie aan the marathon deelneem nie
“I am not fit enough; therefore I won’t be participating in the marathon.”
Lit. “I am not fit enough not; therefore will I not in the marathon participate not.”

As discussed earlier, in compound sentences, we also only use negating words in the part of the sentence that we are negating

Have a look: 

Ek sal gaan stap as dit nie reën nie
“I will go for a walk if it doesn’t rain.”
Lit. “I will go walking if it not rains not.”

If only the main clause is negated, then we must put the first nie in the main clause and the second nie at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example: 

Ek het nie gedink dat jy my sal onthou nie
“I did not think that you would remember me.”
Lit. “I did not think that you me would remember not.”

8. Answers to Exercises: 

Converting instructions to the negative – Exercise I

Eet die kos! – “Eat the food!”Moenie die kos eet nie! – “Don’t eat the food!”
Drink die medisyne! – “Drink the medicine!”Moenie die medisyne drink nie! – “Don’t drink the medicine!”
Sing hard! – “Sing loudly!”Moenie hard sing nie! – “Don’t sing loudly!”
Praat vinnig! – “Speak quickly!”Moenie vinnig praat nie! – “Don’t speak quickly!”

Converting the polite affirmative to the polite negative – Exercise II

Ry vinnig, asseblief. – “Please drive fast.”Moet asseblief nie vinnig ry nie. – “Please don’t drive fast.”
Loop vinniger, asseblief. – “Walk faster, please.”Moet asseblief nie vinniger loop nie. – “Please don’t walk faster.”
Gooi die bal, asseblief. – “Throw the ball, please.”Moet asseblief nie die bal gooi nie. – “Please don’t throw the ball.”
Tel die vuilgoed op, asseblief. – “Pick the rubbish up, please.”Moet asseblief nie die vuilgoed optel nie. – “Please don’t pick up the rubbish.”

9. How Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn the Negative in Afrikaans? 

We can assist you in learning Afrikaans negations in many ways! After all, that’s what we’re here for. Do you have any questions about the negative form in Afrikaans, or about these exercises? Please let us have them in the comments!

At AfrikaansPod101, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded video lessons, grammar and pronunciation guides, and these vocabulary lists.

Also, be sure to arm yourself with some words and phrases from our Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. Remember to keep your Afrikaans online dictionary closeby for easy translation!

Also supplement your learning with these blog posts:

Enroll now for a free lifetime membership with AfrikaansPod101 to easily learn the Afrikaans negative form and so much more!

About the author: Christa Davel is a bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and journalist, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Tenses in Afrikaans – Your Easy Guide


Tenses in Afrikaans are not as hard to master as those of many older languages. In fact, there’s no need to feel tense about tenses!

A Woman Laughing with a Book on Her Head

Dis nie nodig om gespanne te voel oor Afrikaanse tye nie! / “There’s no need to feel tense about Afrikaans tenses!”

How Do We Indicate Afrikaans Tenses?

In Afrikaans, the verbs usually inflect for time, just as in English. This is called “conjugation” (werkwoord verbuiging) and it’s characterized by a change to the form of the verb—in this case, to indicate the tense. (Think “walk” vs. “walked.” Here, the verb has a suffix [-ed] to indicate that the action took place in the past.)

Some more good news: There are very few complex conjugations and rules for indicating the continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous tenses in Afrikaans! Of course, we have methods of expressing these concepts, but they’re very simple compared to those used in most older languages. In this article, we’re going to cover the basics of the simple past, present, and future tenses in Afrikaans.

Afrikaans Conjugations for Time

Conjugations for the simple past, present, and future tenses in Afrikaans tend to be less complex than those in English. Take the verb “to be,” for instance. It can be conjugated for time, but it doesn’t change for person or number as it does in English, Spanish, or French. 

Look at the following examples. Can you see how the irregular English verbs change only for time in Afrikaans?

was … gewees 
(“was” / “were”)
(“am” / “is” / “are”)
sal … wees
 (“will be”)
Example 1: 
Ons was by die see gewees. 
(“We were at the seaside.”)
Example 1: 
Ons is by die see.
(“We are at the seaside.”)
Example 1:
Ons sal by die see wees. 
(“We will be at the seaside.”)
Example 2: 
Die Afrikaanse les was baie interessant gewees.
(“The Afrikaans lesson was very interesting.”)
Example 2: 
Die Afrikaanse les is baie interessant.
(“The Afrikaans lesson is very interesting.”)
Example 2: 
Die Afrikaanse les sal baie interessant wees.
(“The Afrikaans lesson will be very interesting.”)

Footprints in the Wet Sand on the Beach

Ons was by die see gewees. / “We were at the seaside.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. What Does the Present Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?
  2. What Does the Past Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?
  3. What Does the Future Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?
  4. Compound Verbs (Partikelwerkwoorde) & Tenses in Afrikaans
  5. Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Master Tenses in Afrikaans?

1. What Does the Present Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?

The simple present tense (eenvoudige teenwoordige tyd) in Afrikaans is used to express something happening right now. Its characteristics include…

  1. …the presence of selfstandige werkwoorde (“simple verbs”), such as werk (“work”), speel (“play”), and maak (“make”);
  1. …sometimes, a present tense koppelwerkwoord (“linking verb”), such as is (“is”) and a byvoeglike naamwoord (“adjective”);
  1. …appropriate adverbs and adverbial phrases of time.

The following adverbs of time (bywoorde van tyd) and adverbial phrases of time (bywoordelike bepalings van tyd) indicate the present tense in Afrikaans.

    nou (“now”)
    vandag (“today”)
    op die oomblik (“at the moment”)
    nou dadelik / onmiddelik (“right now”)
    deesdae (“these days” / “nowadays”)
    tans (“currently”)

Take a look at these syntactic analyses to see where the conjugations fit in.

Ek is tevrede. / “I am pleased.”

Subject PronounLinking VerbAdjective

Die bloggers is gewild. / “The bloggers are popular.”

Subject PhraseLinking VerbAdjective
Die bloggersisgewild.
The bloggersarepopular.

My selfoon lui nou. / Lit. “My cell phone rings now.”

Subject PhraseSimple VerbAdverb of Time
My selfoonluinou.
My cell phone“(is) ring(ing)”anow.

Baie toeriste geniet op die oomblik die Suid Afrikaanse somerweer. / Lit. “Many tourists enjoy the South African summer weather at the moment.”

Subject PhraseVerbAdv. Phrase of TimeObject Phrase
Baie toeristegeniet op die oomblik die Suid Afrikaanse somerweer.
Many tourists “(are) enjoy(ing)”aat the momentthe South African summer weather.
  • aNote: Afrikaans doesn’t have continuous tenses!

REVIEW: So, to recap quickly—how do we identify which tense is used in these sentences? 

That’s right! We know these are in the simple present tense because:
  • the linking / be-verbs are the present tense is (“am” / “is” / “are”);
  • the verbs are not conjugated; and
  • we can also spot a present tense adverb and adverbial phrase.

  • A Young Couple on a Sailboat in Beautiful Weather

    Baie toeriste geniet op die oomblik die Suid Afrikaanse somerweer. / “Many tourists are enjoying the South African summer weather at the moment.”

    Hopefully, that was easy enough. Now, onto the past tense in Afrikaans!

    2. What Does the Past Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?

    The simple past tense in Afrikaans (eenvoudige verlede tyd) is the most complex of the three tenses. It’s typically characterized by one or more of the following:

    1. Past Tense Verb Conjugation A) where a past tense koppelwerkwoord / linking verb (was) is used in tandem with the hoofwerkwoord / main verb (wees), but the latter gets the ge- prefix (gewees). These terms don’t correlate exactly, but the nearest English conjugation would be: “I was tired.” / Ek was moeg gewees. It’s also acceptable to simply say: Ek was moeg.
    1. Past Tense Verb Conjugation B) where a hulpwerkwoord van tyd / Lit. auxiliary verb of time (het) is paired with a hoofwerkwoord / main verb that also gets the ge- prefix. An English approximate would be the simple past tense conjugation, e.g. “The water boiled.” / Die water het gekook.
    1. The use of appropriate adverbs and adverbial phrases of time.

    A Pleased-Looking Employee Receiving a Certificate of Excellence

    Ek was tevrede gewees. / “I was pleased.”

    The following adverbs and adverbial phrases of time usually indicate the past tense. 

      toe (“then”)
      gister (“yesterday”)
      voorheen (“previously”)
      die vorige (“the previous”)
      laasjaar / laasweek / laas Kersfees (“last year” / “last week” / “last Christmas”)
      verlede jaar / verlede week / verlede Kersfees (Also “last year” / “last week” / “last Christmas”)
      in die verlede (“in the past”)

    Let’s see where the Afrikaans past tense conjugations fit into these sentences:

    Ek was tevrede gewees. / “I was pleased.”

    Subject PronounLinking Verb AdjectivePrefix ge- + Main Verb
    Ek wastevredegewees.

    Note: This can be translated as “was” OR “have been.”

    Die bloggers was gewild. / “The bloggers were popular.”

    Subject PhraseLinking VerbAdjective
    Die bloggerswasgewild.
    The bloggerswerepopular. 

    Note: Vernacularly, gewees is often omitted from the was … gewees conjugation, as shown in this sentence. The omission won’t change the tense or the meaning of the sentence.

    My selfoon het toe gelui. / “My cell phone then rang.”

    Subject PhraseAuxiliary VerbAdverb of TimePrefix ge- + Main Verb
    My selfoonhettoegelui.
    My cell phonethenrang.

    Baie toeriste het laasjaar die Suid Afrikaanse somerweer geniet. / Lit. “Many tourists enjoyed the South African summer weather last year.”

    Subject PhraseAuxiliary VerbAdverb of TimeObject PhraseIrregular Past Tense Verb
    Baie toeristehetlaasjaardie Suid Afrikaanse somerweergeniet.
    Many touristshavelast yearthe South African summer weatherenjoyed.

    Note: Keep in mind that geniet is an irregular past tense verb, meaning that there is no ge-morpheme conjugation. Read on for more about these irregular verbs and their conjugations for the past tense.

    REVIEW: So, to recap quickly—how do we identify the tense in these sentences? 

    That’s right! We know these are written in the simple past tense because: 
    1. the be-verb, as a linking verb, conjugates for the past tense—was (“were” / “was”)—and appears with and without the conjugated main verb gewees;
    2. there’s an auxiliary verb het + prefix ge- main verb conjugation; and 
    3. we can also spot a past tense adverb and adverbial phrase.

    2So, what is the exception? The exception is irregular main verbs.

    A Young Man Talking on His Cell Phone in a Street.

    My selfoon het gelui. / “My cell phone rang.”

    B.1 Irregular Main Verbs (onreëlmatige hoofwerkwoorde)

    Many (if not most) simple past tense sentences are conjugated with the Past Tense Verb Conjugation B (auxiliary verb het + gemain verb) mentioned under the previous heading. But of course, grammar being grammar, there are several exceptions to this rule. Very simply put—some verbs do not get conjugated with het + ge-main verb, ergo the term “irregular main verbs”. Only the auxiliary verb het appears in the sentence. 

    While it’s not difficult to spot these irregular verbs in a sentence (just look out for het plus a main verb), it’s challenging to list them based on similar morphological characteristics. So, for the purposes of the article, I’ve listed these irregular verbs according to the cluster of letters they start with. Some of these clusters are morphemes or prefixes (a morphological unit with meaning, such as “re-” in English), and others are just clusters of letters without classification.

    If this is all too complex—just memorize these irregular verbs, and remember the past tense conjugation! The asterisk * indicates transitive irregular verbs, meaning that when they appear in a sentence, you will always find a subject too. (Or, in other words—a subject is necessary in the sentence in order for it to make sense!)

    Starting with:Irregular Main Verbs:
      gesels (“chat”)

    Ons het gesels. (“We chatted.”)

      *gewaar (“notice”) / *gedra (“behave”) / *geniet (“enjoy”)

    *Die kinders het eerste die leeu gewaar. (“The children were the first to notice the lion.”)
      beperk (“limit”) / betaal (“pay”) / bedaar (“calm down”)

    Sy het betaal. (“She paid.”)
      vergeet (“forget”) / verloor (“lose”) / vergewe OR vergeef (“forgive”) / vergaan (“expire”)

    Hy het vergeet. (“He forgot.”)
      herhaal (“repeat”) / heroorweeg (“reconsider”) / herdenk (“commemorate”)

    Billie Eilish het sommige liedjies herhaal tydens haar konsert. (“Billie Eilish repeated some songs during her concert.”)
      ontvang (“receive”) / ontken (“deny”) / ontlont (“set off,” “ignite”)

    Hy het skuld ontken. (“He denied his guilt.”)
      erken (“admit”)

    Hy het skuld erken. (“He admitted his guilt.”)
    Irregular Compound Verbs 

    (Read on for more about regular compound or particle verbs and how they conjugate for the past tense.)
    afbetaal (“paid off”)
    opbetaal (“paid-up”)
    oorbetaal (“paid over”)
    inbetaal (“paid in”)
    weergee (“relay”)

    Hy het die volle bedrag inbetaal. (“He has paid in the full amount.”)
      weerspreek (“contradict”) / weerlê (“disprove”) / weerlê (“refute”)

    Die politikus het haarself weerspreek. (“The politician contradicted herself.”)

    Note: These look like particle or compound verbs, don’t they? They’re not, though, because the meaning of weer changes to “again” when it stands alone. In these irregular verbs, the prefix weer confers almost the same meaning as “against” or “contra-“.

    A Male Customer at the Bank Counter with a Lady Counting Money

    Hy het die volle bedrag inbetaal. / “He has paid in the full amount.”)

    Wait! These are not the only exceptions, unfortunately.

    B.2 Irregular Linking Verbs (onreëlmatige skakelwerkwoorde)

    If you spot one of the following linking verbs (skakelwerkwoorde) in a sentence, then they conjugate the same way as the irregular main verbs under the B.1 heading (auxiliary verb het plus the linking verb without a ge- prefix). The main verb retains its base form.

    Look at these examples:


    • Dit het bly reën. / “It kept raining.”


    • Ons het gaan eet. / “We went eating.”


    • Die dokter het kom help. / “The doctor came to help.”


    • Ek het Fortnite probeer speel. / “I tried to play Fortnite.”

    Vernacularly, it’s acceptable to conjugate the following with or without the prefix ge- when they serve as linking verbs

      leer (“learn”)
      aanhou (“keep on”)
      ophou (“stop”)
      help (“help”)
      sien (“see”)

    Some sources say this is a dialectical preference specific to certain parts of the South African Western and Northern Cape provinces, but I have encountered it across the whole country. It doesn’t matter, really, because the meaning remains unchanged.

    Here’s what these linking verbs look like in sentences:

    Tydens die pandemie het ek (ge)leer programmeer. / “During the pandemic, I learned to program.”

    Dit het aan(ge)hou reën. / “It kept raining.”

    Almal het op(ge)hou alkohol drink. / “Everyone stopped drinking alcohol.”

    Die laaste ent van die pad het hy (ge)help dra aan die baggasie. / “(For) the last bit of the road, he helped carry the luggage.”

    Ons het die uil (ge)sien wegvlieg. / “We watched the owl fly away.”

    An Owl in Flight

    Ons het die uil gesien wegvlieg. / “We watched the owl fly away.”

    You probably noticed the compound verbs (deeltjiewerkwoorde)—aanhou and ophou—and the special treatment they got. More about that later.

    Now buckle up for the future!

    3. What Does the Future Tense in Afrikaans Look Like?

    The simple Afrikaans future tense (eenvoudige toekomende tyd) can be recognized by one or more of the following:

    1. Future Tense Verb Conjugation A) which comprises an auxiliary or modal verb (hulpwerkwoord van modaliteit) sal / gaan, plus an unchanged main verb, similar to the English simple future: “We will walk.” / Ons sal loop.
    1. Future Tense Verb Conjugation B) which comprises an auxiliary or modal verb (sal / wil / kan), plus the auxiliary verb wees for the active voice and word for the passive voice. An approximate conjugation in English could be: “I will be satisfied.” / Ek sal tevrede wees. This is the active voice. To illustrate the passive voice: “That will be done.” / Dit sal gedoen word.
    1. Appropriate adverbs and adverbial phrases of time.

    The following adverbs of time and adverbial phrases of time usually indicate the future tense.

      dan (“then”)
      nou / binnekort (“soon”)
      nou-nou (Lit. “now-now,” which means almost the same as “soon-ish”)
      more (“tomorrow”)
      volgende week / maand / jaar (“next week / month / year”)
      voortaans (“henceforth”)
      van nou af (“from now on”)
      in die toekoms (“in the future”)
      oor ‘n uur / dag (“in an hour / day”)

    Now let’s look at how this works in a few sample sentences. 

    Ek sal tevrede wees. / “I will be contented.”

    Subject PronounAux. / Modal VerbAdjectiveBe-Verb

    Die bloggers gaan gewild wees. / “The bloggers will be popular.”

    Subject PhraseAux. / Modal VerbAdjectiveAux. / Be-Verb
    Die bloggersgaangewildwees.
    The bloggerswillpopularbe.

    My selfoon sal dan lui. / Lit. “My cell phone will then ring.”

    Subject PhraseAux. / Modal VerbAdverb of TimeBase Verb
    My selfoonsaldanlui.
    My cell phonewillthenring.

    Baie toeriste sal volgende jaar die Suid Afrikaanse somerweer geniet. / Lit. “Many tourists will next year enjoy the South African summer weather.”

    Subject PhraseAux. / Modal VerbAdv. Phrase of TimeObject PhraseBase Verb
    Baie toeristesalvolgende jaardie Suid Afrikaanse somerweergeniet.
    Many touristswillnext yearthe South African summer weatherenjoy.

    REVIEW: So, to quickly recap—how do we identify which tense is used in these sentences? 

    That’s right! We know they are in the simple future tense because: 
    1. some auxiliary verbs are conjugated to the future tense sal / gaan wees (“will be”);
    2. others conjugate simply to sal / gaan plus a base verb; and
    3. we can also spot future tense adverbs and adverbial phrases of time.

    If you’ve found our article on Afrikaans verb tenses helpful so far, also look at Your Definitive Guide to Proper Afrikaans Sentence Structure. Learning to form sentences is a great way to practice your use of tenses.

    But before we wrap it up—what happens to compound verbs (samekoppelings, deeltjiewerkwoorde, or partiekelwerkwoorde) in the past, present, and future tenses in Afrikaans…?

    4. Compound Verbs (Partikelwerkwoorde) & Tenses in Afrikaans

    This type of verb, also called samekoppelings, partiekelwerkwoorde, or deeltjiewerkwoorde, is a combination of what we call in Afrikaans a partiekel and a main verb, and they go together like a motorcycle with its sidecar. Well, not entirely, because the first part of the compound verb (particle) usually retains meaning when used separately from the main verb. So, unlike a sidecar, the particle can stand independently. Yet, the main verb’s meaning is modified by the partiekel—just as a motorcycle’s function and character are redefined by a sidecar!

    Below is a list of the most common compound verbs. In Afrikaans, the rule is that the particle and the main verb go together, even when they’re not written as one word. 

    D.1 Common Compound Verbs + Conjugations

    Particle VerbMain VerbPresent Tense ConjugationPast Tense Conjugation
    het + particle + -ge- verb

    Where the ge- appears in brackets, it means that it is sometimes omitted in the vernacular.
    Future TenseConjugation
    sal / gaan
    ingeeingee / “give in”het ingegee / “gave in”sal ingee / “will give in”
    toegeetoegee / “concede”het toegegee / “conceded”gaan toegee / “will concede”
    aangeeaangee / “pass on”het aangegee / “passed on”sal aangee / “will pass on”
    opgeeopgee / “give up”het opgegee / “gave up”gaan opgee / “will give up”
    oorgeeoorgee / “hand over”het oorgegee / “handed over”gaan oorgee / “will hand over”
    ophouophou / “cease”het op(ge)hou / “ceased”sal ophou / “will cease”
    aanhouaanhou / “keep on” OR “persist” OR “keep”het aan(ge)hou / “kept on” OR “persisted” OR “kept”sal aanhou / “will persist”
    inhouinhou / “keep in”het ingehou / “kept in”gaan inhou / “will keep in”
    voorhouvoorhou / “pretend”het voorgehou / “pretended”gaan voorhou / “will pretend”
    ingaaningaan / “go into”het ingegaan / “went into”sal ingaan / “will go into”
    oorgaanoorgaan / “go over” OR “cross”het oorgegaan / “went over” OR “crossed”sal oorgaan / “will cross”
    toegaantoegaan / “close” (by itself)het toegegaan / “closed”sal toegaan / “will close”
    aangaanAangaan / “persist” OR “go on”het aangegaan / “persisted” OR “went on”sal aangaan / “will persist” OR “will go on”
    afloopafloop / “walk or run down”het afgeloop / “walked or ran down”sal afloop / “will walk or run down”
    oploopoploop / “walk up”het opgeloop / “walked up”gaan oploop / “will walk up”
    inloopinloop / “walk in”het ingeloop / “walked in”gaan inloop / “will walk in”
    aankeeraankeer / “arrest” OR “round up”het aangekeer / “arrested” OR “rounded up”sal aankeer / “will arrest” OR “will round up”
    afkeurafkeur / “disapprove”het afgekeur / “disapproved”sal afkeur / “will disapprove”
    afbreekafbreek / “break down”het afgebreek / “broke down”gaan afbreek / “will break down”

    Did you like learning from this article? Then also look at The Best Afrikaans Verbs List at Your Fingertips and Your Easy Guide to Understanding Afrikaans Grammar.

    5. Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Master Tenses in Afrikaans?

    I’d say yes! There are plenty of reasons why enrolling immediately is a good idea. For example, read about the benefits of a Premium PLUS membership, which is very reasonably priced and can fasttrack your learning considerably. 

    Skint month? No problem. Start with the lower-priced Basic option. You can always upgrade later. 

    You’ll also gain access to the following:

    Great value! Sign up today.

    About the author: Christa Davel is an experienced bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and journalist, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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    The 31 Best Afrikaans Proverbs and Their Meanings


    The word “proverb” (spreekwoord in Afrikaans) is derived from the Latin proverbium. Collins Dictionary defines it as a short sentence that people often quote to give advice, or one that says something about life.

    Proverbs also tend to employ the same vivid imagery and metaphoric language common in children’s stories. So, perhaps they’re an adult throwback to children’s fiction—who knows?

    Proverbs touch us on a very deep level, as they go beyond nationality, gender, race, religion, and time. In this way, they connect us to one another with their universal truths and wisdom. The Afrikaans proverbs I’m going to cover in this article are sure to ignite your imagination and make you feel more connected to Afrikaner culture.

    Mother and Daughter Reading Together

    Ma en dogter lees ‘n boek saam (“Mother and daughter reading a book together”)

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
    1. Why Use Proverbs in Afrikaans Conversations?
    2. The Difference Between Proverbs and Sayings/Idioms
    3. Afrikaans Proverbs and Meanings with English Equivalents
    4. Uniquely South African Proverbs
    5. Learn Afrikaans Proverbs Like a Pro at!

    1. Why Use Proverbs in Afrikaans Conversations?

    Many proverbs are conversation tools that add character to a language, almost like adding spice to food. Throw a unique Afrikaans proverb into a conversation, and you could well pass for a native speaker!

    Afrikaans proverbs can typically be used in both formal and informal settings, and parents often use them to explain ethics, morals, or other profound truths to their children.

    Many similar proverbs appear in different languages. This is simply because cultures have cross-pollinated over the centuries with the gradual expansion of the world’s population.

    First, we’ll take a look at those Afrikaans proverbs with English equivalents, of which there are plenty. Then, I will give a few examples of very unique Afrikaans proverbs with no English equivalents or approximations I can trace. (But if you know of an English approximate, or perhaps a similar proverb in your own language, please do share with us in the comments!)

    Before we start, let’s quickly look at the difference between a proverb (spreekwoord) and an idiom or saying (idioom / sêding). These two are closely related, but are not the same in usage and meaning.

    Two Girlfriends Chatting Outside.

    2. The Difference Between Proverbs and Sayings/Idioms

    This is not complicated, but on many sites, one is often confused with the other. A trait they share is the use of metaphoric language (i.e. imagery). Also, both proverbs and idioms evolve as languages evolve, so there’s rarely a single, permanent version of any specific idiom or proverb. 

    They differ in the following ways:

    A) Afrikaanse Sêdinge / Sêgoed / Idiome (“Afrikaans Sayings / Idioms”)
    • A saying always forms part of a sentence with a noun, proper noun, or pronoun that refers to a specific person, entity, and/or situation. So, idioms are not universally applicable
    • Often, different regions in South Africa have different idioms for the same thing. For instance, we have many different sayings for referring to a drunk person.

      In a rural town called Moorreesburg, Western Cape Province, the locals say: Hy/sy is ganspen. (Literally: “He/she is goose pen.”) 

      However, in Touwsrivier (also a small town in the Western Cape), we say: Hy/sy is kiepkop. In vernacular Afrikaans, a chicken is also sometimes referred to with an onomatopoeia: kiep or kiepie. This saying is closer to what we use in Gauteng Province: Hy/sy is hoenderkop. (Literally: “He/she is chicken head.”) It’s unclear where this idiom originated, but my guess is that it alludes to the movement of a chicken’s head when it walks—it doesn’t look very stable!

    • Example: Ons moes van aalmoese lewe. (“We had to live off charity.”)

      Van aalmoese lewe (“living off charitable offerings”) is a Dutch-based idiom meaning that someone is living in such extreme poverty that they have to depend on charity for survival. See below how this idiomatic expression differs from a certain proverb that also uses the word aalmoese.

    B) Afrikaanse Spreekwoorde (“Afrikaans Proverbs”)
    • Even if it forms part of a sentence, a proverb can always stand alone as a complete sentence or statement.
    • It usually expresses a universally applicable piece of wisdom or sentiment.
    • Pronouns in proverbs can be adjusted to be gender-correct, but vernacularly, they’re seldom modified this way.
    • Proverbs in Afrikaans tend to show less regional diversity than idioms do. They’re understood almost everywhere in the country.
    • Example: Aalmoese gee verarm nie. (“Giving charitably won’t make you poor.”) This proverb reminds us that giving freely to those in dire need will not cost us too much, nor will it harm us—a universal truth.

    3. Afrikaans Proverbs and Meanings with English Equivalents

    Now that you’re familiar with the differences between proverbs and idioms, let’s go over the most popular and widespread proverbs in Afrikaans! 

    1. Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie. / “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”


    This is also a well-known proverb in English. It states that family members tend to share the same basic nature and/or traits.


    In Afrikaans, one uses this phrase to comment on any situation where a child displays the same characteristics or skills as one or both of their parents. It’s most often said in a positive sense, and it can be used for either gender.

    Example Sentence: 

    Sy is ‘n skrywer, net soos haar pa. Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie.
    “She is a writer, just like her dad. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

    Trees with Fruit on an Apple Farm

    Die appel val nie vêr van die boom af nie. (“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”)

    2. ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer. / “A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “A bird changes its color but not its feathers.” 


    ‘n Jakkals verander van haar maar nie van streke nie. / “A fox changes its fur but not its tricks.”


    This expressive proverb means that even when people appear to have changed, their basic character is likely still intact. One’s true character will always show, no matter how hard one tries to hide it. The absolute truth of this proverb is debatable, because people can and do completely change, when they must. But this usually takes great effort and is not the norm.


    This proverb is mostly used when a person displays tenacious moral flaws. Picture this scene: A girl broke up with her boyfriend because he repeatedly lied to or cheated on her. The boy begged her to take him back with earnest promises to change his ways. All went well for a while, but he was soon lying and cheating again. In this instance, the proverb could be used as a comment that says it all, or it could serve as cautionary advice from a concerned parent or friend.

    Example Sentence: 

    Wees net versigtig om weer daardie man te vertrou. ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer.
    “Just be careful trusting that man again. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

    Orange Feather

    ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer. (Literally: “A bird changes color but not feathers.”)

    3. Die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet. / “The cobbler’s children are the worst shod.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “The shoemaker’s/cobbler’s children walk barefoot.”


    Like its English counterpart, this proverb refers to the rather ironic phenomenon where people who excel in their profession are sometimes unable to (or simply won’t) extend their services to their children. Think of the shoemaker whose children don’t wear good shoes (or any shoes at all). Or the car mechanic whose daughter’s vehicle always needs repairs. In the movie business, this is sometimes called “vocational irony.” 

    Some interpreters feel that the proverb refers to bad parenting, but I don’t agree. Unless the children are clearly in a bad way (which should then be reported to the appropriate local authorities), who really knows what is going on in another’s household?


    Imagine you’re a teacher who often organizes outings for your class. One of your pupils, the son of a dentist, is repeatedly unable to join, usually because of dental problems. You could then comment on the situation using this proverb.

    Example Sentence: 

    Die tandaarts se seun kon weereens nie saamkom op die uitstappie nie as gevolg van tandpyn. Lyk my die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet.
    “The dentist’s son could not join us on the excursion, again due to a toothache. It seems the cobbler’s children are the worst shod.”

    Two Children's Feet with Flowers

    Die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet. (Literally: “The shoemaker’s children walk barefoot.”)

    4. Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. / “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Those who don’t dare, don’t win.”


    Just like the English version, this Afrikaans proverb reminds us that nobody can expect to win or succeed in life without sometimes pushing their own boundaries. It’s an encouragement to be bold and to act despite feeling afraid.


    Imagine this scenario, for instance: Your Afrikaans friend is offered a well-paid job where they’ll be expected to do work that will challenge him to up his skills. Soon after accepting the offer, however, and even before starting, he confesses to you that he wants to quit because his courage is failing. You could then say this proverb to encourage him to be more daring.

    Example Sentence: 

    Gaan vind eers uit wat die werk behels, dalk is dit nie so moeilik as wat jy dink nie. Onthou, wie nie waag nie, wen nie.
    “First go find out what the work entails; perhaps it is not as difficult as you think. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

    Cat Throwing the Shadow of a Lion.

    Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. (Literally: “Those who don’t dare, don’t win.”)

    5. Een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. / “One swallow does not make a summer.”


    This proverb was appropriated from English and apparently first encountered in early glossaries, such as Richard Taverner’s transcription of the Latin proverbs of Erasmus (circa 1539). It alludes to the migratory return of swallows in early summer. In the olden days, when the swallows returned, people saw it as a sign that summer had started. However, sometimes there were “false alarms,” typically when only one swallow was spotted. The proverb came to mean that a single good sign doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend.


    It’s used to caution against blind or excessive optimism after a windfall. Or, as Erasmus put it: “It is not one good qualitie that maketh a man good.”

    Example Sentence: 

    Ons het goeie verkope gehad hierdie week, maar onthou—een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. Dit gaan tyd neem vir die besigheid om regtig te floreer.
    “We made good sales this week, but remember—one swallow doesn’t make a summer. It will take time for the business to really flourish.”

    A Swallow Perched on a Twig

    Een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. (“One swallow does not make a summer.”)

    6. Wat jy saai sal jy maai. / “As you sow, so you shall reap.”


    This well-known proverb is based on the hermetic principle that what you think, say, or do always returns to you in some form or another. The principle is similar in all religious traditions, but the proverb itself is found in the Christian Bible. 


    Just as in English, this proverb is used to comment on or warn about one’s behavior. Picture, for instance, that you find out your teenage son is considering cheating on his girlfriend. You might have a talk with him about morals and ethics, gently reminding him that what he sows, he will eventually reap.

    Example Sentence: 

    Moenie ‘n verneuker wees nie, my kind, dit maak mense seer. En onthou, wat jy saai sal jy maai. Dis hoe die lewe werk.
    “Don’t be a cheat, my child, it hurts people. And remember, as you sow, so you shall reap. Life works that way.”

    A Hand Sowing Seeds in the Soil

    Wat jy saai sal jy maai. (“As you sow, so you shall reap.”)

    7. Skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan. / Approximate: “Beauty is only skin-deep.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Beauty fades but virtue endures.”


    This proverb sings the praises of inner virtue over outer appearance, or the value of inner, more enduring character qualities over the visible, transient ones.


    In practical terms, the proverb is used as a comment, warning, or advice when a person is blinded by the outer beauty of someone or something. This commonly happens when we become infatuated with a person or an object! 

    For instance, imagine you’re a car aficionado and a friend asks for your advice about buying a new car. He’s smitten by the latest body style of a certain sports car, and you realize that he wants to purchase it impulsively. However, as the expert, you know that it won’t be a good buy for him. That would be the perfect time to use this proverb.

    In Afrikaans, deug (“virtue”) is sometimes replaced with liefde (“love”), in which case it extols the virtues of choosing a life partner mostly for their inner beauty.

    Example Sentence: 

    Daardie is ‘n mooi motorkar, maar dis nie ‘n baie praktiese een nie. Onthou, skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan!
    “That is a nice-looking motorcar, but it’s not a very practical one. Remember, beauty fades but virtue endures!”

    Beautiful Sports Car on the Road.

    Skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan. (“Beauty disappears but virtue remains.”)

    8. Haastige hond verbrand sy mond. / Approximates: “Haste makes waste.” AND “More haste, less speed.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “The hasty dog burns its mouth.”


    This is a reminder to not hurry things unnecessarily, as you can end up spoiling them for yourself. It’s similar to the English proverb that warns against doing jobs hastily, because this could cause mistakes and unnecessary loss.


    This one is often used by parents during mealtime! In this case, it means exactly what it says: don’t eat too fast or the hot food will burn your mouth. It’s often used in other contexts too. For instance: your Afrikaans friend has booked a holiday weekend at a beautiful location and is tremendously eager to be off. She announces that she’s going to drive there at top speed, which you know will be unsafe. You might decide to use this proverb to remind her to drive at a sensible speed.

    Example Sentence: 

    Daar is gewoonlik verkeerskameras op daardie pad. En dit reën, so oppas. Haastige hond verbrand sy mond.
    “There are usually traffic cameras on that road. And it’s raining too, so be careful. The hasty dog burns its mouth.”

    Small Dog Running

    Haastige hond verbrand sy mond. (“The hasty dog burns its mouth.”)

    9. Aanhouer wen. / Approximate: “Practice makes perfect.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “One who persists wins.”


    This proverb encourages us not to give up on our goals or to quit working toward them when the going gets tough. It reminds us that it’s the tenacious person who will eventually get what they want. 


    This is one of the best Afrikaans proverbs to use when someone feels discouraged in their endeavors, or if they just don’t feel like continuing. It’s similar to the English approximate in that it encourages persistence, albeit with a different emphasis. Literally, Aanhouer wen encourages someone who feels discouraged and tired by their efforts to keep going, while the English proverb encourages persistence in order to reach a high standard.

    Imagine your daughter wants to improve her performance in athletics, but feels discouraged by her slow progress and therefore wants to quit practicing. That’s when you would give her a hug and remind her (with this Afrikaans proverb) that persistence will bear fruit.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ja, oefening is nie altyd lekker nie, my kind, maar onthou—aanhouer wen.
    “Yes, practice is not always pleasant, my child, but remember—the one who persists wins.”

    Athlete on Track Shouting in Victory with Arms Raised

    Aanhouer wen. (“One who persists, wins.)

    10. Approximate: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “From procrastination comes cancelation.”


    This proverb is a warning against procrastination. We’re all familiar with the dynamic—the longer you put off doing something, the more likely you are not to do it at all!


    The proverb is pretty straightforward and can be used in any situation where this reminder is appropriate. For instance—New Year’s resolutions! Who hasn’t promised themselves that they will lose weight, spruce up the garden, or write a book, only to reach the end of that year without having reached any goals due to procrastination? Use this proverb to remind yourself or someone else why it’s better to ditch this bad habit.

    Example Sentence: 

    Laat ek tog gaan oefen. Want regtig, van uitstel kom afstel!
    “Let me go and exercise. Because really, from procrastination comes cancelation.”

    Bored-looking Teenage Boy with Glasses

    Van uitstel kom afstel. (Literally: “From procrastination comes cancelation.”

    11. Elke hond kry sy dag. / “Every dog gets its day.”


    According to the Collins Dictionary, this proverb means that everyone will be successful or lucky at some point in their life. It has interesting origins, not as benevolent as the dictionary definition suggests. The proverb alludes to a pack of dogs that was allegedly loosed upon Greek playwright Euripides by a vengeful enemy in 405 BCE. The dogs mauled and killed the writer. The proverb came to mean that even the lowliest person will eventually get their revenge over their most powerful enemy. 


    It’s often used when we want to comfort a friend who’s down on their luck, whether in serious or trivial matters. For instance, if someone has lost a competition or didn’t get a job they applied for, you could use this proverb to cheer them up. It’s also sometimes used to say that a person will be avenged if they suffer something they didn’t deserve, such as when they’re unfairly fired or implicated in a crime they didn’t commit.

    Example Sentence: 

    Hy voel baie kwaad en verneder oor hy uit die span geskop is na vals beweringe van dwelmgebruik. Maar hy troos homself met hierdie wete—elke hond kry sy dag.
    “He feels very angry and humiliated because he was kicked off the team due to false allegations of drug use. But he comforts himself with this thought—every dog gets its day.”

    Basset Sitting on a Barstool Next to a Table with a Woman Who's Embroidering

    Elke hond kry sy dag. (“Every dog gets its day.”)

    12. Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie. / “You get what you deserve.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Every small bean gets his little due.”


    If the literal translation doesn’t make much sense, that’s because this popular proverb is based on old Afrikaans folklore. The story is called Little Bean, Straw, and Ember and it tells us that one day, these three friends went for a walk in nature. They reached a stream to cross, and Straw generously offered to lie down and form a bridge that the other two could safely use. Little Bean went first and crossed the stream easily. Unfortunately, Ember burnt Straw, so both of them collapsed into the stream. Little Bean found this hilarious and laughed uncontrollably. In fact, he laughed so hard that he popped open! The moral of the story is that he got his due for mocking his friends in their misery.


    This is mostly used as a comment when we notice that someone, according to our judgment, gets what they deserve. For instance, a large company is exposed for poor environmental health and safety practices. At first, it seems they’re getting away with it, but then you read in the newspaper that someone has sued them and won a large settlement. This is when you could mutter this proverb to yourself or air it in a conversation to express your opinion. You could also use it to comfort a friend who has fallen victim to unfair treatment.

    Example Sentence: 

    Toemaar, ou pêl, moenie te sleg voel nie. Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie.
    “Don’t worry, old pal, and don’t feel too bad. They will get what they deserve.”


    In this case, the English version is closer to an idiom than a proverb because the pronoun “you” is often replaced with other pronouns or nouns.

    Green Beans, String Beans

    Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie. (Literally: “Every bean gets his dues.”)

    13. Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad. / “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”


    This well-known proverb refers to our tendency to compare our situation with others’, and then conclude that they have it better than we do, even when they really don’t. It’s not so much envy as it is the assumption that we’re worse off than others, making us wish we were on their side of the proverbial fence.


    Picture this scenario: Your Afrikaans colleague is not terribly unhappy at work, but she’s restless and bored in your department. She’s always looking longingly at colleagues in a different department who work outside of the office, thinking that they seem to have a better time. Therefore, she wants to ask for a transfer. However, you know that all is not as it seems in the other department, so you use this proverb to warn her against taking rash action.

    Example Sentence: 

    Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad, Sandra. Jy moet mooi dink oor ‘n oorplasing.
    “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, Sandra. You need to think very carefully about a transfer.”

    Fence in a Field with Green Grass on One Side

    Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad. (“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”)

    14. Oos, wes, tuis bes. / “There’s no place like home.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “East, west, home is best.”


    This proverb reminds us of the joys of having a good home. It implies that, no matter how far and wide we travel, nothing compares to being home, a place we love returning to.


    It’s used to describe a feeling of satisfaction upon arriving home after a long holiday or trip. It can also refer to the place where you were raised, or any place you fondly recall as “home.” You could use this proverb with good effect if, for instance, you were invited to a class reunion in your hometown and were asked to give a short speech. It would make a great opening line! 

    Example Sentence: 

    Goeienaand, Klasmaats van ’88. Wat kan ek sê—oos, wes, tuis bes.
    “Good evening, Class of ’88. What can I say—east, west, home is best.”

    Three Hands Holding Paper Figures of a Family Setup - a House, Family Members, and a Car

    Oos, wes, tuis bes. (Literally: “East, west, home best.”)

    15. Waar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie. / “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”


    This is another well-known proverb, and it means that if rumors are circulating about someone or something, there’s always some truth to them.


    The absolute truth of this proverb is debatable, because really—do we ever get the full picture via rumors? We love to gossip, unfortunately, which distorts or takes away from the truth. So, use this proverb sparingly if you’re dealing with negative stories. 

    The proverb can be used positively too, though. For instance, your Afrikaans friend whispers that she heard along the grapevine that a mutual friend has gotten engaged, but she’s not sure. If you don’t know either, this proverb could be a good reply, accompanied by a happy wink.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ek weet nie, maar jy weet mos hoe die spreekwoord gaanwaar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie.
    “I don’t know either, but you know what the proverb says—where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    A Lit Match with Flame and Smoke

    Waar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie. (“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”)

    16. Jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei maar jy kan hom nie maak drink nie. / “You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”


    This one means that guidance has its limits, and that you cannot force anyone to take an opportunity or advice offered them.


    It’s mostly used as a comment during conversation. For instance: Your friend was looking for a specific garden tool and you told him which shop stocks them. Later you hear that he has not found the tool, but he didn’t take your advice either. You could then use this proverb as a remark.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ek het hom vertel waar daardie gereedskap te koop is. Ag wel, jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei maar jy kan hom nie maak drink nie.
    “I told him where those tools are sold. Ah well, you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”

    Horses Drinking Water at a Pond on a Farm

    Jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei, maar jy kan dit nie maak drink nie. (“One can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”)

    17. Wanneer die son sak in die weste is die luiaard op sy beste. / Approximates: “A young man idle, an old man needy.” OR “A lazy youth, a lousy old age.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “When the sun sets in the west, the lazy bum is at his best.”


    This is a reference to dusk, which signals the end of the day—supposedly a lazy person’s favorite time of day, because now they can rest legitimately. Of course, it’s the end of work for many people.


    Parents use this proverb to teach or warn their children not to be lazy. In conversation, it’s a reference to idleness or laziness—oftentimes our own, even if rest is well-deserved! For instance, if you feel exceptionally tired after hard work and just want to stretch out in front of the TV with a glass of wine, you could exclaim this proverb with a smile to mildly deprecate yourself.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ek het nie lus om kos te maak vanaand nie; gee my net ‘n goeie fliek en wyn! As die son sak in die weste, is die luiaard op sy beste.
    “I don’t feel like making supper tonight; just give me a good movie and wine! When the sun sets in the west, the lazy person is at his best!”

    Lazy Guy Sleeping on Couch

    Wanneer die son sak in die weste is die luiaard op sy beste. (“When the sun sets in the west, the lazy bum is at his best.”)

    18. Die oggendstond het goud in die mond. / Approximate: “The early bird catches the worm.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “The break of dawn has gold in its mouth.”


    This personification of dawn is the antidote to the laziness referenced in the previous proverb, as it extolls the virtues of getting up early for work. The reasoning is that this will help you perform better, because most people tend to feel more energetic and motivated in the morning—gold. If you get up early, you’ll also have time to do more work—more gold!


    It’s used as a comment to remind us of the above. If, for instance, a manager wants to motivate his staff to come in earlier for work on a specific day, he might use this proverb.

    Example Sentence: 

    Waarom begin ons so vroeg Maandagoggend? Oggendstond het goud in die mond, Kollega.
    “Why are we starting so early on Monday morning? Break of dawn has gold in its mouth, my colleague.”

    Dawn Breaking Over a Corn Field

    Oggendstond het goud in die mond. (Literally: “Break of dawn has gold it its mouth.”)

    19. Goedkoop koop is duurkoop. / “If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”


    This proverb warns against the pitfalls of shopping like a miser, unless you’re very sure that you’re getting reasonable quality. We tend to get what we pay for! This is not always true, though; not all inexpensive products and services are of poor quality, nor does ‘expensive’ necessarily translate to ‘excellent quality.’ But, in general, a dodgy purchase could mean you’ll soon have to replace it with a better one, or pay for repairs! This would then cost you a lot more than if you’d been less stingy in the first place.


    The proverb is often used as a warning when someone is about to make a bad purchase to save money. Imagine this scenario: Your friend needs a new cell phone, but she’s saving for a vacation and therefore doesn’t want to buy her preferred (but expensive) brand. Instead, she’s considering another, much cheaper but unknown and slightly suspect brand. In this case, you could use this line to caution her.

    Example Sentence: 

    Daardie foon lyk aanloklik, maar oppas. Goedkoop koop is duurkoop.
    “That phone looks appealing, but beware. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”

    Female Buyer at Counter of a Shop

    Goedkoop koop is duur koop. (“If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”)

    20. Honger is die beste kok. / “Hunger is the best sauce.”

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Hunger is the best cook.”


    This proverb means that if a person is hungry, they’re less likely to be finicky about the food they eat.


    It’s often used as a playful comment when children with a difficult palate eat all their food because they’re hungry. Imagine being grateful that your offspring is so hungry after a day of energetic play that, for once, they don’t complain about what’s on their plates! That’s when you would use this proverb with a smile.

    Example Sentence: 

    Wel, dit wys nethonger is die beste kok!
    Literally: “Well, this just shows—hunger is the best cook!”

    Family at Dinner Table Eating

    Honger is die beste kok. (“Hunger is the best chef.”)

    21. ‘n Halwe eier is beter as ‘n leë dop. / Approximate: “Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” 

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”


    This Dutch-derived proverb advises that sometimes, it’s better to cut your losses and take what you get rather than not getting anything. It doesn’t mean exactly the same thing as its English approximate, which advises that sometimes it’s wiser to take a sure thing today than to gamble on a better thing tomorrow. The Afrikaans proverb is more explicit about why—taking a gamble means you could end up with something worthless!


    Imagine this scenario: Your friend has booked an exclusive sea holiday for three weeks, and he’s been looking forward to it very much. However, before he’s due to leave, the booking agent calls and admits to having made a big mistake that reduces your friend’s holiday period by half. He decides not to shop for other holiday packages at such short notice, though, because the amended booking is now offered to him at a greatly discounted price. In your conversation on the topic, he uses this proverb to explain his decision.

    Example Sentence: 

    Dis nie ideaal nie maar dit is steeds ‘n wegkomkans en ek kry darem groot afslag. ‘n Halwe eier is beter as ‘n lëe dop.
    “It’s not ideal, but it is still a getaway and I am getting a large discount. Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”

    Hands Breaking Open an Egg into a Bowl

    ‘n Halwe eier is beter as a leë dop. (“Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”)

    4. Uniquely South African Proverbs

    Some proverbs are unique to a language, and Afrikaans has a few great, very expressive ones. Here are a few Afrikaans proverbs and sayings you won’t find in English!

    22. Stille waters, diepe grond—onder draai die duiwel rond. 

    Lit. Translation:

    “Still waters, deep ground—underneath (the water) the devil circles round.”


    This means that a demure, coy demeanor, especially in a group, can be misleading and hide a naughty or suspect character. There’s no easily traceable approximate in English, and it’s noteworthy that the Afrikaans proverb doesn’t mean the same as “Still waters run deep.” The latter implies that a quiet manner sometimes hides a passionate or profound nature, whereas the Afrikaans version suggests that a very quiet, demure behavior is suspect! 


    This proverb is most often used in jest to tease shy people. For instance, your new secretary rarely speaks during meetings or work-related social events. This could be a good line to tease her with if you want to draw her out and help her relax. 

    It’s sometimes also used as a comment when someone, regularly considered shy and proper, suddenly acts wildly out of character, or is at the center of a controversy or scandal. Or, it can serve to caution a friend if you feel they are dealing with a seemingly decent but definitely suspect person.

    Example Sentence: 

    Hoe praat jy dan so min, Rita? Jy weet wat die spreekwoord sê: Stille waters, diepe grondonder draai die duiwel rond!
    “Why don’t you talk more, Rita? You know what the proverb says: Still waters, deep ground—underneath (the water) the devil circles round!”

    23. Agteros kom ook in die kraal. 

    Lit. Translation: 

    “The ox bringing up the rear also gets into the kraal.”


    Even those lagging behind eventually reach their goal. The proverb is also sometimes a kind reminder that no one is a complete loser in every area of life.


    This is used as an encouraging comment when, in any situation, you see someone struggling to keep up with the group, but you have confidence that they’ll eventually make it. Or, use it when they do catch up! For instance, your family goes hiking, but your overweight son is battling a bit on the trail, so he keeps lagging behind. Eventually, he catches up with everybody else. You can then use this proverb to congratulate him, together with a huge smile and a cool drink!

    Example Sentence: 

    Aaah, kyk wie is hier! Agteros kom ook in die kraalgeluk, Boet!
    “Aaah, look who’s here! The ox bringing up the rear also gets into the kraal—congratulations, Boet!”


    Boet is a popular and casual nickname, close in meaning to the English slang term “Bro.” The female equivalent is Sus, used the same way as the English “Sis.” It’s not exclusively used among family, but Afrikaans parents like calling their offspring Boet or Sus.

    Lips with Lipstick being Applied.

    Oulap se rooi maak mooi. (“A penny’s red makes pretty.”)

    24. Oulap se rooi maak mooi

    Lit. Translation:

    “A penny’s red makes pretty.”


    Oulap is an old Afrikaans word for a penny, which is a unit of currency (low in value) used in some Western countries. In South Africa, the penny is no longer used as a monetary unit, but the proverb endures. It means that great improvement can be made with only a small adjustment, specifically regarding appearance. 


    Use this proverb as a compliment or comment in any appropriate situation. It’s very often used to compliment or refer to a woman who looks better with a little bit of makeup on. It’s also used when something, such as a room, looks prettier after colorful items (oftentimes red ones) have been added.

    Example Sentence: 

    Sy lyk baie goed met daardie lipstiffie aan. Oulap se rooi maak mooi!
    “She looks very good with that lipstick. A penny’s red makes pretty!”

    25. Die deler is so goed soos die steler.

    Lit. Translation: 

    “The one who shares in the loot is the same as the thief.” 


    In Afrikaans, the adjectival phrase, so goed soos, has two meanings: “as good as” and “the same as.”


    This proverb reminds us that if we are aware of a criminal act but consciously choose to profit from it anyway, we are morally as guilty as the person who committed the crime.


    It’s often used as a teaching tool by parents and teachers, or to comment on any situation where this truth is applicable. Suppose you find your five-year-old daughter enjoying mysteriously obtained candy with her friend. It turns out that the friend had nicked the candy from the local supermarket. Upon discovering this, you could use this proverb as a teaching tool during a very stern conversation with both about the criminality of thievery!

    Example Sentence: 

    Die deler is so goed soos die steler, my kind. Jy kon vir Theo gesê het om die lekkergoed te gaan teruggee; jy moes nie saam geëet nie! Dis verkeerd, ons maak nie so nie.
    “The one who shares in the loot is the same as the thief, my child. You could have told Theo to return the candy, and not have shared it with him! That’s wrong, we don’t do that.”


    Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou. (“Jackal marries Wolf’s wife.”)

    26. Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou. / Lit. “Jackal marries Wolf’s wife.”


    In South Africa, we often comment with this proverb during a so-called sunshower. This occurs when it rains while the sun is not behind the clouds, and in South African English, we call this phenomenon a Monkey’s Wedding. However, few know what this proverb really means. For this, we again have to look at an Afrikaans fable, this one featuring Jakkals (“Jackal”) and Wolf (“Wolf”) as main characters.

    In South African folklore, Wolf was Jackal’s uncle, and he and his pretty wife were also Jackal’s godparents. Then, Jackal fell in love with his godmother and proceeded to woo her, which was improper as it broke the unspoken societal laws of the bush. A nephew and a godmother were two things that just didn’t belong together—similar to the pairing of sunshine and rain, which almost appears unnatural. So, originally, this proverb referred to anything that went strongly against the societal norms of the time.


    Its original use is completely outdated in modern, vernacular Afrikaans. In fact, I have never heard it being used this way. It’s still a popular comment when a sunshower takes place, though.

    Example Sentence: 

    Kyk buitekant! Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou.
    “Look outside! It’s a Monkey’s Wedding.”

    Three Glasses of Wine with Grapes

    Goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. (“Good wine doesn’t require a wreath.”)

    27. Goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. 

    Lit. Meaning: 

    “Good wine doesn’t require a wreath.”


    This proverb means that quality is self-evident; it doesn’t need to be praised or advertised. It’s apparently derived from a time when it was customary for travelers’ lodges to hang a wreath outside their doors to indicate the availability of wine. Over time, the places with good wine became so well-known and popular that they didn’t need to hang out a wreath any longer. 


    This is a rarely used proverb, mostly used to comment on excellent food or drink presented in a simple style or in a laid-back, unassuming setting. Imagine, for instance, you’re with friends in a low-budget restaurant where you get served a particularly superb wine. If someone mentions their surprise over this, you could comment with this proverb.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ja, hierdie is ‘n besondere wyn in ‘n onwaarskynlike plek. Maar dis soos hulle sê: goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. 
    “Yes, it’s an exceptional wine in an unlikely place. But, as they say: good wine doesn’t need a wreath.”

    28. Die kok is verlief.

    Lit. Meaning: 

    “The cook is in love.”


    The proverb originated when people were served food that was too salty. In modern Afrikaans, however, it refers to any slightly botched dish. The inference is that the cook must have been distracted because they’re in love, which is why they made mistakes while cooking!


    Use this as a lighthearted comment during a meal if there’s clearly something wrong with the food, but you don’t wish to make a big fuss of it.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ja, die kok is verlief, dis duidelik. Maar dis nie ‘n probleem nie, die kos smaak nie te sleg nie!
    “Yes, the cook is in love, that’s clear. But it’s not a problem, the food doesn’t taste too bad!”

    Owl Sitting on a Tree Stump

    Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk. (“Everyone sees his owl as a falcon.”)

    29. Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk.

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Everyone sees his owl as a falcon.”


    This proverb means that parents want to see their children only through rose-colored lenses, probably endowing them with characteristics they don’t really have. For instance, owls can fly, but not as high as falcons do. They’re also shy night-prowlers, whereas most falcons soar during the day.


    This is often a self-deprecating comment parents make when they notice they’ve expected too much of their offspring. However, unless you’re very close to the parents, never use this proverb sarcastically or to describe children’s lesser accomplishments—the parents may never speak to you again!

    Example Sentence: 

    Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk, nè? Maar ek is steeds trots op my uiltjie, sy het tweede gekom in die kompetisie.
    “Everyone sees their owl as a falcon, don’t they? But I am still proud of my owlet; she came second in the competition.”

    30. Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira.

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Take your stuff and leave, Ferreira.”


    This proverb commands that you “take your stuff and leave,” simple as that! It has an interesting, if rather cruel, backstory dating back to 1872 on a wealthy Western Cape Province farm close to Somerset West. The farm belonged to Willem Adriaan Van Aardt, who had a daughter called Ada. Ada, a music student, was a vivacious girl known for her fine sense of humor and excellent singing voice. Annie Malony was her piano teacher. The two were firm friends and were always called upon at social gatherings to provide musical entertainment.

    By age 17, Ada was extremely popular with everyone in the area and obviously had many suitors. One of the most persistent was Jannie Ferreira, son of neighboring farmer Mr. Stephanus Ferreira. Jannie had a birth defect (an ungainly gait), but this didn’t stop him from pestering the girl. He clearly didn’t want to get the hint that she was not interested in a relationship with him.

    Out of frustration with his obtuseness, Ada started penning down her feelings in verse, including the line: Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira. (“Take your stuff and leave, Ferreira.”) She showed her writings to Annie, who immediately set it to a catchy polka tune. 

    At the next large social gathering, to which Jannie was also invited, the two performed the song together. After that evening, Jannie stopped visiting her—he’d finally gotten the message. However, the tune was so infectious that it quickly became popular in the region, and it later spread to all parts of the country. To this day, it’s a well-loved folk tune of the Afrikaans people; you can listen to it here.


    This proverb is most often used as a comment, or to tell someone to leave in a jocular manner. Or you could say it to mean “Get lost!” For instance, you and your friends are discussing the COVID-19 virus. You could then use this proverb to indicate you wish the virus would leave. 

    Example Sentence: 

    Gelukkig het ons vinnig entstof ontwikkel en kon ons vir die virus sê, vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira!
    “Fortunately, we quickly developed a vaccine and could say to the virus, take your stuff and leave, Ferreira!”

    Fireplace with Wood and Ash

    As is verbrande hout. (“Ash is burned wood.”)

    31. As is verbrande hout.

    Lit. Translation: 

    “Ash is burned wood.”


    As has two meanings in Afrikaans: “burned wood” and the conjunction “if.” The proverb literally clarifies which as you’re talking about. 


    It’s most often used in reply to a worry pot who always makes suppositions or raises objections, usually starting their sentences with As … (“If …”) or Maar wat as … (“But what if …”). Using this proverb, you indicate to them that there’s no way of telling if their fears are going to materialize, but that it’s reasonable to expect the best outcome. Ergo, they can stop worrying! Use it with a friendly tone and a smile, not as a sharp retort.

    Example Sentence: 

    Ja Marie, en as is verbrande hout. Ons het seker gemaak die erf is veilig vir kinders, Vriendin, so jy kan maar ophou bekommerd wees.
    “Yes, Marie, and ‘as is verbrande hout.’ We made sure the yard is safe for children, my friend; you can stop worrying.”

    5. Learn Afrikaans Proverbs Like a Pro at!

    Which of these Afrikaans proverbs resonate with you the most, and why? Let us know in the comments! 

    While learning these proverbs in Afrikaans will certainly impress the locals, there’s a lot more to discover about the language and culture of the Afrikaner people. 

    At, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos, our podcast, these vocabulary lists, and more. With our help, you’ll be able to use the proverbs correctly and speak like a native in no time!

    Also, gain the skills you need to decipher Afrikaans proverbs yourself with the multiple tools available to you upon subscription, such as the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. Also, keep your Afrikaans online dictionary close for easy translation! 

    If Afrikaans vernacular is important to you, then take a look at the following pages as well:

    1. The Best Afrikaans Internet Slang and How to Use it!
    2. How To Say “Hello” in Afrikaans Like a Native Speaker!
    3. How To Say “Thank You” in Afrikaans

    Still hesitating? Don’t! Subscribe now, and you’ll be very happy you did!

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

    Your Easy Guide to Understanding Afrikaans Grammar


    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


    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.

      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.

      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).

      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”).

      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. 

      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. 

      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”). 

        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. 

        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.

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

    A Woman Laughing



    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.

        Die mooi vrou (“The pretty woman”)

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

        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


    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.
    • 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



    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



    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



    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



    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



    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



    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”)


    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!)
    • 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.”)


    • 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.”)


    • 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


    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


    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


    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               –
    Place                oor die berge
    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?


    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

    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

    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.)

    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?”


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


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


    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.”

    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


    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

    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
    “show”vertoning, opvoering
    “song”liedjie, lied
    “jam” (confectionary)konfyt
    “movie”film, rolprent
    “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

    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.”)

    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


    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
    cappucino / capucinocappuccino“cappuccino”
    Epos / epose-pos“email”
    geintereseerd / geinterresseerdgeïnteresseerd“interested”
    graffitti / grafiti / grafittigraffiti“graffiti”
    huistoe / winkeltoe / skooltoehuis toe / winkel toe /  skool toe“going home / to the shop / to school”
    ingeneur ingenieur“engineer”
    knië, kniee knieë“knees”
    kominukasie / komunikasiekommunikasie“communication”
    komittee, kommitee, kommitteekomitee“committee”
    leêr lêer“file”
    nogalsnogal“kind of”
    ommelet / omelletomelet“omelette”
    waardeur / wardeerwaardeer“appreciate”

    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

    With, you’ll be learning with the best team!

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    If you’re serious about your learning, make use of our three different learning plans.
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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


    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, 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.


    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 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.


    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

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

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    Afrikaans Sentence Patterns – Your Best Guide!


    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, 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 


    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.”


    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.” 


    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.” 


    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.”


    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?”


    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?”


    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, 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.

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

    Your Most Comprehensive List of 100 Adverbs in Afrikaans


    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.”)


    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”).


    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. 

    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.
    “You can go next.”
    Jy kan volgende gaan.
    “He lived in the UK previously.”
    Vroeër / voorheen
    Hy’t vroeër/voorheen in die VK gebly.
    “By day”
    “I work by day.”
    Ek werk bedags.
    “At night”
    “I sleep at night.”
    Ek slaap snags.
    “In time”
    “They left in time.”
    Hulle het betyds vertrek.
    “Nowadays, we sing.”
    Deesdae sing ons.
    “In the afternoons”
    “We play in the afternoons.”
    Smiddae / Smiddags
    Ons speel smiddae.
    “The cat seldom eats.”
    Die kat eet selde.
    “Come quickly.”
    Gou / gou-gou
    Kom gou-gou.
    “Soon” / “One of these days”
    “He’ll fly soon.”
    Eersdaags / Binnekort
    Hy sal binnekort vlieg.
    “We first lived here.”
    Ons het eers hier gebly.
    “At last”
    “At last, he replies.”
    Uiteindelik antwoord hy.
    “Sometimes the child cries.”
    Soms huil die kind.
    “Henceforth, you must drive.”
    Voortaan moet jy bestuur.
    “The girl often dances.”
    Die meisie dans gereeld.
    “Time and again”
    “We are being warned time and again.”
    Ons word telkens gewaarsku.
    “I finished long ago.”
    Ek is lankal klaar.
    “We suddenly stop.”
    Skielik / Meteens
    Ons stop skielik.
    “Drink immediately.”
    Dadelik / Onmiddelik
    Drink dadelik.
    “They left forever.”
    Hulle is vergoed weg.
    “Once there was a witch.”
    Eenmaal was daar ‘n heks.
    “Meanwhile, he laughed.”
    Intussen lag hy.
    “She is yet to come.”
    Sy moet nog kom.
    “Then I will write.”
    Dan sal ek skryf.
    “He never showed up.”
    Hy het nooit opgedaag nie.
    “I will always love you.”
    Ek sal jou altyd liefhê.

    Adverbs of Place / Bywoorde van Plek

    “Outside” (1)
    “The parrot flies (to the) outside.”
    Die papegaai vlieg buitentoe.
    “Outside” (2)
    “We barbeque outside.”
    Ons braai buite.
    “Inside” (1)
    “It’s cold; stay inside.”
    Dis koud – bly binne.
    “Inside” (2)
    “Look inside.”
    Kyk in die binnekant.
    “He looks around.”
    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.
    “He was wounded internally.”
    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.”
    Kom hier.
    “Here” (2)
    “We moved here.”
    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?”
    Gaan jy soontoe?
    “I search everywhere.”
    Ek soek orals.
    “We all stand together.”
    Ons almal staan saam.
    Adverbs of Manner Bywoorde van Wyse
    “He is different.”
    Hy is anders.
    “The snake moves quietly.”
    Suutjies / Saggies
    Die slang beweeg suutjies.
    “Silent” / “Quiet”
    “The mouse keeps quiet.”
    Die muis bly stil.
    “The dessert tastes delicious.”
    Die nagereg smaak heerlik.
    “The flowers are beautiful.”
    Die blomme is pragtig.
    “The bedroom looks pretty.”
    Die slaapkamer lyk mooi.
    “The bathroom looks bad.”
    Die badkamer lyk sleg.
    “The atmosphere feels off.”
    Die atmosfeer voel af.
    “He flees blindly.”
    Hy vlug blindelings.
    “She replies curtly.”
    Sy antwoord kortaf.
    “A bit” / “A little”
    “It drips a bit.”
    Dit drup effens.
    “The orchestra plays wonderfully.”
    Die orkes speel wonderlik.
    “Please speak clearly.”
    Asseblief praat duidelik.
    “You should rather go home.”
    Jy moet liewer huistoe gaan.
    “The girl works diligently.”
    Die meisie werk fluks.
    “The truck lies upside-down.”
    Die trok lê onderstebo.
    “The old man walks slowly.”
    Stadig / Langsaam
    Die ou man loop stadig.
    Lit. “rest-rest.” Meaning: resting intermittently
    “She moves along, resting often.”
    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:


    Die kat beweeg soek-soek rond.

    “He looks searchingly.”
    Hy kyk soekend.
    Adverbs of Degree and Frequency / Bywoorde van Graad en Hoeveelheid
    “The day is very beautiful.”
    Die dag is baie mooi.
    “Way too”
    “You’re paying way too much for it.”
    Jy betaal veels te veel daarvoor.
    “There are approximately ten places left.”
    Daar is ongeveer tien plekke oor.
    “More or less”
    “The play is more or less finished.”
    Die opvoering is byna klaar.
    “He is only five years old.”
    Hy is net vyf jaar oud.
    “The test was terribly difficult.”
    Die toets was vreeslik moeilik.
    “We were fairly early.”
    Ons was taamlik vroeg.
    “The old dog can scarcely walk.”
    Die ou hond kan skaars loop.
    “Not at all”
    “That is not at all difficult.”
    Dit is gladnie moeilik nie.
    “I’m highly pleased with the results.”
    Ek is hoogs tevrede met die resultate.
    “The movie’s plot was totally outrageous.”
    Die film se plot was heeltemal verregaande.
    “Not really”
    “They are not really accommodating.”
    Nie juis
    Hulle is nie juis tegemoetkomend nie.
    “The boy, especially, is clever.”
    Die seun veral is slim.
    “We sell mainly software.”
    Ons verkoop meestal sagteware.
    “He was so happy.”
    Hy was so gelukkig.
    “He almost cried.”
    Hy het amper gehuil.
    “Have you had enough?”
    Het julle genoeg gehad?
    “By far”
    “She is, by far, the prettiest.”
    Sy is verreweg die mooiste.
    “The priest was moreover late.”
    Die priester was boonop laat.
    Adverbs of Modality / Bywoorde van Modaliteit


    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.

    “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:

    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

    “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.”

    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.

    “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.”

    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.

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

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

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

    Other concession adverbs of modality:

    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

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

    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


    “He therefore failed.”
    Hy het daarom misluk.
    “About this”
    “We need to talk about this.”
    Ons moet hieroor praat.
    “Through this”
    “It was salvaged through this.”
    Dit is daardeur gered.
    “I hereby declare you husband and wife.”
    Ek verklaar julle hierdeur man en vrou.
    Adverbs of Circumstance / Bywoorde van Omstandigheid
    “They talk incessantly.”
    Hulle praat onophoudelik.
    “He returned unexpectedly.”
    Hy het onverwags teruggekom.
    “The night is suddenly quiet.”
    Die nag is meteens stil.
    “The wolf walks alone.”
    Die wolf loop alleen.
    “We walk together.”
    Ons loop saam.
    “In vain”
    “The man knocks in vain.”
    Die man klop vergeefs.
    “She taps his hand playfully.”
    Sy tik sy hand speelsgewys.
    “The woman promises unconditionally.”
    Die vrou belowe onvoorwaardelik.
    Adverbs of Relation and Restriction / Bywoorde van Verhouding en Beperking
    “Only” (1)
    “The cat only blinks.”
    Die kat knip net (sy oë).
    “Only” (2)
    “It only moves if you touch it.”
    Dit beweeg alleen as jy dit aanraak.
    “Only” (3)
    “Three were only wounded.”
    Drie was slegs gewond.
    “In part”
    “The finger moves in part.”
    Die vinger beweeg gedeeltelik.
    “About this”
    “The teacher talks about this.”
    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.”
    Hulle draai dus.
    “For this reason”
    “She came for this reason.”
    Sy het hieroor gekom.
    Adverbs of Means / Bywoorde van Middel
    “With this” / “Herewith”
    “I eat with this.”
    Ek eet hiermee.
    “With (that)”
    “The puppy plays with that.”
    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.”
    Sy drink baie.
    “Little by little”
    “The money accumulates little by little.”
    Die geld vermeerder bietjie-bietjie.
    “More” / “The most”
    “They want more.”
    Meer / Die meeste
    Hulle wil meer hê.
    “Little” (2)
    “The boy gives little.”
    Die seun gee weinig.
    Adverbs of Purpose / Bywoorde van Doel

    “For this”
    “For this, we use a spoon.”
    Hiervoor gebruik ons ‘n lepel.
    “For that”
    “For that, we use a knife.”
    Daarvoor gebruik ons ‘n mes.
    “With this”
    “She rubs the oil with this.”
    Sy vryf die olie hiermee.
    “With that”
    “The car moves with that.”
    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 do they arrive?”
    Wanneer kom hulle?
    “Why does he laugh?”
    Hoekom? / Waarom?
    Hoekom lag hy?
    “Who walks there?”
    Wie loop daar?
    “Where … from?”
    “Where is the lady from?”
    Waarvandaan kom die dame?
    “Where … to?”
    “Where are you going to?”
    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 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 radio plays?”
    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.

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

    All About Verb Conjugation in Afrikaans – Your Best Guide!


    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:


    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:


    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! 


    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!”

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

    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.”
    • Change in sentence – Always precede the second verb with om te. No conjugation.

    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.”

    • 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.
    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.”

    • 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.”

    • 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.
    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.”

    • 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.
    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.”

    • 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.”

    • 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.”

    • 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”
    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.”

    • 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.)

    • 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.”

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

    A bit confused?


    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. 

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