A very important part of Dutch sentence construction is inversion. What is it? And how can YOU use it? Find out now with this How to Dutch Grammar post by LearnDutchOnline.nl!
Inversion simply means the switching of the finite verb and the subject in a given main sentence. Normally, you’d start with the subject, right? Well, when inversion occurs, you don’t do that. Rather, you’d start with the finite verb – the main verb in the sentence – first, for example after and adverb or place.
Let’s check out the following sentence, which will probably make it more clear for you:
Noor werkt bij de schoenenwinkel.
Noor works at the shoe store.
That’s a regular sentence, with the regular structure. Noor is the subject (S), werkt is the verb (V) and ‘bij de schoenenwinkel’ is the rest (R).
Now, let’s put in a specific time frame – for example in de zomervakantie (= during the summer vacation/spring break), at the beginning of the sentence:
In de zomervakantie werkt Noor bij de schoenenwinkel.
During the summer vacation, Noor works at the shoe store.
If you understand inversion in Dutch sentences, you’ll be able to apply it and recognize it. Need accountability during your Dutch learning journey? Go here!
You see what happens?
Because you start with an addition, the specific time of spring break in this case, inversion happens. The rule is this happens always when you put an addition at the beginning of a main sentence with a regular SVO or SVR structure.
So which additions can you add in at the beginning of a Dutch sentence?
– Adverbs: graag, snel, langzaam, traag, groots, voorzichtig
– A specification of time at the beginning of the sentence: Morgen wil ik naar Utrecht met de trein! = Tomorrow I want to go to Utrecht by train!
– A cosentence at the beginning: Omdat jij aardig bent, luister ik naar je. = Because you’re kind, I listen to you.
– A specification of place: In de auto ligt mijn jas. = My jacket is (lying) in the car.
– A specification with a preposition: Met de trein, reis ik het hele land door. = By train I travel the whole country.