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September 20, 2013 / Roel

Grammar – Verbs with a root-change

Verbs with a root-change


How words are formed which don’t use the root


There are words which have elements within the verb conjugation which are different from the root. This has to do with the pronunciation. The root ‘spreken‘ is pronounced like ‘spreyken’ (ey like in hey and e like in e in ‘user’)

Although you write just one ‘e’, it’s pronounced like a long e, the ‘ee’. This has to do with the k. If you write kk, it’s a double k and it would be pronounced with the short ‘e‘, which is pronounced like ‘a‘ in ‘and‘. If in a word you see a vowel and after that vowel there is a double letter, you have to pronounce the short version of that vowel. ‘bellen’ means‘to call’ and isn’t pronounced like ‘e‘ in spreken, but with the short ‘e‘ which sounds like the ‘a‘ in ‘and‘, because you see llthere and not l, which means that you use the short pronunciation.

Now let’s look at the verb ‘spreken’. When we say ‘I speak‘, we write ‘ik spreek‘, because if we would write ‘ik sprek‘ there would be a wrong pronunciation. The long ‘e‘ needs to be retained, so we write the double ‘e‘.

We write ‘ik spreek‘, ‘jij spreekt‘, ‘hij spreekt‘. Now let’s look at the plural forms, they contain the double ‘e‘, wij sprekenjullie sprekenzij spreken. This is because there is one k, and if there is one k and this k is immediately succeeded by another vowel, this means that we have to use the long pronunciation. The same for the verb ‘praten‘ (to talk), after the t there is an ‘e’ and not a consonant, so we have to use the long ’a’.

verb with a root change:



ik spreek

jij spreekt

hij/zij/het spreekt

wij spreken

jullie spreken

zij spreken


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