Afrikaans/Lesson 03

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Lesson Three: The Basics #3 — Les Drie: Die Grondbeginsels #3

Welcome to Afrikaans Lesson Three. Dialogues will be skipped again this lesson to save such for when we have enough grammatical concepts covered. This lesson will continue plural forms and cover the infinitive modifier, determiners and practical description.

Plurals: "-g", Suffixes Cont., and Unpredictable Plurals

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Continuing from the last lesson, we will provide the rest of the necessary rules and from then on out, there will be very few words you will be unable to pluralize. For a more in-depth list of irregulars, you can go here.

GENERAL RULE 1: Words Ending in "-g"

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There are multiple vowel combinations with the letter "-g", each with their own standard rule:

  • -ag changes to -ae. If it is a double "a", one of them falls away.
    • vlag ('flag') → vlae
    • dag ('day') → dae
    • plaag ('plague') → plae
  • -ig adds to the suffix a -te.
    • lig ('light') → ligte
    • geˈdig ('poem') → gedigte
    • geˈsig ('face') → gesigte
  • -og changes to a -oë. If it is a double "o", one of them falls away.
    • oog ('eye') → oë
    • boog ('bow') → b
    • ˈoorlog ('war') → oorloë
    • bioˈloog ('biologist') → biol
  • -oeg and -ieg change to -oeë and -ieë.
    • ploeg ('plough') → ploeë
    • kroeg ('pub'; 'bar') → kroeë
    • wieg ('cradle') → wieë
  • -uig changes to a -uie.
    • tuig ('harness') → tuie
    • ˈvliegtuig ('aeroplane') → vliegtuie

GENERAL RULE 2: Words Ending in Doubled Consonants

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  • For words that end in double consonants (eg. -ng, -nd, -rk, -rd), these pluralize with an -e.
    • hand ('hand') → ˈhande
    • ring ('ring') → ˈringe
    • vlerk ('wing') → ˈvlerke
    • wolk ('cloud') → wolke
    • swaard ('sword') → swaarde

GENERAL RULE 3: Polysyllabic Words

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  • Polysyllabic words that don't have their stress on the final syllable usually pluralize with an -s (as usual, there are exceptions). This explains why words you had seen last lesson ('ˈvader', 'ˈmoeder', 'ˈdogter'), had -s as their plural. This also includes words that end in -ing pluralize with an -s.
    • ˈwortel ('carrot, root') → ˈwortels
    • ˈvenster ('window') → ˈvensters
    • ˈkoning ('king') → ˈkonings
    • ˈhoring ('horn') → ˈhorings
  • Contrast this with words who's stress does fall on the final syllable.
    • riˈvier ('river') → riviere
    • ingeˈwand ('gut, intestine') → ingewande
    • kampiˈoen ('champion') → kampiˈoene

GENERAL RULE 4: Suffixes 2

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  • The suffix -ding has the odd property of pluralizing as -goed.
    • ˈspeelding ('toy') → ˈspeelgoed
    • ˈeetding ('snack') → ˈeetgoed
    • ˈslagding ('animal for slaughter') → ˈslaggoed
  • The -man suffix can be quite unpredictable.
    • On one hand, some words have the -man suffix disappear completely, and the root itself pluralizes.
      • ˈbuurman ('neighbour') → ˈbure
      • ˈEngelsˌman ('Englishman') → ˈEngelse ('English')
      • ˈFransˌman ('Frenchman') → ˈFranse ('French')
    • On the other hand, there are words (especially occupations) in which the suffix remains and pluralizes as a short vowel would ("-man" → "-manne").
      • ˈsakeˌman ('businessman') → ˈsakeˌmanne
      • ˈbrandweerˌman ('fireman') → ˈbrandweermanne

Plurals: Unpredictable Forms

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These are specific forms that have no real pattern in the formation.

Plurals as -te

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  • Though a lot of the time, the rules given so far work in many instances, there are many, many words that pluralize with -te. The unfortunate part is that one just has to capitulate and learn them by heart.
    • nag ('night') → nagte (not nae)
    • vrug ('fruit') → vrugte
    • bas ('tree bark') → baste
    • lug ('sky') → lugte
    • bors ('chest'; 'breast') → borste

Words Ending in -d

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  • As mentioned before, words ending in -d can be very unpredictable and there is no general rule as to how they work. In such instances, it's best to learn each individual word's plural form. Below are the types of plural formations.
    • There are words that retain the -d and add an -e (however, some words may leave out pronunciation of -d in informal speech).
      • ˈeiland ('island') → eilande
      • hond ('dog') → honde
      • aand ('evening') → aande
      • daad ('deed') → dade
    • There are words that lose the -d.
      • tyd ('time') → tye
      • kruid ('herb') → kruie
    • Words that change the vowels are all irregular in form.
      • stad ('city') → ˈstede
      • god ('god') → ˈgode
      • lid ('member') → ˈlede
      • geˈbed ('prayer') → geˈbede
      • blad ('page') → ˈblaaie
      • pad ('road') → ˈpaaie

Plurals as "-ens", "-ere" and "-ers"

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  • There are really only a handful of nouns that end in -ens, and so, listed below are the most common and non-informal of terms.
    • bed ('bed') → ˈbeddens
    • bad ('bathtub') → ˈbaddens
    • geˈvoel ('feeling') → geˈvoelens
    • nooi ('sweetheart') → ˈnooiens
    • wa ('wagon') → ˈwaens
  • There are only four words that end in -ere.
    • goed ('goods') → ˈgoedere
    • lied ('song') → ˈliedere
    • geˈmoed ('state of mind and heart') → geˈmoedere
    • volk ('nation, peoples') → ˈvolkere (but the more common plural is ˈvolke)
  • "Kind" and "Kalf" are the ONLY words in the language that pluralizes with -ers.
    • kind ('child') → ˈkinders
    • kalf ('calf') → kalwers

Verbs: The Infinitive Modifier

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One thing you should be aware of is that when an infinitive directly modifies a noun phrase, there is a certain structure one must use. The "om te" is split apart, and so, the structure used is {om [noun phrase] te [verb]}.

  • to run a mile. → om ʼn myl te ˈhardˌloop.
  • to drink water. → om ˈwater te drink.

Determiners and Pronouns: Demonstratives

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Demonstratives reference people or things based on location without directly referring to them. In basic terms, you will know them in English as 'this', 'these', 'that' and 'those'. When they act as determiners (i.e. a noun directly follows the demonstrative), hierdie ('this/these') and daardie ('that/those') are used, both of which refer to the singular and plural, the key difference lying in the number of the noun. When pronouncing "hierdie" and "daardie", the d is silent.

  • This dog. → Hierdie hond.
  • These dogs. → Hierdie honde.
  • That dog. → Daardie hond.
  • Those dogs. → Daardie honde.
  • 'This bicycle is mine.' → "Hierdie fiets is myne."

One area in which you cannot use "hierdie" is when in reference to times of the day and with "year".

  • This morning. → Vanoggend (However, daardie oggend)
  • This afternoon. → Vanmiddag (However, daardie middag)
  • This evening. (also "Tonight") → Vanaand (However, daardie nag)
  • This day. (also "Today") → Vandag (However, daardie dag)
  • This year. → Vanjaar (However, daardie jaar)

When the demonstratives act as pronouns (i.e. on their own), there are two different terms:

  • "Dit" is by far the most commonly used in this role and refers to all four English demonstratives.
    • 'This/That is my dog.' = "Dit is my hond."
    • 'These/Those are my dogs.' = "Dit is my honde."
    • 'This is my bicycle.' = "Dit is my fiets."
    • 'He had cooked these. = "Hy het dit geˈkook."
  • The other two terms are "dié" and "daai". "Dié" is somewhat formal, but can still be used in a pejorative context to refer to a person without mentioning them. "Daai" on the other hand is very common in informal (and only informal) settings to replace both "dit" and "daardie".
    • 'This/That is my uncle.' = "Dié/Daai is my oom."
    • 'These/Those are my uncles.' = "Dié/Daai is my ooms."
    • 'You can cook these. = "Jy kan dié/daai kook."
    • 'He spoils everything!' = "Dié beˈderf ˈalles!"

Practicality: "I Like/Love..." and "I Need..."

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This section serves to fill out the practical language you may encounter or use in your daily life as well as unique constructions that Afrikaans speakers use in contrast to Anglophones.

I Like/Love

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In approaching affection for something, English speakers use the verbs, "like" and "love". Rather than a verb, Afrikaans uses phrases to structure these. Don't forget that the phrase structure will change if the tense does. 'To like' has the basic form of {[PRN.] hou (daar)van...}.

  • I like [noun]. → Ek hou van [noun].
    • I like her music. → Ek hou van haar musiek.
  • I like [infinitive]. → Ek hou ˈdaarvan [infinitive].
    • I like to travel. → Ek hou ˈdaarvan om te reis.
  • I like [infinitive] [noun]. → Ek hou ˈdaarvan [infinitive + noun].
    • I like to walk in the garden. → Ek hou ˈdaarvan om in die tuin te loop.

'To love' has the basic form of {[PRN.] is lief (vir)...}.

  • I love [noun]. → Ek is lief vir [noun].
    • I love her music. → Ek is lief vir haar musiek.
  • I love [infinitive]. → Ek is lief [infinitive].  OR  Ek is lief ˈdaarˌvoor [infinitive].
    • I love to travel. → Ek is lief om te reis.  OR  Ek is lief ˈdaarˌvoor om te reis.
  • I love [infinitive] [noun]. → Ek is lief [infinitive + noun].  OR  Ek is lief ˈdaarˌvoor [infinitive + noun].
    • I love to walk in the garden. → Ek is lief om in die tuin te loop.  OR  Ek is lief ˈdaarˌvoor om in die tuin te loop.

I Need...

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There are two possible constructions. These are used only for nouns and not the modal construction for verbs.

  • The first construction, {[PRN.] het [noun] ˈnodig...}.
    • I need a doctor! → Ek het ʼn dokter ˈnodig!
    • He needs you to help him. → Hy het jou ˈnodig om hom te help.
  • As for the second construction, {[PRN.] beˈnodig [noun]}, one could rather think of "benodig" as 'in need of'.
    • I (am in) need (of) a doctor! → Ek beˈnodig ʼn ˈdokter!
    • We (are in) need (of) textbooks. → Ons beˈnodig handboeke.

Chapter Vocabulary

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There are very few words this lesson. After all, the examples have been quite numerous.

Nouns and Adjectives Verbs and Adverbs
English Afrikaans English Afrikaans
bathroom ˈbadˌkamer to use om te geˈbruik
cricket ˈkrieket to play om te speel
difficult ˈmoeilik
love ˈliefde (-s)
toilet ˈtoilet (-te)


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Exercise A: Swadesh Plurals

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This exercise will be very hefty, but it provides a lot of practice. Below is listed all of the countable nouns found in the Swadesh list, and your task is to pluralize them all. You are certainly not obligated to learn all of the words below, rather just follow the exercise's instruction.

  • vrou
  • man
  • mens
  • kind
  • ˈmoeder
  • ˈvader
  • dier
  • vis
  • voël
  • hond
  • luis
  • slang
  • wurm
  • boom
  • woud
  • stok
  • vrug
  • saad
  • blaar
  • ˈwortel
  • bas
  • blom
  • gras
  • tou
  • been
  • ˈeier
  • ˈhoring
  • stert
  • veer
  • haar
  • kop
  • oor
  • oog
  • neus
  • mond
  • tand
  • tong
  • nael
  • voet
  • knie
  • hand
  • vlerk
  • maag
  • ingeˈwand
  • nek
  • rug
  • bors
  • hart
  • ˈlewer
  • son
  • maan
  • ster
  • reën
  • riˈvier
  • meer
  • see
  • sout
  • klip
  • grond
  • wolk
  • lug
  • wind
  • vuur
  • as
  • pad
  • berg
  • nag
  • dag
  • jaar
  • naam
  • vrou ('woman') → ˈvroue
  • man ('man') → ˈmanne
  • mens ('person') → ˈmense
  • kind ('child') → ˈkinders
  • moeder ('mother') → 'ˈmoeders
  • vader ('father') → ˈvaders
  • dier ('animal') → ˈdiere
  • vis ('fish') → ˈvisse
  • voël ('bird') → voëls
  • hond ('dog') → ˈhonde
  • luis ('louse') → ˈluise
  • slang ('snake') → ˈslange
  • wurm ('worm') → wurms
  • boom ('tree') → ˈbome
  • woud ('forest') → ˈwoude
  • stok ('stick') → ˈstokke
  • vrug ('fruit') → ˈvrugte
  • saad ('seed') → ˈsade
  • blaar ('leaf') → ˈblare
  • wortel ('carrot, root') → ˈwortels
  • bas ('tree bark') → ˈbaste
  • blom ('flower') → ˈblomme
  • gras ('grass') → ˈgrasse
  • tou ('rope') → ˈtoue
  • been ('leg, bone') → ˈbene
  • eier ('egg') → ˈeiers
  • horing ('horn') → ˈbote
  • stert ('tail') → ˈsterte
  • veer ('feather') → ˈvere
  • haar ('hair') → ˈhare
  • kop ('head') → ˈkoppe
  • oor ('ear') → ˈore
  • oog ('eye') → ˈoë
  • neus ('nose') → ˈneuse
  • mond ('mouth') → ˈmonde
  • tand ('tooth') → ˈtande
  • tong ('tongue') → ˈtonge
  • nael ('fingernail') → ˈnaele
  • voet ('foot') → ˈvoete
  • knie ('knee') → ˈknieë
  • hand ('hand') → ˈhande
  • vlerk ('wing') → ˈvlerke
  • maag ('stomach') → ˈmae
  • ingeˈwand ('gut') → ingeˈwande
  • nek ('neck') → nekke
  • rug ('back') → rûe
  • bors ('chest, breast') → ˈborste
  • hart ('heart') → ˈharte
  • lewer ('liver') → ˈlewers
  • son ('sun') → ˈsonne
  • maan ('moon') → ˈmane
  • ster ('star') → ˈsterre
  • reën ('rain') → ˈreëns
  • rivier ('river') → ˈriviere
  • meer ('lake') → ˈmere
  • see ('sea') → ˈseë
  • sout ('salt') → ˈsoute
  • klip ('rock') → ˈklippe
  • grond ('earth') → ˈgronde
  • wolk ('cloud') → ˈwolke
  • lug ('sky, air') → lugte
  • wind ('wind') → ˈwinde
  • vuur ('fire') → vure
  • as ('ash') → ˈasse
  • pad ('road') → ˈpaaie
  • berg ('mountain') → ˈberge
  • nag ('night') → ˈnagte
  • dag ('day') → ˈdae
  • jaar ('year') → ˈjare
  • naam ('name') → ˈname

Exercise B: Demonstratives

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Determine which demonstrative would most suit the situation based on both grammar and formality.

  • En ___ is my ˈoupa. ('And this is my grandfather.')
  • Ja boet, ___ is my ˈmotor. ('Yeah bro, this is my car.')
  • ___ tye is wild, ja? ('These times are wild, huh?')
  • Waar is Japie!? ___ ˈbeter ˈoppas! ('Where is Japie? He better watch out!')
  • ___ hoede is duur! ('Those hats are expensive!')
  • ___ kat is baie mooi. ('This cat is very pretty.')
  • En dit is my oupa.
  • Ja boet, daai is my motor.
  • Hierdie tye is wild, ja?
  • Waar is Japie!? Dié beter oppas!
  • Daardie hoede is duur!
  • Hierdie kat is baie mooi.

Exercise C: Practical Language

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Translate below .

  • Jy hou van my kat.
  • Hy is lief daarvoor om krieket te speel.
  • Ek het my vriende nodig.
  • I need the toilet. Where is it?
  • She loves him very much.
  • I like to eat apples.
  • You like my cat.
  • He loves to play cricket.
  • I needed my friends.
  • Ek het die toiˈlet nodig. Waar is dit?
  • Sy is baie lief vir hom.
  • Ek hou van appels te eet.

Exercise D: Translate Into English

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  • To buy many rings for her.
  • The bow has been used in many wars.
  • Those clouds in the sky.
  • I liked the food.
  • Jacobus has fifteen toys. Marie has one toy.
  • The cities were on the island.
  • Om vir haar baie ringe te koop.
  • Die boog was in baie oorloë gebruik.
  • Daardie wolke in die lug.
  • Ek het van die kos gehou.
  • Jacobus het vyftien speelgoed. Marie het een speelding.
  • Die stede was op die eiland.

Exercise E: Translate Into Afrikaans

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  • Die vliegtuig het twee vlerke.
  • Daardie honde het my gebyt!
  • Ek is lief vir katte, honde, slange en al die diere.
  • Hier is kruie vir die kos.
  • Sy moeder gee baie liefde.
  • Dit is moeilik om hierdie briewe te skryf!
  • The aeroplane has two wings.
  • Those dog bit me!
  • I love cats, dogs, snakes and all the animals.
  • Here are herbs for the food.
  • His mother gives much love.
  • It is difficult to write these letters!

The Next Lesson

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Between this and lesson one, you have been handed a great many words to learn. In the next lesson, we shall cover auxiliary verbs and a general word order. Good luck on your studies!

On to Lesson Four!>>

If you're still feeling shaky or want to review the previous chapter:

<<Back to Lesson Two.