Adjectives & Adverbs

Adjectives

In Dutch, adjectives and adverbs are used very similarly. Adjectives in a noun phrase come after the article and in most cases should come before the noun:

De groene vissen (the green fishes)

Predicative adjectives are located after linking verbs, which together mostly stand after the noun:

De vissen zijn groen (the fishes are green)

Attributive adjectives

Depending on the kind of variant, attributive adjectives include an inflection. Many attributive adjectives are inflected adding the suffix -e depending on the kind of article or noun they describe. All attributive adjectives that go after a definite article, no matter if they go along with masculine, feminine, neuter or plural nouns, are inflected adding -e:

De succesvolle slager (masculine)
De moeilijke opleiding (feminine)
Het mooie monument (neuter)
De hoge sterren (plural)

All attributive adjectives that go after an indefinite article have an inflection adding -e if they go along with masculine, feminine or plural nouns. There is an exception for neuter nouns:

Een succesvolle slager (masculine)
Een moeilijke opleiding (feminine)
Hoge sterren (plural)
Een mooi monument (neuter)

Some adjectives that end in -e or -en do not include additional inflections (e.g. de dronken man; een ijzeren buis).

Predicative Adjectives

A predicative adjective mostly stands in sentences after a linking verb; it is then the nominal part of the predicate:

Het jongetje is blij (the little boy is happy)
De sporters zijn linkshandig (the sporters are left-handed)
De huizen waren geverfd (the houses were painted)

The predicative is also used when the adjective is used as an apposition:

Dronken was mijn zus thuisgekomen (drunk my sister arrived at home)
Some predicative adjectives can only be used in the predicative form:
Het licht is uit (this an adjective that only fits in the predicative form)

The partitive form of adjectives is used in phrases after an indefinite pronoun. Partitive adjectives are inflected with the suffix -s:

Er is veel leuks te doen
Ik heb niets nieuws gezien
De jongens hebben iets geks gedaan

The adjective is used independently when a familiar concept is being referred to:

Ik ben meegereden met de roekelozen
Ik heb altijd geluisterd naar de wijzen

In many cases, inflected adjectives can be considered as nouns:

Wij keken naar de rode (we looked to the red)

Predicative adjectives and adverbs

There is no major distinction between adjectives and adverbs in Dutch. Adjectives that are used non-attributively and with no inflections can be considered as both an adjective and adverb:

De auto rijdt snel (the car drives fast)
Het tijdschrift verschijnt wekelijks (the magazine comes out weekly)

Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used with the addition of a suffix, in most cases -er is added. For adjectives with -r endings -der is added:

Leuk → Leuker; Deze activiteit is leuker dan de vorige
Slim → Slimmer; De mensen uit die groep zijn slimmer
Raar → Raarder; De nieuwe huizen zijn raarder
Stoer → Stoerder; De jongens waren stoerder dan de meisjes

Comparative adjectives that stand before a noun in most cases have an additional -e:

Dit zijn leukere activiteiten
De raardere huizen

Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives are used adding -st and possibly an additional -e if they stand before the noun:

Leuk → Leukst; Deze activiteit is het leukst
Raar → Raarste; Het raarste huis

Adverbs

As mentioned above, adverbs are hard to distinguish from adjectives.

Adverbs do not have inflections. In ‘’De man rent sloom’’, sloom can be translated as both ‘’slow’’ and ‘’slowly’’. Many adverbs are used in phrases where they belong to the adjective, such as ‘’heel’’ (very), ‘’nogal’’ (quite/rather), ‘’hier’’ (here), ‘’altijd’’ (always), ‘’waar’’ (where), etc.:

Een heel erg stoere vent (a very tough guy)
Het boek is nogal vreemd (the book is rather strange)

Some prepositions can be used as adverbs such as ‘’op’’, ‘’aan’’, ‘’over’’, etc:

We houden vast wat geld over (we probably will keep some money)

Pronominal adverbs are used with the addition of words ‘’er’’, ‘’daar’’, ‘’waar’’, etc., and with an adverb made with a preposition such as ‘’daarmee’’, ‘’waarmee’’, ‘’waarnaar’’, etc.:

Dit is het horloge waarnaar we gezocht hebben (This is the watch we have been looking for)
Het is herkenbaar dat we daarmee veel bereikt hebben (it is recognizable that we have achieved a lot with this)

Adverbial phrases have the same function:

De oude man liep over de brug, dus we konden hem amper zien (The old man walked over the bridge, so we could hardly see him)