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Dutch grammar series

Dutch grammar

The 't kofschip rule (also called 't fokschaap) is a mnemonic that determines the endings of a regular Dutch verb in the past simple indicative/subjunctive and the ending of the past participle. This rule should not be confused with the so-called T-rules (t-regels).



The rule goes as follows:

If the verb-root ends in one of the consonants of 't kofschip, being t, f, k, s, ch, and p (or variants[1]), the past simple ends in -te and the past participle in -t. If the verb-root ends in any other consonant or a vowel (except silent e, see later), the past simple ends in -de and the past participle in -d.

For example:

Verb Meaning Verb root Past simple Past participle
rusten to rest rust- ik rustte gerust
werken to work werk- ik werkte gewerkt
spelen to play spel- ik speelde gespeeld
leven to live lev- ik leefde geleefd
crashen to crash crash- ik crashte gecrasht
bingoën to play bingo bingo- ik bingode gebingood
faxen to fax fax- ik faxte gefaxt

Silent letters at end of root

The rule is expressed in spelling of the verbs, but is actually related to pronunciation. So if the spelled root ends in a silent letter, this letter should be ignored in applying the rule. This includes also the ' (apostrophe) occurring in some verb spellings.

For example:

Verb Verb root Past simple Past participle
timen (to time) time ik timede getimed
racen (to race) race ik racete geracet
deleten (to delete) delete ik deletete gedeletet (the "e" between both "t"s remains silent, so the t's are pronounced as one)
sms'en (to send a text message) sms ik sms'te ge-sms't
gsm'en (to phone using a mobile phone) gsm ik gsm'de ge-gsm'd
petanquen (to play pétanque) petanque ik petanquete gepetanquet


  1. ^ x ([ks]) and sj ([ʃ]) can be regarded as s-like sounds; q(u) = [k]



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