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Questions

In a question, the pitch of the speakerís voice is usually raised during the last syllable of the sentence.

Normal Questions

When you want to ask a question, just change the word order and add a question mark. The finite verb (the first verb in the sentences here), moves to the front.

Het boek is groen. - The book is green.
Is het boek groen? - Is the book green?

Het schip roest snel. - The ship rusts quickly.
Roest het schip snel? - Does the ship rust quickly?

Dat is de grootste auto die hier kan parkeren. - That is the biggest car that can park here.
Is dat de grootste auto die hier kan parkeren? - Is that the biggest car that can park here?

De bakker belde hen op. - The baker called them.
Belde de bakker hen op? - Did the baker call them?

The verb gekomen stays in position. Only the finite verb moves to the front.
Ze is gekomen. - She has come.
Is ze gekomen? - Did she come?

Something special happens when je (you) is involved. Then the finite verb loses a t. This happens only in the present tense.
Je hebt een kwartier gewacht. - You have waited for a quarter of an hour.
Heb je een kwartier gewacht? - Have you waited for a quarter of an hour?

This does not happen in the past tense. In fact, it cannot. The finite verb does not end with a t.
Je had een bril. - You had glasses.
Had je een bril? - Did you have glasses?

Questions starting with a pronoun.

A question can start with a pronoun. The answer is most likely a noun. For instance the name of a person, or a thing. Of course you can give a long answer, but the noun in your answer is the answer. The rest can be left out.
Note: The word u is the formal alternative to je.

Examples:
Wie bent u? - Who are you?
Ik ben de kraanmachinist. - I am the crane-driver.
Wie zijn dat? - Who are they?
Dat zijn de prins en zijn vrouw. - They are the prince and his wife.
Welk perron hebt u genoemd? - Which platform did you mention?
Perron 4b. - Perron 4b.

Questions starting with an adverb.

A question can start with an adverb. The answer is a sentence, describing something.

Examples:
Wat is er? - Whatís the matter?
Mijn laptop is gestolen. - My laptop is stolen.
Wat zegt u? - What are you saying? (I beg you pardon?)
Die machine heeft een versnellingsbak. - That machine has a gearbox.
Waarom vraag je dat? - Why do you ask (that)?
Omdat ik denk dat je daarheen wilt. - Because I think you want to go there.
Waar is de bushalte? - Where is the bus stop?
Daar. - Over there.
Wanneer vertrekt de bus? - When does the bus depart?
Binnen vijf minuten. - Within five minutes.
Hoe heb je hem gerepareerd? - How did you repair it?
Ik had een reserveonderdeel. - I had a spare part.
Hoe heet u? - Whatís your name?
Ik heet Peter van Rijswijk. - My name is Peter van Rijswijk.
Hoeveel kilometer per jaar rijdt u? - How many kilometers a year do you drive?
Ongeveer vijftigduizend. - About fifty thousand.
Hoelang moeten we wachten? - How long do we have to wait?
Het schip moet voorbij zijn voor de brug omlaag kan. - The ship must pass first before the bridge can be lowered.

The adverb hoezo (why) sometimes shows disagreement or amazement. The word waarom (why) is preferred. It is more polite.
Hoezo mag je hier niet schaatsen? - Why is it not allowed to skate here?
Waarom mag je hier niet schaatsen? - Why is it not allowed to skate here?

There are a lot of adverbs that start with a w. Their counterparts begin with a d, like daarmee.
Waarmee roer jij? - What do you stir with?
Met een houten lepel. - With a wooden spoon.
Ik roer daarmee. - I stir with that.
Waarvoor gebruik je die vijl? - What do you use that file for?
Voor het gladmaken van een stuk hout. - For smoothing a piece of wood.

As in English, these Dutch adverbs are often split in two parts.
Waar gebruik je die vijl voor? - What do you use that file for?
Voor het gladmaken van een stuk hout. - For smoothing a piece of wood.

As shown below, with has two translations, mee and met, that should not be confused. The word mee is for questions and other sentences that donít mention the object. In this example the spoon is the object.
Niemand heeft me verteld waar jij mee roert. - Nobody told me what you stir with.
Waar roer jij mee? - What do you stir with?
The word met is used when the object is mentioned.
Ik roer met een houten lepel. - I stir with a wooden spoon.

In the following sentence, the second verb (the past participle gebruikt) occupies the last position, which is normal in Dutch. It is the perfect tense.
Waar heb jij die vijl voor gebruikt? - What did you use that file for?
Voor het gladmaken van dit stuk hout. - For smoothing this piece of wood.

Sentences that look like Questions

If a sentence starts with a verb, it is not always a question.

The sentence below is not a question.
Heb je een kwartier gewacht, dan mag je weggaan. - If you have waited for a quarter of an hour, then you may leave.
This sentence looks like the question: Heb je een kwartier gewacht?

The next sentence is not question either. This is the so-called imperative mood. A command is given here.
Bel de bakker. - Call the baker.

The sentences you just read can be rewritten in such a way, that they donít look like questions anymore.
Als je een kwartier hebt gewacht, dan mag je weggaan. - If you have waited for a quarter of an hour, you may leave.
Ik wil dat je de bakker belt. - I want you to call the baker.

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