Introduction to Afrikaans: Lesson 1

Afrikaans is actually a language very similar to Dutch. It could be called a pidgin and a creole of Dutch. There is actually a course of Dutch on this site and this course of Afrikaans is based on that course. If you are interested in comparing the two languages, you could also take the Dutch course.

Since Dutch is very similar to English, so is Afrikaans.

Afrikaans for what is that? is wat is dat?.

This happens to be exactly the same as in Dutch. If that is dat, can you take a guess what this would be (hint: it ends with a t instead of an s though):

1 translation: this

2 translation: What is this?

The word dit is not only the word for this but also the word for it.

We have dit in Afrikaans and it in English.

3 translation: What is it?

Afrikaans for a (or an) is ’n.

Whenever you have a c in English, you usually have a k in Afrikaans. Use this to take a guess how you would say:

4 translation: This is a cat.

I’m going to let you have another guess at saying:

5 translation: It is water.

This is really not our thing yet but just for the fun of it I want to you guess how you would say:

6 translation: That was water.

Just like in Dutch and just like in English if you want to ask a question you simply invert the word order to make the verb go first: are you here?, do you it?, etc. You do this in Afrikaans all the time whereas in English you could avoid this if you used the construction do you do something.

7 translation: Is this water?

8 translation: What is it?

9 translation: It is a cat.

The word here is almost the same too and it’s only spelled differently:

Afrikaans for here is hier.
Afrikaans for the is die.

10 translation: The water is here.


11 translation: This is the cat.

There is another word which has closes links to English if only you can get over replacing th with d:

Afrikaans for there is daar.

How would you say:

12 translation: There is a cat here.

13 translation: There is water here.

If you want to make a word plural you usually add an e to the end of the word in Afrikaans. The last letter usually doubles to make itself + e a new syllable.

This is the usual case. There are some cases when just like in English you would add s or other cases where the last letter does not double (in fact it only doubles if the last letter is a soft consonant... but that happens pretty often and it really doesn’t affect the pronunciation much) but you don’t really have to worry about those now.

Note that Afrikaans has no verb conjugations for the persons so are is the same word as is - is. Try saying:

14 translation: There are cats here.

Afrikaans for snow is sneeu.


15 translation: There is snow here.

Afrikaans for a book is ’n boek.


16 translation: There is a book.

Afrikaans for not any is geen.

Whenever you want to say you don’t have or do something, you use this word. For example, if you were to say there is no book you would be saying there is not any book. Say that:

17 translation: There is no book here.

What about:

18 translation: There is no water.

And finallly:

Afrikaans for time is tyd.

You could also say tye if you wanted to which is even closer to English but we will stick with tyd in this course. Say:

19 translation: There is no time.

Nice. You have learned how to talk about things being or not being there and you must have already noticed how close Afrikaans actually is to English. If you have taken the Dutch course, by now you can see how it is simpler than Dutch in a lot of ways and you can progress learning it faster than you could with Dutch. We’ll soon continue learning Afrikaans.

Answers to Lesson 1

1 answer: dit
2 answer: Wat is dit?
3 answer: Wat is dit?
4 answer: Dit is ’n kat.
5 answer: Dit is water.
6 answer: Dat was water.
7 answer: Is dit water?
8 answer: Wat is dit?
9 answer: Dit is ’n kat.
10 answer: Die water is hier.
11 answer: Dit is die kat.
12 answer: Daar is ’n kat hier.
13 answer: Daar is water hier.
14 answer: Daar is katte hier.
15 answer: Daar is sneeu hier.
16 answer: Daar is ’n boek.
17 answer: Daar is geen boek hier.
18 answer: Daar is geen water.
19 answer: Daar is geen tyd.