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Diminutive endings
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Not all Dutch nouns simply accept the addition of -je at their tails. They often want an extra letter before -je to make their diminutive forms sound better. That is why, apart from '-je', you will also find the following diminutive endings:

-tje -etje
-pje -kje

There is an extensive list of rules for determining the ending of a diminutive, which will be discussed in detail on the following pages. The idea is that you have to know how to form a diminutive even for words you have never heard before, as the rules for diminutive endings are based on the phonetic shape of a word.

If you are not interested in all these rules, skip the following pages and use the checklist as a reference.

If you commit yourself to speaking Dutch a lot and thus get accustomed to Dutch phonetics, you will find that after some time, you will automatically get the diminutive endings right.

The other diminutive endings

On the following pages, we will have a look at the four alternative diminutive endings.

-tje is added to nouns that:

  • end in a vowel (a, e, i, o, u, ij/y) or w
  • end in a long vowel followed by r, l, or n
  • end in unstressed -er, -el, or -en, where the e is a mute e

-etje is added to nouns ending in a short vowel followed by a single r, l, n, m or ng

-kje is added to nouns ending in unstressed -ing

-pje is added to nouns ending in:

  • long vowel followed by -m
  • -lm or -rm
  • unstressed -em or -um, where the e is a mute e

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Last updated on April 16, 2014 ::