In Dutch, we have voiced and unvoiced consonants. The Dutch themselves often refer to them as 'hard' (unvoiced) and 'soft' (voiced) consonants. A soft consonant is called 'voiced' because you need to use your voice (vocal cords) to produce a sound. A hard (unvoiced) consonant can be produced even without using your voice.
Each voiced consonant has a voiced counterpart. Examples are b and p and d and t.
As in many languages, including the English one, voiced consonants are sometimes replaced by their unvoiced counterparts. Take the English word thief. In the plural, f turns into v: thieves.
Soft consonants v and z turning into hard f and s
A Dutch word never ends in the soft consonants z or v. Instead, we use their hard equivalents s and f.
Take, for example the word bazen (bosses)
To get its singular, we subtract -en:
You probably noticed that the long vowel turned into a short one (see rules for keeping words short/long), so we add an extra a:
Following the rule that a Dutch word never ends in a z or v, we replace z by s:
We apply the same principle to verbs. As you will read later on, to derive the verb stem from an infinitive, you have to subtract -en.
|durven (to dare)
||blijven (to stay)
|wijzen (to point)
||lezen (to read)
There are two more voiced-unvoiced consonant pairs: The voiced consonants d and b have t and p as their unvoiced equivalents. If d is at the end of a word, we pronounce it as t, b is pronounced as p. However, they are not actually replaced by their hard counterparts.
We could identify a third pair: Voiced g and unvoiced ch. Most Dutch speakers do not make a distinction between the two of them.