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Inter Language Comparisons

Since Afrikaans is a Germanic language like German, Dutch, English etc., they have things in common to help you learn faster (if you know any of these languages). This page is devoted to expose those similarities as well as similarities and differences with other languages. If you feel you have a contribution to make that would be cool to know, please click on the "questions/feedback/comments" link at the bottom of the page and share your info. I will then update this page.

Pronunciation

Consonants: In the pronunciation section you will see a vast number of consonants are written and pronounced the same way.

English:
— Similar consonants are: B, D, F, H, K, L, M, N, P, S, T
— English C is either Afrikaans S or K
— English Y is Afrikaans J
— Afrikaans F is pronounced like F, and Afrikaans V is pronounced like F. So, FIS = VIS.
— English X is Afrikaans EKS
— English QU is Afrikaans KW
— Afrikaans R is like the Spanish rolled R

Vowels: This is where differences arise the easiest. Pay close attention to the subtleties. If you are hasty and assume you got it and you produce the close cousin in sound, that will always flag you because of your pronunciation.

English: 
— Afrikaans OE is like English OO
— English I (e.g. KITE) is AI in Afrikaans (KAIT).
— English U (e.g. RUSTIC, TUSK) is A in Afrikaans (RASTIEK, TASK).

Vocabulary

Verbs: All verbs ending in -EER (e.g. marsjeer, kommunikeer) are borrowed from Latin, and similar words are found in many other European languages.
In the vocabulary section under the Reference section is an extensive list of cognates (words that are the same between two languages).

Grammar

Articles: The=Die /  A = 'n

  • Remember with a sentence starts with 'n, it stays lower case and the next word is capitalized. E.g. 'n Boek is in my hand.
  • The definite and indefinite article are conceptually the same in Afrikaans and English.

Gender: Like English, Afrikaans has no gender for nouns.

Strong Verb Forms: Unlike English, Dutch and German, Afrikaans got rid of using strong verbs. The form still exists, but as adjectives. In English you say, "I break the pen > I broke the pen." In Afrikaans you say, "Ek breek die pen > Ek het die pen gebreek." You will see the forms of strong verbs in descriptions, especially the figurative use of the word. Example: 'n gebreekte pen, but 'n gebroke hart.

Verb to the end: Like in German and Dutch, the verb comes second in the sentence, and when a helping verb is added, the real verb goes to the end of the sentence. What is unique among Germanic languages, and sometimes even between dialects, is the order of more than one verb at the end of the sentence.

Examples:

  • Jan sit in die kar.
  • Jan kan in die kar sit. (Add the modal aux. verb KAN)
  • Jan sal in die kar kan sit. Add the helping verb SAL)
  • Ek weet dat Jan in die kar sal kan sit. (DAT is a conjunction before the clause and all the verbs go to the end of the clause.)

You will notice the SAL KAN SIT at the end. In many Germanic languages, these verbs go to the end of the clause, but at the end the order may differ.