Dutch aan het + Infinitive

aan het + Infinitive Dutch

This post looks at the Dutch structure ‘aan het+ Infinitive.

It explains:

  • What it means
  • How the structure works
  • When to use it
  • It also gives you some examples of usage

What does the ‘aan het’ structure mean?

The ‘aan het’ structure is typically used to say that someone is doing something at that moment. In English it is more or less equivalent to us saying things with the following structures:

  • Am….ing (e.g. I am reading = Ik ben aan het lezen)
  • Are….ing (e.g. We are listening = Wij zijn aan het luisteren)
  • Is…ing (e.g. He is studying = Hij is aan het studeren)

How does the structure work?

Firstly, you pick the appropriate part from the Dutch verb ‘zijn’ (to be) to say who is doing the action:

  • Ik ben = I am
  • Jij bent = You are(singular & informal)
  • Hij/Zij is = He/She is
  • U bent = You are (formal)
  • Wij zijn = We are
  • Jullie zijn = You are (plural & informal)
  • Zij zijn = They are

Secondly, you add the words aan het (or aan ’t).

Finally, you add the infinitive (i.e. the dictionary form of the verb) to your sentence. This is the verb that ends in ‘en’, for example:

  • studeren = To study
  • eten = To eat.

Examples using ‘aan het’ + Infinitive

  • Ik ben aan het studeren. = I am studying.
  • Ben je aan het werken? = Are you working? (asking a friend)
  • Hij is aan het slapen. = He is sleeping.
  • Wij zijn aan het eten. = We are eating.
  • Jullie zijn aan het koken. = You are cooking (speaking to 2(+) friends)
  • Zij zijn aan het leren. = They are learning.

Note that if you wish to add more information into your sentence you normally put this information before ‘aan het + infinitive’, for example:

  • Ik ben thuis aan het studeren. = I am at home studying.
  • Hij is boodschappen aan het doen. = He is doing the shopping.

Can you use this structure in other tenses?

Yes, you can. Just like in English, the main other tense you could use this structure with is in the past, for example:

  • Ik was aan het slapen = I was sleeping
  • Was je aan het slapen? = Were you sleeping?

Concluding words

I hope that the above has helped you to work out how to say that someone is doing something in Dutch. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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aan het + Infinitive Dutch