‘t fokschaap (Or: Why do sheep breed verbs?)

A few days ago I was looking at the past tense in Dutch — something that I do not really have much experience with as that is about where my verb studying stopped. So far I have just barely gotten into the basics of it, but I did remember hearing about ‘t fokschaap, or the phrase you need to remember for the past tense of Dutch verbs.

In the past tense, there are two types of verbs. the -d verbs and the -t verbs. All of the -t verbs are contained within the consonants of ‘t fokschaap, or t, f, k, s, c, h, and p. If the crude stem of the verb ends in one of those consonants, it is a -t verb. For the English speaking among us, you could also memorize pocket fish as suggested by the writers over at dutchgrammar.com, but I find the vowels harder to ignore within that phrase.

Note that above I said crude stem. That is basically taking the infinitive of a verb (to sleep = slapen) and removing the -en from the verb to get slaap (a double “a” pattern to keep the syllable long). Thus the crude stem ends in p, so it is a -t verb. For more on the crude stem versus final stem, look at this link.

In other news, the weather is lovely on this side of the ocean, although we are looking at rain tomorrow and this coming week, along with cooler temperatures for a while. I think I only had to wear my jacket on one of the mornings this past week so I really cannot complain!

I had a half productive half lazy Saturday. Errands took about 5 hours (laundry, grocery shopping, and grabbing rent) but the rest of the afternoon was spent watching golf and Tiger Woods retaining his #1 lead and watching the March Madness basketball tournament.

Lazy Saturdays. I approve.

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Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “‘t fokschaap (Or: Why do sheep breed verbs?)

  1. I was debating with friends about whether it’s easier to learn a language by example, by analysis, by rote, or in use. I tend to be analytic, but rules like this one are frustrating in practice because I have to stop, find the menomic, find the letter, then apply it to the verb. Doing it over and over is probably the only way, sometimes i think (hope) its starting to get second nature. Good luck!

  2. I will admit that when I first read this rule I could not for the life of me remember ‘t fokschaap. And then this year I went back to the basics and the beginning, and came back to this point. I was very happy to see that an English version was “pocket fish” but then I realized ‘t fokschaap was actually a LOT easier to remember as most of the consonants were together and not surrounded by vowels.

    In terms of second nature, yeah, it does become possible even for a non-native speaker. When I was trying to do some of the exercises breaking words into their respective syllables, I found that sometimes I knew how it should be much faster than I knew which rule tells me how it should be. Same thing with keeping some vowels long – schaap just looks right even if the plural for sheep is schapen.

    How is your own Dutch learning going? šŸ™‚

  3. Keep up the good work Niki. V.

  4. ‘t foskschap is really hard to remember. I learned in Dutch class to use “soft ketchup” instead. Much easier to keep in mind!

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