Past Tense in Afrikaans (Verlede Tyd)

There are only a few rules which you have to do to change a sentence to past tense in Afrikaans. At the top of this page are the principles, at the bottom are the verbs that change in Afrikaans and click here if you want to know how to use past tense with a conjunction. If you want to know how to use past tense when starting with a time word (eg. verlede jaar) click here.

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1. The "het" and the "ge"

This is the first and simplest rule in verlede tyd. This rule says that you must replace your first verb in your sentence with "het" and take it to the back of the sentence with "ge" added to it.

Eg. Johan skop die bal.     ->    Johan het die bal geskop.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however.

- If the verb that you are replacing has a prefix you must not add "ge". You must still move it to the end and put "het" in though.

Eg. Die wedstryd begin -> Die wedstryd het begin

- If the verb that you are replacing is a verb that changes in the past tense do not use this rule and use rule 2

- If the verb that your are replacing is "het" use rule 3

2. The changing verbs

These are very simple and are easy to get marks off. Before you do this rule you must first make sure it is applicable to your sentence (i.e., check that the verb is one that changes) if it is not applicable then use rule 1 or rule 3 depending on the sentence. If the sentence is applicable you only change the verb and leave the  rest of the sentence the same. Here is a list of the changing verbs


Sal - Sou

Is - Was

Kan - Kon

Moet - Moes

Mag - Mog

Wil - Wou


Eg. Johan is by die skool.  -> Johan was by die skool.


3. The "gehad"

This is the rule you use when there is a "het" already present in the sentence. All you have to do here is leave the sentence the same and add "gehad" to the end of the sentence.

Eg. Johan het 'n bal    ->  Johan het 'n bal gehad


4. With two verbs

There are three ways you can change a sentence to past tense that has two verbs. Here they are listed below. As the bullet points go down, the explanation goes further. The second bullet point is the past tense version. 


  • Die seen was en stryk sy klere. 

    • Die seen het sy klere  gewas en gestryk 

      • No simultaneous actions - both verbs get ge 

  • Die seen praat en speel saam met sy vriende. 

    • Die seun saam met sy vriende gepraat en speel  

      • Simultaneous actions - only the first verb gets ge 

  • Ek hoor die klok lui. 

    • Ek het die klok hoor lui. 

      • There is no conjunction so you don't add prefixes.