Present tense verbs are normally conjugated by taking the stem of the verb then applying the appropriate ending to it depending on the subject of the sentence. However, there are some spelling rules to observe in certain situations.
The verb spreken (to speak), and some others like it, needs some additional adjustment.
Spreken consists of two syllables, an open syllable and a closed syllable (spre~ken). However in the singular forms the verb changes (Ik spreek. Jij spreekt). This is because the stem on its own is a single closed syllable. This means that the long vowel must double up, hence the “e” becomes “ee”.
The verb kennen (to know) consists of two closed syllables (ken~nen). Because the vowels are not doubled up they are short vowels. When the verb is reduced to its stem it becomes simply ken. In the singular persons the conjugations are ik ken, and jij/hij/zij kent.
Some verbs change the last consonant of the stem when the ending changes. The z and s interchange, and v and f interchange.
For example, the z in lezen (to read) becomes an s in the following forms: ik lees, and jij leest, but wij lezen stays the same as the infinitive.
Another example is that the v in schrijven (to write) becomes an f in the following forms: ik schrijf, and jij schrijft, but wij schrijven stays the sam
There are some spelling rules that have to be observed in Dutch. They become especially important when modifying words into different forms as the spelling can change.
The first two rules rely two different types of syllable. They are:
Open syllable: A syllable that ends in a vowel
Closed syllable: A syllable that ends in a consonant.
Short vowels are always in a closed syllable. So, for example man (man, husband) is a single closed syllable, but in its plural form it is mannen (men, husbands). The extra “n” is needed to close the first syllable so the two syllables are man~nen.
Long vowels end an open syllable, but must be doubled up in a closed syllable. So, for example kool (coal) is a single closed syllable with a long vowel, it becomes kolen (coals) in the plural, the syllables are ko~len.
Words that end in the letter “f” changes to “v” and words that end in the letter “s” changes to “z” if the additional ending starts with a vowel. For example, huis (house) becomes huizen (houses), and wolf (wolf) becomes wolven (wolves).