How to use waar + preposition in Dutch

Maybe you've seen sentences start with waar, while the sentence has nothing to do with a location (where). Below we are going to explain why this is so and you can test your knowledge with the free Dutch grammar exercise.


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Waar + preposition in questions
In Dutch, you can start a sentence with waar when you ask for a certain location. This is easy, it looks similar in English.
  • Waar is de dichtstbijzijnde pinautomaat?
  • Where is the nearest ATM?
  • Waar woon je?
  • Where do you live?
But you also start a question with waar when a preposition is involved. Let's look at some examples again.
  • Waar praten jullie over? / Waarover praten jullie?
  • What are you talking about?
  • Praten over
  • Waar luister je naar? Waarnaar luister je?
  • What are you listening to?
  • Luisteren naar
  • Waar houdt hij van? Waarvan houdt hij?
  • What does he love?
  • Houden van
As you can see you have two options: separating waar from the preposition or keep the two parts together. The first option is most common, but the second option might be easier for Dutch learners.
Keep in mind that the preposition met and the preposition tot change in this construction.
  • Waar schrijf je mee? / Waarmee schrijf je?
  • What do you write with?
  • Schrijven met
  • Waar is toe besloten? / Waartoe is besloten?
  • What has been decided?
  • Besluiten tot
If it involves a person, you use a different construction:
  • Over wie praten jullie?
  • About who do you talk?
  • Praten over
  • Naar wie luisteren jullie?
  • To who do you listen?
  • Luisteren naar
  • Van wie houdt hij?
  • Who does he love?
  • Houden van
You also see this construction in the relative clause.

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