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From Middle Dutch connen, cunnen, from Old Dutch kunnan, from Proto-Germanic *kunnaną, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵn̥néh₃-. Compare Low German könen, German können, English can, Danish kunne.



kunnen (past singular kon, past participle gekund)

  1. (auxiliary, modal) can, to be able to
    Hij kon goed rennen, omdat hij een getrained sportbeoefenaar was.
    He could run well, because he was a trained sportsman.
  2. to be able to do, to be capable of
    Ik kan dat niet.
    I am not able to do that.


Usage notes[edit]

The conjugation of this verb is very different from that of many Dutch verbs. Singular forms of kunnen are identical stems with a change of vowel (u becoming a), plural forms of kunnen are conjugated in the way regular Dutch verbs are conjugated, and the past tense is conjugated in an irregular manner with the same vowel through the line.
In its conjugation this verb shows similarities with the Dutch verb mogen, and is more distantly related to the German variant of this verb: können.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Obsolete plural form of kan, present tense of kunna. 2nd person only
    Och om I gören gott mot dem som göra eder gott, vad tack kunnen I få därför?
    And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? (Luke 6:33)