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PIE root

From Middle Dutch connen, cunnen, from Old Dutch kunnan, from Proto-Germanic *kunnaną, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵneh₃-. 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.
  3. to be available (for any type of meeting or appointment)
    Ik kan morgenavond niet.
    I will not be available tomorrow night.
  4. to be possible
    Dat kan niet.
    That is impossible.


Inflection of kunnen (preterite-present)
infinitive kunnen
past singular kon
past participle gekund
infinitive kunnen
gerund kunnen n
verbal noun
present tense past tense
1st person singular kan kon
2nd person sing. (jij) kunt, kan kon
2nd person sing. (u) kunt, kan kon
2nd person sing. (gij) kunt kondt
3rd person singular kan kon
plural kunnen konden
subjunctive sing.1 kunne konde
subjunctive plur.1 kunnen konden
imperative sing. kan
imperative plur.1 kunt
participles kunnend gekund
1) Archaic.

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)