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The adverbial suffix –waarts /ʋarts/ is used to derive directional adverbs, mainly from nouns, as in huis home > huiswaarts homewards, noord north > noordwaarts northwards. It is the Dutch counterpart of the English suffix –ward. Some of these adverbs can also be used as adjectives: voorwaartse compatibiliteit forward compatibility.


The suffix -waarts is productive with base nouns denoting a location, in particular geographical nouns: schip ship> schipwaarts to the ship, Heiloo Heiloo (place name) > Heiloowaarts to Heiloo. The suffix can also combine with spatial prepositions as in opwaarts upward, voorwaarts forward , bergafwaarts berg-af-waarts mountain-down-ward down the mountain , landinwaarts land-in-waarts land-in-ward into the land. It also occurs with other word classes, but this use is not productive: derwaarts thither, buitenwaarts outward.

A number of adverbs with -waarts can be used as adjectives, as in neerwaartse spiraal downward spiral or landinwaartse ligging inland situation.

-waarts forms a prosodic word of its own, and carries secondary stress, as in noordwaarts /ˈnordˌʋarts/ northwards.

Further derivations from words ending in -waarts are rare; nominalizations such as opwaartsheid upwardness or neerwaartsheid downwardness occur occasionally, but may not sound natural to all speakers.

For more information and discussion, see Diepeveen (2012, chapter 16,online version).

  • Diepeveen, Ariane2012Modifying words. Dutch adverbial morphology in contrast.FU BerlinThesis