https://www.duolingo.com/Arthurva

Difference between 'de' and 'het'

Arthurva
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I do not get the difference between 'de' and 'het' - when does one use 'de' and when does one use 'het'? Is there a rule that I do not understand or is it a matter of 'getting the feel' which to use?

(Ik had het liever in het Nederlans gevraagt maar dat werd te moeilijk- sorry)

4 jaar gelden

38 opmerkingen


https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
Lavinae
Mod
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That's a very good question. :)

'Het' is used as an article for 'neutral(ly gendered) words and 'de' for either masculine or feminine words. There are a few rules which can help you remember which of the two is to be used, but there is a decent amount of exceptions as well:

~ About 65% of the words have the article 'de'

~ 'De' is always used for the plural, for professions and for people, for vegetables, fruits, trees and plants, names of mountains and rivers

~ 'De' is also used for the words ending with -ie,- ij, -heid, -teit,-a, -nis, -st, -schap, -de, -te, -iek, -ica, -theek, -iteit, -tuur, -stuur, -sis, -xis, -tis, -ade, -ide, -ode, -ude, -age, -ine, -se, -ea

~ 'Het' is always used for a diminutive and for words consisting of two syllables and starting with be-, ge-, ver-, ont-

~ 'Het' is always used for languages, names of metals, words ending with -isme, -ment and for words derived from verbs.

This is a link to a blog which explains the difference as well: http://blogs.transparent.com/dutch/de-or-het-knowing-when-to-use-which/.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/SaxyLady
SaxyLadyPlus
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WOW thanks for this insight into tips for identifying noun gender. :) But I noticed you said "de" is used for people. Would "meisje" be an exception since everytime I've had to translate "the girl" it was "het meisje?"

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/louis.vang
louis.vang
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the woman = de vrouw the girl = het meisje, because it is diminutive (verkleinwoord) When a word ends with -je or -tje its always 'het':

het meisje de vriend - het vriendje de jongen - het jongetje de school - het schooltje

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/JeroenAV
JeroenAV
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There is another exeption: the child = het kind

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/JaneEmily

This is going to be so helpful for me :) Just started learning the difference between definite articles in the textbook I'm learning Dutch from, and they're a little vague about what rules apply to which article so this is a huge help! Written it down in my little learning notebook so that I can always easily refer back to it if I'm unsure:)

Thanks a bunch Lavinae! :)

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/shangtsung123

Why is 'Het' used before meisje then? :/

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/JeroenAV
JeroenAV
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Because, like louis.vang wrote above: "it is a diminutive (verkleinwoord). When a word ends with -je or -tje its always 'het'." That makes it an exception to the rule that says people always get 'de'.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Giubilator

Thanks for that post, but ... ... why should one translate 'het water' (I've found several translations like that)? Is that an exception or I'm wrong?

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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Are you under the impression that there are precise rules for gender? That is not true. Gender is essentially arbitrary, and water happens to be a het word.

You must learn the gender of each noun separately. The rules described by Lavinae are just rules of thumb that make it easier for certain classes of nouns. None of them applies to water anyway, and even if one did, Lavinae has made it clear that there are plenty of exceptions.

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Giubilator

It's just what I'm writing johaquila ... btw thanks

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/GlenM
GlenM
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Dankie Lavinae, dit het my presies drie minute geneem om dit te leer. :) Soos u kan sien, ek ken Afrikaans taamlik goed. In geval u dit nie weet nie, is Afrikaans Suid-Afrikaanse Nederlands wat sy oorsprong gehad het in die dae van Jan van Riebeeck. Naby genoeg aan Flaams.

2 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/YHamiri

Thank you very much this opened my mind way more than the closed nordic systems :)

1 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Enokalok

Thanks for the tip!

1 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Frederika881628

Thank you so much! That's really helpful :)

5 maanden geleden

https://www.duolingo.com/qaa2
qaa2
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Thanks Lavinae, I also had this question - it is good to see an explanation!

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Jack.Elliot
Jack.Elliot
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I have been meaning to ask this question but thought I would wait until I learned some more lessons.

Lavinae has now given more than enough to digest and it is brilliant. I will have to print it up and put it on the wall.

Hungarian has now started and I did the first lesson but it is Dutch that is the fun language for me to do and learn

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/louis.vang
louis.vang
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En opnieuw komt de vraag om het geslacht van een woord aan te duiden in de woordenlijsten... en eventueel in kleur in de zinnen.... Natuurlijk is dat voor het internationale forum en is slechts één van de vele wensen.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Arthurva
Arthurva
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Dat is een goede idee.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/emak02
emak02
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*een goed idee

2 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/M132T003C
M132T003C
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I’ve noticed that words that are noticeably similar to their German counterparts (I’d say “derived from German” but that may not be true in all cases) generally have the same gender between the two languages, that helps me to remember the genders of a few words.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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Dutch and German have the same origin so one is not derived from the other (e.g. see the coloured table here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_languages ), but yes Dutch and German are quite closely related. So if you know a word in only one of the languages, it often is a good guess to try it in the other.

Indeed in quite some cases, gender is the same in both languages e.g. diminutives in Dutch and German are the same (always n). Also it may help in some other cases (especially from German to Dutch as German has both m and f, Dutch has them combined). But take care, it's not always the case (e.g. de auto, das Auto, het socialisme, der Sozialismus). I'm not sure to what extent the genders are equal.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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When the words are the same, the gender is usually the same as well. Though yes, there are exceptions that one needs to remember.

The main problem for me as a German is that very often the words are not the same. In most cases the Dutch word is a cognate of a German word that is pretty antiquated or means something slightly different. In other cases it is actually French or a cognate of an English word. The case when the Dutch word is exactly the same as the German word is sufficiently rare that I have trouble remembering them in many cases. (I can't think of a Dutch word and it doesn't occur to me that this might be because the German word does the job.)

I think words for 4-wheeled transport are somewhat illustrative. I will give them in the format "Dutch singular, plural = German singular, plural (English cognate)".

  • de wagen, de wagens = der Wagen, die Wagen (wagon)
  • de kar, de karren = der/die Karre(n), die Karren (car, cart)
  • het automobiel, de automobielen = das Automobil, die Automobile (automobile)
  • de auto, de auto's = das Auto, die Autos (auto)

First, you can see how similar the West Germanic languages really are. The cognates are very easy to recognise and mean basically the same things. German der/die maps to Dutch de, and German das maps to Dutch het. Everything maps to English the. German plural endings also seem to map to Dutch plural endings. Where the German plural has no extra ending or ends in -s, Dutch has an -s. Where the German plural ends in -n or -e, Dutch has -en.

The most common word for car today in Dutch/German is auto/Auto. This word also exists in English, though only in American English - possibly due to Dutch and German influence!

Auto is derived from automobile as an abbreviation. In English the issue of gender does not arise. Dutch seems to have chosen the most common gender, which is also the gender of the other related words. So it is de auto. German does not have a most common gender, and in German, the gender situation for the related words is not so clear. So German took the gender of the original word: das Automobil, hence das Auto. This is how languages diverge, though in this case it's only temporary because Dutch is clearly about to merge all genders.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Writingsuus

De and Het is one of the difficult parts of Dutch. That and the whole d/t/dt thing. Even Dutch people struggle with it ;)

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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I think (being Dutch with foreign friends with various levels of Dutch) de and het isn't the most difficult part. You just have to learn the gender of the words and the situations in which they affect other words (deze/dit, die/dat, inflection of adjectives), declension has a difficulty similar to French or Spanish if you ask me and is WAY easier than German for instance, but yes if you only know English I can imagine you struggle with this...as you will with lots of languages, at least I don't know any language that is as easy as English in this respect.

The d/t/dt thing in Dutch is horrible, you're totally right in saying Dutch people struggle with it. And I imagine that learning strong and irregular verb conjugations also is a big hurdle (they are common…and there are a lot of different ones). Another hard part is pronunciation and hearing the difference between "eu" "ui" "ij/ei" "au/ou", if Dutch learners are a bit off with their pronunciation of these, I found that it's hard for me to understand them. One positive thing about pronunciation: there's no need to worry about the "g" or "r" (hard g and rolling r). Pronouncing them differently than most Dutch do, only make you sound foreign and doesn't create any communication problem. Besides, there are big differences between native speakers as well, Flemish and many accents and dialects don't have the hard "g".

Another tricky thing might be the apparent chaos in word order and usage of tenses, there are many options to choose from, a lot of them are fine, but then there are some that just don't work. I'm glad Dutch is my mother tongue and I had to learn the English word order and tenses instead of the other way around. ;)

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/qaa2
qaa2
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Thanks - it gives me comfort to know that it is really fairly complicated - and not just me!

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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Me, I'm glad German is my mother tongue and I had to learn the English word order instead of the other way round. I guess it's just natural, but I still find it surprising how the word order in Dutch is almost always the totally bizarre one of my native language. It's so counterintuitive that a foreign language might do things so similarly, that when translating English to Dutch I often lose hearts because I forget to translate a sentence to German first in order to see what weirdness in word order to expect.

I guess the same applies to tenses, though I haven't seen much of them yet.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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That's a clear bonus indeed, and you're right about the tenses "ik heb het geprobeerd" (ich habe es probiert), "ik zou het kunnen doen" (ich würde es können machen), "we gaan het doen" (wir gehen es machen), "dat zal gaan" (das werde gehen). Very similar in Dutch and German and different in English. Only "gaan" (gehen) is stretching it a bit too much probably, we use it in all cases where "to go" is used in English and also to form the future tense.

And there are more tricky situations where it's really helpful to know German when learning Dutch:

  • when to use "toch" -> when "doch" is used in German

  • when to use "niet" or "geen" and in what position in the sentence -> same as "nicht" and "kein" in German

  • any kind of vocabulary, just 'Dutchify' the German word, you have a good chance of either getting it (almost) right, saying something that people will understand or saying a bit old-fahioned word that people will also understand

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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Thanks for that last point! I guessed it might be like that, but it's encouraging to have your confirmation.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Frederika881628

I'm Italian and German and yes, I'm finding it really easy to get the word order in Dutch because of German :)

5 maanden geleden

https://www.duolingo.com/royvdm
royvdm
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nope no one does btw im dutch hoi iedereen ik ben de coole jongen

1 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Haestings
Haestings
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I had the same question as Arthurva, glad to see it's been answered so well! Thanks, it helps a lot since I'm trying to reverse engineer the tree (I only speak English)!

It's really neat seeing the similarities between German (I've done a bit of the English>German tree on duolingo so I recognise a few words here and there) and sometimes English with a lot of the Dutch words, sometimes if it is a simple sentence with the right vocabulary used, I can read it without trouble, since it is so similar to English (or has a couple words very similar to German words I know). (ex. Arthurva's reply to louis.vang: Dat is een goede idee, I had no trouble understanding that without knowing Dutch).

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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Good luck with that, it will take some time before the English>Dutch course becomes available.. I imagine you really need some help with the grammar in that case, here are 2 links that might help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_grammar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_orthography#Morphological_alternations

FYI "Dat is een goede idee" is not 100% correct, it should be "goed" instead of "goede". The adjective "goede" is used for masculine/feminine nouns (both definite "de" and indefinite "een") and for neuter nouns when definite: "het" (the same applies to all adjectives, e.g.: leuke, mooie, rode, interessante). For indefinite neuter nouns like the example there is no extra "e" in the adjective. So it is "een goed/leuk/mooi/rood/interessant idee"

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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That example is actually tricky because both the original French word idée and the corresponding German word Idee are feminine for all uses. But it's one of those Dutch words that change gender according to use. Both genders appear in dictionaries, sometimes without explanation.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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You're right, but as you can see by my reaction, de idee is so uncommon that I as a native speaker perceive it as incorrect.

4 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/RileyTy0

I still don't get the rule, there are many words in the dutch language that don't end with je and still use het. For example," Het kind."

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
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The first rule of grammatical genders is: There are no rules. Dutch speakers use de with some words and het with others just like English speakers put -s at the end of most verbs to mark third person singular, but don't do that for some of the most important verbs. Just like English speakers form plurals with -s in some cases and in much more complicated ways for some of the most frequently used nouns (from the point of view of a farmer: child, sheep, ox, tooth, ...).

If it helps, think of common gender nouns as the regular ones and of neuter gender nouns as the irregular ones. There is no strict rule in English as to which nouns have (ir)regular plurals - because this is subject to change and our use of language is just a snapshot of a long, slow evolution. E.g., brethren was once the only correct plural of brother. Then, in a slow process, brothers gradually became the normal plural and brethren became an antiquated one used only in special situations. Soon it will be gone completely. In much the same way and for very similar reasons, there are no strict rules for grammatical gender.

However, there are statistical rules of the form: Nouns with certain properties usually have this or that gender. There is absolutely no such rule the other way round, i.e. there is absolutely no property shared by all (or even most) common gender nouns, or shared by all (or most) neuter gender nouns. The rule about diminutives is one of the few rules of this kind that have (almost) no exception: Diminutives are neuter gender. Period. Even if it's illogical and may appear impolite. But of course there are countless other reasons why a word might be neuter gender, including pure accident.

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/RileyTy0

Thanks! You really explained it well.

3 jaar gelden

https://www.duolingo.com/royvdm
royvdm
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then you can use "kindje" if you want then remove "je"

1 jaar gelden
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