What is the difference between "het" and "de"?
I think it is confusing that they have two words that mean the same thing (tell me if I'm wrong), used on certain occasions, but cannot be used interchangeably. Does anyone know why?
When to use de:
- With common gender nouns (masculine/feminine)
- In the plural
When to use het:
- With neuter nouns
- With diminutives (e.g. het meisje)
Please read the grammar "tips and notes" in Duolingo's web version (www.duolingo.com) before you start a new skill (set your browser to "desktop mode")
They are on the bottom of the lesson page of each skill, that introduces new grammar.
For "de" and "het" go to https://www.duolingo.com/skill/dn/Basics-1
More grammar explanation in:
"Overview of grammar explanations"
I removed the explanation on German grammar from Osnakezz, as this is not only useless as an explanation for Dutch grammar, it probably also confuses people. However this also removed replies to that post which were useful, I'll copy/paste them in replies to this post.
It is a very bad idea to use an explanation of German grammar for Dutch grammar! Please use for Dutch: - the grammar "tips and notes" on the bottom of the lesson page of each skill in the "desktop mode" of http://www.duolingo.com
"Overview of grammar explanations" https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3732817
The other case forms for the articles in Dutch is not used at all except in names and maybe special phrases (e.g. ter, ten, Den Haag, 's, etc.). For the genitive most would just say van de/van het unless it's repeating then they might use der (e.g. Het rijk van de mensen der landen)
"De" and "het" do not mean the same thing. "de" is the article for masculin and feminin nouns. "het" is the article for neutral nouns. All you have to do is memorize which words are m/v, and which words are n. I'd say, don't pay too much attention. The best way to learn when to use "de" and when to use "het" is to read a lot in Dutch, and listen to a lot of Dutch.
Just one question, is girl neutral? Because it is "het meisje" not "de meisje".
The grammatical gender of the noun meisje is indeed neutral/neuter, this is the case for all diminutives. Clearly the natural gender and grammatical gender don't always match, also the same noun may have different grammatical genders in different languages.
Basic meaning: De is the masculine article, and Het is an neutral noun. Similar to Spanish where different words have either masc/fem/neutral, and you use the words accordingly. Best way to memorise is to learn the definitive noun that does with the word and learn them together. This will take a lot of time (obviously), but the more your practice, the more used to this you'll get. :)