I have recently started prepositions 2 in Dutch and got completely confused by the word “overheen” and its alike.

The examples are: 1. De man loopt over de boeken heen 2. De man loopt over de boeken.

What exactly are the differences between these two sentences? The same happens for om and rondom. It seems to me that both could indicate the idea of around. What is the difference between for example: 1. Er staan honderd bomen rondom mijn huis 2. Er staan honderd bomen om mijn huis.

August 10, 2019


The two examples are indeed not fit to teach you the difference in meaning these prepostions can have. What the examples do show is that these prepositions can sometimes be used in similar sentences with hardly any difference in meaning and also in what word order.
A couple of examples in which om / over cannot be applied without rond/heen:
- Ik heb veel lieve vrienden om me heen;
- De collega's liepen over haar heen.
- De auto is rondom beschadigd.
("I have a lot of caring friends surrounding me.";
"The colleagues walked all over her.";
"The car is damaged on all sides."

August 10, 2019

Thanks for this. It just feels very redundant to have that extra “heen” “toe” or “in” at the end of the sentence. Like you would say “Where are you going” instead of “Where are you going to” But in Dutch it seems that you have to say “Waar ga je naartoe” I am just trying to make sense of it.

August 11, 2019

In sentence 1 I would conclude that the man does not actually step on the books, but steps over them. Although it would be more natural to say 'he stapt over de boeken heen."

In sentence 2 I would conclude that he steps on the books.

In your tree sentence there is no great difference in meaning. The "rondom' sentence gives the impression that the trees are on all sides of the house, whereas this is less certain in the second sentence. But that is all. They could mean the same thing.

August 10, 2019

Wouldn’t it feel redundant though? I am not a native speaker so that might come from my English language. But I suppose even in German you don’t always add this at the end of a sentence.

August 11, 2019

No, in Dutch these kind of split up expressions are often used and in some cases they are indispensable. You cannot f.i. say 'Ik loop er om' when you mean to say that you are walking around something. You'd have to say 'Ik loop er omheen.' 'Hij liep om het huis heen', meaning that he walked entirely around the house until he ended up where he started. 'Hij liep om het huis', could mean that someone is just walking around a bit somewhere outside the house. As for the difference between 'rond het huis' and 'rondom het huis', 'rondom' gives more an idea of 'encircled by', whereas 'rond' might just mean randomly placed here and there.

August 11, 2019

I understand the examples you gave here since they have differences, despite subtle, in meaning. But what about, for example, naartoe? Would it be correct to say: “We komen naar je” Or does one have to say: “We komen naar je toe”?

August 14, 2019
Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.