https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae

Grammar: Jij vs. Je / Zij vs. Ze / Wij vs. We

Lavinae
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 2

As the title suggests, this grammar explanation thread concerns the difference (in use) between marked and unmarked pronouns. This is really about the difference in Dutch between the pronouns that receive emphasis, and those that do not.


The marked and unmarked pronouns

Thusly, we have several pronouns which have a marked/stressed and a standard, unmarked form. These are the ones we’re talking about:

As you may have guessed, the Ik (= I), Hij (= he), and Jullie (= You, plural) forms do not have both a marked and an unmarked version.

When we, the Dutch, feel like emphasizing an inanimate entity, a ‘thing’, which we address with ‘het’ or ‘hij’ (it) and ‘ze’ (they), then we choose to use a demonstrative pronoun.

Anecdote: Interestingly, there’s a difference between the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands and that spoken in Flanders (Flemish) in this respect. Flemish, in fact, uses ‘ze’ for the inanimate feminine nouns. In contrast, in the Netherlands, inanimate entities, or things, are not described as being feminine and generally approached with either the ‘it’ pronoun or the masculine ‘hij’.


So when do we use marked pronouns?

Yes, this distinction between different pronouns is not for naught. It actually has a function. We use marked pronouns when we want to emphasize the pronoun. Generally speaking, you’ll use one version or the other depending on the situation you are in. However, in speech there are cases in which an unmarked pronoun fits better than a marked pronoun, and vice versa. You’ll get a feeling for this by learning the language. Also remember not to stress an unmarked pronoun and note this: we use unmarked pronouns more frequently than their marked versions.


How do we emphasize the pronoun?

  1. Obviously, we first use the right version: zij, or ze, wij, or we, and jij, or je.
  2. However, when we give emphasis to the pronoun we increase our pitch
  3. We also tend to increase our volume, ever so slightly
  4. In addition, the word is also pronounced ‘longer’ (its duration is stretched in comparison to that of the unmarked pronoun). Thus, in contrast, when you’re using an unmarked pronoun, you should emphasize another part of the sentence (instead of the pronoun).

Examples

  1. Jij vs. Je (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Jij moet dat doen.” = “You have to do that” (that’s you, and not me!)
    Je moet dat doen.” = “You have to do that” (in order to…)

  2. Zij vs. Ze (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Zij wil vandaag zwemmen.” = “She wants to swim today.” (but I don’t….)
    Ze wil vandaag zwemmen.” = “She wants to swim today.”

  3. Dat vs. Het (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Dat klopt niet.” = “That is not correct”. (something specific is incorrect).
    Het klopt niet.” = “It is not correct”. (something in general is incorrect).

  4. Deze/die vs. Hij (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Deze geeft licht” = “This one gives light”.
    Hij geeft licht” = “It gives light.

  5. Wij vs. we (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Wij komen niet.” = “We are not coming.” (but the others are…)
    We komen niet.” = “We are not coming.”

  6. Zij vs. Ze (marked vs. Unmarked)

    Zij luisteren nooit naar ons.” = “They never listen to us.” (talking about a group in specific)
    Ze luisteren nooit naar ons.” = “They never listen to us.” (talking about some group in general)

  7. Deze/die vs. Ze (inanimate entities/things)

    Deze horen daar niet bij.” = “These ones do not belong with that.”
    Ze horen daar niet bij.” = “They do not belong with that.”


Return to Grammar Overview!

4 years ago

53 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

This may be the conventional way of explaining the difference, but it appears to me that at least for jij/je, zij/ze, wij/we it is misleading. For example, Google Books has almost twice as many hits for "wij zijn" as for "we zijn". This wouldn't make sense if wij were just the stressed/emphasised/marked version of we. Stressed, emphasised and marked are relatively precise linguistic terms which in the majority of uses of wij obviously don't apply.

There is what I consider a much clearer explanation here, in German, from a native Dutch speaker. She refers to the variants as full and reduced and explains that the full version can be either stressed or unstressed, but the reduced version can only be used when the pronoun is unstressed. She also explains that there is a bias towards the full forms in the written language and towards the reduced forms in the spoken language.

This is completely logical as the reduced versions are what comes out naturally when you pronounce the full versions sloppily. This helps to predict/remember some usage distinctions that would otherwise be arbitrary:

  • Why can't the reduced versions be stressed? - Because stress is incompatible with sloppy pronunciation.
  • Why can the full versions be unstressed? - Because careful pronunciation doesn't imply stress.
  • Why is there a preference for the full versions in writing, and an extremely strong one in older literature? - Because the full versions can be thought of (or at least were once thought of) as 'more correct' in the same fuzzy sense in which some native English speakers think of it is as 'more correct' than it's.
  • Why can some of the reduced versions also stand for more than one pronoun? - Because sloppy pronunciation can make two different words such as jij and jouw sound the same.

PS: When I came back to add a reference to some linguistic literature, I found that this post at -1 with no comments. I think that's bad form. If I am wrong I would love to get an explanation why I am wrong. It's hard to learn from a downvote.

I don't know how to search for literature on Dutch linguistics systematically. Here are quotations from what I found with my unsystematic search:

  • Marlies van der Velde, The asymmetry of Dutch weak pronouns. This paper is only about object pronouns. (The present post by Lavinae is about subject pronouns.) Still it's interesting to note the terminology she uses: "Dutch has two series of pronouns: a series of full forms (strong pronouns) and a series of reduced forms. The status of these reduced forms is the subject of some debate."
  • Frank van Eynde, On the notion ‘minor preposition’. "Like French and Italian, Dutch has two types of personal pronouns: the full or tonic ones and the reduced ones [...]. The most conspicuous difference between the two types is a phonological one: while the full pronouns can be stressed, the reduced ones cannot. [...] Next to the phonological and syntactic differences there is also a semantic one. Whereas the full pronouns are always used as the argument of some predicate, be it a verb, a preposition or an adjective, the reduced ones can also be used in positions which are not assigned any semantic role. In other words, the reduced forms may have semantically vacuous uses, whereas the full forms are always referential."

To sum this up, linguists refer to the two kinds of pronouns as full and reduced, or as major and minor, and it appears they have good reasons for this choice of terminology.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
wataya
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 20
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 5

Thanks, these are some really interesting points and probably worth considering. But please be patient with Team Dutch :) They are all very busy right now. And the choice between a more precise terminology and a commonly (as far as the Dutch language teaching community is concerned, if I understand Lavinae correctly) established terminology, is certainly not an easy one.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

I didn't demand any immediate action, did I? And I am sure I wouldn't have used so many words if I understood the situation better myself. I'm just learning the language, and while doing so I realised that what may well be the conventional way of teaching the two kinds of pronouns wasn't so helpful. I realised that because I did the reverse course before, where it wasn't explained, and at the time I found the extremely helpful and linguistically sound explanation on buurtaal.de. (English for Dutch speakers came out before Dutch for English speakers; as a speaker of German and English I found it a fast and efficient way to learn Dutch.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lull0000

Greetings all.

So I'm wondering how frequently the emphasized pronouns are used in Dutch compared to English. In English, it doesn't seem like emphasizing nouns and pronouns is all that frequent, unless you're trying to make a point or something, but I gather that it must be quite a bit more frequent in Dutch than in English if there's a whole set of pronouns devoted to it. Any thoughts?

Thank you!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
Lavinae
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 2

It is very frequent in Dutch. The fact that one of the pronouns is marked and the other unmarked is useful in poetic contexts, in literature and other cases of written Dutch and when you want to get a specific message (with emphasis) across in a conversational context (also for the sake of clarity).

Generally speaking, however, in spoken Dutch we sometimes use one of the two because of their (un)marked nature, but (I personally have to admit that) we also just use either form, without giving it much thought. Whereas the distinction is certainly there and at times very useful, in practice it often disappears (it being of no concern) and these personal pronouns are used interchangeably. :)

I'm a native speaker so I rarely put much conscious thought into my use of marked vs. unmarked pronouns. I only really think about which pronoun I use when I want to get a specific message across, which emphasizes a particular individual. For instance: "Zij heeft dat gedaan" ( = she has done it (it wasn't me)). This happens about less than once a week. :)

In sum: Yes, marked pronouns are used very frequently. Even though the distinction can be usefully used for clarification purposes and the use of one pronoun over the other does make a difference (in certain situations), the marked and unmarked pronouns are also very much used interchangeably.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

I am quite unhappy about your 'marked'/'unmarked' terminology. Where does it come from?

'Marked' has a (somewhat) precise linguistic definition, see e.g. the Wikipedia article on markedness. Your doubtless correct statement that the full/major/tonic pronouns are used very frequently, even though the reduced/minor pronouns are often preferred, basically contradicts your terminology. If something is very frequent it can't be marked.

The definition of markedness depends on context. To say that jij is marked in a specific context and je is unmarked in that context implies that one would expect je to be used, and if someone uses jij instead people consciously take note of the fact. This may be true in many contexts, but there are frequent contexts in which either is perfectly normal, and there are also frequent contexts in which jij is not only unmarked but is in fact required, since je isn't just marked but is outright wrong. Nobody chooses je when they want to stress it. Even when not stressing the first word in "Jij met je eeuwige gezeur", nobody would replace it by je. And, I suppose (this is the only example I made up on my own), nobody would reply to the question "Wie ben ik?" by saying je rather than jij.

Je being so reduced in applicability in comparison to jij, if there is an objective measure of markedness (i.e. independent of context), then it seems to be je that is marked, and jij that is unmarked, because jij is a normal full pronoun like those in most Indoeuropean languages, whereas there are special rules for when je is allowed.

The 'emphasized'/'unemphasized' terminology isn't better, either, since very often jij is not actually emphasized at all.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
Lavinae
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 2

Johaquila, I understand that you don't agree with the terminology, but your arguments and words are a bit excessive.

My use of this terminology is based on how language courses teach Dutch, recognized courses such as those provided by IntertaaL and Klare Taal! and as referred to on language reference forums. In fact, the company I work for also teaches pronouns this way. Now I understand that a number of linguists may see this differently. This is however how, indeed, these pronouns are conventionally taught. Besides that, our students are not all linguists and complicating a matter unncessarily does not aid understanding.

I repeat: I'm willing to look into your material and reflect on it, but you do need to give me some time to do so.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Sorry if I have given you the impression that I'm in a hurry. I am certainly not. The reason I have commented so much about this - yes, in retrospect it may well be excessive - is that I slowly learned about the connections while answering other learners' questions as best I could. My comments reflect the various iterations of my understanding.

I believe it is not at all rare that the terminology used in education is far from optimal. There is of course a benefit to being consistent with other courses. On the other hand there is also a benefit to not abusing the terminology of linguistic researchers, and most importantly to not confusing learners by, e.g., first implying that jij is always stressed and then somehow taking it back. I am not accusing you of that, but there does seem to be some widespread confusion in this area. (This confusion is normal. It always happens when a language has special features that don't exist in certain more prestigious languages. E.g. it explains the confusion about English will and shall, or about the so-called split infinitive. These don't exist in Latin, so the old grammarians couldn't simply copy ideas from Latin grammars, as they normally did.) The line covering this topic in the first lesson is not misleading, or at most a tiny little bit: "Je, ze and we are un-emphasized forms of jij, zij and wij." Some learners may be inclined to believe that consequently jij, zij and wij are emphasized forms, but logically it doesn't follow.

PS: Maybe I am suffering from a déformation professionelle. For me as a mathematician, it is normal to be objectively wrong on occasion and to be told by others when that happens. And it is normal for me to immediately point it out when I think someone else is wrong.

In this case it isn't even so much about wrong or false as it is about comprehensible explanations, another thing very dear to mathematicians. In the culture that I am coming from, when someone can think of a more comprehensible explanation of some phenomenon than the seminar speaker, it's perfectly normal to immediately address the audience. It is also normal to then, occasionally, be told by the speaker why one is wrong, after all, and things can't be explained so simply.

Let me add that at least for me the urge to contribute in this way is much greater if the seminar talk, or in this case the language course, is excellent. And to the extent that I have seen it, this course is really outstanding. Please don't take anything I have written as complaining. I didn't mean it that way.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

My understanding is that it's not so much about emphasis, but really about clear and non-sloppy pronunciation. This corresponds to not using a contraction in English when you could. Normally it doesn't matter whether you use a contraction or not, but obviously you can't stress a word when you have contracted its syllable away. Similarly, you never pronounce an emphasised word sloppily, e.g. replacing the clear ie/ay sound of jij by the neutral schwa sound of je.

Maybe Dutch is a bit further advanced on the path towards a grammatical difference between two words jij and je as opposed to just a phonetic phenomenon making the vowel of English is optionally disappear if it's unstressed. But I don't think you can make any mistakes by just ignoring this and thinking of English contractions as a perfect analogy.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/coforidan

Is there a way to stress the male pronoun "he?" Why is there only one way of saying "he" (hij) versus two ways of saying "she" (ze, zij)? Thank you in advance!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

If you want to stress hij, just stress it like you would do in English. The other, 'stressed', pronouns wij, jij, zij aren't stressed, either, unless you actually do stress them the way you do in English. The terminology used in this course is misleading. Wij, jij, zij aren't stresséd, they are stressáble. That is, if you want to stress one of the unstresséd and unstressáble pronouns we, je, ze, you have to replace it by wij, jij or zij.

This is much like contractions in English. If English were taught like Dutch, a learner of English might ask why there is no way to stress nothing, whereas you can stress n't by replacing it by not. The obvious answer is that not isn't actually automatically stressed and that the real difference is that it's impossible to stress n't because it has no vowel. So instead of "No, it isn't!" you say "No, it is not!" (This argument is slightly problematic because the contracted not in isn't is in practice often stressed by moving the stress to the vowel i, i.e. by stressing is. Logically this makes little sense, though. It's just a workaround.)

Similarly, we, je, ze are the result of replacing the (variable but) clear ij sound in wij, jij, zij by a neutral schwa sound. As to why this doesn't work for hij - I don't really know for sure, but there is a number of plausible explanations:

  • To me (as a native German speaker), he, pronounced in the Dutch way, feels slightly strange to pronounce. The consonant h is quite different from w, j, z, and saying he feels a little bit like pronouncing only the vowel. Somehow it doesn't feel like a full word. If Dutch speakers feel the same way, it makes sense that they always pronounce hij in full.
  • He is just an aspirated e and the aspiration is easy to miss. And the point of e instead of ij is precisely that it's short, unstressed, indefinite - in fact, almost absent. This is probably just the explanation of my feelings about this (non-)word.
  • The modern Dutch pronouns are the result of merging pronouns in different cases. Maybe there was a case for which wij sounded a bit like we, one for which jij sounded a bit like je, and one for which zij sounded a bit like ze - but none for which hij sounded a bit like he.
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PopTartTastic

I have a few questions concerning other pronouns. What is the difference between: 1. Dit and Dat? 2. Deze and Die? 3. U and Jij/Je?

Thank you in advance.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

dit en dat: this and that

deze en die: these and those (but die also has other meanings)

u, jullie en jij: you (polite singular and plural), you (informal plural) and thou (informal singular)

The last explanation only makes sense when read in Early Modern English, the language of the King James Bible. (And even then it's obviously not perfect, as you was ambiguous even then.) Thou was the familiar form of address for a single person. You was originally just the plural version of thou, what in Dutch is jullie. Then people started to address single people in the plural when they wanted to be polite. In Dutch, it was more common to say something like your honour, which over time was abbreviated to u.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PopTartTastic

Thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OmaJennie

Sorry, but "thou" used to be (and still is by some peoples) used in very intimate situations, like "du". So when you read your King James Bible, remember to read the "thee's, thou's, thy's, and thine's" as though the writer/speaker is speaking directly to you on a personal level. 'You" in the KJV is not a confusion; rather, it is a distinction between personal and less personal (but not necessarily impersonal) communication.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KdPomi
KdPomi
  • 15
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 9
  • 2

You are correct, more precisely the usage of Kings James mirrors the Hebrew, with 'thou' used for the Hebrew 'ata' & 'at' ( את & אתה ) which are the singular versions of you/thou for males and females respectively, while 'you' is restricted to translating the Hebrew 'atem' & 'aten' ( אתם & אתן ) which are the plural versions (again, masc. & fem.) of 'ata' & 'at' and are never translated by 'thou.'

I still use the old 2nd person singular, but almost only in writing and only to my children. I do still occasionally fall into a use of it that was more common in my 1950s rural childhood, which is to use it when directly cursing someone, but do try not to! Anyway, it is usually behind the closed windows of my car, so no harm no foul.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ErikBoyle
ErikBoyle
  • 21
  • 14
  • 10
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

The KJV was published in 1611 and even then it was stylistically conservative or even out of date. This was a time (see: Shakespeare) when you and thou contrasted in formality, but set the clock back a couple hundred years or so to account for the translators' conservatism, and you reach a time when you was not uniformly established as the singular formal pronoun and thou was possible for any level of formality. Thus the translators often erred on dividing thou and you only by plurality, not formality. Any intimacy one tries to read into the use of thou in the KJV is mostly a historical accident resulting from our later conception of what we believe thou was supposed to mean.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/malstr0m

In Basics, because I just started Dutch today, one sentence is "Zij is een meisje en ik ben een jongen". Is the "zij" a "zij" because it's like "SHE is a girl, and I'm not"? Maybe it's just a stupid sentence. Maybe I just need more experience with Dutch. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DETben

This is interesting - but in the app it asks me to translate but without context or inflection. How am I supposed to know? I often feel like its a 50/50 guess.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Often both versions are correct. If you feel that the personal pronoun probably isn't stressed in English, then it probably isn't stressed in Dutch either. In this case you have free choice in principle, but should prefer the more casual je or ze because native speakers normally prefer it in this situation. But if the personal pronoun is stressed in English, then it's probably stressed in Dutch as well. Since you can't stress je or ze, you must use jij or zij.

If you are confused and you just want to make sure not to make a mistake: Whenever je/ze is possible, jij/zij is also possible, so by always choosing jij/zij you are on the safe side.

Except that je can also mean jou[w] (your), in which case obviously it would be a mistake to use jij. By the way, that's another trick: If you can't decide whether it should be jou or jouw, you can just use je instead.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DETben

I understand that, but the app marks it incorrect is my point. It will say to translate a simple declarative sentence but if i use the wrong pronoun it marks it incorrect - even though there isn't enough information for me to make an informed decision.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Can you give an example?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DETben

Sure. I will say 'Translate "She drinks milk.''

I will put "Ze drinkt melk."

But it will mark it incorrect because it wanted "Zij drinkt melk."

Something like this has happened a few times.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizavazquez

Same here !

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Maybe whatever method was used to ensure that je is always accepted instead of jij and that we is accepted instead of wij doesn't work for ze instead of zij: If it's automatic, then maybe it wasn't implemented. If it is done by hand, maybe it wasn't done as systematically as for the other pairs.

I verified with Onze Taal that ze can always be used instead of unstressed zij, whether it is used as a plural pronoun or as a feminine singular pronoun.

Next time this happens, please report the additional correct answer with the form provided.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OmaJennie

Maybe it's because Duo reads this sentence as: SHE drinks milk, rather than as She drinks MILK.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Simius
Simius
Mod
  • 19
  • 12
  • 11
  • 9

That is definitely not supposed to happen. If you can provide a screenshot, that could be very helpful.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MentalPinball
MentalPinball
  • 25
  • 15
  • 12
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 27

I've had this very same thing today and almost every day since I started the course /I think about a week ago)...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/El2theK
El2theK
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

With translation exercises or listening exercises? In a listening exercise only one is correct as there's a difference in pronunciation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DETben

I haven't run across it again. But if I do I will take a screenshot.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/psmuppet

Yes, this also happened for me yesterday and I hadn't read about ze/zij yet so I was very confused about why I was wrong. I will take a screen shot if it happens again! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kobajagiprinceza

I do not understand when to use die and when deze as the stressed subject pronoun for an object in 3rd person plural.

You used deze. Here: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Pronouns.ps02 only an example with die is given.

Die staan je heel goed.

It seems to me that an English sentence "THEY look very good on you" could be translated either way.

The same goes for the the stressed pronouns in 3rd person singular.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gymnastical
Gymnastical
  • 16
  • 16
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3

That got me frustrated too. I found the answer on onzetaal.nl/taaladvies and took notes on it. It's in Dutch but I used Google Translate. To save you the strain, here are the notes I took.

In general, when referring to a de-word or plural, "deze" is this and "die" is that In general, when referring to a het-word or something unspecified, "Dit" is this and "dat" is that Deze and dit can refer to something with a nearby point of origin. Die and dat are further away.

Obviously there are exceptions as we all know by now there are for everything in Dutch but I hope this helped and if you have any questions just ask.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jessmis

why does "ze wil" not have a 't'. all the conjugation charts show that it should be stem+t for ze/zij

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

It's an irregularity that demonstrates how closely English and Dutch are related: The English modal will, which once was an ordinary verb with the same meaning that the Dutch verb willen still has (compare derivations such as [last] will, wilful or even the construction to will someone to do something) has it as well! If it were regular, you would hear sentences such as "she wills come" in English. In Dutch, "ze wilt komen" sounds just as wrong. (Of course the meanings of both sentences are no longer the same.)

It's a general phenomenon of language change that frequently used words tend to preserve irregularities much longer than rarely used words. These irregularities are usually remnants from an earlier stage of the language when totally different grammatical rules existed. (The English irregular plurals such as children, feet etc. are good examples. Most affect frequently used words, and these types of forming the plural are still somewhat alive in Dutch and German. And of course the extremely irregular English auxiliaries be and have.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ErikBoyle
ErikBoyle
  • 21
  • 14
  • 10
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

This is somewhat related to another interesting feature in language evolution: productivity. (I know this is going to be somewhat off-topic, but I wanted to mention it.) Productivity defines whether or not a process, such as verb conjugation, is used by speakers in forming new words. For example, the overwhelming majority of newly coined verbs in English take the weak conjugation of -ed for the past tense and past participle (so that text becomes texted and email becomes emailed), rather than the strong conjugation of a vowel change in the past tense and sometimes -en for the past participle. This has become the case because it is unambiguous and regular, and thus recognizable.

So, as you say, the irregularities only continue to exist in words that are relatively common and old, because speakers continue to recognize them as derivations of the relevant base form. It not immediately apparent that stadia is the plural form of stadium without some knowledge of Latin, so the native English plural form -s has produced the more common stadiums. But speakers nonetheless understand that am, is, are, was, and were are all forms of the verb to be because they are so entrenched in common Standard English usage that no one would try to say "he bees" instead.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EnglishDragon89

I am having problems knowing when to use ze or zij for she and they. Can someone help make this more clear?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gymnastical
Gymnastical
  • 16
  • 16
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3

You simply do it just like that. Just ensure you have the right verb conjugation

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tempting100

what does it mean by unstressed/unmarked and stressed/marked?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavinae
Lavinae
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 2

Hi :)

Unstressed/unmarked = without emphasis
Stressed/marked = with emphasis

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/neolinguo
neolinguo
  • 20
  • 18
  • 13
  • 5
  • 4
  • 1531

Thank you! This is helpful. But...here on Duolinguo, I simply cannot hear the difference between je/jij and ze/zij. What do I do?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/El2theK
El2theK
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

Listen to different examples and from that get used to the difference in pronunciation.

E.g.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

In the web version of Duolingo, always use the slow voice in a dictation. The fast voice generally pronounces jij as je and zij as ze.

I am afraid if you only have access to the fast voice, you will have to guess. Or you can switch off dictations.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/El2theK
El2theK
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

In the examples I provided there is a clear difference in pronunciation, also at the normal speed.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Indeed. There are worlds between this and the automatic voice.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/81cheney
81cheney
  • 17
  • 13
  • 8
  • 6

Would ze and zijn only refer to all female groups in the example?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johaquila
johaquila
  • 16
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 8

Not at all. Zij/ze is the only third person plural pronoun regardless of gender. In particular, it's also used for exclusively male groups.

Fun fact: There was a point in the history of Dutch and German when for many words you could choose between masculine and feminine genders, with a difference of meaning unrelated to male/female. For concrete individual things people used masculine gender, and for abstract things and groups of things treated as a collective, people used feminine gender. So one function of feminine gender was as a collective plural!

Once you know this, having a single word serving both as the 3rd person singular feminine pronoun and as the 3rd person plural pronoun for all genders doesn't appear so arbitrary any more.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ayisha36

I always love running into you on a thread. You give just the sort of explanations and etymologies that I need to understand the language as a complex, living thing. I'm impressed by your ability to explain Dutch in English when you're a native German speaker! You certainly write English better than most native English/Americans. Thanks for all your comments on this thread--the nuances make a big difference for my understanding. Not everyone wants to bother with them when learning a new language, but for me, as someone with a pretty good grasp of my native tongue, an imperfectly understood linguistic rule just doesn't stick--I need to understand how words are used in practice, and what the stories are behind them, in order for them to have a permanent, usable place in my brain. I don't want to have toddler-Dutch all my life; I want to be able to say complex and nuanced things. Thanks for your help.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KdPomi
KdPomi
  • 15
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 9
  • 2

For English speakers that use collapsed interrogatives in /ʤ-/ their distribution may help clarify the difference. For non-IPA users, /ʤ/ is the initial sound of 'just' and 'gin.' /ə/ is the final sound of 'sofa' and /u/** means the sound of 'ou' in you.

First, what I'm referring to. Many (most?) English speakers collapse the sequence 'Did you . . .?' in normal speech to /ʤu/ or /ʤə/, the first being mildly stressed and the latter unstressed. These speakers will in normal speech only render 'did' separately if highly stressed.

If this is you, keep following:

When "Did you go?" is /ʤu go?/ it corresponds to 'Ben jij gegaan?'

When "Did you go?" is /ʤə go?/ it corresponds to 'Ben je gegaan?'

Note that the second one is far more common in our spoken idiom, just as its counterpart in Dutch, because in second person addresses the role of the addressee is generally well known. The barrier for the Anglo is to render in writing a distinction only made in speech. If you can recognize this in your own tongue you have half the battle won.

** If you are a Canadian or Pacific Coast 'u' fronter, you have a tiny extra hurdle, as the vowel in 'je' being rounded and front, closely resembles the /u/ of /ʤu go?/ which comes out [ʤʉ go?] or even /ʤy go?/ if it comes after a slew of front vowels or palatals. 'Je' may sound a lot like the way you say 'you' in English. It may sound familiarish, but your native speech has no unstressed rounded vowels and that may make you overestimate it. The quicker you learn to round the unstressed vowel of Dutch the quicker your ear will peg it for what it is when you hear it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carsten2016

What about "je" vs "u" and "jou" vs "u" ...? I would be very happy if somebody can give some nice examples which one of the two is to be used. For sure in the exercises I do not see the difference between formal and not formal. Eg. the sentence "You do not know me." By my understanding it could be translated as "Je kent mij niet." but as well as "U kent mij niet" …

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xMerrie
xMerrie
Mod
  • 25
  • 20
  • 18
  • 17
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11

You are completely right. Duolingo is not the perfect platform for adding context to the sentences. Therefore, it is almost impossible to show the difference between 'je', 'jij', 'u' and 'jullie'.

As for your question about the formal 'u':

You would use 'u' when
1. You speak to people that you don't know and are (obviously) older than you (e.g. you are 20 and the other is 30 years old)
2. You speak to your boss, the king, professors, teachers, doctors or someone else that is "above you"
3. Someone you know and who is older than you, e.g. your grandparents. Parents sometimes expect their (young) children to say 'u' to them as well, but it's more common to say 'je' to your parents (unless they are of age).
4. When you want to be polite in general. E.g. when you are a customer and you speak with an employee or when you are working with customers.

It's safest if you start with saying 'u' to people that you just met/don't know. They'll tell you if you can switch to 'jij' ("Zeg maar 'jij' hoor!").

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rocteur
Rocteur
  • 25
  • 22
  • 8
  • 3
  • 2

Is there somewhere a Jij vs Jou page ?

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Guillaume201712
Guillaume201712
  • 23
  • 21
  • 16
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 7
  • 6
  • 263

Jij leest jouw boek omdat het van jou is. You read your book because it is yours. Incorrect and often heard by non Dutch native people: “Het boek is van jij” (Fault!). Better : “Het boek is van jou.”

5 months ago
Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.