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  5. "Het meisje en de jongen eten…

"Het meisje en de jongen eten rijst."

Translation:The girl and the boy eat rice.

July 16, 2014



From what I understand between 'De' and 'Het' , De is used when gender is assigned. So why is it that it begins with Het? Would the correct sentence not be 'De meisje en de jongen eten rijst' ?


First, "when gender is assigned" doesn't make any sense. In Dutch every noun has gender. I think what you mean is that de is the definite article for the common gender, which is the result of merging the masculine and feminine genders, whereas het is the definite article for the neuter gender.

It is important to distinguish between grammatical gender (Standard Dutch: common gender, neuter gender; Flemish and German: masculine, feminine and neuter gender) and natural sex (male, female and neutral/things). There is a statistical correspondence between the two, but it's not a strict equivalence.

In English, there is no such thing as grammatical gender. The personal pronouns are assigned according to sex and the articles don't distinguish at all.

In German (and, I believe, Flemish), only grammatical gender matters. The articles are assigned only according to grammatical gender. For the personal pronouns this is mostly true as well, though when grammatical gender and natural sex don't agree, most people switch at some point because it feels so awkward to refer to a girl as it or to a company as she.

Dutch is in between these two extremes. The articles are assigned only according to grammatical gender. But the personal pronouns are usually often assigned according to natural sex, as in English.

Meisje is one of those words for which grammatical gender and natural sex don't agree. This is because all diminutives have neuter gender:

  • de meid (the maid[en]) - feminine gender in Flemish, hence common gender in Dutch
  • de jongen (the boy) - masculine gender in Flemish, hence common gender in Dutch

  • het meidje, simplified to het meisje (the little maid[en]) - neuter gender

  • het jongetje (the little boy) - neuter gender.

For some reason that probably has to do with the fact that meid was originally a job description whereas jongen originally meant young one, the diminutive is practically required for girls and quite unusual for boys.


so in Flemish 'de meisje' would be correct ??? I am going to speak this laguage in Belgium so these things count a lot. And what is with things? 'de apple' but 'het brood' .


No, in Flemish it is also het meisje. What is different in Flemish is that masculine and feminine are not yet merged into a single common gender. There is no difference about the neuter gender.

Flemish speakers are still aware that de appel is masculine and de banaan is feminine. So they are likely to refer to an apple as hij and to a banana as zij. In Northern Dutch, zij is only used when referring to a de noun that describes a female person or animal. Northern Dutch speakers use hij for all other de words. (And of course het for het words, just like Flemish speakers do.)

Given the exposure of Flemish speakers to Northern Dutch, I wouldn't worry about the difference.


I dont uderstand it to


Thank you that makes a lot more sense. ;)


Great explanation!!! Thanks.


So what your saying is that because this is using two opposite genders, that it can't nessacerily be in one statement meaning you need a more neutral way of saying that

De jongen en de man (for one gender)?


Het jongen en het meisje (for two or more)?


It is always de jongen; so De jongen en de man and De jongen en het meisje


Het is used for meisje because meisje ends with -je (-je is a dimunitive, het is used for all dimunitives and dimunitives take precedence over gender).

Also, de is used for singular masculine and feminine nouns (vrouw, man, jongen).

Hope this helps.


So every time a word end with one of the dimunitives, such as je, it might be a het word?


To clarify the terminology: -je is a diminutive suffix. If you stick it to the end of a noun, the result is called a diminutive.

Diminutives are indeed always het words.

Diminutives are very popular in Dutch, even in situations when you wouldn't dream of using them in English. Theoretically we could make use of this fact when we have forgotten the gender of a noun. Just turn it into a diminutive and the original gender doesn't matter any more.


Grammer and such is not something I'm great in even in english, and I am very confused by what a "diminutive" is? i tried googling it but am still confused?


It's just an ending (or sometimes a prefix) that you can stick to a noun to make it appear smaller - much like adding the word little. (Or more precisely, the diminutive is the word that results.) Some diminutives are neutral, and some carry strong positive or negative connotations. English doesn't really have diminutives any more, but it still has plenty of words that were originally diminutives.

E.g. practically every first name ending in -y was originally a diminutive of the corresponding first name without -y. In fact, they are still often used this way. This is why a little boy called John may be referred to as "Johnny" (typically in the phrase "little Johnny"), but for an adult it's much less likely except it's actually their official name. (Diminutives are getting more and more popular as official first names because lots of parents thinking about names for their baby aren't thinking further than the first few years.)

Other, more obscure diminutives with some traces in English include:

  • -ling (darling = little dear one, duckling = little duck, sterling = little star)
  • -let (starlet = little star, droplet = little drop, applet = little application)

The closest thing that English has to an actual productive diminutive affix (i.e. a suffix or prefix that you can still use to form new words almost freely) is probably the prefix mini-.


I understand meijse uses 'het' because of the '-je', but it doesnt really make sense to me why even though jongen doesnt have the '-je', you use de instead of het? Is jongen not still a dimunitive? Why does boy and girl use different forms of the?


In English, grammatical gender is all about meaning, but that's a relatively recent innovation. In Proto-Germanic it was just about grammatical form, and in Dutch it often still is because Dutch hasn't finished the transformation yet.

Diminutive isn't a generic term for words denoting small things or people; it's a technical term for such a word that only applies when it is formed from another by means of a regular transformation. In Dutch that means adding -je (or one of its variants depending on how the original word ends), or occasionally adding -ke or -lijn. Saying that jongen is a diminutive is a misunderstanding like saying that marriage is a conjunction, or that action and active are verbs.

Jong is an adjective meaning young, and de jongen is a derived noun meaning young one. Nouns derived from adjectives get either the natural gender of whatever they signify, or if there is an implied noun they can get the grammatical gender of that noun. Therefore, if jongen had started as a word for little children it might have started as a het word because het kind would have been implied. But it probably started as a word for young men, so natural gender and grammatical gender of the implied noun de man agreed that it should be masculine (which together with feminine became common gender in modern Dutch). So this is mostly about meaning, though form can play a role.

Diminutives are different. In them, the original principle that grammatical gender is determined by grammatical form is still strong.

It is also important to understand that diminutives are probably not common enough to influence the nature of the transformation from formal grammatical gender to natural gender. Nouns are unlikely to become het words just because they denote small people or animals, and if de words for small objects turn into het words, then it is only because they denote objects, not because of their smallness.


A boy will be called jongen and a young boy jongetje. A girl can be called meid (somewhat archaic) and a young girl meisje. More commonly a girl will be called 'meisje' and a young girl 'klein meisje'. Het meisje, het kleine meisje, de jongen, de kleine jongen, het jongetje.

Unnecessary extra info: Curiously 'meis' is used but as a 'vergrootwoord', the opposite of diminutive, of meisje. Women sometimes use this word among friends, 'meis, hoe is het?'. But I don't think it will ever get any pronoun in this use. Meid -> meisje -> meis Parents can refer to their children as 'kleine meid', something comparable to 'little man'.


What's a diminutive?


so it is just the same as in german, adding -chen suffix will always make the noun gender neutral. is that correct?


Yes, all German diminutives have neuter gender as well.


I think that meisje being diminutive takes precedence over it being a person


It is the same in German with Mädchen (lit. "little maid"). Even though this is a girl, adding -chen to the end of the word makes it a neuter noun: das Mädchen.


Here is a very good (I thought, very clear) explanation of the difference between "De" and "Het" and other marked and unmarked, stressed and unstressed pronouns: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3734337


Could it be eet instead of eten?


No, you have to use the plural form "eten". Using the singular "eet" would be like saying: "the girl and the boy eats rice."


Ohhh, ok, thanks! :)


As an english native speaker I know that doesn't sound right but I understand it and makes it sound like a person from a rural area said it. Would it be similar if talking to some one that is a native speaker or dutch? They would just think your from a rural area or would they just thin k your stupid because you don't know the grammar?


Good point. In that respect Simius' comparison wasn't perfect.

A little complication we have here is that in the sentence we have the boy and the girl, not the children. When two singulars are connected by and, the odds that someone uses the singular form of the verb are slightly increased (at least in my native German, and probably also in Dutch), though it's not correct.


Not in Dutch it is wrong


no, it wouldn't sound like a dialect, just lacking knowledge of grammar.. sorry :)


Unfortunately, here in the US, lacking knowledge of grammar is the basis of most regional dialects... :P


Could the second 'the' be optional e.g. "The girl and boy eat rice"?


I would think that the second "the" in English could be omitted. I don't know enough about Dutch grammar to tell you if the article could be omitted in Dutch but "The girl and boy eat rice." should be an alternate sentence in English.


As a native German speaker I am pretty confident that the second article in Dutch cannot be omitted because it's a different grammatical gender from the first one. As in German, Dutch girls have neuter gender because technically the words meisje and Mädchen are diminutives, whereas boys have common gender (in Dutch) or masculine gender (in Flemish and German) as expected, because the words jongen and Junge are not diminutives.

As a result, your English sentence "The girl and boy eat rice" can only be translated to Dutch by duplicating the definite article. It follows that it is in fact a correct English translation of the Dutch sentence.


Any chance of conjugation charts on mouseover? I know I can find them elsewhere on the net, but they are available in other languages on DL when learning the beginning levels

  • 461

We currently do not have that feature.

When it comes to features for incubated courses, these first have to be developed and can then be implemented universally. ^^


When eten gives "eat" and "eating" as acceptable translations, why is "eating" marked as incorrect?


Because it depends on context which of these translations is correct. Most hints are general ones just for the words, not adjusted for the context in which they appear.

  • "The girl and the boy eat rice." - Correct translation, though it's hard to think of a context in which this is the required translation. (Nevertheless I usually enter this kind of variant when I am on my Android phone, to save typing.)
  • "The girl and the boy are eating rice." - Correct translation, and the best in the most likely contexts.
  • "The girl and the boy eating rice." - Not a full sentence; makes sense in English as a description of a particular girl and boy (the ones who are eating rice). But since the Dutch sentence can't be read that way (in Dutch you can't drop the relative pronoun), it's not a correct translation.

Just eating on its own would e.g. be the correct translation of eten in this sentence:

  • "Eten is belangrijk." - "Eating is important."

Or it can appear in the Dutch progressive:

  • "Hij is rijst aan het eten." - "He is eating rice."


What is the difference between eet and eten?


The same as between am/are(singular)/is and are(plural)/be.


So "eten" is plural or is it sort of an "ing" form of "eat" in Dutch ?


It is both. And it's the infinitive, too:

  • Ik/jij/hij/zij eet. (singular)
  • Wij/jullie/zij eten. (plural)
  • aan het eten zijn (present participle)
  • Wil je eten? Eten is belangrijk! (infinitive)


Easy way to remeber boterham. Butter—ham. A butter ham sandwich ;P


I got it correct but what us the past tense form of eat in dutch

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'To eat' in the simple past is 'at' (singular) or 'aten' (plural).
This is the conjugation:

  • I ate = Ik at
  • You ate = Jij at
  • S/he/It ate = Zij/Hij/Hat at
  • We ate = Wij aten
  • You ate = Jullie aten
  • They ate = Zij aten


"Jongen" is plural, isn't it?


No, it just looks like one by accident. The plural of jongen is jongens.


Only if you are talking about animals.

De jongen eet rijst. vs De jongen (van de wolf) eten rijst. (you need context to distinguish and the correct form of the verb!)


From this question, i noticed that "het" was used for feminine and "de" was used for masculine...is that the case?

  • 461

No, 'meisje' is a diminutive and this is why it receives the article 'het'.

More information about the correct use of articles can be found here or elsewhere in this thread (scroll up). :)


I do not under stand the difference between "de" and ''het" can some one help.


For the plural it's always de. For the singular it's de for roughly two thirds of all words (common gender words) and het for the others (neuter gender words). The gender of words is just something you have to learn.


Why is it eten and not eet?


Because the boy and the girl together are two persons, hence plural. Eten is the infinitive, plural and progressive form of the verb.


Meisje is a het word because it was originally the diminutive of de meid (little maid). All diminutives are automatically het words. Jongen is a de word because it was originally something like de jonge man (young man). See also discussions elsewhere on this page.


Why would jongen change from boy to lad?


Why would you ask that question? What are you referring to? Jongen literally means young [one]. It's used for a wide range of ages, covering both boy and lad.


I couldn't hear the pronunciation of rijst,.What is the correct pronunciation of it? :)


im not a professional, but according to https://forvo.com/word/rijst/ , it's pronounced as "rest" or "raist" . I hope this helps !


you can repeat the sound if you just click on the speaker, and btw in english you don't really have the ij sound, just like how we say the g in another way than in english, so just practicing, practicing and practicing ;)


If we want to say "is eating", would it be is eet or is eten?


Dutch isn't just English with different words. It's a different language. Dutch for "He is eating" is normally just "Hij eet" (literal translation: "He eats"), or when you really want to stress the progressive aspect it's "Hij is aan het eten" (literal translation: "He is at the eating").


The girl and the boy are together two people. Therefore the plural form of the verb is required.

For all Dutch verbs, the (first, second, third person) plural present tense form is identical to the infinitive and to the present participle and gerund ('-ing form' in English).


Could this also be "The girl and the boy eats rice"


No, that's grammatically incorrect in English.


I had it wright and it said it was wrong then it corrected me with what i had said


For everyone confused about 'het meisje', het is used when you use a diminutive. Het meisje comes from de meid, but over time de meid got used less and less so now its het meisje, such as de appel (apple) and het appeltje or de tafel (tabel) and het tafeltje


The app is not working on recording sounds, it has been with this problem for three days


How to tell when to use eet or eten also it doesnt help that they spund exactly the same through this app


Eten is the infinitive and plural, eet is the singular.

Although the final n of eten is more or less silent, you should be able to hear the difference between eten and eet because even if the n is silent, eten is still pronounced with a final e that is not present in eet.

If you can't hear this difference, you need to deduce which it is by examining whether the subject of the sentence is singular or plural. (In this case it's plural, although the fact it's made up of two singulars can be confusing in this context.)


Why is it eten and not eet in this context?


The subject of this sentence is two singulars joined by en (= and). Globally, languages differ in how they deal with this situation, but in Dutch like in English and most other European languages, the subject is considered a plural in this case. (After all, it's two people.) That's why in English it is "The girl and the boy eat rice", not "... eats rice". Dutch simply does it exactly the same way and uses the plural form of the word. (Which in Dutch is always identical to the infinitive.)

With or instead of and it would be related but different problem, in which languages tend to use the singular more often.


You said type what You hear


When I hear the word jongen pronounced, to my ear it sounds like they are saying "human". Why is jongen pronounced like this?


That's probably just a technical problem on your side. A lot of words sound identical through the telephone even though they are clearly distinguishable with better audio quality.

Using my speaker for this sentence, I can hear what you mean. I can tell it's j not h, it's o not u, and it's ng not m. But it took playing the sentence repeatedly and listen very carefully to be sure.

Using my headphones instead, it's completely clear without any effort because the audio quality is so much better.


As usual the issue of "the"


I still dont get this


Hay gays am soooo happy and........... hhhhhhhhhh


My understanding of the English language is that singular is followed by plural verbs. Thus girl and boy eats rice


No, that's not how it works in English.

Maybe you are referring to the third person singular -s form of most English verbs as 'plural' because it looks like the plural -s of nouns? Better don't do that. It's terribly confusing because the two endings just look the same by accident and have pretty much opposite functions.

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