For those of you who may be confused (I was!!!) as to when to use onze and when to use ons for the pronoun ''our''.......Dutch grammar says: Ons (our) is inflected according to the noun it precedes. A de-noun gets onze, a het-noun ons. All plurals nouns use de so, by definition, plural nouns always us onze.
Thanks! Klein bier sounds very vaguely familiar to me in this sense, but at first I didn't understand why, as I don't think it's a common idiom in German. Uitmuntend translates klein bier to German as kleine Fische, which is a common idiom in German but probably not in Dutch.
In English, small ale or small beer refers to a beer with little alcohol, but apparently the Brits also use small beer in this idiomatic way. So I guess there is a trans-Channel connection.
Actually we also have kleine vis and grote vis, which basically means a small/big player in whatever you're discussing, I think this is used in English as well: the police arrested a pick-pocket, who was a small fish in a criminal organisation. Similar to a big fish in a small pond and a small fish in a big pond which we use in Dutch as well. It is close to klein bier, but not quite (also there is no groot bier probably because the Germans already finished all of that).
Is this kleine vis/grote vis the same as the kleine Fische you refer to?
German does have kleiner Fisch and großer Fisch in this sense, but I was talking about a different though closely related sense that only exists in the plural. At least I think it's different because "Pah, kleine Fische!" is a widely used full sentence and it seems to refer figuratively to an entire catch of small fish, or in English: of small fry. (An alternative English translation according to dict.leo.org is small potatoes.) Introspectively, when I hear kleiner Fisch or großer Fisch, the idea of actual fish, while not exactly close, is considerably closer than when I hear kleine Fische. I think kleine Fische in this sense is used almost exactly like klein bier.
Just as a cultural note the British idiom small beer is derived from a time (maybe around the 17th century I'm not sure) virtually everyone including children drank low-alcoholic (or as you say small beer) because water supplies were too dirty). That being said, I'm not sure why the idiomatic meaning came about
Hope this helps!
I see that you're learning Italian as well, so I'll compare it with Italian:
If you use the wrong article (in any language) people will think your knowledge of the language is rather basic and that you're still a beginner. I assume no-one will look down on you, since you're a foreigner learning their language, thus it's only normal that you make mistakes.
There are some guidelines you can follow to decide whether you should use de or het, which you can check here:
Relax! If you study hard, it'll become easier (I guess we'll never be error-free in this area, but it will get better).