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  5. "The animal has a short horn."

"The animal has a short horn."

Translation:Het dier heeft een korte hoorn.

July 17, 2014



Het dier heeft een korte hoorn.

Here I thought when there was an 'een' then it would be 'kort' unless hoorn would get a 'de'. But why would 'hoorn' get the 'de' and not the 'het'?


"Hoorn" is a de-word (it is masculine or feminine, not neuter). It is always "de hoorn", and as such the adjective gets an -e, even if the article is indefinite.


It's one of those nouns whose genders are extremely tricky for people who already know German. In German, Horn is always of neuter gender. In Dutch, the material hoorn is neuter and the animal organ or musical instrument is masculine (common gender). Therefore, even a quick look into a dictionary may not be sufficient to realise the difference in gender between German and Dutch.

These distinctions seem to be very common in Dutch. I can't think of even one in German.


It took me a while to realize that I was looking at it in the wrong way. Thanks for your explanation.


Why is it "het dier" and not "de dier"?


In general, it's not possible to predict the genders of Dutch nouns with any certainty. Although there are some categories of nouns that tend to be de words, and others that tend to be het words, in general, you must learn the gender of each word individually. De words mostly correspond to masculine or feminine nouns in German, and het words mostly correspond to neuter nouns in German. Whereas in German all three genders have approximately equal frequency, in Dutch, de words are twice as frequent as het words. Therefore it's generally a good bet that an unknown noun is a de word; but dier just happens not to be one.

This is why, when learning a language with noun gender, you should always learn nouns along with the definite article or whatever else is required (indefinite article, example adjective, ...) to tell you which gender it is. I.e., you should learn this:

  • het dier = the animal

not this:

  • dier = animal.

The effort involved is practically the same. When learning in this way, learning the genders is hardly any additional work.


Could someone please explain why 'kort' is not good? Or in some other sentences you have to use 'snelle' instead of 'snel' thanks fo the answers in advance:)


You add endings to adjectives that have directly preceded nouns. If one were to say a sentence with adjective after nouns, you'd ignore the ending. e.g. 'Goede hondje' or 'een hondje is goed'. Endings vary, like in 'Snel - Snel+le' though, the general ending is 'e' in most cases. You do not apply this adjective preceding rule to 'het' nouns, but do apply it to all plural words. It's kind of complicated.


Why klein is not possible?


Klein means little, and kort means short. The animals have a little horn doen'st sound really good

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