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  5. "Wij houden van hen."

"Wij houden van hen."

Translation:We love them.

July 17, 2014



Jesus! How could I distinguish "Wij houden van hem" (we love him) and "Wij houden van hen" (we love them)?


That makes us two... Lets hope someone can come with a good explanation


How about this:

In some English dialects the h's are more or less random anyway. Let's ignore them and write [h] at the beginning of every English pronoun that starts with h or a vowel.

  • [h]e = [h]ij
  • she = zij
  • we = wij
  • [h]it = het
  • [h]im = hem
  • them = hen/hun (the only tricky one!)

So, if you know that it=het, then very obviously him=hem. This leaves only them for pairing with hen/hun. The reason this pairing is much less obvious is that these words are not actually cognates. Rather, them is a cognate of old-fashioned Dutch den, as in Den Haag, and of German den/dem.


Thanks for the explanation, but at least for me was that the sound between hem and hen its almost impossible to diferentiate.


HEM is pronounced more like 'him', while HEN is pronounced like 'hen/hem'. So if you hear an ee (heem) its him and if you hear an eh (heh-n) its hen.


I think the issue is that while in English m and n are different sounds, it's practically never necessary to distinguish them in order to understand what exactly is being said. There are of course words where it makes a difference (e.g. then vs. them, hen vs. hem, Hun vs. hum, Norse vs. Morse), but these words are always so different that in context there can be no doubt which one is meant even if it's pronounced with the wrong consonant.

As hearing the difference is not important for understanding spoken English, it makes sense if some native speakers of English treat the two as equivalent. I would actually expect this to happen with many people whose parents barely distinguish between the two sounds in their pronunciation.


Agree, my problem is also how to tell them from each other while listening. That's frustrating.


"We like them" was not accepted. Isn't that a possible translation?


When 'houden van' is used with a specific person (or more persons) as the object, the meaning is most likely 'to love'.

Technically it's probably not wrong to translate 'to like someone' as 'houden van iemand', but it just sounds a bit weird... (because 'houden van' has the love connotation).

An exception would be when you're referring to non-specific persons: 'wij houden van artiesten': 'we like artists' (the love connotation is not present there).

The same goes with an animal as the object:

  • Specific: 'Wij houden van onze hond': 'we love our dog'.
  • Non-specific: 'Wij houden van honden': 'we like dogs'.

When 'houden van' is used with something inanimate as the object, it means 'to like': 'Wij houden van kaas': 'we like cheese'.


Similar case with the verb "aimer" (means: to love) in French.


I think so too


In this sentence, can hun/hen be used interchangeably?


No, because "hun" is usually a replacement for a preposition + hen, like "aan/voor hen", or as a possessive pronoun. Although this is a commonly made mistake, "hun" is not correct here.


This might be a dumb question, but what is "van" in "houden van"? I originally thought it would count as a preposition, and it is obviously not that...


'houden van' means love when you talk about a specific person, but you can think about it the same way you say "I care ABOUT xyperson" You don't say "I care Susan,' you say "i care ABOUT susan." So as vam1980 says it is a preposition that always goes with houden for this meaning.


Actually 'van' is a preposition here!


In theory, no. In practice, they can always be used interchangeably. See here.


What is the difference between hen , hun

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