1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "We zitten aan het middageten…

"We zitten aan het middageten."

Translation:We are having lunch.

July 18, 2014



I've noticed quite a lot of continous constructions and this lesson is just for PREPOSITIONS. A bit advanced doncha tink? :3


This is not really a continous construction in Dutch, although it does look like one. Here "het middageten" is a noun, which is combined with the preposition "aan" to describe where we are (figuratively) sitting. One could also say "Wij zijn aan het lunchen", which is a continous construction, using "aan het" + infinitive.


Not quite, well it is half of a certain construction don't forget there are constructions that require verbs like zitten.

Evelien zit aandachtig te lezen = Evelien is reading carefully

So the fact it is half of the construction, it would be better off in another lesson.


Well yes, but your example uses te + infinitive, making it indeed a continuous construction. That is not what is happening here, and the idea of "half a construction" doesn't really make sense to me.

What about "Wij zitten aan tafel" = "We are sitting at the table"

Would that be appropriate for Prepostitions? I'm my opinion there is not much of a difference with this sentence.


I suppose so. It's like the thing with depuis in French being translated as past-tense in English.


why doesn't it accept "wij" is there a difference between wij and we ?


I have been wondering about this, too. If you listen to the slow version, it's easy to tell when they are saying we or wij, but in the regular speed version, they sound the same. I feel like they should probably accept both. We could suggest it.


From what I've gathered, the fact that they sound the same when spoken fast is how the unstressed (we/ze/je) forms came into being. When you're speaking fast — i.e., not emphasising the word — jij sounds like je, wij sounds like we, and zij sounds like ze. Thus they kinda became their own thing.


Yep, you're right. They don't even just sound like je/we/ze, but that's what we actually say when we're not stressing them. You mostly use jij/wij/zij (note: hij does not change in he) as a stressed form or in a more formal text, but they're not wrong in informal situations or when you don't want to stress them.


Interesting, I'd like to see a lesson on that or an example.. I listened in slow motion and also heard WE


In dictations, you are supposed to hear which it is. (Use the slow voice, because the fast voice probably mispronounces wij as we.) In all other cases, if we is accepted, wij should also be accepted.


Does this construction only work for meals? Could you say something like "We zitten aan het concert?" Or would it have to be "We zijn aan het concert?"


As Moos said somewhere above, you can say "we zitten aan tafel".


Couldn't this also mean "We are sitting on the lunch"?


I think that would be "we zitten op het middageten" where "op" is a spatial 'on'?


Aan is at, op is on. It's annoying how these little words are always so different even between closely related languages. (There are similar confusing differences between the various Romance languages.)


Not necessarily. Depending on the context, 'aan' could be 'on' and 'op' could be 'at'. There is no hard and fast rule.


Sure. But the prepositions still have primary meanings that are strong enough to allow us to say which corresponds to which in general, even if languages make different choices when several prepositions could do the job.


I think Amelia Bedelia would have a hard time in the Netherlands!


I hope not literally "sitting on the lunch". ;-)

From the other language material I use, it explains that "zitten" is used in some cases to mean "to be".


No reason to worry: aan = at, op = on.


more generally, is this lesson about preposition or more about how meaning of some verbs change with the proposition? like the English phrasal verbs? I saw the second exercise where the horen (to hear) + bij becomes "belong".. or I am just confused? thanks


Does middageten need the definitive article before it? To me this translates to "We sit at THE lunch" which sounds odd to me.

Can we not say "Wij zitten aan middageten"?


No, because Dutch is more regular than English in this respect. It's the day's uniquely determined lunch, so you would expect it to get a definite article. If you think about it, it is odd that in English we omit the definite article for activities that happen regularly every day.


This is a very literal translation though, which wouldn't be idiomatic English.

I can think of a context where there would be a definite article in English. Where a particular lunch, dinner is being referred to. For example: 'Are you going to the dinner after the conference?'.


The use of articles is one of those areas where languages tend to be highly idiosyncratic, as is preposition use. It's not uncommon for something that sounds completely wrong in one language to be the rule in another. There generally isn't much logic behind it either - you pretty much have to just learn these things by rote.


Literally "We are at the lunch."


Is "We sit down to lunch" a closer translation than "We are having lunch." ? That's what I think of.


No, this has already come up several times on this discussion page.

Sit down and to both imply a direction, so you can only say your English sentence at the beginning of lunch. Aan translates to at, by, so it is completely static. Most likely lunch is already in full progress, and in fact it may be nearly over.


Really? I didn't see it or I wouldn't have commented. However, thank you for explaining. ^_^


Can you say "We eten middageten"?. Would that not also mean "We are eating lunch"?


Okay I figured this out. One can use either zitten or zijn in this type of sentence http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/aan_het#Dutch Middageten in this case acts as an infinitive verb (can mean lunch or to have lunch, in this case the latter)


'Eten' can be both a verb and a noun, but 'middageten' or 'avondeten' are only nouns! See also the Simius' answer to Mattaes' question.


lol okay, so this is not a continuous aspect sentence. And 'aan het middageten' just means something like 'at lunch'


Why does the verb to sit now mean to have a meal?


It doesn't. The sentence means literally that we are sitting at the table, having lunch.


"aan de tafel zitten" - sitting at the table

  • 2681

We sit at lunch. Accepted 24 Aug 2014.


I'm remembering this as "We are at the lunch (hour)", although no one would say that in English.

"We are at lunch" is said in English. Would that be an acceptable translation? Or is "We zitten aan het middageten" not used in the same context as "We are at lunch."


Dumb question, but what does aan mean?


When there is no movement involved, as is the case here: at. With a movement: to.

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