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How to differentiate between masculine/feminine nouns and neuter ones?

Are the genders of the nouns based on their actual gender? So if I want to call a table's gender, it's neither feminine/masculine? By the way, I also would like to say thank you a lot to the incubation team. You guys rock! :)

July 18, 2014



OK. I went on that thread and also on this one (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3732923) and I still have a question... So I learned which are the "het" nouns and I know all the other ones take "de". But some "de" nouns are feminine and others are masculine. No problem if you are using the noun, but what if you want to use a pronoun? De tafel is hoog = Ze is hoog OF Hij is hoog? Ik zie de tafel = ik zie ze OF hij?


I see the (wo)man. (S)he is tall. The glass is his/hers. It is his/her glass.
Ik zie de vrouw. Zij is lang. Het glas is van haar. Het is haar glas.
Ik ze de man. Hij is lang. Het glas is van hem. Het is zijn glas.

Funny you mention 'tafel', since it not just masculine or feminine, it is both! If there is no obvious biological gender in such occasions (like there can be with the word 'president', which also carries both genders), either option can be used. Generally the masculine option is preferred in such cases though.

Ik zie de tafel. Hij is hoog. Ik zie hem. Het zijn zijn poten.


Thanks. Have a lingot!


If you're referring to masculine or feminine nouns with no obvious gender, no one will raise an eyebrow if you say e.g. "Hij is hoog". It's the same in English.

"Ik zie ze" is not used (unless you're trying to say: I see them), nor is "Ik zie hij". Instead, you say: "Ik zie hem" (de nouns) or "Ik zie haar" (de nouns) or "Ik zie het" (het nouns).

TL;DR: De tafel is hoog. Hij is hoog. ik zie hem (staan).


Thanks. I did not know the forms of the direct object pronouns.

I am still unclear, mainly because of your comparison with English. In the sentences here, we'd say in English: "The table is tall (or high?). It is tall. I see it." So we would most likely use "it". "He" or "she" is only used in special cases when referring to objects. Of a regular table you are looking to buy, you'd not likely say: "I see him. He is tall."

So my question is: if you are choosing a table to buy in Dutch, I point it out to you. Do you say: "Ik zie hem. Inderdaad. Hij is hoog"? Or would you rather say: "Ik zie het. Inderdaad het is hoog"?

Dank u!

PS: What does "TL;DR" stand for?


Sorry for the confusion. The way 'it' is used in English for words that aren't obvious masculine or feminine, in Dutch 'hij' is often used. 'het' Can be used as well, there isn't really a rule for when to use 'hij' or 'het'.

You can use the feminine 'zij' but it's rarely used. People will find it a bit weird but not consider it incorrect.

TL;DR means 'too long, didn't read'

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