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  5. "Spreekt hij enig Engels?"

"Spreekt hij enig Engels?"

Translation:Does he speak any English?

July 18, 2014


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Is enig and enige two different words?

"Hij is de enige jongen" = He is the only child

"Spreecht hij enig Engels" = Does he speak any English

  • are there any optional translation for these sentences?
July 18, 2014


The only reason 'enig' is sometimes written as 'enige' is because of the rules for inflection of adjectives.

But 'enig' is a word with a few different meanings:

It means something like 'cute' in sentences like:

  • Wat een enig hondje! (What a cute little dog!)

It means 'only' in sentences like:

  • Dit zijn de enige kleren die ik heb (These are the only clothes I have)

And it can mean 'some' in sentences like:

  • Enig medelijden, alsjeblieft! (Some empathy, please!)

So 'Hij is de enige jongen' is in the second category while 'Spreekt hij enig Engels?' is in the third one.

As a side note: Many Dutch people say 'enigste' when they should be saying 'enige'. This changes the meaning of the sentence a lot:

  • Hij is de enige jongen = He is the only boy
  • Hij is de enigste jongen = Hij is de meeste enige jongen (He is the cutest boy)
July 18, 2014


But in this particular case, how does one know whether the question is "Does he speak any English?" or "Does he speak only English?"

October 22, 2014


"Does he speak any English?", does he only speak English would be "Spreekt hij alleen (maar) Engels"

October 29, 2015


I thought ''enig'' was used just in negatives questions like in english, but now I see you wrote the sentense '''Enig medelijden, alsjeblieft!'' and I think I don't understand nothing about that....!

January 13, 2015


The people who use "enigste" when it should be "enige" are usually dialect speakers and then its meaning is only, not cutest.

March 26, 2016


maybe with de =only without de = any ??

October 30, 2017


Very, very confusing indeed, this one.

March 19, 2015


Especially if you've done Danish.

June 27, 2015


What is the correct translation if I wanna say: "Does he only speak English?"

September 20, 2014


Spreekt hij alleen Engels?

November 17, 2014


Since "only" is a possible translation of "enig", in what cases does "enig" mean "only" instead of "any"?

January 22, 2015


It depends on the context, I'm afraid.. when the context isn't clear, even Dutch people will have to ask what is meant, so no worries :)

March 26, 2016


What is the basic difference between 'enig' and 'enige'?

March 20, 2015


As in many other words in Dutch (especially adjectives), you have to add this extra "-e" in the end of the word according to the word it refers to. The basic rule is: If it's a de-word, you add the extra -e. If it's a het-word, you don't add.

There are other rules and exceptions, though -- In the "Adjectives Basics" lesson, there's a complete guide about it: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/dn/Adjective-Basics. I suppose the same rules apply to the pronouns we're studying in this lesson as well =) (please, someone correct me if I'm wrong)

April 27, 2015


Correct add 'e' before 'de' nouns

October 21, 2015


"does he speak only English" is unacceptable! why?!

September 18, 2014


Because "Does he speak only English" is a question if English is the only language he speaks, whereas the meaning of Dutch sentence is "if he speaks English at all".

July 28, 2015


So can enig(e) mean both 'few' and 'any'? I've been marked wrong on numerous occasions by confusing the two.

October 11, 2015


I'm hoping a moderator will answer this question - do enig, elk and enkel all have the same rule? That is to say, 'enig', 'elk' and 'enkel' for 'het' words, 'enige', 'elke' and 'enklele' for 'de' words? Obviously these three words have their own individual uses, but is this the basis for including them on the same unit?

April 8, 2016


The extra e counts for all Dutch adjectives,

Een kleine jongen

De kleine jongen

De kleine jongens

Een klein huis

Het kleine huis

De grote huizen

April 9, 2016


Thanks a lot for your response. This makes sense but weinig and veel seem to be exceptions to this rule which makes the indefinite pronoun unit confusing! It'd seem enig, elk and enkel follow the standard adjective rule though. Thanks for the help.

April 9, 2016


That is because weinig and veel can take on one of three roles in a sentence, none of which are "adjective" - determiner, pronoun, adverb. Hence why they are introduced in the indefinite pronoun unit and not the adjective unit. Determiners inflect in a different way than adjectives (in this case, they get the "-e" ending in the definite usage, ex. weinig jongens - few boys, de weinige jongens - the few boys)

Additionally, enig (among others) can be either a determiner (as it is used in this sentence) or an adjective (as it is used in some of the examples above in this discussion). The inflection for enig as a determiner is with the "-e" ending in all usages except when the noun is neuter. When used as an adjective, the normal rules apply.

It is unfortunate that a lot of the discussions on this site lead people to confusion by citing the "adjective rules" for words that do not function as adjectives in the sentence in question. :-/

Edit: One other point - enig only means "only"/"single" when it is used as an adjective. Therefore this sentence, in which enig is a determiner, can never be translated as "Does he speak only English?" but only "Does he speak any/some English?"

January 19, 2017


Finally! Thanks, that was very clear.

May 12, 2017


Why isn't "Does he speak English at all?" right?

April 28, 2016


That'd be something like "Spreekt hij überhaupt Engels".

April 28, 2016


isn't it a German word??

October 27, 2016


Yes it is..mixing languages (uberhaupt is a German word).

August 15, 2017



Überhaupt is also used in Dutch.

August 16, 2017


Really?!! Having lived in The Netherlands for several years I never heard it. Is it possible it is used along the German border or in the Maastricht area and not in the rest of the country. I lived in Arnhem, Appeldoorn, Hilversum, Alkmaar, and Gouda. I never heard it used.

August 16, 2017


It has nothing to do with being close to the border or not. The word has been used in the Netherlands (the entire country) for quite some time now (at least more than 100 years) and if you just classify überhaupt as "German" here you can also get rid of quite a few words we use that originate from French and other languages..

Since you said you lived in the Netherlands I'm sure you are familiar with the following sources:

August 16, 2017


I stand corrected. I looked at the articles and saw it is certainly used. I guess I'll throw out my Kramers Engels Woorden Boek since it doesn't have that word in it.

August 16, 2017


Why does only not work? Isn't it a valid translation of enig?

July 1, 2016


Because einig means "only" when it is used as an adjective, not when it's used as a determiner, in which case it means "any".

Thus you must pay attention to the grammatical role the word has in a given sentence: in this exercise it's functioning as a determiner.

May 12, 2017


Sorry, I misspelled it: enig.

May 12, 2017


I have a doubt, How would you differentiate between " does he have some idea? " and " does he have any idea ? " . The latter option has a bit more of negative and condescending tone to it. So how would you phrase these two lines in Dutch?

October 5, 2016


Heeft hij een idee? Heeft hij enig idee?

May 12, 2017


Why is doea he speak little english wrong ?

September 7, 2017
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