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?
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)
But in this particular case, how does one know whether the question is "Does he speak any English?" or "Does he speak only English?"
"Does he speak any English?", does he only speak English would be "Spreekt hij alleen (maar) Engels"
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....!
The people who use "enigste" when it should be "enige" are usually dialect speakers and then its meaning is only, not cutest.
What is the correct translation if I wanna say: "Does he only speak English?"
Since "only" is a possible translation of "enig", in what cases does "enig" mean "only" instead of "any"?
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 :)
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)
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".
So can enig(e) mean both 'few' and 'any'? I've been marked wrong on numerous occasions by confusing the two.
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?
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
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.
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?"
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.
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:
- NOS: https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2086913-oud-ministers-van-integratie-beleid-ontbreekt.html
- NRC: https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/04/09/interesseert-het-ons-uberhaupt-1364830-a1320324
- Volkskrant: https://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/kan-de-coalitie-vvd-d66-cda-en-christenunie-uberhaupt-wel-tegenspoed-verdragen~a4511341/
- Financieel Dagblad: https://fd.nl/ondernemen/1193931/ageas-vecht-om-fortis-boek-te-kunnen-sluiten
- AD: http://www.ad.nl/tv-en-radio/gevecht-mcgregor-mayweather-tenoacute-ch-te-zien-in-nederland~a6090a42/
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.
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.
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?