"Zijn de kleuren hetzelfde?"
Translation:Are the colors the same?
Apparently when 'the same' is used as an adverb meaning 'gelijk', it has to be 'hetzelfde'.
It's not obvious to me as an English speaker why "Are they the same colours?" is not a good enough translation of this sentence. If there is a difference grammatically, I'm not aware of the fact.
It's the difference between a literal translation and an idiomatic one, I think. "Are they the same colours?" is the way I would probably generate this question myself, given the right circumstances (which puts stress on the word colours) while the question as it is given here puts the stress on the idea of sameness. At least, that's how it works in English - I'm no expert on Dutch and can't say if they move stress on words around as we do in English. However, I have Dutch friends whom I'm due to visit soon and will ask them.
I think "Are they the same colours?" would translate to "Zijn zij de zelfde kleuren?"
It is asking a question about the colors; are the colors the same? When you go buy paint to match something you already have, you want to insure the colors are the same. This is different than asking if two cars are the same color. In that case the things in question are the cars, are they the same color?