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  5. "If you do not have it, then …

"If you do not have it, then where is the bag?"

Translation:Als jij hem niet hebt, waar is de tas dan?

July 26, 2014



Word order is making me tear my hair out. I have read the explanation of all the different word orders and where they go (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3733010), and I still end up with things like

Als hebt je het niet, dan waar de tas is?

No matter how many times I practice, I get any sentences involving these problems, starting around conjunctions, wrong about half the time, even when I know the sentences almost by heart because I've practiced so many times.

I try to follow the weird exception rules, but I guess the wrong weird exception often enough that I might as well be guessing at random. It's very frustrating.

Does anyone have advice on a more systematic way to try to understand this? I feel like a piece of my brain must be broken.

April 12, 2015


Gement, you need to be able to tell the difference between a subordinate clause and a main clause. In the example you wrote, "Als hebt je het niet, dan waar de tas is", you have mistakenly treated the "Als" clause like a main clause and the "waar is dan" clause like a subordinate clause.

How to tell the difference?

  1. A subordinate clause usually begins with one of the words that are known as "subordinating conjunctions". You can find a list of those in most Dutch (or English) grammars.

  2. In contrast, a main clause begins with no conjunction at all, or with a coordinating conjunction. There are relatively few coordinating conjunctions in Dutch (or English) so it may be easier to memorize those than to memorize the subordinating conjunctions.

  3. As a rule of thumb, a main clause can stand by itself as a sentence, whereas a subordinate clause would be incomplete on its own. So, for example, "Where is the bag?" could be a sentence on its own, so it is a main clause here. But with "If you do not have it" the thought is not complete, a sign that that is a subordinate clause.

  4. Don't make the mistake of thinking that here the clause beginning with "If" must be the main clause because it comes first. That is not so. A subordinate clause can come at the beginning, middle, or end of a Dutch (or English) sentence.

December 8, 2018


Thank you for this explanation. I would imagine this is what is causing most people problems.

December 10, 2018


Thank you so much for this enlightenment, sir!!

March 12, 2019


i will print this out and stick it on my wall. thank you kind sir.

September 3, 2019


Thank you so much

August 25, 2019


It's heb je, not hebt je because you take away the T when the verb comes before je/jij.

It's "waar is de tas" because it's a question. Verb comes before the noun, same as in English.

The placement of "dan" is harder. I guess you just put it at the end in Dutch. Word order does my head in too, but I've been slowly getting better! Just keep practising!?

August 22, 2015


I guess it's because otherwise you end up with waar and tas (two elements) before the verb, and the verb needs to occupy second position. I think. I'm sure someone will correct me if this is wrong.

March 12, 2018


I really struggled with word order but signed up to an online course (learndutch.org) which explained it all brilliantly - and provided a neat summary table so you know. It cost money but was well worth it. I don't get it right all the time but at least I have some idea. There are basically three situations 1) standard word order (I have ...) 2) inverted word order (have I ... instead of I have...) 3) subclause word order (I...[other words]... have)

It depends on the conjunction and the order of the sentence. There are five conjunctions which don't change word order. To make it confusing a few of the conjuctions have different meaning if used with inversion or subclause word order.

In this example you have subclause word order in the first half of the sentence because of "als".

May 19, 2018


There's also a good website called http://www.dutchgrammar.com/

August 28, 2018


I had exactly the same problem as you and struggled for a long time to understand why I was making mistakes and when to use which word order etc.

I found two particularly good sources of information that helped me learn the rules and now I am much less likely to make mistakes.

I also feel that I get a lot more out of Duolingo now as it is reinforcing the rules I have learnt rather than simply an exercise in learning the right answer for the particular phrase. Best of all, Dutch friends say they have noticed the improvements in my conversation, which I guess is the whole point of learning a new language.

1) this website is free and easy to use http://www.dutchgrammar.com/ It includes a grammar book - available online free or downloadable for a small fee 2) The other is this https://www.learndutch.org/ You can access some resources for free or pay for the (excellent) course materials, tests etc for between 50 and 100 Euros depending on what you select. It is very strong on grammar which is what I felt I needed.

( I should say that I'm not in any way associated with that website. I just stumbled across it)

August 28, 2018


You need to know when you're in a main clause and when you're in a subordinate clause. In the first, if the clause doesn't begin with the subject, then the subject and verb swap positions. In the second, the verb is moved to the end of the clause. It's the same in German, but not English except in such phrases as 'Seldom have I seen...'.

June 30, 2019


Why is "it" "hem" here? Why not "het"?

July 26, 2014


Because "tas" is a de-word. See here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3852773

July 26, 2014


Duo didn't tell me my sentence was wrong because of "het", it didn't underline the word, but it did mark me wrong for " dan waar is" in stead of "waar is dan"

So now I am curious... "Het" is definitely wrong here, right? And "dan waar is" is the wrong word order?

October 1, 2014


Yes, "dan waar" is wrong word order. The verb in a main clause must be second element. See comments elsewhere on this page.

November 17, 2018


So, does that mean you can't know if "hem" means "it" or "him" until you reach the noun near the end of the sentence? For example: "Als jij hem niet hebt, waar is de jongen dan?"

May 28, 2018


That's right, you don't know at first what "hem" refers to. On the other hand, the feeling that it is important to know right away whether it refers to a person or a thing is a feeling that an English speaker might have, but perhaps not a Dutch (or German) speaker.

November 17, 2018


Is it wrong if I say “Als jij haar niet hebt”? I know “de tas” from German as “die Tasche”.

May 17, 2017


If the word uses "de" then use "hem"

If the word uses "het" then use "het"

Example: De tas Uses "hem"

Het water Uses "het"

April 22, 2019
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