1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Het dier heeft hersenen."

"Het dier heeft hersenen."

Translation:The animal has a brain.

July 30, 2014

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sofiarayol

does the dutch language use brain in singular too? because in this lesson it only appears in plural...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

Since this question has not been answered.

Hersenen/Hersens (both are valid) is both plural and singular. Similar to pants/trousers in English. Hence:

  • Ik heb hersens - I have a brain/I have brains (both are possible)
  • I have pants/trousers - Ik heb een broek/Ik heb broeken (both are possible)

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GC1998

Do you not need the word for 'a' in this sentence? Ik heb een hersenen/hersens?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grodmannen

No, you don't, since both words are only used in the plural and don't have a singular form (they are so called pluralia tantum). By the same logic, we cannot say "I have a pants" in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xMerrie
Mod
  • 39

As an addition to El2thek:

We also have the word 'brein' (het brein), which is singular. (But then again, it doesn't have a plural other than 'hersenen/hersens'...) :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grodmannen

Isn't "breinen" used?

Also, what are the main differences in usage between "hersenen", "hersens" and "brein"? Which one is most likely used to be used in a scientific context, for example?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xMerrie
Mod
  • 39

Nope, 'breinen' is not used.

I'd say 'hersenen' is most used, but it depends on the region.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blackleaf42

Hmm, I do see "breinen" used here and there though. For example in (scientific) articles where the writers choose to use the word "brein" throughout, they also often use the corresponding plural. Or for the fixed phrase "het brein achter" ("the brains behind") I sometimes also see the plural used ("Wie zijn de breinen achter de aanslagen?" = "Who are the brains behind the attacks?").

Otherwise, as it often goes with synonyms (apart from fixed phrases), in some sentences one of the options may simply "sound better" to whoever is saying them, so there aren't really any hard and fast rules I'm afraid xD.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

The website does give the plural breinen: http://www.vandale.nl/opzoeken?pattern=Brein&lang=nn#.VnWdUejTVSA

However, in every day use breinen is hardly used in my personal experience.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xMerrie
Mod
  • 39

According to my dictionary (van Dale), 'brein' does not have a plural form, so 'wie zijn de breinen' should be 'wie is het brein', even when there are more people involved. ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sim_schi

This question is not answered so far. You are only answering the other way around. So: Is it usual in dutch to say "Het dier heeft hersenen", when one means that the animal has a brain?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hamishNL

This confuses me, also.

The English translations where "brain" should be used are ridiculous. In English, the only way an individual person or animal has more than one brain would be if the brains came from other biological entities. The only humans who would have "brains" would be those who work in medical or veterinary science and serial killers.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SebastianChw

Actually, I don't believe it is that hard to grasp the use of brains in English.

For once, as a more archaic sense of the term, it can mean intelligence/smarts, which would be a completely legitimate meaning in the context of this sentence. The animal did not fall into the trap, but still got the bait. It has brains.

Also, there are some popular idioms which use the word: beat/rack one's brains out, blow one's brains (i.e. to shoot in the head) and pick someone's brains.

A little farther is the informal meaning of leader: He was the brains of the operation, with a clear metaphorical reference to the cerebral organ.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexiDomin3

Why isn't "Ik heb een hersenen" acceptable?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

Hersenen is always plural.

Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.