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  5. "Het dier heeft hersenen."

"Het dier heeft hersenen."

Translation:The animal has a brain.

July 30, 2014



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


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)


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


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.


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'...) :)


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?


Nope, 'breinen' is not used.

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


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.


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. ;)


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.


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?


Short answer: yes, that's common.

We say

"het dier heeft hersenen" and

"de dieren hebben hersenen" and

"we gebruiken de hersenen van de dieren".

Compare to

"het dier heeft een hart" and

"de dieren hebben (elk = each) een hart" and

"we gebruiken de harten van de dieren"

"Hersenen" is like 'jeans" in English: it only has one form, which is used for both singular and plural use.


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.


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.

[deactivated user]

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


    Hersenen is always plural.


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    I don't think people who eat meat deny the fact that animals have brains. Some even order those in restaurants.


    So the Dutch refer to brains in the plural similar to how guts is used in English?

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