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"De meisjes schrijven hun een boek."

Translation:The girls write them a book.

August 9, 2014



Very unusual English. Potentially confusing.


Not as unusual. It all depends on where one happens to be. Substitute something other than book.

"The girls cook them a meal." = "The girls are cooking them a meal."

"The girls are writing them a speech." = "The girls write them a speech."

"The girls are cooking them a waffle." = "The girls cook them a waffle."

Here where I live in Northern New Jersey (USA) all these plus variations in singular /plural and tense are all very common.

Ex. In the diner, the waitresses asked them, "What kind of sandwich do you want us to make you?" (plural) They say, "Make us (a) Taylor Ham." The waitresses are making them (a) Taylor Ham (sandwich).

Quite often when we mean the quantity of one the word "a" is not said but implied, depending on the spoken flow of the phrase or sentence.

A SIDE NOTE: In the previous example "a Taylor Ham Sandwich" is shortened to just "Taylor Ham". This particular meat is more like a kind of sausage. It is almost unique to New Jersey and some towns along bordering states. Taylor Ham or Taylor's Ham is only said in the Northern parts of New Jersey. In parts of the Central region and in South New Jersey the same meat is called Pork Roll.

Concluding, Grammatically "The girls write them a book." or "The girls are writing them a book.", are correct and in current use in New Jersey and in parts of adjacent New York (city).


I wish Duo would include more Taylor Ham Sandwich (THS) sentences, it makes everything so clear and easy to understand


It is 'hen', not 'hun'. 'Hun' is widely used in spoken Dutch in The Netherlands, but linguistically 'hen' is vastly superior in written language.


In the sentence DL gives us here, "een boek" is the direct object, and "hun" is being used as an indirect object. So the debate over whether to use "hun" as a direct object does not really apply. Many authorities say that the indirect object is "hun", and that is what DL uses as the indirect object here.


It's either 'aan hun' or 'hen' in this case.


I think you have it backwards. It is either "aan hen" or "hun" (that is, in English, either "to them" or "them" (as indirect object). Example:
Ik heb de informatie aan hen gegeven.
Ik heb hun de informatie gegeven.

My comments above pertain to standard written Dutch at the university level. Spoken Dutch and regional Dutch may differ in their use of "hen" vs. "hun".

The word "hun" is also used to mean "their" (possessive pronoun). There is no controversy about that. The controversy is over whether to use "hun" as the direct and/or the indirect object and/or the object after prepositions.


I remember it like this since I asked my Dutch professor in university specifically about this. In highschool I was taught that we use 'hun' if it's an indirect object, but when I asked him about it, he said only if 'aan' or 'voor' actually precedes it. So the opposite of what you're saying now. But I guess he made a mistake back then. Thank you.


I'm no expert, but I don't recognise "write them a book" as making sense in English. I would expect it to be "write themselves a book"


The translation cannot be 'themselves' because that's a reflexive pronoun (hun is not a reflexive pronoun). But you specifically said your issue was with the English, so I'll focus on that instead.

It is indeed correct English, and actually more like how it would have been in Old English as well (and by Old English, I mean way back when the language was still very Germanic). "To write someone something" is the same as "to write something to someone". This is an example of how word order carries with it morphological information in English, whereas other languages with inflectional morphology will likely mark/change the pronoun in some way (like with German for example).

It is probably the case that whatever dialect of English you speak/are around (assuming you're a native English speaker; sorry if I'm wrong about that) doesn't typically use this construction. I'd even say that most dialects will not really use it. It is much more literary and poetic to phrase it this way, but that does not change the fact that it is correct English.


The construction is still current in American English, but you will see "write them a letter" much more often than "write them a book".


Colin, both "they write them a book" and "they write themselves a book" are correct English, but they mean different things.

In the first instance, they are writing the book on behalf of other people, in the second instance on behalf of themselves.


Wait, are the direct object pronouns the same as the indirect object pronouns in dutch? I may have gotten the correct answer, but I was assuming this skill would be about direct object pronouns as indirect objects tend to trip people up more.


The direct object pronoun is hen or hun. The Dutch language regulator prefers hen but also acknowledges that it isn't used as much as hun. Hen was artificially created by a grammarian because he wanted Dutch to be more like Latin. Most people will use hun, even in formal context.


While that's incredibly interesting (because I love learning about how languages have evolved over time and if I wasn't studying to be an astrophysicist I'd definitely be a linguist), hun is definitely being used as an indirect object here. Though I did just reread the tips and notes section for the skill and saw the note that explained that "After the indirect object, you use hun."

The only thing left for me to know is if the rest of the object pronouns in that table are also indirect object pronouns, not just direct object pronouns. But I greatly appreciate the knowledge and assistance anyway :-]


The distinction (as far as I know) between direct and indirect object pronouns is only present between hun/hen. The other object pronouns can be used as either direct or indirect objects.


In the sentence DL gives us here, "een boek" is the direct object, and "hun" is being used as an indirect object. So the debate over whether to use "hun" as a direct object does not really apply. Many authorities say that the indirect object is "hun", and that is what DL uses as the indirect object here.


'Hun' is and always has been a possessive pronoun, like 'hun kat, hun boek'. It is grammatically absolutely incorrect to translate 'them' into 'hun'. It should be 'hen', even when some parts of the Netherlands say 'hun'. One should learn a language properly and not what is common in certain regions.


How do you write someone a book?


"to write someone a book" means to write a book intended for someone or on behalf of someone. Compare: I baked him a pie.


I thought "hun" was "their"? But now "hun" is "their" and "them"?! I thought "hen" was "them"? Confused :(


"hun" and "hen" mean the same and both refer to "them". "Ik geef hun een boek". "Le'ts help them" is "Laten we hen helpen" (hen is interchangeble with hun, not the other way around)

"hun" can also be a posessive pronoun in which it means "their": "their book" is "hun boek"

So you are right and maybe you already knew all this, but it might be good to write it out

And oh ... it's also confusing to a lot of Dutch people, so ...


geen goed nederlands! de meisje schrijven een boek voor hen.


When I play the slow version, right after she says schrijven it sounds like Ze breekt de wind! I am using the Android app version 4.53.3 on my OnePlus 5 Phone. Does anyone else hear that?


Meisje is the diminutive of meid which means girl.


Thanks for the tip! I knew that, I was just referencing a book it reminded me of.


In spite of what is being said, the only correct Dutch here is 'hen', not 'hun'. A pity Duo still contains an error like this.


Even dutch natives like me have dificulty with "hen" and "hun", so don't worry.


ark5731, in the sentence DL gives us here, "een boek" is the direct object, and "hun" is being used as an indirect object. So the debate over whether to use "hun" as a direct object is irrelevant. Many agree that the indirect object is "hun", and that is what DL uses as the indirect object here.


What is the difference between "hun" and "ze" ??


In this context, it is like the difference between "them" and "they". Note: "hun" can also be used as "their", like in "hun boek" (their book).


actually in this context, ze and hun would both mean 'them', and be interchangeable


In standard English in England we would be most likely to say "write a book for them" : though we do say " write them a letter". Language is fun isn't it!


Just commenting cause i wanna see how many numbers appear right next to my dutch flag hehe


Any hun/hen difference articles around duolingo? Just got similar, sentence and it had hen for the same purposes... (them)


What exactly is the "similar sentence" you mention?

Keep in mind that English "them" can be translated both by "hun" and by "hen", depending on its role in the sentence. If the "them" is an indirect object, then "hun"; if it is a direct object, or the object of a preposition, then "hen".


I understand it better now, after checking more phrases and comments, I was mistaken in my appreciation to the other sentence, I still need to practice though, thanks for the reply!


Ion, do you speak Dutch? Then you know there's 'The green book of the Dutch spelling'. It says that 'hun' is always a possessive pronoun. 'Hun' never stands on its own; it always needs an independent pronoun, like in 'hun boek' or 'hun huis' or 'hun sokken'. 'Hen' is a personal pronoun and it refers to a person or a group of persons. You can use 'hen' as an indirect object and with or without a prespositon, like in 'De meisjes schrijven hen een boek = De meisjes schrijven aan hen een boek' or 'De jongens geven hen een sok = De jongens geven aan hen een sok'. To use 'hun' instead of 'hen' is a degradation of the Dutch language. In short: their = hun (their book = hun boek) and them = hen (I write them a letter = ik schrijf (aan) hen een brief).


Speldje, are you Dutch? Then you know that the correct use of hen/hun is a controversial subject, especially among the Dutch themselves.

Everyone agrees that "hun" is used as a possessive adjective meaning "their". There is no controversy about that. The controversy is about the correct use "hen" vs. "hun" as personal pronouns.

One position is the one taken in your post -- namely, that "hun" is only a possessive adjective meaning "their", and that "hen" should be used in all other cases -- namely, as the direct object, the indirect object, and the object following a preposition, all meaning "them".

But there are other positions. For example, in his "Dutch: A comprehensive grammar" (Routledge), Bruce Donaldson states: "The official rule is: hen is the direct object and is also used after prepositions whereas hun is the indirect object, the only personal pronoun to have a separate dative form."

Donaldson goes on to give the following examples:
1. Ik heb de informatie aan hen gegeven.
2. Ik heb hun de informatie gegeven.

Although Donaldson calls this policy "official", he goes on to say: "[Some] Dutch always use "hun" where grammar strictly speaking demands "hen", a form which is actually seldom used in the spoken language."

As a learner, I have no dog in this fight. But I can see that the Dutch team who put this Duo module together are taking the postion that "hun" can be (if not should be) used as the indirect object. My comments on this page reflect what I can see that Duo is teaching.


I don't understand this hun vs hem thing at all


I think you mean hun vs hen. Hem is single and refers to a male


leotard, you mean hun vs, hen, as darren says. Please see my earlier posts on this page. They may help you.


My auto correct has changed write to wrote 3 times now, I rhink it should be accepted XD


"The girls write them a letter" may have been easier to understand.


I understood : de meisjes schrijven hun een boek, which is perfectly right, except when Duo makes it sound awkward. It could be my hearing too...


Ugh... I meant to say:"de meisjes schrijven in hun boek"


Andy, if you want to correct a post, you can go back and correct the original post. You do not need to post a second entry.

In any case, the sentence you have written here, "De meisjes schrijven in hun boek", is a grammatical Dutch sentence. However, it means "The girls write in their book", so it is NOT a valid translation of the Dutch that DL gives us in this exercise.


So, as I see it, this effectively means something along the lines of "The girls are writing a book for them" - them being a different group of people, as in "The girls are writing a book for someone", as a fun activity to spend a rainy afternoon, curlep up in a corner of their cosy upstairs room. Guess correct? I just feel it might be a good idea for the editors to replace this sentence in this exercise with another that is less confusing to learners and more useful. Please? Can we vote on that?


I suppose that in first being corrected, I read the correct sentence and it sounded wrong in my head, but as I move forward, I can see how it makes sense, if only for the example of: "I'm writing him a letter."


I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better

Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago.

He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,

Just 'on spec', addressed as follows, 'Clancy of The Overflow'.
Banjo Paterson, 1889


It’s a very odd structure. A sentence like that win English would normally mean hyperbole “they wrote something really long, I mean like it was a BOOK”. It’s weird to have it used blandly like this...


"The girls write a book to them"


I think a native English speaker would more likely use "for" here intead of "to": "The girls write a book for them".

But of course you are right that in general, in English an indirect object can be replaced by a prepositional phrase using "to" or some other appropriate preposition.


I'm struggling with when to use ze/hun/hen? If anyone could explain it simply for me that'd be great thanks lol


Help help help!!!! Please give me a link about what is direct object and indirect object. I really confused


I write a book The word "book" is a direct object of the verb "write".
I give a book to my sister The word "book" is a direct object of the verb "give".
I give my sister a book The word "book" is a direct object, and the word "sister" is an indirect object.

The indirect object is often the beneficiary or recipient of an action. A sentence with an indirect object (my sister a book) can often be replaced with a sentence that uses a prepositional phrase instead of the indirect object (a book to my sister).


Why is it De meisjes?

Is it because it’s “meisjes” and not “meisje”?


Yes. As a definite article:
"het" is used before a singular neuter noun
"de" is used before a singular common-gender noun
"de" is also used before any plural noun, whether neuter or common gender.


I thought it was 'het boek'


I realise my mistake!


the girls are writing a book for themselves. Why is this not accepted?


Hun is not a reflexive pronoun here. It does not refer back to the girls, it is talking about an entirely different group. So when you translate this as "The girl wrote them a book" it means the same as "The girl wrote a book to them". *(see edit) Also, the sentence only has "meisje" in it, which is singular, i.e. there is only one girl, so using "themselves" here makes even less sense.

Edit: Whoops! Forgot to look at the sentence again. There are indeed multiple girls, my apologies.


Aw i suppose whats confusing me is the hun/hen thing. Hun translates as their , at least in google. I see the conversation above. Well thanks for the help


it has to be ''de meisjes schrijven HEN een boek''. to write them means ''aan hen schrijven'' not ''hun'' ''hun'' is possesive


According to some authorities, the word "hun" is also used as the indirect object meaning "them".

In the sentence DL gives us here, "een boek" is the direct object, and "hun" is being used as an indirect object. So the debate over whether to use "hun" as a direct object is irrelevant.


this makes no sense whatsoever. The translation into English is not English, the girls write them a book? Who Themselves? It's nonsense


The English is OK. It is similar to "I baked them a pie." It means that I baked a pie for them.


if it's the girls write them a book why does it make the translation "The girls write a book for them." When you get the translation wrong? lol duolingo needs to get it together lol


The 'correct translation' in English would be: 'The girls are writing a book'


False. The correct translation into English includes mention of the person or persons for whom the book is being written just as the Dutch sentence that is being translated does.


write is a direct object. So why not HEN, instead od HUN?


I'm sorry, what? 'Write' is verb, the direct object in this sentence is 'een boek' (a book) and the indirect object is 'hun' ([to/for] them). Since it's the IO, hun is used, not hen.

In the future, please ask politely why something differs from the way you thought it was instead of asserting things that might be false (and in this case, are definitely not true).

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