"De kat drinkt zijn melk."

Translation:The cat drinks its milk.

August 14, 2014

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Good questions. "De kat drinkt zijn melk" is indeed an ambigious sentence. It can mean that the cat drinks his own milk, and also that the cat drinks Bob's milk. (However, without a context, the real meaning is probably the first one...). The same ambiguity exists in the plural: "De katten drinken hun melk" can mean that the cats drink their own milk, or that the cats drink Bob and Alice's milk. Mind you,there is no ambiguity in the sentences "De kat drinkt hun melk" (The cat drinks their milk) and in "De katten drinken zijn melk" (The cats drink his milk).


In Belgium we would only use 'zijn melk' if we know for certain it is a male cat. Otherwise it would refer to someone else's milk. The word 'cat' is considered to be a feminine noun. But I guess this is less important for people learning Dutch. It is difficult enough to know when to use 'de' or 'het'. The fact that 'de kat' is a feminine noun and 'de hond' (the dog) is a masculine noun is less important. This distinction is slowly disappearing in the language anyway, especially in the Netherlands I guess.


So actually it would be 'De kat drinkt haar melk' if the cat drinks its own milk, right?


So if you're trying to say "The cat drinks his milk" would it be the same sentence or is there another word in replace of 'zijn'? And how would you tell the difference?

[deactivated user]

    Is it also ambiguous in Dutch as to whether the cat is drinking his own milk or is drinking Bob's milk?


    The same ambiguity exists in English: "The cat drinks his milk." can be the milk belonging to a tomcat himself or any other male.


    Does "the cat drinks its milk" differ from "the cat is drinking its own milk"?


    Wouldn't "the cat drinks their milk" be correct too?


    That would be read, "De hat drinkt hun melk" I'm pretty sure.

    [deactivated user]

      Exactly, “their” is for plural. E.g. the cats drink their milk


      Apparently, The cat drinks it's milk, isn't the same as The cat drinks its milk. Just a typo.

      • The cat drinks it's milk = The cat drinks, it is milk = De kat drinkt, het is melk
      • The cat drinks its milk = De kat drinkt zijn melk
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