Translation:Since I do not have a book, I do not read.
Dutch word order is hard! What we see here is two inversions, and they are both necessary in this sentence structure. The first part is a subordinate clause, started by the conjunction "aangezien". In such subclauses, the verb always comes at the end. In the main clause ("lees ik niet"), inversion takes place because the subject (ik) is not the first word of the sentence.
You could switch the clauses around, in which case there is no inversion in the main clause:
"Ik lees niet, aangezien ik geen boek heb"
Simius' explanation is correct, but as the matter is complicated it can't hurt to have the same in other words with some background information.
English has SVO word order: subject (main noun), verb, object (the noun being acted on).
Proto-Germanic had SOV word order by default. Most sentences looked like this:
- The man the book reads. (SOV)
Other word orders were also possible:
- The book the man reads. (OSV)
- The man reads the book. (SVO)
- The book reads the man. (OVS)
- Reads the man the book. (VSO)
- Reads the book the man. (VOS)
There was no ambiguity because the subject (the man) was marked by the nominative case and the object (the book) by the accusative case. If speakers wanted to stress a part of the sentence, they simply put it first.
Most Germanic languages are losing the case distinctions. As a result the word order is less flexible because otherwise we would have ambiguity in sentences such as The woman beats the man. For example, in German the original default word order is no longer acceptable. Of the other five, the following three are still proper German in main clauses:
- Der Mann liest das Buch. (SVO, default word order)
- Das Buch liest der Mann. (OVS, object is stressed - this is one type of 'inversion')
- Liest der Mann [doch] das Buch! (VSO, verb is stressed - this is the other type of 'inversion')
(Even though Dutch has lost the case distinctions more completely, these word orders may still be acceptable in Dutch. I don't know.)
For some reason, the change in default word order seems to be happening slower in subordinate clauses, such as e.g. those starting with that or in German with dass. For example, the following are the more or less acceptable word orders in German if we turn the example sentence into a subordinate clause:
- [dass] der Mann das Buch liest. (SOV, default word order for subordinate clauses)
- [dass] das Buch der Mann liest. (OSV, only in poetic language with object stressed)
- [dass] der Mann liest das Buch. (SVO, only in poetic language with subject stressed, or colloquial under dialect influence)
So in subordinate clauses, German has preserved essentially the original Proto-Germanic word order. Some other Germanic languages (e.g. Danish) that have essentially the same word order as German in main clauses (it's called V2 word order because the main verb always comes second unless it's stressed and comes first) also use it (i.e. V2 word order) for subordinate clauses. Dutch can use either, depending on the type of subordinate clause. [Added later: Actually, this is probably not correct. The point is that sometimes a word introducing a subordinate clause can have an equivalent coordinating conjunction that formally connects two main clauses although the second one really feels more like a subordinate clause with main clause word order.]
- [aangezien] ik geen boek heb (SOV)
The first clause in our sentence (before the comma) is a subordinate clause introduced by aangezien. Aangezien, like omdat (so that) is one of those words that introduce a subordinate clause with a word order that is essentially the default proto-Germanic one. The excellent Michel Thomas Dutch course cleverly refers to this as the omdat effect to make it stick in our minds.
The second clause is the main clause:
- [...] lees ik niet. (VS)
The main clause has no object, but if it did have one, it would be placed as follows:
- [...] lees ik geen boek. (VSO)
This is neither the normal word order for main clauses nor the normal word order for subordinate clauses. It's the normal word order for questions. In a normal (non-question) main clause standing on its own, you would only ever use this word order to stress the verb very strongly, and you would invariably add some discourse particle such as really. Even so it's very rarely done. (German example: Les ich doch ein Buch!)
Maybe in some earlier stage of Dutch and German with a looser word order, people often felt a need to stress the verb when the main clause was preceded by a subordinate clause. In any case we now use question word order in this situation. And this is not even optional. Question word order is required in this situation. (At least in German. Dutch may be more relaxed about this.)
But, as Simius explained, if the main clause comes first we use the normal word order in it:
- Ik lees geen boek (main, SVO), aangezien ik geen boek heb (subordinate, SOV).
- Aangezien ik geen boek heb (subordinate, SOV), lees ik geen boek (main, VSO).
I'll give it a go, though there will be exceptions and hence may not apply to all cases, but I think in general this covers a large part
For the first part Aangezien ik geen boek heb.
Normally in Dutch the first word is the subject followed by the verb, e.g.
- Ik heb geen boek - I don't have a book
This can depend on the tense though, for example with the present perfect part will be at the start of the sentence and part can be at the end, e.g.,
- Ik hebt geen boek gekregen - I have not received a book
If the first word is not the subject, there is a very good chance that the subject and verb switch positions, but will still be together, for example with time or place at the start.
- Op vrijdag ga ik naar school - On Friday I go to school (time)
- In Nederland spreken mensen Nederlands - In the Netherlands people speak Dutch (place)
Now in this particular sentence there is a word at the start that is not the subject, and yet the subject and the verb did not switch places. Even better they are no longer together in the sentence since the verb moved to the back of the sentence. This is often the case with words like aangezien, omdat, sinds, terwijl often words that give a cause, e.g.:
- Omdat jij naar school gaat, (ben jij slim) - Because you go to school, you are smart
- Sinds jij veel rent, (ben jij snel) - Since you run a lot, you are fast
Then the parts in brackets brings us to the last part. In the above examples you again see an inversion of the subject and verb behind the comma. For this you can kind of look at it as if the sentence did not start with the subject (although the part before the comma obviously is a separate part of the sentence) and therefore the subject and the verb of the second part behind the comma switch places, e.g:
- (Wanneer jij weg bent), ga ik het huis poetsen - When you are gone, I am going to clean the house.
After the comma the verb can also move to the end of the sentence as discussed before e.g.
- Ik ga naar huis, omdat ik moe ben - I am going home, because I am tired.
- Jij blijft thuis, terwijl ik naar school ga. - You stay at home, while I go to school.
With some other words you pretty much treat it the same as a "normal" sentence, like maar and en, e.g.
- Ik ga naar school en jij blijft thuis - I go to school and you stay at home.
- Ik ga naar school, maar jij blijft** thuis - I go to school, but you stay at home.
Though if one of the words like the ones above is present or there is an inversion that applies to the whole section even if en is present, e.g.
- Ik ga naar school, terwijl jij thuis blijft en hij naar zijn werk gaat. - I go to school, while you stay at home and he goes to his work.
- Omdat ik naar school ga, leer ik veel en ben ik slim - Because I go to school, I learn a lot and I am smart.
Other than this if you moved to the Netherlands the main thing I can advise you is to practice a lot. The more you get a "feeling" with the language the easier it gets. And ask people to correct you immediately if you say it wrong. While the above sentences are fairly "simple" it also works in more complex sentences like.
- In Nederland spreken we Nederlands, terwijl ze in Duitsland Duits spreken. - In the Netherlands we speak Dutch, while in Germany they speak German.
- Op vrijdag ga ik naar school, maar ik blijf vandaag thuis, omdat ik ziek ben en ik naar de dokter moet. - On Friday I go to school, but I stay at home today, because I am ill and I have to go to the doctor.
Here is some more info about clauses and word order, which probably will explain everything better than I just did: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=WordOrder.53
Oh i feel bad now , for that long reply , much obliged ! I keep that whenever i see words like : aangezien, omdat, sinds, terwijl an anomaly alert will trigger my brain! Also subject not being the first word! Thank you for the link i have to do an extensive brainwash repeatable quest , because i see myself getting depressed with eenzaamheid in the Netherlands! I do not know what lingots are for but i gave you one :D Vielen dank you are wonderful person!
Thank you for your examples. For practice, I read them in English first, rearranged the English words (in my head) with Dutch word order, and then checked them against the Dutch. This is the kind of exercise I wish Duolingo would provide more often, and with more variety.
I had a couple of slight differences in the most complicated examples, and wondered if you could confirm whether these orders are acceptable, as I am just beginning my Dutch studies and don't want to develop bad habits.
In Nederland spreken we Nederlands, terwijl in Duitsland ze Duits spreken.
Op vrijdag ga ik naar school, maar ik blijf thuis vandaag, omdat ik ziek ben en ik naar de dokter moet.
If these - my word orders - are awkward, are there any (quick to explain) reasons why this is so? In particular, in a lot of Duolingo exercises, I see vandaag in a different position than I would expect. Thank you!
It may help to look at the historical development from Proto-Germanic's SOV default word order (verb last) towards SVO. English has almost completely reached SVO. Dutch and German are still stuck in an intermediate stage called V2 for main clauses: the finite verb (always only a single word, which carries the personal ending) always in second position, and the remainder of the verb phrase (if it consists of more than one word) at the very end of the main clause. And they both still have essentially the original Proto-Germanic SOV word order in subordinate clauses.
See my very long post elsewhere for even more details that could make this easier to remember as a perfectly logical phenomenon rather than just some strange arbitrary rules.
I think in English one is more likely to make the future aspect explicit than in most other European languages, in which the present tense is often used when the future aspect is implied. As there may well be an implied future aspect here - depending on context - your variant is correct.
There is nothing about ability in the Dutch sentence. I believe in connection with verbs of perception, English tends to use can more than Dutch, so that Ik zie/hoor is often most naturally translated as I can see/hear. But read is not a verb of perception, and here we are dealing with a Dutch sentence that would also normally use kunnen, but for some reason doesn't. This should therefore be honoured in the English translation by not using can, either.
Well, "do" is an "ability" verb even more than "can" is (in English). I mean, technically the translation of "lees ik niet" is "read I not", but since that is not at all grammatically correct in English, we should generally translate into whatever the most natural English version would be. Which in this case seems to me to be "I can't read." Or, even moreso "I won't read." (Which is what I put in the first place. But since I know we're still in the present tense at this level, I changed.)
Are you arguing that I don't read implies the inability to read more strongly than I can't read does? I really doubt that this is true.
If you want to avoid do, I won't read seems to be the better choice. Like most European languages, Dutch often uses present tense where English uses an explicit future tense. On the other hand, I won't read isn't even necessarily a future tense in English. In contexts such as this, and even more clearly in "Children will get dirty", will functions as a modal expressing a habit. (Originally will expressed volition as in having the will to do something. The use for pure future tense evolved gradually out of that, and occasionally the volition aspect still shines through especially in older texts where shall was an alternative coloured by obligation instead.)
No, this would not make sense. Aangezien is the past participle of aanzien (look at, watch, regard, consider). A more literal translation is therefore "Considering I do not have a book [...]". It seems to be a general phenomenon in all languages - at least in all those that I am familiar with - that many words which are often used when something happens to be a reason for something else, over the centuries slowly start to express that there is such a connection, or to express that there is no such connection but some kind of contradiction. But I don't think I have ever seen this work the other way round. Since aangezien and since are metaphors for expressing a reason that are based on a very different original sense, it is quite possible that at some point one or both will lose its original sense; but quite unlikely that one will begin to be used to express the original sense of the other.
Some examples for words expressing that A is a reason for B:
- B since A (original sense temporal: A takes place before B)
- B aangezien A (original sense: B takes place and someone looks at A)
- B wijl A (original sense: see while below)
- B vermits A (original sense: someone uses A to achieve B)
Some examples for words expressing that B is true but A is the opposite of a reason for B:
- B while A (original sense temporal: A takes place for an interval of time; during this interval, B takes place as well)
- B hoewel A (original sense: expresses that A really takes place).
- Aangezien (because) describes the reason or cause that makes something happen. Example: "The street is wet because it is raining."
- Opdat (so that) describes someone's motivation, i.e. the goal with which someone is doing something. Example: "I go to work so that I earn money."
- Totdat (until) describes the time when something ends. Example: "We stay at the beach until we must go home."
I know you asked only about 1 and 3, but I am surprised they are the same in your native language. I think normally it's 1 and 2 that are the same, or 2 and 3, because they are really quite similar in meaning and overlap a lot. And also because 2 is abstract and is often expressed using 1 (of which it is a special case) or 3 (as a metaphor). But 1 and 3 don't really have anything in common.
I have a doubt:
What about the difference between aangezien and want? Not from the grammatical point of view (I know that want is a coordinating conjunction, while aangezien is a subordinating one), but in terms of meaning.
And further, do you know if there's a difference between aangezien, omdat and doordat?
Thanks in advance.
Is the 'g' in "aangezien" pronounced like a regular guttural 'g' or as it is typically pronounced when preceded by an 'n' (not guttural, closer to English 'g')? I think I'm hearing some guttural in the pronunciation here. If so perhaps because it's a compound word split between the 'n' and 'g'? Just a guess.
Because the sentence begins with a subordinate clause.
Dutch is a V2 language, which means that the finite verb of the main clause must always be the second element (not word, careful there!).
This means that if the first element of the sentence is something other than the subject (be it an adverb, an adverbial phrase or a clause), then subject-verb inversion occurs.
Here is my guess as to what may have happened:
You entered a correct (or arguably correct) translation, involving the phrase "no book". Someone else has previously entered the same translation, except with "no books", and got it accepted as correct. Now, instead of rejecting your translation (because it's not in the database of correct translations yet), Duolingo accepts it as almost correct because it differs only by a single character from a translation it knows and thinks is correct. Since this happens to everyone giving the same response, people never get a chance to suggest it for inclusion in the database.