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In Depth Explanation Of Grammar Terms?

I need an in depth explanation of terms like "article" , "indefinite articles", "singulars", "bare singulars" and some examples of them in Dutch. I'm up to doing the adjectives part of the course but I can't grasp the difference between needing to add -e or not, because I don't know any of these grammar terms. Please make them easy to understand but also have a lot of information because I have a really bad time understanding these rules + do not know much terminology, but I keep losing all my hearts when studying. Once answered, I'll keep this up as a reference.

Thank you a lot!

August 25, 2014



Hey AethaQueen! :)

Have you seen our grammar threads, linked to in this grammar overview? Were the terms and explanations used in these threads too difficult, or in the tips & notes? We appreciate the feedback. :)

An article is what you put in front of a noun. A noun can be an object or something abstract, like a house, a tree, an idea, etcetera. As you can see, these nouns receive 'a' or 'an'. This a(n) is an indefinite article. You have not defined the specific noun or entity you're talking about, by having mentioned it previously. See these examples for the contrast between definite and indefinite articles:

1 | Indefinite articles

  1. A door = "een deur" = any door
  2. An apple = "een appel" = any apple
  3. A castle = "een kasteel" = any castle

2 | Definite articles

  1. The door = "de deur" = a specific door you have defined
  2. The apple = "de appel" = a specific apple you've likely already referred to or are pointing at
  3. The castle = "het kasteel" = a castle, once again one you may have referred to or are pointing at

3 | (Bare) singulars

First, could you tell me where you've found this term?
I'm rather unfamiliar with it myself ^^".

A singular is basically a noun in the singular form. So you have one person, one door, one... anything. This in contrast to plurals, which are of course multiple entities together... multiple people, more doors, more.....etc. :)

A bare singular is a singular noun which, though it normally occurs with an article, now occurs without one. Examples of bare singulars are:

  1. She is in hospital = 'bare location' = no article is put before the hospital, because a location has been given with the preposition. It is a singular that is bare. There is no the and no a(n), or no het, een or de.

  2. We eat with knife and fork = 'bare coordination' = again, because of the preposition (with), the article is not necessary. It is thus a 'bare singular', a singular noun without an article.


Thank you Lavinae! The explanation of such things are well written but hard to understand for mentally disabled/impaired users, younger users and users who don't have much experience with the English language rules. So, what you're saying is that singulars would be something like "the door/de deur" because it only refers to a single door, and a plural would be "the doors/de deuren"?


I see. :)

Our grammar explanations (the tips and notes and the separate threads) are optional for users to use, when they are stuck or need extra help. Grammar is in essence theory, and if users struggle with understanding theory in general, learning a language by studying its grammar may not be the right approach for them.

Luckily Duolingo offers a 'game approach'. It mostly relies on gamification for language acquisition. Rather than looking at grammar explanations, users should be able to naturally learn the language by being exposed to it, repetitively. We believe that this is the way in which Duolingo can really cater to young and impaired users. :)

You are very right: a singular is a single door, and a plural would be multiple doors.
And a bare singular would then be 'deur' or 'deuren', because here they do not have an article (= the/a/an).

Always feel free to ask us for extra grammar help, be it here or on a Dutch team member's profile. We're here to help! :)

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