1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Er is gezocht naar de sleute…

"Er is gezocht naar de sleutels."

Translation:There has been a search for the keys.

August 30, 2014



How come somtimes "er is" means there was and sometimes "er is" means there has been?


As a dutch person i would translate 'er is ge....' to 'there has been'. The dutch isn't that hard really, for some reason the developpers didn't do a good job on making the english translations.


I'm still learning a lot but here's what I think. "er is" tends to just be "there is" but when it is paired with a past participle (in this case "gezocht") it becomes "there has been". Just takes a little while to get used to some aspects of another language. Besides, Dutch is a different language to English. Not everything will be translated perfectly because in some cases there are no direct translation.


There might be a misconception about 'er is'. It is not a fixed group of words. 'Er' doesn't need 'is'. 'Er' is just an independent word with a meaning very similar to the English 'there'. 'Er' is like the indefinite form of 'there'.

In this case 'is' is just an auxiliary verb.


Ah yes, that is a nice approach. In this section though, I think 'er' can be seen as an indefinite form of 'daar'. For some reason duolingo connects it too much to the verbs, as if it were some fixed expression.


congratulations on your grasp of our very difficult language! Your explanation makes sense in a way. This sentence however is not a good example because it can be interpreted in more than one way (even in dutch without translating it)


It also means there is lol... This is a really inconsistent and completely confusing section. It should have been separated and broken up better.

German passive makes more sense than this, and it should be way harder... "Hier wird nicht geparkt" doesn't even exist in English but it makes perfect sense after learning it -- but "There has been laughing going on" is something that would never be said in English and it's written weirdly.


You may hear that expression.......eg "the upstairs flat must be occupied, because there's been a lot of laughing going on this afternoon"..


I believe that's because Dutch doesn't have the same distinction between tenses as English. Different languages are different, accept it :) For example, as a native speaker of Russian I just don't see the difference between 'was' and 'has been', it's all about past after all.


Having been incredibly frustrated by this section, I've noticed a pattern, and therefore been able to understand it (I think), rather than just memorising correct answers. In that sense, I guess it has been a successful lesson.

But to be honest, the description for this section is extremely lacking, and there has been little to point me in the right direction.

Just a couple of lines explaining the difference between "er wordt" and "er is" would have gone a VERY long way to helping me understand.


I wanted to avoid explicitly saying it, because I'm also learning, and there's every chance I've misunderstood, or my explanation will be incomplete. So bear that in mind...

But, I believe that "er wordt ... ge*" translates in this context as "there is", and "er is ... ge*" translates as "there has been".


it's good to share, Simon - as long as you don't mind being corrected by a Dutchie - in this way all the viewers (as well as the posters) can learn. I don't think I've come across a bully or anyone who is condescending on this site - we're all here because we like learning and want to learn! Something I found helpful was in a grammar book that explained the verb "worden" takes the auxiliary "zijn" so "I have been seen" is technically "ik ben gezien (geworden)" but you drop the 'geworden'. Hope that's clear/correct and I trust a Dutchie will correct me if not!


That's funny. Actually long ago in French class our teacher would explain French grammar using that same construction/example "Ik ben gezien (geworden). It took us (Dutchies) quite a while to see it, though that can indeed be a good way to explain it.


I think you should not think of 'er' as a word that must always be in combination with 'zijn' or 'worden' because it is simply an independent word that needs neither of those verbs. Think of 'er' as an indefinite form of the English 'there'.

"Er is geschoten!" - "There has been shot!" We don't know where that 'there' is. We just know WHAT happened. Shots are fired. "Er is oorlog in Syrië" - There is war in Syria" See? Just like 'there'

Though in some cases the meaning is more vague: "Ik vind er helemaal niks van" - "I don't think anything of it"

'Worden' is a verb that is used for implying that something is going on, something is happening, something is in a continuous process.

"Er wordt gezocht" - There is being searched (sought?). "Ik wordt geslagen" - I am being punched/hit.


As a British English native I would also translate this Dutch sentence as "the keys have been sought" - though it is rather formal!


I think the best translation is "we've/they've/i've(etc) looked for the keys."


"Wij hebben/Zij hebben/Ik heb gezocht naar de sleutels" is the translation back to Dutch again, which makes this very contentious. "Er is gezocht" does not indicate how many persons or whom has searched for the keys, so you are providing information you do not even have on the original.

I do agree, that if an English person would want to say something with the same intent, then they would most likely use "They've looked for the keys", but Duolingo does not have a synonym or thesaurus option (yet?).


I didn't have time before but i meant to add, you can't really say this sentence without saying who was doing the searching in English, AndrewsSuzy pointed out that it would sound unnecessarily formal or archaic without it.

I'm not suggesting that it's not fine in Dutch, I just don't think it's possible to say this without adding the identity of the searcher without sounding like my granddad.


The Dutch sentence, however, is more about the search than about the keys.

'we zijn de sleutels kwijt' (we have lost the keys) 'heb je ernaar gezocht?' (did you look for them?) 'ja, er is naar de sleutels gezocht, maar we konden ze niet vinden' (Yes, there has been a search for the keys, but we couldn't find them)


I agree partly, because in that case, shouldn't the Dutch sentence have said something like "de sleutels zijn gezocht"? Just my opinion. Still, there is no proper English way of translating the impersonal passive voice I'm afraid.


This is the most confusing section thus far, explanatory notes would be appreciated


Hi xue_wukong,

If you use the desktop version, you'll be able to access the grammar tips and notes. Otherwise you can go to duome and add your username at the end of the url, that way you'll be able to get all the grammar tips and notes.

You should also check the link someone posted above (to dutchgrammar), that is a very good website, with very detailed explanations.


Comparing with German, this would mean "Es ist nach den Schlüsseln gesucht worden." - English translation "It has been searched for the keys". "gezocht" is no noun here, but a verb. Why do I have to transform it into a noun in Englisch?


Only because if you are learning English that's the most natural way to say it.


And "it has been searched for the keys" wouldn't sound natural?


No. It sounds 'foreign' to my British English ear. Perhaps it's the word "it"; better is "There was a search for"; or more normally, we'd use the active: "we searched for" or "they searched for" etc. Perhaps it's because a preposition is used that it sounds clumsy in the passive. Sorry can't be more precise.


"It has been searched for the keys" implies that someone has searched "it" -- a vehicle, room, building, piece of furniture, .... -- looking for those keys. Perhaps the police with a search warrant?!


I hate this section. Actually I hate this "Er is" crap.


I think the answers are not consistent. two sentences ago, the correct answer was "they have done ..."but nor "they"is replaced with "people". why "people" is correct but not "they"?


So the present would be : er is zocht?


If people are searching in this moment you would say 'er wordt gezocht'.


I've looked at the chart of prepositions under the "Dutch FAQ" or "Welcome to Dutch" (something like that) and it doesn't say that 'naar' can mean 'for'. So why is it 'naar' and not 'voor'? Is it because this is one of those phrases you just have to remember?


'for' doesn't mean 'naar' neither does 'naar' mean 'for'. It is the phrase 'zoeken naar' that translates to 'to look/search for'


That was a hard question because i dont think they pronounce it correct


The pronunciation is correct.


The keys were being searched for?


Why can't I use "they" in the active voice in this exercise while it is allowed in another?


The Dutch version seems to be in present tense but the English translation is in past tense. Makes no sense for me. The main problem is that there no way to say that kind of phrase in English.


It is very strange, but seems to be correct. Er is gezocht = there was a search, Er wordt gezocht = there is a search.

Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.