"I still see her."
Translation:Ik zie haar nog steeds.
That sounds like you are going to say "ik zie noch haar noch hem" (I see neither her nor him).
That would translate roughly to "I see still her". In both languages it only really makes borderline sense if the sentence goes on, and even then I would guess it's even more questionable in Dutch than in English, where it's bad enough: "Ik zie nog haar, niet hem." ("I see still her, not him.")
So what is the difference in word order between: Zij houdt nog steeds van hem. and Ik zie haar nog steeds.?
I am not completely sure because in some languages (such as English or French) very weird things are going on with the placement of adjectives and adverbs, so it's unsafe to make categorical statements without statistical research or consulting a good grammar. Especially for native speakers. (Or as in my case native speakers of a closely related language with very similar word order rules.) But the key difference is probably the following:
- Zij houdt van hem. - She loves him.
- Ik zie haar. - I see her.
In the English translations there is no difference in structure between these two sentences. It's always subject - predicate - direct object. In the second example this is also the structure of the Dutch sentence. But the first Dutch sentence is different. The literal translation is "She holds of him." Of him is not a direct or indirect object, it's a prepositional phrase.
This difference becomes relevant when we add the adverbial phrase nog steeds. In simple sentences it's enough to say that in Dutch, adverbs and adverbial phrases come after the verb. But what happens when there isn't just a single one-word verb, but a verb phrase consisting of the verb plus some additional information?
It turns out that objects bind to the verb more strongly than prepositional phrases. That's why in both languages (in normal word order that doesn't specifically stress something) they are closer to the verb in case we have both:
- Zij (subject) ziet (verb) het boek (object) op de tafel (prepositional phrase). - She sees the book on the table.
Adverbs and adverbial phrases bind to the verb more strongly than prepositional phrases, but less strongly than objects - which, after all, aren't optional for transitive verbs. (These binding rules aren't absolute. There also seems to be a tendency for short phrases to come earlier / closer to the verb than longer phrases.) Therefore, if we add nog steeds to the last example, it ends up between the object and the prepositional phrase:
- (1) Zij (subject) ziet (verb) het boek (object) nog steeds (adverbial phrase) op de tafel (prepositional phrase). - She still sees the book on the table.
In English this phenomenon is not visible because in the absence of special emphasis the adverbs comes before the verb. But even in Dutch it's less obvious than it should be because in most cases it's more natural to make the prepositional phrase actually refer to the the object rather than the verb, resulting in yet another word order because then het boek op de tafel becomes a single phrase that makes up the object and, either due to its length or because we are still a bit undecided whether we really don't want the previous structure, normally switches positions with a short adverbial phrase such as nog steeds:
- Zij ziet nog steeds het boek op de tafel. - She still sees the book on the table.
Back to sentence (1): Your first sentence has the same structure, only with an intransitive verb and therefore without an object. And your second sentence has the same structure, only without the prepositional phrase.
I THINK I got it:
Both "hem" and "haar" are (reduced) direct objects. If the direct object consists of a single personal pronoun, it occurs in the left part of the main clause. Otherwise, in the middle. However "hem" is part of a prepositional phrase, forming a prepositional object and those occur in the right of the clause.
So if I am right these should both be correct:
Ik hou hem nog steeds. - I still hold him.
Ik hou nog steeds van hem. - I still love him.
"nog steeds" implies a longer period of time, or a sense of "despite ...", for example: "Ik hou nog steeds van je, ook al ben je nu oud en gerimpeld". Without steeds, it's more casual: "Tuurlijk hou ik nog van je"
In this case English is actually the odd one. In Dutch, adverbs come after the verb, or in infinitives and in inverted clauses before the (main) verb. But in English the position depends on the adverb:
- I still see her.
- I always see her. / I see her always.
- I see her all the time.
- I see her every day.
- I see her every month.
- I see her daily.
That does make sense, but then, why does "haar" come between the verb and the adverb? Does the word order/positioning with that matter?
It is exactly like that in English when the adverb comes after the verb. I guess some people do say "I see daily her", but then there is a strong emphasis on her, not someone else. The normal way to say it is definitely "I see her daily".
Ahhh! Yes, now it makes sense! Since the emphasis is on "her," we move the adverb to the end. I think I've got it now. Thanks!
I find it helpful to think of shorter Dutch sentences like middle-english, so instead I translate as "I see her still." Then change the order to be less archaic.
Haar is a direct object and therefore tends to be very close to the verb -- closer than the adverbial phrase nog steeds. Van hem is technically only a prepositional phrase, a much less fundamental part of the sentence.
I tried to do inversion here and I got it wrong: "Nog steeds zie ik haar"
Can anybody tell me what's wrong with it?
Why did you feel a need for inversion? It's rarely used in main clauses, just like you would rarely say "Still I see her" in English. In both languages inversion would only be used here to stress still / nog steeds.
I would just like someone to confirm that Dutch is the same as English in that "see" or "zie" can mean not only literal visual contact but also regular visiting or social contact.
Could it possibly be "Nog steeds zie ik haar"? It doesn't sound very well to me but for some reason I think it could be that way
See my response to jrrguzman, who asked a related question about the same sentence.