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  5. "Er is veel gelachen, gezongeā€¦

"Er is veel gelachen, gezongen en gedanst."

Translation:There has been much laughing, singing and dancing.

September 2, 2014



Seems to be totally random if the english translation is in the present "there is..." or the past "there's been...". Is it some ruled i don't understand or is it faults in the solutions?


That is a good question. This is a complicated construction with no direct analogue in English, which is why there might some inconsistency. It is known as the impersonal passive voice. If you scroll to the "Dutch" section in that link, there are some examples with approximate English translations, typically using the gerund.

The Dutch passive voice can have two different auxiliary verbs: "worden" (to become ) and "zijn" (to be ). These are used to distinguish between the dynamic and stative passive forms, a distinction that is not usually made in English. Here are some examples, with (IMO) the best translations.

  • Er is gelachen - there has been laughing (stative: at some point in the past, somebody laughed.)
  • Er wordt gelachen - there is laughing (dynamic: somebody is laughing now.)
  • Er werd gelachen - there was laughing (dynamic, past: somebody was laughing at a certain time.)

The last possibility "er was gelachen" is not normally used. As you can see, the differences are subtle. Still, I hope this clarifies things somewhat, let me know if you have further questions.


Sir Simius, Can you tell me if these sentences are correct: Duo: De oude boeken zijn getoond. The old books have been shown.(Passive construction)

Jeffrey: De man heeft de oude boeken getoond. The man showed the old books.(subject/action/object-present perfect)

Me again: De boeken worden getoond. The books are being shown.

(passive construction again)

Dank je wel!


They are correct :)


Bedankt! I did that set over the Christmas holiday when I had a lot of time- I definitely need to review it though. Thanks again for your help.


thanks simius, that makes a lot of sense!


Cheers! I don't think the following tooltip helps or even applies here: "The Dutch passive construction with "zijn" refers to actions that have been completed. Usually you cannot use the English present tense in this case. "

Is this a bug, or am I just- have I been misreading something?


Can you clarify why you think it wouldn't apply here? "Er is gelachen" describes the present perfect tense and can't be translated to the present simple (i.e. there is laughter).

I also recommend looking at the Tips & Notes of this section, if you have access to them.


Well because I put down the present tense and it corrected me to the past tense, which is fine, but the tooltip specifically mentions "zijn" where there isn't a zijn.


Ah, I see your confusion now. It refers to "is" being a conjugation of the infinitive verb "zijn".


Oh, that makes sense now. Thanks!


Exactly. The suggested translation is "There has been much laughing, singing and dancing", which does NOT necessarily refer to an action that has been completed.


Can someone please tell my how is it possible that my answer: There WAS a lot of laughing... was accepted?


The verbs used in this sentence are past participles, which indicates the action happened in the past (although the action can be going on). That said, the "was" is considered correct in the translation. Actually, my answer was wrong too when using "is" but I knew why after I read through all the discussions here.


It seems a bit random. In the one with the swimming pool I used "That swimming pool was often played in" and it was rejected (presumably because Duo wanted "has been"). According to Simius above "was" should really only apply when the Dutch is "werd", but the distinction is less clear in English and "was" sounds much more colloquial to me.


My Dutch husband just explained it to me that if one of the verbs is using past tense, the whole sentence is in the past. So because gedanst is past so the rest are.


there has been much? Really sounds like bad english "there has been a lot of" would be better.


With the caveat that I am English and may be completely wrong about some of this:

There are (at least) three ways in which "is" (zijn) is used in Dutch.

1) The English friendly way where "is" translates to "is". "Hij is een hond" - "He is a dog". As an English speaker it is very easy to look at any sentence with "is" in it and translate to present tense.


2) "is" can be used in the perfect tense to indicate an action which is complete. Usually the verb goes with "hebben". For example "Hij heeft gezwommen" (He has swum). But some verbs use "zijn": for example "Hij is gegroeid" (He has grown). It is easy to be misled by the "is" but the past participle gives it away.

3) Passive voice. This is the one I find most difficult to remember! Active voice is something like "He reads the newspaper". The equivalent in passive voice is "The newspaper is being read". In Dutch this would be "Hij leest de krant" and "De krant wordt gelezen".

And here is where "is" is no longer your friend. Because to say "The newspaper has been read" you need to say "De krant IS gelezen". As an English speaker you see "is" and immediately think "is" (i.e. present tense) but the 3rd person present form of the passive in Dutch is "wordt" (worden).

This sentence ("Er is veel gelachen, gezongen en gedanst.") is in the passive. We do not know who has been laughing, singing, or dancing. So the "is" here implies the perfect tense, not the present continuous.

Hopefully this is reasonably accurate and I have helped more people than I have confused. I'm sure there are many subtleties I have missed. I find this an area where I can usually get it right if I think about it but my first instinct is (nearly) always wrong.


I suggest that authors would not construct such abstract sentences for beginners/intermediate :/


Maybe there is an equivalent in English that I don't understand... I'm lost :(


As a Dutchie I think the English translations in these chapters were chosen poorly... I think it would be better to choose translations that are odd in English, but do show the Dutch grammar.

I think a better translation would be "There has been laughed, sung and danced a lot/much."

The translation duolingo gives makes you think that 'Er is ge...' is some sort of fixed group of words, while it is not.


That translation is not just odd in English, but grammatically incorrect. You really cannot say that.

I agree though, it's a careful balancing act between choosing natural and literal translations. Either way, some people will be unhappy. We already get a lot of complaints that the English sentences in this lesson are too unnatural, but they were chosen on purpose to make the Dutch construction more clear.


Is it really incorrect too? Either way, if I would translate the English translation back to Dutch, I would get a different sentence: "Er is veel gelach, zang en dans geweest." So there's something off here...


It is incorrect, I'm afraid. After existential there you need a noun/noun phrase.

I suppose you can use a gerund (which is nominal in value, thus being able to act as a noun), but it sounds odd to my ears.

That being said, neither the past form of a verb nor the past participle are nominal in value, so they cannot occur after existential there (nor any copulative verb in whatever tense you choose).

Hope this helps.


But it makes me wonder about our word "thought." I could say, "There has been much thought," and it would be perfectly fine in English. We use "thought" as a noun, but it's also a past participle. I'd like to know more about this history of the Dutch construction and whether we once really did have something similar in English that fell out of use (except, perhaps, for "thought").


Thanks for your explanation :)


"er is" is once "there is" and once "there was" i really do NOT understand the rules ahhhhhhhh..................


what about "there is much laughter, singing and playing"


why instead of gedansen, there is gedanst in this sentence?


Have a look at the conjugation of dansen: http://en.bab.la/conjugation/dutch/dansen


Why is "Er is" being translated as there was. I really dont understand it


I can understand this sentence when I translate it to Portuguese (my native language), or if I were to say "Many laughs, songs and dances ensued".


There is a lot of? To me it seems correct in the translation?


It seems to be in the present so why is the translation in the past? As there has been....?

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