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  5. "Ons gezinnetje gaat naar het…

"Ons gezinnetje gaat naar het museumpje."

Translation:Our family is going to the museum.

September 18, 2014



Don't overuse diminutives. Use "Ons gezin gaat naar het museum" if you want to sound mature.


Why are we spending a whole lesson on this? I assume it's just to teach you how to recognize/use diminutives. But When would you use "vraagjes" instead of "vraag", for example? Similarly to English where it's polite?


"vraagjes" are short, quick questions. When you say "Ik heb twee korte vraagjes", you reassure the other person that it won't take long to answer them.

"gezinnetje" would typically express affection toward your family as in "my dear family". "museumpje" could be either a small museum or a museum that you feel affectionate about (cute/lovely museum).

An alternative translation (I don't know if it is accepted) could be "Our dear family goes to the cute museum".


I like that as a translation, because it sounds ridiculously cutesy at that point, and underscores your point about not overusing diminutives.

It feels like one diminutive per sentence is genoeg, and any more than that either sounds ironic or childish.


Fair point, but presumably there are some sentences where two are ok. My Dutch is rather basic, but I'd have thought "ik heb vraagjes over de uitjes" would be one example.

It would seem wrong that I need to use "vragen", and I've only seen chopped onions described as "uitjes" and not "uien".


I think some -je words have shed their diminutive origins and won't sound cutesy if you use them together. When it's the specific name of a prepared food, like uitjes or koekjes or poffertjes, or kopjes because that's how you differentiate between cup-as-a-serving and the physical item itself. Meisje also seems to be its own discrete word.

I'm not sure there's a specific rule, but if you look it up in the dictionary (or Google Translate) and the unmodified form has a -je already, it's safe to "stack." But if you're taking your gezinnetje in your autootje down the straatje to the museumpje, you might be going too far.


to me, the word "uitje" means a nice get-away. Like: dat was een leuk uitje


@hans1929 I work in the Netherlands, and we do joke about having a "little onion", when talking about work outings.


We do the same thing, joke about a petit oignon :)


I have to agree with somelauw. Don't overuse the damn things, but the reason we are spending a long time on them is because they are everywhere in the language, and you need to understand them, recognise them, and know what they are. The Dutch language is infused with them so much more than the English language. Sometimes you can't say a word without them, eg, meisje. You can't say 'meis'...Okay, you can, but it isn't understood to mean and adult girl or something like that.


the non-diminutive word for meisje is meid but that has a slightly different meaning. Although, in today's Dutch as I have noticed by reading a Dutch newspaper online, the plural "meiden" is used for "meisjes" without the connotation of the singular.


Good to know ! Thanks


It is acceptable British to treat family as a plural noun and to say Our family are...


This sounds just a little too precious.


Do people actually ever say museumpje?!


We do say 'museumpje' if the museum is really very small, like 5 m2.


Don't use it if you go to Belgium. I'm afraid you will get some odd looks.


Can you please explain. I am going to Belgium in 2 and a half months


Depends on where you are going, but first and foremost it is not common to add the diminutive to this word at all, but even so, in many parts of Belgium, the diminutive is often -ke/kje or some variant thereof. So, for example, where I grew up in Antwerp, the term for girl ( Dutch 'meisje' ) was 'moske' but in where my uncle lived it was 'meiske'. You may hear both the -tje and the -ke in the same sentence, so there isn't really a hard and fast rule, or if there is, it changes between towns/cities. For example, you may hear someone say, "Dat meiske woont in dat huisje." Well, you probably won't hear that particular sentence, but you see my point. It's more of a mélange. But my advice to using the diminutive would be to stick with the regular -tje and don't use weird ones like this museumptje, where they had to add a -p to the end of the word in order to make the sound work. In Belgium, this happens as well, with the -ke, and if they were to do it to the museum it would possibly be more like museumekke, adding an -e ( then doubling the -k for sound and spelling rules that you will eventually learn if you haven't yet ). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Dutch speakers who say 'museumetje' rather than 'museumptje' but I don't know. In any case, it isn't a word that crops up often, and to play it safe, even if it is the kleinste museum you have ever been to, like the Natural History Museum in Maastricht, you can still call it een museum without causing any problems. I hope this helps a little. Let me know if you are still confused. If you are going to Brussels, btw, just speak English. Even I speak English in Brussels.


No im not really confused. I just.

Like in english I pretty sure there is nothing like this they add that end part to sssooo many words. (I guess to animals and peoples names).

I sometimes find it amusing for some of the words they put it on. I am glad you said that I probably dont have to use the "tje" "ke" etc. Because it would take a while to learn the correct one. Just like de and het. I often get those incorrect on duo still ;).

Thank you for the reply. P.s. I'm staying in Ghent


English doesn't have an official diminutive suffix like [t/p]je, but we do have plenty of borrowed/derived ones:

-et(te): French suffix, seen in cigarette (smaller and lighter compared to a cigar), towelette, tablet (from table+ette). I've also had teachers who jokingly said "oh, it's not a big test, it's just a little quizlet!" (Everyone still hated them.)

-le: possibly influenced by the ends of 'little' or "single"; cf. snuggle (a thing that makes you snug), crackle (from crack), crumble (from crumb); I've also seen "ickle" as a British term for something young and innocent (like the fourth-years calling the first-years "ickle freshman" in Harry Potter), and "huggle," for when a hug isn't cute enough.

-kin: Cognate with German -chen; now mostly archaic, with only "munchkin," "mannequin" (originally "mannekin", but re-borrowed from French in the fashion sense) and napkin (from French nappe "tablecloth" + kin) seeing modern use.

-y/-ie/: Half-cognate with Dutch je, half baby-talk, I'd wager. Cookie (cf. Dutch koekje)--probably from "a tiny cake" (cf. de koek); babe → baby, pup → puppy, kitten → kitty, comfortable → comfy, and British napkin → nappy (a double diminutive!) all have legitimate status in English, but anyone around an excitable four-year-old at a farm has probably heard "horsey!" and "doggy!" too. Dog owners may affectionately refer to their breed as a "doxie/dachsie", "dobie" or "rottie". It's also a very common method diminutive for names: Johnathan → Johnny, Jennifer → Jenny, etc. Maybe use as an adjectival suffixcomes from the same root: Someone who's sleepy needs a serving of sleep, someone who's grouchy has a serving of grouch in them, etc, a handy tool is a good tool to have in hand.

We're also quite fond of reduplication (teeny-tiny/teeny-weeny/teensy-weensy, handy-dandy, namby-pamby, itty-bitty/itsy-bitsy, lovey-dovey), tacking "mini-" onto the front (you can drive a mini-van or a mini-Cooper); in the "diminutive as a single serving" sense, liquor stores in my state offer "minibottles", or prefacing it with little (though "little lady" as a term for one's wife sounds dated--but would a Regular House on the Prairie sound as pastoral?). Or we shorten words: with names we get Jen and Jon and Jo(seph) and Rob(ert)--and oddly enough, William can be shortened either way, as both Will and Liam. With dog breeds again, we have labs (Labrador Retrievers), sheps (Shepherds), Mals (Malinois...e? stupid French plurals!), pits (pitbulls), and now Shibs (Shiba inu).

It's not an exact gloss, but we're able to keep these notions in our mind in English. Just think of Dutch as having one suffix for all these uses!

And also keep in mind that using lots of diminutives with no apparent context in English would sound dumb ("I drove my teeny tiny car to the little storelette to buy some milky-wilk!"), and that holds true for Dutch too.


Ghent is the city I always recommend! You've chosen well! It's funny that you say you are having trouble with the de/het and the -tje rules, because one trick we all use, ( yes, even native speakers can't remember if a word is de or het ) is to add the -tje to a noun which automatically makes it a het word. So, for example, if we couldn't remember if table was de or het, we could just say, "oh, put the bags on het tafeltje" or, one word that I usually forget if its de or het is ball, so I always say to my dog, "waar is 't ballekke?" You will learn to love the -tje, as it will save you many times, trust me.

AnUnicorn ( that's a great name...I get it! ) I love your response! I used to mull this over so much. It's so true. I tried explaining the English use of -y as a diminutive to a friend once and she was totally uninterested. Her eyes just glazed over and she started saying, "Oh, wow, neat." You, on the other hand, are someone that would have enjoyed the conversation and taken it to the next several levels. I only wish you had been my friend...


@rebekasto: We can still be friends on here! But I know what you mean, though; I get excited about discussing weird little things like the quirks of language, and everybody around me gets that "there he goes again..." look on their face.

Everyone has their little hobbies; I suppose mine are more bookish and less exciting than most. Like language and package design (which is also my field of study!)


O my giddy gawsh unicorn. You had me laughing the whole way through your reply.

I cant reply directly to ur comment cause there is already too many replies. And seriously thank you for your time for that in depth reply :)


yeap! -ke is even added to names!


It is so helpful to have all these Belgian hints, as I am moving to Belgium soon.


I would guess not often, but somelauw put the answer above and he knows way better than me :)


Why not "Our family go to the museum"?


Thanks for the link, I thought it kebabkerry's suggestion was wrong here, but I see it's a bit more complicated than it seems.


I, being American, do prefer the singular, but I think for the British use that the singular makes me think of them all going together as one group, while with the plural each individual is going. So, maybe, they are not all together, but each member is going and they will all be there.

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