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when to use certain words....


I have just started learning Dutch so im probably a bit eager in asking this question but im still struggling to know when to use certain words that are the same....examples below.

Het and De (Both mean The)

Ze and Zij (Both mean She)

Je and Jij (Both mean You/Your)

Can someone help me out or am i just being stupid?

Many thanks!

September 24, 2014



Hi there! It never hurts to ask these kind of things, there's always someone willing to point you in the right direction.

A good resource is the Overview of Grammar Explanations. It contains links many useful pages, like this explanation on De and Het and this one on Ze/Zij and Je/Jij.


Some words are 'het words' and so you must use the 'het' version of 'the' with them. Other words are 'de words' and so you use the 'de' version of 'the' with them. When learning a noun, try learning it with the correct 'the' version in front of it, e.g. when learning 'kat' (cat) learn it as 'de kat' (THE cat). There are rules to help with some words to know which to use, but plenty of words don't follow these rules.

Ze, Je and We are unemphasised versions of She, You, and We. Zij, Jij, and Wij are the emphasised forms. Which one you use depends on which word you are stressing. e.g. If you want to stress the word 'cat' in your sentence i.e. 'You have the CAT', you use 'Je hebt de kat' If your sentence puts stress on the fact that 'YOU have the cat', then use 'Jij hebt de kat' For the most part don't worry too much while you are learning early on, just try them out :)


When to use certain words:

  • only use swear words when highly provoked...not in the presence of ladies, Christians, or people under 16
  • only use French words when in France, German words when in Germany, etc.
  • only use unkind words when highly provoked and covering evil with good is not going to cut it
  • only use smart-alecky words when in the presence of smart-alecks or people with senses of humor
  • only use the word "stupid" in reference to very annoying computer software and yourself (which you followed, and you are not stupid, because if that makes you stupid, that makes everybody who's not a genius stupid)



And when this moment of using certain words occurs and you find yourself swearing in Dutch, you should definitely try the apparently quite unique Dutch feature of swearing with diseases. Basically the older and nastier the disease, the better (think the plague).


Don't curse with 'kanker' ('cancer') though. That's a big no-no.

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