"Are they accidents?"
Translation:Zijn het ongelukken?
Perhaps a late reply. But as a native speaker here is how I see it.
If it is in the same sentence you use "het", a sentence referring back to another sentence you use "ze/zij"
Some examples (I'll only translate the relevant part)
"Are they dogs?" - "Zijn het honden?"
"Are they skirts or dresses?" - "Zijn het rokken of jurken?"
"Are they shoes or sandals?" - "Zijn het schoenen of sandalen?"
"Where are the dogs? They are in the garden" - "Ze zijn in de tuin"
"Where are the dresses? They are hanging in the closet" - "Ze hangen in de kast"
"Where are the shoes? They are underneath the bed" - "Ze liggen onder het bed"
I hope this helps.
No, plural of the pronoun "het" is "ze".
Here are my five cents:
I think this sentence would be better translated and understood with either of the demonstrative pronouns - "these/those" (Are these/those accidents?) - which also function as stressed personal pronouns, but I am guessing the creators of the course wanted us to learn this peculiarity about the Dutch language:
- singular pronouns - het/dit/dat - are used to form plural predicates with nouns
Het zijn ongelukken.
Dit zijn onze buren.
Dat worden topatleten.
plural pronouns ze/deze/die are used for plural predicates with adjectives
adverbs er/hier/daar are used for plural predicates with prepositions
- When do we use which?
The difference is similar to er-hier-daar. If it is significant where something is, you emphasise it with dit/hier, dat/daar, if not, you use het/er.
This is very important to understand because, as I've mentioned, in predicates formed with prepositions, het/dit/dat even turn into er/hier/daar (van het becomes ervan).
So basically, think of het as an unstressed demonstrative pronoun.
- Why would one use a singular pronoun to refer to something in plural?
Remember the common mistake even the native speakers of English make - "There is a lot of people here." or "There is a number of things I'd say."
Our mind forms a homogeneous group of all those people/things and we start referring to them as if they were a single entity. Well, in Dutch (and not only in Dutch) this is not a mistake, it is the rule.