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  5. "Are they accidents?"

"Are they accidents?"

Translation:Zijn het ongelukken?

September 30, 2014



Where can I find the information for "het" representing "they"? I find it a bit messy.


Is someone going to give us the answer to this? I am nearly at the end of my tree and this is the first time I have seen this usage.


Why het instead of zij?


I guess mainly because you don't talk about people as 'accidents' :-)


So "zij" always means people, never things?

  • 1681

"they" doesn't necessarily refer to people does it...." are they good shoes?"... "are (they) being used" etc


no, but you can say "they" in English for people and things. What I'd like to know is can't you say "zij" in Dutch for both? "Waar zijn de honden?" - and if the answer is 'they are in the garden' - do you say "het zijn in de tuin" or "ze zijn in de tuin"? Thanks.


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.

  • 1681

I too am totally baffled by this. I would have put "Ze zijn in de tuin" Perhaps it's better to sound wrong, until someone corrects you. I'm sure they'll get the gist of what you're trying to say?


I wish I were like that - I'm sorry, I just HAVE to know what the rules are. If there ain't a rule, I'll accept that. But i have to KNOW one way or the other (sad, aren't ??)


That's how I understood it :p


Sometimes we do.

"he was an accident."


Plural of "it" in English is "they". Plural of "het" in Dutch is still "het".


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

http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Pronouns.Ps04 http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Pronouns.De05

  • 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.


Why not "zijn er ongevallen?"?


A helpful way to remember "ongeluk"

on- = un-
luk = luck

All together, unluckiness


No, I actually love my children.

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