1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Are they accidents?"

"Are they accidents?"

Translation:Zijn het ongelukken?

September 30, 2014

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/badenry

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

November 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BillofKempsey

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.

February 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gement

If you play this lesson again and find the version where you translate this sentence from Dutch to English, there is a very good explanation there. (50+ upvotes good.)

Short form: yes, het can substitute for he/she/they under certain circumstances involving a definite noun in the object of the sentence. It's a consistent rule.

March 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ramonpaludo

Why het instead of zij?

September 30, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BeauVdb

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

October 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jb455

So "zij" always means people, never things?

December 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tinmur
  • 1133

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

December 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewsSuzy

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.

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

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.

April 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tinmur
  • 1133

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?

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewsSuzy

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 ??)

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ramonpaludo

haha I love you!

October 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samulili

That's how I understood it :p

October 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marcuslangford

Sometimes we do.

"he was an accident."

February 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nzcanadian

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

April 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kobajagiprinceza

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.

May 5, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VoD

Why not "zijn er ongevallen?"?

September 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mullac1992

A helpful way to remember "ongeluk"

on- = un-
luk = luck

All together, unluckiness

June 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DiaJasin

No, I actually love my children.

April 22, 2017
Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.