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  5. "Which cats are they?"

"Which cats are they?"

Translation:Welke katten zijn het?

October 15, 2014



"welke katten zijn ze?" Why is wrong?


You can find an explanation here: https://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Pronouns.Ps04 Basically, when "they" is linked to a noun, it's "het". When "they" is linked to an adjective, it "ze".


Bedankt, Maarith! I had the same question.


Since when does "they" translate as "het"?


In English, "it" plural is "they". In Dutch, "it" plural is "it". I figured that all or most animals, including humans, reproduce sexually, and have male and female, the pronouns "hij" and "zij" would be appropriate for them. If the answer we are given here is correct, it would seem that "hij" and "zij" are reserved for humans. If so, I would consider the usage misguided, but if that is how the word is used, it is what it is, and we can either go along or try to change it.


I believe the it is used differently here and more like in it is nice weather.

"Do you see that groups of kids over there?" "Which group is it? You mean the group on the left?"

So now in english you use it for humans aswell! ;)

You say which cat/boy/kid is it. (Which of these boys is it)

Same in dutch but like you stated we can use this "it" for plurals aswell.

Which cat is it?
Welke kat is het?

(That pooed in your garden)

Welke katten zijn het
Which cats are the ones you mentioned

(Somehow saying "which cats are they" feels odd to me like it doesn't mean the same thing as the singular. But maybe that's because I'm dutch ;) I noticed I'm avoiding using that exact phrase)


I don't understand this sentence... Which cats are they? Do they mean Who's cats are they? Like who do these cats belong to? Or they meant "Which cats are theirs?" or they meant "Which are the cats we are looking for?"


An easier translation might be "Which cats are you talking about?" Or, "Which cats do you mean?"


That helped thnx. This stretched my mind further than it could stretch atm. Everytime I thought I had it, it would flee from my mind again.

Some cats are born without a tail. "which cats are they". This would work right?.

Ow wait no, that won't use "het" that would work for "welke katten zijn dat" Which was actually what I instinctively answered..

So more like some of your cats are in my garden.

(I think..)


I, too, marveled at the het, but reminded myself of a motto from my 45 years of teaching Latin and Classical Greek: You ask of a language, not "Why?" You ask of a language "What?" Okay. What is it here? It's het. I'll get it right next time.


Great attitude !! :)

Understanding the why helps

Unfortunately most have the attitude of why not. Trying to force their ideas upon another language.

(What also help is trying to really understand why your own (the language you are learning in) does some things a certain way. Often we expect something because it is the way we are used to. But it isn't always logical).

Without context this is a hard sentence to wrap your head around though...

I finally got it by replacing cats for herbs :)

Can you get me the herbs for this soup? Which herb is it/which herbs are they. Dutch doesn't use they for the plural of it. They use the equivalent of "it are"

Hope this helps :)


Can someone please explain how you can tell whether to use 'welke' or 'welk'? Does it have anything to do with how adjectives are modified in German?


Here is the grammar explanation: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3888221

The use of "zij" looks slightly odd to me. I think it should be "Welke katten zijn het".


Isn't "het" singular for "it " and "katten" is plural so we can use "they" in English. It is always "welke" for "de" words and plurals are always "de" words. I took the stress off the pronoun by using "ze" and "Welke katten zijn ze?" was accepted.


You can find an explanation for the use of "het" as "they" in this topic:



It has to do with how adjectives are modified in DUTCH ;)

It is the same for groen as for klein as voor welk etc.


How do children learn these rules? There must be an easier way.


How did you learn your own native tongue?


Why 'welke' and not 'welk' ?


I have just got this. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Welke is used with de words and welk with het words. It is welk paard but welke paarden because paard is a het word and all plurals are de words.


Yeah, that's right sir! ;-)


From my perspective the appropriate question here is "Why is 'het' translated to 'they'?". English is pretty weird sometimes.


Zij zijn welke katten was marked wrong? Can someone explain?


Back translation: "They are which cats?" This is a different sentence from "Which cats are they?"

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