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  5. "What can I do for you?"

"What can I do for you?"

Translation:Wat kan ik voor jou betekenen?

October 16, 2014



How come the verb 'betekenen' becomes 'do' in this sentence? Thanks.


I looked up both 'do' and 'betekenen' in my big, thick copy of Van Dale, and I can get no sense there of how one might translate as the other. In fact, under 'do' it translated 'What can I do for you?' as 'wat kan ik voor jou doen?'.


Wat kan ik voor jou doen is actually the sentence I came up with and was marked wrong. I still don't understand why betekenen is used.


I think your answer is the correct one. To "beteken" means to "mean" something - e.g. "Wat betekent dat?" = "What does that mean?" Perhaps the following scenario might make sense of the given translation: You're at a party and get into a conversation with someone you've never met before. Although you can't quite figure out why, you get the feeling that that person wants to know you for a reason, and you wonder "What significance could knowing me have for this person?", or "What would I mean to this person?" or "What could I do for this person?" In Dutch - "Wat zou ik voor dit persoon betekenen?" That's my best guess.


Maybe this is an idiom? Still waiting for an answer from a knowledgeable person please!


I think it translate to:

What can I mean to you, as- how can help - what can i do for you.

Cause if I do something for you, I have a "meaning" to you.


i typed betekenen into google translate and it came up as a possible alternative to: serve, or help... so I am guessing that it is a version of how can i help you? it´s a guess


I cannot understand it either, but apparently it is a valid expresion. Hopefuly someone can give a good explanation?


One year later and no one has provided a good explanation. I think talideon's answer "Wat kan ik voor jou doen" makes the most sense. I would have translated the Dutch answer as "What can I mean for/to you?" or "What can I signify for/to you?" I'll report it.


Lidor is right. "Betekenen" in this sentence is "to be of value/importance/significance/meaning" to someone (note the similarity between English and Dutch: word "sign" in significance and "teken" in betekenis). "Wat kan ik voor jou betekenen?" could be said by a waiter as "Can I take your order?". It is also used in situations of grief or people in need, often: "Kan ik iets voor je betekenen?" meaning "Is there anything I can do to help or relieve your troubles?"


Why is it jou instead of jouw?


Because jou is an object pronoun, jouw is a possessive one.


In daily life we translate this sentence to "Wat kan ik voor je doen".
"Wat kan ik voor jou/je/u betekenen" is more formal Dutch. Here is the link to a few examples in context:


Betekenen = serve What can I serve for you. Cocktail or coffee?

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