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"De mannen zijn aan het zwemmen."

Translation:The men are swimming.

November 9, 2014



Can you always add aan het before an action?


Why not "De mannen zwemmen?"


Because this chapter is about the contiuous form, when you imply that they are doing it right now, when you are talking, and that is how you imply that.


Just for fun I added 'right now' to the end of the sentence and it didnt accept it


It implies right now, but you can't translate it like that, as Dutch also has words for right now like "nu".


Just because you are learning the present continious now i think, because if someone would ask you "Wat zijn de mannen aan het doen?" Then you could just answer by saying "ze zwemmen".

We do have a present simple and a present continious, but we don't pay any attention to which one to use, we do it freely. Maybe in certain situation one may sound just a tiny bit better, but when learning dutch you should pay too much attention to it.


I think both: 'ze zwemmen' and 'ze zijn aan het zwemmen' means the same in dutch ...


Sometimes. You can translate both to mean, "They are swimming," but only, "Ze zwemmen," can be translated as, "They swim."
Ze zwemmen. = They swim. or They are swimming.
Ze zijn aan het zwemmen. = They are swimming.


Also aan het implies they're doing it right now, not in general.


great explanation.


Whoops, this was supposed to be a reply to Severin_Wanderer.


That is also accepted.


The proper translation should really be, "The men are busy swimming"


You've done it! That is a great way of viewing it. After so many discussions and comments about this you've hit it spot on. The only difference is that Dutch people use aan het a LOT. While English people rarely use are busy. However, the comparison is the best I've seen so far, and will probably be the best forever.


How does this comment sound so positive? ^^ Bedankt voor het informatie!


I don't really understand the grammatical difference between regular sentences that we have learned so far and the continuous form in this unit. Can someone please explain the difference ?


With the continuous you're emphasising that the action is taking place right now. If you used the 'regular' (simple, non-continuous) sentences, there'd be room for ambiguity and one wouldn't be able to know, without further context, whether you mean the men swim regularly or they're swimming now/at the moment.


I thought "ze zijn aan het zwemmen" could also mean "they have been swimming" and doesn't always necessarily imply they are swimming right now / right at this very moment .

For example,

Ik ben al twee jaar Nederlands aan het leren.

I have been learning Dutch for two years.

(I have been studying Dutch for the past two years and am still currently learning Dutch, but I am not necessarily busy studying Dutch right at this very moment.)

Could you not say:

"De mannen zijn al twee jaar aan het zwemmen"?

The men have been swimming for two years.

(The men have been swimming continually [obviously not continuously] for the past two years, still regularly swim, but are not necessarily swimming right at this very moment.)

I am asking this because, even though a time expression such as 'al twee jaar' has been introduced, it is still the common Present Continuous form: zijn + aan + the gerund (het zwemmen).

Is this / will this be discussed in a later chapter on the use of the Present Continuous form?

Is 'geweest' also implied, but never expressed, in the above-mentioned examples? Ik ben al twee jaar Nederlands aan het leren (geweest). De mannen zijn al twee jaar aan het zwemmen (geweest).


I see now, after doing some of the strengthening exercises, that this has been briefly touched upon (perhaps in new updates?), but has not been explained in the lesson overview.

For example:

Hoelang zijn we al aan het wachten?

How long have we been waiting for/now/already? (Obviously in this example, they are still waiting right now, right at this very moment).


Can these sentences be written in the passive voice?
No, they can't because the sentences don't have an object.

  • The man feeds the cat. [active] - De man voert de kat.
  • The cat is fed by the man. [passive] - De kat wordt door de man gevoerd/De kat wordt gevoerd door de man.
  • The cat was fed by the man. - De kat werd door de man gevoerd.
  • The cat has been fed by the man. - De kat is door de man gevoerd.
  • The cat had been fed by the man. - De kat was door de man gevoerd.

More info about the passive voice in Dutch: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Verbs.Ot05


I think you're responding to someone else's question.


No, I said that because you asked about "geworden" (because that's about the passive voice). But I guess I interpreted your question wrong. Could you maybe write down your question?


I thought I had written down my question, but OK, I see which part you are referring to. I had simply meant to say 'geweest' but I wrote 'geworden.' (I wasn't intentionally referring to de lijdende vorm). I have corrected that part of my question :

Is 'geweest' also implied, but never expressed, in the above-mentioned examples? Ik ben al twee jaar Nederlands aan het leren (geweest). De mannen zijn al twee jaar aan het zwemmen (geweest).

That wasn't my main question, but what I was wondering there was:

Q: How do you get from "They are doing something" to "They have been doing something" when the essential grammar hasn't changed? I am thinking that 'geweest' must be implied but never stated, (the same way that 'geworden' is implied, but never stated, in sentences such as: Amsterdam-Noord is gebombardeerd. It means: Amsterdam-Noord is gebombardeerd geworden, but you would never actually say that; 'geworden' is left out.)

I will use the same examples:

De mannen zijn aan het zwemmen. (implied: op dit moment)

The men are swimming. (implied: right now)

De mannen zijn al twee jaar aan het zwemmen. (implied, but never stated: geweest: De mannen zijn al twee jaar aan het zwemmen geweest).

The men have been swimming for two years.

(The essential grammar hasn't changed; 'geweest' is left out.)

I guess this is what you meant by writing down my question.


Alright! I think I understand your question now! (Thank you)

So, when we use the continuous in Dutch, we barely use the perfect continuous tense. We'd rather use the perfect tense. So 'He had been swimming' would be 'Hij had gezwommen' in Dutch.

However, you can use a past tense whilst using the continuous in Dutch. Rather than implying 'geweest', we use the word 'wezen' (old infinitive of the verb 'to be'). So 'He had been swimming' can also be 'Hij was wezen zwemmen'.


I hope that helps! :)


Yes, thank you. That's an excellent explanation of 'have been' and 'had been.'

But I still see, more often than not, the present continuous "ik ben de hele dag aan het haasten / hollen / rennen / rondrijden, etc. (with 'geweest' left out), but it still means "I have been [doing whatever] all day." Bovendien: ik ben de hele dag aan het werk! (with or without 'geweest').


That would then be incorrect unless you'd imagine you're already in a different time. English does the same. If I would ask someone to come over on thursday, they might respond with "I am working on thursday." If we'd be talking about yesterday as in: "Waarom kwam je niet naar mijn huis gister?" it could be: "Ik was aan het werk." But in this case was would also indicate they "were working"


so from my understanding, de mannen zwemmen = the men swim, as in it's what they do, and de mannen zijn aan het zwemmen = the men are swimming currently?


Just venting for a second, but I just completed a pronunciation exercise for this sentence and got it incorrect. I do not know why because Duolingo doesn't provide any helpful feedback. A general shortcoming of Duolingo is its lack of pronunciation feedback. It's very hard to get better at pronunciation without specific feedback on how to improve.


Hi, Timothy,

While i understand your frustration, all i can say is that actually, no piece of software will be able to really help you in that area.

That being said, I have a few tips to give you (I'm a language teacher, so, while not claiming to be an expert, I have an idea or two to share):

1) Try to get some audio files, if they are short, better. You could try downloading a Peppa Pig fragment (in Dutch, of course!) and extracting the audio.

Here, the shorter the better. It could just be a minute or two.

2) First, train your ears. Listen to the fragment while you commute until you know it by heart, pretty much.

3) Then, 'chunk' the fragment into smaller fragments using, say, Audacity (you can download it for free from their official website).

How to 'chunk' it? I could give you a very detailed explanation, but it'd become confusing I guess. Just make chunks of, say,four or five words (if the speaker has a long line).

Then, add space between the chunks that would give ypu enough time to repeat the phrase/chunk.

Say the chunk is 7 seconds long, add a 'space' of 12 seconds between this chunk and the next.

Once you're done, export to mp3 format.

4) use this new audio file to practise now, but this time, (while you commute if you want, I do it, even if people give me weird looks) repeat after each chunk as accurately as you can.

5) once you feel confident enough,do this 'parroting' exercise on the computer, recording yourself with Audacity.

Once your done, compare the original chunk to the part you recorded. Try to spot the differences (see why it was important to train your ears?).

A great app you can use to train your ears (and more!) is Uitsprekend, it was developed by the VDAB (from Belgium). It really helps you with the 'tricky' sounds and the differences between them, trust me.

Hope this helps!


Btw, I only suggested Peppa Pig in Dutch because the pronunciation is very clear and the speakers speak at a slightly slower speed than normally, as it's a show for little kids.

Otherwise, you could download the audiofiles that are used with a Tekstboek, for example, you can download the audio files for free for the Contact series from the website of the publisher. Here's the link: https://media.intertaal.nl/nederlands/contact/

That way you know you're not pirating anything, and you're not getting any viruses on your device.

Please note that the files are compressed, so you'll need to unzip or unrar them using the right kind of software. Just so you know.

If in doubt, ask away!

I'm always glad to help.



the new Dutch voice sounds like mammen or mamen. reported

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