1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Ik zit in moeilijkheden."

"Ik zit in moeilijkheden."

Translation:I am in trouble.

December 31, 2014



Why is 'I am in difficulties' not accepted?


Because no natural English speaker would say that


I disagree. See the examples in the Collins dictionary below.


3 difficulty
If you are in difficulty or in difficulties, you are having a lot of problems.

You have to admit that you are, in fact, in difficulties.

Rumours spread about banks being in difficulty.

PHR: v-link PHR

HarperCollins Publishers.


Whether "I am in difficulties" should be accepted or not is another question. If "in moeilijkheden zitten" only means "be in trouble" (be likely to be punished), then it should not be accepted.


I think it is an entirely natural phrase - in fact UK financial institutions are required to advise their customers that they should approach their lender(s) "in the event of getting into financial difficulties", a phrase I have just copied from my own Creditcard Statement


agree, but don't you think that's because you've qualified the difficulties with "financial"?


I am in difficulties is a perfectly reasonable sentence in English.


Oh yes they would I'm English born and bred since wartime and it is used regularly. Even newspapers publish stories about people being in trouble to describe someone in difficulties. It is quite interchangeable.


I understand the Dutch use "zitten", "staan," and "liggen" for the English "to be" when you are talking about physical positioning (instead of "I am on the couch," they say "I sit on the couch." "I stand in the city" instead of "I am in the city"). Sometimes they use " zijn" when the positioning is more abstract (I think "Ik ben in Nederlands" is prefered over "Ik stan in Nederlands")

But this sentence throws out all that logic, so maybe I mislearned along the way. How can one sit in an abstract concept?


(I think) It's a combination of a lot of idioms and the meaning of those idioms: 'in moeilijkheden verkeren'. The idiom could be:

  • In de nesten zitten
  • In de dalles zitten
  • In de puree zitten

(And a lot more, but those are the most used ones.)

They all mean 'to be in trouble'. Nowadays, those idioms are still used, but the combination 'in moeilijkheden zitten' is used as well.


Those blasted idioms, throwing logic out the window! (can't blame them though; that's what they are supposed to do)

Thank you for the explanation, Merrie :)


I'm having difficulty (ironically) with understanding whether this is about disobeying a rule and being punished "i am in trouble" or this is referring to struggling with a subject or lesson "i am in trouble/having difficulties learning". Can you use this sentence "ik zit in moeilijkheden" in both cases?


No, only the first one. :)


@xMerrie: "In de dalles zitten" is one of the most used ones...? In 70 years I have never heard of it; I had to look it up. A guess: It's used in Amsterdam.


The best way I have heard it explained is that if something is flat or fallen over it's lying, if it's upright it's standing and if it is inside something it's sitting. for example a bottle of water stands on the table, fell and is now lying on the floor, someone put it in the fridge and it is now sitting there.


"I understand the Dutch use "zitten", "staan," and "liggen" for the English "to be" when you are talking about physical positioning" - well, it seems if you modify your assumption about only physical positioning and expand it to be any "to be" construct then the logic still holds.

There is really no reason to assume only spacial concepts for those constructs. In fact "to be in trouble" and "to sit in trouble" are actually on the same level of being logical as you really cannot either "be in" nor "sit in" any abstract construct in any physical sense of the words.

The only difference is maybe the Dutch prefer the physical sit/stand/lie and the English the more temporal "to be" but that probably has to do more with culture than any thing else. I am not Dutch - just guessing ;)


This is 'trouble' as in 'difficulty' rather than being to blame for something, correct?


I gave "in difficulty" as the answer - which to me made perfect sense, especially if you're talking in an academic context, e.g.: "I am in difficulty with this maths problem". It was marked incorrect (09/1/15). I think "in difficulty" is a much more natural expression than: "in trouble", if you mean you are struggling with a concept or idea.


I might say having difficulty, but i would never say in difficulty. It sounds very unnatural.


Should "I have difficulties" be accepted?


'I am in difficulties', is still not accepted, reported.


In 'bezienswaardigheden' it looks like 'heden' means 'things' or 'places'. So can we actually translate 'moeilijkheden' as 'tough spot'?


Nope, the suffix -heden is the plural of the suffix -heid, which is similar to the English suffix -ness.


That makes a lot of sense. Thanks :)


It helps to think of -heid as being related to the English -hood or German -heit. So bezienswaardigheden is something like "see-worthy-hoods" and moeilijkheden is something like "difficult-hoods".


And hoeveelheid is "how-much-hood".


And verantwoordelijkheid is "to-be-able-to-answer-for-hood." I am loving the Dutch broken down.


Can we use "in dire straits" ? What would be the best Dutch expression for this ?


What would be wrong with "I'm having trouble"? Example: I'm having trouble with this assignment. That's quite standard english usage.


For one, "aan het hebben" isn't in this sentence, so it's missing the present progressive. As well, at least from what I've gleaned from this tree/language, "zitten" is a verb that describes a situation that the subject is in (or physical place, but this is clearly different). Since it's "ik zit", I intuit it at this point as "I am in this situation". Think about "Ik zit in de gevangenis." "I'm in jail." Hope this helps! =)

Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.