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  5. "Zijn het kranten?"

"Zijn het kranten?"

Translation:Are they newspapers?

January 17, 2015



are they newspapers? The translation does not make sense to me


This sentence is the plural one of 'Is het een krant?' ('Is it a newspaper?).


Yeah, but the point seems to be- why "they" and why not "those". In English, clearly the later is more appropriate here.


That would be 'Zijn dat kranten?'. 'Het' isn't a demonstrative (this/that/these/those).


Hi xMerrie, I think your are applying the logic of Dutch to English here. Your answer is like saying that "I'm fine" is not the same as "met mij gaat het goed" because one uses the first person and the other the third... Keep in mind that the purpose of a translation is to transfer the MEANING from one language to another, and not the WORDS themselves. Different languages might use different parts of speech to express exactly the same thing. In this case english speakers would much more naturally use the demonstrative (those/these) instead of... whatever "het" is in this sentence. It's okay if you keep "they" as correct but please do accept also "those" and "these" which is by far the most common way of saying this sentence in english. Thanks for reading!


Yes, but here the objective is to learn a foreign language, not the create the most natural feeling translation to English. Introducing needless ambivalence by using 'those' or 'these' creates, well, needless ambivalence really. What would be the purpose of that?


okay, thanks for the info!


'They' is just as acceptable. Consider: "What are those things on the shelf over there? Are they newspapers?"


Person A: I see papers over there. Person B: Are they newspapers?


They is also the plural form 'it' pronoun. So if newspaper is a neuter gender word in english it is used the pronoun IT . So the plural pronoun is THEY.

is IT a newspaper?

Plural form : are They newspapers?


Understandable. That's because in English "it" is always singular, whereas in Dutch "het" can be singular or plural. In English, two or more inanimate things are referred to with the pronoun "they". In Dutch "het" is used to refer to these things, not "zij" or "ze".


Are you claiming that "they" always transforms into "those" in interrogative sentences?


Isn't "het" a singular article?



But also it is a pronoun, both singular and plural.


I thought that de was used for plurals and not het. Why use het?


This 'het' doesn't refer to 'the' but to 'it(/they)'. ;)

('Het' has two meanings: 'the' and 'it/they')


Dank je! The answer I've been searching for.


How about "zijn zij kranten"?


We don't use 'zij' or 'ze' (the plural form) for non-humans in sentences like this. We always use 'het'.

  • Het zijn katten - They are cats
  • Het zijn borden - They are plates
  • Het is een hond - It is a dog
  • Het is een boom - It is a tree

But both 'Het zijn mensen' and 'Zij zijn mensen' are correct.


Very useful! I didn't know "het" could be used for the third person plural when talking about non-human subjects. =)


Bedankt voor de info! ;)


When referring to nonhuman animals do Dutch speakers use 'zij' for females and 'hij' for males? In English, we use 'he' and 'she' for nonhuman animals, and I have difficulty understanding how an animal with genitalia can be referred to as "it". So for instance, I'd say of my dog that "She is a big, sweet dog", not "It is a big, sweet dog".


I wrote "Are they the newspapers?" Why is this incorrect?


because there is no definite article in the sentence.


I wrote the same thing and I'm still not sure why it's incorrect. Because I presume "Zijn" is the verb in this sentence ("they are") and "het" refers to "the" newspapers. I suppose the other options is that "het" is meant to be the plural form of "it"? i.e "Are it (they) the newspapers", where "het" can translate into either "it" or "they".

So my question is, can "het" as a noun ("it") also be used as a plural ("they")?


Yes, 'het' is a plural pronoun in this sentence. 'Het' is never the plural definite article (otherwise they would have mentioned it), that's always 'de'. However, please keep in mind that verbs in Dutch, just like in English, require a pronoun attached to a verb. 'Zijn' can never be translated as 'they are'. You should just think of 'zijn' as 'are' because it can also be used with other pronouns, like 'jullie zijn' and 'wij/we zijn', for example.


Thanks for clearing that up! I think I was getting it a bit confused with how Italian verbs work and I forgot that of course 'zijn' in Dutch can be used with those other pronouns! (whereas as far as i know in Italian the form of the verb doesn't require that a pronoun is attached - usually you can tell from the conjugation alone).


Even though "krant" is a het noun, isn't "de" used for all plurals? This is too confusing for me. Why het there? Not even talking about the translation


While it is correct that de is the article used for all plurals, there is no article in this sentence. In this example het = they.

I don't remember being taught this until this question, but het is also the pronoun used for non humans in the plural as well as the singular. ie. het = it / they


'Krant' is a 'de' word, by the way.


why is the an n after the zij ?


Because 'zijn' is the verb 'to be'.


Whaaatt? Why and how? Zijn -they, het - the....where is the verb t TO BE?


'Zijn' does not mean they - it is the infinitive of the verb 'to be' and the first/second/third person plural conjugation of 'to be' and can be the third-person singular, masculine and neuter possessive pronoun (his/its). 'Zij/ze' means 'they' when used with plural conjugations of verbs and 'she' with singular conjugations. 'Het' in this context does not mean 'the' ('kranten' being plural should have automatically given that away - it's 'de krant/de kranten').


The exchanges here seem to be a bit bad tempered. When you're trying to learn, it does not help to be made to feel as if reasonable questions are stupid. So far, we have had het presented as "it". Suddenly, and without explanation, it is inserted into a sentence with the meaning "they". It would be more helpful to introduce the idea of het as a plural "they" for non-human subjects before criticizing students.


I agree. That came as a big surprise to me.


So 'het' can mean both 'it' and 'they'?


Yes, although when 'het' is used as a pronoun it is not used to refer to humans. Inanimate things, and living things (aside from humans), but not humans.


I totally misspelled this and it still counted me right. I wrote "Zijn heb kranten?" I actually want it to count me wrong when I'm wrong.


Hi GregoryPotts,

the algorithm allows for one typo per sentence, afaik, so probably that's what happened there.

I think it's a very good sign that you realised on your own that you made a mistake! It shows how much you've learnt already :)


I just read that plurals are "always" de, not het. Is this an exception? Did I misunderstand?


Hi ginnyrhughes,

in this case, het is being used as a personal pronoun. When we're referring to objects, het is used instead of ze (which is reserved for people).

Please see XMerrie's posts above, she explained it very clearly.

In any case, would you please read all comments before posting next time? This question has been asked already, and it has been answered as well. Thnx!

Hope this helps.


,They' is not correct. ,That' is correct


Are those newspapers seems a far more normal wording in English but for some reason, it is not accepted.

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