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!
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.
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 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).
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
'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.
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.