Due to the nature of pronominal adverbs -- when other sentence components (e.g. grammatical objects, adverbials, etc.) are present within the sentence -- it is more common than not to 'separate' the postposition from the 'er'/'hier'/'daar' component -- and to place said other sentence components, which relate to the pronominal adverb in some way, between the two components of the pronominal adverb. Note: It is common to omit/leave out the van postposition when it becomes a pronominal adverb with er -- such as this particular question:
- Ik geloof er geen woord (van). - (literally -- "I believe it no word/not a word (of)." -- "I do not believe it."
- Ik heb er niets van gehoord. -- "I have heard nothing about it."
A method of analysing the sentence above -- consider that the sentence has six (6) components (i.e. Ik (=1), heb (=2), etc.):
niets (nothing) is a 'manner'/adverbial that relates to the grammatical object er (het = it) -- thus it fits well between the two components of the pronominal adverb ervan.
Thank you for your thorough explanation! It took a while for me to digest (had to look up pronominal adverbs, which are not as common in English as they are in Dutch, it seems).
I am a bit confused, however... you said that more often than not, the adverbs are separated rather than together... So in which cases are they kept together (like ervan, erin, eruit)? You said words related to the adverbs can go in between the two parts, does that mean they only stay together when there are no "interrupting" words?
I think this is one of those things that is better to learn just by exposure rather than analyses. These words are, as you have learned, fairly unique to Dutch and don't translate as easily as others without sounding like Shakespeare or something, but in time, I think you will find that they become easier to grasp and less confusing. I don't really know if there is a hard and fast rule about when we keep them together and when we split them, perhaps there is, but I just wanted to let you know someone is reading your comment and considering how to answer it.