Les 3 ~ Lesson 3
De Getallen ~ The Numbers
|• Counting to twelve
|• Syntax: Inversion
|• Gammar: Nouns and gender|
Mam teaches her toddler, Jeroen to count:
- Mam: Hoeveel vingertjes heb je, Jeroen?
- Jeroen: een, twee, drie, vier, vijf.
- Mam: en je andere hand?
- Jeroen: ook vijf!
- Mam: Ja, tel ze maar: zes, zeven, acht, negen en tien
Leren 3 ~ Tellen van 1 tot 12Edit
In Dutch, as in English, there are both ordinal and cardinal numbers, and number formation is similar in that the first twelve numbers are unique. Above twelve, numbers are formed by combination. For example, 15 is vijftien and 16 is zestien. Other numbers will be the subject of more advanced lessons.
Note in the table how ordinals are formed from the cardinals in Dutch by adding -de. 'Ten' becomes 'tenth' in English; tien become tiende in Dutch. As in English, there are several variants: eerste, derde, and achtste.
Remark: een is used both as an indefinite article (a or an) and a number (one). One often puts accents on the e's when one is meant in case of ambiguity: één. In Dutch spelling such accents are allowed but only if otherwise ambiguity would arise. There is also a difference in pronunciation: /ən/ (schwa-n) for the article and /e:n/ (ayn) for the number.
Eerst en laatstEdit
The ordinals are a special kind of adjectives. They always have the inflection -e. So, words like *zesd do not exist. The only exception is eerst. As in English, it can be used as an adverb:
- Hij gaat eerst naar huis - he first goes home
Its opposite (antonym) is laatst as adverb and laatste as adjective:
- de laatste trein - the last train.
Pronunciation drills 3-1. Your turn to say something- Uw beurt om iets te zeggen!!Edit
Grammatica 3-1 ~ Telling time (hours)Edit
|het voetbal||soccer (the game)|
|de voetbal||soccer ball|
|het uur||hour; o'clock|
Knowing the numbers from 1 to 12, you can now begin asking and telling time in Dutch.
Twee jongens, Hendrik en Karel, zijn vrienden. Op eenkomen ze tegen.
- Hendrik: Karel. ?
- Karel: Hallo!
- Hendrik: Wil je ?
- Karel: , maar is het?
- Hendrik: Het is .
- Karel: kan ik .
- Hendrik: Dat is goed. We spelen nog een lang!
- Karel: Ja, En me .
Asking for the time is accomplished by the sentence:
- Hoe laat is het? ("What time is it?", lit. "How late is it?").
The answer is:
- Het is ____ uur - "It is ____ o'clock", substituting the correct cardinal value.
Half en kwartEdit
The half hours are indicated differently in Dutch:
- het is half vier - 3:30
- it is half past 3
The quarter hours are similar
- het is kwart over drie - 3:15
- het is kwart voor vier - 3:45
For more on time telling, have look at the practice lesson 3A.
Syntax 3-1 ~ Some more word order: inversionEdit
We have seen that inversion of subject and verb is used to create a question:
- Het is twee uur
- Hoe laat is het?
However, recall from the conversation that inversion happens for other reasons.
- ...daarna breng je...
- ...op een middag komen ze...
These are not questions, still there is inversion. The reason is that the adverb daarna or the adverbial expression op een middag was put before the subject + verb part for emphasis. This causes inversion. We could also have said:
- Jij brengt mij daarna op je motor naar huis.
- Zij komen elkaar op een middag tegen.
Notice that the verb loses final -t when using the informal second person jij or je in such cases as it does in questions:
- jij brengt - breng je
Grammatica 3-3 ~ Introduction to naamwoordenEdit
Dutch grammar uses the word naamwoord (lit. name-word) that does not translate well into English. Naamwoorden indicates a rather broad class of words, both independently used (like nouns) or used to specify another word (like adjectives). Dutch grammar is therefore structured a bit differently from the English one. Besides naamwoorden there are two other large classes of words in Dutch: werkwoorden (verbs) and bijwoorden (adverbs).
A noun is a fundamental part of speech, occurring in sentences in two different ways: as subjects (performers of action), or objects (recipients of action). As a generality, a noun is the name of a "person, place, thing or concept".
Nouns are classified into
- proper nouns (eigennamen): e.g. "Janet"
- common nouns (zelfstandige naamwoorden): e.g. "girl"
- cardinals (telwoorden): e.g. one, two, three, etc.
- pronouns (voornaamwoorden): e.g. "she", "her"
The latter group is often considered a separate class of words. They stand in for (pro-, voor-) nouns. Words like "hij" - "he" are known as personal pronouns (persoonlijke voornaamwoorden)
Dutch has its own grammatical nomenclature and to use dictionaries and grammars it is useful to know it.
Noun is rendered as zelfstandig naamwoord ('nameword that stands on itself'). An adjective is called bijvoeglijk naamwoord (nameword that can be added). Naamwoord is more general than noun. It derives from the Latin term nomen: nomen substantivum (zelfstandig naamwoord) and nomen adiectivum (bijvoeglijk naamwoord).
Adjectives are usually added to nouns to further determine them:
- "mooi" weer
- "beautiful" weather
Some pronouns, e.g. possessive pronouns (bezittelijk voornaamwoord) are used as adjectives:
- "mijn" auto
- "my" car
A special class of adjectives is formed by the articles (lidwoorden):
- "the" car
- "de" auto
Gender of NounsEdit
We have seen evidence of word gender in the pronouns we have been encountering; notably 'he', 'she', and 'it' in English and hij, zij, and het in Dutch. We also saw that adjectives depend on gender in Dutch.
There are a few rules that help to determine a noun's gender, but mostly it must be learned as children do: word by word.
Noun gender is also reflected in the definite article It should always be learned as part of the noun, as this is a good way to memorize gender.
Definite articles are equivalent to an English 'the', and the two basic gender forms in Dutch are as follows:
- het: neuter singular (pronounce /hEt/, "h-eh-t")
- de: (pronounce /də/) all other cases
Much like in English there are three genders for animate nouns (people, pets etc.) and this shows up clearly in their personal pronouns: hij, zij and het (he, she and it) and their possessive pronouns zijn, haar and zijn (his, her, its):
- To say 'the man' in Dutch, you would say de man, because man is a masculine noun.
- You refer to de man with hij (he): Hij is een man. Een man en zijn (his) hond
- To say 'the woman' in Dutch, you would say de vrouw, because vrouw is a feminine noun.
- You would say: Zij (she) is een vrouw. Een vrouw en haar (her) werk
- To say 'the calf' in Dutch, you would say het kalf, because kalf is a neuter noun.
- You would say: Het (it) is een kalf. Een kalf en zijn (its) stal
However, zijn is not used much anymore to refer to a neuter word and we will see a different way of expressing "its" later.
In the plural the gender distinctions are absent: de mannen, de vrouwen, de kalveren are all referred to by zij (they) and hun (their).
As you see the definite article is the same for masculine and feminine, but it is not just definite articles, but also adjectives and pronouns that must match the gender of the noun they are related to.
In the Netherlands (the North) the distinction between masculine and feminine was lost for inanimate nouns (things, concepts etc.) in the 17th century. The feminine and the masculine have merged into a common gender north of de grote riveren (the Great Rivers: the Meuse, the Rhine and its branches) almost entirely. Someone learning the language therefore best considers Dutch a two-gender language for anything but persons:
- the clock is de klok, because it is common gender
- the book is het boek, because it is neuter gender
This does not hold for the South, where a "de klok" may still be referred to as "zij" (she), but it is acceptable standard Dutch to disregard the masculine-feminine distinction.
By contrast, the twofold split common-neuter is still very much alive in Dutch and this must be mastered by any beginner to learn the language well. Therefore, it is important when learning Dutch nouns to always learn them together with their correct definite article. That is:
- Memorize the word for 'book' in Dutch as het boek, not simply boek.
- Memorize the word for 'clock' in Dutch as de klok, not simply klok.
This is by far the most important thing you should do right now. The fine distinctions between the varieties of the language can wait.
The reference problemEdit
As we saw above the personal pronouns (hij,zij,het) still show the three-gender distinction that Dutch inherited from its Indoeuropean ancestry. That makes it hard to use personal pronouns for an inanimate common gender word. Nowadays hij and zij are pretty much restricted to people or their pets, so they indicate natural rather than grammatical gender, certainly in the North. In the South de klok may still be called a she, but Northerners avoid such references and so should you. Notice that you cannot resort to het (it) as done in English, because de klok is not neuter...
This leaves roughly two thirds of all inanimate nouns without a personal pronoun to refer them by. For possessive pronouns (his, her, its) a similar problem exists.
We shall see three common ways that speakers use to avoid this reference problem:
These three aspects of the language play a more prominent role in Dutch than they do in English. One could say that the merger of m/f into common gender has triggered a number of shifts in the language, that for example German or English do not have and must be mastered to speak Dutch well.
Rules for genderEdit
There are a few general (and helpful) rules for gender:
- Diminutives are neuter: de klok → het klokje
- Words in -ing, -heid, -teit, -te carry de. (they are actually feminine, but do not worry about that).
- Loans usually retain their gender: (Latin) museum → het museum (both neuter).
Another helpful fact is that all genders behave the same in the plural, all use de, die, zij etc.
Apart from these general rules, nouns should be memorized together with their definite article. So, learn "de klok", not just "klok" and "het paard" not just "paard"
There is an interesting group of words for which the natural gender is in conflict with the grammatical gender, e.g. diminutives of people:
- The girl: het meisje
- The (little) boy: het jongetje
Grammatically they are neuter and their articles, adjectives and demonstratives follow the neuter pattern. However the personal and possessive pronouns follow the natural gender:
- Een mooi (n!) meisje en haar (f!) moeder
- Dat (n!) jongetje? Hij (m!) is niet hier
|Dutch word||audio file||English translation|
|het boek||boek (help·info)||book|
|het getal, de getallen||getal (help·info)||number, numbers|
|het huis||huis (help·info)||house|
|de jongen, de jongens||jongen (help·info)||boy, boys|
|de klok||klok (help·info)||clock|
|de klokkentoren||klokkentoren (help·info)||clock tower|
|de man||man (help·info)||man|
|het meisje||meisje (help·info)||girl|
|de middag||middag (help·info)||afternoon|
|de motor||motor (help·info)||motorcycle|
|het uur||uur (help·info)||hour; also "o'clock"|
|de vrouw||vrouw (help·info)||woman|
|breng je me...||you take me...|
|dat is goed||very well (lit.: "that is good")|
|Ik kan... spelen||I can play...|
|Het is||It is|
|Hoe laat is het?||What is the time?|
|op een middag||one afternoon|
|tot twee uur||until two o'clock|
|Wil je... ?||Do you want... ? (familiar form; also: Would you like to... ?)|
|van x tot y||from x to y (exclusive)|
|brengen||brengen (help·info)||to bring|
|spelen||spelen (help·info)||to play|
|tellen||tellen (help·info)||to count|
|voetballen||voetballen (help·info)||to play soccer/football|
|daarna||daarna (help·info)||after that|
|elkaar||elkaar (help·info)||each other|
|naar||naar (help·info)||to (as in "I'm driving to London.")|
Also included in the vocabulary for Lesson 3 are the ordinal and cardinal numbers 1 through 12 from the table at the beginning of this lesson.