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Intermediate level: cycle 4
Les 15 ~ Lesson 15
Naamvallen, onbepaalde voornaaamwoorden, modale bijwoorden ~ Case endings, indefinite pronouns modal particles
|• Jessica is haar portemonee kwijt
|• Modal particles
|• Indefinite pronouns
|• the old case endings|
|Please use Firefox or Chrome. Internet Explorer will not give you the buttons to play the audio files|
|gezellig||cosy, fun, sociable, enjoyable|
|de schrik||fright, being startled|
|zich haasten||to hurry|
|spijten||to inspire regret|
- Marjan en Jessica zijn aan het maar Jessica tot haar grote dat ze haar heeft. op dan om het winkelen maar te en op zoek te gaan naar Jessica's geld en haar . Ze hadden een gegeten in een restaurantje. dat ze het daar heeft laten liggen. Zij zich terug naar de .
, wij hebben hier zojuist wat gegeten en mijn hier is haar portemonnee . Heeft u die hier ?
- Ober: , maar ik ben begonnen met mijn werk. Weet u nog u heeft?
- Jessica: Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel dat het een jongeman was met
- Ober: Dan weet ik wel wie u . Dat is Pim, maar die is net , ik. Ik heb hem . Ik zal wel even vragen of hij iets heeft. Een alstublieft.
- De ober , de vriendinnen nerveus .
- Jessica: Ik heb geen , geen . Ik hoop nu maar dat het is. , Marjan?
- Marjan: Nou. maak je nu maar geen .
De obermet een op zijn .
- Ober: Wat is uw naam , ?
, heeft u het gevonden?
- Ober: Ja we hebben gevonden, maar ik weet niet of dat wel van u is, he? Dus hoe heet u?
- Jessica: O ja natuurlijk, daar heeft u wel
in. Ik heet Jessica van den Heuvel.
- Ober: inderdaad uw portemonnee. , nou, dan heeft u . Dan heb ik hier
Grammatica 15 Modal particlesEdit
- .. Er zit weinig anders op om het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten ..
- .. maar ik ben nog maar net begonnen met mijn werk ..
- ..Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel ..
- .. Dan weet ik wel wie u bedoelt ..
- .. Ik zal wel even vragen of ..
- ..Dus, zegt u mij uw naam eens?..
Dutch has a variety of adverbs that function as modal particles. They are often hard to translate exactly. They do not have so much a clear 'meaning', but add a certain flavor to the phrase they are in.
The adverb wel is strictly speaking the adverbial form of the adjective goed, just as English well and good. Nevertheless it is used rather differently in Dutch. One meaning it has is to negate the words niet (not) and geen (not a, no):
- dit is niet uw portemonnee
- this is not your wallet
- Wel! Dit is wel mijn portemonnee
- yes, it is!
- ..Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel ..
- I do not know the name, but I do know...
It is often used to introduce but:
- ik heb wel gezegd dat ... maar...
- I did say that ... but...
It is often added to a sentence to indicate that he speaker is making an admission or is volunteering something:
- Ik zal wel vragen..
- let me go ask.. (I volunteer)
Another use is to indicate that something is exceptional:
- er waren wel dertig tornado's!
- there were thirty tornadoes (no less!)
even indicates that the action will not cost much time or effort. Adding it to a sentence adds an implicit no problem to the utterance:
- .. Ik zal wel even vragen of ..
- Let me go ask, no problem, will take just a moment
It also softens imperatives to kind invitations
- Kom hier! - Come here! (or else!)
- Kom even hier! - Just come here (and I'll help you... it won't take long and it won't hurt)
literally eens means once, but it is often added to add a flavor of an exceptional occasion.
- heb je wel eens..? - did you ever.. ?
- zal ik eens koffie zetten? - (for a change) would you like me to make coffee?
The word maar can be used as a (co-ordinating) conjunction and is usually translated by but. It is also an abverb with the meaning of only, just:
- ik heb maar zeven euro op zak
- I only have seven euro on me
- Geeft u mij maar een biertje
- Just give me a beer
However it can also be a modal adverb that indicates a certain measure of resignation or lack of choice of the speaker:
- ik heb maar gezegd dat ...
- I said that ..., because I did not know what else to say
- .. Er zit weinig anders op dan het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten ..
- lit : there is little else on (the list of options) than to forget (sigh..) the shopping spree temporarily
Adding maar can also 'soften' the sentence and indicate that the speaker is trying to be polite or friendly.
- geef hier! - give it (..or else!)
- geef maar hier! - why don't you give it to me (Don't worry: I'll take care of it)
With a more ironic intonation it could also mean:
- just give it up - (you're busted)
In Dutch modal particle can be heaped up into interesting combinations of flavors, e.g.:
- hij zou wel eens even laten zien hoe sterk hij was - he was going to show off how strong he was (but ..)
Grammatica 15-2. Indefinite pronouns / numeralsEdit
We have already encountered a number of indefinite pronouns in the lessons before. They are a somewhat irregular group and not all grammars treat them under the same heading. Some of them are also called indefinite numerals at times. Let's look at a few:
This word often proceeds a definite pronoun and means al
- Al het geld - all money
- Al de mensen - all people
It can also take an -e inflection in the latter case:
- Alle mensen.
Used independently it takes -n as plural but only when referring to person:
- Allen waren het er mee eens - All agreed
Allemaal means all of them
- Zij gingen allemaal naar bed - All of them went to bed.
It is also used to indicate large amounts of something:
- Ik zie allemaal sterretjes! - I see nothing but little stars.
Allerlei means of all sorts
- Hij kent allerlei liedjes - He knows all sorts of songs.
Andermans is an old genitive meaning: someone else's
- Je moet niet andermans vrouw begeren - You should not yearn for someone else's wife.
Elk means each, each separately
- Elk huis heeft zijn kruis - lit. Each house has its cross: everyone has their own problems
Enig can mean unique
- Dat is enig in zijn soort - That is a species apart
But as an attribute it means a little, some, a few
- Met enig geduld - with a bit of patience
- Enige keren - a few times
Taking the plural ending -en it can refer to some people
- Er zijn enigen die dat lever zien - There a few who would rather see that.
Enkel is not used for uncountable nouns as enig is, but otherwise the meaning is similar
- Enkele paarden - a horse or two
With the indefinite pronoun it can translate as the odd
- Er stond een enkel paard in de wei - There was the odd horse in the field
It takes an inflection -en when referring to persons.
- Enkelen hebben dat geprobeerd. The odd person has tried that.
Ettelijke is not used very much any more. It means: several
- Er stonden ettelijke paarden en enkele ezels - there were several horses and a few donkeys
Evenveel means just as much, just as many
- met evenveel water - with the same amount of water
- Evenveel mensen - just as many people
It does not take an inflection -e.
Genoeg means enough
- Genoeg mensen - enough people
It does not take an inflection -e.
- een heleboel geld - a lot of money
This word is somewhat low register / colloquial. Even more colloquial is boel
Da's een boel poen! - That's a heap of dough!
Hoeveel means how much, how many
It can be used as an interrogative.
- Hoeveel mensen komen er - How many people are coming?
But in constructions with ook it can also be used as no matter how many
- Hoeveel mensen er ook komen.. - No matter how many people are coming..
It occasionally takes a n inflection -e, but this is getting rather dated:
- Hoevele redenen er ook zijn.. - No matter how many reasons there are
Referring to people a plural -en can be found:
- Jullie zijn met hoevelen? - You are with how many?
Het is used as an impersonal (dummy) subject with impersonal verbs:
- Het regent - It is raining
It also occurs as dummy object in certain expressions
Ieder means every
- Ieder persoon - Every person
- Iedere dag - Every day
Iedereen means everyone
- Iedereen vond het leuk - Everyone liked it
Ieders is the genitive form of ieder and means everyone's
- Tot ieders genoegen - To everyone's pleasure
Iets means something, its negative niets means nothing
They are followed by adjectives in the partitive form.
- Er is iets - There is something
- Er is iets nieuws - There is something new.
Iemand means someone, and its negative niemand means no one, nobody
- Is er iemand? - Is there someone/anyone
Dutch does not have a distinction between someone and anyone, although anyone can be rendered by wie dan ook (who ever)
Iemands, niemands are the genitives of iemand and niemand and mean somebody's and nobody's
- Dit is iemands tuin - This is somebody's garden
Luttel (the cognate of Eng. little) is not very common. It means a few, usually in the sense of surprisingly few
- In luttele seconden was de auto gezonken - The car sank in just a few seconds
- Voor een luttel bedrag - For tiny sum of money.
Meerdere has the same meaning as ettelijke: several
- Meerdere keren heeft hij dat gezegd - Several times he said that.
It can also be used as an adjective or noun in the meaning superior
- Jan was zijn meerdere - John was his superior
Men is used as a subject with the meaning of one, people.
- Men zegt dat dat zo is - people say that is so
Menig is many a
- Menig zeeman is vedronken - Many a sailor is drowned
- Menige keren - Many a time
Menigen refers to people: many a person
Menigeen means many a person
- Menigeen heeft zich daarin vergist - Many a student has made that mistake.
Niemendal means nothing at all
- Hij kwam voor niemendal - he came utterly in vain
Sommige means some in combination with countable/plural nouns
- Sommige huizen - some houses
Sommigen means some people
Tig is the -tig ending of twintig, dertig (twenty) and means something like dozens, lots.
- Hij had daar tig redenen voor - he had dozens of reasons for that
veel, meer, meestEdit
Veel means much or many. Dutch does not make that distinction. With uncountable nouns where English uses much it does not take an ending:
- het vee -> veel vee
- de suiker -> veel suiker
With plural countable nouns it can also remain without inflection:
- veel huizen
But it can take the -e inflection as well
- vele redenen
Or with the definite article:
- Het vele geld - the big money
Its comparative meer ("more") is never inflected:
- meer redenen
The superlative meest is combined with the definite pronoun and usually has an inflection.
- het meeste geld
- de meeste mensen
As neuter substantive and as adverb it can occur without the ending:
- Dat is het meest - That is the largest amount
- Dat is meest voorkomende klacht - That is the most usual complaint
Both veel and meest can take an -en ending when referring to people
- Velen zijn gekomen - Many have come
- De meesten zijn gekomen - Most people have come.
Verscheidene means several, various. It mostly occurs with the -e inflection:
- Vescheidene maanden - several months
Verschillend as an adjective means different. As a pronoun it only occurs with the inflection -e and is then synonymous with verscheidene. This is a relatively recent phenomenon and not accepted by all speakers
Voldoende means enough, sufficient
Wat can be used as an indefinite pronoun with the meaning a little, some or, independently something
- Hij heeft wel wat geld maar niet veel. - He does have some money, but not much.
- We hebben wel wat gevonden - We did find something
It takes a partitive when followed by an adjective:
- Dat is wat moois! - That's just great...
weinig, minder, minstEdit
Weinig is the antonym of veel and means little or few. Again Dutch does not make the distinction between uncountable and plural words.
- Weinig geld - little money
- Weinig koffie - little coffee
- Weinig mensen - few people
- Weinig redenen - few reasons
With the definite article the inflection -e can be found:
- Het weinige geld dat hij had - what little money he had
- De weinige mensen die gekomen waren - the few people who turned up
The comparative minder (less, fewer) is usually without ending:
- Minder geld - less money
With an ending -e it has a connotation of being the lesser in status, inferior
- De mindere goden - the lesser gods
- Hij was de mindere - he was the loser
The superlative minst (least) occurs both with and without inflection:
- de minste kosten - the least costs
- dat is het minst - that is the least
Zat as an adjective can mean very drunk (saturated with alcohol) but is used in the sense of plenty.
- Hij heeft zat geld en zat vrouwen - het has plenty of money and plenty of women
It can also be put behind the noun:
- Hij heeft geld zat! - He has money galore.
It is also used in the expression:
- Ik ben het zat! - I am fed up with it.
Only when used as adjective (very drunk) does it take the ending -e
Zoveel can mean so much of so many, but it is also used in the sense of I don't know how much
- Hij zei dat hij zoveel geld an zoveel autos - He said he had I don't know how much money and ditto cars.
- Zoals zovele was dit fossiel niet erg compleet
Referring to persons a plural in -en can be used
- Zoals zovelen werd hij bestolen - He was stolen from like so many others
Grammatica 15-3 The old casesEdit
- Recall : de plek des onheils – an old genitive.
Indo-European languages, to which both English and Dutch belong were originally highly inflectional with eight cases, three genders and usually four or five declensions. Both languages have lost this system, Dutch however a bit later than English. In fact in the written standard language Dutch retained four cases and three genders up to the spelling reform of 1947. In the spoken language the case endings and the masculine-feminine distinction had been gone for much longer, but prior to the second world war the educational and political establishment tenaciously tried to preserve the case system, even tried to introduce forms that never existed in the language artificially.
The discrepancy between written standard and spoken language led to serious educational problems with equally serious social consequences. After the destruction by the second world war spelling modernization was imperative and a lot of old baggage was thrown overboard. Since then case endings are a bit of an unpopular subject. They are often seen as old-fashioned, even harmful to 'progress'. Nevertheless, there is a fair bit of remnants left in the modern language even though case endings have definitely ceased to be part of a system. The leftovers are idiom more than grammar. To understand the remnants it is useful to have a peek at the definite article as it was before 1947:
The above implies that prior to 1947 one had to write:
- ik zie den man
- ik zie de vrouw
Worse than that, it was:
- ik vereer de deugd (f)
- ik haat den leugen (m)
Most people above the Rhine had to use a dictionary to do the latter right, because the m-f contrast was no longer alive in their spoken mother tongue and neither were the -n and -r endings.
In 1947 a small (but sweeping) change was allowed in the spelling: the n in the masculine accusative was made optional. With a sigh of relief everybody promptly stopped using the infamous buigings-n and it has not been used since... This change obliterated both the accusative-nominative distinction and the masculine-feminine one.
The dative only occurred when indirect objects were used without a preposition. All prepositions had come to use the accusative which was now identical to the nominative for anything but personal pronouns. The genitive was still a bit more common although it was always possible to use a construction with van to avoid it:
- de vloek der mensheid –> de vloek van de mensheid
Thus the change of 1947 basically put an end to the case endings as a system, even in the written standard. In spoken, colloquial Dutch it had already been in state of collapse in the 1580s.
Still, there are numerous relics that are difficult to understand, let alone use properly, without some knowledge of the old system.
As in English, genitives are regularly used to indicate possession with proper names:
- Jans auto
- John's car
There is a growing tendency to extend this usage to female proper names (in defiance of the old case endings) in stead of a construction using the clitic form of the possessive pronoun.
- Annies auto - Annie d'r auto
For inanimate nouns the genitive is clearly on its way out, although the plural can occasionally still be seen:
- het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
- de prins der dieven
- het periodiek systeem der elementen – the periodic system of the elements
- de moeder aller veldslagen - the mother of all battles
Occasionally people deliberately opt to use the odd archaic expression like plek des onheils as a stylistic gadget.
The adjective still has a productive partitive genitive in -s that occurs after words like wat, iets, veel etc.:
- iets lekkers – something yummy
A modicum of productivity also occurs in expressions using tot ... toe. In this type of expression a verb (gerund) is used in its genitive form:
- tot berstens toe - such that it almost bursts
- tot bloedens toe - such that blood was flowing
Related idioms are:
- Tot ziens!
- Tot horens!
- Een uur gaans -- one hour worth of walking (about 5 km)
The genitive occurs in various fossilized forms -usually functioning as adverbs- like:
- 's ochtends – in the morning, at day break
- 's morgens - in de morning
- 's middags – in the afternoon
- 's avonds – in the evening
- 's nachts – in the night
- 's winters – during the winter
- tweemaal daags - twice a day
- barrevoets - barefoot
- blootshoofds – with bare head
- grotendeels – for the most part
- een ieder ging zijns weegs - each went in his own direction
Notice the vowel change in dag – daags and weg - weegs
The form 's is a clitic form of des, the masc/neuter genitive article. Notice the -n of grotendeels. The adjective had had both strong and weak endings (as it still does in German) and the -n is weak ending.
Nouns could also be weak and we see that back in some names. E.g. de graaf (the earl, the count) had a weak genitive des graven and the same goes for de hertog (the duke) with a genitive des hertogen. This explains place names like 's-Gravenhage (the count's hedge/court) and 's-Hertogenbosch (the duke's forest).
One preposition had stubbornly retained the dative and it still occurs mostly in petrified dative forms. It is the word te – at, to. The noun originally received an -e in this case. The proposition often occurs fused with the old dative articles:
- te + den -> ten (masc and neut. sg.)
- te + der -> ter (fem sg. and plural)
- ten tijde van - in the days of..
- ten hoogste - at the most
- ten dele – partly
- ten eerste - firstly
- terdege - thoroughly
- ter gelegenheid – on the occasion of
- ter aarde bestellen – commit to earth, bury
Interestingly the old feminine dative ter still enjoys a measure of productivity in combinations with verbal nouns in -ing:
- ter wikifiëring - to be wikified
This also holds for words in -heid
- ter gelegenheid
This is one reason why words ending in -ing, -te, -tie, -heid are recognized as feminine proper and Dutch does not have a common gender like a number of Scandinavian languages..
te also occurs without articles:
- te allen tijde – at all times
- te zijner tijd – in due course
- te gelegener tijd – at a convenient moment
Notice that tijd is feminine in the latter two, masculine in the other, a good example of how corrupt the case/gender had become in the end. The feminine is probably a German influence (die Zeit is feminine). There are more oddities:
- het hart – ter harte (neuter -feminine)
Te also has a few non-archaic usages. It is used in combination with infinitives as to does in English:
- Dat is goed om te weten – that is good to know
- Hij begon af te vallen – he began to lose weight
It is also used to indicate excess, as English too:
- Dit is te veel – This is too much.
Or with locations, as English at or in :
- te A'dam – in Amsterdam
A few other prepositions had taken the dative in a previous phase of the language and some forms remain:
- van den bloede - of (royal) blood
- van harte! - from all my heart
- met verve – with passion
- in den beginne – in the beginning (Genesis)
- in koelen bloede
For masculine and neuter nouns the dative had -e and there could be vowel changes as well, e.g. for de dag the paradigm was:
- nom. de dag
- gen des daags
- dat den dage
- acc den dag
This explains words like vandaag, with a 'long' aa vowel. The genitive is also still found in:
- tweemaal daags - twice daily
The cardinal numbers used to be inflected and old dative forms in -en tweeën, drieën, etc. are still in use in some cases. In time telling they are used to give an approximate time:
- Het is even na twaalven -- it is just past twelve o'clock
- Het is bij zessen -- it is going on six
In more precise statements they are uncommon:
- Het is vijf minuten na drieën. -- it is five past three
They are also used as a predicate:
- Wij tweeën gaan erheen -- The two of us are going there.
Or after met:
Zij waren met zijn twintigen -- There was twenty of them.
As in English accusatives are common for personal pronouns only
- ik -- mij
Accusative relics are rare because the case often resembled the nominative, but a greeting like:
has an extra -n- because it was an accusative ending of the adjective goed.
- sindsdien (ever since, since then)
- voordien (before that)
- bovendien (moreover)
have an extra -n- because all prepositions (sinds, voor, boven) ware followed by an accusative and the accusative form of the demonstrative pronoun die was dien for the masculine.