Recall that the subject is the agent who acts in a phrase: I walk, he has seen, we go to school, etc.
In Dutch, we use different words for stressed and unstressed . As a result, several pronouns have two versions: a marked (stressed) and an unmarked (unstressed) version. If, in a sentence, the emphasis lies on the pronoun, we use a marked pronoun. Unmarked pronouns are more commonly used than their marked equivalents.
||Dutch - unmarked
||Dutch - marked
On the next page, you can look at a few examples that illustrate the use of marked and unmarked pronouns.
Formal you: U
In Dutch, we have a formal and an informal form of 'you'. We use 'u' to address older people or adults that we do not know. We can also use 'u' in the second plural (instead of 'jullie') but this is very formal.
|Hoi Maaike, blijf je eten?
||Hi Maaike, will you stay for dinner?
|Pardon meneer, kunt u even opzij gaan?
||Excuse me sir, could you step aside for a moment?
The pronoun u is usually written in lowercase. U in uppercase is very formal, some would say stiff, and not very common anymore.
It: Het or hij?
We use 'het' for neuter nouns (het-nouns) and 'hij' (he) for de-nouns. 'Hij' is masculine but we also use it for feminine nouns.
Het staat op de bovenste plank.
It is on the top shelf.
Hij draait momenteel in de bioscoop.
It is currently shown in the cinema.
You may know de-nouns are either masculine or feminine. The Dutch do not really know the genders of their words (but the Flemish do!) so they decided to treat all de-nouns as masculine.
In the Netherlands, we can use feminine pronouns for abstract feminine nouns, which sounds quite sophisticated. You should only use 'ze' (or 'zij' if the pronoun is stressed or 'marked') when you are really sure that the de-noun you refer to is feminine. When in doubt, 'hij' is always correct.
They: Ze, zij, or die?
We use unmarked 'ze' (they) for persons and for inanimate objects.
However, when we stress the pronoun, we make a distinction: We refer to persons by 'zij' and to inanimate objects by 'die'.
Ze staan je heel goed.
They look very good on you.
Die staan je heel goed (die andere schoenen niet).
They look very good on you (those other shoes don't).
Ze vinden het geen goed idee.
They do not think it is a good idea.
Zij vinden het geen goed idee (maar ik wel).
They do not think it is a good idea (but I think it is).
De-nouns are either masculine or feminine. The Dutch do not really know the genders of their words (but the Flemish do!) so they decided to treat all de-nouns as masculine.
The Flemish often say ge (unstressed) or gij (stressed) instead of jij and u. In Holland, this form is no longer used.