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The apostrophe
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In Dutch, we use the apostrophe in the following cases:

To show that a letter has been omitted

zo'n (zo een) such a
'n (een) a, an
't (het) it
m'n (mijn) my
z'n (zijn) his
A'dam (Amsterdam) Amsterdam
's avonds (des avonds*) in the evening
's winters (des winters*) in the winter
's Gravenhage (des Gravenhage*) The Hague

(*) des is an old-fashioned Dutch form of "of the", which we do not use anymore. We still use it in some common expressions, but mostly in abbreviated form with an apostrophe. Those of you who know German will recognize the 2nd declension here.

To keep a vowel long when adding -s to a noun

If a noun ends in an unstressed vowel, its plural gets -s at the end. To keep the long vowel long, we use an apostrophe. Recall, that if a single vowel sits in a syllable that ends in one or more consonants, it is a short vowel).

collega's colleagues alibi's alibis
baby's babies accu's storage batteries 

Not all vowels need an apostrophe to remain long:

logés (overnight) guests coupés train compartments

The acute accent already tells us that the vowel is long - we do not need to keep it long by adding an apostrophe.

schaapjes (little) sheep bloemetjes (little) flowers

The mute e at the end of schaapje is pronounced as English the. The sound does not change by adding the letter s: the e is still mute.

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Last updated on May 16, 2010 ::