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The use of 'geen' in negating sentences
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If the sentence contains a non-specific direct object, we use the word geen instead of niet. Geen is the equivalent of English no.

What we do in Dutch is what you sometimes hear in spoken English: Instead of "I do not have breakfast in the morning", you could hear "I have no breakfast in the morning". Of course, the latter sentence would disturb your English teacher. Contrary to English, in Dutch this construction is the proper way to negate the act of having breakfast: "Ik eet geen ontbijt 's ochtends."

Left Middle Right
Hij heeft haar geen kerstkaartje gestuurd
He has not sent her a Christmas card.

The Dutch construction is the same as colloquial English: "He has sent her no Christmas card."

Left Middle Right
We kunnen ons geen fouten meer veroorloven
We cannot afford any more mistakes.

Or, using the Dutch construction: "We can afford no more mistakes." As you can see, the words geen (no) and meer (more) envelope the direct object. Furthermore, the Dutch verb for 'to afford' is a reflexive one: zich veroorloven.

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Last updated on May 17, 2007 ::