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Direct object starting with an article
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Position of the specific and non-specific direct object.

The easiest to distinguish are direct objects that begin with an article:

Left Middle Right
Ze hebben de omstreden documentaire gisteravond uitgezonden
They broadcast the controversial documentery last night.

Having a definite article, de omstreden documentaire (the controversial documentary) is a specific direct object, and is thus placed at the beginning of the middle part. Among all controversial documentaries, it is this specific one that was broadcast. Although it is more common to place a specific direct object at the beginning, it is also allowed at the end: "Ze hebben gisteravond de omstreden documentaire uitgezonden".

If we replace the definite article de (the) by the indefinite article een (a), we HAVE TO move the direct object to the end of the middle part:

Left Middle Right
Ze hebben gisteravond een omstreden documentaire uitgezonden
They broadcast a controversial documentery last night.

The indefinite article makes the object non-specific. This phrase does not refer to a specific documentary, but to any controversial documentary.

Left Middle Right
Ze hebben gisteravond omstreden documentaires uitgezonden
They broadcast controversial documenteries last night.

Omstreden documentaires is a non-specific direct object. Just like in English, the plural indefinite article does not exist in Dutch. A plural indefinite noun simply gets no article at all.

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Last updated on January 21, 2009 ::