A question from a friend learning Dutch left me stumped

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A pronoun replaces a noun or another pronoun. E.g. 'he', 'which', or 'her'. There are different types of pronouns: personal, possessive, indefinite, relative... You can post your questions about Dutch pronouns here.
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Guustaaf
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A question from a friend learning Dutch left me stumped

Post by Guustaaf » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:03 pm

got a question from a penpal learning dutch that I don't know the answer to, I hope you guys can help me.

In these two sentences:

Ik heb een nieuwe laptop gekocht, hij is heel snel.

Ik heb een nieuwe laptop gekocht, het is een cadeau.

Why is it 'hij' in the first case and 'het' in the second? I know by 'feeling' what is right (or at least I'm 99% sure)but I can't think of the rule that is followed here.

ngonyama
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Re: A question from a friend learning Dutch left me stumped

Post by ngonyama » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:08 pm

Guustaaf wrote:got a question from a penpal learning dutch that I don't know the answer to, I hope you guys can help me.

In these two sentences:

Ik heb een nieuwe laptop gekocht, hij is heel snel.

Ik heb een nieuwe laptop gekocht, het is een cadeau.

Why is it 'hij' in the first case and 'het' in the second? I know by 'feeling' what is right (or at least I'm 99% sure)but I can't think of the rule that is followed here.
In the first case "hij" clearly refers back to the laptop. In the second case that is not so. "Het" is more of a dummy subject that points forward to "het cadeau". Dummy subjects are pretty common, just think of sentences like "Het regent", "het zijn schurken" etc.

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