Hun, Hen & Ze

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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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Lynn
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Hun, Hen & Ze

Post by Lynn » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:42 pm

What is the difference between hun, hen and ze?

If I'm correct, all of them mean "them", isn't it?

Is "hun" for the masculine but "hen" and "ze" for the feminine?

But why must one say
Ze doen hun boodschappen op de markt.
but not
Ze doen hen/ze boodschappen op de markt.

Heel bedankt!

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Quetzal
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Re: Hun, Hen & Ze

Post by Quetzal » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Lynn wrote:What is the difference between hun, hen and ze?

If I'm correct, all of them mean "them", isn't it?
Not really. "Hun" primarily means "their", the other two don't. And to the extent that "hun" can be used at all for "them", which is debated, it's only as an indirect object. As a direct object, e.g. "Ik zie hun", it's manifestly wrong (which doesn't mean you'll never encounter it...).
Lynn wrote:
Is "hun" for the masculine but "hen" and "ze" for the feminine?

But why must one say
Ze doen hun boodschappen op de markt.
but not
Ze doen hen/ze boodschappen op de markt.

Heel bedankt!
Masculine and feminine have nothing to do with it, no. "Ze" is the word for "they" regardless of gender, and can indeed be used for "them" as direct object as well (not as indirect object). While "hen" is the normal word for "them" both as direct and as indirect object.

And the possessive ("their") is always "hun", which is why your example sentence can only be written with "hun".

Mauss
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Re: Hun, Hen & Ze

Post by Mauss » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:48 pm

Even dutch people make mistakes with hun and hen.
They explained it to us at school once, but i forgot.

bye!

Lynn
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Re: Hun, Hen & Ze

Post by Lynn » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:58 pm

Dank u wel! The explanations helped a lot.

eti
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Re: Hun, Hen & Ze

Post by eti » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:57 pm

The difference between hun and hen was introduced in the 17th centry in an effort to increase our number of cases so that Dutch would be more Latin-like. The distinction has never been part of Dutch people's language, it is taught in schools.

In present day Dutch, 'hen' is predominantly written language. You can hear people say 'met hen' or 'voor hen' but they will do so because they learnt it in school. 'Hun' is more common in spoken language, especially colloquial. In colloquial Dutch, 'hun' is also common as a subject form, though a lot of people hate that.

The possessive form is always 'hun'.

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