het eens zijn (met)

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KrisPa
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het eens zijn (met)

Post by KrisPa » Fri May 09, 2014 6:40 pm

This is a rather strange language construction for me. I read that "eens" as an adverb means "once" or "sometimes"; it can also serve as an adjective meaning "agreeing" or "matching".

So I'm wondering what is the role of "het" in this construction (as, for example, in the sentence "Ik ben het met je eens") as it neither seems to be a pronoun "it" nor the definite article here.

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Bert
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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by Bert » Fri May 09, 2014 9:06 pm

Het has no role in this construction. It's simply a part of it (together with eens).
Jan heeft het niet breed. - Jan's financial situation is not good.

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by KrisPa » Sat May 10, 2014 11:55 am

Thank you, Bert. Your sentence "Jan heeft het niet breed" is quite convincing =D> for me as an illustration of the use of "het" in such phrases. If I wanted to translate it literally into English, I would get "John has it not very well (financially)" which is what I am able to grasp easily.

The problem with "het" in my Dutch sentence (Ik ben het met je eens) is that this "het" follows the verb "be" rather than the verb "have" which is - I think - something very specific to Dutch and not present in English. I am it with you agreed - would have been its English literal translation, and if only we replaced "am" with "have", we would have arrived at a quite handy, much more comprehensive English version which would be: I have it with you agreed meaning I agree with you.

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by Quetzal » Sat May 10, 2014 12:43 pm

It is a pronoun, sort of, but it's part of the fixed expression "het eens zijn met". The only thing you could replace it with is, in some cases, "dat" instead of "het" (as in, "Dat ben ik (niet) met je eens").

In the word "eens", you can see the number "een", the idea is that you and the other person are "one" in your thinking on this issue (in English, there is a comparable expression "to be of one mind"), which is also why I don't agree that "hebben" would make more sense than "zijn". And "this issue" is expressed by "het", or "dat".

But yeah, it's just an idiomatic expression, it can't be entirely explained.

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by KrisPa » Sat May 10, 2014 1:20 pm

Yes, I do agree that as an idiomatic expression it can't be entirely explained. I am just looking for ways to come closer to the hidden "soul" of it. And indeed, what you have said about "het" as approaching the idea of "this issue" in my Dutch sentence does convince me now. In other ways, according to your explanation, one might also try to replace this "het" with the English "here", so you would have "I am here with you of one" or "I am of one with you here".

By the way, isn't "eens" the remnant of the old adjectival genetive of "een", such as the following adjectives are in expressions like: iets lekkers, niets bijzonders, weinig interessants, veel goeds? If so, "eens" would have precisely meant "of one" for Dutch people who still used cases in their ancient language.

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by ngonyama » Mon May 12, 2014 5:29 am

Yes it is a relic of the genitive case. "Eens" means "of one" (view, opinion, insight, whatever.).

Of course in modern Dutch it is simply a "staande uitdrukking": an idiom.

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by KrisPa » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:38 pm

Hello again. :D I have just come across a similar expression of this type:
- Helaas ben ik het er niet mee eens.
As er and het appear both in this sentence, I might think that it is er rather than het which stands for "on this issue"!

I know the expression is idiomatic, but I feel there must be some reason in the history of the language that would explain the idiomatic "het eens".

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Re: het eens zijn (met)

Post by Bert » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:14 pm


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