Inti qieghed hawn: Grammar > Nouns and articles > BreadCrumbs

Connectors -e and -en
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Tradott mill-Ingliz minn ...

When we connect to nouns to each other, we usually have to place -en between them.

In spoken Dutch, we usually do not (or hardly) pronounce the letter 'n', which makes it hard to determine whether you have to write -e or -en. On this page, you will find a few guidelines to distinguish between the connectors -e and -en.

We write -e if the first word of the compound noun:

  1. is a person or object of which there is obviously only one
  2. is not a noun (but an adjective, adverb, verb, etc.)
  3. forms a fossilized combination with the second part

There are so many exceptions to the above rules, that it is always wise to check the spelling in a dictionary or at link

Connecting -e

1. The first word is a person or an object of which there is obviously only one:

de koningin + de dag (de) Koninginnedag Queens Day
de zon + de straal de zonnestraal the sun beam
de maan + de schijn de maneschijn the moonshine

2. The first word is not a noun:

spinnen + het wiel het spinnewiel the spinning-wheel
wiegen + het lied het wiegelied the lullaby
rood + de kool de rodekool the red cabbage

Note that most compound words that start with a verb or adjective get no connector? at all. Thig guideline simply tells you that if we do use a connector, it must be -e.

3. The compound is fossilized, i.e. the meaning of the compound word is not the sum of the meanings of its separate components

de bak + de baard de bakkebaard the side burn
de bruid + de gom de bruidegom the bride groom
de el + de boog de elleboog the elbow

The last guideline must be really hard for non-native speakers!

Connecting -en

In general, we connect words by -en, unless they fall under one of the three categories above.

Apart from the distinction between -e and -en, we must be able to establish when to use -en or -s. The latter is another common connector, which we will discuss in detail on the next page.

We use the connector -en if the first word exclusively takes -en as a plural ending. Since this is the case for the majority of Dutch words, -en is the most common connector.

het paard + de stal de paardenstal the horse stable
het gebaar + de taal de gebarentaal the sign language
het bed + het goed het beddengoed the bed linen
de toets + het bord het toetsenbord the keyboard
de punt + de slijper de puntenslijper the pencil ('point') sharpener
de waar + het huis het warenhuis the warehouse

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L-ahhar aggornament May 22, 2008 ::