Inti qieghed hawn: Grammar > Pronouns > BreadCrumbs

Object pronouns
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If the personal pronoun is not the subject in a sentence, we use an object pronoun. Compare the English subject pronouns 'I' with the object pronoun 'me', 'he' with 'him', 'they' with 'them', etc.

Just like we do for subject pronouns, in Dutch, we make a distinction between marked and unmarked pronouns. We use marked pronouns if we want to stress the pronoun in a sentence.

To place emphasis on a word in a sentence, the Dutch slightly increase the pitch (the melody goes 'up'), raise their volume, and stretch the duration (length) of the word.

English Dutch - unmarked Dutch - marked
me me mij
you je jou
you [formal] u u
him hem hem
her haar [ze] haar
it [het-nouns] het dit, dat
See demonstratives?
it [de-nouns] hem deze, die
See demonstratives?
us ons ons
you jullie jullie
them [persons] ze hun/hen
them [inanimate] ze demonstrative?
deze, die

On the next page, you can look at a few examples that illustrate the use of marked and unmarked pronouns.

Her: haar or ze?

In Holland, marked and unmarked 'her' are both translated as haar. In Flanders, unmarked 'her' is ze.

The part of the sentence that receives emphasis is underlined.

Unmarked 'her':

Holland Ik heb haar op de markt gezien. I have seen her on the market.
Flanders Ik heb ze op de markt gezien. I have seen her on the market.

When they stress 'her', the Dutch and the Flemish both use haar.

Stressed 'her':

Holland & Flanders Haar heb ik op de markt gezien (niet hem). (It is) her I have seen on the market (not him).

It: het or hem?

We use het (it) for neuter nouns (het-nouns) and hem (him) for de-nouns. Hem is masculine but we also use it for feminine nouns.

[Het boek]
Ik heb het op de bovenste plank gezet.
[The book]
I put it on the top shelf.
[De film]
We hebben hem nog niet gezien.
[The film]
We have not seen it yet.

You may know de-nouns? are either masculine or feminine. The Dutch do not really know the genders of their words (but the Flemish do!) so they decided to treat all de-nouns as masculine.

It does sound very sophisticated if you can distinguish between feminine and masculine nouns. You should only use haar (her) when you are really sure that the de-noun you refer to is feminine. When in doubt, hem is always correct.

Them for persons: hun or hen?

We use hun if the object pronoun is stressed (marked). If you want to be very correct, you make a distinction between the direct object (hen) and the indirect object (hun). To make it more complicated: If an object pronoun is preceded by a preposition (usually aan or voor), we use hen.

On one of the following pages, you will read more about the use of hen and hun?.

Note, that it is not compulsory to distinguish between hen and hun. You are permitted to completely forget about hen and use hun all the time.

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L-ahhar aggornament June 28, 2008 ::