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'Er' as a subject
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If a clause does not have a subject, we use er or het. We use het for active sentences, er for passive sentences.

On this page, we will look at er as a placeholder for the subject. For het, I refer to het as a subject?.

Ze zingen. They sing. Er wordt gezongen. There is singing.
(lit: "there is sung")
We praten. We talk. Er wordt gepraat. There is talking.
(lit: "there is talked")

Subject clause

Some sentences contain a 'subject clause', which means that the subject consists of an entire clause. We typically encounter this in passive? sentences.

Example Voice Subject
Ze zeggen dat ze broers zijn. Active Ze
They say that they are brothers. Active They
Example Voice Subject
Dat ze broers zijn wordt gezegd. Passive Dat ze broers zijn
That they are brothers is being said. Passive That they are brothers
Example Voice Subject
"They say that they are brothers" Active They
"That they are brothers is said" Passive "that they are brothers"

Now, the second sentence does not sound right, does it? Indeed, we do not like subclauses to behave like subjects. They should stay in their own clause, and we will invent a new subject for the main clause: Er for the Dutch sentence and 'it' for the English sentence.

Example Voice Subject
"Er wordt gezegd dat ze broers zijn" Passive Er
"It is said (by them) that they are brothers" Passive It

Other examples:

Er wordt vanuit gegaan dat ze dezelfde vader hebben. It is assumed that they have the same father.
Er werd meegedeeld dat ze geen familie van elkaar waren. It was announced that they are not related to eachother.

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L-ahhar aggornament May 17, 2007 ::