2 Elementary parts of a correct grammatical sentence are a verb including the subject. For example:
Ik eet = ‘I eat’, Jij gaat = ‘You go’, Hans leest = ‘Hans reads’, Wij schrijven = ‘We write.
This is why this 1st grammatical post is more like an introduction to the past tense subjects of the verbs and the personal pronoun.
I'll also explain a paragraph on verb conjugation spelling.
Personal pronoun and the subject forms
je/jij (informal), u (formal)
hij (masculine), zij/ze (feminine), het (neutral)
jullie (informal), u (formal, verb in singular)
Personal pronouns are pointing to objects as well as people. For example a person can be introduced by name, and upcoming statements about the person begin with the personal pronoun that corresponds in gender and number. Please check the example below:
Tim studeert in Roermond. Hij woont in Eindhoven.
Tim studies in Zeist. He lives in Eindhoven.
Sandra is zakenvrouw. Ze werkt full-time.
Sandra is a businesswoman. She works full-time.
Regarding objects, the pronoun het is used for nouns in the singular which are neutral (het-words), hij is used for singular masculine nouns and feminine "de words", and zij or ze are used for plural nouns.
The Dutch people will hardly ever point to an object using the personal pronoun zij/ze as is often seen in English.
For example when the IT technician says to the client “I took a look at your computer and she works OK now.”
Commonly, in Dutch we use the subject pronoun hij or het where English would use it.
- Waar is de tas? Het ligt in mijn auto.
Where is the bag? It’s in my car.
- Hoe lang is je tuin? Hij is 500 meter lang.
How long is your garden? It is 500 meter long.
- Hoe smaakt het medicijn? Hij smaakt bitter.
How does the medicine taste? It tastes bitter.
- Hoeveel kost de patat? Het kost 2 euro.
How much are the fries They’re 2 euro
There are pronouns which have forms that are stressed and some which don't. For example jij vs je in the 2nd singular person and zij vs ze in the 3rd singular and person (feminine) and in the third plural, and wij and we in the 1st plural form. It doesn't matter if you use the form which has stress or the one that is unstressed, it all depends on where you place the part that is important in the (spoken) sentence.
|Hij verblijft in Leeuwarden. Waar verblijft zij?||He stays in Leeuwarden Where does she stay?|
|Verblijft zij ook in Leeuwarden?||Does she also stay in Leeuwarden?|
|Wat is jouw leeftijd?||What is your age?|
|En waar studeert hij?||And where does he study?|
In the first example the stress is on jij in order to differentiate from ik.
In the 2nd example person number 2 has been introduced, and the stress can be on something else, in this example on ook. The same rule can be seen in example 4 (The subject is introduced with stress on jouw) and in 5 the verb is stressed instead of the subject.
In Dutch we can differentiate between the informal form of jij/je and the formal u for the second person singular.
When plural the second person uses jullie (informal) vs u (formal). The informal jij, je, and jullie are much more used in everyday speaking the formal u is still used a lot as a form of politeness when communicating with people from older generations.
People who are not familiar with eachother such as shoppersonnel and customers, and persons in different positions or ranks will also use u as a form of politeness.
Calling someone with meneer or mevrouw or with a formal title also needs to be spoken to in the form of u.
In formal documentation like a letter, one must always use u.
Formal speaking examples are:
“Pardon, mag ik u iets vragen? Weet u waar het station is?” “Pardon me, may I ask you something? Do you know where the station is?”(when asking a person older than 18 years old for directions)
In a shop, the owner or staff will probably approach you with: “Kan ik u helpen?” “Can I help you?”
A restaurant waiter will ask what you want by saying: “Zegt u het maar” (“Please say it”). This is identical to asking “May I take your order?” If you knock on someone’s door asking for charity and while it's raining hard, the person who opens might say “Komt u maar even binnen” “Please get in for a while
There are also forms of ik, hij, and het which are unstressed:
’k, -ie (always following the verb) and ’t. They are usually heard in conversation.
- ’k Heb geen eten. (= Ik heb geen eten.) I have no food.
- Wat doet-ie? (= Wat doet hij?) What is he doing?
- ’t Is een slechte film. (= Het is een slechte film.) It’s a bad movie.