Questions about Dutch sentences

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tommus
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Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:24 pm

Every day in my Dutch readings, I run across sentences that I understand but that use words and/or sentence construction that confuse me. Undoubtedly, this is always correct Dutch. But I would not have known to write or say it in such a way. To me, the usage looks unusual, making it difficult for me to commit to memory and to learn how to use it in that way. So I thought I would start this thread to discuss such Dutch sentences when I encounter them, hoping our Dutch-speaking friends on the Forum can help out.

The help that I think would be useful is:

1. Why is it like this?

2. Is this the normal (common) way to say something like this?

3. Should I try to learn to write and speak like this?

I'll start here with an example:

"De twee sterren draaien om elkaar heen. En onderzoek wees eerder uit dat hun omlooptijd geleidelijk aan afneemt."

The two stars orbit each other. And research showed earlier that their orbit time gradually decreases.

My question is: Why is the "aan" needed? (the second last word). I thought first it was part of the separable verb aanwijzen (designate) but "uit" is already there as part of uitwijzen (show). So I think it means "gradually to increase" although that sounds awkward.

Here is the whole article. Very interesting.
Scientias article
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:35 pm

"Conclusie is dat we echt denken dat ..."

The conclusion is that we really think that ...

Question: Is it common to begin a sentence with "Conclusie is .." without the definite article as in "De conclusie is .."?
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby smallwhite » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:08 pm

tommus wrote:Here is the whole article. Very interesting.
Scientias article

Thank you for the link! I think I'll like that website.

Geleidelijk and aan go together, I believe, to mean... geleidelijk :roll:
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:11 pm

"Het gaat er van nature al heel gemoedelijk aan toe: zo eten de herten het voedsel ..."

It is naturally very jovial: so the deer eat the food ...

"aan" is part of the separable verb "aangaat" (concern). What about "toe"? Does it also go with aangaat?

From this Scientias article
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tarvos » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:38 pm

tommus wrote:Every day in my Dutch readings, I run across sentences that I understand but that use words and/or sentence construction that confuse me. Undoubtedly, this is always correct Dutch. But I would not have known to write or say it in such a way. To me, the usage looks unusual, making it difficult for me to commit to memory and to learn how to use it in that way. So I thought I would start this thread to discuss such Dutch sentences when I encounter them, hoping our Dutch-speaking friends on the Forum can help out.

"De twee sterren draaien om elkaar heen. En onderzoek wees eerder uit dat hun omlooptijd geleidelijk aan afneemt."

The two stars orbit each other. And research showed earlier that their orbit time gradually decreases.

My question is: Why is the "aan" needed? (the second last word). I thought first it was part of the separable verb aanwijzen (designate) but "uit" is already there as part of uitwijzen (show). So I think it means "gradually to increase" although that sounds awkward.

Here is the whole article. Very interesting.
Scientias article


It would be to gradually decrease and geleidelijk aan is a way of speaking we use very often (similar examples would be rustig aan). In this sentence, I don't think it would strike me as very complete without the aan. It's basically a nicer way of saying geleidelijk by emphasizing the inertia of the process.

"Het gaat er van nature al heel gemoedelijk aan toe: zo eten de herten het voedsel ..."

It is naturally very jovial: so the deer eat the food ...

"aan" is part of the separable verb "aangaat" (concern). What about "toe"? Does it also go with aangaat?


Yes, and here the verb doesn't mean to concern. "Er aan toe gaan" means something like "to happen" (of a process). Here it just describes the very cozy, jovial behaviour of the deer.

Re: Questions about Dutch sentences
Post by tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:35 pm

"Conclusie is dat we echt denken dat ..."

The conclusion is that we really think that ...

Question: Is it common to begin a sentence with "Conclusie is .." without the definite article as in "De conclusie is .."?


Yes, it is, and more common nowadays than before. However it strikes me as brusque and e-mail language. I would see this as more common in personal communication, but in a newspaper article (actually in general) I would prefer to keep the article. It is a clipped way of speaking, and to me, it's a bit lazy. But yes, quite common altogether.
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:44 pm

"Het is niet voor het eerst dat onderzoekers verslag doen van een onmogelijke liefde in het dierenrijk."

It is not the first time that researchers have made a report of the impossible love in the animal kingdom.

Normally in Dutch, when "dat" begins a subordinate clause, the word order changes, pushing the verb to the end of the sentence. So why isn't it like this?
"... dat onderzoekers van een onmogelijke liefde in het dierenrijk verslag doen."

Does "van" followed by quite a few words, make putting the verb at the end too awkward? Or is there some flexibility in these cases of where the verb goes?

[from the previously Scientias article]
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby smallwhite » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:01 pm

Please see "Components after the right side"

When they say "after the right side", they mean after the "doen" in your sentence.

That website above wrote:It is very common to place the prepositional phrase after the right side. The longer the prepositional phrase, the greater the necessity to place it outside the core sentence.
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tarvos » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:26 pm

tommus wrote:"Het is niet voor het eerst dat onderzoekers verslag doen van een onmogelijke liefde in het dierenrijk."

It is not the first time that researchers have made a report of the impossible love in the animal kingdom.

Normally in Dutch, when "dat" begins a subordinate clause, the word order changes, pushing the verb to the end of the sentence. So why isn't it like this?
"... dat onderzoekers van een onmogelijke liefde in het dierenrijk verslag doen."

Does "van" followed by quite a few words, make putting the verb at the end too awkward? Or is there some flexibility in these cases of where the verb goes?

[from the previously Scientias article]


Your word order would be fine too, but we like having these cumbersome prepositional phrases at the end.
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tommus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:36 pm

smallwhite wrote:Please see "Components after the right side"

That seems to be a very good explanation. I really like dutchgrammar.com but I find it difficult to comprehend it all because it is so comprehensive. Despite Dutch being an easy language to learn, with a lot of regular rules and a lot of similarity to English, once you look a bit deeper, Dutch grammar becomes unexpectedly much more complicated.

Back to the sentence in question.

"Het is niet voor het eerst dat onderzoekers verslag doen van een onmogelijke liefde in het dierenrijk."

The dutchgrammar.com page specifically refers to a "core" sentence. "It is very common to place something after the right side of the core sentence". I suppose it implies, or maybe specifically includes, clauses, as in this case, after "dat". Not sure.

Given the complexity of the guidelines (rules) in that dutchgrammar.com article, I wonder if there is considerable flexibility of the rules, especially for long phrases (as suggested). I wonder if there is even more flexibility in spoken Dutch where, for example, you might think of an additional word or phrase that you might want to add "after" you have already said the verb? Do Dutch speakers sometimes go back and repeat a sentence to get the word order right?
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Re: Questions about Dutch sentences

Postby tarvos » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:41 pm

Word order is flexible in long sentences. However you'd probably just start a new sentence to link it to the first one using some connector, really, if you got stuck.
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