• Anouk van der Linde

Haar haar is roze. Her hair is pink.

Nine tricky Dutch words for beginners:

haar, je, heet, heel, zijn, zeer, weer, meer, pas


During the first lessons of my

beginners ‘course Dutch for expats students always look puzzled when they first hear the sentence “Haar haar is roze”. They find it difficult to understand that we can use the word ‘haar’ twice in a row and that this word also has two different meanings.

Grammatical category

Of course every language contains words with more than one meaning. You might ask yourself the following question: What’s the difference between ‘haar’ and for example a word like ‘bank’ ? A bank can mean a piece of furniture or a financial institution. In both cases the word ‘bank’ is a noun. However, in the example ‘Haar haar is roze’ , the first ‘haar’ is a possessive pronoun and the second ‘haar’ is a noun.

Two- three- and four-letter words

This short word ‘hair’ prompted me to look for similar Dutch words which have different meanings. I found out that our language contains a number of very short two-, three-, or four-letter words which do not only differ in usage but also belong to a different grammatical category. These words are called ‘homonyms’ : words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings.

Below I have listed nine homonyms in Dutch. Besides the grammatical category you will find a translation of the word in English (En), German (De) and French (Fr). As you can see these languages use two separate words, whereas Dutch uses the same word in different contexts.

1.  haar

1.    Haar haar zit goed.

2.    Haar haar zit goed.

1.    haar= noun                            

En hair - De Haare - Fr cheveux

2.    haar = possessive pronoun           

En  her - De  ihre - Fr ses

2. je

1.    Heb je je woordenboek bij je?    

2.    Heb je je woordenboek bij je?                                 

En your - De dein - Fr ton

1.    je= personal pronoun “jij”                                   

En you - De du - Fr tu

2.    je= possessive pronoun je=jouw                         

En your         De dein           Fr ton

3. heet

1.Hoe heet jij?

2. Het is heet.

1. heten= verb

En What’s your name?- Du Wie heißt du?-

Fr Comment tu t’appelles?

2. heet= adjectief  

En hot - De heiß - Fr chaud

4. heel

1.    Dit kopje is heel oud.

2.    Dit kopje is heel.

1.    heel= adverb                  

En very - De sehr - Fr très

2.    heel= adjective                     

En whole - De ganz - Fr entière

5. zijn

1.    Zij zijn blij.

2.    Zijn oma helpt hem.

1.    Zijn= verb                       

En are - De sind - Fr sont

2.    Zijn= possessief possessive pronoun

En his - De  seine - Fr sa

6. zeer

1.    Zij zijn zeer verliefd.

2.    Haar been doet zeer.

1.    zeer= noun                

En very - De sehr - Fr très

2.    zeer= noun              

En hurts - De  tut weh - Fr fait mal

7. weer

1.    Hij is weer ziek.

2.    Het weer in Nederland is wisselvallig.

1.    weer= adverb                              

En again -De wieder - Fr encore

2.    weer= noun                           

En weather - Du Wetter- Fr météo

8. meer

1.    Ik wil meer vrije tijd.

2.    Ik zwem in een meer.

1.    meer= adverb                           

En more- De mehr - Fr plus

2.    meer= substantief                             

En  lake -De  See - Fr lac

9. pas

1.    Zij woont pas in Nederland.

2.    Ik pas de schoenen in de winkel.

1.    pas= adverbium                               

En only -De nur - Fr seulement

2.    pas= verbum                                    

En try on- De passe an - Fr ajuste

Gramatical terminology

verb= verbum

noun= substantief

personal pronoun- personaal pronomen

possessive pronoun= possessief pronomen

adverb= adverbium

adjective= adjectief

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#languagelearning #dutchcourse#alphenaandenrijn #learndutch #learninglanguages #dutch

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