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When you are just starting out in learning Dutch, one of the most important parts you can master are the subject pronouns. Luckily, they are quite straightforward with just a few points that need extra attention. This post will review the subject pronouns and highlight those attention-needing points.
Subject pronouns are the words that you will use as the subject of a sentence. They correspond with I, you, he, she, etc. in English.
|jij/je||you (informal, singular)|
|hij, zij/ze, het||he, she, it|
|jullie||you (informal, plural)|
You may have noticed that there are three pronouns for the word you. The singular jij/je and the plural jullie are both informal. You would use these with family and friends, for example.
Hoe gaat het met je, Maarten? (How are you, Maarten?)
The pronoun u, on the other hand, is formal.
Hoe maakt u het, meneer? (How are you, sir?)
It is used when speaking with an older person, with a person of rank or status or with a stranger. However, there is a distinct blurring of the lines in relation to using the formal form versus the informal form. You may find that someone you have used the formal form with (here, Anna) responds back with “Je mag Anna zeggen” (You may say Anna). Meaning that they are happy for you to use the informal form when speaking with them.
You may have also noticed that there are two varieties for some of the pronouns. The first version you see (jij, zij and wij) is the stressed form. Stressed pronouns are usually used in conversation to show emphasis. The unstressed forms are je, ze and we.
Ze komt uit Utrecht. (She’s from Utrecht.)
Nee, zij komt uit Eindhoven en hij komt uit Utrecht. (No, she’s from Eindhoven and he’s from Utrecht.)
As you will see, zij/ze means she but it also means they. To know if someone is referring to she or they, you will need to pay particular attention to the form of the verb that is used.
Ze komt uit Maastricht. (She’s from Maastricht.) Vs. Ze komen uit Maastricht. (They’re from Maastricht.)
Fill in each blank with the correct subject pronoun.
1. ________ heb honger.
2. ________ is heel mooi.
3. Zijn _______ hier?
4. _________ is niet heel groot.
5. ________ zijn heel blij.
6. _______ gaan naar de bioscoop.
7. _________ bent te laat!
8. Hoe maakt _________ het, mevrouw?