Dutch Language Blog

That’s My Lunch! (Possessives in Dutch) Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Work refrigerators – they are the bane of many people’s life.  No one wants to clean them and if you put something good in, you can almost guarantee it won’t be coming out, in your hands at least.  After today’s post, you will be well equipped to exert your ownership on that tasty lunch, especially when you see someone else trying to sneak it away.

That’s right…today we are talking about possession.

Possessive Pronouns

Three weeks ago we talked about subject pronouns.  In Dutch, a second set of pronouns are the possessive pronouns.

mijn my
jouw/je your (informal, singular)
uw your (formal)
zijn/z’n his, its
haar her
ons, onze our
jullie your (plural)
hun their

It is important to notice that:

  • Again some of the pronouns have stressed and unstressed forms.
  • Zijn can mean both ‘his’ or ‘its’.
  • The difference between ons and onze is to do with de and het words (see, I told you they would be important!).  Ons is used with het words and onze with de words (including plurals).

A few example sentences:

  • Dit is mijn broer. (This is my brother.)
  • Dat is onze familie. (That is our family.)
  • Hun huis is erg groot. (Their house is very big.)


Three other ways to express possession in Dutch are as follows:

1.  Use van (of)

You can use van with any type of noun.

  • het boek van John (John’s book)
  • de oma van Anna (Anna’s grandmother)

2.  The Equivalent of Apostrophe S

In Dutch you can use this option with proper names and with family member titles that are used as proper names (e.g. mama, tante, vader).

Just add an –s to a name that ends in a consonant or –e or ‘s to one that ends in a single vowel .

  • Piets house (Piet’s house)
  • Anna’s broertje (Anna’s brother)

3.  Dutch Phrase

You can state the possessor as a name or noun (including the definite article), and then use z’n (his), d’r (her) or hun (their) before the possession.

  • John z’n boek (John’s book)
  • de kinderen hun boek (the kid’s book)

This third option is quite informal and conversational.  It should also only be used for people and animals.


So in summary, you can show possession in Dutch by:

  • using the possessive pronouns
  • using van
  • adding –s, -e or ‘s for proper names and family member titles
  • by using z’n, d’r or hun for people and animals

Now armed with this information, go forth and be possessive (but in a nice way!).


Tags: ,
Keep learning Dutch with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it