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Disambiguation: Dutch 'Dan' - Multiple Meanings and Related Words

Disambiguation: Many common Dutch words have more than one meaning.

Disambiguation Home - 'Al' - 'Als' - 'Daar' -'Dan' - 'Dat' - 'Door' - 'Eens' - 'Er' - 'Erg' - 'Even' - 'Haast' - 'Het' - 'Laat' - 'Maar' - 'Net' - 'Nog' - 'Of' - 'Om' - 'Over' - 'Toen' - 'Van' - 'Voor' - 'Vroeg' - 'Waar' - 'Wat' - 'Zo' - more

Dan

click to hear 2
  1. 'than' - "bigger than"
  2. 'then' (future) - "... and then there'll be trouble"
  3. ... dan ook - '...ever' - "whatever, wherever etc."

1. 'Dan' = 'than'

Dutch 'dan' is like English 'than,' often used with the superlative degree, like for instance groter dan click to hear 2 ('bigger than.')
Wim is groter dan Henk click to hear Wim is taller than Henk
Henk is kleiner dan Wim click to hear Henk is [smaller than] not as tall as Wim
Twee is groter dan één click to hear 2 is larger than 1 (2>1)
Drie is kleiner dan vier click to hear 3 is smaller than 4 (3<4)
Beter laat dan nooit click to hear Better late than never
Londen is ouder dan Berlijn click to hear London is older than Berlin
Meer dan drie uur click to hear 2 3 More than three hours
't Is meer dan duizend dollar click to hear 2 3 It's more than a thousand dollars
't Is meer dan een miljoen Euro click to hear 2 It's more than a million Euros
Net iets minder dan honderdduizend gulden click to hear 2 Just a little less than a hundred thousand guilders
Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend click to hear 2 A good neighbor is better than a faraway friend
Sommige mensen denken dat ze meer rechten hebben dan anderen click to hear 2 Some people think they have more rights than others

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

'Dan' is the correct preposition (or conjunction) for the comparative degree, for instance groter dan click to hear 2 ('bigger than.') But many people in Holland use 'als' instead in phrases like this, for instance 'groter als' - but that's not considered correct Dutch. A teacher in secondary school told us that the rejection of 'als' was an arbitrary decision by the people who standardized Dutch in the 19th Century - just a choice for one dialect form over another.

2. 'Dan' = 'then' (future)

English 'then,' meaning 'at that time' simply states what happens next, referring to something mentioned before - like in the common, somewhat boring phrase 'and then ...' meaning 'after that,' giving a sequence of two or more events - or, extending further, it may mean something like 'resulting in, as a result, in consequence.'
English 'then' can be about either a past or a future event, but in Dutch, this 'then' is 'dan' click to hear 2 in the future, and 'toen' click to hear 2 3 in the past. See also the 'toen' disambiguation page.
Dan ben ik op reis click to hear 2 3 Then, at that time I [am] will be traveling
... en dan gaan we eten click to hear 2 ... and then we'll eat
... en dan wordt 't donker click to hear 2 3 ... and then it will get dark
... en dan is er feest click to hear ... and then there'll be a party
... en dan wordt 't spannend click to hear ... and then it'll get exciting
Dan weet ik nog niks click to hear 2 3 Then I still [know nothing] don't know anything - failed experiments
Dan moet je vroeger opstaan click to hear 2 3 [Then] For that you'll have to get up earlier (be more alert and active)
Dan weet je dat voor de volgende keer click to hear 2 3 [Then you know that ...] - So you can keep that in mind the next time
Dan hoor je het ook eens van een ander click to hear 2 [Then] That way you'll also hear it from someone else (get a second opinion)
Neem de tweede weg links en dan de derde weg rechts click to hear Take the 2nd road to the left and then the 3rd to the right
Dat zien we dan wel weer click to hear 2 3 We'll see about it [then] when the time comes

Dutch has many standard expressions with 'dan' - often about less-than-ideal outcomes or situations that mean trouble

Dan houdt alles op click to hear 2 ['Then everything ends'] - That changes everything, it's no use continuing after that
Dan ben je nog niet jarig click to hear 2 3 ['Then it won't be like your birthday'] - You'll be in trouble, you'll suffer
Dan zijn we nog verder van huis click to hear 2 3 ['Then we're even farther from home'] - Making an already bad situation worse
Dan heb je de poppen aan het dansen click to hear 2 3 ['Then you'll have the dolls dancing'] - There'll be trouble, the fat is in the fire
Dan heb je 't gedonder in de glazen click to hear 2 3 4 ['Then you'll have the windows rattling'] - There'll be trouble
Dan vind je de hond in de pot click to hear 2 ['Then you'll find the dog in the cooking pot'] - Coming late to a meal, everything is gone and the dog is cleaning the pots
... en dan komt de aap uit de mouw click to hear 2 3 4 [... and then the monkey comes out of the sleeve'] - The truth comes out
Dan is 't voorbij met de pret click to hear Then the fun is over, back to normal or worse
Dan is 't gedaan met de pret click to hear 2 3 Then the fun is over, back to normal or worse
Dan is 't uit met de pret click to hear 2 Then the fun is over, back to normal or worse

You may come across the somewhat formal condition-and-result phrase als ... dan click to hear ('when/if ... then') but 'dan' or 'als' and the entire condition statement are often dropped, like in the examples above - more

Haast je als je de tijd hebt, dan heb je de tijd als je haast hebt click to hear 'Hurry when you have time, then you'll have time when you're in a hurry' (informal 'you')
Haast U als U de tijd heeft, dan heeft U de tijd als U haast heeft click to hear 'Hurry when you have time, then you'll have time when you're in a hurry' (polite 'you')
Als de lente komt, dan stuur ik jou tulpen uit Amsterdam click to hear 2 Come Spring I'll send you tulips from Amsterdam
Baat 't niet, dan schaadt 't niet click to hear 2 'If there is no benefit, there will no damage either' (trying harmless medication)

3. - dan ook = -ever

Wat dan ook (whatever) - Waar dan ook (wherever) - Wie dan ook (whoever) - Hoe dan ook (however)

Dutch ook click to hear is 'also, too.' The combination with 'dan' click to hear 2 to 'dan ook' expresses randomness, the choice doesn't matter, no restrictions, 'regardless,' 'any'

hoe dan ook click to hear 2 3 however, in whatever way possible
op welke manier dan ook click to hear however, in whatever way possible
waar dan ook click to hear 2 3 wherever, in whatever place
wat dan ook click to hear whatever
welke dan ook click to hear 2 3 whichever
wie dan ook click to hear 2 whoever
Wat je ook doet ... click to hear 2 3 Whatever you do ... (it doesn't make a difference, it's hopeless)
Dutch also has (de) willekeur click to hear 'arbitrariness, random or on a whim' and its adjective/adverb willekeurig click to hear 2 (willekeurige click to hear 2) 'arbitrary, random' - and (het) toeval click to hear 'chance' and its adjective/adverb toevallig click to hear 2 'by accident, not planned' - note the subtle difference in the examples:
een willekeurige voorbijganger click to hear a random passer-by, a randomly chosen passer-by
een toevallige voorbijganger click to hear a random passer-by, a person who just happened to be passing by
More about 'also/too' 'ook' in Disambiguation 'Eens' and Disambiguation 'Zo'

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