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

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

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Dat

click to hear
  1. 'that/those' - indicating remote items - "that car over there"
  2. 'that/those' - referring to something that was mentioned or happened before - "I forgot to mention that"
  3. 'that' - in sub-sentences making a statement after verbs like 'say' or 'think' etc. - "I think that's right"
  4. 'that' - instead of 'who' or 'which' in sub-sentences that further describe a preceding word or phrase - "the pen that wrote those words"

Dutch 'dat' click to hear has four different meanings, three of which are found in the following sentence:
Dat boek zegt dat hij dat gedaan heeft click to hear 2 3
'That book says that he did that' - so it's not a big problem for English-speakers as 'dat' is in most cases equivalent to English 'that'
Dat1 boek zegt dat2 hij dat3 gedaan heeft.
Dat1: pointing at, indicating a usually remote item
Dat2: 'what is said/thought etc.' - connecting two sub-sentences: a conjunction
Dat3: short for, referring to, replacing something mentioned before, 'that thing' - a 'placeholder'
There is actually a fourth 'dat' in sub-sentences that describe or provide details about the preceding word or phrase. This 'dat' is sometimes rendered in English as 'who' or 'which.'
Het enige boek dat dit goed beschrijft click to hear 2 3 'The only book that/which describes this well'

1. 'Dat' adjective - 'indicating a remote item'

dat huis click to hear 2 that house
dat huis daar click to hear that house over there
later dat jaar click to hear 2 later that year
Dat jaar was heel mooi click to hear That year was very good, that was a very good year
Ik ken dat woord niet click to hear I don't know, I'm not familiar with that word
We zullen dat varkentje wel even wassen click to hear 2 3 [We'll take care of washing that piglet] - We'll take care of that task - sayings
Hij heeft vaker met dat bijltje gehakt click to hear 2 3 [He's wielded that little axe before] - He's familiar with that (usually unpleasant) duty
Een aanval vanuit een land is een aanval door dat land click to hear An attack from a country is an attack by that country

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

This English 'that' refers to a singular remote item; English indicates plural remote items with 'those.' Dutch 'dat' click to hear in this sense is for remote single items known by 'het'-words, while 'die' click to hear is for remote single items represented by 'de-'words, and all plurals. The nearby opposites are 'dit' click to hear 2 (~this) for 'het'-words and 'deze' click to hear (~these) for 'de'-words and plurals

hier click to hear 2
here
dit click to hear
this
deze click to hear
this, these
daar click to hear
there
dat click to hear
that
die click to hear
that, those

(recap) 'Deze' and 'die' are used for 'de' words (including plurals)
'dit' and 'dat' are used for (singular) 'het' words.
'Deze' and 'dit' indicate nearby items;
'die' and 'dat' indicate distant items.

[a tree, a house and two cars - near by and far away]

de boom click to hear the tree
deze boom click to hear this tree
deze boom hier click to hear 2 this tree here
die boom click to hear that tree
die boom daar click to hear 2 3 that tree over there

het huis click to hear the house
dit huis click to hear this house
dit huis hier click to hear this house here
dat huis click to hear that house
dat huis daar click to hear that house over there

de auto's click to hear the cars
deze auto's click to hear these cars
deze auto's hier click to hear 2 3 these cars here
die auto's click to hear those cars
die auto's daar click to hear 2 those cars over there
op deze plaats click to hear 2 3 in this spot
op dit punt click to hear at this point, in this spot
Er was niet veel sneeuw dit jaar click to hear There was not much snow this year
in die volgorde click to hear 2 3 in that order, sequence
later op die dag click to hear later that day
Al die moeite voor niks click to hear 2 All that trouble for nothing, all that effort wasted
Houdt die herrie nooit op? click to hear Is that noise never going to stop?
Ik kende die mensen goed click to hear 2 I knew those people well

2. 'Dat' and 'that' pronoun - 'placeholder:' instead of, short for something that happened or was mentioned before -

Wat is dat? click to hear What's that?
Wat is dat voor een auto? click to hear 2 What (kind of) brand car is that?
Dat is goed nieuws click to hear That's good news (glad to hear that)
Dat wist ik niet click to hear 2 I didn't know that
Dat betwijfel ik click to hear 2 I doubt that
Hoorde ik dat goed? click to hear 2 Did I hear that correctly?
Kunt U dat nog eens zeggen? click to hear Could you please say that again?
Dat geloof ik niet click to hear I don't/can't believe that
Dat weet ik niet click to hear 2 I don't know (that)
Dat is een goede vraag click to hear 2 3 That's a good question
Dat is te veel werk click to hear 2 That's too much work
Hoe zeg je dat precies? click to hear 2 3 How do you say that exactly?
Als ik dat vragen mag click to hear If I may ask [that]
Wie zal dat betalen? click to hear 2 Who'll pay for that?
Hoe heb je dat gedaan? click to hear How did you do that?
Wie heeft jullie dat verteld? click to hear 2 Who told you (guys) that?
Dit zijn mijn woorden click to hear These are my words
Dat ging maar net goed click to hear 2 3 [That only just went right] - That could easily have gone horribly wrong
Wat is dat voor een beest? click to hear 2 3 4
What [kind of] (unpleasant) animal is that?
[praying mantis] [praying mantis]
't Is een bidsprinkhaan click to hear
It's a praying mantis ->>

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Of course, this 'dat'/'that' is a more pointed, more specific form of 'het'/'it' - see more 'het' on its - disambiguation page.
Hoe zeg je dat in het Nederlands? click to hear 2 How do you say that in Dutch?
Weet jij hoe je het moet zeggen? click to hear Do you know how to say it?
Dat had ik niet moeten zeggen click to hear 2 I shouldn't have said that (It was wrong, it was a mistake)
Dàt had ik moeten zeggen click to hear 2 3 That's what I should have said (the right phrase didn't come to mind in the stress of the moment)
Like 'it' is not translated as 'het' but as 'er' when used with a preposition ->> 'that' with a preposition is translated not as 'dat' but as 'daar' - see the 'daar' disambiguation page
Daar had je aan moeten denken click to hear 2 (3 4) You should have thought of that
Ben je daar zeker van? click to hear 2 3 4 Are you sure (of that)? Are you certain?
Daar ben ik te oud voor click to hear 2 I'm too old for that

3. 'dat' = 'that' conjunction -

'Dat' and 'that' is also found after verbs like 'say' or 'think' etc., in a sub-sentence that gives an opinion, makes a statement or expresses a feeling. In English this 'that' is often left out. For the change in word order after this 'dat' see the Dutch Summary.
Ik hoop dat het op tijd is click to hear I hope that it's in time
Zorg dat je op tijd bent click to hear 2 3 Take care to be on time
Ik zag op het nieuws dat er geen oplossing gevonden is click to hear I saw in the news that no solution has been found
Kan 't zijn dat ik U ken? click to hear Could it be that I know you? (Have we met before?)
Ik ben bang dat de avocado's nog niet rijp zijn click to hear 2 I'm afraid that the avocados are not ripe yet
Men zegt dat in Kentucky het gras blauw is click to hear 2 It is said that in Kentucky the grass is blue
Zij denkt dat het nog gaat gebeuren click to hear She thinks that it's still going to happen
Hij denkt dat ik het gedroomd heb click to hear 2 He thinks that I [dreamed it] saw it in a dream
Goropius zegt dat Adam en Eva Nederlands spraken click to hear 2 Goropius says that Adam and Eve spoke Dutch
Stel je voor dat er geen auto's waren! click to hear 2 Imagine that there were no cars!
Ik dacht dat de wereld verging click to hear 2 I thought [the world was perishing] it was the end of the world
Ik wou dat er een betere manier was click to hear 2 3 I wish there was a better way (procedure to do something)
compare the next 'dats' - also note the change in 'sentence melody'
Veel mensen zeggen dat ... click to hear Many people say that ...
Veel mensen zeggen dat. click to hear Many people say that.
Veel mensen denken dat ... click to hear Many people think that ...
Veel mensen denken zo click to hear Many people think that way

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

It's not really wrong to say 'dat dat' but it's not pretty. Try to say 'dat het' instead
Ik geloof niet dat dat zo is click to hear 2 3 4 I don't believe that that is like that
Ik ben blij dat het goed is afgelopen click to hear I am glad that it ended well

4. 'dat' = 'that' - instead of 'who' or 'which'

'Dat' is also found where English uses 'that' instead of a 'who' or 'which' in sentences that further describe a preceding word or phrase.
But in sentences where 'that' (or 'who' or 'which') refers back to a plural or a 'de'-word, Dutch uses die click to hear
In English, this 'that' can often be left out. For the change in word order after this 'dat' see Dutch Summary
Het mes dat het touw doorsneed click to hear 2 3 The knife that (which) cut the rope
De man die de woorden schreef click to hear 2 3 The man who (that) wrote the words
De pen die gebruikt werd click to hear 2 3 The pen that (which) was used
De vrouw die het bedacht had click to hear 2 The woman who (that) had thought it up
De mensen die naast ons wonen click to hear The people [who/that live] next door [to us]
Het enige boek dat dit goed beschrijft click to hear 2 3 The only book that/which describes this well
Het enige voorbeeld dat ik kan bedenken click to hear The only example I can think of
De mens lijdt 't meest van 't lijden dat-ie vreest click to hear Man suffers most from the suffering (that) he fears
Het was de derde keer dat ik 'm zag click to hear It was the third time that I saw it/him
Het vroor dat 't kraakte click to hear 2 It was freezing [so hard] that it cracked (ice, I assume)
Het land dat God vergat click to hear 2 The country that God forgot (The country forgotten by God) - /or/ The country that forgot (about) God
Wat de boer niet kent, dat lust-ie niet click to hear 2 3 4 [What the peasant doesn't know, he doesn't like] - a reluctance to try something new, neophobia
De druppel die de emmer deed overlopen click to hear 2 3 [The drop that made the bucket spill over] - The straw that broke the camel's back - sayings
De uitzondering die de regel bevestigt click to hear 2 "The exception that confirms the rule" ->>
Er zijn mensen die zeggen dat ... click to hear 2 [There are people who/that say that ...] Some people say that ...
Van oude mensen en dingen die voorbij gaan click to hear 2 'Of old people and things that pass' (a Louis Couperus book title - slightly incorrect)
Al de domme dingen die ik gedaan heb click to hear 2 3 All the stupid things I've done
Roeien met de riemen die je hebt click to hear ['Rowing with the oars you've got'] Using the material at hand
De landen die neutraal bleven click to hear 2 The countries that remained/stayed neutral
Hij was een van de weinige mensen die ... click to hear 2 3 He was one of the few people who ...

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