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Disambiguation: Dutch 'Of' - 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

Dutch 'of' is usually like English 'or' - a choice between two items or characteristics: "coffee or tea?" - "red or green?" - but in some phrases with verbs that are like English 'to wonder' it's translated as 'if' - "I wonder if it's right"

Of

click to hear
  1. or - "red or green?" - "coffee or tea?"
  2. if - "I don't know if that's true"

1. 'of' = 'or'

Dutch 'of' often comes up in questions - keep in mind that in Dutch questions, the verb is usually placed before the subject.
Ik heb hoofdpijn click to hear 'I have a headache'
Heb je hoofdpijn? click to hear 2 'Do you have a headache?' - more
Kop of munt? click to hear Heads or Tails? (coin toss)
Kruis of munt? click to hear 2 Heads or Tails? (coin toss)
Schijnt de zon of regent 't? click to hear Is the sun shining or is it raining?
Ben je voor of tegen? click to hear Are your for or against?
Kom je binnen of wil je buiten blijven? click to hear Are you coming in or do you want to stay outside? (I'm closing the door)
Wil je kaas of ham op je brood? click to hear Would you like cheese or ham on your bread?
Vroeger of later click to hear [Earlier] Sooner or later - sometime
vandaag of morgen click to hear today or tomorrow - someday soon
nu of nooit click to hear 2 now or never
nooit ofte nimmer click to hear 2 [never or never] never
alles of niets click to hear all or nothing
buigen of barsten click to hear bend or [burst] break - be flexible or die
een of ander click to hear one or another (a bit negative, 'random')
om een-of-andere reden click to hear 2 For one reason or another (implying: not a good reason)
Weer of geen weer click to hear 2 3 [Weather or no weather] Rain or shine
meer of minder click to hear more or less (amount, literally)
Een kilo'tje meer of minder - wat maakt 't uit click to hear 'a kilo more or less' - what does it matter
min of meer click to hear 2 [less or more] 'more or less,' meaning 'about, roughly'
Is het warm of heb ik koorts? click to hear 2 Is it hot or do I have a fever?
Heb ik koorts of is het warm? click to hear 2 Do I have a fever or is it hot?
Wil je koffie of thee of iets fris? click to hear 2 3 Would you like coffee or tea or [something fresh] a cold drink?
Wil je koffie of thee of iets anders? click to hear 2 Would you like coffee or tea or something else?
Rij jij of rij ik? click to hear 2 3 Are you driving or am I? - what a criticized driver may say
't Is hollen of stilstaan click to hear 2 3 4 [It's either running fast or standing still] - When it rains it pours
Zonder blikken of blozen click to hear 2 'Without batting an eye [or blushing]' - shamelessly doing something questionable
vorm of vent click to hear 2 structure or guy? - schools of literary criticism: the structure of the novel or the character of the author

2. 'Of' = 'if, whether'

In phrases that are like English 'I wonder if ...' or 'I don't know if ...' Dutch also uses 'of.'
Ik vraag me af of ... click to hear 2 I wonder if ...
Ik vraag me wel eens af ... click to hear 2 Sometimes I wonder ...
Ik vraag me wel eens af of ... click to hear
Sometimes I wonder if ...
Ik weet niet of dat zo is click to hear 2 I don't know, I'm not sure if it's like that
Ik weet niet of dat echt zo is click to hear I don't know, I'm not sure if it's really like that

English 'if'

English 'if' usually states a condition - and in that case it's translated as 'als' click to hear - See the Disambiguation: Als page
Als ik jou was ... click to hear 2 If I were you ...

'As if' is 'alsof' click to hear

Alsof ik met m'n ogen dicht achteruit liep click to hear 2 3 As if I was walking backward with (my) eyes closed
Alsof er geen grotere problemen in de wereld zijn click to hear As if there are no bigger problems in the world
Alsof m'n mond in brand stond click to hear 2 As if my mouth was on fire
't Was alsof de zon om middernacht opkwam click to hear It was as if the sun rose at midnight
Alles om me heen lijkt zo langzaam, alsof ìk in een hogere versnelling zit click to hear Everything around me seems to be so slow, as if I am in [a] higher gear
Het lijkt wel alsof iemand heel ver weg af en toe op een trommel slaat - dat zal m'n hartslag zijn click to hear It's as if (like) someone far in the distance from time to time hits a drum - that's probably my heartbeat - Slow Dutch
'Alsof' can occasionally be shortened to 'of'

't Lijkt of 't gaat regenen click to hear It looks [as if it's going to rain] like rain

English 'of'

English 'of' indicating the owner or meaning an association, part-of etc. is 'van' click to hear 2 - which can also be English 'from' - indicating starting at a time or from or place, or originating from a place. In that last meaning you'll find names of Dutch people like for instance Van Wageningen click to hear - usually referring to the small towns, villages or hamlets ancestors came from when they moved to the big cities. (Very few people have names of big cities) - more names and place names. 'Van' is also found in names of nobles, like
Willem van Oranje click to hear 2 'William of Orange'
Jacoba van Beieren click to hear 2 'Jacoba of Bavaria'
Do note that Dutch does not use 'van' in phrases like een flesje water click to hear ('a small bottle of water') - 'units'
See also: Disambiguation: 'Van'

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