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

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

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Toen

click to hear 2 3
  1. 'then,' 'at that time,' 'after that' (in the past) - "... and then I became a teacher"
  2. 'when,' 'at the time that' - "I stopped smoking when I became a teacher"
Dutch 'toen' always indicates or refers to a point of time in the past. Verbs in lines with 'toen' are in the past tense.
Much of the material on this page can also be found on the 'Time Thesaurus' page
Keep in mind that the word order of a Dutch sentence changes when it starts with a statement of time or place or with a condition. In those lines or sub-sentences the working verb is placed before the subject - more. Sometimes that 'statement of time or place or condition' is a sub-sentence itself (a 'subordinate clause') that cannot stand on its own, it cannot be an independent sentence - and then it follows the regular subject-verb rule in a basic sentence - more - but not when it gets complicated - more.

1. 'Toen' = 'then' - 'at that time' (in the past)

English 'then,' often has the meaning 'at that time' - simply stating a fact or what happens next while referring to a point in time or an event mentioned before. This is 'toen' click to hear 2 3 in Dutch. You'll often find the common, not very exciting narrative device ... en toen ... click to hear 2 3 '... and then ...' meaning 'after that,' giving a sequence of two or more events.
Toen was ik op reis click to hear 2 3 I was traveling then, at the time I was traveling
... en toen gingen we eten click to hear 2 ... and then we [went to eat] had a meal
... en toen werd het donker click to hear 2 3 4 ... and then it got dark
Ik was toen 52 kilo click to hear I was 52 kilos then, at the time I was 52 kilos
... en toen dronken we koffie click to hear ... and then we had coffee
... en toen kwam Jan click to hear ... and then (at that moment) Jan [came] arrived
... en toen ben ik naar Amerika gegaan click to hear ... and then I went to the U.S.

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Dutch 'toen' is always in the past - but English 'then' can be either in the past or the future. 'Then' referring to the future is Dutch 'dan' click to hear 2 - see more on the 'Dan' disambiguation page
Dan ben ik op reis click to hear 2 3 Then, at that time I [am] will be traveling
... en dan is er feest click to hear ... and then there'll be a party

yesterday
gisteren click to hear
today
vandaag click to hear
tomorrow
morgen click to hear 2
last year
vorig jaar click to hear
this year
dit jaar click to hear 2
next year
volgend jaar click to hear 2
the past
het verleden click to hear
the present
het heden click to hear
the future
de toekomst click to hear
then
toen click to hear
now
nu click to hear
nou click to hear 2 3
then
dan click to hear
nu click to hear / nou click to hear 2 3 now
zo nu en dan click to hear 2 3 [so] now and then, from time to time
tot nu toe ... click to hear up until now, for the time being ...
Wat ik nu pas begrijp click to hear 2 What I only now understand
waarom ben je nu hier? click to hear why are you here now?
Als je 't nu niet doet, wanneer dan wel? click to hear 2 [If you don't do it now, when are you?] - If not now, when?
Nu ik niet meer rij ... click to hear 2 Now that I don't drive anymore ...
Hoe laat is 't nou? click to hear 2 What time is it now? What's the time now?
Ben je nou blij? click to hear Are you happy now?
Nou begrijp ik 't click to hear 2 Now I understand (it)
Nou herinner ik 't me weer click to hear 2 Now I remember [it] [again]
Nou is het te laat click to hear 2 Now it's too late
Nou is 't wel genoeg geweest click to hear Now that's [been] enough!
Al die dingen doen dat nou click to hear 2 3 4 [All those things do that now] - All those gadgets now have that feature
de toekomst click to hear the future
in de toekomst click to hear 2 in the future
de toekomst voorspellen click to hear 2 predicting the future ->>
een blik in de toekomst click to hear 2 a view of, a look into the future
de verre toekomst en de nabije toekomst click to hear the far and the near future
een onzekere toekomst tegemoet click to hear towards an uncertain future
de toekomende tijd click to hear 2 the future tense ->>

2. 'Toen' = 'When' - 'at the time that'

English 'when' is translated as 'toen' when it connects two events and/or statements in a sentence, just placing things at a specific point in time. For other uses of 'when' see below.
M'n vader was tweeëndertig toen de oorlog begon click to hear My Dad was 32 when the war started
Toen de oorlog begon was m'n vader tweeëndertig click to hear When the war started my Dad was 32 - word order
Toen de zon onderging ... click to hear 2 3 When the sun went down ...
Toen de zon onderging begon de muziek click to hear When the sun went down the music started
Ze gingen weg toen de zon onderging click to hear 2 They [went away] left when the sun went down
Toen de bliksem insloeg ging het licht uit click to hear 2 When lightning hit the light went out
Toen het licht uitging zag ik de sterren click to hear 2 When the light went out I saw the stars
Toen ik de sterren zag begreep ik ... click to hear 2 3 When I saw the stars I understood ...
Toen het licht groen werd reden we weg click to hear 2 When the light turned green we drove off
Toen het donker werd gingen we naar huis click to hear When it got dark we went home
We gingen naar huis toen het donker werd click to hear 2 We went home when it got dark
Toen het donker werd ging het licht aan click to hear When it got dark the light came on
Toen we naar huis gingen was het donker click to hear 2 When we went home it was dark
Toen we naar huis gingen werd het donker click to hear 2 When we went home it was getting dark
Toen ik het licht aandeed sloegen de stoppen door click to hear When I turned on the light the fuses blew
Toen ik z'n fiets optilde begreep ik hoe hij zo hard kon rijden click to hear 2 3 4 When I lifted up his bike I understood how he could ride that fast

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

English 'when' can also state a condition for the other part of the sentence: something happened at a certain time because. English 'if' is also used for conditions in sentences like that, but in more hypothetical situations. Both this 'when' and 'if' are als click to hear in Dutch - more
English 'when' can also be a question word, 'at what time?' - 'wanneer' click to hear in Dutch - more
Als de dagen lengen, gaan de nachten strengen click to hear When the days get longer, the nights get more severe (i.e. colder)
Als je vis eet moet je ook wat drinken click to hear 2 3 4 When you [eat] have fish, you should also drink something
Als ik jou was ... click to hear 2 If I were you ...
Als ik jou was zou ik niet gaan click to hear If I were you I wouldn't go
Als 't hard regent blijf ik thuis click to hear 2 If it's raining hard I'll stay at home
Als morgen de hemel valt hebben we allemaal een blauwe muts click to hear 2 3 If the sky falls tomorrow we'll all have a blue cap (said when someone can't stop coming up with depressing scenarios)
Wanneer is 't klaar? click to hear 2 3 When [is] will it be ready?

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