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

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

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Voor

click to hear 2
1a. before - time - "before eight"
1b. before, in front of - place - "a tree in front of the house"
2. for - "a present for Mary"
2a. in favor of - "are you for or against?"
3. various, others - "be kind to animals"
Dutch 'voor' and English 'for' may be fairly equivalent, you can often use Dutch 'voor' where English says 'for,' but in other languages there may be a wide variety of prepositions to express those meanings. Study the many sample sentences for a better understanding of the usage.
Dutch 'voor' is 'before' both in time and place - English rather says 'in front of' for place.

1a. 'voor' = 'before' in time

Het begint vòòr acht uur click to hear It starts before 8 o'clock
De donkere dagen voor Kerstmis click to hear 2 The dark days before Christmas
De stilte voor de storm click to hear The quiet before the storm (literally and figuratively)
De kost gaat voor de baat uit click to hear 2 3 Cost, investment precedes profit - Sayings
Kort voor de voorstelling click to hear 2 Shortly before the performance
Hoe lang nog voor we weer een overstroming krijgen? click to hear How long before we'll have another flood?

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Dutch 'voor' can be both about time and place, but Dutch has different opposites for 'voor' in 'time' and 'place' - like English 'after' and 'behind.' The opposite of 'voor' in time is 'na' click to hear ('after')
voor 't eten click to hear 2 before dinner (or lunch)
na 't eten click to hear 2 after dinner (or lunch)
voor de oorlog click to hear before the war
na de oorlog click to hear after the war
voor tienen click to hear before 10
na tienen click to hear after 10 ->>

Dutch has many common compound words with 'voor' click to hear 2 ('before') and its 'time' opposite 'na' click to hear ('after')

(het) voorjaar click to hear 2 Spring
(het) najaar click to hear 2 Autumn, Fall
(both a bit formal)
(het) voorgerecht click to hear ['before-dish'] - appetizer
(het) nagerecht click to
    hear [after-dish] - dessert
(het) hoofdgerecht click to hear main course
(de) nasmaak click to hear aftertaste
(het) voorproefje click to hear 2 'foretaste' (mostly
figuratively)
de sonate ervoor click to hear 2 the sonata before it
het boek erna click to hear 2 the book after it
(het) voordeel click to hear advantage
(het) nadeel click to hear disadvantage
(het) voorwoord click to hear 2 foreword, preface
(het) nawoord click to hear 2 afterword
(het) voorgevoel click to hear 2 premonition
(het) voorteken click to hear omen
voorbereiden click to hear 2 to prepare (in advance)
(de) voorbereiding click to hear 2 preparation (readiness)
(het) voorspel click to hear ['foreplay'] prelude
na U click to hear 2 after you (polite)
(het) vooruitzicht click to hear prospect, outlook
(de) vooruitzichten click to hear prospects, outlook
(de) voorouders click to hear 2 ancestors
(de) nakomelingen click to hear descendants
(het) nakomertje click to hear late child
(het) vooroordeel click to hear 2 preconceived notion
(het) vooronderzoek click to hear preliminary investigation
(de) voorwaarde click to hear (pre-)condition
(de) voorkeur click to hear 2 preference
(de) voorrang click to hear priority; right-of-
-way (in traffic)
See also Time Thesaurus
Verkeer van rechts heeft vaak voorrang click to hear 2 3 Traffic from the right often has the right-of-way
Na mij de zondvloed click to hear 2 3 After me the deluge (when I'm gone things will go badly) - Louis XIV

1b. 'voor' 'in front of' ('place)

voor 't huis click to hear in front of the house
een boom voor 't huis click to hear a tree in front of the house
Hij neemt geen blad voor de mond click to hear 2 3 [He doesn't put a leaf in front of his mouth] - He's not afraid to speak his mind, he doesn't mince his words

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

When 'voor' is about place, 'in front of,' the Dutch opposite is 'achter' click to hear ('behind, back.') Achter 't huis click to hear ('behind the house.')
English 'after' looks suspiciously like Dutch 'achter' click to hear ('behind.') It must be from the same root - but the Dutch word is now almost only used for place, rarely for time; and English 'after' on the other hand, is only used for time, not for place - though we still find 'aft' - "lav aft inop."
Though the word achteraf click to hear can mean both 'afterwards, after something happened' but also 'remote, remotely located' and 'achter' is found in a time phrase like: achter in de twintig click to hear 2 3 ('in my/his/her late 20s') and a word like (de) achterneef click to hear ('a distant male relative') ->>
Anne Frank: Het Achterhuis click to hear 'Anne Frank' - 'The Back of the House' - usually translated as 'The Secret Annexe.' ->>

voor 't huis click to hear in front of the house
achter 't huis click to hear behind the house
(de) voordeur click to hear front door
(de) achterdeur click to hear back door
(de) voortuin click to hear 2 front yard
(de) achtertuin click to hear back yard
(de) voorsprong click to hear 2 headstart, lead
(de) achterstand click to hear disadvantage, lag
(being behind)
(de) voornaam click to hear first name, christian name
(de) achternaam click to hear last name, family name
(de) voorkant click to hear front (side)
(de) achterkant click to hear 2 back >>
voornaam click to hear with the stress on the second syllable means 'important' - voornaamste click to hear ' most important'
(het) voorhoofd click to hear forehead, brow
(de) achtergrond click to hear 2 background
achterhaald click to hear "overtaken" disproven, superseded, outdated, out-of-fashion
vooruit click to hear 2 forward
achteruit click to hear 2 backward
(de) voorruit click to hear 2 front window, windhield (car)
(de) achterruit click to hear 2 back window (car)

In the last words above, 'voorruit' ('front window, car windshield') and 'achterruit' ('back window') may have the stress in the first syllable, while 'vooruit' ('forward') and 'achteruit' ('backwards') may have the stress on the last syllable - though it may not be very strong.
Dutch (de) 'gang' click to hear in a building means 'corridor, hallway.' (De) ingang click to hear 2 is 'entry, entrance' - (de) uitgang click to hear 2 is 'exit, egress.' It can be combined with 'voor' and 'achter' to form (de) vooruitgang click to hear 2 ('front exit') and achteruitgang click to hear 2 3 ('back exit.')
De gang click to hear derives from gaan click to hear ('to go') ->> and in some compound words it can mean something like 'course, development.' With the aforementioned 'vooruit' ('forward') and 'achteruit' ('backward') it forms the words (de) vooruitgang click to hear ('progress') and (de) achteruitgang click to hear 2 ('decline, regression.')
Listen sharp to where the stress of the word is, and where you may hear a little pause between the parts of the word.

Was er enige vooruitgang? click to hear 2 3 Was there any progress?
De klok achteruitzetten click to hear 2 To turn back the clock
Hij reed achteruit de garage in click to hear 2 He drove backwards into the garage
Achter de wolken schijnt de zon click to hear 2 Behind the clouds the sun is shining - things will get better
Als dat achter de rug is click to hear 2 When that's behind [our back] us
Achter het net vissen click to hear 2 Fishing behind the net - not getting what you want
De kinderen achter het behang plakken click to hear Glueing the children behind the wallpaper (Many a parent's secret occasional wish)

2. 'voor' = 'for'

It looks like 'voor' is most often translated as 'for,' in a variety of meanings like 'destination, intention, exchange' etc. <
Bloemen voor Elly click to hear Flowers for Elly
Een cadeau voor Els click to hear 2 A present for Els
Goede voornemens voor het nieuwe jaar click to hear Resolutions for the new year ->>
Zij zingen een lied voor mij click to hear 2 They're singing a song for me
Er is bezoek voor je click to hear 2 There is a visitor for you /or/ There are visitors for you
voor het nageslacht click to hear 2 [for the descendants] - for the next generations
Bedankt voor je brief click to hear 2 Thank you for your letter
Waar voor je geld click to hear [Good stuff] Value for (your) money
Wat kan ik voor U doen? click to hear 2 What can I do for you? Can I help you? (polite 'you')
U praat te snel voor mij click to hear 2 3 You're speaking too fast for me, your talking is too fast for me
Ben je er klaar voor? click to hear 2 3 Are you ready for it?
Al die moeite voor niks click to hear 2 All that [effort] trouble for nothing, wasted
Niks voor niks click to hear 2 'Nothing for nothing' - everything has a price, nothing is free
Een kuiltje voor de jus click to hear 2 'A well for the gravy' ->>
Een appeltje voor de dorst click to hear 2 [A little apple for the thirst] - Money saved for a rainy day
Een heitje voor 'n karweitje click to hear 2 A little job for a quarter (Boy Scouts fundraising slogan)
Voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rang click to hear 2 3 4 'The best seats in the house, in first class for a dime' ->>
Er is voor drie dagen eten click to hear 2 3 There is food for 3 days
Het is een taak voor de overheid click to hear 2 It is a task for the government
Partij voor de Vrijheid click to hear [The political] Party for Freedom
Partij voor de Dieren click to hear 2 [The political] Party for The Animals (the Animal Rights Party)
Neem je d'r iets voor? click to hear 2 Are you taking something for (against) it? - medication
voor de afwisseling click to hear 2 3 for variety
voor de verandering click to hear 2 3 for a change
Er was weinig animo voor click to hear 2 3 There was little enthusiasm for it (to get involved)
Als er tijd voor is click to hear 2 3 4 If there is time (for it)
Er is geen plaats voor click to hear 2 3 There is no room for it; there is no space for it
Ik heb er geen tijd voor click to hear 2 3 I [have no time] don't have time for it
Ik heb er geen woorden voor click to hear 2 3 I don't have words for it - I can't describe how I feel
Er is geen tijd voor click to hear 2 There is no time for it
Er is weinig tijd voor muziek click to hear There is little time for music
Is er een ander woord voor? click to hear 2 Is there another word for it?
Er is voor jou altijd plaats click to hear 2 3 There's always room for you, you're always welcome
Hij staat altijd voor je klaar click to hear 2 He's always willing, ready to help you ('there for you')
Hij staat altijd klaar voor je click to hear He's always willing, ready to help you ('there for you')
Voor de laatste keer click to hear 2 For the last time
Ik heb 't voor 't laatst bewaard click to hear 2 I saved it for last

'For' can also mean 'in favor of' - and its opposite is tegen click to hear ('against') - also literally, 'in physical contact with.'

Ben je voor of tegen? click to hear Are you for or against?
Tegen een boom click to hear Against a tree
(de) voorstander click to hear 2 proponent, supporter
(de) tegenstander click to hear 2 3 4 opponent, adversary
(het) tegenvoorbeeld click to hear 2 counter-example, opposite example (logic)
Er is wat voor te zeggen click to hear 2 3 Something can be said in favor of it (cautious approval)
Daar is wat voor te zeggen click to hear 2 3 Something can be said in favor of that (cautious approval)
Er is niks op tegen click to hear 2 There's nothing against it/i>
Er is geen enkel bezwaar tegen click to hear 2 There is [not any] no objection to it
Tegen beter weten in click to hear 2 3 Against my (your/his/her) better judgement
(de) tegenwind click to hear 'wind-against' (you have to fight it)
Door de tegenwind kwamen we maar met moeite vooruit click to hear 2 Because of the wind against us we only progressed with difficulty
wind mee click to hear 2 3 wind in your back (helping you) ->>

Sometimes the differences seem to be fluid. Or maybe it's my limited understanding of English prepositions. In the next line I wonder if I should translate 'before' or 'in favor of' - or maybe 'over'?

't Zekere voor 't onzekere nemen click to hear 2 3 Take the certain before the uncertain - i.e. 'not taking risks' /or:/ Take the certain in favor of the uncertain

Note that Dutch leaves out, does not translate 'for' in statements of duration, talking about length of time - more

Ik was drie dagen ziek click to hear 2 I was sick for 3 days

3. 'voor' = 'to,' 'of,' and others, various

In other, isolated instances, 'voor' is translated by other prepositions, like 'to' or 'of'
Wees aardig voor dieren click to hear Be kind to animals
Aandacht voor details click to hear Attention to details
Ze zijn een gevaar voor de wereldvrede click to hear They are a danger to world peace
Ik ben allergisch voor katten click to hear 2 I'm allergic to cats
Ik ben allergisch voor eieren click to hear 2 I'm allergic to eggs
Was dat duidelijk voor je? click to hear 2 Was that clear to you?
Hoe weinig tijd er is voor mezelf click to hear 2 How little time there is to myself
Ik heb geen moment voor mezelf click to hear 2 3 I don't have a moment to myself
Kwart voor drie click to hear A quarter to 3, 2:45 ->>
bang voor click to hear 2 afraid of
daar was ik al bang voor click to hear 2 I was already afraid of that
hij zorgt goed voor je click to hear 2 3 He takes good care of you
Het verdwijnt als sneeuw voor de zon click to hear 2 It disappears like snow [before] in the sun

To pass or fail (a test) is 'slagen voor' or 'zakken voor' (een examen)

Ik ben blij dat je voor het examen geslaagd bent click to hear 2 I'm glad you passed the exam
Ik was kwaad omdat ik weer voor m'n rijexamen gezakt was click to hear 2 I was angry because I failed the driving test again
Hoewel hij hard gewerkt had, zakte hij voor het examen click to hear Although he had worked hard he failed the test

There's a common phrase

'wat is dat voor een ...?' click to hear 2 'What kind of ... is that?'
Wat is dat voor een auto? click to hear 2 What [kind of] brand of car is that?
Wat is dat voor een dier? click to hear 2 What kind of animal is that, what animal is that?
Wat is dat voor een beest? click to hear 2 3 4 What kind of (unpleasant) animal is that? (usually a large bug or a rodent)

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Dutch 'voort' click to hear is old-fashioned like Engish 'forth.' It's found in standard phrases like:
Ga zo voort! click to hear 2 [Go on, continue like that] Carry on!
Zeg het voort! click to hear 2 [Say it on] Spread the word
enzovoort click to hear 2
enz.
[and so forth] etcetera
etc.
voortaan click to hear from now on
Doe voortaan de deur op slot click to hear 2 3 4 In the future, lock the door!
Gaat heen en vermenigvuldigt U click to hear 2 Go forth and multiply

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