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

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

Er

click to hear /or/ click to hear
  1. a less specific 'there' - "We're almost there"
  2. there is / there are ... - pointing out something, stating a fact - "There are no mountains in Holland"
  3. (with preposition) placeholder 'it' - "I didn't think of it"
  4. a somewhat meaningless, hard-to-translate interjection -

In the 'there' and 'it' meanings, 'Er' is a less specific, less pointed 'daar' click to hear ('there') and 'dat' click to hear ('that') - see also 'daar' and 'dat' disambiguation pages.
English 'there is' / 'there are' mean the same as Dutch 'er is' click to hear 2 / 'er zijn' click to hear 2 and they are used in the same contexts; likewise, English 'it is' is equivalent to Dutch 'het is' click to hear but it may not be that simple in other languages. I think 'there is / there are' is used in statements about presence or existence, while 'it is' is used in more general 'abstract' statements ('It's raining.')
I noticed one of my students often said things like "Ik denk aan het." - It made me realize that in Dutch we say 'er' for that 'it' - when a preposition is involved. It's an important difference between Dutch and English.
I have to admit the divisions between the categories in this entry are fluid.

1. er = in this/that place (~'there')
daar = there
2. er is, er zijn there is, there are
3. er = it (placeholder - with preposition)
d'r = er
exception

ergens = somewhere/something, nergens = nowhere/nothing
exception 2
4. er - 'pragmatic marker,' somewhat meaningless interjection

1. 'er' = 'there,' 'around' - in this/that place

We zijn er bijna click to hear 2 We're almost there
We zijn er click to hear 2 3 [We are 'there'] We have arrived at our (travel) destination
Ik ben er niet bekend click to hear 2 3 I'm not familiar with that area, I don't know my way around there
wat er staat click to hear 2 3 what is written there, "what it says"
Begrijp je echt wat er staat? click to hear 2 Do you really understand what is written there, "what it says"
Ik ben er weer! click to hear 2 3 [I'm here again] - I'm back
Mooi dat je er weer bent click to hear 2 3 4 [Beautiful] Good that you're here again, good to have you back
Ik kan er helaas niet zelf bij zijn click to hear Unfortunately, I cannot be there myself, in person
Als ik er niet ben ... click to hear If I'm not here, in case that I'm not present ...
Als ik er niet meer ben ... click to hear 2 3 When I'm no longer around, when I'm gone (dead) ...

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

hier en daar click to hear here and there - more 'daar' and 'hier'
De uitgang is daar click to hear The exit is (over) there
Dat huis daar click to hear That house (over) there

2. 'er is / er zijn' = 'there is / there are' (and other verbs) - introducing statements

There is an English 'there' very similar to this Dutch 'er' click to hear
Er is beneden ook een slaapkamer click to hear There's also a bedroom downstairs
Er is boven een atelier click to hear 2 There's an artist's studio upstairs
Er is een koude wind click to hear 2 There's a cold wind
Is er genoeg brood? click to hear 2 3 Is there enough bread?
Is er niet meer geld? click to hear 2 3 Is there not more money? Is that all the money there is?
Er is aardig wat sneeuw click to hear 2 3 4 There is quite a lot of snow
Is er enige kans? click to hear 2 3 Is there any chance?
Er is genoeg eten click to hear 2 3 There is enough food
Er is genoeg voor iedereen click to hear 2 3 There is enough for everybody
Er is genoeg tijd click to hear There is enough time
Er moet nog zoveel gebeuren click to hear 2 3 There is still so much that has to [happen] be done
Er moet nog zoveel gedaan worden click to hear 2 There is still so much that needs to be done
Er is duidelijk vooruitgang click to hear 2 There is clearly, noticeable progress
Er is iemand aan de deur click to hear There is someone at the door
Er is iets mis click to hear 2 3 There's something wrong, something is wrong
Er is een heleboel mis click to hear 2 3 There are lots of things wrong
Er ging iets helemaal mis click to hear 2 3 4 5 Something went completely wrong
Er is nog veel papier click to hear 2 There is still a lot of paper
Er is geen reden tot paniek click to hear 2 3 There is no reason to panic
Er is geen enkel bewijs click to hear 2 There is [not any] not a shred of evidence
Morgen is er weer een dag click to hear 2 3 4 5 Tomorrow there's [again a day] another day
Ik zag op het nieuws dat er geen oplossing gevonden is click to hear I saw on the news that no solution has been found
Ik wou dat er een betere manier was click to hear I wish there was a better way (to do something)
't Beste dat er tot nog toe is click to hear The best there is up till now
Er is tot nog toe geen beter alternatief click to hear 2 3 There is up till now no better alternative
Er zijn geen bergen in Nederland click to hear There are no mountains in Holland
Er zijn binnenkort verkiezingen click to hear 2 There will be elections soon
Er zijn weinig getuigen click to hear There are few witnesses
Er zijn mensen die zeggen dat ... click to hear 2 There are people who say that ...
Stel je voor dat er geen auto's waren! click to hear 2 Imagine that there were no cars!
Stel je voor dat er geen auto's zouden zijn! click to hear 2 Imagine that there would be no cars!
Alsof er geen grotere problemen in de wereld zijn click to hear As if there are no bigger problems in the world
Er is niks veranderd click to hear Nothing has changed
Er is helemaal niks veranderd click to hear 2 Nothing at all has changed, absolutely nothing has changed
Er waren veel klachten click to hear There were many complaints
Er was weinig animo voor click to hear 2 3 There was little enthusiasm (for it)
Er wordt gebeld click to hear 2 ['There is a ringing'] - the doorbell is rung
Er werd veel gesproken over vrijheid click to hear 2 There was much [talking done] talk about freedom
Er stonden een paar mensen in de rij voor het loket click to hear There [stood] were a few people in line at the counter
Er moet nog hard gewerkt worden click to hear There still needs to be done (a lot of) hard work, It still needs a lot of hard work
Er komt onweer click to hear There's a storm coming, there will be a thunderstorm
Er dreigt oorlog click to hear 2 3 4 [There is a threat of war] There might be a war, unfortunately
Er klopt iets niet click to hear 2 3 Something is wrong, it doesn't add up
Er zit niks anders op click to hear 2 3 There is nothing else that can be done, there is just one thing to be done
Er zit een muis op zolder click to hear 2 3 There's a mouse in the attic
Er zit een gat in 't dak click to hear 2 There's a hole in the roof
Er staat veel op het spel click to hear There is much [in play] at stake
Er loopt een kat in de tuin click to hear 2 There's a cat in the yard
Er verdwijnt geld click to hear 2 Money is disappearing
er slecht aan toe zijn click to hear 2 3 to be in bad shape medically
Hij is er slecht aan toe click to hear 2 3 4 He's in bad shape, he's not doing well
Mochten er ... click to hear 2 In case that, if there are ...
Mochten er vragen zijn ... click to hear In case that, if there are questions ...
Mochten er problemen zijn ... click to hear 2 In case that, if there are problems ...
Er zou veel schade zijn click to hear It was said there was great damage
Er zouden geen overlevenden zijn click to hear 2 Unconfirmed reports said there were no survivors
(In the last two lines, zou click to hear 2 and zouden,  the 'past tense' of the verb for the future tense zullen click to hear indicate uncertainty in the statement - more)

3. 'er' (with preposition) = 'it'

English 'it' can be a 'placeholder' - indicating something implied or mentioned before. The Dutch version of this 'placeholder' is usually 'het' click to hear 2 3 or the shortened " 't " click to hear ‑>> - but when the placeholder is combined with a preposition Dutch often says 'er' click to
  hear and not 'het.'
Ik zie 't click to hear 2 3 I see it
Ik kijk er naar click to hear 2 3 4 I'm looking at it
'Ik kijk naar het' is not good Dutch
Ik heb ervan gehoord click to hear 2 3 I've heard of it
'Ik heb van het gehoord' is not good Dutch
The preposition may form one word with 'er' but doesn't have to.
Dutch and English may leave out the 'er'/'it' - in different sentences
The correct use of the prepositions is one of the great problems of learning a foreign language. You might want to look at my page on the basic meaning of the Dutch prepositions.

AAN click to hear (in these examples) about; to; of
Je moet er wat aan doen click to hear 2 3 4 You should do something about it
Er is toch niks aan te doen click to hear 2 3 Nothing can be done about it anyway
Ik kan er niks aan doen click to hear [I can't do anything about it] - I can't help it /or/ It's not my fault
"Die achterop doet er niks aan" click to hear 2 3 The one in back is not [doing anything] helping (said to tandem drivers)
Ik moet er niet aan denken click to hear 2 I try not to think about it, I don't want to think about it
Ik denk er vaak aan click to hear 2 3 I often think of it
Ik vind er niks aan click to hear ['I find nothing in it'] - I don't like it (it's not interesting)
Ik heb er niks aan click to hear 2 3 4 5 It's not of use to me
Er komt geen eind aan click to hear 2 There is no end to it (it goes on and on)
Je kunt er geen touw aan vastknopen click to hear 2 'You cannot attach a rope to it' - it's unintelligible - Sayings
Je hebt er een hoop werk aan click to hear 2 3 ['You have a lot of work on? it'] - It's a lot of work for you
Er zit een luchtje aan click to hear 2 ['There's a funny smell to it'] - It's suspicious - Sayings
Denk eraan dat de zomertijd dit weekend ingaat click to hear [Think of it] Keep in mind, don't forget that the Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend
Ben je eraan gehecht? click to hear 2 Are you attached to it? Is it (an object) important to you?

ACHTER click to hear (in these examples) behind
't huis erachter click to hear 2 the house behind it

BOVEN click to hear 2 (in these examples) above, over
de laag erboven click to hear 2 the layer above, the layer on top of it

BIJ click to hear (in these examples) to; at; in; close by
Ik kan er niet bij click to hear 2 3 [I cannot reach to it] It's beyond me
Hou je hoofd erbij click to hear 2 3 4 Keep your head at it - pay attention, stay focused
Een ei hoort erbij click to hear An egg belongs to it, should go with it (advertising slogan)
't Past er goed bij click to hear 2 It fits in well, goes together well (said of food, clothes or furniture)
Er is haast bij click to hear 2 3 4 [There is urgency to it] - It's urgent
Er is geen haast bij click to hear 2 [There is no urgency to it] - It's not urgent, no rush
Heeft U er postzegels bij? click to hear 2 3 Do you have (sell) stamps with it?
Ik stond erbij en ik keek ernaar click to hear 2 3 I was standing close by (it) and I was looking at it

IN click to hear 2 (in these examples) in, with
Geloof jij erin? click to hear 2 3 Do you believe (in) it?
Ik heb er zin in click to hear 2 I feel like it, I'm looking forward to it
Er zit wat in click to hear 2 3 4 5 click to hear literally: there's something in it, it contains something - or figuratively: there's something to it, there's a good idea in it, there's some truth in it
Er zit geen schot in click to hear 2 3 There is no progress (with it)
Ik heb er geen vertrouwen in click to hear 2 3 I'm not confident it will go well

MEE click to hear (in these examples) about, with
Ben je er blij mee? click to hear 2 3 Are you happy with it? Does it make you happy?
Ik loop er elke dag mee click to hear 2 3 I walk with it every day, I use it for walking every day
Als 't niet vanzelf overgaat, ga ik ermee naar de dokter click to hear It it doesn't go away by itself, I'll go see a doctor about it
Hou er onmiddelijk mee op! click to hear 2 3 Stop it right away!
Je bent er maar druk mee click to hear 2 3 You are rather busy with it, It keeps you busy, it takes a lot of your time
Ik wil er niks mee te maken hebben click to hear 2 3 I don't want to have anything to do with it, I don't want to be involved in it
Veel succes ermee click to hear 2 4 Good luck with it
Weg ermee! click to hear 2 Away with it! Out with it! Throw it out!

NA click to hear (in these examples) after, about
het boek erna click to hear 2 The book after it, the next book
Hij heeft er een uur over zitten nadenken click to hear 2 3 He's been thinking about it for an hour
Hij heeft er een uur over zitten na te denken click to hear 2 He's been thinking about it for an hour

NAAR click to hear (in these examples) at, for
Kijk er eens goed naar click to hear 2 3 Look sharp at it, take a moment to inspect it closely
Ik hoop er gauw naar te kunnen kijken click to hear 2 3 I hope to [be able to] have a look at it soon
Hij gooit er met de pet naar click to hear 2 3 'He is throwing his cap at it' - he doesn't make a serious effort - Sayings
Hij had er wel oren naar click to hear 2 3 'He sure had ears for it' - he'd like to join in (an activity) - Sayings

NAAST click to hear 2 (in these examples) next to
de auto ernaast click to hear 2 the car next to it

OM click to hear (in these examples) around, for
Ze vroegen erom click to hear 2 3 They asked for it
Ik heb er niet om gevraagd click to hear 2 3 I didn't ask for it (either an item or a situation you were not looking for)
Je kunt er niet omheen click to hear 2 3 ['You can't pass around it'] You can't ignore it, you'll have to deal withit

ONDER click to hear (in these examples) below, under
de verdieping eronder click to hear 2 the floor below it
't kan er net onderdoor click to hear 2 3 It can just (barely) pass through below it

OP click to hear (in these examples) of, (out,) on, to
Ik ben er trots op click to hear 2 3 I'm proud of it
Ik heb je er al vaak op gewezen click to hear 2 3 4 I've pointed it out to you many times already
Je kunt erop rekenen click to hear 2 You can count on it
Doe er een postzegel op click to hear 2 3 Put a (mail) stamp on it
Hij let er niet op click to hear 2 He doesn't pay attention to it
Ik heb er geen antwoord op click to hear 2 3 4 5 I don't have an answer to it, I don't have an adequate response to it

OVER click to hear 2 (in these examples) about, on, over
Ik wil er nog even over nadenken click to hear 2 3 I would like to think about it for a little while longer
Hij dacht er niet lang over na click to hear 2 3 4 He didn't take long to think about it
Hij heeft er niet lang over nagedacht click to hear 2 He has not taken long to think about it
Hij heeft 't er vaak over click to hear 2 3 He often talks about it
Ik heb er niet goed over nagedacht click to hear 2 3 4 I didn't think it out well
Ik wil er nog een nachtje over slapen click to hear 2 I would like to sleep on it (take decision tomorrow)
Hij laat er geen gras over groeien click to hear 2 3 He doesn't let grass grow over it - taking quick action
Er zijn weinig boeken over click to hear There are (only a) few books about it *
Automatisch, zonder erover na te denken click to hear 2 Automatically, without thinking (about it)
Ben je er overheen? click to hear 2 Did you get over it? (Have you recovered? Is it no longer a problem?)

TEGEN click to hear (in these examples) against
Ik kan er niet meer tegen click to hear 2 3 I can't stand (against, up to) it anymore
Er is geen enkel bezwaar tegen click to hear 2 There is not any objection against it (go ahead)
Er is niks op tegen click to hear 2 There is nothing against it (go ahead)

TEGENOVER click to hear (in these examples) opposite, across
't huis ertegenover click to hear 2 3 4 The house opposite it, on the other side of the street
't huis schuin ertegenover click to hear 2 The house diagonally across

TUSSEN click to hear (in these examples) between, among
't huis ertussenin click to hear 2 3 the house in between (them)

VAN click to hear 2 (in these examples) of, about, from
Ik werd er ziek van click to hear 2 I got sick of it, it made me ill (literally or figuratively)
Ik word er ziek van click to hear 2 I get sick of it, it makes me ill (literally or figuratively)
Ik word er doodmoe van click to hear 2 I get dead-tired of it
Ik krijg er hoofdpijn van click to hear 2 [I get a headache from it] It gives me a headache
Ik krijg er last van click to hear 2 3 It's going to bother me, it will make me sick
Ik word er misselijk van click to hear 2 3 4 [I become nauseous of it] It makes me nauseous, it gives me nausea
Ik werd er helemaal naar van click to hear It made me feel horrible (an event or fear made me feel sick)
Je zult er geen spijt van krijgen click to hear 2 You won't regret it
Wat hebben we ervan geleerd? click to hear 2 What have we learned from it? What did it teach us?
Wat heb je ervan geleerd? click to hear 2 3 What have you learned from it? What did it teach you?
Ik weet ervan click to hear 2 I know about it, I'm familiar with the situation
Ik weet er alles van click to hear 2 I know all (everything) about it (usually not a boast about great learning but indicating you're familiar with an unpleasant situation)
Ik weet er niks van click to hear 2 I know nothing about it
Er is mij niets van bekend click to hear 2 [Nothing is known to me about it] - I know nothing about it
Hij weet er meer van click to hear 2 He knows more about it
Hij lust er wel pap van click to hear 2 [He would like porridge of it] - He likes it very much - Sayings
Je merkt er niks van click to hear 2 3 You won't notice (it)
Ik word er gek van click to hear [I'm being driven crazy by it] - It is driving me crazy
Ik geloof er niks van click to hear 2 3 [I believe nothing of it] - I don't believe a word of it
Komt er nog wat van? click to hear 2 [Is something coming about?] - Is something happening, is there any progress - get busy!
Ik krijg er genoeg van click to hear 2 [I'm getting enough of it] - I'm getting tired of it
Ik heb er genoeg van click to hear 2 I've had enough of it - I've had it, I' m tired of it
Er bleef niks van over click to hear 2 Nothing was left of it
Wat is er van waar? click to hear 2 3 4 What (part) of it is true?

VOOR click to hear 2 (in these examples) for, before
Ik heb er geen tijd voor click to hear 2 Ik don't have time for it
Er is geen tijd voor click to hear 2 There is no time for it
Als er tijd voor is click to hear 2 3 4 If there is time (for it)
Ben je er klaar voor? click to hear 2 3 Are you ready (prepared) for it?
Er is geen plaats voor click to hear 2 3 There is no room for it
Er is geen goede reden voor click to hear 2 3 There is no [good] valid reason for it
Er was weinig animo voor click to hear 2 3 There was little enthusiasm for it (to get involved)
Heeft U er postzegels voor? click to hear Do you have (sell) stamps for it?
Is er geen Nederlands woord voor? click to hear 2 3 Is there no Dutch word for it?
Is er een ander woord voor? click to hear 2 Is there another word for it?
Ik heb er geen woorden voor click to hear 2 3 I have no words for it, I'm speechless from emotion
de sonate ervoor click to hear 2 the sonata before, the earlier sonata
Je staat er alleen voor click to hear 2 You're facing it by yourself, you're on your own

When one word ends with a vowel and the next word starts with a vowel, Dutchmen sometimes insert a D between those vowels for ease of pronunciation. Inserting a letter takes less effort than a 'vocal stop.'
With 'er' this results in " d'r " click to hear 2 3 - note the vowel changing from 'short E' click to hear to 'voiceless, unstressed E (schwa)' click to hear
In this section, like elsewhere on the website, I'm showing the common speech " d'r " - but usually it is written as 'er.'

Ik trek me er niks van aan click to hear 2 I'm not bothered by it, I don't care
Ik trek me d'r niks van aan click to hear 2 3 I'm not bothered by it, I don't care
Wat heb je eraan? click to hear 2 3 [What do you have of it] - What's the use (of it) (to you)?
Wat heb je d'r aan? click to hear 2 [What do you have of it] - What's the use (of it) (to you)?
Wat zegt U ervan? click to hear 2 What do you say (of/about it)? (polite, formal 'you')
Wat zegt U d'rvan? click to hear 2 3 4 What do you say (of/about it)? (polite, formal 'you')
Wat zeg jij d'r van? click to hear 2 3 What do you say (of it)? (informal 'you')
Wat denk jij d'r van? click to hear 2 What do you think (of it)?
Neem je d'r iets voor? click to hear 2 Do you take something for (against) it? (medication)
Ik hoop dat je d'r tijd voor hebt click to hear 2 3 4 I hope you'll have time for it
Heb je d'r wat van geleerd? click to hear 2 What have you learned of it? What did it teach you?
Heb je d'r last van? click to hear 2 3 Does it bother you?
Heb je d'r wat aan? click to hear 2 Is it of (any) use to you, is it useful to you?
Heb je er wat aan? click to hear 2 3 4 5 Is it of (any) use to you, is it useful to you?
De stekker d'r uit trekken click to hear 2 Pulling the plug (from it) - make an end to it
Ik kan me d'r zo kwaad over maken click to hear 2 I get so angered by it, it makes me very angry
Je kunt je d'r geen buil aan vallen click to hear It won't hurt you (it's a small payment) - Sayings
Hoe kom je d'r bij! click to hear 2 [How did you reach that conclusion?] - What you're saying is outrageous
Tasje d'r bij? click to hear 2 3 4 5 (Would you like) a bag with it? (cashier asking)
Weg d'r mee! click to hear 2 3 Away with it! Throw it out!

Similar to this 'er' (and "d'r") for placeholder 'it' with a preposition, Dutch has 'daar' for 'that' and 'waar' for 'what' placeholders with prepositions. See also common problems

Exception
Later I thought up these lines ...
Kom er niet aan! click to hear 2 Don't touch it!
Raak het niet aan! click to hear 2 Don't touch it!
... and I wondered why the second line has 'het'  despite the presence of a preposition. I now think it's because aanraken click to hear 2 'to touch' is a compound verb. Unfortunately, the rule is not 100% valid, because 'aankomen' click to hear 2 (to touch) is also a compound verb.
You can assume that when the preposition is 'independent' 'het'  is replaced by 'er'  - but there are a few compound verbs that also take 'er'
Thinking up other lines of compound verbs with prepositions gave the same 'het'  instead of 'er'  result.
Note that some compound verbs split up in the present tenses.
aanvoelen click to hear 2 3 'to sense,' to notice non-verbally, intuitively
Ik voel het aan click to hear 2 3 I have an intuitive understanding of it
optillen click to hear to lift
Til het niet op! click to hear 2 Don't lift it
Ik kan 't niet optillen click to hear 2 3 4 I can't lift it, I'm not able to lift it up
Laat 't niet achter! click to hear 2 3 4 Don't leave it behing! (garbage, for instance)
Je moet 't niet onderschatten click to hear 2 3 Don't underestimate it!
Ze laten 't afweten click to hear 2 They're not coming (despite promises)
aangeven click to hear 2 1. 'to hand, pass,' put something into someone else's hands
2. 'to indicate, signal, mark'
3. 'to register,' file an official report.
Geef 't aan click to hear 2 3 1. Hand it to me 2. Mark it, indicate it 3. Report it to the police
geven click to hear 2 3 aan click to hear to give (to)
Geef eraan! click to hear 2 3 Give, donate to it
nakijken click to hear 2 3 1. teacher grading homework 2. to look up, check
Ik kijk 't na click to hear 2 3 1. I'm grading it (students' homework) 2. I'm looking it up, checking it
kijken naar click to hear 2 3 to look at
Ik kijk er naar click to hear 2 3 4 I'm looking at it

another exception example:  afblijven click to hear 2 3 4 stay away from, do not touch, do not take
Blijf eraf! click to hear 2 3 Stay away from it, do not touch it
Blijf er vanaf! click to hear 2 3 Stay away from it, do not touch it
Je moet er afblijven click to hear 2 3 You have to stay away from it, do not touch it
Je moet er vanaf blijven click to hear 2 3 You have to stay away from it, do not touch it
(Opinions differ on what should be written as one word above, 'er vanaf'  or 'ervan af'  - I put the space where I pause a moment, a 'vocal stop.')

So when the preposition is part of a compound verb, one word in the infinitive, even though that verb may split up in the simple tenses, then placeholders 'het,' click to hear 2 3 or 't click to hear 'it' are used instead of 'er,' click to hear 'it,' - just as if there was no preposition. (Though there are a few exceptions.)
In case that there is a second preposition next to the one of the compound verb the placeholder will again be 'er.'

Trek 't je niet aan click to hear 2 3 4 Don't get upset over it, don't pay attention to it, don't let it bother you
't because compound verb aantrekken click to hear 2 3
Ik trek me er niks van aan click to hear 2 3 4 It doesn't bother me, I dont't pay attention ot it, I don't care
Compound verb aantrekken but also an 'independent' preposition, 'van' so 'er'
Trek je er niks van aan click to hear 2 Don't pay attention ot it, don't let it bother you, don't get upset over it - more aantrekken

ergens - 1. somewhere 2. something / nergens - 1. nowhere 2. nothing

'Ergens' click to hear 2 usually means 'somewhere' and 'nergens' click to hear 2 usually means 'nowhere'
Note that Dutch usually says verb-nothing where English says not-verb-anything - for instance:
Ik kan 't nergens vinden click to hear 2
[I can find it nowhere] - I can't find it anywhere
Er moet ergens een lek zijn click to hear There has to be a leak somewhere
Zullen we ergens gaan eten? click to hear 2 Shall we go eat (lunch, dinner) somewhere? (i.e. in a restaurant)
Ik heb ergens gelezen dat ... click to hear 2 (3) I read somewhere that ...
Hij woont ergens achteraf click to hear 2 3 He lives [somewhere remote] in the countryside
Hij heeft ergens wel gelijk click to hear 2 3 4 He is partly right, he's correct in some aspects
Ik kan 't nergens vinden click to hear 2 [I can find it nowhere] - I can't find it anywhere
Er is nergens beter brood click to hear 2 3 There is no better bread anywhere
Er is nergens betere chocola click to hear 2 3 There is no better chocolate anywhere
Ik voel me nergens thuis click to hear 2 3 [I feel nowhere at home] I don't feel at home anywhere
Je kunt nergens beter Nederlands horen click to hear 2 There is no place where you can hear better Dutch - You can't hear better Dutch anywhere

Above we've seen 'er' click to hear replacing (or not) 'placeholder' 'het' click to hear 2 3 when used with 'independent' prepostions, prepositions that are not part of a compound verb. In English, both translate as 'it.'
In a similar way, 'Ergens' click to hear 2 which usually means 'somewhere' and 'nergens' click to hear 2 which usually means 'nowhere' can come to mean 'something' and 'nothing' / 'not anything' when used with 'independent' prepositions. Otherwise, 'something' is iets click to hear ‑>> or wat click to hear ‑>> and 'nothing' is 'niks' click to
  hear ‑>> or the slightly more formal 'niets' click to hear ‑>> ...

ergens aan toe zijn click to hear "ready for, needing something" - said when people are not happy or feel they cannot continue much longer in the present situation and are looking forward to a specific change ‑>>
ergens iets aan doen click to hear 2 3 something to do something about something, to take action to remedy ‑>>
ergens iets aan hebben click to hear 2 3 something is useful, you can use it ‑>>
ergens iets bij doen click to hear 2 adding something to something
iets ergens bij doen click to hear 2 3 adding something to something
ergens achter komen click to hear 2 [to come, get behind something] - to find out [about something] ‑>>
ergens op aandringen click to hear 2 to urge, press for something
ergens vanaf zijn click to hear 2 3 be done with something, be rid of something, no longer bothered by something ‑>>
Als ik ergens vanaf zou willen zijn zijn het die migraines click to hear 2 3 4
If there is [something] one thing I'd like to be rid of it's those migraines
More colloquial than the line above is:
Als ik ergens vanaf zou willen zijn het die migraines click to hear 2 3
If there is [something] one thing I'd like to be rid of it's those migraines
Als ik ergens een hekel aan heb is het aan leugens click to hear 2 3
If there is [something] one thing that I hate it is lies
Als ik ergens een hekel aan heb is het aan mensen die liegen click to hear 2
If there is [something] one thing that I hate it is people that tell lies
Ik moet me altijd ergens aan vasthouden click to hear 2 3 4 I need to hold on to something (a fixed point) at all times
Ik heb nergens tijd voor click to hear 2 3 [I have time for nothing] - I don't have time for anything
Ik heb nergens spijt van click to hear 2 3 4 5 [I regret nothing] - There is nothing that I regret (je ne regrette rien)
't Lijkt nergens op click to hear 2 [It looks like nothing] It doesn't look good, it's a bad job
't Slaat nergens op click to hear 2 3 [It hits nothing] - It's a (usually unpleasant) pointless remark, it has nothing to do with the matter at hand
Ik sta nergens meer van te kijken click to hear 2 Nothing surprises me anymore
Dat was nergens voor nodig click to hear 2 ["That was necessary for nothing"] - there was no need for that (criticism of or regret for an action)
Dat is nergens goed voor click to hear 2 3 4 [That's good for nothing] - That's useless, that serves no purpose
Hij weet nergens van click to hear 2 3 He knows nothing about it (a case)
Hij gelooft nergens in click to hear 2 3 He doesn't believe in anything
Hij is nergens bang voor click to hear 2 3 He's not afraid of anything
Ik heb nergens zin in click to hear 2 3 I don't feel like doing (or eating) anything
Hij let nergens op click to hear 2 3 He doesn't pay attention to anything, he is not very attentive
Hij is nergens vòòr click to hear 2 3 4 He is not in favor of anything, he is against everything
Het leidt nergens toe click to hear 2 3 4 5 [It leads nowhere] Nothing comes of it, it's useless
Appearing with an 'independent preposititon,' 'overal' click to hear 2 means 'everything' (it usually means 'everywhere' ‑>>)
Hij is overal tegen click to hear 2 He is against everything, He is not in favor of anything
Hij weet overal van click to hear 2 He knows everything (about a certain case)
Hij weet overal wat van click to hear 2 3 4 5 He knows something (a little) of everything (Renaissance person?)
Hij had overal aan gedacht click to hear 2 3 4 He had thought of everything (he was well-prepared)

Like the exception with the placeholder 'het' not changing to 'er' with prepositions that are part of compound verbs that was explained above ...
Kom er niet aan! click to hear 2 Don't touch it!
Raak het niet aan! click to hear 2 Don't touch it!
... there is a similar exception that 'nothing'/'not anything' are not 'nergens'  like usually when there is an independent preposition around, but the 'regular' 'niets' click to hear and 'niks' click to hear with prepositions that are part of compound verbs - more 'nothing'
Kom nergens aan! click to hear 2 3 [Touch nothing] - Don't touch anything!
Raak niks aan! click to hear 2 3 [Touch nothing] - Do not touch anything!
'Niks/niets' and 'nergens' are not interchangeable.
'Raak nergens aan' is not good Dutch, and
'Kom niks aan' click to hear 2 3 means 'Don't gain weight' but it's weird.

Exception 2
Instead of
Hij is nergens bang voor click to hear 2 3 He's not afraid of anything
You could say (it's a bit formal)
Er is niks waar hij bang voor is click to hear 2 3 'There is nothing he's afraid of'
When there is an 'er' (or the related 'special' placeholders 'daar' or 'waar') in the sentence, 'something' and 'nothing' will not be 'ergens' click to hear 2 and 'nergens' click to hear 2 but just the regular iets click to hear ‑>> or wat click to hear ‑>> and 'niets' click to hear or 'niks' click to hear
Hij gelooft nergens in click to hear 2 3 He doesn't believe in anything
Ik geloof er niks van click to hear 2 3 [I believe nothing of it] - I don't believe a word of it
Hij weet nergens van click to hear 2 3 He knows nothing about it
Ik weet er niks van click to hear 2 I know nothing about it, I don't know anything about it (see below for exception)
Daar weet ik niks van click to hear 2 I know nothing about that, I don't know anything about that
Daar bereik je niks mee click to hear 2 3 4 5 6 That won't [reach] get results, that won't get you anywhere
Ik heb nergens zin in click to hear 2 I don't feel like doing (or eating/drinking) anything
Ik heb er zin in click to hear 2 I feel like it, I'm looking forward to it
Ik heb er geen zin in click to hear 2 3 I don't feel like it, I don't want to do, eat/drink it
Je ziet er niks van click to hear 2 3 Yo don't see any of it, you don't notice it
Je merkt er niks van click to hear 2 3 4 5 You don't notice it
Wat heb je eraan? click to hear 2 3 [What is its use to you?] - Is it useful to you?
Zich nergens iets van aantrekken click to hear 2 3 4 5 Not be concerned about anything, just doing, 'not give a damn'
In the last line above, there is the compound verb 'aantrekken'  but there is also an 'independent' preposition, 'van'   so 'ergens' is used

Unexplained Further Exceptions

Er is nergens tijd voor click to hear [There is time for nothing] - There is no time for anything
Hij weet van niks click to hear He knows nothing about it, he has no idea

4. 'Er' as a 'pragmatic marker'

'Er' can also be a somewhat meaningless, hard-to-translate interjection. Words like that are sometimes called 'pragmatic markers' - in some phrases they can be left out, but often not. Dutch looks a bit bare without them.
Er was eens ... click to hear 2 3 Once upon a time there was ... (fairy tales start) ->>
Er was er eens ... click to hear Once upon a time there was ...
Wie heeft gewonnen? click to hear Who won?
Wie heeft er gewonnen? click to hear Who won?
Wie heeft de wedstrijd gewonnen? click to hear Who won the match?
Wie heeft hier de leiding? click to hear Who's in charge here?
Wie heeft er hier de leiding? click to hear Who's in charge here?
De Vries is de baas. click to hear DeVries is the boss.
Hoe is 't? click to hear 2 3 [How is it?] - How are things, how are you?
Hoe is 't ermee? click to hear [How is it with you?] - How are you?
Hoeveel tijd er is verstreken click to hear 2 3 How much time has passed, how long ago it is
Leaving out 'er' in the next two sets of examples would be poor Dutch. 'Wat is aan de hand?' sounds wrong. The correct use of these words must be difficult for foreign students.
Wat is er? click to hear 2 3 [What is (it)?] - usually asked when there seems to be a problem: What's wrong?
Wat is er met Jan? click to hear 2 What is with Jan? What's wrong with Jan?
Wat is er aan de hand? click to hear What's going on?
Wat is er gaande? click to hear 2 What's going on? (old-fashioned)
Wat is er gebeurd? click to hear 2 3 What happened?
Wat zou er gebeuren? click to hear 2 What would happen?
Zou er wat gebeurd zijn? click to hear 2 Did something happen?
Ik wil weten wat er gebeurd is click to hear 2 3 I want to know what happened
Hij vertelde mij wat er gebeurd was click to hear He told me what had happened
Wat gebeurde er toen je twintig was? click to hear (2) What happened when you were 20 years old?
Wat is er veranderd? click to hear 2 What has changed?
Er moet iets veranderen click to hear 2 Something gotta change
't Doet er niet toe click to hear 2 It doesn't matter
Wat is er anders? click to hear 2 3 What's different? /or:/ What else is there? (There is no alternative)
Wat is er van hem geworden? click to hear 2 What became of him?
De winter komt eraan click to hear 2 Winter is coming
Ik moet er vandoor click to hear 2 I gotta go
Ik ben benieuwd wie er gaat  winnen click to hear 2 3 4 I'm curious who's going to win
Wie weet er nog een mop? click to hear [Who knows another joke?] - Anybody has a joke to tell?
Wie doet er mee? click to hear Who'll join us? Who's in?
't Ziet er vies uit click to hear 2 It looks dirty - usually: unappetizing
't Ziet er slecht uit click to hear 2 It looks bad - usually: it's not going to get better
Wie is er aan de beurt? click to hear [Who's on turn] - Whose turn is it?
Ga er even bij zitten click to hear 2 3 Do sit down (for it) for a moment
Ga d'r even bij zitten click to hear 2 3 4 5 Do sit down (for it) for a moment

Dutch Vocabulary Overview - Dutch Grammar Overview - Listen to and Read Dutch

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Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2