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Dutch Disambiguation: Common Words with More Than One Meaning

Disambiguation Home - Aan - Achter - Af - Al - Als - Binnen/Buiten - Daar - Dan - Dat - Door - Eens - Er - Erg - Even - Haast - Het - In - Laat - Maar - Na - Naar - Net - Nog - Of - Om - Onder/Boven - Op - Over - Toen - Uit - Van - Voor - Vroeg - Waar - Wat - Weg - Zo - more - 2

Like most languages, Dutch has many words that have more than one meaning. English for instance has 'broke' which is the past tense of 'to break,' but it can also mean 'out of money' (Dutch: blut click to hear) - the two meanings of 'broke' may be related. Likewise Dutch has brak click to hear 2 3 as the past tense singular of breken click to hear ‑>> ('to break')

breken
to break
- brak
broke
- gebroken
broken
click to hear
- het touw brak click to hear 2 ('the rope broke') - but 'brak' can also mean 'somewhat salty,' said of water, like English 'brackish' - brak water click to hear 2

English 'back' has several meanings that have different words in Dutch:

English 'What is it about?' can ask for the subject of a book, a documentary or a movie. That 'about' is translated in Dutch as: over click to hear 2

gaan over click to hear 2 'to be about'
Waar gaat 't over? click to hear 2 3 What is it about? (What is the subject of a book etc.)
Het boek gaat over dolfijnen click to hear The book is about dolphins

But 'to be about' can also be a question about an argument or a fight: 'what is the important thing?' Then, 'about' is translated as: om click to hear

gaan om click to hear 2 'to be about'
Waar gaat 't om? click to hear 2 What is it about? (what's important, the bone of contention)
't Gaat om 't geld click to hear 2 It's about the money

As related languages, Dutch and English words sometimes have shared meanings, which are not found in other languages. For instance, Dutch 'voor' and English 'for' may be fairly equivalent, you can often use Dutch 'voor' where English says 'for,' but other languages may use a wide variety of prepositions to express those meanings. Don't focus on the English words when you're not a native speaker of English, but study the many sample sentences on the linked pages for a better understanding of the usage.

Aan

click to hear ->>
  • 'on, upon' - "Southend-on-Sea"
  • 'on' (not off) - "The light is on"
  • 'to' - "A letter to the king"
  • 'at' - "There is someone at the door"
  • 'of' - "lack of imagination"
  • 'for' - "the need for warmth (heat)"
  • 'in, into' - "You're putting a lot of work into it"
  • 'from' - "That was still missing from it!"
  • 'by' - "By its fruit the tree is known"
  • 'about' - "Nothing can be done about it"
Aan de ene kant ... click to hear 2 3 On the one [side] hand ... Doe 't licht aan click to hear 2 3 Turn on the light Aan tafel! click to hear 2 [Come] to the table! (food is served) Hij zat aan tafel click to hear He was sitting at the table een teveel aan informatie click to hear 2 an overabundance, overload of information de behoefte aan rust click to hear 2 3 the need for quiet, rest Geen wolkje aan de lucht click to hear 2 (saying) [Not a cloud in the sky] No problems are expected Ze lijden aan geheugenverlies click to hear 2 'They are suffering from memory loss' - usually said when people ignore inconvenient history Ik herkende hem aan z'n stem click to hear 2 I recognized him by his voice Je moet er wat aan doen click to hear 2 3 4 You have to do something about it The 'Aan' Page

Achter

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'behind' - "behind a tree"
  • 'back, rear' - "the back door"
achter 't huis click to hear behind the house achter in de kerk click to hear 2 3 in the back of the church The 'Achter' Page

Af

click to hear ‑>>
  • 'off, away from' - "The ball rolled off the table"
  • 'finished, done' - "My job is never done"
afsnijden click to hear 2 to cut off (with a knife) - and also figuratively Is 't af? click to hear 2 3 4 Is it finished? Is it ready? Are you done with it? Maak eerst je huiswerk af click to hear First, finish your homework The 'Af' Page

Al

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'already' - "Are the bananas already yellow?"
  • 'all, every' (adverb and adjective) - "I've sold all my books"
    'all, everything' (noun) - "All's well that ends well"
  • 'even if' - a contradiction, an exaggeration or a strong feeling - "Even if it takes me years"

Zijn de perziken al rijp? click to hear 2 Are the peaches ripe already? Al die dingen doen dat nou click to hear 2 3 4 [All those things do that now] - All those devices now have that feature Eind goed, al goed click to hear 2 3 All's well that ends well Al kost 't me jaren click to hear 2 3 Even if it's going to take (me) years The 'Al' Page

Als

click to hear ->>
  • 'if' and 'when' (stating conditions) - "If it rains ..." - "When it rains ..."
  • 'as, like' (comparing) - "Soft as butter"
  • 'as a' (representing) - "As an example ..."
't IJzer smeden als het heet is click to hear 2 3 Forge the iron when it's hot Als 't hard regent blijf ik thuis click to hear 2 If it rains hard I'll stay home 't Is niet zo erg als 't lijkt click to hear 2 3 It's not as bad as it looks Als Nederlander zou ik zeggen: "ja" click to hear As a Dutchman I'd say: Yes! The 'Als' Page

Binnen

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'inside, in, into, indoors'

Buiten

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'outside, out, outdoors'
Ik ben de hele dag binnen gebleven click to hear 2 3 I've [stayed, remained] been inside all day Hij ging het huis binnen click to hear He went into the house, he went inside the house binnen een uur click to hear 2 [in, inside of] within an hour 't Is koud buiten click to hear It's cold outside Hij liep 't huis uit click to hear he walked out of the house buiten adem click to hear 2 out of breath The 'Binnen / Buiten' Page

Daar

click to hear >>
  • (over) there, in that spot - "there's a mailbox over there!"
  • (with preposition) that - "I had not thought of that"
  • (old fashioned, bookish) because - "because the negotiations failed"
De uitgang is daar click to hear The exit is over there Daar moet je mee ophouden click to hear 2 You should stop doing that / Stop that! Daar was ik al bang voor click to hear 2 I was already afraid of that, that bad thing was expected Daar de verwachte groei uitbleef werd de fabriek weer gesloten click to hear 2 Because the expected growth didn't materialize the factory was closed (again) The 'Daar' Page

Dan

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'than' - "bigger than"
  • 'then' (future) - "... and then there'll be trouble"
Beter laat dan nooit click to hear Better late than never ... en dan wordt 't spannend click to hear ... and then it'll get exciting The 'Dan' Page

Dat

click to hear ->>
  • 'that/those' - indicating remote items - "that car over there"
  • 'that/those' - referring to something that was mentioned or happened before - "I forgot to mention that"
  • 'that' - in sub-sentences making a statement after verbs like 'say' or 'think' etc. - "I think that's right"
  • 'that' - instead of 'who' or 'which' in sub-sentences that further describe a preceding word or phrase - "the pen that wrote those words"
Ik ken dat woord niet click to hear I don't know, I'm not familiar with that word Hoorde ik dat goed? click to hear 2 Did I hear that correctly? Ik hoop dat het op tijd is click to hear I hope that it's in time Het was de derde keer dat ik 'm zag click to hear It was the third time that I saw it/him The 'Dat' Page

Door

click to hear ->>
  • 'by' (the agent of activity) - "stung by a bee"
  • 'through' (a passage) - "through the window"
Bent U gebeten door Uw hond? click to hear 2 3 Were you bitten by your dog? Als een mes door de boter click to hear Like a knife through (the) butter (very easily) The 'Door' page

Eens

click to hear 2 3 ->>
  • 'once' - "once upon a time ..."
  • 'sometime' - or hard to translate amplifier or pragmatic marker
  • " 't eens zijn met " - to agree with
Er was eens ... click to hear 2 3 Once upon a time there was ... Zeg eens wat click to hear Say something! Wacht eens even click to hear 2 Now wait a moment Ik ben het met je eens click to hear 2 I agree with you, I think you're right The 'Eens' Page

Er

click to hear /or/ click to hear ->>
  • a less specific 'there' - "We're almost there"
  • there is / there are ... - pointing out something, stating a fact - "There are no mountains in Holland"
  • (with preposition) placeholder 'it' - "I didn't think of it"
  • a somewhat meaningless, untranslated interjection -
We zijn er bijna click to hear 2 We're almost there Er zijn geen bergen in Nederland click to hear There are no mountains in Holland Je moet er wat aan doen click to hear 2 3 4 You should do something about it Wat is er aan de hand? click to hear What's going on? 't Ziet er vies uit click to hear 2 It looks unappetizing The 'Er' Page

Erg

click to hear ->>
  • 'very'- "I'm very tired"
  • 'very bad, awful, terrible'- "It's not as bad as it looks"
Hij is erg blij click to hear He's very happy 't Is niet zo erg als het lijkt click to hear 2 It's not as bad as it looks The 'Erg' Page

Even

click to hear 2 3 ->>
  • a moment - "wait a moment!"
  • (even als) equally, just as - "I'm just as clever as you are"
  • even numbers - "odd and even numbers"
Wacht even click to hear Wait a moment We zijn even oud click to hear 2 [We're equally old] - We're the same age even en oneven getallen click to hear even and odd numbers The 'Even' Page

Haast

click to hear ->>
  • 'hurry, haste' - "It's urgent"
  • 'almost' - "It's almost unbelievable"
Er is haast bij click to hear 2 3 4 'It is urgent' Er is haast geen geld click to hear 2 3 There is [almost no, hardly any] very little money The 'Haast' Page

Het

click to hear 2 3

/ 't

click to hear ->>
  • the (#2) - "the little street"
  • it - "it's late" - "the car - it's broken"
Het zinken van het schip click to hear The sinking of the ship ('passive' sinking) 't Eten - 't was lekker click to hear The food - it was (tasty) good The 'Het' Page

In

click to hear 2 ‑>>
  • 'in' - "in the house"
  • 'into' - "into the house"
  • 'to' - "Have you been to Rotterdam?"
Hij lag in bed click to hear 2 He was lying in bed Ik zag de zon in de zee zinken click to hear (2) I saw the sun sink into the sea Ik ben nog nooit in Rome geweest click to hear I've never been to Rome The 'In' Page

Laat

click to hear ->>
  • 'late, not in/on time' /or/ 'at the end of a time frame' - "late at night"
  • let, allow - "let it be"
't Wordt laat click to hear 2 It's getting late 't Is nog niet te laat click to hear 2 3 It's not too late (yet) Laat maar click to
  hear Let it be, don't bother The 'Laat' Page

Maar

click to hear ->>
  • 'but' "strange but true"
  • 'just, only' "there's just one solution" - "He's only a baby"
  • pragmatic marker - various translations
Rijk maar geen geld click to hear 2 3 Rich, but no money / Rich without money 't Lijkt maar zo click to hear It only looks that way Hij is nog maar een baby click to hear 2 He's [still] just a baby Gelukkig maar! click to hear 2 3 Lucky indeed! We're lucky The 'Maar' Page

Na

click to hear ->>
  • 'after' - "after the elections"
na vijf uur click to hear 2 after 5 o'clock // after 5 hours, 5 hours later nadenken click to hear 2 3 (4) to think over, considering something carefully - this is the real 'denken' to think - use the brain The 'Na' Page

Naar

->>
  • 'to (towards)' - going to Amsterdam ""
  • 'sick,' 'unpleasant' - it made me feel sick ""
Ik ga naar Parijs click to hear 2 I'm going to Paris Hij is naar buiten gegaan click to hear 2 He went outside, he stepped out Ik kijk er naar click to hear 2 3 4 I'm looking at it een nare man click to hear 2 a very unpleasant male person The 'Naar' Page

Net

click to hear ->>
  • just like - "just like before"
  • barely, with little margin - "we were just in time"
    -or: a short time ago - "he just left"
  • neat, proper - "neat handwriting"
  • (fishing etc.) net
't Is net echt click to hear 2 [It's like real] - It's almost real, it looks very real Net als vroeger click to hear 2 3 Just like before, just as in the past We waren net op tijd click to hear 2 3 We were just in time De pont is net weg click to hear 2 The ferry just left, a moment ago een net handschrift click to hear 2 neat handwriting (het) netvlies click to hear 2 ['netlike membrane'] retina The 'Net' Page

Nog

click to hear ->>
  • still, yet, 'remaining' - "It's still early"
  • even, still (with superlative) - "That's even better"
Het is nog vroeg click to hear It's still early Hoeveel tijd is er nog? click to hear 2 3 How much time is [there still] left? Ik heb nog niet gegeten click to hear have not eaten yet 't Was nog erger dan ik dacht click to hear 2 3 It was even worse than I had thought The 'Nog' Page

Of

click to hear ->>
  • or - "red or green?" - "coffee or tea?"
  • if - "I don't know if that's true"
Wil je kaas of ham op je brood? click to hear Would you like cheese or ham on your bread? Ik vraag me af of ... click to hear 2 I wonder if ... The 'Of' Page

Om

click to hear ->>
  • 'at' hours - "at midnight"
  • (om ... te) 'to' with verb infinitive, 'for' with present participle
    - "to die for" - "crying to be heard"
  • about, 'because of,' 'for' - "It's not about money"
  • around - "trees around the house"
  • 'alternating'
  • various
Ik ga om acht uur weg click to hear 2 3 I'm leaving at 8 Om te beginnen ... click to hear 2 To start with, For starters Het is niet om te lachen click to hear 2 3 4 [It's not for laughing] It's not funny, no laughing matter Waar gaat 't om? click to hear 2 What is it about? om gezondheidsredenen click to hear 2 for reasons of health, because of health concerns Ik ga even een blokje om click to hear 2 I'm going for a little walk around the block om de dag click to hear every other day Ik kom om van de honger click to hear 2 3 I'm perishing of hunger, I'm starving - jocular The 'Om' Page

Onder

click to hear ‑>>
  • 'below, under' - "below zero"
onder 't huis click to hear under the house onder 't mes click to hear 2 'under the knife' - surgery The 'Onder / Boven' Page

Op

click to hear ->>
  • 'up' - "get up!"
  • 'on' - "on the roof"
  • 'at' - "at the last moment"
  • 'to' - "it fell to the floor"
  • 'for' - "prepared for the worst"
  • 'of' - "a chance of rain"
  • 'in' - "in this spot"
  • 'finished, gone, out of' - "the money's gone"
Ben je op? click to hear 2 Did you get up? Are you up? op het strand click to hear 2 3 on the beach op mijn leeftijd click to hear 2 at my age Het antwoord op Uw vraag ... click to hear The answer to your question ... Wees verdacht op windstoten click to hear Expect, watch out for, be prepared for sudden gusts of wind Gezicht op Delft click to hear View of Delft, Looking at Delft (a Vermeer painting) op klaarlichte dag click to hear 3 [in the clear light of day] - in broad daylight De benzine is op click to hear The gasoline is finished, we're out of gas The 'Op' Page

Over

click to hear 2 ->>
  • 'in' - amount of time until - "in two hours"
  • 'past' (hours on the clock) - "10 past 11"
  • 'over, across' ('bridging') - "a bridge across the canal"
  • 'about' - "talking about freedom"
  • 'left, remaining' - "there are few whales left"
  • various in other verbs
over een paar jaar click to hear 2 3 in a [couple of] few years kwart over zes click to hear a quarter past 6, 6:15 een brug over de gracht click to hear 2 a bridge across the city canal Het boek gaat over dolfijnen click to hear The book is about dolphins Er zijn weinig walvissen over click to hear There are few whales left Laat het aan de vakman over click to hear Leave it to the professionals The 'Over' Page

Toen

click to hear 2 3 ->>
  • 'then,' 'at that time' - "... and then I became a teacher"
  • 'when,' 'at the time that' - "I stopped smoking when I became a teacher"
... en toen gingen we eten click to hear 2 ... and then we [went to eat] had food, lunch/dinner Toen de bliksem insloeg ging het licht uit click to hear 2 When lightning hit the light went out The 'Toen' Page

Uit

->>
  • 'out of, out, from' - "tulips from Amsterdam"
  • 'off' - "turn it off!"
uit 't zicht click to hear 2 'out of sight,' no longer seen, hidden Ze komt uit Engeland click to hear 2 She's from England Doe het licht uit click to hear 2 Turn off the light The 'Uit' Page

Van

click to hear 2 ->>
  • of - possession, association etc. "William of Orange"
  • from - point of origin or departure "from 9 to 5"
  • by - "a painting by Van Gogh"
  • various
't Begin van 't einde click to hear 2 (3) The beginning of the end Willem van Oranje click to hear William of Orange van Den Haag naar Rotterdam click to hear 2 from The Hague to Rotterdam Ik schrok van de prijs click to hear 2 I was [shocked] taken aback by the price ->> The 'Van' Page

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"
De stilte voor de storm click to hear The quiet before the storm (literally and figuratively) een boom voor 't huis click to hear a tree in front of the house Een cadeau voor Els click to hear 2 A present for Els Ben je voor of tegen? click to hear Are you for or against? Ik ben allergisch voor eieren click to hear 2 I'm allergic to eggs The 'Voor' Page

Vroeg

click to hear ->>
  • 'early' - "early in the morning"
  • 'asked' - "he asked where the station was"
Het is nog vroeg click to hear It's still early Hij vroeg waar 't station was click to hear 2 He asked where the station was The 'Vroeg' Page

Waar

click to hear ->>
  • where? - what place? - "Where is the exit?"
  • where - the place that - "Where Jesus was born"
  • what - the thing that - "What you should think of"
  • true - 'real' - "Every word was true"
Waar ben je geweest? click to hear 2 Where have you been? (What places have you visited?) Hij vroeg waar het station was click to hear 2 He asked where the station was Waar denk je aan? click to hear What are you thinking of? 't Schijnt niet waar te zijn click to hear 2 3 It seems not to be true The 'Waar' Page

Wat

click to hear ->>
  • 'what?' - 'what is?' 'what is it?' - "What's the problem?"
  • 'what' 'the thing that, the event that - "I can't hear what you're saying"
  • 'what a!' - 'such (a)!' - 'how!' - surprise, annoyance or emphasis - "What a bore!"
  • 'some' - 'a little' - "Could I have some wool?"
  • 'something' - "There's something wrong"
Wat is er gebeurd? click to hear 2 3 What happened? Ik begrijp niet wat U zegt click to hear 2 3 I don't understand (the meaning of) what you're saying Wat een verschil! click to hear 2 3 What a, Such a difference! Heb je wat brood? click to hear Would you have some bread? Heb je d'r wat van geleerd? click to hear 2 [Have you learned ...?] Did it teach you something? The 'Wat' Page

Weg

click to hear ->>
  • 'way, road, street' - "the way back"
  • 'away' - "going away"
(de) eigen weg click to hear private road (a sign) Ga je eigen weg click to hear 2 [Go your own way] - Choose yourself what you want to do, make your own choices (de) snelweg click to hear [fast road] highway uit de weg click to hear 2 3 4 1. get out of the way, make way!
2. out of the way, not a problem anymore
ver weg click to hear 2 3 far away De sleutel is weg click to hear 2 'The key is gone, lost' The 'Weg' Page

Zo

click to hear ->>
  • 'very, a high degree of'
    • 'so' (very) - "that's so old-fashioned!"
    • 'that' (very) - "it's not that expensive"
    • 'such a' / 'a very' - "he's such a good cook"
  • 'this/that way' - "that's the way to do it"
  • in a moment, soon - "we'll have dinner in a moment"
Ik voel me zo vol click to hear 2 I feel so full (I've eaten too much) niet zo vaak click to hear 2 3 not that often Ik heb zo'n zin in een kopje thee click to hear 2 3 ['I have such a great desire for ...'] - What I'd really like now is a cup of tea 't Lijkt maar zo click to hear It only looks that way Ik kom zo bij U click to hear 2 I'll [come to you] be with you in a minute The 'Zo' Page

email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2014-19. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2