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October 2, 2013 / Roel

Grammar – The word ‘er’


The word ‘er‘ in Dutch is a word with different meanings. In the first place it means ‘there‘, the word ‘er‘ refers to a place here. You can say for instance:

Ben je er? = Are you there?

It’s a shorter way to say: ‘Ben je daar’

Furthermore, er is used to say if something is present. It is used as ‘er zijn‘, which means ‘there are‘. You can also say: ‘er is‘, which means ‘there is‘.

Er zijn veel boeken = There are a lot of books

Er is een pagina = There is a page

er‘ can also be used to refer to a situation in which something is wrong:

Wat er is weet ik ook niet. = I don’t know neither what’s going on.

Weet jij er iets aan te doen = Do you know something what we can do about it?

‘er’ can be used too when counting. If you have 2 pages, you say:

Ik heb 2 pagina’s         – I have 2 pages

You can change this into: Ik heb er 2          – I have  2 of them

In this case, ‘er‘ is still having the function of indicating a place, because it refers to the pages which are present somewhere. The difference is that it’s not clear where they are, but ‘er‘ is a referer to a place again.

Another use of ‘er‘ can be with a preposition.

Heb je het gegeven? – Ja, ik heb er een van gegeven.

Have you given it? – Yes, I have given one of it.


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