Dutch Genders

Genders in Dutch All nouns have a gender in Dutch, either common (de words) or neuter (het words).   It is hard to guess which gender a noun is, so it Genders in Dutchis best to memorize the genders when memorizing vocabulary. However, two-thirds of Dutch words are common gender (because the common gender has combined the former feminine and masculine genders.) So it may be easier to memorize which nouns are neuter, and then assign common gender to the rest. All diminutives (words ending in -je) and infinitives used as nouns, as well as colors, metals, compass directions, and all words that end in -um, -aat, -sel, -isme are neuter. Most nouns beginning with ge- and ending with -te are neuter, as are most nouns beginning with ge-, be-, and ver-. Common noun endings include: -aar, -ent, -er, -es, -eur, -heid, -ij, -ing, -teit, -tie.

Articles & Demonstratives

Singular “the”
Plural “the”
Indefinite “a” or “an”
common neuter
Singular this that deze die dit dat
Plural these those
deze die
The definite article is used more in Dutch than in English. It is always used before the names of the seasons, street names and in an abstract sense. There are some idioms that should be memorized, however: in het Nederlands (in Dutch), in de stad (in town), in het zwart (in black), met de auto (by car), met de tijd (in/with time); op tafel (on the table), in zee (in the sea), op kantoor (at the office), in bad (in the bath), op straat (in the street). 1. Dutch nouns have a gender. They are either common or neuter. The article de goes with common nouns and het goes with neuter nouns. It is important that the article “the” (de or het) agrees with the noun that it is going with. Example: de kip – het huis 2. The word for a/an is een. 3. The word een actually has two meanings – a/an or one. The pronunciation makes all the difference, which is why you will usually find the number version written this way: één Example: een huis – één, twee, drie 4. Diminutives are often used in Dutch, expressing smallness, endearment or even contempt. To form a diminutive, you usually add –je or –tje to the end of the noun but –etje-pje, and –kje can also be found. Example: het meisje – het boompje 5. Diminutives are always neuter nouns. 6. There are three ways to form the plural of nouns:
    • adding en
      • Example: bloem/bloemen
    • adding s
      • Example: tafel/tafels
    • adding eren
      • Example: ei/eieren
7. When making words plural, there are often some spelling changes that occur. Example: maan/manen – bel/bellen – huis/huizen 8. Demonstratives (this/that/these/those) depend on the gender of the noun.





de kip deze kip die kip deze kippen die kippen
het huis dit huis dat huis deze huizen die huizen
  9. Adjectives are placed before the noun. Example: de kleine tuin – het kleine huis – een klein huis

Rules for Articles in Dutch

When it comes to definite articles, Dutch has an extra layer of complexity compared to English. In English, there is only one definite article: the. In Dutch, there are two definite articles: de and het. Whether you use de or het depends on the gender of the noun. There are three genders in Dutch: masculine, feminine, and neuter. De is used with masculine and feminine nouns. Het is used with neuter nouns. Each noun has a gender and some nouns have two genders. Both, de and het, can be used with the nouns that are masculine and neuter. There are a few rules that govern the articles of some of the nouns. You have to memorize the articles of the rest. First, let’s go over the rules and then discuss how to memorize the articles of the nouns.

Plural nouns always take the article de, regardless of their gender.

Singular Plural
De man De mannen (the men)
Het kind De kinderen (the children)
Het boek De boeken (the books)
Het koekje De koekjes (the cookies)

Singular diminutive nouns (verkleinwoorden) take the article het.

  • Het koekje (the cookie)
  • Het huisje (the little house)
  • Het kindje (the little child)

Infinitives take the article het.

  • Het lopen (to walk)
  • Het lezen (to read)
  • Het spelen (to play)

Nouns that refer to persons take the article de.

  • De man (man)
  • De vrouw (woman)
  • De vriend (friend)

Nouns that end with -ing, -er, -heid, -in, or -aar take the article de.

  • De vergadering (meeting)
  • De bakker (baker)
  • De overheid (government)
  • De vriendin (girlfriend)
  • De ambtenaar (civil servant)

Two syllable nouns that start with be-, ge-, ver-, or ont- take the article het.

  • Het beheer (management)
  • Het geluid (sound)
  • Het verband (connection, context, relation)
  • Het onthaal (reception)

Trees, plants, vegetables, and fruits take the article de.

  • De eik (oak)
  • De orchidee (orchid)
  • De spinazie (spinach)
  • De appel (apple)
Exception: (de/het) knoflook (garlic)

Nouns that end with -isme, -ment, -sel, or -um take the article het.

  • Het activisme
  • Het instrument
  • Het voedsel (food)
  • Het museum
Exception: de datum (date)

Sports take the article het.

  • Het tennis
  • Het voetbal (football)
  • Het judo
Exceptions: de marathon, de triathlon Learning these rules makes it easier to find the right article. However, memorizing the rules is not enough. You should be able to recognize quickly whether a word satisfies a rule or not. Moreover, you also need to memorize the exceptions to these rules. The exceptions in this article are not exhaustive, but provided as examples only. Furthermore, there are a lot of nouns that do not satisfy any of these rules. You have to learn the articles of them by heart. The best way to learn the articles of the nouns is through regular practice. If you have difficulties in memorizing the articles, sign up now for free and take a quiz to practice them.LearnPractice.com challenges you with short quizzes and corrects you whenever you make a mistake. Over time, it recognizes your weaknesses and focuses the practice sessions on your weaknesses. That way, you make the most of your practice time and improve as fast as possible.]]>