Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deciphering Dutch grammar

rosettaI’ve been stroking through my daily hour of Dutch, alternating sessions in Rosetta Stone with periods reading the FD or Volkskrant and listening to Klare Taal.  It’s making a difference, one seems to play off of the other, and as my writing vocabulary improves, my listening is better able to parse words from sentences.

For Rosetta, I’m on the lasts month of my subscription, so I’ve finished Level 2 and my goal is to wrap Level 3, the last series, within the next couple of weeks.  I’ll write a better review of that experience after I’m done.

Grammar remains a problem, though.  I ran in frustration to Skype the other day to try to sort the difference between dezelfde and hetzelfde with a Dutch friend: they both mean “the same” in sentences, but its impossible to try to sort out which to use when from looking at examples.  (As with so many things, it turns out to depend on whether the noun is de- or het-.)

Dutch An Essential GrammarMy go-to guide for grammar has always been Shetter’s Dutch, an Essential Grammar. I have the orange 9th version (2007), well battered, well studied: the Nuns in Vucht insisted we get a copy.  (Aside: Doesn’t it seem a bit baffling why there should be nine versions?).  But on questions like this one, it’s not much help.

Fehringer2Searching Google for answers, I stumbled across Fehringer’s Reference Grammar of Dutch, which I am really liking.  The points are well-organized, clear, and concise, and it’s a quick job to look up a point while working through.


Neither is good for casual reading, but both are worthwhile supplements to a self-study program with Rosetta, Delft, or other methods.

Disclaimer: As always, these are products that I bought and used: my opinions are my own and I have neither been asked nor compensated to write these comments.


Invader_Stu said...

It sounds silly but I found The Dummies Guide to Speaking Dutch very useful.

David Hampton said...

I've seen it, Stu, but never opened it. What level were you able to get to overall (I'm looking for inspiration that someone can do this... :) ).

Neliz said...

13dI'd like to add a bit to your friends explanation. Indeed, it's a matter of word gender in one case.

Dezelfde man (the (very) same man) or hetzelfde kind (the (very) same child).

But hetzelfde is ALSO in use to refer to 'ideas', 'concepts' or just plain sentences written or spoken before...

Mannen reageren anders op de geur van eten dan vrouwen. Hetzelfde geldt voor jongens en meisjes...

Translation: Men react different on the smell of food than women. The same thing applies to boys and girls...

In this case, never use 'dezelfde'.

David Hampton said...

Thanks, Neliz: it's tricky to learn, but that's a good clarification!