Besides plural nouns, the Dutch language also has 'verkleinwoorden' (small nouns). These are used frequently and not only used for small things, but for many other things. They can also refer to a certain attitude. You can make a noun smaller by adding '-je', '-tje', '-etje', '-pje'.
|You want to indicate that something is small.||Het boompje is aan het groeien.||The little tree is growing.|
|You want to refer to a certain attitude.||In het zonnetje met een glaasje wijn.||Enjoying the sunshine with a glass of wine.|
There are rules for determining which ending fits the noun to form the diminutive. Most nouns do not only get '-je' as an ending but also need extra letters.
(the little house)
|Het huisje staat langs de weg.||The little house is next to the road.|
|Het kind |
|Het kindje |
(the little child)
|Het kindje is geboren.||The little child is born.|
The ending '-tje' is added to nouns that have:
|Het eitje |
(the little egg)
|Het eitje wordt gekookt.||The little egg is getting cooked.|
(the little car)
|Het autootje rijdt hard.||The little car drives fast.|
(the little blanket)
|Het dekentje is warm.||The little blanket is warm.|
|Het beentje |
(the little leg)
|Het beentje is gebroken.||The (little) leg is broken.|
'-etje' is added to nouns that have:
A short vowel ending followed by a single 'r', 'l', 'n', 'm', 'ng'. Except nouns that:
|Het gezin |
(the little family)
|Het gezinnetje gaat op vakantie.||The little family goes on holiday.|
(the little thing)
|Het dingetje is kwijt.||The little thing is lost.|
Have a look at 'het gezinnetje'. The consonants at the end get doubled to keep the short vowel.
'-pje' is added to nouns that have:
(the little arm)
|Het armpje is kort.||The little arm is short.|
|Het museum |
(the little museum)
|Het museumpje is niet groot.||The little museum is not big.|
'-kje' is added to nouns that end in '-ng'. The last consonant of the noun, 'g', disappears.
|De koning (the king)||Het koninkje (the little king)||Het koninkje gaat naar Zweden.||The little king goes to Sweden.|
|De ketting (the necklace)||Het kettinkje (the little necklace)||Het kettinkje is mooi.||The little necklace is pretty.|
There are some diminutives that are an exception to the rules mentioned above. The table below shows the irregular diminutives.
|Het scheepje |
(the little boat)
|Het scheepje vaart.||The little boat sails.|
(the small path)
|Het paadje eindigt hier.||The small path ends here.|
(the little barrel)
|Het vaatje is gevuld.||The little barrel is filled.|
(the little boy)
|Het jongetje zwemt.||The little boy swims.|
|Het gat |
(the little hole)
|Het gaatje is niet groot.||The small hole is not big.|
|Het glaasje |
(the little glass)
|Het glaasje is vol.||The small glass is full.|
|Het blad |
|Het blaadje |
(the little leaf)
|Het blaadje viel van de boom.|
The little leaf fell from the tree.
The plural of diminutives is formed by adding an '-s'.
Diminutive + s
|Het huisje (the little house)||De huisjes (the little houses)||De huisjes zijn ver weg.||The little houses are far away.|
|Het dekentje (the little blanket)||De dekentjes (the little blankets)||De dekentjes zijn warm.||The little blankets are warm.|
|Het gezinnetje (the little family)||De gezinnetjes (the little families)||De gezinnetjes kennen elkaar al lang.||The little families have known each other for some time.|
|Het museumpje (the little museum)||De museumpjes (the little museums)||De museumpjes zijn oud.||The little museums are old.|
|Het kettinkje (the little necklace)||De kettinkjes (the little necklaces)||De kettinkjes zijn mooi.||The little necklaces are pretty.|
|Het glaasje (the small glass)||De glaasjes (the small glasses)||De glaasjes zijn kapot.||The small glasses are broken.|
Train your skills with the exercises below.
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