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In this chapter you will find the explanation of the Dutch relative clauses. These clauses say something about a certain person, event or thing that can be found in the main clause. 

Definition and usage of the Dutch relative clauses 

The relative clauses are used to refer to something in the main clause. The clauses begin with a relative pronoun or adverb. The part before the relative pronoun or adverb is normally the main clause. 

Examples

  • Dit is de jurk die ik vroeger droeg. (This is the dress I used to wear.)
  • Dat is de jongen aan wie ik mijn ijsje gaf. (This is the boy, to whom I gave my ice cream.)
  • De kamer welke gebruikt wordt als studeerkamer. (The room that is used as a study room.)

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1) Relative clauses with a relative pronoun

The following table gives you an overview of the relative pronouns that can be used in a relative clause and when they are used:

Relative pronoun

Usage

Example

Translation
DatRefers to a 'het-noun'.  Het huis dat ik gekocht heb.The house that I bought. 
Wat
  • After an undefined pronoun.
  • After a superlative. 
  • After an entire sentence. 
  • Het enige wat ik wil is een goed ontbijt.
  • Het beste wat jou kan overkomen, is een nieuwe start.
  • Ik ben om zes uur opgestaan, wat best wel vroeg is.
  • The only thing I want is a good breakfast. 
  • The best thing that could have happened to you is a fresh start. 
  • I got up at six, which is quite early.
DieRefers to a 'de-noun'. Ik wil later een man die een goede baan heeft.When I grow up, I want a man who has a good job. 
WieUse after a preposition.De jongen aan wie ik mijn ijsje gaf.The boy to whom I gave my ice cream. 
WelkeRefers to a 'de-noun'. (often too formal)De kamer welke gebruikt wordt als studeerkamer.The room which is used as a study room. 
Hetwelk (Liever wat gebruiken)Refers to a het-noun or a whole sentence. (obsolete)Zij beweerde een grote kamer te hebben, hetwelk ook bleek toen ik bij haar thuis kwam. She claimed to have a big room, which turned out to be true when I visited her house. 
Hetgeen (Liever wat gebruiken)Refers to an entire sentence. (obsolete)Wij gingen vrijdagavond naar een discotheek, hetgeen wij een aangenaam tijdverdrijf vinden. We went to a disco on friday night, which we find a pleasant way to spend our time. 

2) Relative clauses with a relative adverb 

The following table shows you a few examples of the relative adverbs that can be used in a relative clause.

Relative adverbExampleTranslation
WaarDat is het huis waar ik mijn hele leven gewoond heb. That is the house where I lived my entire life. 
VanwaarDaar is de straat, vanwaar hij kwam. There is the street from where he came. 
WaaropDat is het paard, waarop ik heb gezeten.That is the horse, upon which I sat. 

Test your knowledge of the Dutch relative clauses with the exercises below. 


Exercises

  1. Choose the correct Dutch relative
  2. Choose the sentence with the correct relative in Dutch

Choose the correct Dutch relative


Choose the sentence with the correct relative in Dutch


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