Relative Pronouns

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  • Relative clauses begin with relative pronouns - words that correspond to who, whom, that and which in English. These may be omitted in English, but must be included in Dutch. The relative pronoun is put into the correct gender depending on the noun it refers to. The conjugated verb goes to the end of the sentence as well as with subordinate clauses. Die and dat are the relative pronouns in Dutch; die refers to people, singular common nouns and all plural nouns, whereas dat refers to singular neuter nouns.

    Kent u de man die daar op de hoek staat? Do you know the man who is standing there on the corner?
    Dat is de boek dat ik las. That is the book (that) I read.
    Hier is de jurk die ik gisteren gekocht heb. Here is the dress (which) I bought yesterday.

    Die is replaced by wie when the clause refers to people and is preceded by a preposition. In addition, whoever is translated as wie.

    De jongen met wie ik praatte heet Piet. The boy with whom I spoke is called Peter.

    No relative pronoun is used when the clause refers to things and is preceded by a preposition. In this case, waar- and the preposition are used instead. In some cases, waar- and a preposition can also replace the relative pronoun when referring to people.

    Dat zijn mensen waarop je rekenen kunt. They are people upon whom you can count. (They are people you can count on.)

    Wat replaces dat when the pronoun refers to the words alles (everything), iets (something), niets (nothing); to the superlative form of an adjective used as a noun; to the whole preceding clause. It is also used when there is no antecedent (no preceding noun/pronoun to refer to.)

    Dat is alles wat ik heb. That is everything that I have.
    Zij komt altijd te laat, wat mij ergert. She always comes late, which annoys me.

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