Dutch word geen

My blog post for today is about the pronunciation and use of the Dutch word "geen". I would like to start with the pronunciation part. The idea is that you do not look at this word with the English speaking part of your brain. Many of the double vowel sounds such as [ee],[aa] and [oo] in Dutch do not sound the same as in English. When you read a word with these letter combinations your natural instinct is to pronounce the word in your head in an English way. "bee", "knee" and "tree". Unfortunately the Dutch double e does not sound like [ee]. The Dutch double e sounds like [ay] or [ai], in words like "May", or "rain". Let's practice this and say: "May" and then the Dutch word "nee". Say "rain" and "een". Repeat this a few times. Add a guttural [g] for the word "geen". The "g" is a difficult sound for speakers of English. Here is how you do it. Put your finger just above your breastbone; now forcefully push out the air through a relaxed slightly opened mouth. It is a little bit like clearing your throat. Say "geen". When you master the pronunciation of the[g] and the [ee] sound we can move on to the meaning and use of the Dutch word "geen". If you look "geen" up in the dictionary it will give you words like "no, none, not any". But there is something else you need to know. In English you will say: "I haven't got a pen" but the Dutch use a more simple sentence and say: "I have no pen" or "I have no hunger" to say they are not hungry.


"I haven't got a pen" = "I have no pen" = "Ik heb geen pen"

"I am not hungry" ="I have no hunger" = "Ik heb geen honger"

"Waiter, I haven't got any cutlery" = "Waiter, I have no cutlery"="Ober, ik heb geen bestek"

"Sorry, I do not have any (small) change" = "Sorry, I have no (small) change"="Sorry, ik heb geen kleingeld"

Now practice this concept with your own language. Person A asks a question: "Heeft U een…………" Person B answers "Ja, ik heb een ………." or "Nee, ik heb geen ………….." Say these sentences out loud. Perhaps you want to record them on your phone so you can listen to them later. The more you hear your own voice speaking Dutch the easier it is to remember these phrases for later when you might need them in a real life situation.

Underneath I put two lines of a song by Frank Dingenen, with the expression "ik heb geen zin om….." =(=literary: I have no wish to…… ) Follow the link if you want to listen to this on YouTube: http://youtu.be/Ofb3cxvF6Gg

"Ik heb geen zin om op te staan" ="I do not fancy getting up"

"Ik heb geen zin om naar mijn baas te gaan" = "I do not fancy going to my boss" (meaning going to work)