skip to main content

Hebben (to have) and zijn (to be)

There is a great deal of variation in the use of hebben and zijn in the various varieties of Dutch as well as their equivalents in various languages. The same applies to the use of the dative case. This is best illustrated by the difference between Dutch and English. While both can be used as an auxiliary verb to indicate tense in Dutch (Jan heeft gelachen; Jan is gearriveerd), it is only possible to use have in English (John has laughed/arrived). This difference in the selection of auxiliary verbs appears to correlate with the use of case: passive constructions with double-object verbs, such as aanbieden/to offer, the original accusative case appears as the object in Dutch while the original dative case appears as the object in English (De boeken werden hem aangeboden versus He was offered the books.) This research intends to map out documented variations between dialects/languages and to explain them based on the hypothesis that the verbs hebben and zijn are non-variant.

Researchers: Hans Broekhuis, Marjo van Koppen, Leonie Cornips