In Dutch the words for the article ‘a’ and the number ‘one’ are
often spelled the same: ‘een’. However, they differ in pronunciation.
it is not clear from context, we write ‘één’ for ‘one’. In any case,
when you mean to say ‘one’, you have to pronounce it as ‘één’ (‘een’,
in Dutch phonetic script).

1. a [article; ‘un’]

Not much to write here 🙂 However, there is one typical Dutch use
of ‘een’. In recent years it has become popular to use ‘een’ in
combination with a person or an entity, in order to make a comparison
with the category that that person or entity belongs to. Ok, I guess an
example will clarify, see below.

– “Er zwemt een eendje in de vijver.”
(“A (small) duck/duckling is swimming in the pond.”)

– “Grote atleten hebben in dit stadion records gebroken; ik noem een Carl Lewis, een Nelly Cooman, een Haile Gebreselassie…”
(“Great athletes have broken records in this stadium; I mention the likes of Carl Lewis, Nelly Cooman, Haile Gebreselassie…”)

– “Frank raadde zijn manager af de concurrentie aan te gaan met een KPN of een Telfort.”
(“Frank advised his manager not to compete with the likes of KPN or Telfort.)

2. one [number; ‘een’]

– “Er zwemt één eendje in de vijver.”
(“One duck is swimming in the pond.”)

– “Niet één, maar twee eendjes zwemmen in de vijver.”
(“Not one, but two ducks are swimming in the pond.”)

– “Eén, twee, drie, vier, hoedje van, hoedje van…”
(First phrase of a classic Dutch song. The point here is that the capital E has no diacritic.)

3. equal [adverb; ‘een’]

“Alle mensen zijn een.”
(“All humans are equal.” Note that it is more common in Dutch to use the word ‘gelijk’ instead of ‘een’ in this context.)

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