367. Steen

stone, rock, brick, pebble [noun] [de steen, de stenen] [‘steen‘]  Iconspeaker_14

"Steen" can be used for the material, or a specific kind of stone. See the Examples. Check out the Expressions for figurative use of "steen".

– "Heb je het al gehoord? Bij de buren is er een steen door het raam gegooid!"
you heard the news? A stone was thrown through the neighbours’ window!"
Lit. "Have you already heard it? At the neigbours a stone was …")

– "Er is een kostbare edelsteen gestolen uit de etalage."
("A precious stone / gemstone was stolen from the shop window.")

– "Vandalen hebben op de begraafplaats grafstenen omgegooid."
("Vandals have knocked over gravestones at the cemetery.")

– "Gisteravond was ik mijn sleutel vergeten, maar toen heb ik een
steentje tegen het raam gegooid om mijn vriendin wakker te maken."
("Last night I had forgotten my keys, but (then) I threw a small stone against the window in order to wake up my girlfriend.")

– "Zij heeft zo veel ellende meegemaakt dat haar hart nu van steen is."
("She has been through so much misery that by now her heart is of stone.")

– "Steengoed!": very good, very capable.
– "Steen en been klagen": to complain bitterly/loudly.
– "Zijn/haar steentje bijdragen": to contribute to something.
– "Een huishouden van Jan Steen": when your household is a mess, or
badly organised, one may compare it to "Jan Steen’s household". Well
not really: Jan Steen is a Dutch painter from the 17th century who is
well-known for his paintings of chaotic household scenes from those
times. These were quite popular and hence the proverb originated. You can also use it figuratively, i.e. not specifically for a household.

Related words:
– "Stenigen": to stone, to lapidate.
– "Baksteen": brick.
– "Kei": cobble(-stone), boulder.
– "Kiezel" or "Kiezelsteen": pebble.
– "Tegel": tile.
– "Rots": rock, boulder.
– "Beton": concrete.

3 thoughts on “367. Steen

  1. @Michael
    “Vergeten” can be conjugated with both “hebben” en “zijn”. The difference is very subtle. If the focus lies on the act of forgetting, mostly “hebben” is used. If the focus lies on what is forgotten, mostly “zijn” is used.
    See also: http://taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/849/
    Most Dutch don’t know when to use “hebben” or “zijn”…:-)

  2. Hi Michael,
    I followed the link provided by Marc to the taaladvies.net site (a source we often consult) and it appears that the distinction lies in the meaning of ‘to forget’: is it knowledge, or an item/act.
    Then, if I interpret their explanation correctly, you do not use ‘hebben’ in the case of knowledge, but you can use ‘zijn’ in the case of an item or an act. Moreover, it seems the use of ‘zijn’ in case of the latter is becoming more widespread in spoken Dutch.
    So to get back to the example: if we treat it as spoken language, it is accepted use. If we follow the guidelines, we should have written ‘had vergeten’.
    A good question!

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