Het zal je maar gebeuren!

Imagine something like that happening to you!
[Dutch phrase of the week]

This sentence is used if someone wants to express his sympathy about an unfortunate and unexpected event happening to (usually a third) person. The literal translation of “Het zal je gebeuren” is “It will happen to you”; it’s the “maar” that gives this sentence the imaginative meaning: “Just imagine that that would happen to you”. The event that is referred to can range from an unimportant occurence to a grave accident or crime.

– “Een week voor zijn vakantie ging de luchtvaartmaatschappij waar hij zijn ticket had geboekt, failliet. Het zal je maar gebeuren!”
(“One week before his vacation the flight company where he had booked his ticket went bankrupt. Imagine that happening to you!”)

– “Het zal je maar gebeuren dat iemand drugs in je drankje stopt!” Gebeuren
(“Imagine that someone would put drugs in your drink!”)

– “Toen zij haar vriend ten huwelijk vroeg, maakte hij het uit! Het zal je maar gebeuren!”
(“When she proposed to her boyfriend, he dumped her! Imagine that!”)

– “Het zal je maar gebeuren dat je wakker wordt en je boot op de punt van een rots vastzit!”
(“Just imagine that you wake up and your boat is stuck on the peak of a rock!”)

– “Toen ze de inbreker op heterdaad betrapte, heeft hij haar neergestoken. Het zal je maar gebeuren!”
(“When she caught the burgler red-handed, he stabbed her. Imagine something like that happening to you!”)

5 thoughts on “Het zal je maar gebeuren!

  1. I would translate with
    “(if) It shall happen to you”
    so it is not only the word “maar” which makes it imaginative

  2. What a fantastic site I have discovered in your Dutch Word of the Day! having left Holland eons ago, I still email my family in the Netherlands on a regular basis and can now impress them with new expressions and words I had long forgotten. I have sent your link to several other Dutch language enthusiasts so they can enrich their existing vocabulary. Keep up your wonderful endeavours!
    Mieke from Canada

  3. Thanks for your compliments, Mieke!
    And please keep spreading the (Dutch) word

  4. I really feel strongly about Mr. Havingha’s comment re. “Het zal je maar gebeuren”. Yes the implied “if” is important. I agree with that. But I believe that “shall”, here, must be replaced with “should” as “shall” does not fit gramattically in this case.”Het zal” actually implies “Het zou je maar…” which i have heard used. Anyway for whatever it’s worth!

  5. Hi Mieke and Gheradus,
    I agree that the imaginative meaning is also related to the ‘zal’ (from the verb ‘zullen’) but without the ‘maar’, the meaning would be different: “Het zal je gebeuren” means “It will happen to you”. “Het zal je maar gebeuren” could be translated as: “Just imganine that something like that would happen to you”.

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