to maintain, to support, to keep up, to keep in repair Iconspeaker_3
[on-der-hou-den, on-der-hield, on-der-hou-den]

Onderhouden "Onderhouden" has several translations, but I choose to cover them all at once 🙂

You can use "onderhouden" both for people (as in maintaining your social life) and objects (maintaining your house, servicing your car etc.). In case of people there is the additional translation of "to support, to provide for", see the Examples below.

The noun is "onderhoud" which you may also encounter in the meaning of a (formal) conversation/appointment. The associated verb in that case is reflexive: "zich onderhouden", although you will mostly hear the noun being used.

The adjective (or adverb) "onderhoudend" you will mostly encounter in the meaning of "entertaining, amusing"; the verb "onderhouden" in its translation of "to entertain" is less often used.

– "Ik ben heel slecht in het onderhouden van contacten, en jij?" 
("I'm very bad at keeping in touch, what about you?" Lit.:"…at maintaining contacts".)

– "Te koop: Volkswagen Golf, bouwjaar 1993, dealer onderhouden." 
("For sale: 1993 Volkswagen Golf, serviced by dealership." Lit."Volkswagen Golf, year of manufacture 1993, …")

– "Zal ik huren of kopen?" – "Tja, ik weet het niet. Een koophuis zal op lange termijn in waarde toenemen, maar je moet het wel zelf onderhouden." 
("Should I rent or (should I) buy?" – "H'm, I don't know… A house that you own will increase in value in the long-term, however you will have to maintain it yourself." A "koophuis" can either mean a house that is for sale or 'owner-occupied'.)

– "Haar man is onlangs overleden, zielig hè?" – "Ja, en nu moet ze in haar eentje drie kinderen onderhouden." 
("Her husband has recently passed away, sad isn't it?" – "Indeed, and now she has to support three kids on her own…" Note the use of "in haar eentje"; an alternative would be "alleen": 'alone'.)

Related words:
– Onderhoud: maintenance/upkeep, support, conversation/hearing [noun] [het onderhoud, <no plural>].
– Onderhoudsbeurt: service, overhaul [noun] [de onderhoudsbeurt, de onderhoudsbeurten].
– Onderhoudscontract: (maintenance and) service agreement [noun] [het onderhoudscontract, de onderhoudscontracten].
– Onderhoudend: entertaining, amusing [adjective/adverb].

– "Ik beloof je dat je je niet zal vervelen; Frank is een heel onderhoudende gesprekspartner."
("I promise you that you will not be bored; Frank is a very entertaining guy to talk to." A "gesprekspartner" literally is a "conversation partner".)

3 thoughts on “Onderhouden

  1. Could you please explain the repeated “je” in “Ik beloof je dat je je niet zal vervelen”?
    I understand, e.g., “hoe voel je je?” or “heb je je vriend gezien?”, but I’m not sure I understand this one.
    Is that something like “I promise you that you won’t annoy yourself”?
    Also, when/how do you use vervelen (to annoy) to describe getting bored?

  2. @Nicolaes, I’m not a Dutch expert, but since one encounters the same thing in languages I know something about (French and German), let me chip in.
    Some languages use reflexive verbs where other languages use other constructions. In French and German, as in Dutch, reflexive verbs are used to express the notion “to be bored” (“s’ennuyer” and “sich langweilen”). English uses a passive verb instead of a reflexive one, i.e. one says “I am bored” and not “I bore myself”.
    In the sentence above, after “dat”, the repeated “je je” are the subject(1) and the reflexive object(2) of the verb “vervelen”. As an independent clause (meaning “you’ll be bored”), it would read “Je(1) zal je(2) niet vervelen.”
    Hope that helps.

  3. Hi guys, well, I don’t have much to add to Craig’s excellent explanation.
    The grammatical structure of the sentence would have been clearer had I written:
    “Ik beloof je dat jij je niet zal vervelen.”
    However, we only do that when emphasizing that _you_ – as opposed to potentially others – will not be bored.
    The use of “vervelen” in the meaning of “to annoy” is not reflexive, e.g.:
    “Hou op met zeuren, je verveelt me!”
    (“Stop whining/complaining, you are annoying me!)

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