One of the tricky things in Dutch is the mapping of a noun to one of the two grammatical genders:
- Common, which is masculine and feminine combined. Such nouns are called de-woorden because they are prepended by the de definite article.
- Neuter, nouns of which are het-woorden as you put the het article before them.
For an English speaker this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why are het document (document) and het paard (horse) neuter whereas de wolk (cloud) and de zon (sun) common?
There’s a number of general rules that facilitate this task, but they only apply in some specific cases. For example, all nouns wearing the diminutive -tje suffix are neuter. For the rest you’ll have to memorise that for each word.
The het-noun cheat sheet
To simplify the learning a little, I’ve made a list of most common het-nouns. You can print it out on an A3 sheet and hang it, say, in the WC.
You can download the document in PDF using the button below.Download het-noun cheat sheet (PDF)