Dutch/Lesson 15

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Intermediate level: cycle 4

Les 15 ~ Lesson 15

Naamvallen, onbepaalde voornaaamwoorden, modale bijwoorden ~ Case endings, indefinite pronouns modal particles

Jessica is haar portemonee kwijt
Modal particles
Indefinite pronouns
the old case endings
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Gesprek 15[edit]

Marjan en Jessica zijn gezellig aan het winkelen maar Jessica merkt tot haar grote schrik dat ze haar portemonee verloren heeft. Er zit weinig anders op dan om het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten en op zoek te gaan naar Jessica's geld en haar pinpas. Ze hadden zojuist een broodje gegeten in een restaurantje. Het ligt dus voor de hand dat ze het daar heeft laten liggen. Zij haasten zich terug naar de mogelijke plek des onheils.
Marjan: Ober, wij hebben hier zojuist wat gegeten en mijn vriendin hier is haar portemonnee kwijt. Heeft u die hier soms gevonden?
Ober: Het spijt me dames, maar ik ben nog maar net begonnen met mijn werk. Weet u nog wie u bediend heeft?
Jessica: Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel dat het een jongeman was met hoogblond kort haar.
Ober: Dan weet ik wel wie u bedoelt. Dat is Pim, maar die is net vertrokken, vrees ik. Ik heb hem namelijk afgelost. Ik zal wel even vragen of hij iets afgegeven heeft. Een ogenblik alstublieft.
De ober verdwijnt naar achteren, de vriendinnen nerveus achterlatend.
Jessica: Ik heb geen pinpas, geen geld. Ik hoop nu maar dat het gevonden is. Wat moet ik anders, Marjan?
Marjan: Nou. maak je nu maar geen zorgen. Het komt allemaal best wel goed.

De ober keert terug met een grijns op zijn gezicht.

Ober: Wat is uw naam precies, mevrouwtje?
Jessica: Hoezo, heeft u het gevonden?
Ober: Ja we hebben wat gevonden, maar ik weet natuurlijk niet of dat wel van u is, he? Dus hoe heet u?
Jessica: O ja natuurlijk, daar heeft u wel gelijk in. Ik heet Jessica van den Heuvel.
Ober: Mooi zo, nou, dan heeft u geluk gehad. Dan heb ik hier inderdaad uw portemonnee.
Translation • Lesson 15 • gesprek
Marjan en Jessica waren gezellig aan het winkelen maar Jessica merkt tot haar grote schrik dat ze haar portemonnee verloren heeft.
Marjan and Jessica were enjoying shopping but to her great dismay Jessica finds out that she just lost her wallet.
Er zit weinig anders op dan om het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten en op zoek te gaan naar Jessicas geld en haar pinpas.
There is little choice but to give up shopping for the time being and go after Jessica's money and her debit card.
Ze hadden zojuist een broodje gegeten in een restaurantje. Het ligt dus voor de hand dat ze het daar heeft laten liggen. Zij haasten zich terug naar de mogelijke plek des onheils.
They just had a sandwich in a little restaurant. The obvious possibility is that she left it there. Hastily they retrace their steps to the potential scene of the misfortune.
Marjan: Ober, wij hebben hier zojuist wat gegeten en mijn vriendin hier is haar portemonnee kwijt. Heeft u die hier soms gevonden?
Marjan: Waiter, we have just eaten something here and my girl friend here has lost her wallet. Have you found it here per chance?
Ober: Het spijt me dames, maar ik ben nog maar net begonnen met mijn werk. Weet u nog wie u bediend heeft?
Waiter: I'm sorry ladies, but I have only just started my shift. Do you remember who was your waiter?
Jessica: Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel dat het een jongeman was met hoogblond kort haar.
Jessica: I don't know his name, but I do know that he was a young man with short light blond hair.
Ober: Dan weet ik wel wie u bedoelt. Dat is Pim, maar die is net vertrokken, vrees ik. Ik heb hem namelijk afgelost. Ik zal wel even vragen of hij iets afgeven heeft. Een ogenblik.
Waiter: Then I know who you mean. That's Pim, but he just left. I took over his shift, you see. But Il go and ask if he drop anything off. Just a minute.

De ober verdwijnt naar achteren, de vriendinnen nerveus achterlatend.

The waiter disappears behind the scenes, leaving the two nervous girl friends behind.
Jessica: Ik heb geen pinpas, geen geld. Ik hoop nu maar dat het gevonden is. Wat moet ik anders, Marjan?
Jessica: I have no credit card, no money. I sure hope it has been found. What else can I do, Marjan?
Marjan: Nou. maak je nu maar geen zorgen. Het komt allemaal best wel goed.
Marjan: O, don't you worry, all right? Everything will be fine.

De ober keert terug met een grijns op zijn gezicht.

The waiter returns with a grin on his face.
'Ober: Wat is uw naam precies, mevrouwtje?
Waiter: What exactly is your name, lady?
Jessica: Hoezo, heeft u het gevonden?
Jessica: How so, did you find it?
Ober: Ja we hebben wat gevonden, maar ik weet natuurlijk niet of dat wel van u is, he? Dus, zegt u mij uw naam eens?
Waiter: Yes we found something, but I cannot know if that belongs to you, do I? So, why don't you give me your name?
Jessica: O ja natuurlijk, daar heeft u wel gelijk in. Ik heet Jessica van den Heuvel.
Jesica: Oh, yes, of course, you are right about that. My name is Jessica van den Heuvel.
Ober: Mooi zo, nou, dan heeft u geluk gehad. Dan heb ik hier inderdaad uw portemonnee.
Waiter: Good!. Well then you are in luck. Then I do have your wallet here.
YOUR TURN - UW BEURT!! • Lesson 15 • waar of niet waar *


SOLUTION • Dutch/Lesson 15 • waar of niet waar *


Grammatica 15 Modal particles[edit]

Recall:

.. Er zit weinig anders op om het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten ..
.. maar ik ben nog maar net begonnen met mijn werk ..
..Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel ..
.. Dan weet ik wel wie u bedoelt ..
.. Ik zal wel even vragen of ..
..Dus, zegt u mij uw naam eens?..

Dutch has a variety of adverbs that function as modal particles. They are often hard to translate exactly. They do not have so much a clear 'meaning', but add a certain flavor to the phrase they are in.

wel

The adverb wel is strictly speaking the adverbial form of the adjective goed, just as English well and good. Nevertheless it is used rather differently in Dutch. One meaning it has is to negate the words niet (not) and geen (not a, no):

dit is niet uw portemonnee
this is not your wallet
Wel! Dit is wel mijn portemonnee
yes, it is!
..Ik weet de naam niet, maar ik weet wel ..
I do not know the name, but I do know...

It is often used to introduce but:

ik heb wel gezegd dat ... maar...
I did say that ... but...

It is often added to a sentence to indicate that he speaker is making an admission or is volunteering something:

Ik zal wel vragen..
let me go ask.. (I volunteer)

Another use is to indicate that something is exceptional:

er waren wel dertig tornado's!
there were thirty tornadoes (no less!)
even

even indicates that the action will not cost much time or effort. Adding it to a sentence adds an implicit no problem to the utterance:

.. Ik zal wel even vragen of ..
Let me go ask, no problem, will take just a moment

It also softens imperatives to kind invitations

Kom hier! - Come here! (or else!)
Kom even hier! - Just come here (and I'll help you... it won't take long and it won't hurt)


eens

literally eens means once, but it is often added to add a flavor of an exceptional occasion.

heb je wel eens..? - did you ever.. ?
zal ik eens koffie zetten? - (for a change) would you like me to make coffee?
maar

The word maar can be used as a (co-ordinating) conjunction and is usually translated by but. It is also an abverb with the meaning of only, just:

ik heb maar zeven euro op zak
I only have seven euro on me
Geeft u mij maar een biertje
Just give me a beer

However it can also be a modal adverb that indicates a certain measure of resignation or lack of choice of the speaker:

ik heb maar gezegd dat ...
I said that ..., because I did not know what else to say
.. Er zit weinig anders op dan het winkelen voorlopig maar te vergeten ..
lit : there is little else on (the list of options) than to forget (sigh..) the shopping spree temporarily

Adding maar can also 'soften' the sentence and indicate that the speaker is trying to be polite or friendly.

geef hier! - give it (..or else!)
geef maar hier! - why don't you give it to me (Don't worry: I'll take care of it)

With a more ironic intonation it could also mean:

just give it up - (you're busted)
combinations

In Dutch modal particle can be heaped up into interesting combinations of flavors, e.g.:

hij zou wel eens even laten zien hoe sterk hij was - he was going to show off how strong he was (but ..)

Grammatica 15-2. Indefinite pronouns / numerals[edit]

We have already encountered a number of indefinite pronouns in the lessons before. They are a somewhat irregular group and not all grammars treat them under the same heading. Some of them are also called indefinite numerals at times. Let's look at a few:

al[edit]

al
alle
allen

This word often proceeds a definite pronoun and means al

Al het geld - all money
Al de mensen - all people

It can also take an -e inflection in the latter case:

Alle mensen.

Used independently it takes -n as plural but only when referring to person:

Allen waren het er mee eens - All agreed

allemaal[edit]

allemaal

Allemaal means all of them

Zij gingen allemaal naar bed - All of them went to bed.

It is also used to indicate large amounts of something:

Ik zie allemaal sterretjes! - I see nothing but little stars.

allerlei[edit]

allerlei

Allerlei means of all sorts

Hij kent allerlei liedjes - He knows all sorts of songs.

andermans[edit]

al
alle
allen

Andermans is an old genitive meaning: someone else's

Je moet niet andermans vrouw begeren - You should not yearn for someone else's wife.

elk[edit]

elk
elke

Elk means each, each separately

Elk huis heeft zijn kruis - lit. Each house has its cross: everyone has their own problems

enig[edit]

enig
enige
enigen

Enig can mean unique

Dat is enig in zijn soort - That is a species apart

But as an attribute it means a little, some, a few

Met enig geduld - with a bit of patience
Enige keren - a few times

Taking the plural ending -en it can refer to some people


Er zijn enigen die dat lever zien - There a few who would rather see that.

enkel[edit]

enkel
enkele
enkelen

Enkel is not used for uncountable nouns as enig is, but otherwise the meaning is similar

Enkele paarden - a horse or two

With the indefinite pronoun it can translate as the odd

Er stond een enkel paard in de wei - There was the odd horse in the field

It takes an inflection -en when referring to persons.

Enkelen hebben dat geprobeerd. The odd person has tried that.

ettelijke[edit]

ettelijke

Ettelijke is not used very much any more. It means: several

Er stonden ettelijke paarden en enkele ezels - there were several horses and a few donkeys

evenveel[edit]

evenveel

Evenveel means just as much, just as many

met evenveel water - with the same amount of water
Evenveel mensen - just as many people

It does not take an inflection -e.

genoeg[edit]

genoeg

Genoeg means enough

Genoeg mensen - enough people

It does not take an inflection -e.

heleboel[edit]

heleboel
een heleboel geld - a lot of money

This word is somewhat low register / colloquial. Even more colloquial is boel

Da's een boel poen! - That's a heap of dough!

hoeveel[edit]

hoeveel
hoevele
hoevelen

Hoeveel means how much, how many

It can be used as an interrogative.

Hoeveel mensen komen er - How many people are coming?

But in constructions with ook it can also be used as no matter how many

Hoeveel mensen er ook komen.. - No matter how many people are coming..

It occasionally takes a n inflection -e, but this is getting rather dated:

Hoevele redenen er ook zijn.. - No matter how many reasons there are

Referring to people a plural -en can be found:

Jullie zijn met hoevelen? - You are with how many?

het[edit]

het

Het is used as an impersonal (dummy) subject with impersonal verbs:

Het regent - It is raining

It also occurs as dummy object in certain expressions

ieder[edit]

ieder
iedere

Ieder means every

Ieder persoon - Every person
Iedere dag - Every day

iedereen[edit]

iedereen

Iedereen means everyone

Iedereen vond het leuk - Everyone liked it

ieders[edit]

ieders

Ieders is the genitive form of ieder and means everyone's

Tot ieders genoegen - To everyone's pleasure

iets, niets[edit]

iets
niets

Iets means something, its negative niets means nothing

They are followed by adjectives in the partitive form.

Er is iets - There is something
Er is iets nieuws - There is something new.

iemand, niemand[edit]

iemand
niemand

Iemand means someone, and its negative niemand means no one, nobody

Is er iemand? - Is there someone/anyone

Dutch does not have a distinction between someone and anyone, although anyone can be rendered by wie dan ook (who ever)

iemands, niemands[edit]

iemands
niemands

Iemands, niemands are the genitives of iemand and niemand and mean somebody's and nobody's

Dit is iemands tuin - This is somebody's garden

luttel[edit]

luttel
luttele

Luttel (the cognate of Eng. little) is not very common. It means a few, usually in the sense of surprisingly few

In luttele seconden was de auto gezonken - The car sank in just a few seconds
Voor een luttel bedrag - For tiny sum of money.

meerdere[edit]

meerdere

Meerdere has the same meaning as ettelijke: several

Meerdere keren heeft hij dat gezegd - Several times he said that.

It can also be used as an adjective or noun in the meaning superior

Jan was zijn meerdere - John was his superior

men[edit]

men

Men is used as a subject with the meaning of one, people.

Men zegt dat dat zo is - people say that is so

menig[edit]

menig
menige
menigen

Menig is many a

Menig zeeman is vedronken - Many a sailor is drowned
Menige keren - Many a time

Menigen refers to people: many a person

menigeen[edit]

menigeen

Menigeen means many a person

Menigeen heeft zich daarin vergist - Many a student has made that mistake.

niemendal[edit]

niemendal

Niemendal means nothing at all

Hij kwam voor niemendal - he came utterly in vain

sommige[edit]

sommige
sommigen

Sommige means some in combination with countable/plural nouns

Sommige huizen - some houses

Sommigen means some people

tig[edit]

tig

Tig is the -tig ending of twintig, dertig (twenty) and means something like dozens, lots.

Hij had daar tig redenen voor - he had dozens of reasons for that

veel, meer, meest[edit]

veel
vele
velen
meer
meest
meeste
meesten

Veel means much or many. Dutch does not make that distinction. With uncountable nouns where English uses much it does not take an ending:

het vee -> veel vee
de suiker -> veel suiker

With plural countable nouns it can also remain without inflection:

veel huizen

But it can take the -e inflection as well

vele redenen

Or with the definite article:

Het vele geld - the big money

Its comparative meer ("more") is never inflected:

meer redenen

The superlative meest is combined with the definite pronoun and usually has an inflection.

het meeste geld
de meeste mensen

As neuter substantive and as adverb it can occur without the ending:

Dat is het meest - That is the largest amount
Dat is meest voorkomende klacht - That is the most usual complaint

Both veel and meest can take an -en ending when referring to people

Velen zijn gekomen - Many have come
De meesten zijn gekomen - Most people have come.


verscheidene[edit]

verscheidene

Verscheidene means several, various. It mostly occurs with the -e inflection:

Vescheidene maanden - several months

verschillende[edit]

verschillende

Verschillend as an adjective means different. As a pronoun it only occurs with the inflection -e and is then synonymous with verscheidene. This is a relatively recent phenomenon and not accepted by all speakers

voldoende[edit]

voldoende

Voldoende means enough, sufficient

wat[edit]

wat

Wat can be used as an indefinite pronoun with the meaning a little, some or, independently something

Hij heeft wel wat geld maar niet veel. - He does have some money, but not much.
We hebben wel wat gevonden - We did find something

It takes a partitive when followed by an adjective:

Dat is wat moois! - That's just great...

weinig, minder, minst[edit]

weinig
weinige
weinigen
minder
mindere
minst
minste

Weinig is the antonym of veel and means little or few. Again Dutch does not make the distinction between uncountable and plural words.

Weinig geld - little money
Weinig koffie - little coffee
Weinig mensen - few people
Weinig redenen - few reasons

With the definite article the inflection -e can be found:

Het weinige geld dat hij had - what little money he had
De weinige mensen die gekomen waren - the few people who turned up

The comparative minder (less, fewer) is usually without ending:

Minder geld - less money

With an ending -e it has a connotation of being the lesser in status, inferior

De mindere goden - the lesser gods
Hij was de mindere - he was the loser

The superlative minst (least) occurs both with and without inflection:

de minste kosten - the least costs
dat is het minst - that is the least

zat[edit]

zat

Zat as an adjective can mean very drunk (saturated with alcohol) but is used in the sense of plenty.

Hij heeft zat geld en zat vrouwen - het has plenty of money and plenty of women

It can also be put behind the noun:

Hij heeft geld zat! - He has money galore.

It is also used in the expression:

Ik ben het zat! - I am fed up with it.

Only when used as adjective (very drunk) does it take the ending -e

zoveel[edit]

zoveel
zovele
zovelen

Zoveel can mean so much of so many, but it is also used in the sense of I don't know how much

Hij zei dat hij zoveel geld an zoveel autos - He said he had I don't know how much money and ditto cars.
Zoals zovele was dit fossiel niet erg compleet

Referring to persons a plural in -en can be used

Zoals zovelen werd hij bestolen - He was stolen from like so many others

Grammatica 15-3 The old cases[edit]

Recall : de plek des onheils – an old genitive.

Indo-European languages, to which both English and Dutch belong were originally highly inflectional with eight cases, three genders and usually four or five declensions. Both languages have lost this system, Dutch however a bit later than English. In fact in the written standard language Dutch retained four cases and three genders up to the spelling reform of 1947. In the spoken language the case endings and the masculine-feminine distinction had been gone for much longer, but prior to the second world war the educational and political establishment tenaciously tried to preserve the case system, even tried to introduce forms that never existed in the language artificially.

The discrepancy between written standard and spoken language led to serious educational problems with equally serious social consequences. After the destruction by the second world war spelling modernization was imperative and a lot of old baggage was thrown overboard. Since then case endings are a bit of an unpopular subject. They are often seen as old-fashioned, even harmful to 'progress'. Nevertheless, there is a fair bit of remnants left in the modern language even though case endings have definitely ceased to be part of a system. The leftovers are idiom more than grammar. To understand the remnants it is useful to have a peek at the definite article as it was before 1947:

case masculine feminine neuter plural
nominative de de het de
genitive des der des der
dative de(n) de(r) den den
accusative den de het de

The above implies that prior to 1947 one had to write:

ik zie den man
ik zie de vrouw

Worse than that, it was:

ik vereer de deugd (f)
ik haat den leugen (m)

Most people above the Rhine had to use a dictionary to do the latter right, because the m-f contrast was no longer alive in their spoken mother tongue and neither were the -n and -r endings.

In 1947 a small (but sweeping) change was allowed in the spelling: the n in the masculine accusative was made optional. With a sigh of relief everybody promptly stopped using the infamous buigings-n and it has not been used since... This change obliterated both the accusative-nominative distinction and the masculine-feminine one.

The dative only occurred when indirect objects were used without a preposition. All prepositions had come to use the accusative which was now identical to the nominative for anything but personal pronouns. The genitive was still a bit more common although it was always possible to use a construction with van to avoid it:

de vloek der mensheid –> de vloek van de mensheid

Thus the change of 1947 basically put an end to the case endings as a system, even in the written standard. In spoken, colloquial Dutch it had already been in state of collapse in the 1580s.

Still, there are numerous relics that are difficult to understand, let alone use properly, without some knowledge of the old system.

Genitives[edit]

As in English, genitives are regularly used to indicate possession with proper names:

Jans auto
John's car

There is a growing tendency to extend this usage to female proper names (in defiance of the old case endings) in stead of a construction using the clitic form of the possessive pronoun.

Annies auto - Annie d'r auto

For inanimate nouns the genitive is clearly on its way out, although the plural can occasionally still be seen:

het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
de prins der dieven
het periodiek systeem der elementen – the periodic system of the elements
de moeder aller veldslagen - the mother of all battles

Occasionally people deliberately opt to use the odd archaic expression like plek des onheils as a stylistic gadget.

The adjective still has a productive partitive genitive in -s that occurs after words like wat, iets, veel etc.:

iets lekkers – something yummy

A modicum of productivity also occurs in expressions using tot ... toe. In this type of expression a verb (gerund) is used in its genitive form:

tot berstens toe - such that it almost bursts
tot bloedens toe - such that blood was flowing

Related idioms are:

Tot ziens!
Tot horens!
Een uur gaans -- one hour worth of walking (about 5 km)

The genitive occurs in various fossilized forms -usually functioning as adverbs- like:

's ochtends – in the morning, at day break
's morgens - in de morning
's middags – in the afternoon
's avonds – in the evening
's nachts – in the night
's winters – during the winter
tweemaal daags - twice a day
barrevoets - barefoot
blootshoofds – with bare head
grotendeels – for the most part
een ieder ging zijns weegs - each went in his own direction

Notice the vowel change in dag – daags and weg - weegs

The form 's is a clitic form of des, the masc/neuter genitive article. Notice the -n of grotendeels. The adjective had had both strong and weak endings (as it still does in German) and the -n is weak ending.

Nouns could also be weak and we see that back in some names. E.g. de graaf (the earl, the count) had a weak genitive des graven and the same goes for de hertog (the duke) with a genitive des hertogen. This explains place names like 's-Gravenhage (the count's hedge/court) and 's-Hertogenbosch (the duke's forest).

Datives[edit]

Te[edit]

One preposition had stubbornly retained the dative and it still occurs mostly in petrified dative forms. It is the word te – at, to. The noun originally received an -e in this case. The proposition often occurs fused with the old dative articles:

te + den -> ten (masc and neut. sg.)
te + der -> ter (fem sg. and plural)
ten tijde van - in the days of..
ten hoogste - at the most
ten dele – partly
ten eerste - firstly
terdege - thoroughly
ter gelegenheid – on the occasion of
ter aarde bestellen – commit to earth, bury

Interestingly the old feminine dative ter still enjoys a measure of productivity in combinations with verbal nouns in -ing:

ter wikifiëring - to be wikified

This also holds for words in -heid

ter gelegenheid

This is one reason why words ending in -ing, -te, -tie, -heid are recognized as feminine proper and Dutch does not have a common gender like a number of Scandinavian languages..

te also occurs without articles:

te allen tijde – at all times
te zijner tijd – in due course
te gelegener tijd – at a convenient moment

Notice that tijd is feminine in the latter two, masculine in the other, a good example of how corrupt the case/gender had become in the end. The feminine is probably a German influence (die Zeit is feminine). There are more oddities:

het hart – ter harte (neuter -feminine)

Te also has a few non-archaic usages. It is used in combination with infinitives as to does in English:

Dat is goed om te weten – that is good to know
Hij begon af te vallen – he began to lose weight

It is also used to indicate excess, as English too:

Dit is te veel – This is too much.

Or with locations, as English at or in :

te A'dam – in Amsterdam

Other prepositions[edit]

A few other prepositions had taken the dative in a previous phase of the language and some forms remain:

van den bloede - of (royal) blood
van harte! - from all my heart
met verve – with passion
in den beginne – in the beginning (Genesis)
in koelen bloede

For masculine and neuter nouns the dative had -e and there could be vowel changes as well, e.g. for de dag the paradigm was:

nom. de dag
gen des daags
dat den dage
acc den dag

This explains words like vandaag, with a 'long' aa vowel. The genitive is also still found in:

tweemaal daags - twice daily

Numerals[edit]

The cardinal numbers used to be inflected and old dative forms in -en tweeën, drieën, etc. are still in use in some cases. In time telling they are used to give an approximate time:

Het is even na twaalven -- it is just past twelve o'clock
Het is bij zessen -- it is going on six

In more precise statements they are uncommon:

Het is vijf minuten na drieën. -- it is five past three

They are also used as a predicate:

Wij tweeën gaan erheen -- The two of us are going there.

Or after met:

Zij waren met zijn twintigen -- There was twenty of them.

Accusatives[edit]

As in English accusatives are common for personal pronouns only

ik -- mij

Accusative relics are rare because the case often resembled the nominative, but a greeting like:

goedenavond

has an extra -n- because it was an accusative ending of the adjective goed.

sindsdien (ever since, since then)
voordien (before that)
bovendien (moreover)

have an extra -n- because all prepositions (sinds, voor, boven) ware followed by an accusative and the accusative form of the demonstrative pronoun die was dien for the masculine.