Woordenboek Woensdag: schoonmaken


Mijn ouders (my parents) arrive on Sunday, so this week ik ben een schoonmaker (I’m a cleaner). Fortunately, the gemeente (city council) seems to be joining me in cleaning things up a bit for their arrival. City workers were out today with weed-whackers to clean up the dandelions and other weeds that have sprouted up all over the place.

So yes, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. De grote schoonmaak (the big clean, aka, spring cleaning). It’s that time of year, and having visiting parents is an excellent reason for giving the whole house a thorough cleaning. Schoonmaken, the infinitive form of the verb to clean, is one of those Dutch verbs that splits up and rearranges itself. The first person, singular conjugation of the verb is: Ik maak schoon. On the surface, it seems a bit confusing, but really, when you break it down, it makes more sense. Basically, it translates literally to “I make clean”. Maken is the verb for to make and schoon means clean (in this case).

My question for all of you who know Dutch better than I do is this: If I want to identify what I’m cleaning, does schoon then come after the object or before? In other words, would it be “Ik maak het huis schoon” or “Ik maak schoon het huis”?

In doing my bits of research for this, it reminded me that schoon is also the word for beauty. Cleanliness is beauty, I guess! Also of interest and vaguely appropriate, since all of this cleaning is because of my parents’ arrival: the Dutch word for in-laws is de schoonouders. Depending on the length of the visit, I suppose that schoonouders are either a beautiful thing or something that you need to clean the house of. πŸ˜‰

8 thoughts on “Woordenboek Woensdag: schoonmaken

    • We’re not sure how long exactly they’re staying, since they need to go to Scotland to visit family, as well. Still, two or three weeks, so a decent visit, especially since I haven’t seen them since I moved!

      I was afraid Ik ben … would also be an option. I hate when there are a million ways to say something! :p

    • It’s: “Ik ben het huis aan het schoonmaken.”
      Schoon for the word beauty is more Flamish Dutch than regular Dutch as far as I know.
      “Ik maak het huis schoon” is correct.
      “Ik maak schoon het huis” is incorrect.

      • Thanks for the instruction. Every bit helps! I feel relieved to know that “Ik maak het huis schoon” would be correct, since that was my first instinct.

  1. It’s “Ik maak het huis schoon.” or “Ik ben het huis aan het schoonmaken.” Usually, the Dutch just say “Ik ben aan het schoonmaken.”

    And did you get the phone et al ready? Hopefully no more cats feeling a bit queasy and decide to vomit on your modem. πŸ™‚

    • It’s the inclusion of the aan that throws me. I understand it, but it’s one of those things that just doesn’t come naturally. I guess I’ll just have to memorize the sentence and repeat it often enough until it feels natural.

      The phone is all sorted and I mailed it off to them so they’d have it when they arrived. They’ve also picked up a British SIM card to use while in the UK, so hopefully there won’t be an trouble getting in touch! As for the modem, we’ve hidden it from the cats. At least hopefully it’s out of range. πŸ˜‰

  2. Same here, the aan, and door, those breakable verbs are pretty tricky.

    Btw, found your blog a little while ago, nice to know there are others living in Utrecht! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for stopping by again. It’s nice to find more of us in Utrecht. And yes, the breakable verbs have thrown me for a loop a few times. You can end up with a drastically different translation if you don’t know better!

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