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. 😉

Junk Mail

This is our mail box, otherwise known as a mail flap in the door. After nearly two years, the sudden noise of something being shoved through can still make me jump!

I remember the frequent disappointment of going to the mailbox, only to discover that the mail is all junk. Here, you have a way of limiting some of the junk mail that inevitably makes its way onto your doormat. The Nee/Ja sticker you see is designed to help limit what gets delivered. The Nee (no) refers to any unaddressed mail, such as adverts and flyers. Ja (yes) says that the free local papers can be delivered. You can also get Nee/Nee stickers so that you won’t get any mail except that delivered by your local TNT mailperson. In theory, anyway. We still get the occasional Domino’s flyer.

There was a way to order one of the stickers online — that’s how I got ours — but I think GreenChoice isn’t offering them anymore. However, you can go to your local gemeente and pick up the sticker of your choice there, free of charge. We definitely saw a decrease in the amount of junk mail that ended up taking over our front entrance.