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Omdat vs want


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Hi there!  I hope someone can help me out with this... I've been studying dutch very hard last few weeks, it's of my understanding that ''omdat'' and ''want'' both mean because.  What I don't know is when omdat should be used instead of want and visceversa?  So far I have seen more phrases using ''want'' and not so many with ''omdat''.

Also, why dutch people add ''er'' to certain sentences where that word doesn't seem to have any kind of purpose or make no sense, at least not for an english speaking person? Like for example:

Er wonen in Nederland mensen uit allerlei culturen. <--- What does the ''Er'' really mean in a sentence like this?  ''There''?  Couldn't be better to phrase it like this:  In Nederland mensen uit allerlei culturen wonen.  I'm not complaninig or anything, but can someon please explain me the function of ''er'' in this sentence?  I'm trying to hard to make sense of this language.

Als er een stevige wind staat, ga ik naar zee. <--- Again ''er'', in my book it translates to ''there'', but google says it's ''is''.  So am supposed to translate this as: if there is a strong wind,  i go to the sea...''.  I don't know, but the ''Er'' in this sentence seems to have no purpose (again, bear in mind my dutch is still very basic) so why add it?

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  • 7 months later...

Technically, there is not much of a difference between "want" and "omdat".
Both mean "because", but each one of them changes your grammar.

For example:
Ik ga naar het strand, want het is heel heet.
Ik ga naar het strand, omdat het heel heet is.

As you can see, "omdat" puts the verb to the end of the sentence, always.
But "want" on the other hand doesn't.
So for most foreigners, it's a good idea to go with "want", but that might sound unnatural over time.

As for "er", that's a hard one to explain.
It changes the meaning of a sentence a bit.
For example:

Ik ga aan. = I turn on. (not the sexual "turn on", more like a light switch)
Ik ga er aan. = I'm finished. (as in, "I'm doomed" or "I'm gonna die")

Another example when it involves "there":
Er wonen in Nederland veel mensen. = There are a lot of people in the Netherlands.
Daar wonen veel mensen. = A lot of people live there.

Hope it helps.

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OMG, I'm so glad you are reviving this section :laugh::D^_^  I'll no longer feel like I am talking to myself while posting here :P   I was starting to lose hope someone would ever join in the discussion.  And thanks for the explanations, so clear and easy to understand. Do you have any kind of experience teaching?  I don't know, but this and your other posts tell me you might have some experience in this field or you are just a natural. 

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I don't have experience with teaching, but it might be because I have a form of autism and therefore, I need to receive information as clearly as possible in order to understand it.
This helps me to come with an as straight forward as possible explanation too, I think.

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Oh... I kind of suspected you hard some form of autism, I noticed something in the way you write things on here!  Now I understand,  I have a friend who also has a from of autism, and he is like that as well!    Now I understand :) That explains A LOT! 

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