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Words with more or less the same meaning


Tendens and neiging

Both words could be translated in English as tendency, inclination.

They are more or less synonyms. Still you can't use both of the words in every place where you want to translate tendency or inclination.


Different meanings I have found, and I agree with:


Different meanings I have found, and I agree with:

My conclusion

Neiging seems more often to refer to persons, while tendens (especially in the first meaning) seems to be a more abstract concept, referring to general situations.

Unsolved problems

I think you can say both of the below sentences.

De tendens is dat het aantal studenten toeneemt: the number of students tends to increase.

Het aantal studenten heeft de neiging om toe te nemen: exactly the same meaning.

But the 2nd sentence doesn't correspond with the explanation of neiging above.

I'm afraid I can't explain this (yet).

Pas and net (in the meaning of short ago)

Pas and net can be both nouns and adverbs. Used as nouns the meanings are completely different, but as adverbs they share a similar meaning: a short time ago.


De deur is pas geverfd: the door has been painted a short time ago.

This can refer to a period of minutes or even days. Although I think that when the period becomes longer, you would add the word nog: De deur is pas nog geverfd.

You could also use net in the above sentence.

Other adverbial meanings

Another adverbial meaning of pas is not before (not earlier than), not more than, etc.

Example: Het toernooi is pas volgende week: the tournament is not before next week.
Or: Ze zijn pas 2 weken getrouwd: They have only been married for 2 weeks.


Hij is net verhuisd: he has just moved house.
In this sentence you can also use pas.

I think net usually refers to a shorter period of time, but this is just my feeling.

Other adverbial meanings

Net can indicate similarity when you compare things.

Jaap is net zo lang als Piet: Jaap is just as tall as Piet.
Die auto is net een Jaguar: That car looks just like a Jaguar.

Strange cases

I think that the sentence Hij werkt hier pas sinds kort (he just started working here a short time ago) may fall in the 2nd category. Sinds kort already expresses that it happened recently.


I think there's not much difference between pas and net when they mean a short time ago.

Weer, alweer and opnieuw

These 3 words are definitely synonyms of each other, when used as adverbs with the meaning 'another time'.

So in the sentence Ik heb weer een les geleerd (I learned another lesson again), you can also use the other 2 options.


Still, there may be some slight differences. Alweer can also express amazement over the speed with which something happens again.
Example: Het is alweer december (Literally: it's december again, but meaning: This year has really passed by quickly).

In the first example sentence from the previous section alweer could mean both things, just 'again', or amazement about the speed with which you learned another lesson.


The adverb weer can also mean 'like before'.
Example: Ik ben weer thuis (I'm home again (after having been away for some time)).
Or: Hij is weer beter (He has recovered from his illness, so he was ill before, and now he is better again).

Other synonyms

Nogmaals and wederom are synonyms too, but especially the latter one is a bit antique/formal.

Accepteren and aannemen

These 2 words have 1 meaning in common, to accept something phsycial (like accept a gift) or to accept something abstract (like accepting that someone is telling the truth).

But both words can have other meanings, especially aannemen.


Apart from the abovementioned meaning, this word has just 1 other meaning: accept the fact that things are what they are.

Example: when somebody says he is too thin, you could say: Je moet jezelf accepteren (you have to accept yourself).


This word has 4 other meanings:

  1. Hire personnel.
    Example: De universiteit heeft 3 nieuwe medewerkers aangenomen (the university has recruited 3 new employees).
  2. Suppose, assume, think something is true.
    Example: Ik neem aan dat je niet naar de vergadering bent gegaan? (I take it that you didn't attend the meeting?)
  3. Approve, accept (an abstract thing).
    Example: De 2e Kamer heeft het wetsvoorstel aangenomen (the parliament has approved the law proposal).
  4. Adopt (not very common usage).
    Example: Hij heeft alleen aangenomen kinderen (he just has adopted children (and none of his own)).

Alleen, maar and slechts (just/only)

Maar and slechts

You use maar in combination with a numeral. This can be a real number (like 3) or an indication of an amount.

Example: Er is maar 1 berg (There is just 1 mountain).
Example: Ik heb deze week maar een paar boeken gelezen (This week I just read a few books).

In cases like these, you can replace maar with slechts (but not with alleen).


Alleen indicates a restriction. In these contexts, it is a synonym of uitsluitend. You can (often?) also replace alleen by enkel.

Example: Hij werkt alleen voor het geld (He just works for the money).
Example: Dat eiland is alleen per boot bereikbaar (You can only go to that island by boat).

See this page.


© Henk Dalmolen
Reageer via E-mail (dalmolen@xs4all.nl)

Deze pagina is voor het laatst gewijzigd op: 12-6-2013 22:40:21