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A little Dutch particle: what does "even" even mean?
Even means "a short amount of time" / "a short while". Look:
- A. Ik ga even naar de supermarkt. I am going to the supermarket for a while/for a bit.
- B. Hij is even op vakantie geweest. He has been on a vacation for a while.
Put the sentences above in Google Translate and translate them to English. You will notice something strange: even will be translated in sentence B, but not in sentence A. It will just be left out. Why? It's because Google Translate recognises it as a particle. A small word that adds a certain mood to a sentence.
The hidden meaning of "even" in Dutch
So, why doesn't Google Translate always translate even into "for a while"? It's because even can also be used as a particle instead of an indicator of time. Let's look a a few examples:
- Doe jij het raam even dicht?
- Ik ga even naar het toilet.
- Ik denk dat wij even moeten praten.
Why would you say that you are going to the bathroom "for a while"? And why would you ask someone to close the window "for a while"? The thing is, even is not used here to indicate how long an action will take, it's put in there to make the sentence nicer, more friendly. That's why you will see it a lot in orders or requests. It will make the order or request sound less harsh. It's like it is not such a big deal!
- Kun jij me even helpen?
- Wil jij even boodschappen doen?
- Ga even zitten!
So, just throw "even" into a sentence to sound more friendly. Just try it!
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