It ain’t necessarily so

Necessary. One of the words that get heavily overused by Dutch authors. It can make sentences unnecessarily (sic) long and complicated.

It’s an everyday word in Dutch that’s in every toddler’s vocabulary: nodig. The nearest single equivalent in English, necessary, isn’t. So most of the time, it’s more natural to avoid it:

  • reword to use the verb need (our most usual solution)
  • reword to use have to
  • reword to use the verb matter

Everyone uses it unthinkingly as the default transation of nodig in particular (though less so in nodig hebben). But in short and simple sentences, it can fall in the wrong register.

Prevalence: medium to high. In a majority of the texts checked.
Frequency: common. Often multiple times in a document.
Native: yes. Yup, we do it too. Especially when we’re in flowery, formal mode. But it’s avoidable.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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