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Learn Dutch Phone Call Phrases and Other Useful Words

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Does the thought of having a telephone conversation in Dutch make you feel nervous? It’s normal to feel this way about making or receiving a phone call in another language. There are even people who suffer from “phone anxiety” or “phone phobia.” These people already feel nervous about making a phone call in their own language, let alone in another language.

One way you can get rid of those nerves is to pick up some Dutch phone call phrases. At the very least, this will help you feel more in control of the situation and allow you to navigate those inevitable phone calls during your stay in the Netherlands. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to answer the phone in Dutch and carry a basic phone conversation. We’ll be covering everything from key vocabulary terms to the different parts of a phone call—greetings and introductions, giving the reason for your call, transferring the line, leaving a message, handling connection issues, and ending the conversation.

Once you’re done reading this article, you’ll be able to make that Dutch phone call with confidence!

Someone Holding Their Cell Phone; Sketches of Musical Notes in the Background

Let’s make that Dutch phone call with confidence!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Phone Vocabulary
  2. Greeting
  3. Checking
  4. Transferring
  5. Stating Your Reason for the Call
  6. Experiencing Phone Call Problems
  7. Leaving a Message
  8. Ending
  9. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Better Dutch

1. Phone Vocabulary

Before we look at specific phrases for a telephone conversation in Dutch, let’s first go over some phone-related vocabulary. Learning these useful words will help you feel more comfortable when talking on the phone or when discussing phone calls in general.

This short vocabulary list includes everything you need, from hardware terms to related verbs.

TelefoonPhone
Mobiele telefoon
Mobieltje
Mobile phone
BatterijBattery
OpladerCharger
SMS
SMS-bericht
Text message
SchermScreen
OproepCall
Telefoonnummer
Nummer
Phone number
BellenTo call
TerugbellenTo call back
Nummer intoetsenTo dial
You could also say nummer draaien, literally meaning “spin the number.” This term dates back to the old rotary phones.
OpnemenTo pick up
OphangenTo hang up
Bericht achterlatenTo leave a message
OpladenTo charge


2. Greeting

Every phone call starts with a greeting of some sort; it’s just basic phone etiquette. However, the greeting used may differ between the caller and the receiver. 

Another factor that could influence the greeting is the expected formality level. You would respond to a professional phone call more formally than you would a phone call with friends. 

Let’s have a look.

A Woman in a White Tank Top Waving to Someone

Which Dutch greetings do you already know?

1 – Calling

Hallo.Hello.
Hallo is the most common way to start a Dutch phone conversation, perfect for both casual and more formal situations. 
Hoi.Hi.
Hoi is another great phone call greeting, though it’s a bit more casual. So you can definitely use it with friends and family members, but watch out at work. Saying this to close colleagues shouldn’t be an issue, but choose one of the other greetings if you’re going for a more formal and professional vibe.
Goedemorgen.
Goedemiddag.
Goedenavond.
Good morning.
Good afternoon.
Good evening.
Want to go formal? Then these greetings are perfect for you. You say goedemorgen until 12 p.m., goedemiddag until 5 p.m., and goedenavond until 12 a.m.

Do you want to use this greeting in a more casual setting? Then you can greet the receiver with goedemorgen when calling in the morning, as this one is commonly used in both formal and casual Dutch conversations.

If you’re the one calling and would like to introduce yourself directly after the greeting, then you can use one of these phrases:

  • Hallo, u spreekt met David de Vries. (“Hello, you are speaking to David de Vries.”) [More formal]
  • Hoi, met David. (“Hi, with David.”) [More casual]
    • You can also just say Met David, without the greeting.

Would you like to introduce yourself further? Then have a look at these 10 Lines You Need for Introducing Yourself.

2 – Answering

Hallo?Hello?
The interrogative Hallo? is a very typical way to pick up the phone in Dutch. 
Hoi?Hi?
Like when calling, you can answer with a simple Hoi? in more casual settings.
Ja?Yes?

Should you say your name when you answer the phone? This is up to you! However, it’s common in the Netherlands to say your name when picking up a landline telephone, or when you receive a call from an unknown number on your mobile phone. If you like to introduce yourself when answering your phone, you can use the same introduction phrases as when you’re calling.

    → There are many different ways to greet someone on the phone in Dutch. You’ll find lots of ideas on our list titled Common Ways to Say Hello.

3. Checking

When making a call or answering the phone in Dutch, you might need to ensure you’re speaking to the right person or inquire about who’s calling. Below are phrases you can use for these situations, respectively. 

1 – Calling

Imagine you’ve called someone and they’ve greeted you, but they have not yet introduced themselves. Now, you have to check to see if you’ve reached the right person or office. 

One simple way to do this is to use the person’s name:

  • David? [Casual, only using their first name]
  • Meneer De Vries? (“Mr. de Vries?) [Formal, only using their last name – Male]
  • Mevrouw De Vries? (“Ms. de Vries?”) [Formal, only using their last name – Female]

Want to go a bit further? Here are a couple of other options:

Spreek ik met David?Am I speaking with David?
Is dit het kantoor van meneer De Vries?Is this the office of Mr. de Vries?

Once you know you’re at the right place, you should introduce yourself (assuming you haven’t done so already). You can use one of the introduction phrases mentioned earlier.

2 – Answering

If you don’t know who’s calling you and they haven’t introduced themselves yet, you’ll probably want to inquire about that:

Met wie spreek ik? [Formal]Who am I speaking to?
Wie heb ik aan de lijn? [Casual]Who is calling?
It literally means, “Who do I have on the line?”

4. Transferring

Some People Working in a Call Center

Learn how to transfer that Dutch phone call like a pro.

1 – Calling

If you’ve reached the secretary or main desk of a company, the next step is for you to be transferred to the right person or service. Below, you’ll find a variety of useful Dutch phone phrases for both formal and informal situations. 

Kan ik Cathy spreken? [Casual]Can I talk to Cathy?
Ik zou graag met Cathy willen spreken. [Formal]I would like to speak to Cathy.
Ik ben op zoek naar mevrouw De Vries. [Formal]I’m trying to reach Ms. de Vries.
Ik probeer David te pakken te krijgen. [Casual]I’m trying to reach David.
Kunt u mij doorverbinden met de klantenservice?Could you transfer me to customer service?

2 – Answering

Met wie spreek ik?Whom am I speaking to?
This phrase can be used for answering your phone, though it’s also typically used to ask on behalf of the person to whom you’ll transfer the caller.
Blijf aan de lijn, alstublieft.Hold the line, please.
Een momentje, alstublieft. 
Een moment geduld, alstublieft.
One moment, please.
One moment of patience, please.
Ik verbind u/je nu door.I am putting you through now.
Hij/Zij is nu niet beschikbaar.He/She is not available right now.
Kan ik een bericht aannemen?Can I take a message?
Ik zal vragen of hij/zij u/jou terug kan bellen.I can ask him/her to call you back.
Mag ik uw/jouw naam en telefoonnummer noteren?Can I take your name and number?

5. Stating Your Reason for the Call

You could be calling for any number of reasons, whether you just want a casual Dutch phone conversation with a friend or need to make a more professional call. Whatever it may be, we’ll cover a few different reasons you can give during your next telephone conversation in Dutch.

Ik bel je om te horen hoe het met je gaat.I’m calling to check on you.
U/Je had me gebeld. You called.
Ik bel u/je terug naar aanleiding van uw/je voicemail bericht.I’m calling you back in response to your voicemail message.
Ik zou graag een afspraak willen maken.I would like to make an appointment.
    → After you’ve stated your reason(s) for the call, would you like to make some small talk? Then have a look at our Using Small Talk Phrases vocabulary list.

6. Experiencing Phone Call Problems

A Woman Who Is Stressed Out while Talking on the Phone

What should you do when you experience problems during your Dutch phone conversation?

Even though we use smartphones nowadays and making phone calls is easier than ever before, we still experience issues from time to time: bad connections, dialing the wrong number, running out of battery…

Here are some Dutch phone phrases to help you handle these kinds of situations:

Ik begrijp je niet. [Casual]
Ik begrijp u niet goed. [Formal]
I don’t understand you.
I don’t understand you very well.
Ik versta u/je niet.I can’t hear you.
De verbinding is slecht.The connection is bad.
Kun je dat nog een keer zeggen? [Casual]
Kunt u dat herhalen? [Formal]
Can you say that again?
Could you repeat that?
De verbinding werd verbroken.The line got cut off.
Mijn batterij is bijna op. My battery’s almost dead.
U heeft het verkeerde nummer gebeld.You’ve dialed the wrong number.
Sorry, verkeerd verbonden.I’m sorry, I’ve dialed the wrong number.

7. Leaving a Message

You’re trying to reach someone but keep getting their voicemail… What will you do? You could hang up or you could summon the courage to leave a message. So, how does one leave a good voicemail

First, here’s a taste of what you might hear upon reaching the voicemail: 

Hallo, dit is het antwoordapparaat van Bruno. Ik kan de telefoon nu niet opnemen, maar u kunt na de piep een bericht achterlaten.Hi, this is Bruno’s answering machine. I can’t answer the phone right now, but you can leave a message after the beep.

A way to respond to this might be:

Hoi Bruno, met Anna. Ik wil je even spreken. Kun je me terugbellen? Mijn nummer is 06-936 5657.Hi Bruno, this is Anna. I would like to talk to you. Could you call me back? My number is 06-936 5657.
    → Do you need to state your phone number in Dutch? Then have a look at our Numbers vocabulary list to get the right word and pronunciation of each number. Good luck!

8. Ending

A Guy Giving the Peace Sign with Both Hands

How do you say goodbye in Dutch on the phone?

Ending the call is probably the easiest part of a telephone conversation in Dutch, as you can use one of the goodbye phrases you already know. It’s just a quick formality that only gets a bit more complicated in professional contexts.

Dag. [Formal]Goodbye.
Doei! [Casual]Bye!
Tot ziens. [Formal]Goodbye.
Tot later. [Casual]See you later.
Fijne dag.Have a good day.
Bedankt voor het bellen.Thank you for calling.
Je bent erg behulpzaam geweest. Dank je.You’ve been very helpful. Thank you.

9. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Better Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned a variety of practical Dutch phone call phrases for both casual and professional contexts. You’re now better prepared to handle every component of a phone conversation, from the initial introductions to saying goodbye. 

Did we forget any important phrases you’d like to learn? 

DutchPod101 has much more to offer, such as our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources. You’ll also enjoy a wealth of audio and video lessons hosted by native Dutch speakers; each lesson teaches practical language information and introduces you to Dutch culture. We make it fun and easy to boost your Dutch, whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced learner looking to take your skills up a notch.

Want more? DutchPod101 also has a special service for our Premium PLUS members: MyTeacher. Let your own private teacher help you practice Dutch grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation through personalized exercises, fun assignments, and useful recorded audio samples. With the help of an expert teacher, you’ll learn these Dutch phone call phrases—and countless other facets of the language—in no time!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

Dutch Love Phrases: How to Say “I Love You,” in Dutch

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Do you have a Dutch girlfriend or boyfriend, or has an attractive Dutchie caught your eye? Then learning how to express your feelings in the Dutch language is the first step you should take toward creating a new relationship or strengthening the bond between you and your lover.

Of course, there are the basics. For example…

How do you say “I love you,” in Dutch? That’s Ik hou van jou. And how about “my love”? That could be mijn lieverd or mijn liefje

The Dutch may not be the most expressive people when it comes to love, but they do have their own ways of confessing their feelings and revealing their love to someone. With the right words, you’ll come a long way in your relationship—but try not to be too dramatic or clingy. The Dutch are very down-to-earth, and they view excessive romanticism as a mark of desperation. 

Learn to talk about love in Dutch with this useful guide from DutchPod101.com. We’ve provided a variety of Dutch love phrases for every phase of your romantic relationship, from confessing your affection and falling in love all the way to getting married and starting a family. And if that’s still not enough, we’ll even introduce you to some Dutch endearment terms and must-know Dutch love quotes. 

Let’s get to it!

Two Hands Making a Heart Shape Toward the Sun

Impress your Dutch love with these Dutch romantic phrases.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. First Contact: Dutch Pick-up Lines and More
  2. Take it to the Next Level: How Do You Say “I Love You,” in Dutch?
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Dutch Endearment Terms: “My Love” in Dutch and More
  5. Must-know Dutch Love Quotes
  6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. First Contact: Dutch Pick-up Lines and More

You’re in a bar and you spot some nice Dutchie you’d like to get to know…but how do you make first contact? While the Dutch value a direct approach in all things, it’s still important to know how to start the conversation. Have a look at these Dutch pick-up lines and other useful Dutch love phrases for when you’ve just met someone.

Kom je hier vaker?
Ik ken je ergens van.
“Do you come here often?”
“I think I’ve seen you before.”

Hoe heet je?“What’s your name?”


Wil je dansen?
Wil je met me dansen?
“Do you want to dance?”
“Do you want to dance with me?”

Wil je wat drinken?
Ik betaal dit rondje.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Let me get this round.”
In the Netherlands, it’s not customary that the man pays for everything. Rather, it’s quite common for couples to “go Dutch” and split the bill. However, when you meet someone new, offering a drink can be a good way to show your interest. While it’s less common for a girl to buy a guy a drink, this is definitely an option as well.

Heb je een vriend?
Heb je een vriendin?
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
The Dutch are direct, so they’re used to non-subtle ways of asking if someone is single. You could also ask: Ben je single? (“Are you single?”)

Het was leuk met jou.I
k zou het leuk vinden om je nog een keer te zien.
“I had a great time with you.”
“I’d like to see you again.”

Zullen we nog eens afspreken? 
Zullen we binnenkort wat drinken?
“Shall we meet another time?”
“Shall we have a drink soon?”
In the Netherlands, a common first date is to have drinks together at a bar at night. Going for dinner is far less common, as it can be viewed as awkward if you don’t know the other person very well.

A Man and a Woman Having Dinner Outside at a Nice Restaurant and Clinking Wine Glasses

Are you ready to invite someone on a date in Dutch?

Mag ik je telefoonnummer?
Mag ik je mijn telefoonnummer geven?
“Can I get your phone number?”
“Can I give you my number?”
It’s more common to ask for someone’s phone number than to ask if you may give your number to someone, and both men and women can do so. That said, giving your phone number to someone might be seen as more courteous. If your potential date is interested, they will either return the favor right away or call you later.


2. Take it to the Next Level: How Do You Say “I Love You,” in Dutch?

You went on that first date and many more. You’re in love and ready to take it to the next level. So, what’s “I love you,” in Dutch? And what else can you say to really win their affections? Here are several romantic Dutch phrases you can use to express your feelings.  

Ik vind je leuk.“I like you.”
As mentioned before, the Dutch are not very expressive about their love. Saying this phrase to someone you’ve only just met may be seen as too fast or forward. It’s more common to express this after you’ve seen the other person several times.

Ik mis je.“I miss you.”

Ik heb zin om je weer te zien.“I look forward to seeing you again.”

Ik denk aan jou.“I’m thinking about you.”

Ik ben gek op jou.“I’m crazy about you.”

Je bent zo mooi.“You’re so beautiful.”

Ik ben verliefd op jou.“I am in love with you.”

Wil je verkering met mij?
Wil je een relatie met mij?
Zullen we het officieel maken?
“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
“Shall we make it official?”
Verkering is another word used to refer to a romantic relationship. Although it’s a common word, it might be perceived as a bit childish. If you’d prefer to stay on the safe side, use the word relatie (“relationship”). It has the same meaning, but it’s a more neutral word.

If you’ve been dating your Dutchie for a while but the relationship has not become “official” yet, then you might want to use the last option.

Ik houd van jou.
Ik houd zielsveel van jou.
“I love you.”
“I love you with heart and soul.”
Fun fact: Dutch people often use the phrase Ik hou van jou, with the d dropped from houd. Although the spelling is officially wrong, it’s a very common way to write the phrase. Where does this habit come from? The d might have been dropped simply because it’s not pronounced when the word is spoken.

A Woman Smiling as She Reads a Christmas Card

Ready to write some love letters in Dutch?


3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

You’ve expressed your feelings successfully, it’s been reciprocated, and you’re officially in a happy relationship. Are you ready to take it one step further? Here are all the Dutch love phrases you need to steer your relationship toward the future you want. We’ve gathered key phrases for expressing true love in Dutch, meeting the parents, moving in together, getting married, and even having a baby. 

Wij zijn voor elkaar bestemd.
Jij bent de liefde van mijn leven.
Ik kan niet zonder jou.
“We are made for each other.”
“You are the love of my life.”
“I can’t live without you.”
These romantic Dutch phrases are not used very often, so make sure you only say them in the right setting and that they come from the heart. The Dutch don’t take words like these lightly.

Ik wil graag dat je mijn ouders ontmoet.“I would like for you to meet my parents.”
As the Dutch move out of their parents’ place at a relatively young age and often move to another city when going to study, meeting the parents is a big deal in Dutch culture.

Wil je met mij samenwonen?“Would you like to move in together?”

Wil je met me trouwen?“Do you want to marry me?”

A Man on One Knee Proposing to a Woman on a Bridge

Pop the question in Dutch.

Ik wil graag een kindje met jou.“I would like to have a baby with you.”

4. Dutch Endearment Terms: “My Love” in Dutch and More

What’s next, then? You’ll need some Dutch endearment terms to express your love each and every day. In the Netherlands, it’s very common to use endearment terms when talking to the people you love, whether it be your partner or your friends and family.

Lieverd
Schatje
Liefje
Dropje
Lekker ding
Knapperd
“Dear”
“Cutie”
“Little dear”
“Sweetie”
“Delicious thing”
“Beautiful”
These are just some popular options, but there are many more! The same endearment terms also come in a lot of different forms and shapes, such as: lieffie, droppie, schatteke, knappie. It’s all a matter of preference, and many Dutch couples also use personal pet names.

A Man and Woman Embracing Each Other with an Arm Across Each Other’s Backs

What Dutch endearment term would you use?

5. Must-know Dutch Love Quotes

As you might have expected from the not-so-romantic Dutch, there is no overload of romantic love quotes in the Dutch language. And the quotes that do exist tend to have a down-to-earth undertone. That said, here are the most popular quotes about love in Dutch:

DutchDe liefde kan niet van één kant komen.
Literally“Love cannot come from one side.”
EquivalentIt takes two to tango.
This is one of the down-to-earth Dutch love quotes that’s quite popular in the Netherlands. It shows the Dutch attitude about love, which is that love should come from both sides: If you want to make it work, both parties will have to contribute.

DutchDe liefde van een man gaat door de maag.
Literally“A man’s love goes through the stomach.” 
This humorous Dutch love quote may also say something about their not-so-romantic nature. This is a very popular Dutch quote, and it even has its own song.

It can also be used for women, children, or even for animals. People may even say it about their own cat: De liefde van een kat gaat door de maag. (“The love of a cat goes through the stomach.”) 

DutchOngelukkig in het spel, gelukkig in de liefde. 
Literally“Unlucky in the game, happy in love.” 
EquivalentLucky at cards, unlucky in love.
This love quote in Dutch is nearly identical to its English counterpart. Those who always lose in gambling often have a happy love life, and vice-versa.  

What do you think about that? Is it true for you?

DutchOude liefde roest niet.
Literally“Old love does not rust.” 
This beautiful Dutch quote, with an identical English counterpart, also has its own song from the famous Dutch 80s band VOF De Kunst.

They sing: Oude liefde roest niet, maar verdwijnt net zoals jij. (“Old love does not rust, but disappears just like you.”) 

    → Find more love inspiration in our free vocabulary list of quotes on Love. Or go for those bittersweet Break-Up quotes.

6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

Two Red Heart-Shaped Balloons Floating against a Blue, Slightly Cloudy Sky

You’re ready to find some Dutch love!

In this article, you learned how to say “I love you,” in Dutch and many more useful Dutch love phrases. You’re now prepared to get your flirt on, express your love, and even take it a step further with a solid marriage proposal. You also know what endearment terms to use for your Dutch lieverd (“dear”) and have some old Dutch love quotes to fall back on when you want to spice things up. 

Did we forget any important Dutch love phrases you know? What’s your favorite romantic Dutch phrase or endearment term?

There’s still a lot more to learn, and nothing will make your Dutch lover swoon more than mastering their native tongue. Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and take advantage of our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources to boost your Dutch studies.

Would you like some 1-on-1 coaching? Then consider upgrading to a Premium PLUS subscription, which will give you access to our MyTeacher service. Here, you can learn more about Dutch love and life with your own private teacher and really master the Dutch language. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, you’ll catch on in no time.  

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

Dutch Negation Rules: How to Say No in Dutch

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The word nee (“no”) is crucial in any language. It allows you to express your desires, clarify things, and even talk about your experiences. Saying no may sometimes be viewed as rude, insensitive, or socially disruptive, but it’s simply a necessary part of life and of society. 

Luckily, the Dutch are quite direct and are not afraid of using some true Dutch negations. While we may sometimes sugarcoat things, honesty and the Dutch directness triumph over being vague or fake.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about negation in the Dutch language: 

  • The basic Dutch negation rules
  • Common negative words with lots of examples 
  • Negative questions and their matching negative answers

Ready? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of Dutch Negation – Using Niet (“Not”)
  2. Some Important Negation Rules
  3. More Negative Words
  4. Negative Questions
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. The Basics of Dutch Negation – Using Niet (“Not”)

A Woman Holding Out Both Hands in Front of Her to Indicate No or Stop

How to say no in Dutch…

A. When to use niet

The most basic way to make a Dutch sentence negative is to simply add the word niet (“not”). For example:

  • Ik ben niet moe. (“I am not tired.”)
  • Hij woont niet hier. (“He doesn’t live here.”)
  • Wij werken niet. (“We don’t work.”)
  • Ik werk in Amsterdam, niet in Rotterdam. (“I work in Amsterdam, not in Rotterdam.”)

Because this word is so crucial to negation in Dutch grammar, it’s important that you know exactly when to use it. The Dutch use the word niet in the following cases:

  • To negate any element that is not a noun, such as verbs, adjectives, or thoughts.  
    • Verbs: Ik fiets niet. (“I don’t cycle.”)
    • Adjectives: Zij is niet oud. (“She is not old.”)
    • Thoughts: Ik denk niet dat ik mooi ben. (“I don’t think I am beautiful.”)
  • To negate nouns that are preceded by a definite article or a possessive pronoun.
    • Definite article: Zij is niet de burgemeester van Amsterdam. (“She is not the mayor of Amsterdam.”)
    • Possessive pronoun: Dat is niet mijn auto. (“That’s not my car.”) 

So you now know when to use niet, but where does it go in a sentence? 

B. How to use niet 

A Woman in a Yellow Long-sleeved Shirt Thinking

Do you know where to place the word niet?

The position of niet in a sentence depends on what you’re negating. 

In case of an adverb or adjective, niet is put right in front of it:

  • Adverb: Zijn auto is niet snel. (“His car isn’t fast.”) 
  • Adjective: Mijn kat is niet dik. (“My cat isn’t fat.”) 

In most other cases, the word niet comes after the middle part of the sentence, where you usually find the time, manner, and place:

  • Time: Zij was vorige week niet op werk. (“She was not at work last week.”)
  • Manner: Ik kon door het drukke verkeer niet op tijd op het werk komen. (“I could not get to work on time because of the busy traffic.”)

However, regarding the “place” of the sentence, the situation is a bit different. The word niet usually comes before it when the place indicates a direction:

  • Place [direction]: Wij gaan niet naar Breda. (“We are not going to Breda.”)

However, if you want to stress that something isn’t (or will not be done) a certain way, but rather another way, then you have to put niet in front of the time, manner, and place:

  • Ik rijd niet met jou naar huis vandaag, maar met hem. (“I’m not driving home with you today, but with him.”)

These cases also relate to the fact that the word niet always goes before a preposition:

  • Ik kom niet uit Frankrijk. (“I am not from France.”)
  • Zij woont niet in Rotterdam. (“She doesn’t live in Rotterdam.”)

2. Some Important Negation Rules

A Woman Holding Out a Palm to Say No or Stop

Learn how to say no in Dutch with these important Dutch negation rules.

A. Negation with the word geen (“none”)

Another common way to make a negative sentence in Dutch is to use the word geen (“none”). Here are a couple of situations where you would use this Dutch negation word:

  • When negating a noun that would have needed the word een (“a” / “an”) in a positive sentence. 
    • Zij heeft geen baan. (“She doesn’t have a job.”)
  • When negating plural and uncountable nouns that do not have an article in front of them.
    • Ik heb geen boeken bij me. (“I don’t have any books with me.”)

Geen is always connected to a noun. And as you can see, it always comes before the noun.


B. How to use the verbs “to be” and “to have” in negative forms

Two of the most essential verbs in Dutch are zijn (“to be”) and hebben (“to have”). Unfortunately, both of these verbs are irregular. This makes it imperative to learn not only their conjugations, but also how they work in the context of a negative sentence. 

Let’s have a look at them in the present simple tense:

SubjectHebben conjugation Dutch (“to have”)Zijn conjugation Dutch (“to be”)
Ik (“I”)heb (“have”)ben (“am”)
Jij, u (“You” casual, “you” formal)hebt (“have”)bent (“are”)
Hij, zij, het (“He,” “she,” “it”)heeft (“has”)is (“is”)
Wij (“We”)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)
Jullie (“You” plural)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)
Zij (“They”)hebben (“have”)zijn (“are”)

Let’s start with some examples of sentences using the verb hebben in negative form: 

  • Ik heb geen auto. (“I don’t have a car.”)
  • Wij hebben geen haast. (“We are not in a hurry.”) 
  • Zij heeft geen kwade bedoelingen. (“She has no bad intentions.”)

As you may have noticed, when using the verb hebben, we use the negation word geen. This is logical, as hebben is mostly used when talking about possessions (and therefore nouns).

Now have a look at some Dutch negations with the verb zijn

  • Ik ben niet moe. (“I am not tired.”)
  • Zij is niet jarig. (“It’s not her birthday.”)
  • Wij zijn niet naar Frankrijk op vakantie gegaan. (“We did not go on holiday to France.”)

As you can see, we use niet when negating this verb. This is because zijn is mostly used to describe something about one’s identity, feelings, or situation. Therefore, prepositions, adjectives, and adverbs are often used in these sentences.

C. Negative Dutch expressions

You now know the basic Dutch negation rules. Let’s now go over some essential negative statements that will come in handy when traveling in the Netherlands.

Nederlands (“Dutch”)Engels (“English”)
Ik heb geen tijd.“I don’t have time.”
Ik weet het niet.“I don’t know.”
Ik begrijp het/je niet.“I don’t understand it/you.”
Ik heb geen pen.“I don’t have a pen.”
Ik vind het niet leuk.“I don’t like it.”
Ik heb geen idee.“I have no idea.”
Ik heb geen zin.“I do not feel like it.”
Ik weet niet waar ik ben.“I don’t know where I am.”
Ik ben het niet met je eens.“I don’t agree with you.”
Geen probleem.“No problem.”
Het maakt niet uit.“It doesn’t matter.”


3. More Negative Words

Below is a table of the most useful words and phrases for performing negation in the Dutch language. For your convenience, we’ve provided a couple of examples for each word.

A Guy Flexing with One Strong Arm and One Weak Arm

Feel strong using these Dutch negation words.

Nooit (“Never”)
  • Jij bent nooit op tijd. (“You are never on time.”)
  • Ik heb jou nooit leuk gevonden. (“I have never liked you”)
Niemand (“Nobody”)
  • Niemand weet mijn geheim. (“Nobody knows my secret.”)
  • Hij heeft vandaag niemand gezien. (“He hasn’t seen anyone today.”)
Niets (“Nothing”)
  • Zij heeft niets gepland voor deze zomer. (“She has nothing planned for this summer.”)
  • Ik heb zondag helemaal niets gedaan. (“I have done nothing this Sunday.”)
Nog niet (“Not yet”)
  • Ik ben nog niet klaar. (“I am not ready yet.”)
  • Hij is nog niet afgestudeerd. (“He hasn’t graduated yet.”)

Nog niet is used to make a negative sentence nicer and not so abrupt.

For example, if someone asks: 

Is de bakkerij open?(“Is the bakery open?”)

You could say:

Nee, de bakkerij is niet open. (“No, the bakery isn’t open.”)

But that would be quite abrupt. It’s nicer to say: 

Nee, de bakkerij is nog niet open. (“No, the bakery isn’t open yet.”)
Nergens (“Nowhere”)
  • Ik kan nergens zo lekker eten als in dit restaurant. (“Nowhere can I eat better than in this restaurant.”)
  • Hij gaat nergens naartoe. (“He is going nowhere.”)
Niet meer (“Not anymore”)
  • Hij werkt niet meer bij mij op kantoor. (“He no longer works at my office.”)
  • Ik ben niet meer verliefd op jou. (“I am no longer in love with you.”)
Niet eens (“Not even”)
  • Hij komt niet eens naar mijn feestje! (“He doesn’t even come to my party!”)
  • Ik ben niet eens uit geweest zaterdagavond. (“I didn’t even go out on Saturday night.”)
Niet altijd (“Not always”)
  • Ik ben niet altijd aan het werken. (“I am not always working.”)
  • Onze kat is niet altijd even aardig. (“Our cat is not always that nice.”)
Noch … noch … (“Neither … nor …”)
  • Noch ik noch mijn vader houden van bier drinken. (“Neither I nor my dad like to drink beer.”)
  • Ik eet noch vlees noch vis. (“I don’t eat meat nor fish.”)


4. Negative Questions

Do you know how to make a question negative in Dutch? Below, you’ll find information on how to do this for both open-ended and closed-ended questions! 

A. Negative Open Questions

An open question starts with an interrogative word (who, what, where, how, etc.). These questions require at least a simple sentence as a reply; you can’t just answer with “yes” or “no.”

There’s a special structure used for questions like this. The question word comes first, the conjugated verb second, and the subject third: 

Question word + Verb + Subject + Niet

Let’s have a look at two simple examples:

  • Waarom lach je niet? (“Why don’t you laugh?”)
  • Wie gaat er niet? (“Who’s not going?”)

Got it? Then let’s move on to some more complex negative questions and their possible negative replies. 

Wat
(“What”)
Wat ga jij morgen niet doen? (“What aren’t you going to do tomorrow?”)Ik ga morgen niet bij mijn ouders op bezoek. (“I’m not going to visit my parents tomorrow.”)
Waarom
(“Why”)
Waarom is je vriendin niet bij jou? (“Why is your girlfriend not here?”)Mijn vriendin is niet hier want ze is op vakantie. (“My girlfriend is not here because she is on holiday.”)
Waar
(“Where”)
Waar ben jij nog nooit geweest? (“Where have you never been to?”)Ik ben nog nooit in Marokko geweest. (“I have never been to Morocco.”)
Wie
(“Who”)
Wie wil jij niet meer zien? (“Who don’t you want to see anymore?”)Ik wil mijn ex vriendje Pieter echt nooit meer zien. (“I never want to see my ex boyfriend Pieter again.”)

B. Negative Closed Questions

Another common type of question Dutch people use is the closed question; these are the questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Questions like these have a different word order, with the verb coming first:

Verb + Subject + Niet

For example:

  • Kom je niet? (“Aren’t you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij niet? (“Doesn’t he work?”)

As you can see here, the subject and verb are inverted to create yes-or-no questions. 

Remember that when jij or je (“you”) follows the verb, the -t at the end of the verb is dropped:

  • Ga je morgen niet naar school? (“Are you not going to school tomorrow?”)
    • Instead of: Je gaat morgen niet naar school. (“You are not going to school tomorrow.”)
  • Heb je vandaag niet met je oma gepraat? (“Didn’t you talk to your grandmother today?”)
    • Instead of: Je hebt vandaag niet met je oma gepraat. (“You didn’t talk with your grandmother today.”)

The answer for these questions is simple: Nee. (“No.”)


5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

A Woman Holding Out Her Palm, Which Has NO Written on It

You now know How to say no in Dutch.

In this guide, you’ve learned all about Dutch negations, from the basics of negation in Dutch to more advanced rules. You’ve also picked up a few useful words for negation and have a better idea of how to use them. 

Do you already have a favorite Dutch negation word or negative sentence? Or do you still feel like you need some help with the Dutch negation rules?

If you’re feeling stuck, remember that DutchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to help you master this and many other parts of the Dutch language.

Would you like to practice with your own private teacher? Then make use of Premium PLUS MyTeacher service and get personal one-on-one coaching. Through interactive exercises, pronunciation advice, and personalized feedback, you’ll really master those Dutch negative sentences and questions! 

Start saying no in Dutch like a native with DutchPod101!

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Why You Should Learn – Dutch

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Learning a foreign language comes with several added benefits, from new business opportunities to a healthier mind. 

But why learn Dutch, specifically? After all, there are plenty of other languages to choose from—some of which are in higher demand and more widely spoken. 

There are many reasons why you should learn Dutch, and DutchPod101 is here to break it all down for you and show you that Dutch isn’t such a hard language to learn. With a little help and guidance, you’ll be able to tackle this fun challenge and advance toward your goals! 

In this article, we’ll go over the 10 main reasons why you should start learning Dutch. We’ve included reasons related to: leisure (travel, friendship, love, culture); business (quality studies, work opportunities); and personal development (benefits of learning another language).

Let’s dive in.

A Guy Studying in a Library

So why should you learn Dutch?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Reasons Related to the Country and the Language
  2. Reasons Related to the Benefits of Learning a Language
  3. Reasons Related to Personal and Professional Aspects
  4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch

1. Reasons Related to the Country and the Language

Some of the best reasons to learn Dutch have to do with the properties of the language itself, as well as the countries in which it’s spoken. Let’s take a closer look. 

Reason 1: Learning Dutch is relatively easy.

So, why study Dutch? Because it’s quite easy, especially for English speakers. Here’s what we mean: 

  • Dutch is very similar to English and German.

    If you speak English or German, mastering Dutch will not be too difficult for you. Dutch is very similar to these languages, making it one of the easiest languages for native English or German speakers to learn. Speaking one of these languages—even if not natively—will give you a headstart in your Dutch learning!
  • Dutch people will appreciate your efforts.

    The Dutch are used to foreigners speaking in English with them. So when foreigners (try to) speak Dutch, native speakers are pleasantly surprised and are happy to help. They’ll appreciate your effort, try to speak extra-slow, and help you whenever you get stuck.

    You might need to make it clear first that you really prefer to speak Dutch, as they’ll switch to English out of habit if you don’t. But once that’s cleared up, their willingness to help will turn out to be one of the best things about learning the language.
  • Your pronunciation and grammar don’t have to be perfect.

    The Dutch aren’t too snobby or arrogant regarding their language. Mistakes are okay, and even Dutch natives can be quite sloppy with their own language. Grammar rules aren’t always taken into account, and even the pronunciation isn’t always perfect.

    The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of dialects and accents from region to region. That’s why there’s no such thing as perfect Dutch pronunciation. Take, for example, the hard g sound in the north and the soft g sound in the south. Of course, you should try to learn Dutch the best you can, but it’s simply okay to make mistakes.

If you’d like to learn more about why learning Dutch is easier than you might think, make sure to visit our full article Is Dutch Hard to Learn?

Reason 2: Dutch is spoken in more places than you might think.

Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands and Suriname, and it’s one of the official languages in Belgium, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. It’s spoken in most of the former Dutch colonies and in small emigrant communities all over the world. Dutch is also the parent language of Afrikaans, one of the 150 official languages of South Africa. (Before Afrikaans was officially recognized by linguists, Dutch itself was one of the official languages here.)

So, why learn Dutch? Because there are about 23 million people registered as native Dutch speakers all over the world and another 5 million speak Dutch as a secondary language.

Reason 3: You’ll get to know the rich Dutch culture and history.

When you learn a language, even if you’re just focusing on practical topics such as grammar and vocabulary, you’ll get to know more about the culture and the history of its native speakers.

As your thoughts are shaped by the language you speak, learning the Dutch language will give you some insight regarding how the Dutch think. Learning a language is like opening a window into the Dutch culture, history, and way of life. And if this is too philosophical for you, there’s also a more practical reason why learning Dutch will help you learn the country’s culture and history: It’s the perfect way to be able to connect with the locals. If you can’t have a conversation with the Dutch, how can you get to know their country? 

Yes, of course, many Dutchies speak English, but the culture and history of a country includes its language, sayings, humor, and even songs. So, while learning Dutch, you’ll be able to get to know all these different aspects of the Dutch culture.

Clogs with Tulips in Them, Representative of the Dutch Culture

How well do you know the Dutch history and culture?


Reason 4: Dutch is a funny language.

The Dutch language has a very funny pronunciation with a lot of tricky sounds. It may not be the smoothest or sexiest language in the world, but it has some funny sounds no other languages seem to have. 

Dutch has a lot of vowels, as it uses single vowels, double vowels, and diphthongs. A diphthong is a pair of vowels that, together, make a particular sound that no vowel on its own has. The Dutch alphabet has six vowels (a, e, i o, u, y) and nine diphthongs:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiPronounced as [I] in “I am” in Englishmais (“corn”)
auPronounced like [ow] in the English word “now”auto (“car”)
eiPronounced as the [i] in the English word “find”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
iePronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee”mier (“ant”)
ijPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthongwijn (“wine”)
oePronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool”moe (“tired”)
ouThis diphthong has exactly the same sound as the Dutch au diphthong. koud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” followed by a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)

But that’s not all. The Dutch language even has triple vowels:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aaiThis is a combination of the Dutch aa and ie.draaien (“to turn”)
oeiThis is a combination of the Dutch oe and ie.koeien (“cows”)
ooiThis is a combination of the Dutch oo and ie.nooit (“never”)
eeuThis combination will always be followed by the letter w and is a combination of ee and oe.sneeuw (“snow”)


Learning these tongue-twisters may be a challenge, but it will also be fun to master them.

Dutch also has a lot of funny words. They might be the most normal words for the Dutch, but when you translate them directly to English, you’ll notice how crazy these words are: 

  • Boterham literally translates to “butter ham,” but it actually means “sandwich” or “a slice of bread.”
  • Handschoenen literally translates to “hand shoes,” but it actually means “gloves.”
  • Toiletbril literally translates to “toilet glasses,” but it actually means “toilet seat.”

Getting to know these crazy and funny Dutch words will make learning the language even more fun.

A Woman Lying Down and Laughing with Her Hands over Her Eyes

Which of these words made you laugh the most?


2. Reasons Related to the Benefits of Learning a Language

Of course, learning any language can add value to your life. Here are just a few benefits you can expect to gain when you start learning Dutch. 

Reason 5: Learning another language will open up your mind.

Most people don’t give their native language much thought. It all comes naturally, so why think much about it? 

It’s learning another language that will make you start wondering about linguistics. Just like realizing how lovely home is when you’re away from it, you’ll realize how interesting your native language is when you’re learning another one. You’ll discover similarities and differences, and you might even develop a new appreciation for your own language.

So, learning another language will open up your mind to your own language and to the world around it. Especially if you’re a native English speaker (and you’re used to using your native language abroad), learning another language will be an enriching experience culturally, professionally, and personally.

Reason 6: Knowing Dutch will help you learn other European languages.

As we mentioned earlier, the Dutch language is quite similar to the English and German languages. But why is that? 

Dutch is part of the Indo-European family of languages and belongs to the Germanic branch, as do English and German. Dutch has the same Germanic core as the German language, but integrates more Romance loans than the German language does (and fewer than English does). As is the case with German, the vocabulary of Dutch also has strong similarities with the continental Scandinavian languages, but differs quite a lot in text and speech. 

So, knowing the Dutch language will help you learn quite a few other European languages, namely: English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. These languages might be quite different (especially in pronunciation), but the similarities they share with the Dutch vocabulary and/or structure will give you a headstart when learning one of these other languages.

Reason 7: It will give your brain a boost.

Learning Dutch not only opens up your mind to your own language and helps you learn certain European languages, but it can also improve the overall health and functionality of your brain.

Learning a second language has many brain-boosting benefits: a better memory, greater multitasking skills, an improved ability to conceptualize, and faster, more decisive decision-making. Learning a new language can even help prevent dementia.

This boost can also help with learning other languages. If you already speak a foreign language, it will be easier to learn yet another language, as your brain is accustomed to the challenges of learning a foreign language. Therefore, bilinguals often find it easier to learn a third language.

A Sketch Drawing of a Brain with Sticky Notes Inside

Memorizing words gives your brain a boost.

3. Reasons Related to Personal and Professional Aspects

If you’re still wondering why to learn Dutch, have you yet considered the potential gains you could experience in your personal and professional life? Here are three more ways that learning Dutch can enhance your life: 

Reason 8: You’ll be able to enjoy studying in the Netherlands.

Speaking Dutch opens up lots of opportunities for education in the Netherlands. With some great universities as well as hogescholen (literally meaning “high schools,” but these are universities of applied sciences), the Netherlands has many study options to choose from. 

In the Netherlands, there’s WO (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, meaning “scientific education”) taught at universities and HBO (hoger beroepsonderwijs, meaning “higher professional education”) taught at hogescholen

The great thing about the Dutch universities is that they offer high-quality education at relatively low costs,  especially compared to the price of big universities in the U.S. and U.K.

Many of these schools have an international or multicultural environment with a wide range of courses in English. So you don’t have to manage Dutch at a high level to study in the country, though knowing the language will give you a richer study experience.

So why study Dutch? Because of the great study opportunities, of course! These are just two great facts about studying in the Netherlands, but there are many more reasons why you should study in the Netherlands


Reason 9: Learn Dutch to enjoy new business opportunities or career options.

The Netherlands has one of the richest and most stable economies in the European Union. There are many international companies located in the country and the Dutch government is very helpful to small businesses, having special measures to stimulate their development. So, there are many business opportunities and career options to enjoy in this small country.

But these many opportunities are not the only reasons to work in the Netherlands. Other great reasons are the high working standards (with a great work/life balance), a good healthcare system, and an excellent standard of living. 

As you can see, working in the Netherlands offers some great opportunities. Although not all companies or positions require a knowledge of the Dutch language, knowing Dutch will still help you find work here and have a better overall experience. 

Even if you don’t want to move to the Netherlands, knowing another language will be a positive selling point when you’re looking for a job in your own country. Learning Dutch will provide opportunities to work for companies that either have ties with the Netherlands or are in contact with Dutch groups.


Reason 10: Improve your relationships and communication with Dutch loved ones and their family.

Last but not least, a great reason to bother learning Dutch is to impress or win over a special someone in the Netherlands.

If you have a Dutch boyfriend or girlfriend, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk with him or her in their native language? It would definitely be a great way to impress them, and you’ll also get to know them better as you’ll start to understand their culture and way of thinking. You can start to declare your love to them with a beautiful ik hou van jou (“I love you”). Or give them a Dutch koosnaampje (“pet name”).

Learning the language would also mean that you could start communicating better with your lover’s family and friends. This way, the next time you go to a Dutch birthday party, you could talk with your Dutch in-laws about koetjes en kalfjes (translates literally to “talk about little cows and calves,” which refers to making small talk). This time, you’ll be the one participating in the conversations of your Dutch family, instead of them having to make the effort to speak English with you.

A Man Carrying His Girlfriend Near a Waterfall

Speak Dutch with your Dutch lover.

Even if you don’t have a Dutch lover, wouldn’t it be great to be able to speak in Dutch with your Dutch friends?


4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned the main reasons why you should learn Dutch. We’ve shown you many of the benefits of learning the Dutch language, from its practical applications in the business world to the sheer fact that it’s pretty funny at times. Learning any language, in fact, can improve the quality of your life: broader opportunities for study, enhanced brain function, and a more open mind are just a few examples.

Are you still thinking: Why should I learn Dutch? Or do you already know your answer? If so, do you feel ready to start learning Dutch or do you need some more guidance?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and many useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings to learn new words.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service for personal one-on-one coaching. This way, you can practice your Dutch speaking skills with your own private teacher through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

Happy learning!

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Can You Learn Dutch Fast? Here’s How Long it Will Take.

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How long does it take to learn Dutch? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from aspiring Dutch learners, but it has no definite answer. It depends on many things, such as your native language, educational background, experience with languages, exposure, and motivation. It also depends on what “learning Dutch” means to you: Are you hoping to achieve a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level? These are all different goals with different timeframes. But whatever level you wish to achieve, there are some great tools you can use to learn Dutch faster.

In this article, you’ll learn how to realistically estimate how long it will take to learn Dutch, depending on your background and the proficiency level you have in mind. Then, we’ll give you some useful strategies you can employ to really master this language.

A Man in a Plaid Shirt Checking His Watch

How long does it take to learn Dutch?


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors Involved
  2. From Beginner to Advanced
  3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster
  4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

1. The Many Factors Involved


There are a few factors involved in determining how long it takes to learn the Dutch language. Because these things will impact your learning progress, you should take them into consideration as you plan your course of study. 

Your Native Language vs. Dutch

Knowing a language with similar roots as Dutch will make it easier and quicker for you to learn this language. If you’re reading this article, it means your English level is already really strong, and this is great news for your Dutch learning! 

Dutch is very similar to English and German, as these three languages are all part of the Indo-European family of languages and belong to the Germanic branch. This makes it much easier for English- and German-speakers to pick up the language, compared to speakers of other languages. (And lucky for you, Dutch won’t make you put up with difficult grammar like that found in German!)

So if you speak one of these languages, even if it’s not your native language, it will give you a headstart in your Dutch learning process. 

Your Language Learning Experience 

Have you ever learned another language before? If you already speak a foreign language, this knowledge and experience will help you a lot when learning a third language. 

Your brain is accustomed to the challenges of language learning and you already know how to study a language. You’re familiar with the best ways to memorize vocabulary, practice your conversation skills, and understand those tricky tenses. Languages have a certain logic to them, and the more languages you learn, the more you start to understand how their grammar and structure work in general. 

For these reasons, bilinguals often find it easier to learn a third language. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably save yourself quite a lot of time when learning Dutch.

Your Motivation

Why do you want to learn Dutch? 

Do you just want to learn another language? Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Are you planning to study in this country? Or are you dating a nice Dutchie?

Whatever your reason may be, this motivation will impact your level of commitment and the amount of time you’re willing to invest in learning Dutch. Your motivation will also help you continue your studies and convince you not to stop, even when things get difficult. If you have a strong motivation, you’ll have a strong will to work hard and learn fast.

A Female Fitness Instructor with a Megaphone

Have you already found your motivation to learn Dutch?

Your Approach

Your learning method plays a key role in how fast you’ll make progress. For a good learning method, it’s often advisable to combine different learning techniques, such as taking online Dutch lessons, finding a language exchange partner to help you practice your conversation skills, and listening to Dutch music or movies to train your listening skills. And of course, how successful your learning method is also depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in your studies.

Don’t worry about this yet, though. We’ll discuss some useful Dutch learning strategies in a few moments!

2. From Beginner to Advanced

Now, for the main topic at hand: How long does it take to learn Dutch as an English speaker?

According to FSI (Foreign Service Institute), an American government institution in charge of foreign language teaching to American diplomats and officials, it takes English speakers around 24 weeks of intensive classroom study to reach a general professional proficiency in Dutch. 

However, be aware that this is based on the FSI approach. This is a very intensive study routine where students are taught in small classes of around 6 students, spend 6 hours daily with a teacher, and do 2 hours of self-study each day. In other words, it takes around 600 classroom hours for a student to be able to work professionally with the language.

Let’s see what this means for the different Dutch proficiency levels. 

We’ll use the CEFR system (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). This classification shows one’s proficiency level in a foreign language on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners to C2 for those who have mastered a language. In this article, we’ll focus only on the A1 / B1 / C1 levels (not the second level for each), as these are a good reflection of what it takes to achieve the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. 

    → Speaking of which, if you’re interested in doing a Dutch language exam, we have a complete guide to help you successfully pass these tests.

1 – Beginner Level

A Woman with Thought Bubbles Above Her Head, Two with an Exclamation Mark and One with a Question Mark

Do you want to reach the Dutch beginner level?

Let’s start with the beginner level, A1.

    ★ How long does it take to reach A1? Around 80-100 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and use everyday expressions as well as simple statements about practical needs.
  • Introduce yourself and others.
  • Ask and answer questions about personal matters.
  • Use the present tense and the right word order in simple affirmative sentences and questions.
  • Have basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and articulates clearly.

To be able to do this, you need to build a foundation to start understanding how the language works. This means studying things like:

  • Word order
  • Present tense
  • Basic conjugation

Vocabulary is also important, but in this beginning phase, your focus will be on building lots of different sentences using few words. Don’t clutter your brain yet with too much vocabulary. With some basic nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you’ll be able to have basic conversations. 

Try to practice your pronunciation from the beginning, as this will prevent you from making the same mistakes when you’re improving your Dutch in the next stages. Listen to a lot of Dutch music to become familiar with the pronunciation, practice your speaking skills with others, and record yourself so you can listen to your own pronunciation and find things to improve.

At the beginner level, flashcards will come in handy. You can use them to remember words, simple phrases, useful questions, or conjugated verbs—basically anything you want or need. 

    → Also have a look at the DutchPod101 Absolute Beginner lesson pathway. This is the perfect pathway for learning the Dutch basics, containing 25 lessons (about 5.5 hours of material) that cover topics ranging from self-introductions to writing a postcard.

2 – Intermediate Level

B1 is the intermediate level.

    ★ How long does it take to reach B1? Around 350 to 400 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and communicate in common everyday situations, such as at work or school.
  • Handle most daily interactions when traveling in the Netherlands or through Flanders.
  • Write simple Dutch texts about familiar topics or subjects you’re interested in.
  • Talk about events, experiences, dreams, expectations, and desires. You’re also able to express your opinions, reasons, and plans.

To reach B1, you have to pass through the beginner level (A1) and the lower-intermediate level (A2). So there’s quite some ground to cover! 

As you progress toward this stage, you’ll be learning more about Dutch-language patterns, structures, and vocabulary. This is also the level where you’ll start learning new tenses and new types of words, such as adverbs. You’ll start to understand the pronouns better, which will allow you to make smoother sentences. Using all of this new knowledge, you’ll be able to get into more details when speaking or writing Dutch. 

If you’re not studying Dutch at school or university, this would be a good time to start some lessons with a teacher at a language school. Alternatively, you could try to find some affordable online coaching to make sure you’re on the right track.

    → Have a look at the DutchPod101 Lower Intermediate lessons to break out of the beginner level and pass through to the intermediate level. In only 25 lessons (around 4.5 hours), you’ll notice some improvement.

3 – Advanced Level

So, how long does it take to learn Dutch fluently? C1 is the advanced level.

A Little Kid with Glasses and a Graduation Cap

Ready to achieve the advanced level?

    ★ How long does it take to reach C1? Around 850 to 900 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand long texts and their implicit meaning, humor, and wit.
  • Speak spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much.
  • Use the language flexibly and efficiently at home, work, or school.
  • Express your opinion on complex topics in a clear and structured manner.
  • Write clear, well-structured, and detailed texts about complex subjects.

Now you know how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently. You have to pass through the A1, A2, B1, and B2 levels. It’s double the time and effort of the intermediate level, but it’s worth it!

When you reach this stage, you’ll have expanded your vocabulary greatly, you understand the tenses, and you’re able to write and speak Dutch at a high level. You feel confident as you (almost) fully understand the language and you can discuss the most complex topics in Dutch.

To reach such a level of proficiency, you can, of course, use language classes or online teachers. However, try to really immerse yourself in the language as well. Read Dutch books, watch Dutch TV or movies, listen to music in Dutch, and try to find a native speaker you can talk with on a regular basis. 

This all helps, but at the end of the day, the best way to improve your Dutch to an advanced level is to live in the country or to spend a few months there.

    → Have a look at our official curated pathway for Level 5, the best tool to help you become an advanced Dutch learner. These 50 lessons (around 2 hours) will help you go from fully intermediate to an advanced learner.

3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster

As we mentioned before, how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently depends on your exposure to the language, how much time and effort you put into it, and the strategies you use.

With the right strategies, you’ll be able to learn Dutch faster and more effectively! 

1 – Make Use of Online Classes

Wondering how to learn Dutch online? We hear you! 

With online classes, you can learn Dutch anywhere and anytime you want. There are online classes for every level and they’re more affordable than private lessons or language schools. They’re also the most flexible option, as you can adapt them to your schedule. 

There are many websites you can choose from. Some are entirely free, while others have a mixture of free resources and paid resources with advanced services. Try to choose a website where you can track your progress and work over time; this way, you can really be aware of your improvement.

A Woman Reading a Book on a Bus

Be efficient and learn where and when you can.

    → Check out DutchPod101 to see what online lessons we offer. Even without a paid subscription, you can access a lot of free content, including vocabulary lists, a YouTube channel, and countless lessons for students at every level.

2 – Make Learning Dutch Fun

Try to make learning Dutch as enjoyable as possible—learning a new language shouldn’t be boring.

Of course there are some boring parts, such as grammar rules or those endless lists of verb conjugations, but try to mix it up with some entertaining learning tools. For example, you might enjoy watching a Dutch TV show with subtitles, or listening to Dutch music and trying to translate or understand the lyrics. Studying this way will make you more inclined to continue your Dutch studies! 


3 – Practice is Key

To really learn a language, you have to practice it a lot. So try speaking, reading, writing, and listening in Dutch as much as you can. It’s okay to make mistakes, and you don’t even need that many words or an extensive knowledge of complicated grammar rules to express yourself.

Try to put everything you learn into practice, as this is truly the only way to improve your Dutch. Really immerse yourself in the language through TV series, books, music, or even podcasts. Start writing Dutch stories and talk to every Dutch person you meet. You can do it!

4 – Use Word Lists to Build Up a Solid Vocabulary

Are you struggling to practice the language because you feel like you don’t have a solid vocabulary yet? Then use vocabulary word lists to expand your personal word bank. You can choose a topic you find interesting and learn words related to that topic. DutchPod101 has vocabulary lists on many topics, such as love, family, animals, work, and more.

You may even want to set yourself some vocabulary learning goals. For example, to memorize one or two vocabulary lists a week, or one new word a day. 

5 – Create a Study Schedule and Set Some Goals

When learning a new language, structure is key. Language learning is a big task, and there’s so much to learn. Therefore, it’s very important that you create a clear study schedule and set some goals. This will give you the motivation to continue and not give up. With every goal you achieve, you know you’re improving and you’ll be motivated to continue with your other goals. A study schedule gives you the consistency needed to achieve them.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

In this guide, you learned that the time it takes to learn Dutch depends on certain factors, such as the level of proficiency you want to reach and the Dutch learning strategies you employ. We also gave you pointers on how to learn Dutch effectively at each stage. 

Did we forget any important language learning tips? Do you already feel motivated to start learning Dutch? 

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you learn Dutch quickly and efficiently. Our vocabulary lists are another great way to improve your knowledge of Dutch words and their pronunciation. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching with a private teacher who will help you master the Dutch language even faster. He or she will give you interesting exercises, useful recorded audio samples, and personalized feedback so that you can become fluent in Dutch before you know it.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

Dutch Proverbs & Sayings About Life, Love, and All the Rest

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Proverbs are little phrases of wisdom, passed down from one generation to the next. While some proverbs seem to extend across borders, others are unique to a specific culture or way of living. 

For this reason, learning Dutch proverbs and sayings is a great way to expand your vocabulary and gain cultural insight. These nuggets of practical advice and observations can really serve as a window into the age-old wisdom and traditions of the Dutch. 

They may be old-fashioned, but the Dutch still use these old proverbs on a daily basis. They serve as a reflection of who they are and the values they stand for. 

In this article, you’ll learn thirty of the most common Dutch proverbs about love, success, life, personality, weather, and family and friends. Studying them will help you learn more about the Dutch, while memorizing and using them in conversation is sure to impress native speakers!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Proverbs About Love
  2. Dutch Proverbs About Success
  3. Dutch Proverbs About Life
  4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality
  5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends
  6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Proverbs About Love

Four People Making Hearts with Their Hands

Let’s discover that Dutch love…

They say that love is what makes the world go ‘round. With that in mind, let’s kick off our list with a few popular Dutch love proverbs! 

#1

DutchGa niet op het uiterlijk af.
Equivalent“Never judge by appearance.”
This Dutch proverb is used to warn against falling in love with someone for only their looks. Looks are not the most important thing, so instead of judging someone by their appearance, you should rather have eyes for someone’s personality.

#2

DutchAls de armoede binnenkomt, vliegt de liefde het raam uit.
Literally“When poverty comes in, love flies out the window.”
MeaningPoverty often means the end of relationships.
Having money troubles often causes relationship troubles as well. When there’s stress about money, the tension in a relationship often rises. This is an old Dutch proverb about love that’s used less nowadays, but there’s still some truth to it. It’s most often used in reference to romantic relationships, but can also be used when talking about friendships.


#3

DutchVan liefde rookt de schoorsteen niet.
Literally“The chimney does not smoke from love.”
MeaningYou cannot live on love alone.
This Dutch proverb reflects the typical level-headedness of the Dutch. It may not be that romantic, but it’s true: you cannot live on love alone.

#4

DutchLiefde maakt blind.
Equivalent“Love makes blind.”
This proverb is the same in Dutch as it is in English. It’s frequently used in songs and literature.

#5

DutchIets bedekken met de mantel der liefde.
Literally“Covering something with the cloak of love.”
MeaningThis refers to not discussing something with others, but rather keeping silent and accepting the situation.
It may feel a bit contradictory to the Dutch directness and honesty, but even the Dutch sometimes prefer to keep quiet about something, out of love for the other person. This old Dutch proverb is a true classic and is often associated with motherly love. 

    → Would you like to learn some more Dutch sayings about love? Then have a look at our Dutch Quotes About Love vocabulary list.

2. Dutch Proverbs About Success

Silhouette of Three People Raising Their Arms in Victory Atop a Mountain

Here’s how to achieve success, according to the Dutch.

While success can mean different things to different people, there are some basic truths and words of advice we can all relate to. Here are some Dutch idioms and proverbs related to success and hard work—we hope they inspire you! 

#6

DutchEen kat in de zak kopen.
Literally“Buying a cat in the bag.”
EquivalentTo buy a pig in a poke.
If you buy “a pig in a poke,” it means you’ve just made a bad purchase. The Dutch use this saying when someone buys something that’s very disappointing or breaks down very quickly. 

This saying dates back to when people would buy a pig or hare in a sack, only to come home and find out it’s a cat instead. It’s a bad purchase because you can create a tasty dish with a pig or hare, but not with a cat. The Spanish language has a similar proverb: dar gato por liebre, meaning “to give someone a cat instead of a hare.”

#7

DutchHoge bomen vangen veel wind.
Literally“High trees catch a lot of wind.”
MeaningPeople in a high position face a lot of criticism.
Those who hold a high position have to face a lot of criticism. Just like tall trees, which rise above the small ones and are most exposed to the wind, high-ranking people are exposed to all kinds of judgment, hatred, and envy.

A variant of this Dutch proverb is: Hoge masten vangen veel wind. / “High masts catch a lot of wind.”

#8

DutchAls de berg niet tot Muhammad wil komen, dan moet Muhammad naar de berg gaan.
Equivalent“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.”
MeaningIf you cannot get what you want, you must adapt to the circumstances or adopt a different approach.
This is another Dutch proverb that has the exact same meaning as its English equivalent. Both are based on the legend in which Muhammad ordered a mountain to come to him, which did not happen. Afterward, he supposedly uttered the words: “Well, mountain, since you do not want to come to Muhammad, Muhammad will come to you.”

#9

DutchEen ezel stoot zich niet twee keer aan dezelfde steen.
Literally“A donkey doesn’t stub itself against the same boulder twice.”
EquivalentFool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
One should not make the same mistake twice. According to this Dutch proverb, only a fool would do so. 

#10

DutchWie het eerst komt, wie het eerst maalt.
Equivalent“First come, first served.”
MeaningWho comes first is helped first.
This saying means that whoever is first to pick up or buy something can be sure that what they want is still available. Those who come later may be too late, and everything may already be gone.

This old saying originates from the time when wheat had to be brought to a mill to be grinded. So, the one who arrived first with their wheat could count on it being grinded first.

#11

DutchSchoenmaker, blijf bij je leest.
Literally“A shoemaker must not go beyond his last.”
MeaningYou should stick to what you know.
The Dutch might say this to someone who judges something of which he or she has no knowledge.

This old Dutch proverb comes from a story about the famous Greek painter Apelles, who lived in the fourth century B.C. The artist liked to hide behind his paintings so that he could hear what spectators really thought of his artwork. One day, he heard a shoemaker comment on the shoes in one of his paintings, which was missing a shoelace hole. Apelles adjusted his work, but the shoemaker still found something to complain about. Apelles was fed up and said these famous words to the shoemaker: Sutor, ne ultra crepidam. / “Shoemaker, no further than the shoe.”


3. Dutch Proverbs About Life

A Little Girl Throwing Autumn Leaves Up into the Air

Some inspirational Dutch proverbs to help you enjoy life to its fullest…

For time immemorial, people have been asking themselves how to live life well. There are several idioms and proverbs in Dutch on the topic, and studying them can give you a glimpse of how the Dutch view this topic. 

#12

DutchBelofte maakt schuld.
Literally“Promise is debt.”
MeaningIf you promise something, you should honor that commitment.
This Dutch proverb reflects two things the Dutch value highly: honesty and loyalty. If you promise to do something, you have to stick to that promise.

#13

DutchWie goed doet, goed ontmoet.
Literally“Who does good, meets well.”
EquivalentIf you do good, good will be done to you.
This old Dutch proverb is still very true today. It means that if someone does good things for other people, that person can sometimes expect good things in return. It’s sort of a Dutch karma mindset, related to their highly valued honesty.

#14

DutchDoor de bomen het bos niet meer zien.
Literally“Can’t see the forest through the trees.”
EquivalentMissing the forest because of the trees.
When you pay too much attention to details (the trees), you’ll lose sight of the whole picture (the forest). For example, there’s so much information on the internet that it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. 

#15

DutchGeld moet rollen.
Literally“Money must roll.”
EquivalentMoney is there to be spent.
You might say the Dutch are a pragmatic and responsible group of people, but they also have their impulsive and crazy moments. In the Netherlands, when someone comments about someone else’s (irresponsible) spending, that person may respond: Geld moet rollen. Many people also say this to encourage spending for the sake of the Dutch economy.

#16

DutchNood breekt wet.
Literally“Necessity breaks the law.”
EquivalentNecessity has no law.
The Dutch are quite the law-abiding citizens. Even though they value their freedom, they also know that they have this freedom because people respect the law. However, in emergency situations, things are permitted that would otherwise not be permitted.

#17

DutchEen gewaarschuwd mens telt voor twee.
Literally“A warned man counts as two.”
EquivalentForewarned is forearmed.
This Dutch proverb about life reflects the typical pragmatic and practical attitude of the Dutch. Someone who knows in advance what can go wrong should prepare for it. 


4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality

Someone Holding Two Signs Up, One with a Smiley Face and the Other a Frowny Face

Which Dutch proverb reflects your personality?

No two people are exactly alike, though there are some common personality and character traits we can easily pinpoint in others. Below are a few Dutch proverbs and sayings on this very topic! 

#18

DutchAls je hem een vinger geeft, neemt hij de hele hand. 
Literally“If you give him a finger, he takes the whole hand.”
EquivalentGive him an inch and he will take a yard.
This Dutch proverb refers to the greediness of people. If you help someone one time, they’ll come back for more. If you give someone a little bit of something, he or she will want more and more.

#19

DutchVan een mug een olifant maken. 
Literally“To make an elephant out of a mosquito.”
EquivalentTo make a mountain out of a molehill.
This common Dutch saying refers to people who are exaggerating. The Dutch are very down-to-earth and they don’t really like too much drama. They often use this proverb when someone is turning a small problem into a big one.

#20

DutchAls er één schaap over de dam is, volgen er meer.
Literally“If one sheep crosses the dam, more will follow.”
MeaningIf one person tries something new, others will have the courage to do so as well.
If someone sets an example, there will soon be people who follow that example.

#21

DutchAl draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding. 
Literally“A monkey may wear a golden ring, but it will always be an ugly thing.”
EquivalentYou cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
This is a widely known Dutch proverb, and it may be one of the most amusing ones as it also rhymes. It can refer to someone’s ugly personality: one’s appearance doesn’t make up for their negative personality. But it may also refer to someone who is not very good-looking: if someone dresses nicely, it doesn’t improve the natural appearance of that person. 

#22

DutchBlaffende honden bijten niet.
Literally“Barking dogs don’t bite.”
EquivalentBarking dogs seldom bite.
This common Dutch proverb may be used in reference to actual barking dogs, but it’s also used when talking about “barking” people. People who make the loudest threats are the least likely to take action.

    → Which Dutch adjective describes your personality best? Discover this in our useful vocabulary list, and practice your pronunciation with the included audio recordings.

5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends

A Family at the Mall Eating Ice Cream

Now for some Dutch proverbs that reflect some of the Dutch family values.

Family and friends are the most important people in one’s life, so it makes sense that there would be at least a few Dutch proverbs touching on these unique relationships. 

#23

DutchAls de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen op tafel.
Literally“When the cat leaves the house, the mice dance on the table.”
EquivalentWhen the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Without supervision, people do whatever they like.

This Dutch proverb is often used by parents when talking about their children. When they leave them without supervision, the children will do whatever they like.

#24

DutchBeter één vogel in de hand dan tien in de lucht.
Literally“Better to have one bird in the hand than ten in the air.”
EquivalentA bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This common Dutch proverb refers to the value of having a few very close friends, rather than having a lot of friends that you hardly ever see. A variant of this saying is: Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend. / “Better a good neighbor than a distant friend.”

The proverb may also mean that it’s better to have something little than nothing at all. Or that small, concrete results are better than big plans. (There’s the Dutch pragmatism again!)

#25

DutchDe appel valt niet ver van de boom. 
Literally“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
EquivalentA chip off the old block.
Children often resemble their parents. This is a common saying in the Netherlands, often said when a child has the same looks, interests, or talents as their parents.

#26

DutchZo vader, zo zoon. 
Equivalent“Like father, like son.”
Like the previous saying, this one also states that children inherit the characteristics of their parents. There’s also a variant: Zo moeder, zo dochter. / “Like mother, like daughter.”

There used to be a Dutch television program called Zo vader, zo zoon. The program revolved around guessing the father of a son from a group of four. A permanent panel had to try to guess by asking questions and presenting situations that would reveal which one the father was. 

#27

DutchBeter alleen, dan in kwaad gezelschap.
Literally“It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.”
This Dutch proverb already says it all: It’s better to be alone, than to be with bad people.


6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather

Raindrops Falling on a Body of Water

The Dutch know their rain.

People often use different aspects of weather and the seasons as an analogy for things we experience in life. Here are just a few examples of how the Dutch do this…

#28

DutchHet regent pijpenstelen. 
Literally“It is raining pipes.”
EquivalentIt is raining cats and dogs.
Knowing the Dutch weather, it’s no surprise that the Dutch have a few sayings about the rain. Like its English equivalent, this one is often used when it’s raining very hard. 

#29

DutchNa regen komt zonneschijn.
Equivalent“After rain comes sunshine.”
Although this proverb might refer to the weather, it’s most often used to say that there will be better times after a period of adversity.

#30

DutchDoor wind en weer gaan.
Literally“Going through wind and weather.”
MeaningNothing can stop you.
This saying is a symbolic reflection of the Dutch stamina and their attitude toward facing bad weather. This is directly reflected in the Dutch bike culture. It doesn’t matter if it rains or if the wind blows strongly—the Dutch will take their bike and gaan door wind and weer, or “go through wind and weather.”

    → Expand your Dutch weather vocabulary with these useful lists of must-know terms for summer and autumn.

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned about the most important Dutch proverbs and sayings on a variety of topics. Do you already feel inspired and motivated to learn more about the Dutch language, culture, and history? 

Then it’s definitely time to discover DutchPod101! Our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources are designed to boost your Dutch studies and keep your Dutch learning fresh and entertaining.

Would you prefer some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members. With this service, you can practice everything you’re learning with your personal tutor. You’ll quickly master the Dutch language through your teacher’s personalized feedback, fun assignments, and pronunciation advice.

Happy learning with DutchPod101!

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English Words Used in Dutch: Do You Speak Dunglish?

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Did you know that the Dutch language has close ties with English? 

English words are used in Dutch in many different ways, including through Dunglish (a crazy mixture of both languages) and loanwords. It’s important to know the difference between these two types of English words in Dutch, as loanwords are more widely accepted than Dunglish. 

The good news is that Dutch is full of English loanwords. Having these ‘freebies’ in your memory bank will make learning the language a bit easier. But the language exchange actually goes both ways, and you’ll also find basic Dutch words in English.

Are you ready to discover the ties between the Dutch and English languages with DutchPod101.com? We’ll teach you everything you should know about Dunglish, English loanwords, and common Dutch words in English—and all this in a fun and easy manner!

A Woman with a Laptop Thinking Deeply

Are you speaking Dunglish or Dutch?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Dunglish
  2. Dunglish Examples
  3. Loanwords vs. Dunglish
  4. Common Dutch Words in English
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Introduction to Dunglish

Dunglish is a mixture of the Dutch and English languages. In this section, we’ll give you some insight on its history and usage, so that you really understand what it is and what role it plays in Dutch society.

1 – Its History

In Dutch, Dunglish is also called Nengels or steenkolenengels (“coal-English”). 

Steenkolenengels is a well-known term in the Dutch language, but few people know its origin. It goes all the way back to the early twentieth century, when Dutch port workers tried to speak a creative form of English in order to communicate with workers from the English coal ships.

2 – Its Usage in Dutch Culture

Dunglish is mostly perceived as being the mistakes native Dutch speakers make when speaking English (but it can, of course, also be the other way around).

Dutch people manage the English language relatively well. They learn the language from a young age, as it’s a basic school subject throughout their educational career and it often continues to be practiced in universities where there are a  large number of courses and programs in English. But the English language is also part of the cultural scene in the Netherlands. The Dutch listen to a lot of music in English and watch a lot of English-language movies with Dutch subtitles (as the Dutch don’t dub movies). 

However, they still make mistakes when speaking English. Errors range from mistakes in pronunciation and word order to incorrect conjugation. Even political leaders can be found guilty of speaking some Dunglish. To give a funny example: 

Dries van Agt, the former Dutch prime minister, supposedly once said: “I can stand my little man,” a direct translation from the Dutch saying: Ik kan mijn mannetje wel staan. (“I can stand up for myself.”)

2. Dunglish Examples

To start, let’s have a look at some examples of Dunglish. If the Dutch make these mistakes when speaking English, you’re bound to make them as well when speaking Dutch! 

1 – Incorrect Meaning of Words

Applying incorrect meanings to English words is the most typical Dunglish mistake of all. Words are incorrectly translated, which often leads to some understandable but funny mistakes. 

There is a funny story about a meeting between the former Dutch prime minister Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy and Winston Churchill in London. When Gerbrandy shook Churchill’s hand, he supposedly said “Good day,” to which Churchill responded, “This is the shortest meeting I have ever had.” Goedendag (“Good day”) is a common Dutch greeting, but in English it’s most often used when saying goodbye. A logical Dunglish mistake to make if you don’t know this little difference between the two languages.

Because Dutch and English are so similar to each other, incorrect translations are bound to happen. Let’s take the Dutch word eventueel for example: it means “potentially” in English, and not “eventually.” Another example is the Dutch word actueel, which means “current.” It is sometimes mistakenly translated as the English word “actual,” which means “genuine.” 

You can imagine how some humorous mistakes can be made due to incorrect translations like these! 


2 – Word Order

A Woman Standing in Front of a Blackboard that Has Speech Bubbles Drawn on It

Let’s try to avoid these Dunglish word order mistakes.

Another typical Dunglish mistake is to use incorrect word order, as the Dutch and English languages do not follow exactly the same word order. A typical word order mistake the Dutch make when speaking English is saying: “What mean you?” This is a literal translation of the Dutch question: Wat bedoel je? As you can see, the word order is different, which explains this Dunglish mistake. 

These word order mistakes are especially common in questions, as there is a particular difference between Dutch and English question word order. It’s common for English speakers to use the Dutch word doe (“to do”) when asking yes/no questions. Contrary to English, the Dutch don’t use the auxiliary “do” in questions. So don’t use it, otherwise your Dutch question word order will be incorrect. 

For example: “Do you like dancing?”

  • Correct: Houd je van dansen?
  • Dunglish: Doe jij houden van dansen?

Another common word order mistake has to do with not knowing when to split the verbs in sentences. 

This mistake is so prevalent because while the Dutch like to split their verbs, this is not done in English. When there are multiple verbs in a Dutch sentence, one part of the verb will be at the beginning of the sentence and other parts will be at the end. So the complicated Dutch present perfect sentence De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zware verf geverfd, may be literally translated to: “The boy has in the house the yellow door with black paint painted.” However, this should be: “The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”

When should you be aware of this verb-splitting in Dutch? Be cautious when using present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs. In such cases, you may need to add a verb to the end of the sentence. Here is the sentence structure for these tenses:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

    → Would you like to learn more about Dutch word order? Have a look at our useful article on the subject and avoid this typical Dunglish mistake.

3 – Verb Conjugation

Aside from verb-splitting, English and Dutch verbs actually share many things in common. This sometimes causes Dutch speakers to conjugate English verbs according to Dutch grammar rules, and vice-versa.

Example of this Dunglish mistake made by Dutch speakers: We drinken het bier

  • Correct: “We drink the beer.”
  • Dunglish: “We drinken the beer.”

Example of this Dunglish mistake made by English speakers: “They kiss each other.”

  • Correct: Zij kussen elkaar.
  • Dunglish: Zij kus elkaar.

Although both languages use the infinitive (kussen or “to kiss”) in the plural form, the infinitive is different, causing confusion for Dutch and English speakers. 


4 – Errors in Pronunciation

As is to be expected, pronunciation mistakes abound between speakers of the two languages. One of the most common Dunglish pronunciation errors for Dutch speakers has to do with the difference between the English sounds ‘th’ and ‘t.’ For example, the Dutch may pronounce “third” as “turd,” “the” as “duh,” and “three” and “tree” as “dreeh.”

Another set of English pronunciation mistakes the Dutch make comes down to the tricky difference between the words “bat” / “bad” / “bet” / “bed” and “back” / “bag” / “beck” / “beg.” The difference between these sounds does not exist in the Dutch language, so they tend to pronounce these words the same way.

However, Dutch pronunciation may be even more difficult for English speakers. Do you remember those tricky diphthongs? A diphthong is the combination of two vowels that, together, make a particular sound—a sound that no vowel in Dutch makes on its own. 

A common Dunglish mistake that Dutch learners make is to pronounce the letters separately, rather than as one fluid sound. Let’s have a look at the nine Dutch diphthongs:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiPronounced as [I], as in “I am” in Englishmais (“corn”)
auPronounced like [ow] in the English word “now”auto (“car”)
eiPronounced as the [i] in the English word “find”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
iePronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee”mier (“ant”)
ijPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthongwijn (“wine”)
oePronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool”moe (“tired”)
ouPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch au diphthongkoud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” and a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)

Another pronunciation mistake English speakers make has to do with the pronunciation of sch as sk (with too much of a k sound).

Let’s have a look at how you should pronounce this: 

Letter(English) PronunciationExample 
schPronounced like an [s] followed by a harsh [ch], as in the Scottish word “loch”schaap (“sheep”)


Netherlands Flag Inside a Speech Bubble

Use these tips to improve your Dutch pronunciation.

3. Loanwords vs. Dunglish

In addition to Dunglish, there are also plenty of English words in the Dutch language that are used on a regular basis. In this section, we’ll discuss the difference between Dunglish and loanwords, and introduce you to some of the most common English words in Dutch.

1 – Loanwords vs. Dunglish: What’s the Difference?

Do you already understand the difference between loanwords and Dunglish? While both are a mixture of the Dutch and English languages, one is correct and the other isn’t. As may be clear from the previous section, Dunglish may be cute but it’s not correct.

So if you want to make use of the English language while speaking Dutch (or vice-versa), then it’s better to use loanwords. These are words that are borrowed from another language with little to no changes—in this case, these are English words used in Dutch with the same meaning and similar (if not identical) spelling. 

And lucky you! The Dutch language is full of English loanwords. It’s easy vocabulary that you don’t even have to study.

2 – List of English Words in Dutch

Some English loanwords in Dutch have become so common over time that they’ve become “Dutch” verbs. Let’s have a look at them:

Checken
 “To check”
Ik wil nog even met jou de route checken.
 “I just want to check the route with you.”

WhatsappenIk whatsapp je nu.
 Literally: “I Whatsapp you now.”
 Meaning: “I’m sending you a Whatsapp message now.”

It literally means “to Whatsapp,” but its meaning more closely relates to “to send a message with Whatsapp.”

Downloaden
 “To download”
Hij heeft de film gedownload.
 “He has downloaded the movie.”

Apart from this funny vernederlandsing (“Dutchification”) of English words, there are also some English loanwords that are directly incorporated into the Dutch language.

AirconditionerKun je de airconditioner aanzetten?
 “Can you turn on the air conditioner?”

Because compound words are so common in Dutch, the English word “air conditioner” is changed to airconditioner. The same thing happens to the English loanword “credit card,” which is written as one word in Dutch: creditcard.

Although the Dutch use the word airconditioner, it’s more common to hear them say the short version: airco.

LaptopIk werk op mijn laptop. 
“I work on my laptop.”

OutfitIk heb mijn outfit voor het feest al klaar liggen.
 “I already have my outfit ready for the party.”

E-mailIk vroeg hem in een e-mail of hij me kon helpen.
 “I asked him in an email if he could help me.”

Happy hourLaten we naar die bar gaan waar het nu happy hour is.
 “Let’s go to that bar where it’s happy hour now.”

HelpdeskIk heb de helpdesk gebeld en ze hebben het probleem opgelost.
 “I called the help desk and they solved the problem.”

As you can see, this is another example of the Dutch turning an English loanword into a compound word. 

JunkfoodIk heb echt zin in junkfood. “I’m really craving junk food.”

Yes, “junk food” has also become one word in Dutch.

With this list of English words in Dutch, you’ve learned some new Dutch vocabulary without having to study for it. Do you know any other English words in Dutch? There are many more, as the Dutch language is greatly influenced by English.

A Woman Studying on Her Laptop with Headphones

Doesn’t this make learning Dutch more fun?

4. Common Dutch Words in English

Did you know that there are also many English words of Dutch origin? It makes sense, as the Dutch were some of the first European settlers in the United States. In Holland, Michigan, and New York’s Brooklyn and Harlem, you can still see some of these Dutch roots.

Let’s have a look at these common Dutch words in English:

“Boss”This word comes from the Dutch word baas, which has the exact same meaning as the English version.

“Yankee”This is the combination of two of the most popular names for boys in the Netherlands at a certain point in history: Jan and Kees, which makes Jan-Kees, leading to “Yankee.”

“Coleslaw”The Dutch word for “coleslaw” is koolsla. Pretty similar, right? It literally means “cabbage salad.”

“Waffle”“Waffle” is taken from the Dutch word wafel, which is pretty similar and has the same meaning.

“Cookie”The English word “cookie” is based on the Dutch word koekje, which literally means “little cookie.”

“Wagon”In the Netherlands, they used to call “wagons” wagens when referring to trains.

“Dollar”“Dollar” originates from the Dutch word Daalder. This is an historical Dutch coin and is also what the Dutch sometimes called their currency before the euro (de Gulden).

“Santa Claus”‘Santa Claus’ is taken from the fictitious Dutch character Sinterklaas, named after St. Nicolaus, a bishop who lived in Turkey.

Some claim that the Dutch settlers in New York City (a former Dutch colonial town) reinvented the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition.

“Deck”The English word “deck” derives from the Dutch word dek, which refers to the floor of a ship. However, the word dek in Dutch can also be used to mean “covering.”

“Yacht”It comes from the Dutch word jacht, meaning “hunt,” and it’s short for jachtschip, meaning “yacht ship.”

Quite a few English words relating to the sea or to sailing are derived from Dutch. For example, “cruise” comes from the Dutch verb kruisen (“to cross”) and “buoy” comes from the Dutch word boei. With the Netherlands being one of the leading seafaring nations, it’s not surprising that the English language has been influenced by Dutch in this particular way.


Two Hands Making a Heart Shape in Front of the Netherlands Flag

Let’s boost your Dutch learning.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about Dunglish, from its history to its usage in modern times. You’ve also learned why you should avoid it, how to keep from making the most common mistakes, and what makes loanwords different. We even introduced you to some basic Dutch words in English. This just makes learning Dutch a bit easier—after all, it’s free vocabulary you don’t have to study.

Are there any other English loanwords in the Dutch language you know? Or some other basic Dutch words in English?

If you enjoyed this article and want to continue your Dutch studies, keep in mind that DutchPod101 has tons of effective learning materials: vocabulary lists with audio recordings, free resources to boost your studies, and entertaining audio and video lessons for learners at every level. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. When you use this system, you’ll have your own private teacher who can show you other useful ways to use your English knowledge when learning Dutch. Along with pronunciation exercises and personalized assignments, your teacher will review your work and answer any questions you have.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

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A Useful Guide to Dutch Culture and Customs

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The first step in becoming comfortable in another country is to understand its culture. This will help you avoid the so-called ‘culture shock’ during your stay and make your interactions with natives more enjoyable. Learning about Dutch culture will not only make your experience in the Netherlands that much smoother, but it can also accelerate your language learning!

Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about Dutch culture and customs. The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of culture to discover. It’s known for its progressive and explorative spirit, art, architecture, food, and even some special holiday traditions—all of which we’ll cover in this handy Dutch culture guide!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs
  2. Dutch Religions
  3. Relationships
  4. Different Dutch Art Forms
  5. Dutch Food
  6. Dutch Holidays
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs

Every culture has a set of widely shared ideologies that influence the daily lives of its people. Here are just a few key values and beliefs in modern Dutch culture that you should know about.

A- Tolerance (Verdraagzaamheid)

In the Netherlands, tolerance (verdraagzaamheid) is a prominent Dutch cultural value and it’s taught to children from a young age. The Dutch tradition of tolerance revolves around having respect for people’s freedom of choice regarding their attitudes and beliefs. However, there are parts of the Netherlands that are “more tolerant” than other parts. For example, Randstad and other larger cities tend to show a greater degree of tolerance toward others than smaller cities do. Take Amsterdam, for example. Here, the Dutch tradition of tolerance is clearly noticeable in the streets where you can find gay bars, coffee shops, and the red light district.

Many Dutch people are very proud of their country’s progressiveness on social and moral issues, such as LGBTIQ rights, soft drugs, euthanasia, and freedom of speech. However, a more conservative and intolerant attitude has become noticeable in the Netherlands in recent years, with politicians and other people campaigning against migration and other cultures. A study also shows that the younger generations (20-30 years old) are less progressive than the older generations. Nevertheless, many Dutch people still highly value tolerance and open-mindedness. 

B- Pragmatism

The Dutch may be some of the most pragmatic people in the world. 

They’re practical, down-to-earth, and realistic in their way of reasoning and approaching things. They tend to rationalize and analyze everything before proceeding with their actions. In addition, they’re very functional and try to find the “best way” to do something. This makes them very innovative and explorative in their way of doing things, leading to new inventions and progressive business ideas. This may also make them less spontaneous, more frugal, or even “boring,” but the Dutch just love calculating things. This has led them to some great results in business and other sectors.

Don’t worry! The Dutch do know how to have fun and relax; their pragmatic side mostly comes up in work situations.

C- Directness

Because they’re so pragmatic, the Dutch are also quite direct. 

This Dutch directness is well-known among foreigners, who often have to adjust to this behavior. At first, it may come across as rude, but it does have its positive side. Their honesty and direct communication help them achieve the best results in work and relationships.

Dutch people, in general, will let you know what they think. They don’t play games and people are frank if they don’t like something. While there are no lies to save your feelings, at least you won’t be let down by someone’s dishonesty. 

D- Privacy

The Netherlands is a small country with a large population for its size (in fact, it’s the country with the highest population density in Europe). This may be why Dutch culture values privacy so much. 

While the Dutch prefer privacy in their homes and workspaces, this longing for privacy also extends to their interactions with other people. This guarded behavior is only relaxed when around friends, family members, or close colleagues. The Dutch need some time to get to know other people before they open up. Try to respect this need for privacy—with time, you’ll notice a change in this behavior.

The privateness of the Dutch is related to another Dutch cultural value: modesty. The Dutch don’t like to brag about their accomplishments or wealth. They prefer to keep this private so as to promote fairness and equality in Dutch society.

2. Dutch Religions

Compared to many other cultures, religion plays a small role in modern-day Dutch culture and traditions. Still, it’s an important element to consider if you want to gain a complete view of the society. Here’s what you need to know about religion in the Netherlands! 

A- Religion in Dutch Society

The Netherlands previously had a practice called verzuiling (“pillarization“). This is the segregation of religious, social, and cultural groups through the creation of social and political institutions for each group. These groups would have their own schools, hospitals, newspapers, and TV channels. The (political) leaders of each group collaborated with each other to make sure they all had the same rights and functions, creating a smooth and articulated public life. 

This ideological and religious segregation lasted until the 1970s, after which the Netherlands experienced rapid secularization. Nowadays, religion plays a relatively small role in politics and society. However, you can still see remains of this practice in Dutch society, as there remain to be certain schools and media connected to a certain religion.

B- Dominant Religions in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, almost half of the population (42%) identifies with no religion. Aside from that, the religiosity of the Netherlands is characterized by its diversity: 23% of the Dutch population is Catholic, 14% are Reformed Protestant, 7% are Dutch Reformed, and 4% are Muslim.

The rapid secularization of the Netherlands in the 1970s led to a decreasing role of religion in Dutch culture. The only real exception would be communities in the Dutch Bible Belt, which runs through and around the cities of Zierikzee, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Zwolle, and Assen. 

On the other hand, one religion that has been growing in the Netherlands is Islam. The majority of Muslims in the Netherlands come from migrant families from North Africa and the Middle East. The Dutch Muslim population mainly lives in the cities of the Randstad.

    → Would you like to learn more about religion in the Dutch language? Have a look at the useful Religion vocabulary list from DutchPod101.

3. Relationships

One major window into other cultures is how different relationships are expected to be viewed, formed, and maintained. In this section, we’ll tell you all about the Dutch culture and customs regarding family, couples, friends, and colleagues.

A- Family

What Do You Think of the Dutch Family?

The family serves as the foundation of the Dutch social structure. 

However, families tend to be relatively small with only one or two children. Dutch family culture mainly focuses on the nuclear family, and less on the extended kin. This small group of family members remains important and central to the individual throughout their life. Because different members of a family tend to live close to each other, the Dutch do form relationships with extended family members, but to a lesser degree.

However, in the tolerant Dutch society a lot of other living arrangements and family forms are accepted as well. These include single-parent households, same-sex couples with children, and divorced couples that share responsibility for their children.

In Dutch society, independence is very much stimulated and young people are encouraged to leave their home at the age of 18 to study or work. However, this is not always possible due to increasing university costs and housing shortages in the bigger cities of the Netherlands.


B- Couples

In Dutch culture, dating practices are quite similar to those of other North-European countries or the United States. Throughout high school, teenagers socialize with and date peers from school, the neighborhood, or other social activities. 

The Dutch consider it normal to start dating different people at a young age or to have several relationships before moving in together or marrying. Not all couples marry, although the practice has become a bit more popular among younger generations. It’s common for a couple to marry after living together for many years.

The marriage ceremony generally entails two events: a civil registration and a celebration (which is usually a religious ceremony or a wedding party). LGBTIQ couples also have the right to marry. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

    → Would you like to find a little Dutch romance? Try our list of the cheesiest Dutch Quotes About Love to express your feelings in Dutch.

C- Friends

Friends play a central role in Dutch culture. As the Dutch are encouraged to be independent from a young age, they’re also encouraged to make lasting and reliant friendships. The Dutch often have friends from primary school, high school, university, work, and so on. They have different groups of friends and often see them separately—it’s not common to mix these different groups.

Do you want to make a Dutch friend? The Dutch may seem a bit cold or distant at first. It might be difficult to move from acquaintance status to friend status. However, when they open up, the Dutch are very loyal friends. So it’s a friendship that is worth the wait (and effort)!

D- Colleagues

In the Netherlands, relationships between colleagues differ from job to job depending on the formality of the workplace or industry. However, Dutch work relationships tend to be formal and quite reserved. They’re not very touchy-feely at work and appreciate it if other colleagues remain at a certain (emotional) distance. 

However, once people have been colleagues for a long(er) time, the Dutch open up and some friendships may develop. It’s quite common to have lunch together or to have drinks after work every now and then. These are the perfect moments to get to know your Dutch colleagues better.

    → Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Then discover our vocabulary list for Talking About the Workplace, with useful audio recordings to improve your pronunciation.

4. Different Dutch Art Forms

The Netherlands has a diverse cultural sector with a wide range of art forms: painting, architecture, music, television, and more. The Dutch art scene has many home-grown influences, and has also been influenced by many other world cultures.

A- Dutch Painting

The Netherlands has quite the painting legacy, with artists like Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh lining the halls of its history. While the seventeenth century painter Rembrandt van Rijn is known for the Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) and his use of light and shadows, the nineteenth century painter Vincent van Gogh is known for the Sunflowers (Zonnebloemen) and his impact on the development of modern art. 

Other great painters from the Netherlands include still-life artist Johannes Vermeer and geometrical pioneer Piet Mondrian. 

If you want to see the masterpieces of these and other painters, you can visit one of the many museums in Amsterdam: 

  • Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt and Vermeer)
  • The Van Gogh Museum
  • The Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art)

There are great museums in other cities as well, such as the Haags Gemeentemuseum (Mondrian) and the Mauritshuis (Rembrandt and Vermeer) in the Hague. Another great option is the Kröller-Muller Museum (impressionism, expressionism) in Otterloo.   

B- Dutch Architecture

The Dutch love architecture, both old and new. In the Netherlands, you can enjoy a lot of architectural pearls, as the Dutch have mastered this art form. This is shown in the country’s architectural landscape, from Pieter Post and his Dutch Baroque works to the twenty-first century practitioners such as Rem Koolhaas. But let’s not forget the De Stijl architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld either, who designed The Schroeder House in Utrecht, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rotterdam Is a City with Amazing Modern Dutch Architecture.

C- Dutch Music

The first thing you should know about Dutch music culture is that the Dutch have a strange relationship with music from their home country. Some may not listen to it at all, some may prefer music from abroad, and still others may prefer Dutch music sung in English. Of course, there are also fans of Dutch music sung in Dutch, but the Dutch tend to listen more to foreign music. 

Let’s dissect the music scene a bit:

On the pop and rock music scene, you can find artists who sing in English (Anouk and Kane) and artists who sing in Dutch (Jan Smit and André Hazes). The latter type of music is labeled volksmuziek (“folk music”), and it’s highly sentimental. Other popular Dutch pop, rock, and indie artists that sing in Dutch include Eefje de Visser, Doe Maar, Bløf, and Spinvis.

There’s a booming Dutch hip hop (Nederhop) scene, where rappers like Fakkelbrigade rap in Dutch. 

Last but not least, we have to mention the Dutch influence on electronic music as well, with the most famous names being Tiesto and DJ Hardwell.

D- Dutch Television & Films

The Dutch film industry is relatively small and there is very little international interest in Dutch films. For these reasons, the industry depends greatly on state funding. Popular Dutch movies are: Turks Fruit, All Stars, Soldaat van Oranje, Ciske de Rat, and Alles is Liefde

On Dutch television, you can watch a lot of foreign programs (with Dutch subtitles) and a lot of Dutch sitcoms, game shows, and soaps. The most famous Dutch soap is Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden (“Good Times, Bad Times”), and a typical Dutch TV show is Boer Zoekt Vrouw (“Farmer Looks for Wife”). And yes, as the name implies, it’s a Dutch dating show for farmers.

5. Dutch Food 

Dutch cuisine has several influences from abroad, but there are also some authentic Dutch dishes and unique Dutch food products that you should definitely try when visiting the Netherlands.

A- Top 5 Dutch Dishes

Here is a selection of five delicious Dutch dishes you should definitely try:

  1. Bitterballen
    These deep-fried crispy meatballs are a popular Dutch pre-dinner snack that you’ll find on the menu of a lot of bars and even restaurants. They’re traditionally served with mustard.

  2. AVG
    AVG is short for Aardappelen, Vlees, en Groente (“Potatoes, Meat, and Vegetables”). This true Dutch classic is the base of every traditional Dutch meal.

  3. Stamppot
    Stamppot literally means “mash pot” and it’s a mix of mashed potato and vegetables such as kale, endive, cabbage, carrot, or sauerkraut. It’s often served with meat on the side (or sometimes mixed through) and gravy.

  4. Pannenkoeken
    Pannenkoeken, or Dutch “pancakes,” are thinner than the thick American pancakes but thicker than the French ones. They can be eaten with a wide range of toppings: syrup, powdered sugar (called poedersuiker in Dutch), apple, bacon, cheese, and many other savory or sweet toppings.

  5. Appeltaart
    The Dutch “apple pie” has a delicious cinnamon taste and its apple filling is mixed with raisins and sometimes even walnuts. The true Dutch “grandmother’s” apple pie, oma’s appeltaart, is a classic dessert or a perfect sweet snack during the day.

Would you like to learn how to order food in Dutch restaurants? Then have a look at this practical list of the Most Useful Phrases and Vocabulary for Ordering Food or this Restaurant vocabulary list.

B- Some Unique Dutch Products

Dutch cheese is a national pride. The Dutch simply love their cheese. They mainly eat it on bread—boterham met kaas (“slice of bread with cheese”)—but they also enjoy it as a snack, or blokjes kaas (“little cubes of cheese”). Next time you’re in the Netherlands, try the world-famous Dutch Goudse kaas (“Gouda cheese”). There are a lot of tasty Dutch cheeses to try, but Gouda is the true classic.

Do You Like Dutch Cheese?

You’ll also find that the Dutch have a sweet tooth, so there are a lot of unique Dutch sweets you should try: 

  • stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”) – the most famous Dutch cookie
  • hagelslag – sprinkles which the Dutch mainly use to sprinkle on their bread
  • drop (“liquorice”) – can be sweet or salty

Would you like to learn more about Dutch food? Then you can’t miss our tasty guide to traditional Dutch food.

6. Dutch Holidays 

Even a basic knowledge of the national holidays and traditions will give you a better understanding of the culture of the Netherlands. There are many different Dutch holidays, so we’ll just cover the most important ones here.

A- King’s Day

Koningsdag (“King’s Day”) is celebrated on April 27, three days before the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander. Prior to this, the holiday was called Koninginnedag (“Queen’s Day”) and celebrated on April 30. It’s a national holiday involving a lot of flea markets, parties, and traditional activities. Every year, the royal family visits a different city. 

    → Check out our King’s Day word list for useful vocabulary about this Dutch holiday!

B- Liberation Day

Bevrijdingsdag (“Liberation Day”) is when the Dutch celebrate their liberation during World War II. It has been celebrated on May 5 every year since 1945 and it was declared a national holiday in 1990. Many cultural activities are planned on this Dutch holiday, such as bevrijdingsfestivals (“Liberation Day festivals”) with music and other activities. 

    → Would you like to expand your Dutch vocabulary? Have a look at our Liberation Day word list and celebrate this holiday like a true Dutchie.

C- Sinterklaas

The Dutch have their own Santa Claus: Sinterklaas. Three weeks before December 5, he arrives by steamboat with his helpers de Pieten. Their arrival is shown live on television, but a lot of children and their parents also go to the docks to see it in person. For the next three weeks, Sinterklaas and his helpers visit children at school or leave behind some sweet treat during the night. Then on December 5 (his birthday), he comes by their houses with even more presents.

D- Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Kerst (“Christmas”) in the Netherlands is celebrated on December 25 (eerste kerstdag, “first Christmas day”) and December 26 (tweede kerstdag, “second Christmas day”). Both are national holidays, spent with family over a nice Christmas dinner (or lunch).

Oudejaarsavond (“Old Year’s Evening”) is mostly celebrated with family and/or friends. People eat oliebollen (“Dutch doughnuts”), drink some bubbles, and set off fireworks. The Dutch also have a crazy tradition on New Year’s Day, where people go to the beach to take a New Year’s Dive (nieuwjaarsduik) in the ice-cold seawater.

What Do You Like the Most about Dutch Culture?

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Dutch culture guide, you’ve learned the basics concerning Dutch culture and customs, from values and beliefs to relationships and food. Do you feel like you understand the Dutch culture a bit better? Do you think it will inspire you to improve your Dutch learning even more? We encourage you to make some use of the insight and knowledge we’ve provided here!

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and our multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources. Our aim is to help you understand the Dutch language and culture even more. 

Remember that you can also use the DutchPod101 Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching so that you can really master the Dutch language. You’ll have your own private teacher who will help you with your pronunciation, review your work, and discuss any Dutch cultural topic you want to know more about. 

Happy learning!

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A Tasty Guide to Traditional Dutch Food

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What better way to explore a culture than through its foods? You can’t say you know a country—or a language—if you don’t know something about the foods associated with it. So if you really want to get to know the Dutch, you must become familiar with Dutch food as well.

Dutch food and cuisine may not be the most famous and it may not be the most delicious either, but it does have its charm. It’s flavorful, it’s great for those chilly winter days, and it reflects how the Dutch love to enjoy life with a nice hot plate of soothing food, a savory snack, or something sweet. There’s something out there for every taste preference. 

Ready to dive into the unfamiliar world of traditional Dutch food with us?

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Dutch delicacies: from Dutch foods you must try in a restaurant to one of the best Dutch food recipes to make at home. 

Eet smakelijk! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Dishes in Dutch Restaurants
  2. Unique Dutch Products
  3. Food Vocabulary
  4. Bonus: A Simple Dutch Recipe For Those Delicious Stroopwafels
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Must-Try Dishes in Dutch Restaurants

While you’re in the Netherlands, it may be hard to find traditional Dutch food in most restaurants. As typical Dutch food isn’t very classy, the Dutch often prefer going to restaurants with cuisines from other countries. However, the old Dutch food is making a comeback, and you can find it more often (sometimes with a little twist) in the more hip-and-happening restaurants and bars. 

Below are some Dutch food specialties you should absolutely try if you stumble upon them on the menu! 

A- Appetizer

Bitterballen

Try This Ultimate Dutch Pub Snack!

Do you know what bitterballen are? They’re deep-fried crispy meatballs! 

It’s a delicious Dutch pre-dinner snack that’s very popular and found on the menu in many bars and restaurants. The Dutch love to eat it when they’re having some drinks or waiting for their meal. These delicious, deep-fried crispy meatballs are traditionally served with mustard. It’s truly the ultimate Dutch pub snack!

B- Main Course

Snert

Snert: The Perfect Dish After a Long, Cold Day.

Snert (“pea soup”) is a true traditional Dutch food. It’s a thick, hearty green stew of split peas, vegetables, and meat. 

The soup is mostly served a day after its preparation because that gives it time to thicken. While snert may not be the most attractive name for a dish, it’s actually a delicious soup that’s a meal in itself. This is a typical Dutch food item during the cold winter, especially popular after ice skating. It may be hard to find in Dutch restaurants, but you can still find it in some of the older places. Another name for snert is erwtensoep.

AVG

Are You a Fan of the Dutch AVG Classic?

AVG is short for Aardappel, Vlees, en Groente (“Potato, Meat, and Vegetables”). This might be the most classic thing to eat in the Netherlands as it’s the base of every traditional Dutch meal. It’s served in a lot of Dutch households, with the kind of meat or vegetables used differing from day to day. 

A lot of the traditional Dutch foods have been influenced by farmers, so the meals are quite simple yet tasty and filling—everything you need after a day of hard work in the outside air. Take the next dish, for example.

Stamppot

This Is a Dutch Hutspot, a Stamppot Variation with Carrot.

Stamppot literally means “mash pot” and it’s a mix of potato mash and vegetables that may or may not be leftovers. There are special combinations to accommodate different preferences. The vegetables typically used in this mix are kale, endive, cabbage, carrot, or sauerkraut. It’s often served with meat on the side (or sometimes mixed through) and gravy. This is the ultimate comfort food, and one of the most popular Dutch winter recipes. 

Hachee

When Would You Like to Eat Some Warm Hachee?

Hachee is a tasty Dutch stew with meat, fish, or poultry and vegetables in a thick gravy sauce with laurel leaves and cloves. It takes quite some time to make hachee, as it simmers for a long time—but this long process also results in a very tender meat. It’s an old Dutch food that was originally a peasant dish, invented to use up leftovers. 

As you might have noticed, its name sounds French. It comes from the French verb hacher which means “to chop,” referring to the preparation of the vegetables and meat.

Pannenkoeken

The Dutch Pancake Is Nothing Without Its Delicious Toppings!

Pannenkoeken, or Dutch “pancakes,” are different from any other type of pancake. They’re thinner and more crepe-like than the thick American pancakes but thicker than the French ones. 

What’s even better is that you can eat them with a wide range of toppings: syrup, powdered sugar (called poedersuiker in Dutch), apple, bacon, cheese, and a lot of other savory or sweet toppings. You can even find special all-you-can-eat pancake restaurants in the Netherlands. The Dutch typically eat pancakes for dinner, so it’s not a breakfast food like it is in some other countries.

But that’s not all! There’s another special variation of this traditional Dutch recipe: small pancakes called poffertjes. These are little fluffy round pancakes, often served with butter and powdered sugar. You may find them in pancake restaurants or street markets.

C- Dessert

Appeltaart

Discover Why the Dutch Apple Pie Really Is Different from All Other Versions Worldwide.

Appeltaart means “apple pie,” and the true Dutch “grandmother’s apple pie” (oma’s appeltaart) is a classic dessert and makes for the perfect sweet snack during the day. This apple pie has a delicious cinnamon taste and its apple filling is mixed with raisins and sometimes even walnuts. And if that’s not enough, it’s often served with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream. If you want to try a truly Dutch dessert, this is the way to go.

Vlaai

Don’t These Little Vlaaitjes Look Beautiful?

Vlaai is a sweet pie that originated from the province of Limburg, making it a real classic from the southern Netherlands. Its classic version has a yeast pie base, a filling of creamy custard, and a crumbly topping. However, nowadays, there are several different vlaai fillings: chocolate, rice pudding, apples, bananas, strawberries, and the list goes on. If you want to try a traditional Dutch vlaai, you have to try it in Limburg, the proud province of this special pie.

2. Unique Dutch Products


Now that you’ve learned about the must-try Dutch dishes, it’s time to dive into some lesser-known (but equally delicious!) foods in the Netherlands. The Dutch love to snack on sweet and savory foods alike, so let’s see what their favorites are! 

A- Sweet Foods

Stroopwafels

Do You Already Know This Classic Dutch Food?

The stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”) is definitely the most famous Dutch cookie, and it’s famous for a reason! If you were in the Netherlands and could only eat one Dutch sweet treat, then it should definitely be a stroopwafel

This cookie consists of two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup. If you can find a newly baked, hot stroopwafel at a street market or bakery, then go for it. If not, the supermarkets also sell them in packages and those are quite delicious as well.


Hagelslag

Dutch Sprinkles Are Great on a Slice of Bread.

Hagelslag are sprinkles, which the Dutch mainly use to sprinkle on their bread (although you can also use it on many other types of food). Chocolade hagelslag (“chocolate sprinkles”) are the most popular, but there are also other flavors. 

Imagine this: a nice fresh slice of bread with some butter (to keep the sprinkles on) and delicious hagelslag. Yes, the Dutchies know what they’re doing and how to enjoy their bread. They mostly eat this for breakfast or lunch. 

Drop

Will You Love Drop as Much as the Dutch Do?

Drop (“liquorice”) is an old Dutch food—and it may not be the liquorice you know and love. It can either be very sweet or very salty, making it versatile as a sweet or savory food. You might have to get used to the Dutch version of liquorice due to its strong flavors. The Dutch love their drop and will probably offer some to you in informal settings. Definitely try it, but be aware and approach it with caution.

Oliebollen

In the Netherlands, It’s Not NYE without an Oliebol.

Oliebollen literally translates to “oil balls.” Although it may not sound very delicious, this New Year’s Eve classic is a classic for a reason. 

They are deep-fried balls of dough dusted in powdered sugar; they taste quite like a donut. There are different varieties of the oliebol, and they can come with or without raisins inside. People make it in their homes on New Year’s Eve, but you can also buy them at food stands on the streets in December.

B- Savory Foods

Patat

What Sauce Would You Like on your Dutch Fries?

Patat are thick Dutch fries, but they’re like no fries you’ve eaten before. You can’t leave the Netherlands until you’ve tried some! They come in a cone and can be eaten with great combinations of sauces. 

The Dutch make the craziest combinations. For example:

  • patat speciaal (“special fries”) – fries with a mix of (curry)ketchup, mayonnaise, and onions
  • patatje oorlog (literally “little war fries”) – a mix of peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onions

Haring

Not Everybody's Favorite, but It Might become Your Favorite Dutch Food!

The rauwe haring (“raw herring”) is not everybody’s favorite, but this raw fish is a true Dutch classic! You should definitely give it a go. 

You can spot the haringkarren (“herring carts”) on a lot of busy streets. They serve haring met ui (“herring with onion”) or on bread with pickles and onions (broodje haring). The best time to eat haring in the Netherlands is between May and July, because the haring is sweetest during this time.

Gouda kaas

The Dutch Love Their Gouda Cheese.

Our unique Dutch food list wouldn’t be complete without the famous Dutch Goudse kaas (“Gouda cheese”). The Dutch are quite serious about their cheese and you’ll quickly notice this when visiting a Dutch cheese market, shop, or even a supermarket. 

There are a lot of tasty Dutch cheeses to try, but Gouda is the true classic. The Dutch mostly eat it on their bread, boterham met kaas (“slice of bread with cheese”), but they also enjoy it as a snack, blokjes kaas (literally “little cubes of cheese”). Needless to say, this goes perfectly with a nice cold beer.


3. Food Vocabulary

Now that you’re good and hungry, let’s go over some practical words and phrases you’ll need to talk about, order, and prepare food!

A- Talking About Food

  • Ik heb honger. (“I’m hungry.”)
  • Ik ben vol. (“I’m full.”)
  • Ik sterf van de honger! (“I’m starving!”)

  • Ik houd van kaas. (“I love cheese.”)
  • Ik vind kaas lekker. (“I like cheese.” / Literally: “I find cheese tasty.”)
  • Ik houd niet van kaas. (“I don’t like cheese.”) – The word used here means “love,” but in a casual way.
  • Ik vind kaas niet lekker. (“I don’t like cheese.”)

  • Ik eet geen vlees. (“I don’t eat meat.”)
  • Ik ben vegetariër/veganist. (“I am a vegetarian/vegan.”)
  • Ik ben allergisch voor noten. (“I’m allergic to nuts.”)

  • Mijn favoriete gerecht is stamppot. (“My favorite dish is stamppot.”)

B- Cooking

Ingredients

  • Zout (“Salt”)
  • Peper (“Pepper”)
  • Suiker (“Sugar”)
  • Water (“Water”)
  • Melk (“Milk”)
  • Olijfolie (“Olive oil”)
  • Eieren (“Eggs”)
  • Bloem (“Flour”)
  • Fruit (“Fruit”)
  • Groenten (“Vegetables”)
  • Vlees (“Meat”)

Utensils

  • Een pan (“A saucepan”)
  • Een koekenpan (“A frying pan”)
  • Een oven (“An oven”)
  • Een mes (“A knife”)
  • Een snijplank (“A cutting board”)

Cooking Verbs

  • Koken (“To cook”)
  • Stoven (“To stew”)
  • Bakken (“To bake”)
  • Braden (“To roast”)
  • Frituren (“To fry”)
  • Snijden (“To cut” / “To slice”)
  • Schillen (“To peel”)
  • Raspen (“To grate”)

C- Ordering Food

  • Het menu. (“The menu.”)
  • Een tafel voor twee. (“A table for two.”)
  • Een glas water, alsjeblieft. (“A glass of water, please.”)
  • Een voorgerecht (“A starter”)
  • Een hoofdgerecht (“A main course”)
  • Een dessert (“A dessert”)

A dessert can also be called nagerecht, literally meaning “after dish.” This makes sense, seeing as voorgerecht literally means “before dish.”

  • De rekening. (“The bill.”)
  • De fooi. (“The tip.”)

4. Bonus: A Simple Dutch Recipe For Those Delicious Stroopwafels

Have you tried stroopwafels already and gotten hooked? Or would you love to try them someday but won’t be traveling to the Netherlands anytime soon? Either way, treat yourself at home with one of the best Dutch food recipes you could imagine!

Hold your horses, you do need a waffle cone machine or waffle iron for this recipe. Do you have one at home? Lucky you. Now you can try this delicious Dutch recipe at home.

Preparation time: 40-65 minutes
Baking time: 10-20 minutes

Ingredients

For the waffles:

  • 500 grams of flour
  • 250 grams of melted butter
  • 150 grams of white caster sugar
  • 50 grams of yeast
  • a little bit of lukewarm milk
  • an egg

For the filling:

  • 500 grams of syrup
  • 300 grams of dark brown sugar
  • 75 grams of butter
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Preparation

There are two secrets to preparing the best stroopwafel:

    ★ You can only process the waffles warm, otherwise they break. 
    ★ The butter and sugar have to be worked through the syrup, making it even stiffer and stickier.

The preparation also consists of two parts: baking the waffles and making the filling. 

Make a batter with the waffle ingredients; it will be a fairly firm mass that you’ll have to knead together. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes, preferably in a moist-warm place. Knead it again and then divide the dough into small balls.

Then prepare the filling. Heat the syrup and mix in the other ingredients. 

Then put a ball of dough into a waffle iron and bake it on both sides. Use a knife to lift the waffle out of the iron and cut the waffle open while it’s still warm. Yes, this is the tricky part. If you wait too long, the waffle will break. Spread the filling on one waffle half and press the other half onto it.

Eet smakelijk! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Enjoy Your Meal!

5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned all about Dutch cuisine, from the must-try Dutch dishes to a delicious stroopwafel recipe.

Did we forget any typical Dutch food you know of? If so, feel free to drop us a comment below! 

Would you like to learn more Dutch food recipes or receive a bit of help in discovering more about the wonderful world of Dutch food?

DutchPod101 has multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources that will help you discover traditional Dutch food and cuisine. Practice those useful words and let your taste buds take you on a wild ride of delicious Dutch food.

If you’d like to boost your language studies, you can also use DutchPod101’s Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. Your own personal teacher can help you discover even more about Dutch food and cuisine with one-on-one coaching. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, your teacher will also help you increase your understanding of the Dutch language and culture. 

Happy learning (and happy dining)!

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A Guide to Dutch Grammar Rules

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Are you thinking about learning Dutch and wondering what to study first? Or are you already studying Dutch but getting a bit lost in the Dutch grammar

Then you’re in the right place! This comprehensive Dutch grammar overview from DutchPod101 is the perfect place to start your studies or refresh yourself on the basics. 

This one page contains a breakdown of the concepts of Dutch grammar you really need to know, including the more difficult aspects. You’ll walk away from this lesson with a greater understanding of Dutch, from word types and tenses to tips on avoiding the most common Dutch grammar mistakes.

It may be a challenge, but we know you can face it with the best tool in town!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Verbs & Tenses
  3. Dutch Nouns
  4. Gender & Articles
  5. Avoid the Most Common Dutch Grammar Mistakes
  6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. General Rules

Let’s start on a positive note: From a grammatical perspective, the Dutch language has a lot in common with both English and German. It has similar types of words, a lot of loanwords from these languages (but also from others, such as French and Hebrew; nearly one-third of the Dutch language is borrowed), and many similar grammatical structures.

As you can see, knowing either English or German will help you a lot when studying Dutch grammar. 

Dutch Word Types

Like most Germanic languages, Dutch has the following word types:

  • Articles (indefinite or definite):
    De kat (“The cat”)
  • Nouns:
    De kat (“The cat“)
  • Verbs:
    Wij lopen. (“We walk.”)
  • Adjectives (used to describe a noun):
    De kleine kat (“The little cat”)
  • Adverbs (used to describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb):
    Ik ga morgen naar school. (“I will go to school tomorrow.”)

  • Pronouns (singular or plural):
    Wij lopen. (“We walk.”)

  • Conjunctions (used to connect words or phrases)
    Een hond en een kat (“A dog and a cat”)

  • Prepositions (followed by nouns, verbs, or pronouns)
    De hond is in het huis. (“The dog is in the house.”)

So when you compare Dutch grammar with English grammar, you can see that all of these word types have a direct equivalent in English.

Dutch Word Order

In Dutch grammar, the word order for the most basic sentences consists of a subject and a verb:

Subject + Verb

  • Ik praat. (“I talk.”)
  • De jongen verft. (“The boy paints.”)

In Dutch, the subject is almost never dropped; the sentence structure is simply not complete without the subject.

    → How do you make a negative sentence? Place the word niet (“not”) AFTER the verb.

So that’s step one. Let’s make it a bit more complicated by adding an object. The (direct) object in Dutch is usually placed right after the verb.

Subject + Verb + (Direct) Object

  • Ik praat met mijn vader. (“I talk to my father.”)
  • De jongen verft de deur. (“The boy paints the door.”)

These are direct objects because they’re a person or thing that is directly affected by the actions of the subject. But in Dutch, there are also indirect objects, which are a person or thing that is somehow involved in the action.

The indirect object can be placed after the direct object.

Subject + Verb + Direct object + Indirect object 

  • Ik praat met mijn vader over ons huis. (“I talk to my father about our home.”)
  • De jongen verft de deur met verf. (“The boy paints the door with paint.”)

DutchPod101 also has a comprehensive Dutch Word Order Guide. Make sure to check it out for more detailed information on how this works!

2. Verbs & Tenses

Learning Verbs

In Dutch grammar, verbs conjugate for number (singular and plural) and person (first, second, and third person), just like they do in English. For reference, here’s a table of the grammatical persons in singular and plural:

SingularPlural
First PersonIk (“I”)Wij (“We”)
Second PersonJij (“You,” casual) 
U (“You,” formal)
Jullie (“You”)
Third PersonHij (“He”)
Zij (“She”)
Het (“It”)
Zij (“They”)

It may be a bit overwhelming at first, but let’s just go through the basics, step-by-step.

The Infinitive

What’s the infinitive in Dutch? Well, a Dutch infinitive verb is the plural and present tense of a verb (also known as the entire verb). They usually end with -en, as in lopen (“to walk”). 

Before the Dutch infinitive, you can almost always put Ik kan (“I can”): 

  • Ik kan fietsen.
    “I can cycle.”

or 

  • Ik kan werken.
    “I can work.”

Conjugation Basics

Let’s give you a quick overview of the eight basic tenses that exist in Dutch.

There are two main tenses: the present and the past. 

Then, there are six “semi-tenses” that appear when these two main tenses (present or past) interact with a mood (factual or hypothetical) or an aspect (temporary or continuing).

The eight tenses of the verb Praten (“To talk”)
1.
Onvoltooid tegenwoordige tijd 
(“Present Simple”)
Ik praat“I talk”
2.
Onvoltooid verleden tijd 
(“Past Simple”) 
Ik praatte“I talked”
3.
Voltooid tegenwoordige tijd 
(“Present Perfect”)
Ik heb gepraat“I have talked”
4.
Voltooid verleden tijd 
(“Past Perfect”)
Ik had gepraat“I had talked”
5.
Onvoltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd 
(“Future Simple”)
Ik zal praten“I will talk”
6.
Voltooid tegenwoordige toekomende tijd 
(“Future Perfect”)
Ik zal hebben gepraat“I will have talked”
7.
Onvoltooid verleden toekomende tijd 
(“Conditional”)
Ik zou praten“I would talk”
8.
Voltooid verleden toekomende tijd 
(“Conditional Perfect”)
Ik zou hebben gepraat“I would have talked”

Please note that praten is a regular verb, meaning it follows the normal conjugation rules. Things get a bit more complicated when you throw irregular verbs into the mix!

The 2 Most Important Verbs


Now that you know the basics of Dutch conjugation, let’s have a look at two crucial verbs. The first one, unfortunately, is irregular and doesn’t follow normal conjugation rules:

  • Zijn (“To be”)

    Ik ben (“I am”) / Jij bent (“You are,” singular) / Hij is (“He is”) / Wij zijn (“We are”) / Jullie zijn (“You are,” plural) / Zij zijn (“They are”)

    For example: Ik ben gelukkig. (“I’m happy.”)

The second one, luckily, is a regular verb:
  • Hebben (“To have”)

    Ik heb (“I have”) / Jij hebt (“You have,” singular) / Hij heeft (“He has”) / Wij hebben (“We have”) / Jullie hebben (“You have,” plural) / Zij hebben (“They have”)

    For example: Wij hebben een kat. (“We have a cat.”)

Want to learn more? Have a look at our vocabulary list of the 50 Most Common Verbs and our Beginner’s Guide to Dutch Conjugation

3. Dutch Nouns

In the Dutch language, a given noun can be singular or plural, and each noun has a grammatical gender. The gender isn’t overtly marked, so it has to be learned for every case. However, we’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to recognize the gender (and thus, the correct article) in the next section.

The Dutch Plural

Do You Already Know How to Make Dutch Nouns Plural

The Dutch plural is made by changing the end of the word, similarly to how English plurals are formed. The most common way to make a noun plural is by adding -en or -s.

Most of the time, we add -en:

SingularPlural
Kat (“Cat”)Katten (“Cats”)
Kus (“Kiss”)Kussen (“Kisses”)

However, sometimes we add -s. For example, when the word ends with an -en, -el, -em, or -er:

SingularPlural
Tante (“Aunt”)Tantes (“Aunts”)
Appel (“Apple”)Appels (“Apples”)

When a relatively modern noun ends in a long vowel, an -‘s (with an apostrophe) is often used in the plural. What if they end in -ee or ? Then no apostrophe is used. Older words generally use -en or -ën (with diaeresis).

SingularPlural
Baby (“Baby”)Baby´s (“Babies”)
Café (“Bar”)Cafés (“Bars”)
Ree (“Deer”)Reeën (“Deer”)

But there are also other, less common endings for plural nouns: -eren and -a.

  • Het kind (“The child”) is singular. / De kinderen (“The children”) is plural.
    Het museum (“The museum”) is singular. / De musea (“The museums”) is plural.

There are more rules and exceptions, but let’s just stick with the basics for now.

The Dutch Diminutive

The Dutch love to use the diminutive, and not only for small things. Really, it can be used for anything that’s cute, funny, sweet, young, old, or even annoying. 

The basic formula for the diminutive is noun + je:

  • Het kindje (“The little child”)

Only a -je is added when the word ends with: -b, -c, -d, -f, -g, -ch, -k, -p, -q, -s, -sj, -t, -v, -x, or -z.

However, sometimes the diminutive is formed with -tje, -etje, -pje, or -kje.

Is the vowel of the last syllable both short and stressed, and followed by a sonorant? Then use -etje:

  • Het dingetje (“The little thing”)
  • Het vriendinnetje (“The little girlfriend”)

In almost all other cases, the basic form -tje is used:

  • Het vrouwtje (“The little woman”)
  • Het schooltje (“The little school”)
Diminutives in Dutch Are Perfect for When You Like Someone.

4. Gender & Articles

De and het are both definite articles that mean “the.” The masculine and feminine words generally get de, while all neuter words get het. Let’s have a look:

MasculineFeminineNeuter
Definite singularDe man (“The man”)De vrouw (“The woman”)Het huis (“The house”)
Definite pluralDe mannen (“The men”)De vrouwen (“The women”)De huizen (“The houses”)
Indefinite singularEen man (“A man”)Een vrouw (“A woman”)Een huis (“A house”)

However, there’s not always a good explanation for why a Dutch word has a specific gender—not to mention that Dutch words don’t have a clear gender indication. Luckily, there are a few indications that can help you:

  • All words referring to persons (individuals) are de-words. 
    • de voetballer (“the football player”) / de president (“the president”)
  • All plural words get de
    • de katten (“the cats”) / de stoelen (“the chairs”)
  • All words made smaller with (e)(t/d)je are neuter. 
    • het kindje (“the little child”) / het bloemetje (“the little flower”)
  • Words ending with -el or -er are often de-words.
    • de tafel (“the table”) / de bakker (“the baker”)
  • All infinitive verbs that are used as a noun have the neuter het.
    • het fietsen (“the cycling”) / het schrijven (“the writing”)
  • Words with standard prefixes like ge-, ver-, ont-, and be- and without an -ing ending are neuter.
    • het verhaal (“the story”) / het ontslag (“the resignation”)
  • Almost all words with the standard suffixes -ing, -ij, -ie, -e, and -heid are feminine.
    • de politie (“the police”) / de schoonheid (“the beauty”) / de drukkerij (“the printing company”) / de dame (“the lady”)

5. Avoid the Most Common Dutch Grammar Mistakes

Are you feeling confident with the Dutch grammar basics so far? 

If so, great! And if not, don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it with time.

Before we close, let’s have a look at some of the most common Dutch grammar mistakes that learners make. Knowing what to watch for will greatly help you come to grips with the language!

Dt-ending

Although the Dutch present tense might look easy, one of the most common Dutch grammar mistakes is to misuse the dt-ending. The dt-ending is used on verbs that have a -d root ending, when they’re used with certain subjects. 

So how do you get the root of your verb? You simply remove the -en ending of the infinitive (the plural and present tense of the verb). So in this case, fiets is the root of fietsen and antwoord of antwoorden.

SubjectFietsen present tense (“to cycle”)Antwoorden present tense (“to reply”)
Ik (“I”)fietsantwoord
Jij, u (“You”)fietstantwoordt
Hij, zij, het (“He, she, it”)fietstantwoordt
Wij (“We”)fietsenantwoorden
Zij (“They”)fietsenantwoorden

As you can see, in the verb antwoorden, because the root ends with a -d, it becomes -dt in the “You” and “He, she, it” subjects. And in fietsen, because the root ends with an -s (and not a -d), only a -t is added.

It may be good to look over a few different conjugation charts to really get this concept ingrained in your memory! 

Yes/No Questions

Let’s Master Those Yes/No Questions in Dutch.

One thing that tends to be difficult about Dutch grammar for English speakers is how similar the two languages are. This can make it tempting to apply English grammar rules to Dutch, even when it’s incorrect to do so. For example, using the Dutch word doe (“to do”) in yes/no questions is grammatically incorrect; the Dutch don’t use the auxiliary “do” in questions.

Let’s see some examples:

Example 1: “Do you like dancing?”

  • Correct: Houd je van dansen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij houden van dansen?

Example 2: “Do you want to marry me?”

  • Correct: Wil je met me trouwen?
  • Wrong: Doe jij met me willen trouwen?

Let’s have a look at the correct word order:

Working verb + Subject + (Object +) Other verb ?

Some simple examples:

  • Kom je? (“Are you coming?”)
  • Werkt hij? (“Does he work?”)

For more question examples, don’t forget to have a look at our Top 25 Questions You Need to Know!

Splitting Verbs

The Dutch love to use a lot of verbs in their sentences and split them: one part of the verb will be at the beginning of the sentence and other parts will be at the end. 

So try to be aware of this. Be cautious when using the present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs, as you may need to add a verb at the end of the sentence.

Let’s have a look at the sentence structure for these tenses:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

Here’s an example for each of the six Dutch tenses that can require a verb at the end of the sentence:

  • Present perfect: De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd. (“The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Past perfect: De jongen had in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf geverfd. (“The boy had painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future simple: De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven. (“The boy will paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Future perfect: De jongen zal in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd. (“The boy will have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional: De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf verven. (“The boy would paint the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)
  • Conditional perfect: De jongen zou in het huis de gele deur met zwarte verf hebben geverfd. (“The boy would have painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”)

Are you just beginning your Dutch studies? Then don’t worry too much about this! First, have a look at this useful lesson series on the Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners.

6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Dutch grammar rules guide, you’ve learned a lot of essential Dutch grammar concepts, from general rules to some useful tips on how to avoid common Dutch grammar mistakes.

Whether you’re just starting Dutch or strengthening your knowledge, you can use this overview as a useful guide whenever you need quick access to the basic Dutch grammar rules. Did we forget any important Dutch grammar topic you would like to learn more about?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com! Boost your studies with our useful vocabulary lists and plenty of other free resources to practice your language skills with. We are the best place to learn about Dutch grammar online!

Would you like some personal one-on-one coaching? Then check out our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. We’ll connect you with a private teacher who will help you improve your Dutch grammar through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

Happy learning!

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