Dutch Words That Come in Handy

dutchwordsDutch words are both unique and fascinating. What is most interesting is that it is so similar to English while at the same time being in the German family. In other words, you will have a huge advantage if you speak both languages. While leaning more towards German, it is more or less halfway between the two. If you are serious about learning Dutch, here is one course that can help you get started.

To start, here are a few Dutch words that look identical to English words and even have the same meaning:

  • Baker
  • Bad
  • Arts
  • Arm
  • Bevel
  • Belt
  • Chef
  • Beer
  • Been
  • Dozen
  • Beef
  • Bar
  • Bank
  • Band
  • Blank
  • Big
  • Door
  • Diner

To be honest, the similarities of English and Dutch words are quite astounding to those who have just discovered this for the first time. For instance, all shops in the Netherlands have signs that say ‘open.’ These are not English signs. Rather, the Dutch word for ‘open’ is exactly the same as the English word. Other native Dutch words that mean the same thing and sound similar include ‘sinds’ which means ‘since’ and ‘doe’ which means ‘do.’ There are also words such as the term ‘week’ that are written in the same way but have a different pronunciation.   Here is an article about speaking Dutch like a native that may get you to places you never imagined. After all, tourists who don’t speak Dutch are limited by the language barrier and end up following a guidebook.

Question Words

Knowing Dutch will help you speak to the locals and get more information about where to go on your trip to the Netherlands.  Naturally, the moment you get there, you will need to know how to ask questions. Here are a few handy question words:

  • Isn’t It? Niet Waar?
  • Which? Welke?
  • Where From? Waar vandaan?
  • Where to? Waar naartoe?
  • Where? Waar?
  • How? Hoe?
  • When? Wanneer?
  • Why? Waarom?
  • What?Wat?
  • Who? Wie?

Here are the words for directions:

  • West: West
  • East: Oost
  • South: Zuid
  • North: Noord

Days of the Week

Knowing the Dutch words for days of the week can help you create schedules and book flights appropriately.

  • Sunday-Zondag
  • Saturday-Zaterdag
  • Friday-Vrijdag
  • Thursday-Donderdag
  • Wednesday-Woensdag
  • Tuesday-Dinsdag
  • Mondy-Maandag
  • Weekly-Wekelijks
  • Daily-Dagelijks
  • Weekend-Weekend
  • Last week-Afgelopen week
  • Week-Week
  • Day before yesterday-Eergisteren
  • Day after tomorrow-Overmorgen
  • Yesterday-Gisteren
  • Tonight-Deze Nacht
  • Tomorrow-Morgen
  • Today-Vandaag
  • Night-Nacht
  • Evening-Avond
  • Afternoon-Middag
  • Morning-Ochtend
  • Day-Dag

While we are on the topic, here are words for seasons and months:

  • Autumn: Het Najaar or De Herfst
  • Summer: De Zomer
  • Spring: Het Voorjaar or De Lente
  • Winter: De Winter
  • The Months
  • Yearly: Jaarlijks
  • Month: Maand
  • Last Year: Het afgelopen jaar
  • Monthly: Maandelijks
  • Year: Jaar
  • December: December
  • November: November
  • October: Oktober
  • September: September
  • August: Augustus
  • June: Juni
  • July: Juli
  • May: Mei
  • April: April
  • March: Maart
  • February: Februari
  • January:Januari

It doesn’t hurt to know a few number terms as well:

  • 0: Nul
  • 1: Een
  • 2: Twee
  • 3: Drie
  • 4: Vier
  • 5: Vijf
  • 6: Zes
  • 7: Zeven
  • 8: Acht
  • 9: Negen
  • 10: Tien

Letter Combinations

In the language of the Dutch, the ‘ij’ letter combination is considered as one. Its value is the same as the letter ‘y.’ Some Dutch indexes and dictionaries insert the ‘ij’ letter combination in the space where ‘y’ is supposed to be while others place it where ‘I’ and ‘j’ are in. Keep in mind that when you see a town or name that begins with the letter ‘ij,’ you will need to treat this pair as one letter and capitalize both. Since this is seen as a single letter, capitalizing both is just logical, don’t you think?

In Dutch, the ‘oo’ sound like in the word ‘root’ comes from the letter combination of ‘oe.’ The letter combination of ‘sch’ is pronounced as the sound of the letter ‘s’ followed by a hard sound of ‘ch.’ Depending on which dialect in the Netherlands the people are speaking, the sound of ‘w’ is halfway between the English ‘w’ and the German ‘vw.’ At the end of the words, the ‘n’ is not pronounced. So when you see verbs such as gesproken, you only say ‘gesproke.’  Phonetics really comes in handy when you are trying to make yourself understood, such as when using these phrases:

  • Could you please repeat that? Kan u dat alstublieft herhalen?
  • I speak a bit of Dutch: Ik spreek en beetje Nederlands
  • I don’t understand: Ik versta het niet
  • Please speak more slowly: Alsjeblieft, spreek langzamer
  • I don’t speak Dutch: Ik spreek geen Nederlands
  • Do you speak Dutch? Spreek je Nederlands?

Useful Words

Dutch happens to be a Germanic language along with Norwegian, Swedish, Afrikaans, Danish, Frisian, English and German. It is related very closely to a language called Low German, which is the northern Germany dialect. As a matter of fact, the Dutch-German traditional dialects along the border are almost the same. Here is a course on learning the German language as well, which may come in handy if you happen to be a frequent traveler. Words for nouns, which are people, places and things, are either classified as neuter or common.  Here are some useful words that could come in handy:

  • Perhaps: Misschien
  • Already: Al
  • Another: Een Ander
  • Much: Veel
  • Also: Ook
  • There: Daar
  • Here: Hier
  • Very: Zeer, Heel
  • Or: Of
  • But: Maar
  • And: En
  • Now: Nu
  • Usually: Gewoonlijk
  • Often: Dikwijls, Vaak
  • Never: Nooit
  • Always: Altijd
  • Sometimes: Soms

It won’t hurt to know some words for shapes and color either:

  • Crescent: Halvemaan
  • Diamond: Diamant
  • Star: Ster
  • Heart: Hart
  • Cylinder: Cylinder
  • Cone: Kegel
  • Pyramid: Piramide
  • Cube: Kubus
  • Sphere: Bol
  • Box: Vak
  • Oval: Ovaal
  • Rectangle: Rechthoek
  • Triangle: Driehoek
  • Circle: Cirkel
  • Square: Vierkant
  • Dark: Donker
  • Light: Licht
  • Beige: Beige
  • Goid: Goud
  • Zilver: Silver
  • Green: Groen
  • White: Wit
  • Gray: Grijs
  • Brown: Bruin
  • Black: Zwart
  • Red: Rood
  • Yellow: Geel
  • Blue: Blauw
  • Purple: Paars
  • Pink: Roze
  • Orange: Oranje

Everyday Conversation

Words such as please and thank you are regularly used in various ways in everyday Dutch interaction and conversation, even in settings that are very casual. As a tourist, you really ought to follow suit.

The informal Dutch word for ‘please’ is ‘alsjeblieft’ while the formal version is ‘alstublieft.’ Used very frequently, these words mean differently in various contexts. For instance, in the situation when you are in a coffee shop and ask for one coffee, the server may serve this to you and say ‘alstublieft.’ In this case, he does not mean ‘please,’ but rather more like ‘if you please’ or ‘here you are.’

The Dutch phrase for an informal ‘thank you very much’ is ‘dank je wel’ while the formal version is dahnk oo vel, ‘  The most usual phrase for thanking others, the informal Dutch phrase is used for friends and family and the formal version is for using with people you don’t know very well.  Of course, it is also fine just to say ‘dank u’ for thanking someone casually; you can also use the phrase ‘bedankt’ which is appropriate for every situation.

When you want to say ‘excuse me’ in Dutch, the word is ‘pardon,’ just like the English word. This term is used to be polite as you pass through crowds of people or to get someone’s attention. Of course, if you feel that starting a conversation is intimidating, you can always start by talking about the weather:

  • It’s freezing: Het vriest
  • It’s raining: Het regent
  • It’s snowing: Het sneeuwt
  • Foggy: Het is mistig
  • Humid: Het is vochtig
  • Muggy: Het is benauwd/drukkend
  • Hazy: Het is mistig
  • Cloudy: Het is bewolkt
  • Windy: Het is windig
  • Warm: Het is warm
  • Icy: Het is ijzig
  • Clear: Het is helder
  • Hot: Het is heet
  • Beautiful: Het is mooi
  • It’s cold: Het is koud
  • How is the weather today? Wat voor weer is het vandaag?

Once you feel that you can take on more phrases, here are a few expressions that you can practice saying to help you become more fluent:

  • To feel like: Zin hebben
  • To be sleepy: Slaap Hebben
  • To need: Nodig hebben
  • To be bothered by: Last Hebben van
  • To be warm/ cold: Het koud warm/ hebben
  • To be busy: Het druk hebben
  • To talk about: Het hebben over
  • To be in a hurry: Haast hebben
  • Gelijk hebben: To be right
  • Dorst hebben/ honger: to be thirsty/hungry
  • To be in order: Voor elkaar zijn
  • To intend: van plan zijn
  • To be about to: Op het punt staan
  • To have lost: Kwijt zijn
  • To have a birthday: Jarig zijn
  • That’s/It’s a pity: Dat/het is jammer

Dutch Greetings

The first words you will most likely hear the moment your airplane lands are greetings. You will hear the Dutch greet visitors and each other with a few phrases and words. When greeted, it is customary to return the sentiment. Here is that Dutch language course mentioned earlier, which you might want to take to help you get even more familiar with their words.

The Dutch word for ‘Hello’ is ‘Hallo.’ This is pronounced the way it is spelled and is the universal greeting appropriate for almost any place or time. A more formal greeting would be ‘goedemorgen’ which is the Dutch term for ‘good morning.’ This greeting is more appropriate for strangers and is used most commonly in hotels, restaurants, shops and museums. In the same manner, saying ‘good evening’ or ‘good afternoon’ would then be ‘goedenavond’ or ‘goedemiddag’ respectively.

The Dutch use the word ‘hoi’ when they are saying ‘hi.’ This is a greeting that is somewhat more causal and used more with persons you are already familiar with.  To make it easier for you, here is a quick list of the most common Dutch greetings:

  • Hello:Hallo
  • Goodbye:Doei
  • Thank you: Dank u wel
  • Please: Alstublieft
  • How are you? Hoe gaat het?
  • Good night: Slaap lekker
  • Good afternoon: Goedemiddag
  • Good morning: Goedemorgen
  • See you later: Tot ziens
  • I am lost: Ik ben verdawaal
  • I am sick: Ik ben ziek
  • Where do you come from? Waar komt u vandaan?
  • What’s your name: Hoe heet u?

Hope this article helped! Remember that no matter what time of year you happen to be going to the Netherlands, it is always a good idea to take a travel safety course such as this one which is perfect for frequent students, international travelers or frequent travelers. As a matter of fact, globetrotters may also love this course on traveling with confidence and courage.