The Dutch kind of Humanitarian Aid – Bikes for Refugees!

Posted on 30. Mar, 2015 by in Culture, News, Politics

What could be more Dutch to give than… fietsen? The Dutch Minister voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (Minister for Development Cooperation) Ploumen visited a refugee camp in Jordan, the Al Za’Atari camp, to be precise. Most of these are refugees from Syria, and the camp has been there for 3 years now. People start living there, rather than just searching refuge for a little while. Shopping streets emerged, and distances got longer.

So, one needs an easy and quick way to move. A Dutch person does not have to think long: de fiets! And so our Minister went to the camp and brought with her 1250 fietsen! And it does not only give the inhabitants of the camp a faster way to get to different places, but it also creates jobs! What if the fietsketting is broken? What if you have a lekke band? Or a losse spaak? A lot can break, and thus fietsenmakers are needed – people that will repair your bike! Locals take on the job, and so more find a worthwhile profession.

The idea is that the bikes will be rented out – another kind of business. It also ensures that everybody can benefit from them.

This is in Maastricht. Soon in Jordan too? (Image by FaceMePLS at

For a news report on this, check out this link.

Where did all these bikes come from? She brought them with her from Amsterdam. Bikes that are stalled at places where it is not allowed are sometimes taken away by the gemeente (municipality). They are then stored away, and the rightful owner can get the bike back. These bikes, however, were never retrieved – and now serve a great cause!

On top of these bikes, the Netherlands also gives 147 million euros for this dire humanitarian situation. Water is short, schools are very full, and more refugees are still on their way.

The Netherlands plans to help the infrastructure of the area with this money and with its Dutch expertise of city and infrastructure planning – starting with the bikes? We will see!

What do you think about this idea? Do you like biking, and do you think it is a good alternative to a car or public transportation?

Dutch Afkortingen (Abbreviations)!

Posted on 25. Mar, 2015 by in Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Every language has many afkortingen (abbreviations) to make… well, everything shorter! But what means what? Below some valuable abbreviations of Dutch words and expressions!

An afkorting?! Shortcuts and abbreviations – making life easier and faster! (Image by garycycles at

Alstublieft a.u.b. (also s.v.p.) – please

Afbeelding – afb. – picture

Aanstaande a.s. - upcoming

Bijvoorbeeld - bijv. - for example

Circa – ca. – approximately

Door middel van d.m.v. - by means of

Dat wil zeggen d.w.z. – … which means

En andere – e.a. - and others

en dergelijke e.d. - and the like

enzovoort – enz. - and so on

in opdracht van – i.o.v. - commissioned by

in plaats van – i.p.v. – in lieu of

in verband met – i.v.m. – in connection with

jongstleden – jl. – recently

m.a.w. – met andere woorden - in other words

m.b.t. – met betrekking tot - with regard to

m.i.v. – met ingang van - as of (e.g. a certain date)

m.n. – met name - in particular

m.u.v. – met uitzondering van - excluding

n.a.v. – naar aanleiding van - following (e.g. an event)

nr. – nummer – number

o.a. – onder andere(n) - including/among other(s)

p.p. – per persoon - per person

t.a.v. – ter attentie van - to the attention of

t.b.v. – ten behoeve van - for the benefit of

t.n.v. – ter name van – in the name of

t.o.v. – ten opzichte van - in comparison to

vlg. – volgende - next

vnl. – voornamelijk - predominantly

z.o.z. – zie ommezijde - see overleaf

z.s.m. – zo spoedig mogelijk - ASAP (as soon as possible).

Now, these official afkortingen are all nice and great, and you will see them in many places. But what about the more colloquial ones, the ones we use to tell how much we love our partner, the ones we use to just quickly write a message? In Dutch, many of these use English afkortingen, that everyone understands.

SMS - text. Well, yes. SMS’en means texting. Although, nowadays, people are more into appen, which refers to sending a message via services like Whatsapp. 

hvj hou van jou! - I love you!

w8 - wacht - wait/hold on

ff - even - for a moment. This is used a lot, as for example w8 ff, which means: hold on for a sec!

brb – be right back - be right back, or, as you would say in Dutch, ik ben er zo weer.

biw ben ik weer – I am back again. This would be the message when you come back from a brb.

btw - by the way – by the way. Yes. Dutch use it too!

gtg – got to go – got to go. Yep, again.

There are endless of such English afkortingen that are also used in Dutch. Very useful!


What kind of abbreviations do you use in your language?



Why We Do What We Do

Posted on 24. Mar, 2015 by in Dutch Grammar

Part of communicating is explaining why we do something. This “why” could refer to our motivation, to explain more or be more specific, or even something as simple as to the function of things.

In Dutch, this can be explained with the words om + te +  _______ (infinitief).

If I want to explain why I am studying the language, I can say

Ik studeer Nederlands om beter te begrijpen.

If I want why I am choosing a particular beach for vacation, I can say

Marseille is een leuke stad om op vakantie te gaan.

If I want to explain how I use a device in the kitchen, I can say

Ik gebruik het koffieapparaat ook om met warm water thee te makken. 

The combination of om with te + infinitief already alerts the listener or reader as to why you are doing something. A common mistake from English speakers might be to use voor instead of om. This is understandable given the use of “for” in English. However, it is incorrect even if your listener/reader is be able to understand what you are saying.

The following video shows a new device ambulances in the Netherlands can use. Try answering the questions that follow.

YouTube Preview Image

Wat doet het apparaat?

Hoe kan het apparaat de mensen helpen?

Waarom denk je dat ambulancepersoneel hun baan doen?