A Few Dutch Words You Can’t Go Without Posted by Sten on Sep 19, 2016 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary
Who doesn’t like travelling? I think we all do! And we all want to make a good impression on the natives. A good way to do that is by speaking some of their words! If you are a beginner in Dutch, and you just want to have some short, but important words, then look no further!
The Netherlands is a country in which many people speak English fluently, or can at least have a conversation with you. However, they still prefer their own Nederlands (Dutch), and so if you speak a few words in Nederlands, they will be super happy about that! Why?
For one, not everyone speaks English, and so it is nice that you can also communicate with them a little, if you would come across them.
What about the others, that speak English fine already anyway? Well, even if you do not pronounce the Dutch words perfectly, the Dutch will appreciate your effort to speak the language! It shows that you are interested in their culture and country. After all, a language IS culture!
Probably the most important word in the Dutch language. Gezellig means “cosy”. A fire can be nice and warm. And while it means cosy, it also means much more. It also has flavours of “fun”, “enjoyable”, “nice”, “pleasant”. Sitting together, having some koffie (coffee) and just chit-chatting is gezellig. Simply enjoying time with friends or loved ones can already be gezellig! An atmosphere can also be gezellig. If a place has a comforting, warm atmosphere, you can call it gezellig, too! If you go to the Netherlands, you cannot go around this word.
Telling someone hello is a great way to start a conversation, especially in the native language!
Goede morgen works until noon, and after 12, you can say goede middag (good afternoon), and after 5PM or 6PM, whenever it gets dark, you can use goedenavond (good evening) and at night (say, after 10, 11PM), you can use goedenacht (good night). Heed the n in goedenavond! Originally, all of these forms had an n after goede, but because it was hard to pronounce with a medeklinker (consonant) right after, they fell away. Because there was the klinker (vowel) a in goedenavond, the n did not conflict, and stayed. This is also called klinkerbotsing.
If you want to just say hi, try hoi! or hallo!
Tot ziens / doei!
Goodbye / bye!
Tot ziens is the formal way to say bye. Doei, doeg or daag are all ways to say bye informally. In the south of the Netherlands, you can also use hoi or hoi hoi for bye. But the most common is doei! But there are more forms…
Dank U/Dank je/Bedankt
Important words! Dank U is a formal thank you, and dankje (or rather dank je) is an informal thank you. Bedankt works for both. The Dutch are in general not using the formal terms much in everyday speech, and so dank je should be enough in most situations, though bedankt is very common too. You choose!
Please/there you go!
If you ask for something, or if you give something to somebody, you can use alstublieft. The same rule with informality as with thank you counts here – alstjeblieft will help you through most situations. The word might seem unwieldy and long to you, so let’s break it down. It comes from als het je belieft (if it pleases you). Through the years, this was shortened to alstjeblieft, and alsjeblieft, asjeblief, or simply asje.
You bump into someone, and you want to be polite and say sorry – just say sorry. However, the Dutch sorry is pronounced a bit differently. The o is short and the r‘s are hard r, not soft ones like in English. But yes, it is that simple. Even if you don’t nail the pronunciation, people will always understand sorry.
Good luck on your next travels, and hopefully this short list made it easier for you to communicate a bit the next time you are in the Netherlands! Doei!
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