Dutch Fillers Part 2 – 8 Very Common Dutch Stopwoorden Posted by Sten on Mar 11, 2021 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary
So, yesterday we talked about why we actually use stopwoorden (fillers). And while we explained there why we even use these stopwoorden, I want to give you a few very common Dutch stopwoorden and their meanings!
8 of the most often used fillers in Dutch, of zo
Like English, Dutch has loads of stopwoorden, impossible to all list in a short post like this. So I’ll go with a few that are used quite a lot.
1. dus (so)
Daar heb ik dus helemaal niks aan (so that doesn’t serve me at all)
dus, like the English “so” is used to indicate a conclusion. But it can also be used as a filler when there is no conclusion.
2. of zo (or so)
Zij is gaan schaatsen of zo (she went ice skating or so)
Like the English, of zo is a short for of zoiets (or something like that). It indicates doubt. Its use is identical to English – always at the end of a sentence when you say something you are not sure about.
3. you know (you kn0w)
Dat is zo een poppetje, you know (what I mean) (it’s a kind of little puppet, you know)
No, you read that right. The English filler you know found its way into Dutch. And sometimes even the full-length you know what I mean. The Dutch have a thing for taking entire English words or sentences and just using them in their daily lives. You’ll hear this especially in the west of the country. Mostly not a big deal, because a lot of Dutch speak great English. And they’re often not afraid to show you by speaking English with you the moment they hear you’re not a native speaker. Though there are ways to combat this.
A more Dutch version of you know is je weet wel (literally “you well know”, but better translated as “you know what I mean”). It’s also the translation for the alias of Harry Potter’s antagonist Voldemort. The English You-Know-Who was translated in Dutch to Jeweetwel. 1An unrelated note, but I can highly recommend the Dutch translations of Harry Potter. They’re extremely well done. Even if names are changed a lot to make them more pronounceable in Dutch, it’s a stellar job by translator Wiebe Buddingh
4. zeg maar (so to say, kind of like)
Dat is zo een poppetje, zeg maar (it’s a kind of little puppet, so to say)
Dat is zeg maar een boskabouter met rode laarzen (That’s kind of like a forest gnome with red boots)
This filler can come at the end or in the middle of a sentence
The other filler zeg maar (so to say, kinda like) again expresses doubt but also helps as an anchor to make sure people are following us.
5. eigenlijk (virtually, actually)
Ik snap er eigenlijk niks van (I actually don’t understand any of it, I understand virtually nothing)
This one is used often like in English. However, this one only really works where you could also say “virtually” in English. Because the other use of “actually” in English is better shown with echt.
6. echt (really, actually)
Ik vind het echt heel erg dat hij daar zo makkelijk over doet (I think it’s actually really bad that he takes it so lightly)
The word echt translates perfectly to “really”. In the context of the stopwoord, it can also be translated to “actually”.
7. hoor (“hear”)
Je kunt op me rekenen, hoor (Don’t worry, you can count on me)
Kan ik op je rekenen? – Ja, hoor! (Can I count on you? – for sure!)
Where’s the English translation for this one? Well, hoor is a hard one! I think it might not be translatable with just one word. If you have an idea, please let me know in the comments. Hoor can do many things, but it almost always reassures. It’s the imperative of the verb horen, so it’s like you’re telling the listener: really hear what I am saying!
Because it’s such a simple word that can be used to emphasize meaning in such a flexible way, you will hear it a lot. Again, pun intended!
Ja, hoor! can also be a very casual way to say “sure!” or “no problem!”. When it is used at the end of a sentence, it emphasizes what you just said:
ik kan het best goed, hoor! (I am actually quite good at it!)
Often, hoor can simply not be given a word in English as a translation as the emphasis comes from how the sentence was spoken or said. The meaning of hoor itself is pretty neutral, so the best way to see it is as a versatile tool to emphasize stuff.
8. nou, nou ja (Well)
Nou ja, het valt allemaal wel mee met het coronavirus, hoor (Well, it’s not all that bad with the coronavirus)
Nou, ik denk dat er wel een kans is dat we dit jaar een elfstedentocht krijgen! (Well, I think that there is a chance that we’ll get the Elfstedentocht this year!)
An often elongated nou or nou ja is used to express doubt about what was said before. It’s not always negative, it’s usually the intonation that gives it away.
With a low voice or a downward pitch, nou (ja) thinks what was said before was overestimating things. The voice goes high or in an upward pitch when the aforementioned is seen as underestimating things. Just like in English with “well”, actually!
What is your favorite Dutch stopwoord? Did I miss any that you think are sorely missing from this list? I wanna know, so please tell me in the comments below!
- 1An unrelated note, but I can highly recommend the Dutch translations of Harry Potter. They’re extremely well done. Even if names are changed a lot to make them more pronounceable in Dutch, it’s a stellar job by translator Wiebe Buddingh
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.