Dutch Language Blog

My Favourite Word in Dutch Posted by on Oct 15, 2011 in Dutch Vocabulary

Everyone has a favourite word in the foreign language that they are learning.  For some people it is the first word that they learned.  For others it is that one word that makes you laugh each and every time you hear it or it is the word that you struggled over and over to learn.  For me, my favourite word in Dutch is one that I often miss when speaking in English.

Dutch has quite a few words that have no exact equivalent in English.  Gezellig and lekker spring to mind.  While we can roughly translate these to cosy and tasty respectively, those words just don’t do the Dutch word justice.  My word doesn’t quite fall into this category though as a direct translation does exist in English, it just doesn’t work as well.

So what is my favourite Dutch word?  It’s jullie, which means you (plural).

The word you in Dutch can be a bit tricky as there are so many versions for it.  For example:

  • Jij – you (singular, stressed)
  • Je – you (singular, unstressed)
  • U – you (singular, formal)
  • Jullie – you (plural)

But having a specific word for the plural form makes so much sense rather than just lumping everything together under the word you.  Think of the differences you can make, imply and understand:

  • You are writing an email to two colleagues who are working on a project.  One is quite efficient and gets things done.  The other is…well…a little less so.  Colleague B might think that your “can you make sure the project is finished by November 3rd,” statement was directed to colleague A but with jullie, his escape clause is gone.
  • Your boyfriend’s mother calls right before you head off on your round the world trip and says “I hope you have a good trip.”  Were you included in that well wishing or is she secretly hoping you will be chased away by a rabid pack of monkeys?  With jullie you would know.
  • You waited ages to attend the Harry Potter marathon and are just at the crucial moment in the last movie but everyone around you is chattering away and munching loudly on their popcorn.  Your shout of “can you please be quiet” is just not as meaningful as if you had used jullie.

And there you have it, the low-down on why jullie is my favourite word in Dutch.  What’s your favourite word in Dutch?

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  1. eka:

    then my favorite word in dutch will be lief. i think that’s a very sweet word. 🙂

  2. Nikki:

    Tutoyeren. A single word for “to be on first name basis.” Geweldig!

  3. George:

    A brief response to Nikki’s comment about “tutoyeren.” Please don’t praise the
    Dutch language for this word. It has been borrowed from French, just like nowadays
    tons of English words are now running rampant
    in Dutch, and nobody even bothers to come up
    with a suitable Dutch equivalent. And lest you question my credentials, Dutch is my mother tongue.