Dutch Language Blog

Telephone Calls in Dutch Posted by on Mar 24, 2011 in Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Red Telephone (Photo Credit: ianni)

Red Telephone (Photo Credit: ianni)

Making and receiving a phone call in Dutch is a natural next step when learning Dutch or living in the Netherlands as a non-native speaker.  It can be intimidating at first but the information below should help you out.

Making and Receiving a Phone Call

If you call someone in the Netherlands, you may notice that most people just answer the phone with his/her name or their name with met before it, “Met Geerd Boer”.  The equivalent of the greeting “hello” is typically not used.  It is also common when telephoning someone else, especially a business or service, to introduce yourself, “Goedemorgen, uw spreekt met Geerd Boer” before making your request.

Understanding or Not

As a non-native speaker it can be a challenge communicating via the telephone, as you are missing out on the visual cues and expressions normally available in face-to-face communication.  Some phrases that can help you are:

Sorry, dat heb ik niet verstaan. (I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.)

Kunt u dat herhalen? (Can you repeat that?)

Wilt u wat langzamer spreken? (Can you speak more slowly?)

Can You Spell That?

If you are anything like me, then you may have stumbled with the old ‘a for alpha’, ‘t for tango’, NATO alphabet that is often used when spelling over the telephone.  Interestingly, there is a more local Dutch (and Flemish) version.  So that you are able to spell like the best of them, take a look below (the first word given is the Dutch version, the Flemish version is after the slash).

A:  Anna/Arthur J:  Johan/Jozef S:  Simon/Sofie
B:  Bernard/Brussel K:  Karel/kilogram T:  Theodoor/telefoon
C:  Cornelis/Carolina L:  Lodewijk/Leopold U:  Utrecht/ Ursula
D:  Dirk/ Désiré M:  Marie/Maria V:  Victor
E:  Eduard/Emiel N:  Nico/Napoleon W:  Willem/Waterloo
F:  Ferdinand/Frederik O:  Otto/Oscar X:  Xantippe/Xavier
G:  Gerard/Gustaaf P:  Pieter/piano IJ:  Ijsbrand
H:  Hendrik Q: quotient Y:  ypsilon/Yvonne
I:  Izaäk/Isidoor R:  Rudolf/Robert Z:  Zaandam/zero

Key Telephone Phrases

Kan ik met Geerd spreken? (May I speak with Geerd?)

Kunt u me verbinden met nummer 214? (Can you connect me to extension 214?)

Daar spreekt u mee. (This is he/she.  Speaking)

Een ogenblikje geduld, alstublieft. (Just a moment, please.)

Blijft u even aan de lijn, a.u.b. (Please hold.)

Kan ik een boodscap achterlaten? (Can I leave a message?)

Ik heb je moeder aan de lijn! (Your mother is on the phone!)

Kunt u dat voor me spellen? (Can you spell that for me?)

Pardon, dan heb ik een verkeerd nummer gedraaid. (I’m sorry, I’ve got the wrong number.)


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  1. ellen schaefer:

    Wat een geweldige post weer. Als ik hier in the USA de telefoon opneem, zeg ik nog steeds mijn naam, wel met het standaard “Hello” ervoor.

  2. aoc:

    This is extremely useful — particularly the spelling conventions. Many thanks!

  3. heather:

    Graag gedaan, AOC. 🙂

  4. nic:

    Answering the phone in the Netherlands with just ‘hello’ is actually considered pretty rude and inconsiderate. Same goes for not identifying yourself when calling. You then will encounter an irritated “Met wie spreek ik?” (Who’se calling?)

  5. Tom Steenhuysen:

    Ik heb er nooit bij stilgestaan dat dit culturaal was, maar inderdaad, ik beantwoord ook met “Hello, this is Tom.” of anders “Good morning, this is Tom.”
    En mijn dochters leren dezelfde beleefdheid. 🙂

  6. heather:

    @nic – “Met wie spreek ik?” is another good phrase to add to the list.

    @Tom – 🙂