Dutch Language Blog

Tweeklanken 3: eeu(w), ei, eu, ui Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Hi again. Welcome to the third instalment on the series on tweeklanken.  Today, we discuss those that start with an e. Last week, we discussed ei already, as it is very much related to the ij. The other two tweeklanken with e are pretty straightforward, I think. Furthermore, because the ui and eu are kind of related in what they sound like, I will also discuss ui today. They are all used quite some, so they are valuable to learn! Let’s dive into these vowel combinations!

Here are all posts of the series:

Tweeklanken 1: ae, ai, aai, au/ou

Tweeklanken 2: ie, ieu(w), ij/ei

Tweeklanken 4: oe, oei, oi, ooi


A meeuw! (seagull)

Like ieu(w), which we discussed last week, eeu(w) is not used very much. As ieu(w), it is always followed by a w, but the is not officially part of the tweeklank. The great thing about this tweeklank (as with ei, which means egg as a noun), is that eeuw is a noun by itself. It means age or century. So: zeventiende eeuw means “seventeenth century” and Gouden Eeuw means “Golden Age”. Furthermore, it is seen in verbs, such as geeuwen (to yawn), or as a noun, such as meeuwen (seagulls)!

eeuw is a rather long sound. You combine ee and u. Glide: eeu. The w, as in ieu(w), just rounds off the tweeklank.

On to the more common eu!


a neus (nose) of a kat (cat)!

The eu is in many different words, such as neus (nose), keus (choice), Europa (Europe), or an all-time favorite of the Dutch: leuk (nice). The letter combination is easy: and u. Glide: eu. Pretty simple. The focus is a bit on the here, as in ui. We will get to that below.

What is interesting is that the eu can sound different when it precedes an r. Listen to neus and beuren (to lift), zeuren (to whine) or geur (smell). As you can hear, the eu becomes a bit longer because the word is a bit longer, and the focus is more on the e here. Pretty interesting, right?

Now to the ui, a vowel combination that is quite related in its pronunciation to the eu.


An ui (onion).

The ui is a pretty difficult letter combination to pronounce, which it is infamous for. My colleague Karoly wrote a whole post about it!

The sound is a bit between an ou and an eu.

Now, ui is a combination of and i. Glide: ui. It sounds like the is coming from below, but that becomes difficult with time, so the starts higher, and becomes u. Uit.

Ui is a word that is easy to practice again, because guess what: ui means “onion”. It is used a lot, and is also in words that are difficult to pronounce properly in English as well: uil (owl). Or: buiten (outside).

What do you think about these tweeklanken? Do you have difficulty pronouncing any of them? Any other comments or questions? Let me know in the comments below!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. tony:

    The only issues were for me are where the sound is not like a French or English sound. Trui is ok as I’ve heard it lots of time around the Tour de France back in the day!

    • Sten:

      @tony Right! Trui is the word for jersey!