Last Updated on
These are the most useful Dutch phrases for travelers (in my opinion) as a foreigner living in the Netherlands along with
Note on Dutch pronunciation: Ws are generally pronounced like Vs. J is pronounced closer to a light y. G is a harsh sound that you make with your throat similar to phlegm or “ch” in challah. Sch is related to this
If you’re traveling in the Netherlands, most people speak English,
This list focuses on
There are many regions of the Netherlands with their own dialects (even languages), so things might sound a little different to your ears depending on whether the person you’re talking to is from Limburg, Amsterdam, or the Hague. Some people will drop the “en” sound at the end of words (
je wel – Thank you
Thank you is used in a number of contexts in the Netherlands. When someone does anything for you, you usually say Dank je wel. Generally, when you say thank you in English, you say thank you in Dutch. I usually say thanks after placing a food or drink order at a restaurant.
Pronounced Dahnk-yuh-vell. Once you have the j sound down, it will be a lot easier! Even if you mostly speak in English, thank you is always appreciated. 🙂
Alstublieft – Please
Please is a multi-use word. Similar to German with the use of
Doei or Tot Ziens- Goodbye
If you’re leaving a small shop, it’s always nice to say goodbye. Tot Ziens is the easiest for non-native speakers,
Goedemorgen – Good morning
The first greeting that you typically hear in the morning is Good Morning. It’s generally polite to say it back if someone says it to you as it’s just friendly and polite. If you walk into a shop in the morning and you want to get service, I typically say good morning to start things off. Pronounced: Gch-
Goedemiddag – Good afternoon
Similarly, the afternoon is always a popular time to go shopping, so you’ll hear this a lot. It’s pronounced Gch-
Goedenavond – Good evening
If you walk into a cafe, you might be
Hallo – Hello
Hello is easy. It’s quite close to English. You would use Hello in a similar way. You can pronounce Hello like Hall-o. The Dutch a is closer to an “ah” sound in
Gezellig – Cozy
One of my favorite words in Dutch is
Sorry – Sorry
Sorry is the same in Dutch as in English. Dutchies have their own way of pronouncing it, however it’s generally useful for when you bang into someone or make a mistake.
Ja & Nee – Yes & No
I’m not sure what you’re saying yes and no to, but ja and nee are the words for yes and no respectfully.
Ik spreek geen Nederlands – I don’t speak Dutch
You can say this in English if you don’t know Dutch,
je Engels? – Do you speak English?
You can ask this in English in most cases. Most people will answer with a Yes (or Ja) before switching to English. Pronounced
In the cases of elderly people, they might understand English a bit, but not be able to speak it back. In this case, they might say “Een
Directions & Paying
Open & Gesloten – Open & Closed
So you’re going to a shop and you need to check if they’re open or closed. the word for open is open and the Dutch word for closed is
Generally, in Amsterdam and bigger cities, most things are open on weekends (including Sundays [Zondag]) with Monday (Maandag) being the rest day. For most routine errands you might need to do, try to do them before 5 pm although finding an open supermarket past 9-10pm might be a bit tricky.
- Maandag – Monday
- Dinsdag – Tuesday
- Woensdag – Wednesday
- Donderdag – Thursday
- Vrijdag – Friday
- Zaterdag – Saturday
- Zondag – Sunday
- Feestdagen – Holidays
Kaartje – Ticket
If you plan to take public transit or the trains, you will need a ticket The word for a ticket is
I include numbers later on , so you can add these numbers to your word for
Volgende [Klant] – Next [Client]!
You’re at a store in the Netherlands and you’re next in line . You’ll hear the word Volgende (possibly with Klant [client]). This means next, so if you hear this, go up to the cashier if you’re next. It’s pronounced vol-gchen-duh.
Waar is ____? – Where is __?
You might want to know how to ask where something is. You can ask using the phrase Waar is ______? pronounced like Vaar is ____?
Links, Rechts, Rechtdoor – Left, Right, Straight
If you’re given directions in Dutch, you’ll want to know these.
- Links – Left pronounced like Links
- Rechts – Right pronounced like Wrecks
- Rechtdoor – Straight prounpronounced like Wreck-door
toilet? – Where is the toilet? het
You already know the word for where is, however you need to find the toilet. You can pronounce it like Vaar is het toil-let? Depending on your gender, you will want to choose the Dames (Women’s) or Heren (Men’s) toilets.
…Toilets are not always free here in the Netherlands. I usually recommend carrying some change around with you as you’re going to probably have to pay for a toilet at most train stations or public areas. (If you’re a man using a urinal, you might luck out and not have to pay anything.)
You might see someone near the entrance who will probably tell you one of the following phrases: v
Hoveel kost deze? – How much is this?
This is how to ask for the price. Pronunciation: Hoe-veel cost dez-eh?
Geldautomaat – ATM
The Netherlands is still a bit weird about non-Dutch cards, so I typically recommend having some cash on you. You’ll need to look for a
Alleen Pin / Alleen Maestro
You might be in trouble as a tourist if you hear this. This means that you can only pay by card, generally only a Dutch debit card. It’s usually worth asking if the merchant accepts Visa, but you might need to look for an ATM.
Fiets – Bike
Biking in the Netherlands is one of the best ways to get around although many visiting friends have become less keen on it after biking for longer periods and/or getting scared while biking. The word for bike is fiets, which is pronounced like feets. Click for my guide to biking in Amsterdam.
Bus – Bus
The word for bus is the same in both English and Dutch. Same with tram.
bushalte – Bus stop
If you’re looking de bushalte, you are looking for the bus stop. This is pronounced like de bus-halt-uh.
Trein – Train
The train is one of the best ways to get around the Netherlands. The Netherlands is small enough that you can easily take day trips
Treinstation – Train station
If you’re looking for the
tafel voor een, twee, drie – A table for one, two, three
If you’re heading to a restaurant, you will need to ask for a table. You can say this by saying, “Een
menukaart, alstublieft – Menu please!
wil …. – I would like
To order to in Dutch, you say Ik
heb een ___ allergie – I have an allergy
I cannot have dairy, so it’s important to be able to communicate that to others. Ik
I’m lactose-intolerant and many times, I’ve gotten dishes with dairy after specifying that I wanted a dish without cheese (
Legally, restaurants in the Netherlands are required to have a working knowledge of the dishes on the menu, so ask if you’re not sure. Similarly, products at the supermarket will list possible contaminants on the label list in bold.
These are the most common allergens and their Dutch translations.
- pinda’s – peanuts
noten– nuts amandelen– almonds
- gluten – gluten
zeevruchten– seafood schelpdier– shellfish eieren– eggs
- vis – fish
- soya – soy
zuivel/ lactose – dairy / lactose
If you are vegetarian, you can say Ik ben vegetariër. (You can also say I do not eat meat, which is translated as Ik
Lekker – Delicious
You might be asked how your food or drink tasted. By default, you can say Het was lekker, which means it was delicious. You can pronounce this like, Het vas lek-er.
rekening alstublieft – the bill, please
This is how you ask for the bill at a cafe or a restaurant. In some cases, you’ll need to go to the front to pay at the cashier’s desk while in others, the bill will be brought to you. Pronounced like De reck-on-ing alst-oo-bleeft
To clarify, the BTW is the tax paid by consumers on goods. By default, it is included in the price of most food and drinks, so it is not optional to pay it. It’s generally 9% (2019) on consumer goods. You’ll see it on your receipts.
A tip/gratuity (
– the Receipt bon
bierje – A beer
If you’re at a bar and you want to order a simple beer (e.g. whatever is on tap). Expect to pay a few euros for a beer, which might be something like Heineken or Juliper. A nicer beer in the bottle or on the tap can be named directly by name.
Een thee – Tea
You might want a tea, which is pronounced closer to
koffie – Coffee
glas wijn – A glass of wine
A glass of wine is very closer to the English:
Proost – Cheers!
Of course, you must learn how to say cheers in Dutch. You can pronounce this like Pr-oost (like in Toast).