Are you planning a spring or summer trip to the Netherlands in 2020? Finally going to see the beautiful canals in Amsterdam? Well, get ready! Because you are in for what I believe to be one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world.
Lucky for you, you don’t really have to learn any Dutch if you are having a vacation in Amsterdam. In the Netherlands, 90-93% of the population claim to be conversational in English. Furthermore, I live here and I can tell you that navigating Amsterdam with English is incredibly easy. It gets a bit more difficult as you leave the city, but there are still English speakers around every corner.
Regardless, you may want to learn some Dutch before you come! After all, you are most likely traveling here because you want to learn more about the culture here. It is also fun to be able to say a few phrases to locals in their language (though you might sometimes find it difficult to find locals in Amsterdam between all the tourists and expats).
Below are some phrases and words that will help you get by. I have linked each one to our lessons where you can learn how to pronounce the words!
You may also find that some people spell or pronounce this words a bit differently. Sometimes people will write it out as “dankjewel” and if they are trying to be more formal and polite they will say “dank u wel”. You can also just say “dank je”. “Bedankt” is another form of saying “Thanks!”
This is something that is always a bit confusing to people that are unfamiliar with Dutch. The word means two things: “Please” and “There you go” (as in when someone serves or hands you something in the store or at a restaurant). So when you order a Heineken at the bar, the bartender may say “alsjeblieft” as he hands you the drink, but he is not telling you “please”. Just like the “dank u wel” above, you can also say this word more formally with “alstublieft”.
Literally translated to “gladly done,” this is how you will tell people you’re welcome. Unfortunately if you are not used to using the guttural sound, this can be a difficult one to pronounce.
The Dutch love to constantly greet each other based on times of day. “Good morning”, “good afternoon”, “Good evening” are all used commonly in English as well, but I certainly did not use them as much as I did when I was in the United States. The more casual way of saying good morning is “Goeiemorgen”. Pronounced kind off like “(gutteral)hoo-yu-more-(guttural)ha”.
Common during most of the daytime hours, you will hear this one quite frequently. Along with “fijne dag”.
You may also hear people say “fijne avond”, which means the same thing.
The most important thing you may be asking for on vacation is a beer. So to say this you may say “Mag ik een biertje.”
Same meaning as “mag ik een…”, but definitely a bit more common and friendly way of saying it. Try “ik wil graag een biertje.”
This is a phrase Amsterdamers are very used to hearing in the bars, whether it is from tourists with a bit more Dutch knowledge or from an expat that lives here. A more casual way of saying this would be “spreek je Engels?” If you are really daring you can try “Ik spreek geen Nederlands,” which means “I don’t speak Dutch.”
The first step to meeting someone is knowing their name! I personally think this is the most important question you can know when learning a language.
Want to learn more Dutch before your trip to Amsterdam? All of our vocabulary lessons are completely free and easy to navigate! Check out all of our Dutch lessons here.
One last lesson for you: Tot ziens! Which means “see you later!”