34 Basic Dutch Phrases for Travel
Welcome to the Netherlands, a captivating country known for its picturesque landscapes, charming canals, and vibrant culture. Whether you're planning a short trip or a longer stay, learning a few basic Dutch phrases can greatly enhance your experience and help you connect with the locals on a deeper level.
In this article, we will explore essential Dutch phrases for shopping and eating out, emergencies and asking for help, and even a few romantic expressions to impress a special someone.
By learning to say these essential phrases in Dutch, you will go from being a mere visitor to becoming part of a community. Isn’t that exciting?
Well, let's dive in!
Table of Contents
Basic Dutch Phrases: Greetings
When travelling to a new country, it's essential to familiarise yourself with common greetings and polite expressions. Whether you're greeting someone interesting in a bar or just saying hello on the street, a warm and polite greeting in the person's first language is a sign of respect that will not cost you anything and will be appreciated by locals.
Here are some of the most common Dutch greetings:
- Hallo (Hello)
- Goedemorgen (Good morning)
- Goedemiddag (Good afternoon)
- Goedenavond (Good evening)
- Tot ziens (Goodbye)
Courtesy Phrases in Dutch
Never forget your grandparents’ advice: manners maketh man (or woman!).
It is always important to take the time to learn courtesy phrases and expressions for showing appreciation and politeness, especially when you’re so far away from home and so much of your experience depends on the kindness of strangers.
Are you asking for a favour? So, if you’re about to ask someone for a favour, here's how you can do it the nice way:
- Pardon (Excuse me)
- Mag ik je een vraag stellen? (Can I ask you a question?)
- Alstublieft (Please)
- Dank u (Thank you)
- Ik waardeer het echt (I really appreciate it)
Dutch Phrases for Shopping and Eating Out
Exploring local markets and trying traditional dishes are must-do activities in the Netherlands. If you are in Amsterdam, the Albert Cuypmarkt is a spot that should be included in any Netherlands travel guide, a great place to mingle with locals and sample some of the most delicious Dutch snacks. Oh, and if you love clothes shopping, the Magna Plaza is the place to find trendy boutiques at affordable prices.
While Dutch people are used to speaking in English to foreigners, it is always more rewarding to use the local language.
Here are some basic Dutch phrases to make the most of your shopping and dining experience:
Dutch phrases to use in a shop:
- Hoeveel kost het? (How much does this cost?)
- Heb je een goedkopere optie? (Do you have a cheaper option?)
- Zou je dit cadeau kunnen doen? (Could you gift-wrap this?)
- Welke betaalmethoden heb je? (What payment methods do you have?)
Dutch phrases to use in a restaurant
- Ik wil graag een tafel voor één/twee/drie/vier (I'd like a table for one/two/three/four)
- Mag ik de menukaart alstublieft? (Can I have the menu, please?)
- Heeft u vegetarische opties? (Do you have vegetarian options?)
- Kan ik afrekenen? (Can I have the bill?)
Emergencies and Asking for Help
When we plan a holiday trip, we rarely stop to think of what could go wrong. However, it's always better to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Whether you get lost in a strange city or your passport is stolen, these key Dutch phrases can help you get the assistance you need in case there are no English speakers around:
- Help! (Help!)
- Bel alstublieft een ambulance. (Please call an ambulance)
- Ik ben mijn paspoort kwijt (I lost my passport)
- Waar is het dichtstbijzijnde politiebureau? (Where is the nearest police station?)
- Ik heb mezelf gesneden/verbrand (I've cut/burnt myself)
- Ik heb moeite met ademhalen (I'm having trouble breathing)
Romantic Dutch Phrases
Sometimes, travelling leads to unexpected encounters and sparks fly. This is especially common in a country like The Netherlands, where people are so open, friendly, and yes, good-looking.
If you find yourself in the company of an attractive person, why not use some romantic Dutch phrases to score extra points?
Here are a few you will want to remember:
- Ik vind je leuk (I like you)
- Wil je met me dansen? (Would you like to dance with me?)
- Je bent mooi (You are beautiful)
- Heb je zin om met mij op date te gaan? (Would you like to go on a date with me?)
- Ik zou hier voor altijd bij je kunnen blijven (I could stay here with you forever)
Dutch Sayings and Idioms
Idiomatic expressions are an essential part of the culture in any society and the Dutch are no different.
If you've spent a few weeks in The Netherlands and you are starting to feel more confident with the language, it may be time to venture into the world of Dutch sayings.
Here are some common Dutch sayings and idioms you can use:
- Het regent pijpenstelen (It’s raining steel pipes)
Ouch! Imagine steel pipes falling on you like rainwater. This is a way of saying it’s raining “cars and dogs” which, in case you’re wondering, is a very frequent occurrence in The Netherlands!
- De hond in de pot vinden (To find a dog in the pot)
Punctuality is something Dutch people take seriously, especially when it comes to meals. This expression can be used when someone turns up late to a dinner party only to find that all the food is gone. In such cases, they say they've found de hond in de pot vinden.
- Er is niks aan de hand (There is nothing on the hand)
An equivalent to "It's all good" or "Nothing's the matter", this very common Dutch idiom is a useful way of telling someone that there's no reason to worry.
- Ik val met de deur in huis (I fell with the door in the house)
Sometimes, when we are upset, we say things we don't really mean. This expression is used to admit that you put your foot in your mouth and spoke without thinking.
- De appel val niet ver van de boom (The apple falls not far from the tree)
Just like in English, this expression means that children often grow up to be similar in character and look to their parents. So, if your Dutch friend's child had just done or said something that reminds you of them, use this phrase to show them you've noticed and to boast your Dutch skills.
Learn Dutch Now
These are just some of the most essential Dutch phrases and idioms you should learn before your trip to The Netherlands.
From courtesy words to Dutch romantic phrases, they will help you become an active participant during your visit to The Netherlands and they will help you pave the path to a successful integration in Dutch culture.
Would you like to go beyond basic Dutch phrases and start working on your fluency? At Listen & Learn, we offer one-to-one Dutch lessons in London and every other city across the UK. Whether you need to prepare for a business trip, take a Dutch language exam or just brush up on your conversational skills, our experienced teachers are here to help.
All you have to do is send us a quick message and we'll match you with the perfect Dutch instructor for your needs. So, don't wait another minute! Start your journey to Dutch fluency now!