Basic Dutch Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

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1. Basic Dutch Phrases


Good Morning
Good Day
Good Evening
Good Night
Hoi / Hallo / Daag / Doei
hoy / hah-loh / dahk / doo-ee
Hi / Bye
Tot ziens
toht zeens
Tot straks
toht straks
See you later (in the same day)
Tot zo
toht zoh
See you soon
Alstublieft / Alsjeblieft
ahlst-ew-bleeft / ahl-shuh-bleeft
Dank u wel / Dank je wel
dahnk-ew-vehl / dahnk-yuh-vehl
Thank you
Hartelijk bedankt
hahr-tuh-lik buh-dahnkt
Thank you very much
Graag gedaan
khrahkh khuh-dahn
You're welcome (don't mention it)
I'm sorry / Excuse me
Pardon, wat zei u?
pahr-dohn, vat zay ew
Pardon me (didn't understand)
Ja / Nee
yah / nay
Yes / No
Hoe gaat het met u?
hoo khaht ut meht ew
How are you? (formal)
Hoe gaat het?
hoo khaht ut
How are you? (informal)
Goed / Heel goed
khoot / hayl khoot
Fine / Very well
Het gaat / Slecht
uht khaht / slehkht
So so / Bad
Ik ben moe / ziek
ik ben moo / zeek
I'm tired / sick.
Ik heb honger / dorst
ik heb hohng-ur / dohrst
I'm hungry / thirsty.
Hoe heet u?
hoo hayt ew
What's your name? (formal)
Hoe heet je?
hoo hayt yuh
What's your name? (informal)
Ik heet...
ik hayt...
My name is (I'm called)...
Ik ben...
ik ben
I am...
Aangenaam (kennis te maken)
ahn-guh-nahm (ken-nis tuh mah-kuh)
Nice to meet you.
meneer / mevrouw / mejuffrouw
muh-nayr / muh-frow / muh-yuh-frow
Mister / Misses / Miss
Waar komt u vandaan?
vahr kawmt ew fun-dahn
Where are you from? (formal)
Waar kom je vandaan?
vahr kawn yuh fun-dahn
Where are you from? (informal)
Ik kom uit Nederland.
ik kawm owt nay-der-lant
I am from the Netherlands.
Waar woont u?
vahr vohnt ew
Where do you live? (formal)
Waar woon je?
vahr vohn yuh
Where do you live? (informal)
Ik woon in Amerika.
ik vohn in ah-meh-ree-kah
I live in America.
Hoe oud bent u?
hoo owt bent ew
How old are you? (formal)
Hoe oud ben je?
hoo owt ben yuh
How old are you? (informal)
Ik ben ... jaar (oud).
ik ben ... yahr owt
I am ____ years old.
Spreekt u Nederlands?
spraykt ew nay-der-lahnds
Do you speak Dutch? (formal)
Spreek je Engels?
sprayk yuh ehng-uhls
Do you speak English? (informal)
Ik spreek [geen]...
ik sprayk [khayn]
I [don't] speak...
Ik spreek niet zo goed...
ik sprayk neet zoh khood
I don't speak ... very well.
Ik begrijp het [niet.]
ik buh-khraip ut neet
I [don't] understand.
Ik weet het [niet.]
ik vayt ut [neet]
I [don't] know.
Wat kost het?
vat kohst ut
How much is it?
Ik wil graag...
ik vil khrahk
I'd like...
Veel plezier!
fayl pleh-zeer
Have fun!
Veel succes!
fayl suk-sehs
Good luck!
Wees voorzichtig!
vays fohr-zikh-tikh
Be careful!
Dat is geweldig / vreselijk!
dat is khuh-vehl-duhkh / fray-zuh-likh
That is great / terrible!
Ik hou van je.
ik how fahn yuh
I love you. (informal)
Ik hou van jullie.
ik how fahn juh-lee
I love you (all).
Wat vreemd!
vaht fraymt
How funny / odd!
Wat jammer!
vaht yah-mer
What a pity!
Wat is dit / dat?
vut iss dit / dut
What is this / that?

In the pronunciations, kh denotes a uvular guttural sound. Meneer, mevrouw and mejuffrouw are all written with a small letter when they precede a name. When typing, de Heer is used instead of meneer and Dhr. is used on envelopes. Mevrouw and mejuffrouw are abbreviated as Mevr. and Mej. In addition, Mw. can be used as an equivalent of the English Ms.

2. Pronunciation

Dutch letters English sound
ei / ij
ou / au
guttural sound, made at back of mouth
s followed by guttural ch sound
same as ch, guttural sound from back of mouth
like v before r, otherwise like w but with bottom lip against top teeth
like v, but sometimes closer to f
either rolled or guttural
y as in yes
sh as in ship
ch as in chip
ah as in father, but longer
ay as in hail, but shorter
ee as in neat, but shorter
oh as in boat
oo as in pool, but shorter
ur as in hurt, but with lips rounded
ew, but with lips rounded (sound not found in English)
ah as in father, but shorter
eh as in bed
ih as in bit
aw as in paw, with lips rounded
ir as in dirt, but very short
between the sounds in "light" and "late"
combination of aa and ie
combination of oe and ie
combination of oo and ie
like ow, as in house
combination of ee and oe
combination of ie and oe
combination of uu and oe
combination of a and uu

The consonants s, f, h, b, d, z, l, m, n, and ng are pronounced the same way in Dutch as in English. P, t, and k are pronounced without the puff of air (called aspiration.) Sometimes the g is pronounced like zh in words borrowed from French. One last vowel sound is found in various Dutch spellings. It is pronounced like uh, as in along or sofa. For example, this sound is found in de (the), een (a), aardig (nice), and vriendelijk (kind).

3. Alphabet


a ah j yay s ess
b bay k kah t tay
c say l ell u ew
d day m emm v fay
e ay n enn w vay
f eff o oh x eeks
g khay p pay y ee-grek
h hah q kew z zett
i ee r air

4. Nouns and Gender

All nouns have a gender in Dutch, either common (de words) or neuter (het words).   It is hard to guess which gender a noun is, so it is best to memorize the genders when memorizing vocabulary. However, two-thirds of Dutch words are common gender (because the common gender has combined the former feminine and masculine genders.) So it may be easier to memorize which nouns are neuter, and then assign common gender to the rest. All diminutives (words ending in -je) and infinitives used as nouns, as well as colors, metals, compass directions, and all words that end in -um, -aat, -sel, -isme are neuter. Most nouns beginning with ge- and ending with -te are neuter, as are most nouns beginning with ge-, be-, and ver-. Common noun endings include: -aar, -ent, -er, -es, -eur, -heid, -ij, -ing, -teit, -tie.

5. Articles & Demonstratives

Singular "the"
Plural "the"
Indefinite "a" or "an"

  common neuter




The definite article is used more in Dutch than in English. It is always used before the names of the seasons, street names and in an abstract sense. There are some idioms that should be memorized, however: in het Nederlands (in Dutch), in de stad (in town), in het zwart (in black), met de auto (by car), met de tijd (in/with time); op tafel (on the table), in zee (in the sea), op kantoor (at the office), in bad (in the bath), op straat (in the street).

6. Subject Pronouns




I wij (we)


jij (je)


you (singular informal)
you (formal)


you (plural informal)
zij (ze)


zij (ze)



Unstressed forms (shortened forms used mostly in the spoken language) are in parentheses. There are also unstressed forms of ik ('k), hij (ie) and het ('t) but these are not written in the standard language. You will see them in informal writing, however (such as on internet forums or sometimes in film subtitles.)

7. To Be & to Have


Present tense of zijn - to be (zayn)
I am ik ben ik ben we are wij zijn vay zayn
You are jij / u bent yay / ew bent you are jullie zijn yew-lee zayn
He, she, it is hij, zij, het is hay, zay, ut is they are zij zijn zay zayn

Present tense of hebben - to have (heh-buhn)
I have ik heb ik hep we have wij hebben vay heh-buhn
You have jij / u hebt yay / ew hept you have jullie hebben yew-lee heh-buhn
He, she, it is hij, zij, het heeft hay, zay, ut hayft they have zij hebben zay heh-buhn

U heeft rather than u hebt is also possible.

Past tense of zijn - to be (zayn)
I was ik was ik vas we were wij waren vay vah-ruhn
You were jij / u was yay / ew vas you were jullie waren yew-lee vah-ruhn
He, she, it was hij, zij, het was hay, zay, ut vas they were zij waren zay vah-ruhn

Past tense of hebben - to have (heh-buhn)
I had ik had ik haht we had wij hadden vay hah-duhn
You had jij / u had yay / ew haht you had jullie hadden yew-lee hah-duhn
He, she, it had hij, zij, het had hay, zay, ut haht they had zij hadden zay hah-duhn

You must use the subject pronouns; however, I will leave them out of future conjugations since most verbs only have two forms for each conjugation.

Expressions with zijn and hebben:

Het/dat is jammer - It's/that's a pity
jarig zijn - to have a birthday
kwijt zijn - to have lost
op het punt staan - to be about to
van plan zijn - to intend
voor elkaar zijn - to be in order
honger / dorst hebben - to be hungry / thirsty
gelijk hebben - to be right
haast hebben - to be in a hurry
het hebben over - to talk about
het druk hebben - to be busy
het koud hebben / warm - to be cold / warm
last hebben van - to be bothered by
nodig hebben - to need
slaap hebben - to be sleepy
zin hebben in - to feel like

8. Useful Words



sometimes soms
always altijd
neverĀ  nooit
often vaak, dikwijls
usually gewoonlijk
now nu
and en
but maar
or of
very zeer, heel
here hier
there daar
also ook
much veel
another een ander
already al
perhapsĀ  misschien

9. Question Words


who wie where waar
what wat where to waar... naartoe
why waarom where from waar... vandaan
when wanneer which welk / welke
how hoe Isn't it?, etc. niet waar?


Welk is used before het words, and welke is used before de words and plural nouns. Niet waar is a tag question, and is added to the end of statements to make them questions. It can translate several ways into English: isn't it?, doesn't it?, isn't he?, doesn't he?, isn't she?, doesn't she?, aren't we?, don't we?, aren't they?, don't they?, aren't you?, don't you?, right?, yes?, etc.

10. Numbers


0 nul    
1 een 1st eerste
2 twee 2nd tweede
3 drie 3rd drede
4 vier 4th vierde
5 vijf 5th vijfde
6 zes 6th zesde
7 zeven 7th zevende
8 acht 8th achtste
9 negen 9th negende
10 tien 10th tiende
11 elf 11th elfde
12 twaalf 12th twaalfde
13 dertien 13th dertiende
14 veertien 14th veertiende
15 vijftien 15th vijftiende
16 zestien 16th zestiende
17 zeventien 17th zeventiende
18 achttien 18th achttiende
19 negentien 19th negentiende
20 twintig 20th twintigste
21 eenentwintig 21st eenentwintigste
22 tweeëntwintig 22nd tweeëntwintigste
23 drieëntwintig 23rd drieentwintigste
30 dertig 30th dertigste
40 veertig 40th veertigste
50 vijftig 50th vijftigste
60 zestig 60th zestigste
70 zeventig 70th zeventigste
80 tachtig 80th tachtigste
90 negentig 90th negentigste
100 honderd 100th honderdste
101 honderd en een 101st honderd en eerste
110 honderd tien 110th honderd tiende
200 tweehonderd 200th tweehonderdste
1,000 duizend 1,000th duizendste
1,001 duizend en een 1,001st duizend en eerste
million een miljoen millionth miljoenste
billion een miljard billionth miljardste

de helft half een keer once
een derde one third twee keer twice
een kwart one quarter drie keer three times


In the word for twenty-two, the ë is necessary because there are three of the same vowels in a row, and the accent mark shows that the third one needs to be pronounced separately. The use of commas and decimals is reversed in Dutch. Also note that I speak American English, so billion means 1,000,000,000 and not the British counterpart.

11. Days of the Week


Monday maandag
Tuesday dinsdag
Wednesday woensdag
Thursday donderdag
Friday vrijdag
Saturday zaterdag
Sunday zondag
day dag
morning ochtend
afternoon middag
evening avond
night nacht
today vandaag
tomorrow morgen
tonight deze nacht
yesterday gisteren
last night (de) afgelopen nacht
day after tomorrow
day before yesterday eergisteren
week week
last week afgelopen week
weekend weekend
daily dagelijks
weekly wekelijks

12. Months of the Year


January januari
February februari
March maart
April april
May mei
June juni
July juli
August augustus
September september
October oktober
November november
December december
month maand
year jaar
last year het afgelopen jaar
monthly maandelijks
yearly jaarlijks

13. Seasons


Winter de winter
Spring de lente / het voorjaar
Summer de zomer
Autumn de herfst / het najaar

14. Directions


  Compass/Wind Location/Movement  
North noord noorden right rechts
South zuid zuiden left links
East oost oosten straight rechtdoor
West west westen  

15. Colors & shapes


orange oranje square vierkant
pink roze circle cirkel
purple paars triangle driehoek
blue blauw rectangle rechthoek
yellow geel oval ovaal
red rood box vak
black zwart sphere bol
brown bruin cube kubus
gray grijs pyramid piramide
white wit cone kegel
green groen cylinder cilinder
silver zilver heart hart
gold goud star ster
beige beige diamond diamant
light licht crescent halvemaan
dark donker    


Licht and donker are added to the colors to mean light and dark: lichtbruin - light brown.

16. Time


What time is it? Hoe laat is het?
It's 1:00 Het is een uur.
2:00 Het is twee uur.
3:30 Het is half vier.
5:45 Het is kwart voor zes.
7:03 Het is drie (minuten) over zeven.
at 9:30 om half tien
noon twaalf uur 's middags
midnight twaalf uur 's nachts / middernacht
In the morning
's ochtends
During the day 's middags
In the evening 's avonds
At night 's nachts

Minuten can be omitted, just as in English.

17. Weather


How's the weather today? Wat voor weer is het vandaag?
It's cold Het is koud
beautiful Het is mooi
hot Het is heet
clear Het is helder
icy Het is ijzig
warm Het is warm
windy Het is windig
cloudy Het is bewolkt
hazy Het is mistig
muggy Het is drukkend / benauwd
humid Het is vochtig
foggy Het is mistig
It's snowing Het sneeuwt
It's raining Het regent
It's freezing Het vriest

18. Family & Pets


family familie sister-in-law schoonzuster
parents ouders brother-in-law zwager
mother moeder / mamma godmother meter
father vader / papa godfather peetvader
child / children kind / kinderen boy jongen
son zoon girl meisje (n)
daughter dochter child kind
brother broeder / broer man, husband man
Sister zuster / zus woman, wife vrouw
grandparents grootouder friend (m) vriend
grandfather grootvader / opa friend (f) vriendin
grandmother grootmoeder / oma adult volwassene
grandchildren kleinkinderen relative bloedverwant
grandson kleinzoon siblings broers en zusters
granddaughter   kleindochter twin tweeling
niece / cousin (f) nicht birth geboorte
nephew / cousin (m) neef death dood
uncle oom marriage huwelijk (n)
aunt tante divorce echtscheiding
stepmother stiefmoeder    
stepfather stiefvader dog hond
stepdaughter stiefdochter cat poes
stepson stiefzoon bird vogel
stepsister stiefzuster goldfish goudvis
stepbrother stiefbroeder gerbil woestijnrat
mother-in-law schoonmoeder hamster hamster
father-in-law schoonvader ferret fret
daughter-in-law schoondochter horse paard
son-in-law schoonzoon pony pony


In the vocabulary lists, (n) after the noun means that the gender is neuter and the definite article is het (rather than de.)

19. To Know People and Facts

kennen - to know people weten - to know facts
Present: ken ken kennen ken-nuh weet vayt weten vay-tuh
Past: kende ken-duh kenden ken-duh wist vist wisten vist-uh

20. Formation of Plural Nouns



Most plural nouns are formed by adding either -en or -s. Remember that the definite article is always de before plural nouns.

1. -en (the n is pronounced softly) is added to most nouns, with a few spelling changes

boek - boeken book(s)
jas - jassen coat(s)
haar - haren hair(s)
huis - huizen house(s)

Spelling changes: Words with long vowels (aa, ee, oo, and uu) drop the one vowel when another syllable is added. Words with the short vowels (a, e, i, o and u) double the following consonant to keep the vowels short. The letters f and s occur at the end of words or before consonants, while the letters v and z occur in the middle of words before vowels. (These spelling rules are also used for conjugating verbs, so it's best to memorize them as soon as possible.)

2. -s is added to nouns ending in the unstressed syllables -el, -em, -en, and -er (and -aar(d), -erd, -ier when referring to people), foreign words and to most nouns ending in an unstressed vowel

tafel - tafels table(s)
jongen - jongens boy(s)
tante - tantes aunt(s)
bakker - bakkers baker(s)

Nouns ending in the vowels -a, -o, and -u add an apostrophe before the s: foto's, paraplu's

Irregular forms

3. Some nouns containing a short vowel do not double the following consonant in the plural before -en. The plural vowel is then pronounced as long.

bad - baden bath(s)
dag - dagen day(s)
spel - spelen game(s) (like the Olympics, smaller games are spellen)
glas - glazen glass(es)
weg - wegen road(s)

4. A few neuter nouns take the ending -eren (or -deren if the noun ends in -n)

blad - bladeren leaf (leaves)
kind - kinderen child(ren)
ei - eieren egg(s)
been - beenderen bone(s) [Note: been - benen leg(s)]
lied - liederen song(s)
volk - volkeren nation(s), people

5. Nouns ending in -heid have a plural in -heden.

mogelijkheid - mogelijkheden possibility (possibilities)

6. Some other common irregular plurals are:

stad - steden town(s)
schip - schepen ship(s)
lid - leden member(s)
koe - koeien cow(s)

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