Dutch is a Germanic language, quite difficult if you want to learn it (correctly). Fortunately, most Dutch people speak English so you can mostly get by in the Netherlands without being able to speak Dutch. Even so, it can be useful to know and understand a few words/phrases. Your Dutch co-workers will certainly appreciate your effort!


Let’s start with some simple words, which you will surely have heard if you already work in the Netherlands. You can review them to see if you pronounce them correctly. If you’ve never heard a word in Dutch, they’ll definitely come in handy.

  • Hallo = hello
  • Hoi  = hi
  • Goedemorgen = good morning
  • Goedemidag = good afternoon
  • Goedenavond = good evening
  • Dag! = goodbye
  • Doei! = bye
  • Tot snel! = see you soon
  • Tot ziens! = see you soon
  • Fijne dag! = a good day
  • Fijne avond! = a good evening
  • Fijn weekend! = have a nice weekend

If someone asks you what you’re doing:

  • Hoe gaat het? = how are you doing?
  • Hoe is het = how are you?

You can answer:

  • Goed = good
  • Slecht = bad
  • En met jou? = and how are you?
Other questions that are asked frequently:
  • Hoe heet jij? = what is your name?
  • Mijn naam is = my name is
  • Waar kom jij vandaan? = where are you from?
  • Ik kom uit … = I’m from …

The following words might sound familiar to you, maybe you already use them. If you don’t use them yet, give them a try the next time you meet a Dutch colleague.

  • Ja = yes
  • Nee = no
  • Misschien = maybe
  • Alstublieft = please
  • Bedankt = thank you
  • Dank je wel = thank you
  • Sorry = sorry
  • Geen probleem = no problem
  • Geeft niets = it’s okay
  • Ik weet het = I know
  • Ik weet het niet = I don’t know

The following words might be useful if you are in a building.

  • Ingang = entrance
  • Uitgang = exit
  • Nooduitgang = emergency exit
  • Niet roken = no smoking
  • Privé  = private
  • Geen toegang = no passing
  • Buiten gebruik = not working
  • Vrij = free
  • Bezet = busy


Have you ever had a stranger ask you something in Dutch? Did you know what to answer? Next time you can answer in Dutch that you don’t speak the language. That way people who don’t speak English can understand you.

Ik spreek geen Nederlands = I don’t speak Dutch

Or if they ask something that you do not understand:

Ik begrijp het niet = I don’t understand


The numbers in Dutch are a bit more difficult because from 20 up, they reverse the numbers (instead of twenty-one, the Dutch say one and twenty).

You need a bit of practice to be able to quickly understand which number they refer to, for example when it comes to store prices. Something that costs 49.34 euros will be said as nine and forty and four and thirty). Difficult, right? For now, I will only write the numbers up to ten.

  1. Een = one
  2. Twee = two
  3. Drie = three
  4. Vier = four
  5. Vijf  = five
  6. Zes = six
  7. Zeven= seven
  8. Acht = eight
  9. Negen = nine
  10. Tien = ten


Dutch is a difficult language, but with some effort it can be learned, at least a little. Above, I have used only a few examples of frequently used words. If you want to learn more, you can sign up for a beginner’s course or download an app that helps you learn the language a little. 

If you want to work in the Netherlands, you can of course practice some Dutch with your colleagues. 



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