LivingTravelBasic Dutch phrases to use in Amsterdam

Basic Dutch phrases to use in Amsterdam

The vast majority of Amsterdammers speak English, most of them quite well, and generally don’t mind using their bilingual skills to communicate with visitors. For these reasons, English-speaking travelers in Amsterdam don’t really have a functional reason to learn a lot of Dutch before visiting.

As a courtesy, these words will show your Dutch hosts that they appreciate their language and their ability to communicate with you in yours. The following format provides you with the Dutch word (in italics), the pronunciation (in parentheses), the English equivalent (in bold), and the typical usage of the word or phrase (below the word).

Hello and other greetings

You will hear the Dutch greet each other and visitors with any of the following words and phrases. It is common to return the sentiment when greeted.

  • Hello (“HAH low”) – Hello
    universal greeting for hello (and by far the easiest to say). Appropriate at almost any time or place.
  • Hoi (“today”) – Hello
    Used more often with people you know. A little more casual.
  • Goedemorgen (“KHOO duh MORE khen”) – Good morning
    Most commonly used in museums, shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. More formal and appropriate for people you do not know. Sometimes shortened to morgen .
  • Goedemiddag (“KHOO duh midakh”) – Good afternoon
    Same use as the previous one, only for a different time of the day. Sometimes shortened to mid-leg .
  • Goedenavond (“KHOO dun AH fohnt”) – Good afternoon
    Same use as above, only for a different time of the day. Not typically shortened.


When leaving a shop or cafe, most people in Amsterdam use one of the following words or phrases. Be a visitor friendly and try one.

  • Dag (“dakh”) – Goodbye
    Literally “day” as in “good day”, this is the most common word to say goodbye. Appropriate with most anyone. It can also be used as a greeting.
  • Tot ziens (“toht zeens”) – See you later (figurative)
    Cheerful, but still appropriate with people you don’t know. It is often used by store or restaurant workers when you leave.
  • Doei or doeg (“dooey” or “dookh”) – Goodbye
    It is used most often with people you know, but can be used in a casual and friendly way. Like the British cheerio.

Thank you please and other polite words

Thank you and please are used regularly and in different ways in everyday Dutch conversation and interaction, even in the most informal settings. As a visitor, you must do the same (in any language).

  • Dank u wel (“dahnk oo vel”) – Thank you very much (formal)
    Dank je wel (“dahnk yuh vel”) – Thank you very much (informal)
    The most common way to say thank you. The formal version is appropriate for use with people you do not know and the informal version for family and friends. Although not a literal translation, the added welcome is similar to adding “a lot” to thank you. A plain wet is fine too.
  • Bedankt (“buh DAHNKT”) – Thank you
    A little less formal than dank u wel , but appropriate for most situations.
  • Alstublieft (“ALST oo bleeft”) – Please or if you wish (formal)
    Alsjeblieft (“ALS yuh bleeft”) – Please or if you wish (informal)
    These words have various meanings in different contexts and are used very frequently. Here is a typical example in a coffee situation:
    You: Een koffie, alstublieft. (A coffee please).
    The server arrives with your coffee and presents it to you. Server: Alstublieft .
    You: Dank u wel .
    The server doesn’t want to say “please” while giving you your coffee. He wants to say something more like “here you are” or “if you want.” If he can thank your server before you say it , you can respond with alstublieft as a kind of “nothing”. Sometimes shortened to alstu or blieft .
  • Sorry (“par DOHN”) – Sorry, excuse me
    Universal word to apologize, whether it’s to get someone’s attention or to be courteous when trying to push your way through a crowd.
  • Meneer (“muh NEAR”) – Lord
    Mevrouw (“muh FROW”) – Miss, ma’am
    These words are the Dutch equivalents of the English “sir” or “sir” and “miss”, “madam” or “madam” ( mevrouw is used for both married and single women). You could say that Pardon, meneer , is more courteous.
  • Sorry (same as in English, but with a long “o” and a slightly rolled “r”) – Sorry,
    this is self explanatory. You accidentally step on someone’s toe on the tram. “Oh I’m sorry!” No translation is required.

Other Dutch phrases to learn

No need to stop with basic greetings. Learn how to order food in Dutch, a skill you are sure to find useful, as subsequent travelers must order food on their trip, and how to request the check in Dutch. No waiter will assume you want the check unless you specifically request it; learn how to do it in dutch.

You can also read more about learning Dutch before visiting Amsterdam.

Queen Máxima deeply touched: Emotional reunion goes to the heart

Queen Máxima recently proved once again how approachable she is. The reunion with an old friend made for a particularly emotional moment.

Ukraine should get gold treasure back – Now President Zelensky wants the Crimea

For years, Russia and Ukraine have been fighting over a gold treasure from the Crimea. The current verdict is probably not the end of the bizarre story.

After fatal attack on investigative reporter: suspects in court

The two suspects in the Peter de Vries murder case appeared in court for the first time on Monday (October 18, 2021). The main hearing is due to begin in the spring.

Holiday in the Netherlands despite Corona: What travelers need to know now

The Netherlands are considered a risk area. Is it possible to take a vacation despite the corona pandemic? A look at the corona rules and the current situation.

Holiday in the Netherlands despite Corona – travelers need to know that now

Despite the corona pandemic, the Netherlands is a popular holiday destination. Now the country is considered a risk area: What travelers have to consider.