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How To Say Hello in Dutch & Other Useful Phrases

Planning a trip to the Netherlands or simply brushing up on your Dutch? Language can seem like a difficult barrier. Did you know that the most common way to say hello in Dutch is “Hallo”?

As a Dutch native who is raised bilingually, I will guide you through different ways of greeting in Dutch and also introduce you to other essential phrases and vocabulary. This will make your communication in the Netherlands a lot smoother.

Ready for an engaging dive into the world of Dutch greetings? Let’s get started!

boat in Haarlem
A hidden gem in the Netherlands: Haarlem

Basic Dutch greetings

When greeting someone in Dutch, you can say “hoi” or “hallo” to say hello. To bid farewell, you can use phrases like “goedenavond,” which means good evening, or “goedemorgen,” for good morning.

If someone greets you first, respond with a friendly “hoi” or the appropriate greeting for the time of day.

When greeting and meeting someone for the first time, it’s normal to give them a hand. It’s less common to give someone a hug here, especially when you’ve never met hem before. ”Nice to meet you” in Dutch is ”Leuk je te ontmoeten”.

Saying hello

In Dutch, you say hello by saying “Hallo.” This word fits most times and places. It’s safe to use with anyone. You can also say ”Hoi”, which is a slightly more informal way to greet. It’s like saying hi.

Saying goodbye

In Dutch, you can say “Tot ziens” to bid someone farewell. This phrase means “See you.” It has a formal tone. You can use it when you leave and plan to see the other person again soon.

But, there are other words that people use more often. Those are “dag” and ”doei”. You can say “Doei!” as a fun, casual way to say goodbye to friends.

Responding to greetings

In Dutch, “Hallo” is a good way to answer greetings. If someone says “Goedemorgen” in the morning, you say “Goedemorgen” back. The same rule goes for “Goedenavond” in the evening and “Goedemiddag” in the afternoon.

A smile or nod also work well if you don’t want to talk much. But if someone asks, “Hoe gaat het?” a simple word – “Goed,” means good and shows politeness. You can add ”En met jou?” to this, which means ”And how are you?”

Formal and informal greetings

To greet someone formally in Dutch, you can say “Goedemorgen” (Good morning), “Goedemiddag” (Good afternoon), or “Goedenavond” (Good evening). These greetings are used when you want to show respect or when speaking to someone you don’t know well.

On the other hand, informal greetings like “Hallo!” and “Hoi” are more commonly used among friends and in casual situations. So, if you want to say hello in Dutch, use “Hallo!” with your buddies, but go for one of the formal greetings when meeting new people.

Greetings for different times of day

In Dutch culture, it’s common to use different greetings depending on the time of day. If you want to say “good morning,” you can say “goedemorgen.” This is a friendly and polite way to greet someone in the morning.

In the afternoon, you can use “goedemiddag” which means “good afternoon.” And for the evening, a common greeting is “goedenavond.”

By using these appropriate greetings based on the time of day, you’ll be able to connect with Dutch locals and make a positive impression.

Essential phrases

Asking how someone is, expressing gratitude, making conversation, and asking for help and directions are essential phrases you need to know in Dutch.

Don’t miss out on these important phrases that will make your interactions in the Netherlands much easier!

Asking how someone is

When interacting with Dutch locals, it’s important to know how to ask someone how they are. In Dutch, a common phrase for this is “Hoe gaat het?” which translates to “How are you?” in English. Most people will respond with ”goed”, which means ”good”.

This greeting is commonly used among friends, close family, and acquaintances, but also among colleagues. Learning how to ask someone about their well-being in Dutch can greatly improve your communication skills while traveling in the Netherlands.

Directness and honesty

Do keep in mind that Dutch people are very direct, so they might give you an honest answer when you ask them something. They can come off as rude sometimes because of their blunt honesty. It’s an interesting and very big part of the culture.

Most Dutch people will think that you’re looking for their honest opinion when you ask them something, so they will respond in full honesty. This can be something you need to get used to at first. It has both good sides and negative sides to it.

For example, if you ask a Dutch person whether they liked the food you cooked or whether they think your new trousers are nice, be prepared to receive a completely honest response. They have a hard time not being honest if you ask them something, which in a way can be a good characteristic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that they might give you their opinion even when you haven’t asked for it. Do they think you need to go to the hairdresser, do they think your sofa doesn’t match your walls or do they think that you’re wearing something weird? They might tell you!

Even as a local I need to get used to this sometimes. Especially since I’ve been brought up by my British mother and my Dutch dad, I can see huge contrasts between this.

It can be very ironic. British people might not give their opinion out of politeness, while Dutch people consider honesty as being the best option. Personally, I think balance is key.

Expressing gratitude

When someone does something nice for you or helps you out, it’s important to show your appreciation. In Dutch, there are a few different ways to express gratitude.

One common phrase is “Dank u wel,” which means “thank you very much.” This is a formal way to say thank you and can be used in professional settings or when speaking with people you don’t know well. A less formal variant of this is: ”Dank je wel”.

For a more informal setting, you can also simply say “Bedankt,” which means “thanks.” It’s always polite to acknowledge when someone has done something kind for you, so make sure to use these phrases whenever appropriate.

Making conversation

To make conversation in Dutch, it’s important to learn some basic phrases. You can start with simple greetings like “Hallo” (hello) or “hoi” (hi), which are commonly used in informal situations.

For a more formal greeting, you can say “Goedendag, hoe gaat het?” (Good day, how are you?).

To keep the conversation going, use phrases like “dank je wel” (thank you), and “lekker” (nice). If someone asks you how your food is and you like your food, you can answer with ”lekker”.

And if you want to ask someone how much something costs, simply say “hoeveel kost het?”, which translates to ”how much does this cost?”. You can also ask what the price is: ”wat is de prijs?”

Remember that Dutch greetings can vary depending on formality and time of day.

Asking for help and directions

If you’re in the Netherlands and need help or directions, it’s useful to know some basic phrases in Dutch. You can ask “waar is ..?” to find out where something is located, like a specific street or landmark.

For example, if you’re looking for the train station, you can say “Waar is het treinstation?”. If you want to know which direction to go, you can ask “welke kant op?“, meaning “which way?”.

And if you need to know when something will happen, use the word “wanneer?”, as in “Wanneer begint de voorstelling?” (When does the show start?). Having these essential phrases at your disposal will make it easier to navigate and communicate while traveling in the Netherlands.

Other useful Dutch vocabulary

In addition to basic greetings and essential phrases, it’s helpful to know some other Dutch vocabulary.

Useful words for traveling

When traveling to the Netherlands, it’s helpful to know some useful words and phrases that can make your trip easier.

You will see that several words are similar to words in English. Here are a few essential words for traveling in Dutch:

1. “Trein” (train) – This word will come in handy when navigating the public transportation system in the Netherlands.

2. “Bus” (bus) – Knowing this word can help you find your way around if you’re planning on using buses as a mode of transportation.

3. “Hotel” (hotel) – If you need assistance finding accommodations or asking for directions to your hotel, knowing this word is important.

4. “Restaurant” (restaurant) – When looking for places to eat, being able to recognize the word “restaurant” on signs or menus can be very useful.

5. ”Fiets” (bicycle) – Maybe you want to rent a bicycle while traveling in the Netherlands. While in Rome, do as the Romans do.

6. ”Bioscoop” (cinema) – When you want to go see a movie in the Netherlands, watch out for the word bioscoop.

man riding bike in forest

Common phrases on menus

When dining in the Netherlands, it’s useful to know some common phrases you may see on menus.

Firstly, “Voorgerecht” means “appetizer,” so you can find a tasty starter to begin your meal.

If you’re looking for the main course, look for “Hoofdgerecht.” Order a delicious dessert by asking for “Nagerecht.”

Don’t forget to try some traditional Dutch snacks like “Bitterballen,” which are fried meatballs, or “Stroopwafels,” a famous sweet treat.

If you want to ask for the menu, say: ”Mag ik het menu alsjeblieft?” This is a kind way to ask for the menu.

One of the best ways to experience Dutch snacks is to join a food tour in Amsterdam. Enjoy exploring the flavors of Dutch cuisine!

Appelkruimelvlaai: a typical Dutch treat

Funny Dutch sayings and its meanings

Dutch language is known for its funny expressions and sayings. These idioms have meanings that are different from their literal translations, making them quite amusing.

For example, “Wat de boer niet kent, dat vreet hij niet” means that if a farmer doesn’t know something, he won’t eat it. It’s used to describe someone who is hesitant to try new things.

Another saying is “Nu komt de aap uit de mouw,” which literally means “Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve.” It actually means that the truth or real motive behind something has been revealed.

Dutch people also say “Je kop in het zand steken,” which translates to “sticking your head in the sand.” This phrase refers to ignoring problems instead of facing them.

With these funny sayings, you can add some humor and cultural understanding when speaking with Dutch locals.

If you would use any of these sayings, I think Dutch people would be pretty surprised, yet at the same time they would think you’re really funny. I would find it pretty impressive if a non-native would say one of these expressions to me.

In conclusion

Learning how to say hello in Dutch and other useful phrases can greatly improve your social interactions during a visit to the Netherlands.

From basic greetings like “Hallo” and “Hoi” to more formal phrases such as “Goedendag,” understanding these common expressions will help you connect with Dutch locals and show respect for their culture.

Additionally, learning essential phrases like “Dank je wel” (thank you) and knowing how to ask for help or directions will make your travels a lot easier. It’s important to remember that Dutch people can be very direct and honest.

Take the time to learn a few words in Dutch. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and make meaningful connections along the way. I hope you enjoyed this little Dutch language lesson and let me know what you think.


Here you’ll find your most frequently asked questions answered:

1. How do I say “hello” in Dutch?

To say “hello” in Dutch you can simply say ”hallo” or ”hoi”.

2. What are some useful words in Dutch?

Some useful words include “gezellig” which kind of means cozy. It’s a really common word in Dutch. It’s similar to the word cozy, yet it has its own kind of meaning. You can for instance answer with ”gezellig” when someone asks you what you think of a social gathering.

More useful words in Dutch are “ja” for yes, ”nee” for no, and “sorry” when you want to apologize.

3. What are some unique idioms of the Dutch Language?

Dutch locals often say expressions like “”Nu komt de aap uit mouw,” meaning truth revealed; or “”Zo gek als een deur zijn””, which translates as being as crazy as a door.

4. Are there any common food-related expressions in dutch?

Yes, a common expression is ”Bier na wijn brengt venijn, wijn na bier brengt plezier” which means ‘Beer after wine brings poison, wine after beer brings pleasure’.

Away with Danae

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