Your guide to speaking Dutch like a local this summer

Your guide to speaking Dutch like a local this summer

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Are you ready to have a fantastic summer in the Netherlands but aren't confident about your Dutch language skills? UvA Talen's e-learning platform, The Language Academy, has come to the rescue!

Dutch summers present a mystery: you never quite know what to expect - sun, rain, wind or even storms. Typically, you can experience them all within a span of two months! However, let's focus on the positive: a Dutch summer usually blesses us with several days of sunshine and temperatures surpassing 18 degrees. And what do the Dutch do on such days, you may ask?

They stuff themselves and their belongings into their cars and head for the beach or a lake, ride their bicycles to the nearest terrace, or fire up the barbecue in their backyard. Picture yourself doing the same - what Dutch phrases are essential for surviving those scorching days?

Here are a few Dutch phrases that will help you make the most out of your summer days:

At the terrace

Let's say you've chosen to spend your day at a nearby terrace. What will you order? How will you ask for the bill on such a busy, sunny terrace day?

See your options below:

Mag ik een witbiertje bestellen? (Can I order a white / wheat beer?)

Good to know: Together with Aperol Spritz, (alcohol-free) wheat beer is a fan-favourite summer drink for the Dutchies.

Waar is de WC?(Where are the toilets?)

Good to know: Some Dutch cafés charge you if you would like to make use of their toilet unless you are a customer there. So, might as well treat yourself to a beer while you're at it!

Mag ik afrekenen? (Can I pay?)

Good to know: Most Dutch people pay by card even with small amounts, and some cafés ask you to pay before you have even received your order. Better get your card ready!


At the beach

For all of the readers who chose to go to the beach on a scorching summer day … don't forget to use these examples below:

Gaat u weg? (Are you leaving?)

Good to know: This is to be used, for example, arriving at the beach to a full parking lot, but you notice someone walking to their car and you'd like to claim their parking spot. Parking spots at the beaches in the Netherlands are very scarce, so whenever you see a family with sun-kissed skin heading for their car, don't be afraid to follow them with your car and wait for them to leave.

Zijn er publieke douches op het strand? (Are there public showers on this beach?)

Good to know: The answer is usually "no". Unfortunately, most Dutch beaches don't offer shower facilities. But feel free to use this sentence if you’d like to ask just in case!

We willen graag een bittergarnituur bestellen. (We would like to order fried snacks)

Good to know: No matter the season, a plate of different appetisers is always a good idea! The Dutch love their yellow, fried bite-sized snacks: usually bitterballen, croquetten and spring rolls, among others.

At a barbecue

So, you're the hamburgers and hot dogs type! Let's give you some phrases that will help you at your friend's backyard party.

Hoi, ik ben … Leuk om kennis te maken. (Hi, I'm … Nice to meet you.)

Good to know: Dutch people usually shake hands when they meet for the first time. However, if you have met the other person before, you usually greet each other with three kisses on the cheeks, although two kisses or even one are quite common as well, nowadays.

Is er ook vegetarisch vlees? (Is there vegetarian meat too?)

Good to know: There are quite a lot of vegetarians among the Dutch (approx. five percent of the population), so if you organise a barbecue party yourself, be sure to stock up on sufficient vegetarian hamburgers!

Wil je een wijntje, een biertje of fris? (Would you like to have a glass of wine, a beer or soda?)

Good to know: If you are invited to a barbecue party, it's quite common to bring something to drink to the party yourself too. Try not to show up empty handed …

Lekker weer hè! (What lovely weather, isn’t it?)

Good to know: If you are looking for a conversation starter, the weather is always a good topic! The Dutch love to describe, praise and, of course, complain about the weather.

Start learning Dutch

With these common and useful Dutch phrases, you are now equipped to take on summer in the Netherlands. Make sure to take advantage of the warmer weather by going outside and having conversations with locals!

Would you like to learn more contextual Dutch words and phrases like these and more? The Language Academy, UvA Talen's e-learning platform, offers complete online courses in Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Italian and German at six different levels, ranging from beginner to advanced. Every course has a free trial, which contains the complete first lesson of the course. The Language Academy also gives you the option to add online conversation classes to your e-learning course. You can find more information on the Online+Teacher page.

Kate Aemisegger


Kate Aemisegger

Kate Aemisegger, employee and student at UvA Talen, the independent language centre of the University of Amsterdam, writes about her experience learning the Dutch language as an American living in Amsterdam. Her...

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