5 awkward mistakes that Dutch beginners often make

5 awkward mistakes that Dutch beginners often make

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Albert Both of Talencoach tells us which 5 awkward mistakes are commonly made by people who are new to the Dutch language.

The Dutch language has many things in common with English; many people who speak English are able to learn Dutch relatively fast. However, there are some mistakes everyone makes. Here are 5 of them! Do you make these as well?

1. How good are you, really?

In English, you say “I’m good” all the time. You are okay, things are going fine or there is nothing in particular that you need. “Ik ben goed” sounds like it would be the perfect translation. But be careful, “Ik ben goed” is far more specific in Dutch than it is in English. It means: “I am talented; a great and outstanding person. I have a good heart or good karma.” So, if things are going fine, just say “Het gaat goed”. Are you sitting down and is there nothing you need right now? Then you can say “Ik zit goed”.

2. How wrong to say you are wrong!

“Jij bent” means “you are” and “fout” means “wrong”. So, if you want to say that someone is wrong, then all you have to say is “Je bent fout”, right? Be cautious though. In Dutch, being “fout” means really, really wrong. If you collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, you were called “fout”. Therefore, you might want to change the construction a little bit. Instead, say “Je hebt het fout”. If people weren’t happy about your feedback in the past, this mistake may have been the reason!

3. Are you really that hot?

The Netherlands is not a tropical country, but when/if the sun starts to shine in the summer, it can feel hot, now and then. So, what would you say if you want to say “I am hot”? If you say “Ik ben heet”, it can mean two things. It means you are either very sexy or you are aroused. If that’s indeed what you want to say, go ahead. But if this is not the case, make sure you change it up a bit. “Ik heb het heet”, will do the trick. By the way, with the word "warm" you cannot do any harm. If you say “Ik ben warm”, it just means that you have a warm personality. You never know, it might be the truth!

4. When will you come back?

Maybe you have already picked up that “Tot straks” means “Till later”. But, “straks” actually means within a very short time. Usually, it means within a couple of minutes or hours. Imagine that you leave your office at five. Make sure you don’t say “Tot straks”. You don’t want to come back that very same day, do you? So, make sure that you say “Tot later” or “Tot morgen”. Or, even better, say “Tot na de vakantie” (see you after the holiday) ?

5. Are you still thinking?

A typical mistake people make is saying “Ik denk”, when you want to state your opinion. For example, a Dutch person asks “Is Nederland een koud land?” “Ja ik denk”, might sound like a great answer. But if you say “Ik denk”, it means “I think...” Dutch people might stare at you then, waiting for you to carry on your sentence. If you say “Ik denk het”, with the magical word “het”, it makes more sense all of a sudden.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

So, these were 5 of the many mistakes that people often make when they start to learn Dutch. Have you made the exact same mistakes? If so, congratulations! It's important to make mistakes when learning a new language.

What is the most important thing? Don’t doubt yourself when you say something in Dutch and Dutch people don’t get it. It might just be one little word that’s the culprit! Don’t forget to always listen with open ears; you will hear many more surprising things...

And last but not least, always have fun. If the mistake you made was truly funny, make sure you laugh. At least you will be smiling then!

Albert Both is a specialist in learning Dutch fast while having fun. Sign up for his free workshop "Finding Dutch Flow: Opening The Floodgate to Dutch Fluency" on Sunday, September 17, 2017, in Amsterdam.

You can also: Talencoach Albert Both ebook

All free of charge!

Albert Both


Albert Both

I help with an approach of learning Dutch that is completely different from any other language course. It is called Dutch Brainwashing. The immediate result is that you learn at...

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