Good Morning






Do you speak English?

Spreekt u Engels?

How are you?

Hoe gaat het met je?



You’re welcome

Graag gedaan

Where are the toilets?

Waar zijn de wc's?

I don’t understand

Ik begrijp het niet

How much?

Hoe veel?

The native language in Amsterdam is Dutch, although it’s widely spoken in a number of other countries too, including Belgium and in the Caribbean. In total, it’s estimated that around 23million people around the world speak Dutch. However, ask anyone who’s been to the capital of the Netherlands what language is spoken in Amsterdam and the chances are that you’ll be told that it’s English. To some extent, this is true: the locals are well-versed in English and are happy to use it when talking to visitors. Despite this, it’s worth learning a few simple phrases to show willing. After all, a little politeness can go a very long way.

The Origins of Dutch

The language in Amsterdam has evolved from a West German tongue, Old Frankish. It has a lot on common with both Scandinavian and German, and features a lot of sounds that don’t exist in English, which can make it tricky for Brits to pronounce or navigate. In addition, its grammatical structure leans towards German syntax, making it confusing for those who haven’t learned to navigate the linguistic pitfalls. However, learning a busker’s version of the Amsterdam language can give you some distinct advantages when it comes to taking a holiday in this fantastic city.

Why Learn Useful Phrases?

Fluency doesn’t have to be an issue, as long as you can get away with a few basic pleasantries and greetings when using the native language in Amsterdam. Even learning how to say that you don’t understand Dutch can be a great help. Showing willing is a great way to endear yourself to the inhabitants, showing that you’re prepared to put in that little bit of extra effort, regardless of how little you’re able to say in the Amsterdam language.

Making Friends and Ordering Food

Learning the basics of the language in Amsterdam is a real ice-breaker, particularly when it comes to meeting new people. Amsterdam is a very friendly city and you’re never far from a conversation, particularly in the local bars. Having some simple Dutch up your sleeve can help you to make new connections and begin new friendships. On a more basic level, it can make ordering food and drinks a lot simpler, as your assumption that the waiter that is serving you can speak fluent English might be wrong. Armed with a bit of the local Amsterdam dialect, you might even find you get a little bit extra when it comes to your portion sizes, purely because you’ve made the effort to try what is quite a complex language.

Some Dutch Courage, thanks to Thomas Cook

While the language in Amsterdam might be a little challenging to achieve any fluency during a short holiday, you don’t have to bombard yourself with textbooks or apps to be able to get by.

We’ve compiled a few of the most-useful phrases to help you get more from your time in the city. Because the language in Amsterdam doesn’t always sound as it reads, we’ve added some sound files too, which will have you sounding like a native in no time. Click the ‘play’ icon and you’ll hear the correct pronunciation, which you can then learn in your own time.