Translation: Sir, Mister
Politeness is often the key to making friends no matter where you go. The polite Dutch people appreciate your attempts to be polite to them in their own language. You will earn much respect by addressing the locals in a formal manner, and you will find that the more interest you show in interacting with them in their native tongue, the more receptive they will be toward you.
Phrase: Ik begrijp het niet
Translation: I do not understand.
Never be afraid to use the Amsterdam local lingo to let someone know if you don't understand. There is no better way to learn the Amsterdam slang terms and slang phrases than to have them explained to you by a local. Not to mention that the locals are quite used to hearing this expression from travelers. Without this phrase you may think you are buying a piece of fruit from a local cart, but you, instead, end up buying the whole cart!
Phrase: Tot ziens
Translation: See you soon. Goodbye
Local folklore going back generations suggests that it is bad luck to not acknowledge the keeper of the house when leaving. Follow the rules of Amsterdam slang, and never forget to call "Tot ziens" on your way out of a shop or restaurant.
Phrase: Spreekt u Engels?
Translation: Do you speak English?
There may be more people than you think in Amsterdam who speak English fluently; however, you will also hear quite a bit of Dutch, the Amsterdam local language. If you are not able to fully comprehend what is being discussed around you, politely ask someone "Spreekt u Engels?" You may be pleasantly surprised by their response.
Phrase: Ik zoek een hotel
Translation: I'm looking for a hotel.
This Amsterdam local lingo may come in very handy during your stay! Finding appropriate accommodations can be a very daunting task. If you have not included this in your travel arrangements, you will surely find a friendly local willing to help you with securing a room. If you know where to look, you are likely to find local, small scale hotels that offer affordable suites. Knowing how to ask the locals for help in their language can save you a fortune.
Phrase: Ik wil een kamer
Translation: I would like a room.
Once you find a hotel that appeals to your taste and price range, the next step is asking for a room. You may luck out with hotel management that speaks perfect English; however, after a long day of searching for the perfect place to lay your head, be armed and ready with the right words to request the perfect room!
Now, here's some Amsterdam local language you can't live without! If you ask for a bathroom in Amsterdam, you may be surprised at what you find when you get there. Bathrooms often only include a shower and a sink in the Netherlands. Never fear, however, if you are in desperate need of a toilet; they can be found in public areas all over the city. Don't be surprised to find that they are not always the cleanest facilities and do not offer much in the way of comfort or privacy. You may also want to bring some change if you plan on being out and about for extended periods of time, because even using the public toilets in Amsterdam comes with a price.
Translation: Town square
If you are visiting Amsterdam for a chance to experience its true culture, look no further than the town square. At any given time, you can find local tour guides holding signs that read "gids," who love nothing more than to help direct you around the city and teach you about its history. Be sure to tip your guides well, as this is how some of them earn their wages.
Phrase: Wilt u iets drinken?
Translation: Would you like something to drink?
Be prepared to hear this question often when in Amsterdam. You will be surprised by the number of restaurants and bars that line the streets in this historic city. You will find that many of the servers will ask you in Dutch what you would like to drink. But don't fret! Often, the server will understand your English answer just fine!
Phrase: Hoe laat is het?
Translation: What time is it?
Time change can be one of the hardest things to get used to when traveling overseas. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, I had no idea what time of day it really was. Feeling totally lost, my only saving grace was knowing how to ask my taxi driver, who spoke no English whatsoever, what time it was in his local dialect. It may sound outrageous, but if you arrive unprepared you may find yourself in a very similar situation.
Can't Get Enough? Discover More of Amsterdam
- Overview: Amsterdam Travel Guide