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Our A2 course: How is your Dutch in these situations?

How do you ask someone for directions? And how would you explain your symptoms to your doctor? 

If you’ve already taken our A2 course, you’ll know how to handle the following situations in Dutch, but if you haven’t, we encourage you to read on! Afterwards, you’ll be able to show off some freshly learned sentences.

Waar vind ik de schoenenwinkel?

We’ve all been there, walking around in a city you don’t know that well, enjoying the sights, when all of a sudden… you’re completely lost. Google Maps would be one way to solve that, but when you’re in doubt, it’s always handy to be able to ask passers-by for advice! 

Wanneer je iemand de weg vraagt (= ‘when asking someone for the road’), make sure to start off with the polite mag ik u iets vragen? (= ‘can I ask you something?’).

It’s also best to ask them if they’re familiar with the area: Bent u hier bekend? If they confirm that they know their way around, you can ask them what you’re looking for:

  • Weet u waar de bushalte is? (= ‘Do you know where I can find the bus stop?’)
  • Ik zoek een supermarkt (= ‘I’m looking for a supermarket’)

The advice of the passer-by might be simple:

    • U gaat hier rechtdoor (= ‘Continue straight’)
    • U steekt de straat over (= ‘Cross the road’)
    • U gaat links of u gaat rechts (= ‘Go to the left’ or ‘Go to the right’)
    • Aan het einde van de straat gaat u linksaf (= ‘At the end of the road, turn left’)
    • U neemt de eerste straat rechts (= ‘Take the first street to your right’)
    • Het restaurant is aan de rechterkant (= ‘You’ll find the restaurant to your right’)

But when your destination is a bit further off, you’ll want to pay close attention! Test yourself, are you able to keep up with this itinerary to the schoenenwinkel (= ‘shoe store’)?

Eerst gaat u rechts. Dan gaat u bij het kruispunt rechtdoor. Daarna gaat u bij de stoplichten links. Ten slotte ziet u links de schoenenwinkel.

(= ‘First, take a right. When you arrive at the crossroads, continue straight. Once you get to the traffic lights, take a left. Eventually, you’ll see the shoe store to your left.’)

Wat zijn de klachten?

Sore throat? Stomachache? When visiting your Dutch huisarts (= ‘GP’) or any other dokter (= ‘doctor’), you’ll want to be able to explain what klachten (= ‘symptoms’) you’re suffering from. 

Your dokter will ask you questions like: 

    • Wat is er aan de hand? (= ‘What troubles you?’)
    • Wat zijn de klachten? (= ‘What are your symptoms?’)
    • Hoe lang hebt u die klachten al? (= ‘How long have you already been troubled by these symptoms?’)
    • Wanneer is dat begonnen? (= ‘When did it start?)
    • Hebt u koorts? (= ‘Are you suffering from a fever?’)
    • Waar hebt u pijn? (= ‘Where do you feel pain?’)

You, the patiënt (= ‘patient’) will have to explain what’s bothering you. Maybe you’re ziek (= ‘ill’) because you have a cold or the flu. But sometimes, only one specific body part is bothering you, like your: 

  • Keel (= ‘throat’)
  • Oor (= ‘ear’)
  • Hoofd (= ‘head’)
  • Buik (= ‘stomach’)
  • Rug (= ‘back’)
  • Kies (= ‘molar’)

Simply add the word pijn (= ‘ache’) at the back of the body part to talk about your symptoms. You would say Ik heb last van … (= ‘I’m bothered by’)

  • Keelpijn
  • Oorpijn
  • Hoofdpijn
  • Buikpijn
  • Rugpijn
  • Kiespijn

You could also say it like this: Mijn … doet pijn or Mijn … doet zeer (= ‘My … hurts’).

Are you not feeling well in general? Then you can say: Ik voel me niet goed. And if you’re sleep-deprived, you could use: Ik slaap slecht.

If a friend or colleague of yours is ill, you could wish them well by saying: Beterschap or sterkte. Ik wens u het beste is a way of wishing them the best.

Hoe heet dat?

Whether your dokter is giving you medical advice or a passer-by is explaining where you need to go, it’s comprehensible that you won’t immediately understand everything they’re telling you. So don’t be afraid to politely inform them that you don’t understand a word or a sentence. You could ask them the meaning of a certain word or request that they repeat a sentence:

    • Wat betekent … ? (= ‘What does … mean?’)
    • Sorry, ik versta u niet goed (= ‘Sorry, I don’t understand you that well’) 
    • Ik begrijp het niet (= ‘I don’t understand)
    • Wat zegt u? (= ‘What did you say?’)
    • Kunt u dat herhalen? (= ‘Could you repeat that?’) 
    • Wat bedoelt u? (= ‘What do you mean?’)

While talking to someone, you might have trouble thinking of a word that explains what you want to say. So how do you vragen hoe je iets zegt in het Nederlands (= ‘ask how to say something in Dutch’)?

You could ask: 

  • Hoe heet dat? (= ‘What’s that called?’)
  • Hoe heet zo’n ding? (= ‘How do you call that thing?’)
  • Hoe zeg je dat in het Nederlands? = (‘How do you say this in Dutch?’)
  • Zeg je dat zo? (= ‘Is that how you say it?’)

Your conversation partner will explain what it is you want to say, for example, ‘a cookie’ = Je bedoelt een koekje.

Were you able to follow the directions to the shoe store?

Niet echt (= ‘Not really’)

Were you not able to make sense of the vocabulary in this post? Then we’d be happy to give you a gentle introduction to the Dutch language. Sign up for our A2 course and learn how to have conversations about other subjects, like your hobbies, work, study, likes, dislikes, and much more. 

You can also have a look at some basic vocabulary from our A1 course.

Absoluut! (= ‘Totally!’)

Did you not encounter any new Dutch words? Then it might be time to step up your language game with one of our other courses.

Lest Best


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