Lesson 3 Beginner

Lesson 3 – Alles goed?


This lesson deals with common greetings and small talk. Furthermore, you’ll get some theory on adjectives (when you have to add an -e), learn all about the parts of the day and you’ll be introduced to the art of Dutch time telling.


The Dutch greet each other informally with Hoi or Hallo, or (a bit) more formally with their versions of ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, etcetera. A simple ‘dag‘ is also used, though mostly it’s followed by someone’s name. In case one wants to be formal, someone could use the Dutch equivalents to ‘Mister’ and ‘Misses’: meneer and mevrouw. Note thatmevrouw is used for both married and unmarried women.

The same word – dag – can be used to say goodbye – though in that case the -a- is much more stretched. Other current goodbyes are tot ziens (a bit formal) and doei (very informal).

Text 3.1 – Greetings
  • Hallo
  • Goedemorgen.
  • Goedemiddag
  • Goedenavond
  • Goedenacht
  • Dag meneer Jansen
  • Tot ziens
  • Doei


When meeting someone you know, you might show some interest in how someone is doing – even in Dutch this is a common thing to do. The commonly used phrases and replies are listed below. Because it’s sometimes hard to translate literally, the meanings of the phrases are listed too.

The phrase Hoe gaat het ermee? can also be used without ermee (means literally ‘with it’) or with met je (means ‘with you’). The same goes forHoe is het ermee?

Text 3.2 –
Hoe gaat het?
  • Hoe gaat het ermee?
How are you?
  • Alles goed?
Is everything going well?
  • Prima
(I’m) fine, (everything’s) great.
  • En met jou?
And (how are) you?
  • Hoe is het met je?
How are you?
  • Ach, het gaat wel.
Well, it could be better.

So please note that the phrase Het gaat wel does not mean that ‘all goes well’, even though the Dutch wel can in fact be translated as ‘indeed’.


Adjective + -e…

Another thing you might have noticed: the word goed (means ‘good’) is also in words like goedemorgen. Indeed, goedemorgen literally translates as ‘good morning’ and it shows how fond the Dutch are of writing two words as one. Nevertheless it’s quite exceptional that an adjective is attached to a noun like that: it is common, but only for noun combinations.

What’s not exceptional: the adjective goed does have an extra -e- ingoedemorgen. This is the case for most adjectives if standing before a noun. The only case in which it doesn’t happen is when an adjective stands before a het-word and the article een is used (or geen, which could be seen as niet een).

The table down here might make this more clear: boek is taken as a het-word, pen is taken as a de-word and goed is used as the adjective before the noun:

de pen het boek
de goede pen het goede boek
een goede pen een goed_ boek

Now this is not all there is to it yet. If you add an -e to an adjective, you get an extra syllable and if you studied the basic spelling and pronunciation (see: theory), you know that the spelling of the word might change, because there’s an extra adjective.

Take, for example the adjectives groot (big) and dom (stupid). They both are one syllable words, the first one has a ‘long’ -o- and because this sound doesn’t end the syllable (the t does) it has to be doubled. The -o- in the word dom though is a ‘short’ one, so it has to be single. The -m that follows it doesn’t have to be doubled, because it’s the end of a word, and the end of a Dutch word never has a double consonant.

Now when the -e is added, both words become two syllable words: gro-te and dom-me. The adjective groot looses an -o- because the first syllable now ends on a vowel and in that case it’s automatically ‘long’ so it doesn’t have to be doubled anymore. This would also happen to the word dom if we would just add the -e: it would become do-me wit a ‘long’ sounding -o- and we want to keep it short. Thus we add an -m-, which causes the syllable-split to be between the m’s, so the -o- stays ‘short’.In full sentences:


  • De man is dom – het is een domme man.


  • De man is groot – het is een grote man.


With the greetings, you’ve also more or less been introduced to the parts of the day (morning, afternoon, …). In Dutch they’re not that different from English, though evening and night might be used a little different from their Dutch equivalents:

Text 3.3 –
Dag & nacht
time part this … in the …
06.00-18.00 de dag vandaag overdag
de morgen
de ochtend
‘s morgens
‘s ochtends
12.00-18.00 de middag vanmiddag ‘s middags
18.00-24.00 de avond vanavond ‘s avonds
24.00-06.00 de nacht vannacht ‘s nachts

By the way, the ‘s is a shortened version of the old Dutch article des. Like many other ancient forms (der, den, ter, ten …) in modern Dutch it is only used in certain expressions.



In the table above here, you see the time indicated in a 24 hour digital form. In writing, the Dutch often do that, instead of using AM and PM equivalents. In speaking though, they use just twelve hour indications and add ‘s morgens, ‘s middags, ‘s avonds or ‘s nachts to it.

In short, time telling in Dutch is done as follows:

  • For the full hour, the number is just followed by the word uur(means ‘hour’): acht uur, negen uur,…
  • Quarter (15 minutes) is kwart.
  • Past the hour is over, before the hour is voor.
  • Half is the same in Dutch: half…
  • But in Dutch you count towards the next hour: half past six is half zeven in Dutch (you can try to get used this by remembering that half past six can actually be seen as halfway seven).
  • between twenty past the hour and twenty to the next hour, you count using the half hour.


For most foreigners it takes some time to get used to this, but once you are, you see the logic of the system.

Perhaps this is of some help:

Text 3.4 – Tijd – time
Hoe laat is het? What time is it?
Het is negen uur It’s 09.00
Het is tien over negen It’s 09.10
Het is kwart over negen It’s 09.15
Het is half tien It’s 09.30
Het is tien voor half tien It’s 09.20
Het is vijf over half tien It’s 09.35
Het is kwart voor tien It’s 09.45
Het is vijf voor tien It’s 09.55



alles everything
de avond the evening
de dag the day
dag hello, bye
doei bye (informal)
dom stupid
het half the half
hallo hello
het kwart the quarter
laat late
meneer (=mijnheer) sir, mister
met (=mee) with
mevrouw madam, miss, misses
de middag the afternoon
de morgen the morning
de nacht the night
over past
prima fine, great
tot untill
tot ziens goodbye
het uur the hour
voor before, for, in front of
wel indeed
zien to see




More …

  • Before you move on to the next chapter you should study:
  • Try to train yourself in telling the time by telling for .00, .05, .10, .15, .20, .25, .30, .35, .40, .45, .50, and .55 minutes after every hour.


Try to complete the test about this lesson!


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