Lesson 5 Beginner

Lesson 5 – Hoeveel kost dat?


This lesson deals with shops, buying, selling, prices and money. There will be some attention for diminutives and for sentence structures in Dutch.

You’re already familiar wit zegt u het maar – the most currently used phrase not only in restaurants and pubs, but – even more – in shops. Telling what you want to buy is just as easy as ordering: you say what you want and let it be followed by alstublieft (‘please’) or you first sayMag ik (means ‘Can I have’) plus the item you want.

The rest of the conversation in a shop mostly contains just standard phrases like Anders nog iets? (‘anything else?’), Dat was het (‘that’s all’) and Hoeveel is het? (‘How much is it?’).

Here’s a standard kind of conversation:

Text 5.1 – Een kilo tomaten
  • Zegt u het maar
  • Mag ik een kilo tomaten?
  • Mag het ietsje meer zijn?
  • Ja, hoor.
  • Kijkt u eens
  • Anders nog iets?
  • Nee, dat was het.
  • Hoeveel is het?
  • € 4,10
  • Alstublieft
  • Heeft u er een dubbeltje bij?
  • Nee, sorry. Ik heb helemaal geen kleingeld.

The phrase Mag het ietsje meer zijn? means ‘May it be a little bit more?’ (strange enough it’s never asked if it can be a bit less). In fact iets already means ‘a bit’ (also: ‘something’ like in anders nog iets which means ‘anything else’) – the -je suffix makes it even smaller.

This -je suffix can also be -tje, -etje or -pje (often after an m) and is called ‘diminutive’, or in Dutch verkleining. It’s used quite a lot in Dutch, either to make things smaller or to make thing look more innocent. A ‘little book’, for example, is een boekje, a ‘small tabel’ is een tafeltje and a little flower een bloempje. Another example: a business like appointment is een afspraak, but a date is een afspraakje – so here the -je is used to make it look “more innocent” (even if it’s the big date you’ve been trying to get for years…).

Diminutives may also occur in certain situations or expressions where they do not seem to have a function. In a shop, a kilo might become een kilootje, but it’s still the same 1000 gram; you might be addressed as meneertje or mevrouwtje while you might not be very small or innocent; a cup of coffee will mostly be een kopje koffie, no matter how big it is. In those cases the diminutives are just to be considered part of the expression or perhaps to express some kind of sympathy.

The word dubbeltje, as used above (Heeft u er een dubbeltje bij? – ‘Do you have 10 cents with it?’) even doesn’t have a non-diminutive form.


This brings us to Dutch coins and notes. Here’s an overview:

Text 5.2 – Geld
  • De cent – 1 cent (1)
  • De stuiver – 5 cent (2)
  • Het dubbeltje – 10 cent (3)
  • De euro – € 1,- (4)
  • Het vijfje – € 5,- (5)
  • Het tientje – € 10,- (6)
  • Het briefje van 20 – € 20,- (7)
  • Het briefje van 50 – € 50,- (8)
  • Het briefje van 100 – € 100,- (9)
  • Het briefje van 1000 – € 1000,- (10)


Additional remarks:

  1. The euro sign is €.
  2. Between euro’s and cents, there’s a comma, not a dot: dots are used for thousands, comma’s for the seperation of decimals.
  3. The word briefje means literally ‘note’, so it can also refer to a memo.
  4. In spoken Dutch, euro and cent are used only as singulars, unless one speaks of coins. So ? 100,15 is honderd euro en vijftien cent.
  5. A Dutchman mostly leaves cent away, though: honderd euro vijftien.


The phrases you’ve learned by now, have two kinds of sentence structures:

  1. subject – verb – rest
    This is a basic sentence structure.
    It’s used in simple statements.

    Ik heb helemaal geen kleingeld
    subject verb rest


  2. verb – subject – rest
    This is an inverted sentence structure
    It’s used when: – the sentence is a direct question or request, – if something comes before the subject, and it’s not one word, seperated by a comma (like oh, ah, ja, nee, meneer, mevrouw, etcetera).Examples:

    Mag ik een kilo tomaten?
    verb subject rest
    ‘s Morgens drink ik koffie
    “something else” verb subject rest

    For English speakers this structure is not that hard as long as it’s a question: in English you do the same thing, although the verb you start the quetion with is quite often ‘to do’. In Dutch you don’t: instead of ‘do you want coffee’, you simply ask ‘Want you coffee’.

    The inversion if something comes before the subject is much harder to get used to. It’s important though, to get it right when you’re still at the first level, because later on, it just gets harder.

    Quite often, the thing that comes before the subject is a statement of time (like ‘s morgens in the above sentence) or place.



Another thing in Dutch sentence structure that’s hard to get used to: if there’s two verbs, the second one is usually placed at the end. You might already have noticed this in Mag het ietsje meer zijn?: the first verb, Mag (‘May/Can’), is at the beginning (inverted structure) and the second one, zijn (‘be’), is at the end.

Here’s two more examples:

Wilt u misschien iets drinken?
Want you perhaps something to drink?
verb #1 subject rest … verb #2
Ik wil een kilo appels kopen
I want a kilo apples to buy
subject verb #1 rest … verb #2



The above mentioned kilo is well known as being 1000 grams. Because some other words concerning weights might cause some confusion, here’s is listing:

Text 5.3 – Gewicht
  • een kilo
= 1000 gram = 2 pond
  • een pond
= 500 gram = 5 ons
  • een ons
= 100 gram = 1/10 kilo
  • anderhalf pond
= 750 gram 3/4 kilo



anderhalf one and a half
anders else; different
de appel the apple
bij with, at
de brief the letter
het briefje the note
de cent the cent
het dubbeltje ten cents coin
er there; it
de/het gram the gram
de euro the euro
helemaal totaly
hoeveel how much
de/het kilo the kilo
het kleingeld the change
kopen to buy
meer more
nog still; yet
de/het ons 100 gram
de/het pond 500 gram
de stuiver 5 cents coin
het tientje 10 euro note
van of; from
het vijfje 5 euro note


More …

  • Before you move on to the next chapter you should just take a look at (don’t do the exercises yet, save them untill you’re at level 2):

    You could also take a look at these pages – but at this level it would be to much to remember al the listed words and phrases, so just browse and pick what you think you might need:

  • With the help of the above mentioned lists and the phrases you learned in this lesson, you could make yourself a list of things you would like to buy and imagine the conversation that would take place in the shops (of course, you shouldn’t go to the supermarket …).


Try to complete the test about this lesson!

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