Kristen de Joseph is a freelance writer, editor, and academic researcher for Leiden University. Her work has been featured in multiple Michelin guides for Amsterdam, Austria, and Germany.

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If you"re planning a visit to Amsterdam, it"s not a bad idea to learn a few keywords and phrases in Dutch even though most people there speak English. "Please" and "thank you" are two of the most useful expressions for tourists and will show the Dutch people you encounter that you"ve taken some time to familiarize yourself with their culture.

In short, the words to use are alstublieft (AHL-stu-BLEEFT) "please" and dank je (DANK ya) "thank you," but there are some variant forms and important rules to use these expressions correctly in context.

Saying Thank You in Dutch

An all-purpose expression of thanks is dank je, which translated directly as "thank you," at a neutral level of politeness. It's not impolite, but not formal either, and is the most widely used Dutch phrase by far. Dank is pronounced as written, but je sounds like "ya."

The formal expressiondank uis best reserved for seniors; Dutch society isn"t especially formal, so there"s little need to be overly polite in shops, restaurants, and similar environments. Dank is pronounced as above; the u, just like the "oo" in "boot."

To add some emphasis to your thankfulness, dank je wel and dank u wel are the equivalent of "thanks a lot." The wel is pronounced like the "vel" in "vellum." If a Dutch speaker has been extraordinarily kind or helpful, hartelijk bedankt ("heartfelt thanks") is a thoughtful response. This phrase is pronounced approximately as "HEART-a-luck buh-DANKT."

If all this is too much trouble to remember, bedankt is appropriate just about any time and anywhere among Dutch speakers. But don't fret over it; most Dutch people you encounter will be pleasantly surprised that you've taken the time to learn any Dutch at all.

The equivalent to "you're welcome" is optional in the Netherlands. If you really feel the need for it, you can use geen dank ("Don't mention it"). You may not be inclined to use this phrase much, and you won't be considered impolite. Many non-Dutch speakers find it difficult to pronounce the initial sound, which is the same as the "ch" in the Hebrew word Chanukkah. The "ee" is pronounced like the " a" in "able."

Expressions of Thanks Quick Reference
Dank jeThank you (informal)
Dank uThank you (formal)
BedanktThank you (no distinction)
Dank je wel or Dank u welThanks a lot (informal or informal)
Hartelijk bedanktHeartfelt thanks
Geen dankNo thanks necesary/You're welcome

Saying Please in Dutch

To be brief, alstublieft (AHL-stu-BLEEFT) is the all-purpose equivalent of "please" in English. It can be used with any request, such as Een biertje, alstublieft ("One beer, please"). Substitute biertje (BEER-tya) with any item of your choice in this versatile Dutch expression.

Alstublieft is actually the polite form. It's a contraction of als het u belieft, or "if it pleases you," an exact Dutch translation of s'il vous plait ("please" in French). The informal version is alsjeblieft ("als het je belieft"), but it's not as commonly used, despite the fact that the Dutch typically speak in informal terms.

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The phrases alstublieft and alsjeblieft are also used when you offer someone an item; at a store, for example, the cashier will utter Alstublieft! as s/he hands you your receipt.

Please Quick Reference
AlsjeblieftPlease (informal)
AlstublieftPlease (formal)
"Een ____, alstublieft.""One ____, please."