10 things Dutch shopkeepers will say to you

You thought going shopping was a great way to practice your Dutch on the natives? Indeed it is. But here are a few key phrases you really do need to watch out for.

Wil hij (of zij) misschien een plakje worst?
If the butcher likes you, possibly because you have just paid a fortune for a piece of meat, and you have a child with you, he will ask ‘would he (or she) like a piece of sausage?’ They invariably ask the parent, not the child who has no say in the matter. Some butchers have been known to offer sausage to dogs… who never say no.

Hoekje of plak?
You are now at the cheese shop. The cheese man wants to know if you want your piece of  cheese wedge-shaped or flat. Why is unclear. Possibly wedge people have big fridges with plenty of room while poorer people have to stack stuff. Or want to cut it into cubes.

An acquired taste

A hoekje of cheese

Anders nog iets?
Anything else?

Mag het ietsje meer zijn?
Do you mind if it’s a bit more? This is usually a rhetorical question because the assistant has scooped too many olives into the plastic pot or cut too big a piece of cheese. You are free to object if you dare.

Met vijf maakt tien
Good shopkeepers don’t thrust your change into your hand.  They count it out. Their concluding phrase might be ‘and five makes ten’ (or any other amounts of course)

Met staart? Uitjes en zuur erbij?
We’re at the fish stall  buying lovely herring. Would you like the tail with that? the fishmonger will ask. You need the tail to dangle the herring over your mouth if you want to eat it that way.

More popular than friends?

Herring for tourists, not purists

Purists poo poo uitjes and zuur, that is why the fishmonger always ask you if you want them. Onions are onions but the pickle is only referred to by its taste: zuur or sour.

Meenemen of opeten?
Are you taking this home or eating it (here). The Dutch omit the ‘here’ which always suggests that when you take it home you will immediately throw it in the bin, and frankly if you buy a frikandel that is exactly what you should do.

Met of zonder?
Do you want your French fries with or without mayonnaise. With, please

The real deal

Patat met

Papier of plastic?
You are at the health food shop for a change. You are buying a piece of spelt bread with chia seeds and the person at the bread section asks ‘would you like paper or plastic’ to put your loaf in. In that split second you have to consider which is better for the environment. Eh….

Fijne dagen!/Prettig weekend!
Fijne dagen (enjoyable days) is what shopkeepers wish harassed Christmas shoppers. Your prettig or fijn weekend, starts on Friday morning.


9 thoughts on “10 things Dutch shopkeepers will say to you

  1. expatsincebirth

    That’s a great list, thank you. For the last one I would add “fijne dag nog verder”, as “fijne dagen” is usually something they say before holidays. Otherwise it would be simply “fijne dag (nog)”. – Dankjewel en tot de volgende keer 😉

  2. Theo

    The cheese thing is not all that strange actually.

    Most dutch cheeses are big flat circular shaped cheeses and therefore it’s more pratical to cut them in this typical ‘hoekje’ shape.

    If you want to cut them in rectangular blocks, the farmer or seller will end up with a lot of unsellable scraps near the edge of the circle which is considered a waste of perfectly good cheese.

  3. Stefán

    “Gaat het zo mee?”, another way of asking if you wanted a bag; literally: is it going like that with (you)? It always used to confuse me. I didn’t know whether to say ja or nee.

  4. Ravi

    when itcomes to bread , the question “paper or plastic” is asked because you might want to put the loaf in the freezer. If that`s the case plastic does a much better job in preserving the bread than paper.

  5. paganphotoprod

    Mind yourself in the south they mainly use Frietjes instead of Patat (Patat is typically used above the rivers). In the south you might get frowned upon if you order a patat met.


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