Most native English speakers are familiar with the concept and pleasantry of saying sorry. In fact, sorry is used so much in some cultures, such as Canada or the United States, that it has lost its meaning. You'll be likely to hear apologies uttered multiple times a day, but are they even sincere?
In the Netherlands, they prefer to live by 'Don't say sorry, be sorry!' So how do you say sorry in Dutch to express sincerity in actually being apologetic? Let's find out about that in the sections below!
The truth is that 'sorry' isn't a common expression at all in Dutch. In fact, they even have the expression, 'There are no sorrys in life.' The average Dutch person isn't utter any form of apology whether they bump into you on the street or crash into you with their car. Saying this word all the time isn't a part of the Dutch culture, but do remember that saying thank you is important to the locals!
Let's look at the different situations and ways to say sorry in Dutch!
Before apologizing, you must first consider who you're speaking with. The Dutch language has formal and informal pronouns for 'you.' Let's look at when to use which pronoun.
It's up to you to decide which pronoun to use when addressing Dutch people during apologies, so when you see u or je in the examples below, know that either can be used.
Here are some words for apologies in Dutch for less serious events:
These are some ways you might hear or use apologies in the Netherlands
|Sorry, ik versta het niet||Sorry, I don’t understand|
|Sorry, het spijt mij||Excuse me, I’m sorry|
|Sorry, kunt u mij helpen?||Sorry, could you help me?|
|Sorry, ik weet het niet||Sorry, I don’t know|
|Sorry, ik ben vergeten!||Sorry, I forgot.|
|Pardon, ik zoek een/de wasruimte||Excuse me, I’m looking for a/the washroom|
|Pardon, is er hier een bank in de buurt?||Excuse me, is there a bank near here?|
|Pardon, mag ik iets vragen?||Excuse me, may I ask you something?|
As mentioned, in Dutch, apologies are usually reserved for more serious situations or when you really, truly mean it. you must really mean your apology in more serious situations such as:
|Niet kwalijk||Excuse me|
|Het spijt me voor jou||I’m sorry for you|
|Nee, het spijt mij. Ik weet het niet||No, I’m sorry. I don’t know|
|Het spijt me, maar we hebben geen martini||Sorry, but we don’t have martinis|
|Het spijt me, maar ik ben hier niet bekend||I’m sorry, but I don’t know this place|
|Het spijt me, de koffie is op||I’m sorry, we're out of coffee|
|Neem me niet kwalijk||Don’t blame me too harshly / take me not evil or badly|
|Excuseert u mijn oprechte verontschuldigingen||(Highly formal phrase) Please excuse. My sincere apologies|
|Excuseert u mijn verontschuldigt u mij||Please excuse me of any blame or wrongdoing|
|Ik bied u mijn oprechte verontschuldigingen||(Highly formal phrase)I offer you my sincere apologies|
|Vergeef mij||Forgive me|
|Ik wil me graag verontschuldigen||I'd like to apologize|
|Het is mijn fout||It's my fault|
|Ik hoop dat je me kunt vergeven||I hope you will forgive me|
Again, the Dutch don't typically offer any apology for simple mistakes, so you don't need to worry about this. You won't come across as arrogant or rude if you don't utter apologies in most situations.
You may be in a situation where a Dutch speaker expresses deep regret to you. It is considered good manners to acknowledge and respond to that person's effort to apologize. As you recall, "Don't say sorry, BE sorry" is real in the Netherlands. When a heartfelt sorry is expressed to you, it's meaningful, and the person truly means it.
Here are some ways to respond to an apology in Dutch (It may be useful also to know how to say yes, no, and ok in Dutch to respond appropriately):
|Het maakt niet uit / het geeft niet||(Don't worry) it does not matter|
|Maak je geen zorgen||Don't worry|
|Ik vergeef je||I forgive you|
|Je bent vergeven||You are forgiven|
|Excuses aanvaard||Apology accepted|
|Nee ik vergeef je niet||No, I don't forgive you|
|Nee ik accepteer je excuses niet||No, I don't accept your apology|
|Het is ok||It's ok|
Now that you've learned the rules and phrases behind how to apologize in Dutch and offer a polite apology, you're ready to learn more for your journey to the Netherlands!
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