Common English errors Dutch speakers make

Some of the more common errors made by Dutch speakers of English

Every language group makes certain types of key errors when they speak English. The Dutch are no exception. While the level of English speaking in the Netherlands is very high, there are a number of common mistakes made by many Dutch speakers when using English.

Here are a few of the more common ones we have come across:

Teach / Learn

These two get mixed up a lot. The correct way to use teach is; “I will teach her how to sing”. The correct way to use learn is; “She learns how to speak Japanese”.

Do not make the common mistake of saying “I learn him” or “he learns me”



Used alone, Yes or No can seem very direct to a native English speaker. Try instead

Yes I have

No, I haven’t

Yes I will

No, I won’t

Yes please

No thanks,



Hereby is a word only used in very formal contract language. It is not used in daily conversations or emails.

Do not write: Hereby I attach the document

Do write: I have attached the document below


At School vs. On School / Sit on school

We commonly hear this error “she sits on school in Amsterdam”

The correct way is to say “She is at school in Amsterdam” or better “She is attending school in Amsterdam”


I am having an idea

You can say you are having dinner (eating dinner) or you are having a great time. But you cannot say ‘we are having an idea’ or ‘I am having an idea’.

Instead, say “I have an idea” “We have an idea”


Missing capital letters

I not i

Wednesday, not wednesday


Double tense

Not: I did found out

Correct: I found out

Only one past tense per sentence.


Place, then time

Always start with the place and then the time.

Not: I on Saturday go to sports practice

Correct: I go to sports practice on Saturday


Price or Prize?

A prize is something you win. ‘You win a prize’.

Price is the cost to buy something. ‘The price of the product is on the package.’


Can you explain me please…

Correct: Can you explain this to me, please?

Or ‘Can you explain something to me, please?


What is your job function?

Function is a direct translation of Dutch, but it is not usually used in English this way. In English, you would ask ‘what is your position at work?’


I’ll be there in 5 minutes. Sorry, I’m too late.

Almost correct except for the ‘too’. ‘Too late’ implies you have missed the event.

Correct is to say Sorry I’m late. Or ‘sorry I’m running late.’


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