Have you ever noticed that speaking Dutch can be quite a challenge, even in very simple situations? For example, if you go to a shop you may hear many things that do not make sense to you…. And then…. if you don’t understand it, what would would you respond?
Let’s have a look at the following picture… How would you interpret it? Have a look at the sentence: het gaat zo wel mee!
It basically means: I do not need a bag…. Don’t worry if it does not make sense to you, yet…. Soon enough, you’ll have far more clarity…. Just read the explanation and it will make perfect sense!
The first tip is that you do not confuse me with mee…. Me and mee are two diffent things… Me (it rhymes with the in English means me) and mee (sounds like may) comes from the Dutch word met and means with… Often it suggests a movement and sometimes you can translate it with along….
Therefore if you here a sentence bon or bonnetje mee? it means: will you take the receipt with you? If you like this idea, then simply say: ja, ik wil een bonnetje mee (I want to take the receipt with me) and if you do not like the receipt, simple say: nee, dank je wel….
Here is another example with mee…. you can say: ik neem bloemen mee and that it means: I bring flowers with me…. Dutch people love this idea!
And then…. how would you translate zo? Zo looks like so in English and in many situations it makes perfect sense…. Zo lekker means so tasty and if you say zo zo when people ask you: hoe gaat het?, then it means that life is so so….
But… zo can also mean like this, this way…. Je doet het zo means: this is how you do it….
If you look now at the sentence: het gaat zo wel mee , then probably now it makes a lot more sense… it simply means: it goes with like this, meaning that you do not need an extra bag…
You may still wonder what wel is doing here…. It is hard to really translate wel, but what it does is that it softens the sentence… All of a sudden it sounds friendlier…. You can compare it with English like this: well, I will take it with me like this…. In this sentence well has exactly the same meaning as wel….
Now of course, you may ask yourself: why don’t they just say: wilt u een tasje? (do you want a bag?)…. That sentence is much clearer, right? But… here is the thing… even in so called simple situations, people may use many different ways of saying certain things… But… here is the good news… all you need to do is to make sure that you are flexible enough to interpret Dutch sentences….
Unfortunately, in most language courses, people only focus on memorizing words… It may look like a good idea at first, but here is the big problem…. Even if you know 2000 words, if you are not flexible with your mind, you will not be able to understand what people really mean if they talk to you. That is why your first priority should be to have a flexible mind first and then as a bonus, you’ll find that memorizing will be a lot easier….
Here is another tip: most Dutch people can have 2, 3 or even 4 different meanings in English. Make sure that if you learn new words, you’ll always learn it with more interpreations! The good news is that the Dutch word is often the hardest thing to learn and then, if you can give it more translations, it simply means that you can use this word in many more situations… If you truly understand this idea and if you love it, it will be easier for you to reach Dutch fluency a lot faster!
What is one Dutch sentence that has confused you, lately? Please feel free to share!