Tongue twisters to trick your tongue into talking Dutch

Learning Dutch is kind of like forcing your throat to compete in the Olympic gymnastics when it’s only ever played T-ball.

But, as we all know, practice makes perfect! Get back up on that beam, smack out your lips, do some tongue jumping-jacks and get rid of any form of self-consciousness you’ve ever had (super-easy, right?) with these Dutch tongue-twisters.

We’re about to teach you how to put the ‘g’ in gezellig, the ‘sch’ in Schiphol, and the ‘rrrr’ in Rotterdam. So wrap your tongue around these words, flip your throat into action, and get your tongue twisting around these Dutch tongue twisters to trick your tongue into talking Dutch!

Warm-up with some Dutch v’s and z’s:

Let’s get crackin’ with some v’s and z’s — while these aren’t the hardest letters in the Dutch alphabet, these tongue twisters may just give you a run for your euros. We’ve gone ahead and included the English translation for you because, let’s face it, some of these are hilarious.

Dutch: Als vliegen achter vliegen vliegen, vliegen vliegen vliegensvlug.
English: If flies fly behind flies, flies will fly like lightning.

Dutch: Zeven Zaventemse zotten zullen zes zomerse zondagen zwemmen zonder zwembroek. Zware Julien zijn zuster zaliger zei: “Zo’n zeveraars! Ze zijn zijle zeker zot zeg! Ze zullen zinken!
English: Seven fools from Zaventem will swim six Sundays in the summer without swimming trousers. The dead sister of fat Julien said: “Such fools, they are nuts, they’ll sink!

Pronounce the Dutch ‘sch’ and ‘ch’ like a pro

All warmed up? Let’s tackle the ‘sch’ words, a.k.a public enemy number one for all Dutch learners. Ever had a Dutchie laugh at you when you stumbled over ‘Schiphol‘? Accidentally drooled when trying to pronounce ‘school‘? You’re not alone. Get these tongue twisters down pat to stun the Dutch into silence.

Dutch: Scheveningse scheve schoenen.
English: Scheveningen crooked shoes.

Fun Fact: During WWII this phrase was used to discover German spies. Germans pronounce ‘sch’ as ‘sh,’ unlike the Dutch pronunciation ‘sg.’

Dutch: Er schreed een snip over ‘t schip, die sneed met zijn bek ‘t spek van ‘t spit. Wie zag er ooit een snip schrijden en met zijn bek ‘t spek van ‘t spit snijden, zoals deze snip deed, die over het schip schreed en met zijn bek ‘t spek van ‘t spit sneed.
English: A snipe swooped over the ship, and cut with his beak the bacon from the spit. Whoever saw a snipe swoop and cut the bacon from the spit with his beak, as this snipe did, the one that swooped over the ship and cut the bacon from the spit with his beak.

Dutch: De meid snijdt recht, de knecht snijdt scheef.
English: The maid cuts straight, the servant cuts crooked.

Dutch: Wij smachten naar achtentachtig prachtige nachten bij achtentachtig prachtige grachten.
English: We long for 88 beautiful nights by 88 beautiful canals.

Dutch gutteral ‘g’ will become a breeze

Dutch: Als in Graven graven gravengraven graven, graven graven gravengraven.
English: If in Graven counts are digging counts’ graves, counts are digging counts’ graves.

Dutch: Gooi geen groene groenten in de grote gracht.
English: Don’t throw green vegetables in the big canal

Dutch: Allemachtig prachtig achtentachtig.
English: Almighty beautiful eighty-eight.

Fun Fact: 1988 was the first year the Dutch mens football team won the European Championship.

Rip it through with some rocking r’s

Dutch: Roverovervallen vallen overal voor. Het valt voor dat bij een roveroverval een rover voorover over een roverval valt. Maar een rover heeft het er wel voor over om bij een roveroverval voorover over een roverval te vallen. Want voor een rover schiet er bij een roveroverval altijd wel wat over!
English: Robberies occur everywhere. It happens at a robbery that a robber falls forward into a robber trap. But for a robber is doesn’t matter if he falls forward into a robber trap. Because for the robber at a robbery always something will remain.

Dutch: Ruud Rups rap rode ronde radijsjes raspt?
English: Ruud the caterpillar quickly grates red round radishes.

Dutch: Roereieren, roereieren, roereieren, roereieren
English: Scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs

Dutch: Bram de brave broer van breiende brauwende Brielse Brechtje, bracht in zijn bronsbruin broekje een bril en een brandbrief en een gebroken brokje bros bruin brood over de brede brug naar Breukelen.
English: Bram the brave brother of knitting brewing Brielse Brechtje, brought in his bronze brown pants glasses and a fire letter and a broken piece of brittle brown bread on the wide bridge to Breukelen

Throw in some Dutch vowels to round it out

Dutch: Effe op ‘t Rijswijkseplein vijfenvijftig ijzeren schijthuispijpleidingen halen.
English: Just fetch fifty-five iron outhouse drainpipes from the Rijswijkseplein.

Dutch: Meisje met je mooie mondje moet je met je maatje mee?
English: Little girl with your beautiful mouth do you have to go along with your Mum?

Dutch: Als een potvis in een pispot pist, heb je een pispot vol met potvispis.
English: If a sperm-whale pees into a piss-pot, you’ll have a piss-pot full of sperm-whale piss.

Cap it off with some Dutch k’s, OK?

Dutch: De knecht van de kapper knipt knapper dan de kapper knippen kan.
English: The hairdresser’s assistant cuts better than the hairdresser can cut.

Dutch: Kriegelig kocht Krelis kilo’s kruimige krieltjes.
English: Annoid Krelis bought kilos of crumb potatoes

BONUS ROUND: Free up your throat with some f’s

Dutch: Frans zegt tegen Frans in het Frans ‘is Frans in het Frans Frans?’ ‘Nee,’ zegt Frans tegen Frans in het Frans, ‘Frans is in het Frans is Français’.
English: Frans says to Frans in French ‘is Frans in French Frans?’ ‘No,’ says Frans to Frans in French, ‘French in French is Français!’.

How did you go with this round of Dutch tongue twisters? Got a favourite tongue twister you would like to share? Leave it in the comments below!

Feature Image: Ulleo/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2019, but was fully updated in July 2021 for your reading pleasure. 

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. My favorite is ‘Als in Graven graven graven graven graven graven graven graven graven graven gravengraven’. It’s such fun nonsense.
    It really helps to speak better. But you have to practice it regularly.
    I’m still not a confident speaker, but at least I can explain in simple words what I need and people understand me.

  2. Some of these had me laughing to tears! I especially appreciate your English translations, as Google Translate’s contribution was “If in Graves graves graves graves, graves graves graves.”

    Thank you for sharing!

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