Home Page

The Netherlands



Asking the Dutch "how are you doing"



Near Bunnik, Utrecht province

"How are you doing" tends to sound inauthentic to Dutch people. They may feel that you don't really mean it. But it's just a social custom — of course you don't always really mean it.

The Dutch have their semi-annoying quasi-obligatory social customs, too. "Eet smakelijk," for example, is the Dutch version of the ubiquitous European "enjoy your meal" — and within a certain range of encounters, one pretty much has to say it.

And, anyhow, the Dutch have "hoe gaat het," or "how goes it?" — though it's neither as automatic nor as expected as the English "how are you." It requests just as little information (but is not as much of an implicit demand for vacant small talk, which is generally unnecessary in Holland.)

Sometimes it might seem to the Anglophone that a response to the unconsidered "how are you" is dismissive when in fact it's not.

In the Dutch language, one might ask an acquaintance "gaat het?" This question literally translates as "goes it?" and means, approximately, "are you doing okay?" The affirmative response would be "ja, goed."

The response "yeah, good," to the question "how are you" can feel dissonant — curt or even slightly rude. But it was probably not meant that way.


Contact