How to be polite in Dutch
When you start learning to speak Dutch we encourage you to start with short simple sentences. "Ik ben Adam", "Ik heb een kat". "Ik wil koffie!" (=" I want coffee"). The first 2 sentences are absolutely fine to use but the third one sounds a bit demanding and might be perceived as impolite. In English you would make this sentence more polite by adding "would, may or could have" to your sentence. In Dutch however we make the sentence more polite by adding "graag" to the sentence. "graag" means "pleasure" "gladly" or "with pleasure" and it is placed behind the verb. Although "graag" is a difficult word to pronounce (a guttural [g] followed by a rolling[r]) I would strongly recommend you learning this word and its uses. "Graag" is in the top 250 most used words in the Dutch language. So here are some examples of sentences with "graag". Just learn them by heart, maybe record a few phrases with the word "graag" on your mobile phone. You can listen to it when walking to work, sitting on the bus or doing chores in the house. The more you listen to a certain structure and to your own voice speaking Dutch the more normal it becomes. If it seems too hard to say the sentences you can type the Dutch phrases into Google translate (Dutch to English) and listen to the Dutch sentences as long as you need before having a go yourself.
"Ik wil graag koffie" = "I would like a coffee"
"Ik eet graag kaas" = "I like to eat cheese"
"Ik speel graag voetbal" = "I like to play football"
Do you get the idea? Try to make some sentences of your own using the word "graag". Think about something you like to do. Maybe you like shopping? Look up the verb "to shop" which is "winkelen". "I shop" = "Ik winkel". "I like shopping" then becomes "Ik winkel graag". Now imagine you are on holiday in the Netherlands and you are visiting one of the many pancake houses in the Netherlands. To make it a bit more realistic, why not go to the following website www.devuurscheboer.nl . De Lage Vuursche is one of my favourite Dutch villages to go for a walk or a bicycle ride and have a pancake ("pannenkoek") afterwards. Have a look at the menu ("de menukaart"). Pick a few pancakes you fancy and practice ordering them in Dutch. "Een zoete pannenkoek" = "a sweet pancake"; "een hartige pannenkoek" = "a savoury pancake". "Een eierpannenkoek" is "an egg pancake" meaning the pancake mixture is made with eggs.So you could for example say: "Ik wil graag een pannenkoek met kaas"or "Ik wil graag een pannenkoek met kaas en ananas" or "Ik wil graag een pannenkoek met kaas en ananas en een kopje thee". Has this made you curious about the village "de Lage Vuursche"? Why not have a virtual tour of the village on Google earth!