door Regina Coeli

You’ll come across the word ‘groetjes’ in all sorts of places in the Netherlands. In the closing phrases of emails, on postcards in souvenir shops (groetjes uit Amsterdam), but also during conversations when you’re out and about. You might hear ‘groetjes’ instead of ‘doei’ or ‘tot ziens’ when someone says goodbye. And have you ever heard someone say, ‘Doe de groetjes aan Jan’?

Groetjes is derived from the word ‘groeten’. It’s both a verb and a noun:

  • As a verb: Ik groet de leraar. Wij groeten onze klasgenoten. (I greet/am greeting the teacher. We greet/ are greeting our classmates.)
  • As a noun: Wij krijgen een groet van de leraar. (The teacher sends his/her greetings.)

A lot of Dutch people think the word ‘groeten’ sounds a bit stiff. In the 1970s, the need for more informal language grew. As a result, the word ‘groetjes’, which is a diminutive of the word ‘groeten’, came into use.

Diminutives to set a light tone

In Dutch, diminutives are not only used to indicate that something is small but also because people like the way they sound. And that’s often done when it comes to food and drink.

  • Zullen we vanavond een wijntje drinken? Shall we have a little wine tonight?
  • Ik ga een hapje eten met een collega. I am going to have a little bite to eat with a colleague.
  • Tussen de middag eten we een boterhammetje. At noon we eat a bit of bread.

Not everyone is equally enamoured with diminutives, however. Some people even can’t stand them, so it’s better not to use ‘groetjes’ and other diminutives in every situation.

You can use the following forms of ‘groeten’ to close an email:

Met vriendelijke groeten,
This is a fairly formal closing that’s always appropriate in business. Make sure, however, that your closings get more informal as you get to know someone better. Because while this closing is a safe one, it’ll come across as quite distant after a while.

Met hartelijke/warme/sportieve groeten,
Besides closing in a friendly manner, you can also wish someone ‘sporty greetings’ or shower them with ‘warm greetings’. The sky’s the limit. But be aware that a too-creative closing can come across as somewhat exaggerated, so it’s better to keep things neutral in a business context. Unless, of course, it's a perfect fit for your brand.

Informal and still mature. Always good when you know someone a little better.

A whole-hearted, confident closing. It sounds more enthusiastic than ‘groeten’, so pepper your emails with this now and then, especially when you’re brimming with energy.

This one can sound a bit childish and rather informal, so it’s not particularly suitable for business correspondence or rounding off messages to people you don’t know very well.

Gr./mvg /,
‘Grrr’ is also used in Dutch to indicate that you’re growling with anger, so why would you use it to close your emails? That means the abbreviations gr. (groeten), mvg (met vriendelijke groeten) and (vriendelijke groeten) are a no-go as far as we’re concerned.

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