Writing emails in Dutch

door Regina Coeli

Emails are generally fairly quick and easy things to write and send off. But it’s more difficult if you haven’t yet mastered the details of the language in which you’re writing. In this article, you’ll read how to write a typical Dutch email and find some helpful standard sentences. Just like in other countries, the Dutch often complain that they receive so many emails that they can no longer keep up with them, so it helps if you write clear emails. It will probably lead to a faster reply, and the recipient might even look forward to getting your emails!

General tips for writing emails in Dutch:

  • Remain consistent: be either formal or informal.
  • Write a friendly introduction and never start your message with ‘ik’ (I).
  • Keep the email as short and as concrete as possible. Smart layouts help.
  • Don’t use colloquial language. Use short, proper sentences so your text is readable for all.
  • Consider email etiquette:
    a. Send a separate email for each subject so the recipient has a better overview of things and can work away the emails one by one.
    b. Do not use all capital letters to highlight words or phrases in the subject line or body of your email.
    c. Only send the message to the person for whom it is really intended. Think carefully before adding anyone to the CC list. What do you hope to achieve by including others?
    d. Do you really need a quick reply to the email? Then make a phone call instead.

The subject line
Make sure the subject line states exactly what your message is about. It’s not only then immediately clear what the reader can expect, it’s also practical because it’s easy to search for it at a later point.

The salutation
Choose a formal or informal salutation. In principle, someone you don’t know will always address you this way:

  • Geachte heer (achternaam), => Dear Mr (Surname),
  • Geachte mevrouw (achternaam), => Dear Ms (Surname),

If you already know someone, you can start the email this way:

  • Beste <voornaam>, => Dear <first name>,
  • Hallo <voornaam>, => Hello <first name>,

As you can see, the salutation always ends with a comma. This is followed by a space between the salutation and next line. Only if you know someone very well and want to be enthusiastic about them can you replace the comma with an exclamation mark.

If you start the email with Geachte, then stay consistent and address the recipient with ‘u’ throughout the email. Otherwise, use ‘je’ and ‘jij’.

The introduction
A short introduction follows the salutation: either state why you’re sending the email or write something friendly to add a personal touch.

Examples of introductions with a reason for writing:

  • Bijgaand ontvangt u het verslag van onze meeting van gisteren. (Enclosed you will find the report of our meeting yesterday.)
  • Graag wil ik reageren op de vacature voor medewerker Client Services. (I would like to respond to the vacancy for Client Services Employee.)
  • Vorige week belde je me met een voorstel. Zoals beloofd kom ik daar per e-mail op terug. (Last week you called me with a proposal. As promised, I am getting back to you by email.)
  • Een collega wees me op de mogelijkheid om Nederlands te leren bij Regina Coeli. Ik ben daarin zeer geïnteresseerd en heb daar een aantal vragen over. (A colleague pointed out to me the possibility of learning Dutch at Regina Coeli. I am very interested and have a number of questions about it.)

Examples of friendly introductions:

  • Hartelijk dank voor (uw e-mail / uw snelle antwoord / het leuke gesprek). (Thank you for (your email / your quick reply / the pleasant conversation).
  • Uw presentatie over <onderwerp> tijdens <event> was zeer interessant. (Your presentation on <subject> during <event> was very interesting.)
  • Heb je een fijn weekend gehad? (How was your weekend?)
  • Ik hoop dat het goed met je gaat. (I hope you’re doing well.)
  • Is het nog gelukt met het boeken van een taaltraining bij Regina Coeli? (Did you manage to book a course at Regina Coeli?)

It’s important to note that Dutch emails never start with ‘I’. While in English this is fine, in Dutch it’s not considered proper.

The continuation of the email
There is no need to write complicated sentences in emails. Keep them simple and short—then you’ll have the best chance that your text will be properly understood. When your message is well-structured, you generally need fewer words.

Other tips:

  • Start a new paragraph for each new topic. This creates structure. A paragraph of two sentences—especially in an email— is not too short.
  • Place headings above your paragraphs, or mark the most important word in the paragraph in bold or italics.
  • Number your points. It’s both visually appealing and allows you to avoid writing long passages.

The closing
Finally, write what you expect from someone after they have read your email or, if that’s not necessary, finish off your message in a friendly way.

Ways to indicate what you expect from someone:

  • Graag ontvang ik uw reactie voor het einde van deze week. (I hope to receive your reply before the end of this week.)
  • Zou u me een antwoord kunnen sturen op bovenstaande vragen? (Could you please send me an answer to the above questions?)
  • Als u vragen heeft, dan kunt u me telefonisch of per e-mail bereiken. (Should you have any questions, you can reach me by phone or email.)
  • Lukt het je om morgen te reageren? (Will you be able to reply tomorrow?)
  • Graag hoor ik snel van je! (I hope to hear from you soon!)

And friendly endings:

  • Ik kijk ernaar uit u te ontmoeten tijdens de beurs in Amsterdam. (I look forward to meeting you at the trade fair in Amsterdam.)
  • Ik wens je een heel fijn weekend / een fijne avond! (I wish you a very nice weekend / a good evening!)
  • Veel succes met je taaltraining! (Good luck on your course!)

The complimentary close
You can sign off every email with ‘Met vriendelijke groeten’. It used to be customary to end formal messages with ‘Hoogachtend’. Most people now think that comes across as too stiff. You hardly ever see it these days, except in legal and similar contexts.

There are many variations possible on ‘met vriendelijke groeten’:

  • Met hartelijke groeten, (With warm regards,)
  • Met vriendelijke groet, (singular instead of plural, Kind regards,)
  • Groeten, (Kind regards,)
  • Groetjes, (very informal form of ‘Kind regards’)
  • Met vriendelijke groeten uit een zonnig Vught, (more personal, With kind regards from sunny Vught,)

And finally, write your name in full.

Did you remember to add any attachments? Great! Now, double check your email and send it!

Do you want to get even better in Dutch?

It’s nice to be able to communicate well with the people around you: by email, but also when you run into someone on the street, when you’re at work or when you’re out with friends. Do you feel like something’s holding you back in your Dutch communication? You can do something about that! Our language trainers are happy to help, whether it’s about overcoming a barrier to speaking, improving your writing skills, improving your pronunciation or improving your Dutch across the board. Simply get in touch with us to discuss your wishes.

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