What's the difference between wou and wilde?

You are likely to hear both wou and wilde, and may wonder which is correct. This one's easy: you can use either!


In the singular, the verbs wou and wilde ("wanted") can be used interchangeably.

However, it should be noted that to some, especially in the Netherlands, wilde is considered more formal or standard, particularly in written Dutch. Likewise, wou may be considered somewhat 'colloquial' and relegated only to spoken Dutch.

Usage may also be influenced by regional differences, with an even greater preference for wilde in the northern parts of the Netherlands.


In the plural, wilden is the more common, 'standard' form. Both wouden and wouen exist, but are used predominantly in spoken language and more informal contexts.

Want to learn more everyday Dutch? Why not check out the book Essential Dutch Grammar, which explores basic Dutch grammar using examples of everyday Dutch. Or maybe one of our other recommended books!