Why Dutch is so easy

Combined flag of the Netherlands and United Kingdom

If you're learning Dutch, or interested in learning Dutch, you may have heard people discussing the similarities of Dutch and English; perhaps someone has encouraged you by telling you the languages are incredibly similar. Indeed, with the exception of Frisian (Frysk), Dutch is the closest existing language to English — naturally, this makes Dutch very easy to learn, as similarities abound.

Below, we outline a few of the many reasons why Dutch is easy to learn for English speakers:

Dutch is 'genetically' one of the closest languages to English

With the exception of Frisian, Dutch is linguistically the closest language to English, with both languages being part of the West Germanic linguistic family.

These means many Dutch words are cognates with English, meaning they share the same linguistic roots, with similar spelling and pronunciation. It also means the grammar of Dutch is similar to English; although there are differences, Dutch and English grammar are more similar than they are different, making Dutch easier to learn.

English and Dutch share vocabulary

If you speak English, you're in luck — you already know a large number of Dutch words! Words like water, dune, holster and walrus.

And many more words are easily decipherable: baas (boss), kat (cat), politie (police), discriminatie (discrimination), and many more.

Dutch happily accepts loanwords from English

Further helping the similarities, Dutch quite readily and openly uses words from English and other languages like German. For instance, you might hear people discussing “out-of-the-box” thinking during a “whatsapp” conversation after having “genetflixt”, but hopefully their “badhairday” doesn't send them to “intensiev care”!

Dutch has no case system

Unlike many languages, including German, both English and Dutch have no case system, so no having to remember der, des, dem, den, die, and so on. While you might not appreciate the frustration of grammatical cases if you've never tried learning a language with them, be thankful they're absent in Dutch!

Dutch people appreciate your attempt to learn

The majority of Dutch people speak English, often flawless English. For this reason, many visitors to the Netherlands make no attempt to learn the language — why, they reason, learn the language of a people who already speak English? There are many reasons this is a bad attitude, but there's an upside to this situation: Dutch people tend to be far more grateful to people who put the effort in to learning Dutch.

This can make conversation easier and instantly a little bit friendlier.