Speech! Speech! (Or: Dutch lesson 7 of 14)

The blog title refers to the tradition (at least in America) of a person being in front of a group of friends or family during an event (like receiving a surprise award). The audience then requests the person say something about the event/award by shouting “Speech! Speech!” (toespraak in het Nederlands?)

Last night was my 7th Dutch lesson. Halfway there! It was a pretty good lesson – this time I learned a lot of little things, rather than anyone one big thing.

In the previous class the teacher asked that we write about something (anything we wanted) and speak for not more than two minutes. I had no idea what to write about (in English or in Dutch!) so I asked Marco for help. You can see what it looked like below. I still had some errors of my own, like where I said “a” when I should have said “een” in the first line.

Dutch writing homework

Before I came to the Netherlands, I lived in a little town called “Pearl River” in New York. Nothing happened in the town. The craziest day was St. Patrick’s Day because most of the people were Irish. Pearl River had a big parade for that day  – the second biggest in all of New York. The parade draws about 70,000 visitors or more. There are also many bars where people could drink – the main street had four bars in a hundred meters. My fiance said that Queen’s Day is the same – there are many drunk people.

And that’s what you write about when you do not know what to write about!

Some other things I learned in the class included “little” words that changed based on whether the situation was formal or informal. (Are you close to the person you are talking to? Then you can be more informal.)

niets (formal) / niks (informal) = nothing

nou (informal) = well (also used as a “stall for more time” word.) Nou, ja


If the question contains al, you’ll probably answer with nog niet. If the question contains the word nog, you’ll probably answer with meer and a denial word (nietgeen).

Ben je al vrij? Nee, ik ben nog niet vrij.
Heb je nog vakantie? Nee, ik heb geen vakantie meer.

Are you free already? No, I am not yet free.
Do you have vacation still? No, I have no more vacation.

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