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What languages do they speak in the Netherlands?

netherlands language
Reading time: 3 Minutes

Say you want to visit the Netherlands and immerse yourself into the local culture. Or you’re going there for work or study — meaning you will stay there for quite a while. 

So it never hurts to learn at least some of the local language, right?

But with the Netherlands, the question is a bit more complicated than that. What language do they actually speak?

Let’s try to figure this one out.

The Netherlands official language

Let’s start with the easiest part.

When answering the question of the language spoken in the Netherlands, looking into the official language of the country makes the most sense. So, the primary language for the Netherlands is Dutch, as it is spoken by the majority of the population.

On top of that, the Dutch is considered as the Netherlands main language for publications, meetings, and administration.

It’s right up there with some of the most popular Germanic languages in the world — only English and actual German beat it in the number of speakers, both native and foreign.

When it comes to learning the Netherlands native language, there are over 5 million people in the world who speak Dutch as their foreign language — so you can be sure there is no shortage of tutors.

But here’s the catch — it’s not the only one Amsterdam language.

What about the Holland language?

There are people that often confuse Netherlands and Holland as the same country and the same language. So let’s clear that up.

The official name of the country is Netherlands. And Holland is actually the name of its two provinces: Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland.

And now the catch: there is no Holland language. Residents of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland also speak Dutch.

amsterdam language

Another Netherlands language: het Fries (Frisian)

It is another language used in the province of Friesland. There are around 453,000 people speaking Frisian, which is not a lot.

But, in case you ever want to learn it — you better have a good command of English. Those two share a lot more in common than Dutch and English.

It’s worth mentioning that regional languages are not rare in the Netherlands — like most, the Dutch has regional variations and dialects despite the small number of people using it.

English in the Netherlands

Don’t worry if you are struggling your way through Dutch. English will do just fine for some time!

Actually, English is recognized by the Netherlands as the official language, but it is given the lower status compared to the native language. What that means is you will have little trouble when dealing with municipality: it can all be done in English.

There are also an increasing number of schools and universities that offer educational programmes in English, which is great for international students.

So, English being so widespread in the Netherlands, it’s pretty obvious that the locals can also speak English quite well. Some researchers even go on and say that they are among the best non-native English speakers in the world.


Let’s recap what we have learned here: the Netherlands primary language is Dutch. Dutch has a ton of regional dialects and variations, and some of the country’s provinces have their own languages, like Frisian language.

But it is no problem for English-speaking foreigners, as English is also quite widespread in the Netherlands.

Learning Dutch language and even Frisian should be manageable for English speakers, as they have some similarities between them. To make sure that your studies are effective, we suggest you start with some of the most commonly used words rather than more extensive vocabulary. This way you will figure out the way the language works much quicker, which will matter a lot down the line.

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