Dutch vs. German

German and Dutch are 2 languages from the Germanic family, West Germanic subgroup. They are very closely related and related languages usually share a lot of similarities. But how similar are Dutch and German?

The two languages have a very high degree of lexical similarity. The lexical similarity between Dutch and German is over 80%. That means that 4/5 of the two languages’ words are similar. However, that does not mean that they are necessarily mutually intelligible to native speakers due to additional differences in pronunciation and syntax.

While German and Dutch are quite similar in terms of vocabulary, they do differ significantly in terms of grammar. This is mainly due to the fact that Dutch has evolved to have a ‘simpler’ grammar structure.

For instance:

  • German has four cases, and Dutch does not really have any.
  • The word order in Dutch is a little simpler and more flexible than in German with respect to the inversion of phrases for questions and the movement of subordinate clauses to the end of the sentence.
  • There are three articles in German and only two in Dutch.
  • In German, the irregular and quite varied plurals can be quite difficult for learners, but in Dutch, it is consistently -en or -s, and the rules for when to use which are easy to learn.

Grammatical differences are not the only ones that exist between Dutch and German.

Pronunciation of the two languages differs significantly: the same letter combinations are pronounced differently; vowels and consonants that seem the same actually have a different quality to their pronunciation.

The spelling rules are also quite different. For instance, in Dutch, you can’t end a (non-loan) word with two of the same letters. Thus, wil (want, as in German) cannot be written as will. Furthermore, unlike German, nouns are not capitalized in Dutch.

Still, due to their lexical similarity, German and Dutch are somewhat mutually intelligible, although mostly in writing. However, more Dutch people understand German than vice versa because German is taught at school in the Netherlands.


Dutch Vocabulary Books

Learn Dutch - Quick / Easy / Efficient

Learn Dutch - Quick / Easy / Efficient

This vocabulary book is a curated Dutch word frequency list with 2000 of the most common Dutch words and phrases. Following the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), this book is built to streamline the learning process by concentrating on the core words and sentence structures. The result is a unique book ideal for driven learners and language hackers.
Dutch Vocabulary Book

Dutch Vocabulary Book

This Dutch vocabulary book contains more than 3000 words and phrases and is organized by topic to make it easier for you to pick what to learn first. It is well suited for learners of all levels who are looking for an extensive resource to improve their vocabulary or are interested in learning vocabularies in one particular area of interest.

Dutch Flashcards

Dutch Quizlet Flashcards

Dutch Quizlet Flashcards

These Dutch flashcard sets contain 1300 of the most important Dutch vocabularies sorted by topic. Each set represents one topic which allows you to dive deeper into areas depending on your priorities and interests.

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