Dutch greetings explained – Dutch for beginners

Greetings in Dutch

When you start to learn a new language, understanding common greetings is one of the first and most crucial steps. Dutch, spoken in the Netherlands and parts of Belgium, boasts a variety of greetings, both formal and informal, which are tied to specific times of the day. In this blog post, we will explore the world of Dutch greetings, from a casual “hallo” to a more formal “goedenmorgen” to help you navigate the intricacies of social interactions in the Dutch-speaking world.

Informal Greetings:

Hallo – This is the Dutch equivalent of the English “hello” and is used in casual settings with friends, family, and acquaintances.

Hoi – A friendly and informal way to say “hi” in Dutch, typically used among peers and friends. It’s a warm and inviting greeting.

Dag – Similar to “hello” or “hi,” “dag” is used informally in daily conversations and is suitable for encounters with people you are familiar with.

Tip! “Dag” can be used as both to say “Hi” and “Bye”!

Formal Greetings:

Goedenmorgen, goedemorgen – Meaning “good morning,” this greeting is used in the morning until noon. It’s appropriate for formal situations, such as when greeting colleagues, clients, or strangers.

Goedemiddag – Translating to “good afternoon,” “goedemiddag” is used from noon until early evening. It’s a polite and formal way to greet someone during this time.

Goedenavond – During the evening, it’s customary to say “goedenavond,” which means “good evening”.

Goedenacht – “Goedenacht,” is used at night and means “good night”.

Time Dependent Greetings:

The Dutch language recognises the importance of time when it comes to greetings. Here’s a breakdown of when to use different greetings:

06:00-12:00 uur
Morning (until noon): Use “goedemorgen” to greet people in a formal context or simply “hallo” or “hoi” with friends and acquaintances.

12:00-17:00 uur
Afternoon (from noon to early evening): Switch to “goedemiddag” for formal interactions, while “hallo” or “hoi” remains acceptable for informal greetings.
You can also see that when greeting each other around 12:00 the Dutch check their watches to check whether they should use “goedemorgen” or “goedemiddag”.

17:00-00:00 uur
Evening (after early evening): Transition to “goedenavond” for formal greetings, whereas “hallo” or “hoi” are still suitable among friends and peers. As a rule of thumb, some Dutch people use goedenavond from around 18:00.

00:00-06:00 uur
At night, use “goedenacht” in formal situations and “hallo”, “hoi” in informal settings.

It’s worth noting that Dutch culture places a strong emphasis on politeness and respect, so using the appropriate greeting for the time of day and context is considered good etiquette.

Additional Greetings:

Apart from the standard greetings mentioned above, Dutch also has some special greetings for different occasions:

Welterusten – This means “goodnight” and is used informally when bidding farewell in the evening or before going to bed.

Doei – An informal way to say “goodbye” to friends and family, akin to “bye” in English.

Greetings and hand shake


Mastering Dutch greetings is not only about language proficiency but also about understanding cultural nuances and social etiquette. Whether you’re saying “hallo” to a friend or “goedenavond” to a colleague, choosing the right greeting for the occasion will help you build meaningful connections and navigate social interactions in the Dutch-speaking world. 

Doubting which greeting to use? You can always use the word “dag” or less formal “hallo”.

So, go ahead and practice your Dutch greetings—it’s the first step towards a warm and friendly conversation!


Ps. Use our flashcard set in Quizlet to practice the translation and pronunciation of Dutch greetings.