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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Dutch pronunciations in resource articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-nl}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

See Dutch phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Dutch as well as dialectal variations not represented here.

IPA Examples English approximation
b beet bait
d dak duck
f fiets feats
? gaan[a] no English equivalent; roughly like loch (Scottish) but voiced
? had[a] behind
j jas yard
k kat, cabaret school
l land land
m mens man
n nek[b] neck
? eng long
p pen, rib[c] sport
r ras[d] trilled R or guttural R
s sok sock
t tak, had[c] stop
v ver[a] very
? wang[e] between wine and vine
x acht,[a] weg[c] loch (Scottish English)
z zeep[a] zip
Marginal consonants
c tientje, check[f] cheer
? goal[g] goal
? Giovanni[f] jeep
? oranje, Trijntje[f] somewhat like canyon
? sjabloon, chef shall
? jury[a] vision
? bindig [b?'ind?x],
Trijntje Oosterhuis
[-? '?o:-][h]
catch in uh-oh!
' voorkomen
as in commandeer
Other representations
?(n) maken optional /n/ in the /?n/ ending; not pronounced in many dialects[b]
IPA Examples English approximation
Checked vowels[i]
? bad father, but rather short
? bed bed
? vis sit
? bot off
? hut roughly like nurse
Free vowels[i]
a: aap father
e: beet, ezel[j] made
i diep deep
o: boot[j] story
y fuut roughly like few
ø: neus[j] roughly like fur
u hoed boot
?i bijt, ei[k] roughly like may
oey buit[k] house (Scottish English)
?u jou, dauw[k] out
?i ai price
?i hoi choice
iu nieuw ew or free will
yu duw few would
ui groei to eternity
a:i draai prize
e:u sneeuw say oo
o:i nooit boys
? hemel again
Marginal vowels
?: roze[l][m] thought
?: scène[n] square (British English)
oe: freule[l] roughly like fur
i: analyse[l] wheeze
u: cruise[l] rule
y: centrifuge[l] roughly like fugue
: genre[l] roughly like croissant
: hautain[l] roughly like doyen
: chanson[l] roughly like montage


  1. ^ a b c d e f Generally, the southern varieties preserve the /f/-/v/, /x/-/?/ and /s/-/z/ contrasts.[1][2] Southern /x/, /?/ may be also somewhat more front, i.e. post-palatal.[2] In the north, these are far less stable: most speakers merge /x/ and /?/ into a post-velar [x?] or uvular ;[1][2] most Netherlandic Standard Dutch speakers lack a consistent /f/-/v/ contrast.[2] In some accents, e.g. Amsterdam, /s/ and /z/ are also not distinguished.[2] /?/ often joins this neutralization by merging with /?/. In some accents, is also devoiced to . See also Hard and soft G in Dutch.
  2. ^ a b The final of the plural ending -en is usually not pronounced, except in the North East (Low Saxon) and the South West (East and West Flemish) where the ending becomes a syllabic [n?] sound. The syllabic pronunciation is considered to be strongly non-standard, especially in the Netherlands.[]
  3. ^ a b c Dutch devoices all obstruents at the ends of words (e.g. a final /d/ becomes ). This is partly reflected in the spelling: the voiced in plural huizen ('houses') becomes huis ('house') in singular, and duiven ('doves') becomes duif ('dove'). The other cases are always written with the voiced consonant, even though a devoiced one is actually pronounced: the voiced in plural baarden ['ba:rd?(n)] ('beards') is retained in the singular spelling baard ('beard'), but pronounced as [ba:rt]; and plural ribben ['r?b?(n)] ('ribs') has singular rib, pronounced as [r?p]. Because of assimilation, often the initial consonant of the next word is also devoiced, e.g. het vee ('the cattle') is [t 'fe:]
  4. ^ The realization of the /r/ phoneme varies considerably from dialect to dialect. In "standard" Dutch, /r/ is realized as the alveolar trill [r] or as a uvular trill [?]. In some dialects, it is realized as an alveolar flap [?] or even as an alveolar approximant [?].
  5. ^ The realization of the /?/ phoneme varies considerably from the Northern to the Southern and Belgium dialects of the Dutch language. In the north of the Netherlands, it is a labiodental approximant [?], or even a voiced labiodental fricative [v]. In the south of the Netherlands and in Belgium, it is pronounced as a bilabial approximant [] (as it also is in the Hasselt and Maastricht dialects), and Standard Surinamese Dutch uses the labiovelar approximant [w].
  6. ^ a b c The alveolo-palatal stops [c] and [?] and nasal [?] are allophones of the sequences /tj/, /dj/ and /nj/. [?] occurs only in loanwords. [?] also occurs as an allophone of /n/ before /tj/ (realized as [c]).
  7. ^ is not a native phoneme of Dutch and only occurs in loanwords, like goal or when /k/ is voiced, like in zakdoek ['zduk].
  8. ^ The glottal stop [?] is indicated sparingly in Dutch transcriptions on Resource: it is mandatorily inserted between [a:] and [?] and a syllable-initial vowel, both within words and at word boundaries. Often, it is also inserted before phrase-initial vowels and before any word-initial vowel. This is not indicated in most of our transcriptions.
  9. ^ a b The "checked" vowels , , , , and occur only in closed syllables, while their "free" counterparts , , , , and can occur in open syllables (as can the other vowels).
  10. ^ a b c For most speakers of Netherlandic Standard Dutch, the long close-mid vowels , and are realised as slightly closing diphthongs [e?], [ø?] and [o?], unless they precede /r/ within the same syllable.[3][4] The closing diphthongs also appear in certain Belgian dialects, e.g. the one of Bruges, but not in Belgian Standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology#Monophthongs for more details.
  11. ^ a b c The exact quality of diphthongs varies; Netherlandic Standard Dutch has somewhat more open (in case of /?u/ and often /oey/ also unrounded) first elements: [æi], [?y], [?u].[5][6] In Belgian Standard Dutch, they begin in the open-mid region, and the last diphthong has a rounded first element: [?i], [oey], [?u].[7][8] In Belgium, the onset of /oey/ can also be unrounded to [?y].[9] Some non-standard dialects (e.g. many southern dialects) realise these diphthongs as either narrow diphthongs or (as in The Hague dialect) long monophthongs.[9] See Dutch phonology § Diphthongs for more details.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Found in loanwords.
  13. ^ In Belgium, /?:/ tends to be pronounced the same as /o:/.
  14. ^ Mainly found in loanwords.


  1. ^ a b Gussenhoven (1999:74)
  2. ^ a b c d e Collins & Mees (2003:48)
  3. ^ Gussenhoven (1999:76)
  4. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:133-134)
  5. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:135)
  6. ^ Rietveld & Van Heuven (2009:70). Authors state that "in most northern areas, /oey/ is pronounced [y?]."
  7. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:135-136)
  8. ^ Verhoeven (2005:245)
  9. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003:136)


  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003), The Phonetics of English and Dutch, Fifth Revised Edition (PDF), ISBN 9004103406
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1999), "Dutch", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 74-77, ISBN 0-521-65236-7
  • Rietveld, A.C.M.; Van Heuven, V.J. (2009), Algemene Fonetiek, Uitgeverij Coutinho
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 35 (2): 243-247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173

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