Don’t stand with your mouth full of teeth this week *!

* “With your mouth full of teeth” – Proverb: Not knowing what to say.

This week is the week: everyone wishes you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If Dutch is your native language, all you have to do is avoid the kisses. 😉 But if Dutch is not your native language, it is sometimes difficult to answer quickly.

Why do we often have our mouths full of teeth although we understand a language quite well? This is due to the difference between words that you recognise and the words that you actively use. For example, you may recognize a word like “petition,” but you hardly ever use that word yourself. You say “thank you” very often, so you use that much easier. If you want to respond quickly, you must know the correct words and use those words often.

How do you do that? Three tips:

Tip 1 – Listen to conversations
Listening to other people’s conversation is not polite, but everyone does it. And if you learn a language, you HAVE to! This way you learn what other people say in certain situations. And it often turns out that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. So listen to what people are saying to each other when you get on the bus or at the checkout.

Tip 2 – Choose a fixed answer
What answer can you choose if someone wishes you “Fijne feestdagen!”? “Dankjewel” is the easiest. But it is also a bit one-sided: what someone wishes you, you also wish the other. That is why you can best use “Hetzelfde” (“Same to you!”) in these situations:
Fijne feestdagen! – Hetzelfde!
Gelukkig nieuwjaar! – Hetzelfde!
Prettige kerstdagen! – Hetzelfde!
Fijn weekend! – Hetzelfde!
Exception: Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag! Hetzelfde! Unless you have a twin brother or sister. 😉

Tip 3 – Vary
Are you able to say “Hetzelfde!” and do you like variation? Of course you can always start your answer with “Dankjewel … hetzelfde!”
You can also use “Jij ook!” Or “U ook!” (You too!) instead of “Hetzelfde!” You use ‘U ook!’ If you do not know the other person, if he or she is clearly older and / or has a higher position than you. To the queen, for example, or the bookkeeper from another department who is retiring.
Finally, there is a less-used variant of “Hetzelfde!”: “Insgelijks!” (“Similarly!”) I would not use it myself, but it is useful to know that it exists so that you can recognize it.

I wish you happy holidays with a mouth full of good food!

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