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Asking to speak/talk in English

Hi guys,

Although I'm learning Dutch, in most cases when I'm approached by someone who is speaking Dutch I either do not understand it entirely or just freeze up. I've learnt to use 'spreekt u Engels?' but what I've found is that people look at me strange like it's a silly question. I haven't come across anyone that doesn't speak English here so I think I would feel more comfortable using another question. What are some other ways to ask if the conversation can switch over to English?

So if someone approaches you and speaks Dutch and you don't entirely understand, what would you say?

I have a particular response in my head but not sure if it's correct? 'Sorry, Ik spreek alleen een klein beetje Nederlands, kunnen wij Engels spreken?' ... If that is correct is 'sorry, kunnen wij Engels spreken?' also fine for a quicker response?

Another kind of related question. When would you use 'het Engels'? rather than just 'Engels'? I hear friends for example say 'wat is (x) in het Engels?' and not just 'wat is (x) in Engels'. We don't say 'Spreekt u het Engels?' so I'm a bit confused where the het comes in.

Thanks guys!

January 15, 2015



I don't really understand why people look weird when you ask 'Spreekt u Engels?' since it's perfectly fine Dutch. Maybe they don't really understand why you ask that, so adding 'Ik spreek niet goed Nederlands' or 'Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands' is fine too. :)

For 'het Engels', the only example I can think of right now, is indeed 'Wat is (x) in het Engels?'. I'm not sure why 'het' is there, though. ^^'


I'm a native Dutch speaker and I think they look weird at you because you ask it in Dutch. Because if you ask it in Dutch they think you can speak Dutch too. It is kind of hard to explain, but you should try asking it in English.

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