The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Dutch pronunciations in articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to articles, see {{IPA-nl}} and Wikipedia: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
ɣ gaan[a] no English equivalent; roughly like loch (Scottish) but voiced
ɦ had[a] behind
j jas yard
k kat, cabaret school
l land land
m mens man
n nek[b] neck
ŋ 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
ʋ 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
ɡ goal[g] goal
ɟ Giovanni[f] jeep
ɲ oranje, Trijntje[f] somewhat like canyon
ʃ sjabloon, chef[h] shall
ʒ jury[a][h] vision
ʔ bindig [bəˈʔɛindəx],
Trijntje Oosterhuis
[-ə ˈʔoː-][i]
catch in uh-oh!
ˈ voorkomen
as in commandeer
Other representations
ə(n) maken optional /n/ in the /ən/ ending; not pronounced in many dialects[citation needed]
IPA Examples English approximation
Checked vowels[k]
ɑ bad father, but rather short
ɛ bed bed
ɪ vis sit
ɔ bot off
ʏ hut roughly like nurse
Free vowels[k]
aap lad
beet, ezel[l] made
i diep deep
boot[l] roughly like born (British English)
y fuut roughly like goose (Australian/New Zealand)
øː neus[l] roughly like fur
u hoed boot
ɛi bijt, ei[m] roughly like may
œy buit[m] house (Scottish English)
ʌu jou, dauw[m] out
ɑi ai price
ɔi hoi choice
iu nieuw free will
yu duw few would
ui groei to eternity
aːi draai prize
eːu sneeuw say oo
oːi nooit boys
ə hemel again
Marginal vowels
ɔː roze[n][o] dog
ɛː scène[p] square (British English)
œː freule[n] roughly like fur
analyse[n] wheeze
centrifuge[n] roughly like fugue
ɑ̃ː genre[n] roughly like croissant
ɛ̃ː hautain[n] roughly like doyen
ɔ̃ː chanson[n] roughly like montage


  1. ^ a b c d e f Generally, the southern varieties preserve the /f//v/, /x//ɣ/ and /s//z/ contrasts.[1][2] Southern /x/, /ɣ/ may be also somewhat more front, i.e. post-palatal.[2] In the north, these are far less stable: most speakers merge /x/ and /ɣ/ into a post-velar [x̠] or uvular [χ];[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] /ʒ/ often joins this neutralization by merging with /ʃ/. In some accents, /ɦ/ is also devoiced to [h]. See also Hard and soft G in Dutch.
  2. ^ The final ‹n› 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 [n̩] 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 [t]). This is partly reflected in the spelling: the voiced ‹z› 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 ‹d› in plural baarden [ˈbaːrdə(n)] ('beards') is retained in the singular spelling baard ('beard'), but pronounced as [baːrt]; and plural ribben [ˈrɪbə(n)] ('ribs') has singular rib, pronounced as [rɪp]. Because of assimilation, often the initial consonant of the next word is also devoiced, e.g. het vee ('the cattle') is [ɦət ˈfeː]
  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 [ʀ]. In some dialects, it is realized as an alveolar flap [ɾ] or even as an alveolar approximant [ɹ].
  5. ^ The realization of the /ʋ/ 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 [ʋ], or even a voiced labiodental fricative [v]. In the south of the Netherlands and in Belgium, it is pronounced as a bilabial approximant [β̞] (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 [ɟ] and nasal [ɲ] are allophones of the sequences /tj/, /dj/ and /nj/. [ɟ] occurs only in loanwords. [ɲ] also occurs as an allophone of /n/ before /tj/ (realized as [c]).
  7. ^ /ɡ/ is not a native phoneme of Dutch and only occurs in loanwords, like goal or when /k/ is voiced, like in zakdoek [ˈzɑɡduk].
  8. ^ a b Phonemically, [ʃ] and [ʒ] are /sj, zj/. They occur both in native words such as huisje [ˈɦœyʃə] and in loanwords such as show [ʃoː] and bagage [baːˈɣaːʒə]
  9. ^ The glottal stop [ʔ] is not a separate phoneme in Dutch and is indicated sparingly in Dutch transcriptions on. It is mandatorily inserted between [aː] and [ə] 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.
  10. ^ When the penultimate syllable is open, stress may fall on any of the last three syllables. When the penultimate syllable is closed, stress falls on either of the last two syllables. While stress is phonemic, minimal pairs are rare. For example vóórkomen /ˈvoːrkoːmə(n)/ "to occur" and voorkómen /voːrˈkoːmə(n)/ "to prevent". In composite words, secondary stress is often present. Marking the stress in written Dutch is optional, never obligatory, but sometimes recommended.
  11. ^ a b The "checked" vowels /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /ɔ/, and /ʏ/ occur only in closed syllables, while their "free" counterparts //, //, /i/, //, and /y/ can occur in open syllables (as can the other vowels). These two sets also go by the names dull/sharp, dim/clear, lax/tense, closed/open, or short/long. One of each pair is pronounced slightly longer by many speakers, so the terms long and short traditionally used to explain the use of doubled consonants and vowels in the orthographic system. Differences in vowel length tend to be bigger in southern dialects; in extreme cases, when lax vowels become as tense as the tense vowels, the vowel length is the only difference between them.
  12. ^ a b c For most speakers of Netherlandic Standard Dutch, the long close-mid vowels //, /øː/ and // are realised as slightly closing diphthongs [eɪ], [øʏ] and [oʊ], 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.
  13. ^ a b c The exact quality of diphthongs varies; Netherlandic Standard Dutch has somewhat more open (in case of /ʌu/ and often /œy/ also unrounded) first elements: [æi], [ɐy], [ɑu].[5][6] In Belgian Standard Dutch, they begin in the open-mid region, and the last diphthong has a rounded first element: [ɛi], [œy], [ɔu].[7][8] In Belgium, the onset of /œy/ can also be unrounded to [ɐy].[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.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Found in loanwords.
  15. ^ In Belgium, /ɔː/ tends to be pronounced the same as /oː/.
  16. ^ 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, /œy/ is pronounced [ʌ̈y̯]."
  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

External links