Useful Dutch Phrases: ‘Heeft u een bonuskaart?’

Useful Dutch phrases in the supermarket

The other day I was standing in line at the supermarket in my neighbourhood. I was standing behind a young foreign lady who was about to pay for her groceries when the cashier asked her: “Heeft u een bonuskaart?”. The lady looked very puzzled. The cashier repeated her question, but the lady did not have a clue. The cashier who obviously did not feel like explaining what the ‘bonuskaart’ is , decided to leave it at that and then said: “Dat is dan €12,50 alstublieft.”

Not having any idea what the cashier told her, the lady quickly glanced at the display for the amount she had to pay, paid for her groceries and left. Though I could have offered my help by translating into English what the cashier told the lady, I decided to keep my lips sealed. Instead, I decided to do something that might help more speakers of other languages in similar situations by giving a few useful Dutch phrases.

Prepare and recognise

This supermarket situation led me to think about the flood of Dutch overwhelming speakers of other languages when going about their daily business. I got flashbacks about my times abroad when cash displays saved me, because I did not have the foggiest idea about what the cashiers told me. Then these two words appeared: preparation and recognition. Why not help speakers of other languages help to prepare for what they will be asked and told at the cash register, so that they can learn to recognise this and be more responsive? Hence, this post on phrases you might hear when going to the supermarket.

When you are searching for something

My experience is that the supermarket employees at the places where I do my grocery shopping are not so perceptive. In such cases you need to walk over to them to ask where you can find the thing(s) you are looking for.

When you are blocking the aisle and someone wants to pass:

  • Sorry/pardon, mag ik even langs?
  • You will also come across people murmuring, ranting and raving or just pushing your trolley aside without saying anything.

At the cash register

  • Goedemorgen
  • goedemiddag
  • goedenavond
  • hallo.”

Before or after your groceries are scanned

  • Heeft u een bonuskaart/spaart u Airmiles/koopzegels/…?
  • You should know that Dutch people are really fond of saving stamps, points or whatever way they can save for some sort of discount or other gift. Already in 1903 cookie and chocolate manufacturer Verkade introduced nature images which people could collect and paste in a book. In 1948 Spar supermarket introduced stamps with which people could save for day trips to, for instance, Amsterdam.

After your products have been scanned:

  • Dan wordt het €… alstublieft.

After you pay:

  • Wilt u de bon?
  • Fijne/pretige dag/avond…Tot ziens/ dag.”

Below is the chorus of the song ‘Houdoe’ by Dutch cabaret group De Vliegende Panters about the naughty weekend adventures of supermarket cashiers. These useful Dutch phrases might help you next time you go to the super market:

Spaart u ook zegeltjes? (Do you save stamps?)
Bonuskaart of airmiles ?
Wilt u extra geld opnemen? (Do you want to withdraw extra money?)
Een tasje kost 35 cent. (A carrier bag costs 35 cents.)
Houdoe, houdoe, houdoe (This is the way to say goodbye in the South of the Netherlands.)

Useful Dutch phrases help you in daily life

Of course, no one will expect you to perfectly understand Dutch, but it might be nice to have some recognition of what is being said to you when you go to the supermarket. Simply try to listen to what you hear and see how much you are able to recognise over time. You can also try to find out which phrases are mostly used, how many ways there are to say the same thing, etc. At some point you will even be able to repeat what is being said to you. The ultimate step is to reply to questions in Dutch. Good luck and have fun!

I am curious about your first experiences at the Dutch supermarket. Which phrases did you hear? Which were (or still are) difficult for you to understand and which do not make sense to you at all or sound down right silly to you? Please share them by leaving a reply.

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