1. car [noun] [de auto, de auto’s]

The word "auto" is short for "automobiel", which translates to "automobile" or "motorcar".

Phonetically, "auto" ends in a long "o" and in order to keep this sound the plural form is formed by adding ‘s (apostrophe s) instead of just a single s (which would turn the long "o" into a short "o").

– "Het aantal auto’s in Nederland groeit."
("The number of cars in the Netherlands is growing.")

– "Nederlanders rijden meestal in handgeschakelde auto’s."
("The Dutch usually drive manual transmission cars" or "The Dutch usually drive stick". Literally: "…ride in hand-shifted cars.")

– "Frank zit in een midlife crisis en wil daarom een snellere en grotere auto."
("Frank is having midlife crisis and therefore wants a faster and bigger car." There is no real Dutch equivalent for "midlife crisis" so we use the same terminology used with "zitten in" (literally "to sit in").)

2. self- [in a compound]

– "Automutilatie duidt vaak op ernstige psychische problemen."
("Self-mutilation often indicates serious psychological problems.")

– "Frank is autodidact op de gitaar."
("On the guitar, Frank is self-taught.")

Related words:
– "Wagen": wagon (often used as slang for "car").
– "Auto(snel)weg": motorway, highway.
– "Automaat": either an automatic car, or a vending/slot machine.

2 thoughts on “Auto

  1. I’m never very sure about how to pronounce “auto”. Is it with an “ow” sound (as in the English “how”) or with an “oo” sound (as in the English boat)?
    I assumed it was the “ow” version until a posh Dutch lady sitting next to me on an aeroplane told me it should be the “oo” sound.

  2. @ Alastair
    To my knowledge, it should be pronounced with an “oo” sound (as in the English boat).
    However…in practice you will hear it pronounced both ways: either with an “ow” sound (as in the English “how”) or with an “oo” sound (as in the English boat).

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