letter [noun] [de brief, de brieven]

This is about the letter that you can write and mail 🙂 A letter from the alphabet is also called a ‘letter’ in Dutch.
With the increase of electronic mail, the Dutch mail delivery sector is having more and more trouble to stay profitable. However, in the Christmas holidays there is still an increase of mail, and special discount Christmas stamps (‘Kerstzegels’) are issued. Currently there is discussion on liberalizing the mail delivery sector in the Netherlands. Postmen (and women) fear to lose their job or to earn less.

The diminutive ‘briefje’ is commonly used in the translation of a ‘small written note’, see ‘Examples’.

– “Kun jij voor mij deze brief posten?”
(“Can you mail this letter for me?” You will also hear “bussen” and “op de bus doen” as synonyms for “posten”.)

– “<op het postkantoor:> Kunt u voor mij deze brief frankeren?”
(“<at the post office:> Can you frank/stamp this letter for me?”)

– “Hoeveel postzegels moeten er op deze brief?”
(“How many stamps need to go on this letter?”)

– “Deze brief kon niet bezorgd worden, want hij is incorrect geaddresseerd.”
(“This letter could not be delivered, because it is addressed incorrectly.”)

– “Ik heb hier een brief voor m’n moeder…”
(“Here I have a letter for my mother…” Starting line of the chorus of the well-known song “De Vlieger” (“The Kite”) by André Hazes. In speech or informal writing it is common to use “m’n” instead of “mijn”.)

– “Ik heb een briefje met instructies voor je achtergelaten.”
(“I have left you a note with instructions.” The verb ‘achterlaten’ translates to ‘to leave behind’.)

Related words:
– “Briefpapier”: writing paper, stationery.
– “Brandbrief”: a pressing letter that urges the receiver to pay the bill, help out or report (somewhere). The use of “brand” (“fire”) indicates its urgency.
– “Brievenbus”: mail box.
– “Aangetekende brief”: registered letter.
– “Pakje/pakketje/pakket”: parcel.
– “Post”: mail.

“Is er nog post voor mij?”
(“Is there any mail for me?”)

– “Posten”: to mail a letter. You will also hear “bussen” and “op de bus doen”.
– “Postbode”: mail man/woman.
– “Postzegel”: stamp.
– “Postkantoor”: post office.

Many expats experience difficulties when trying to go to the post office. It cannot be found, or it is always closed. How do Dutch people deal with this? Answer: they don’t really. And how do we know how many stamps to put on a letter? We don’t really. Luckily there are a few good web sites that can help us out:
– If you want to know where the nearest post office is and what its opening hours are, follow the link and fill in your postcode.
– If you need to know the tariff for mailing your letter, go here (you do have to figure out the weight yourself 🙂 and you might as well just go to the post office (like we do 🙂 )).

2 thoughts on “Brief

  1. It may be worth noting that you actually do not have to go to the post office for buying stamps.
    Some supermarkets have them at their info counter. So together with the info in the provided weblinks you might get along without visiting a post office in the Netherlands for quite some time 🙂

  2. Hi Frank, very good point! I also found out that you can actually order stamps from the same site that can provide you with the tariff: .
    You can even look up where the nearest mail box is! However, your Dutch needs to be quite good in order to navigate the site…

Comments are closed.