Zo zoetjesaan

gradually, little by little 
[Dutch phrase of the week]
[zo zoet-jes aan]

Horloge geeft aan dat het tijd is I don’t particularly encourage you to use this phrase, however you may encounter it. It seems to be a favourite phrase among Dutch translators of Haruki Murakami‘s work. Which makes it a nice ‘Guru’ phrase of the week. “Zo zoetjesaan” is often used in the construction “Het wordt zo zoetjesaan tijd …” – “It’s (getting to be) about time …”

Note that ‘zoetjesaan’ is often misspelled as ‘zoetjes aan’. I actually had to correct this post because I did it myself!

– “Het wordt zo zoetjesaan tijd om naar huis te gaan.” – “Nu al? Het feest begint net!”  – “Ja sorry, we moeten morgen vroeg op.” 
(“It’s starting to get late, we should really go home.” – “Already? The party is just starting!” – “Yeah, we’re sorry, we have to get up early tomorrow!” Note “vroeg op moeten” requires no additonal verb, ‘op’ implies ‘getting up / rising’.)

– “Ik begin jouw gezeur zo zoetjesaan zat te worden. Kun je nu nooit eens iets positiefs zeggen?!” 
(“I’m starting to get tired of your whining. Why can’t you ever say something positive?!”)

– “We gaan zo zoetjesaan eens beginnen, heeft iedereen zijn koffie op?
(“It’s about time to get started, has everybody finished their coffee?”)

– “Ik begin zo zoetjesaan honger te krijgen, waar blijft die bezorger?!” 
(“I’m starting to feel hungry/peckish, what is taking that delivery guy so long?!”)

Related words:
– Zoet: sweet [adjective].
– Zoet: sweet (things) [noun] [het zoet, <no plural>].

– “Ik hou niet van zoet op brood.”
(“I don’t care for sandwiches with sweet fillings.” Note that this sentence only makes sense in Dutch, with our chocolate sprinkles variations and all…)

3 thoughts on “Zo zoetjesaan

  1. Re “Ik hou niet van zoet op brood.” I think it makes sense in English too, as we sometimes have jam, lemon curd, chocolate spread……

  2. No, you can’t have “sweet on bread”.
    You can have “sweetbreads”, but that’s something less savoury…or, more savoury depending on how you look at it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetbread
    I think, if it were a sandwich it would have a “sweet filling” (as you said). If it were one slice of bread, it would be a “sweet topping”.

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