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.


tram, streetcar [noun] [de tram, de trams; ‘trem’]

Amsterdamse tramThe “tram” is a very common means of transportation in some of the bigger cities in The Netherlands. It is a vehicle, conducted through rails, for short distance transport of passengers, with a maximum speed of approximately 50 km/h.
(Photo by Maurizio Mori ( – some rights reserved.)

You can turn “tram” into a verb by adding -en. The verb “trammen” translates to “to go by tram”, but is more common to say: “met de tram gaan/reizen” (“to go/travel by tram”).

When riding your bicycle you have to be careful when you try to cross the tram tracks; you are in big trouble if your front wheel is caught in the rails!

1. “Trams hebben bijna altijd voorrang.”
(“Trams almost always have right of way.”)

2. “Voor korte afstanden kun je beter met de fiets gaan dan met de tram.”
(“For short distances you had better go by bicycle than by tram.”)

“Onder de tram komen.”
(Literally: “To wind up under the tram.”)

This expression can often be heard in project meetings where it is used to express fear of losing corporate knowledge.

“En wat gebeurt er met het project als Frank onder de tram komt?”
(“<worried:> So what happens to the project if Frank winds up under the tram/if he’s hit by a tram?”)