To make appointments – the time

[Read in Dutch/Italian] The Netherlands is the country of agendas…you’ll notice that as soon as you come living here. Everyone structures well her/his own time and makes accurate plans. Thus willingly or unwillingly, you’ll probably get closer to this habit. Especially if you want to plan a dinner or activities with Dutchies, you have to do it well in advance…often they have already the next two or three weekends fully planned! In the beginning, I had to adapt to this habit, since as a South-European I was more used to last-minute-plans. I fancy an ice-cream, then I call a friend. Or on Friday night, I meet spontaneously friends also with short notice.
I don’t believe that the one is better than the other, but the two systems are in general difficult to combine: maybe we should choose friends from one culture only?
Aha nope, that’s not necessary. During the last years I got better in making plans (though I still join spontaneous nights out 😉 ), and to keep well an agenda.

Actually, this post was meant to talk about the time, to make appointments (both formal and informal ones). Also this took me some time: in Italian and English (also French I think, I’ve studied that at some point) parts of hours refer to the current hour, while in Dutch they refer to the coming one. Let me make an example:  8.30 is half past eight (8) in English and otto (8) e mezza in Italian, but it is half negen (9) in Dutch and halb neun (9) in German…which is by the way the time at which most tv programs begin.
And if you think it is complicated, you still have to see fractions of hours. For that, you use voor and over to refer to time before and after full or half hours respectively. That’s really gymnastic for the brain (look for example at the points 4 and 5 here below)

  • 8:00 acht uur
  • 8:05 vijf over acht
  • 8.15 kwart over acht
  • 8.25 vijf voor half negen (of vijfentwintig over acht)
  • 8.30 half negen (of dertig over acht, of acht uur dertig)
  • 8.35 vijf over half negen (of vijfendertig over acht)
  • 8.45 kwart voor negen
  • 8.50 tien voor negen

To complete the appointment, you just need the order and preposition then:
op day om time.

Pay always attention to misunderstandings on the time of the appointment! Repeat the hour, even if you are speaking English. We all have to understand a different system, both Dutch people and us. Repeat also in “numeric form” like:
> Op dinsdag 3 januari om tien voor half negen
> Prima, op dinsdag om acht uur twintig, toch?
> Precies. Tot dan!
> Bedankt. Tot ziens!

Now you are ready to make appointments. Succes! 🙂

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