Search my site: 'Like' the Dutch Website on Facebook
- New Page: December 2014
revised October 2016

Disambiguation: Dutch 'Wat' - Multiple Meanings and Related Words

Disambiguation: Many common Dutch words have more than one meaning.

Disambiguation Home - 'Al' - 'Als' - 'Daar' - 'Dan' - 'Dat' - 'Door' - 'Eens' - 'Er' - 'Erg' - 'Even' - 'Haast' - 'Het' - 'Laat' - 'Maar' - 'Net' - 'Nog' - 'Of' - 'Om' - 'Over' - 'Toen' - 'Van' - 'Voor' - 'Vroeg' - 'Waar' - 'Wat' - 'Zo' - more

Wat

click to hear
  1. 'what?' - 'what is?' 'what is it?' - "What's the problem?"
  2. 'what' - 'the thing that, the event that - "I can't hear what you're saying"
  3. 'what a!' - 'such (a)!' - 'how!' - surprise, annoyance or emphasis - "What a bore!"
  4. 'some' - 'a little' - "Could I have some wool?"
  5. 'something' - "There's something wrong"

1. 'wat' = 'what?'

English 'what?' and Dutch 'wat?' ask for a specification, want something identified
Wat is dat? click to hear What's that?
Wat in Godsnaam? click to hear What in [God's] heaven's name?
Wat zegt U? click to hear 2 What [do] did you say? (polite 'you')
Wat zeg je? click to hear 2 3 4 What [do] did you say? (informal 'you')
Wat is de prijs? click to hear 2 What's the price?
more common alternate: Hoe duur is het? click to hear 2 3 [How expensive is it?] - What's the price?
Wat is Uw naam? click to hear 2 What is your name? (polite 'you')
more common alternate: Hoe heet je? click to hear [What are you called?] - What is your name? (informal 'you')
Wat denk jij ervan? click to hear 2 What do you think [of it]?
Wat zeg jij d'r van? click to hear 2 3 What do you say [of it]? (informal 'you')
Wat zegt U d'r van? click to hear 2 3 4 What do you say [of it]? (polite 'you')
Wat heb je daarop te zeggen? click to hear 2 What do you have to say on that, what's your reaction?
Wat zou U aanraden? click to hear 2 3 What would you recommend? (like in a restaurant)
Wat wil je horen? click to hear What would you like to hear? (music choice)
Wat wil je drinken? click to hear 2 What would you like to drink?
Wat heb je gegeten? click to hear 2 What have you eaten? What food did you have?
Wat is er aan de hand? click to hear 2 What's going on?
Wat is er gaande? click to hear 2 What's going on? (old-fashioned)
Wat is er gebeurd? click to hear 2 3 What happened?
Wat zou er gebeuren? click to hear 2 What would happen?
Wat ben je aan het doen? click to hear What are you doing? What are you busy with?
Wat is dat voor een auto? click to hear 2 What kind/brand of car is that?
Wat wil je later worden? click to hear What do you want to be [later] when you grow up?
Wat is er van hem geworden? click to hear 2 What became of him?
Wat kan ik voor U doen? click to hear 2 What can I do for you? How can I help you?
Wat is de weersverwachting? click to hear 2 What is the weather (expectation) forecast?
Wat vertellen ons de wolken? click to hear 2 3 What [do] can the clouds tell us? (title of a famous weather book)
Wat bezielt die mensen? click to hear What is driving those people? What's in their minds?
Wat bezielt die mensen om dat te doen? click to hear 2 3 What drives those people to do that? (those awful things)
Wat betekent ...? click to hear 2 3 What is the meaning of ...?
Wat betekent dat woord? click to hear 2 3 slow What does that word mean?
Wat betekent het? click to hear 2 What does it mean?
Wat is er? click to hear 2 3 What is it? - usually: What's wrong?
Wat is er met Jan? click to hear 2 3 What is with John? (something seems to be wrong)
Wat is er veranderd? click to hear 2 What has changed?
Wat is er anders? click to hear 2 3 What is different? /or/ What else is there? (no alternative)
Wat zou 't zijn? click to hear What could it be?
Wat heb je d'raan? click to hear 2 What's the use (to you)?
Wat maakt 't uit? click to hear 2 3 4 5 What difference does it make? It's no use.
Wat doe je met Pasen? click to hear 2 3 What are you going to do over the Easter Holiday? Any plans?

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Hoe laat is het? click to hear What's the time? - telling time - what time?

2. 'wat' = 'what' - 'the thing that, the event that' ('placeholder')

Wat ik dacht ... click to hear 2 3 What I was thinking ...
Ik versta niet wat je zegt click to hear 2 I don't understand (can't hear) what you're saying
Ik begrijp niet wat U zegt click to hear 2 3 I don't understand (don't catch the meaning of) what you're saying (polite 'you')
Ik begrijp niet wat je bedoelt click to hear 2 I don't understand what you mean
Ik begrijp wat je bedoelt click to hear 2 I understand what you mean, I see what you mean
Begrijp je wat ik bedoel? click to hear 2 Do you understand what I mean?
Dat was niet wat ik bedoelde click to hear That was not what I meant
Begrijp je echt wat er staat? click to hear 2 Do you really understand what (is written) it says?
Ik weet niet wat het geweest kan zijn click to hear 2 I don't understand what it could have been
Ik weet niet wat ik moet doen click to hear 2 I don't know what I should do
Ik begrijp niet wat ze in hem ziet click to hear 2 don't understand what she sees in him
Hij vertelde mij wat er gebeurd was click to hear He told me what had happened
Hij vertelde hun wat er gebeurd was click to hear 2 He told them what had happened
De agent vertelde de rechter wat hij gezien had click to hear The policeman told the judge what he had seen
De verkenner vertelde de kolonel snel wat hij gezien had click to hear 2 The scout quickly told the colonel what he'd seen - military
Ik wil weten wat er gebeurd is click to hear 2 3 I want to know what happened
Ik wil precies weten wat er gebeurd is click to hear 2 3 I want to know exactly what happened
Ik wil weten wat er precies gebeurd is click to hear 2 3 I want to know what exactly happened
- the two lines above have the same meaning
Heb je enig idee wat het is? click to hear 2 slow 2 Do you have any idea what it is?
Wat de boer niet kent, dat lust hij niet click to hear 2 3 4 What the peasant isn't familiar with, he doesn't like (an aversion to trying exotic food)
Ik weet niet wat de oorzaak is click to hear I don't know what the cause is, I don't know what's causing it
Ik weet niet wat de reden is click to hear I don 't know what the reason is
Het was niet wat hij wilde horen click to hear It was not what he wanted to hear (unwelcome news)
Wat je ver haalt is lekker click to hear 2 What you get from far is tasty
Precies wat ik nodig had click to hear 2 3 Exactly what I needed
Precies wat ik wilde click to hear 2 (It is) Exactly what I wanted
slang: Krek wa'k wou click to hear 2 (It is) Exactly what I wanted

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

In Dutch, English 'what' with a preposition is often translated not as 'wat' but as 'waar' click to hear. See and hear the 'waar' disambiguation page for more examples.
In the same way, 'it' with a preposition is not translated as 'het' but as 'er' click to hear ->> and 'that' with a preposition is not translated as 'dat' but as daar click to hear ->>
Waar denk je aan? click to hear What are you thinking of?
Waar hou je van? click to hear What do you like?
Hij weet waar-(d)ie het over heeft click to hear 2 He knows what he's talking about

3. 'wat' = 'what (a) - such (a) - how'

English 'what' and Dutch 'wat' in the sense of 'such a' indicate surprise or annoyance or give emphasis. The line often ends in an exclamation mark.
Wat vervelend! click to hear How annoying! What a bore!
Wat vervelend nou! click to hear 2 3 How annoying [now]! What a bore!
Wat jammer! click to hear What a pity!
Wat jammer nou! click to hear 2 3 What a pity!
Wat sneu! click to hear 2 What a pity! How sad! Such a disappointment!
Wat lastig! click to hear 2 That's difficult! Such a pain!
Wat een onzin! click to hear 2 Such nonsense!
Wat een onzin allemaal! click to hear 2 3 4 [Such nonsense all]! It's all nonsense! What a load of bull!
Wat een herrie! click to hear 2 [Such noise!] That's a lot of noise!
Wat een gedoe click to hear 2 Such a hassle!
Wat een domme man click to hear 2 What a dumb guy!
Wat een rare man click to hear 2 3 What a strange, weird guy!
Wat een pech! click to hear 2 Such bad luck! What a misfortune!
Wat een weer! click to hear 2 3 Such (bad) weather!
Wat een hondeweer! click to hear 2 Such [dogs'] bad weather!
Wat een verschil! click to hear 2 3 What a difference!
Wat een rare naam! click to hear 2 3 What a strange, weird name!
Wat was dat weer een akelige overstroming! click to hear What a horrible flooding that was [again]!

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

See also zo'n click to hear 2 'such a' and zulk/zulke click to hear such' on the 'zo' Disambiguation page.
Zo'n mooie dag click to hear 2 Such a beautiful day
Zulke grote voeten! click to hear 2 Such big feet!

4. 'wat' = 'some' 'a small quantity' (adjective)

'Wat click to hear can also mean 'some' in the sense of a (usually small) amount of: 'a little'
Mag ik wat water? click to hear [May I] Could I have some water?
Mag ik wat meel? click to hear [May I] Could I have some flour?
Heb je wat brood? click to hear [Have you got] Would you have some bread?
Heb je wat wol? click to hear [Have you got] Would you have some wool?
Is er wat brood over? click to hear 2 Is there some bread left?
Ik kijk wat rond click to hear 2 3 [I'm looking around some] Just browsing (in a shop)
Als ik wat jonger was ... click to hear 2 If I were a little younger ...

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Instead of 'some' - 'a small amount' or 'somewhat' you can also say 'a little' in English - Dutchmen often say 'een beetje' click to hear 'a little bit' - most likely related to English 'a bit.' It can be further minimized to 'een klein beetje' click to hear 2 and 'een heel klein beetje' click to hear 2
Mag ik een beetje kaas? click to hear 2 [May I] Can I have a little cheese?
Lukt het een beetje? click to hear 2 3 [Are you succeeding somewhat?] Is it going OK? (Is there a problem?)
Ik ben een beetje een huismus click to hear 2 ['I [am] have something of a house sparrow'] - I'm happy staying at home
Ik ben een beetje schor, lijkt het wel click to hear I'm a bit hoarse, it looks like
't Is een beetje plat click to hear 2 It is somewhat ['flat'] substandard Dutch
Maak 't nou een beetje click to hear 2 ~ That's exaggerated! You're going too far
Alle beetjes helpen click to hear [All little bits] - Every little bit helps
Next to 'a small amount' English 'some' can also mean 'a few, a small number.' That is sommige click to hear in Dutch.
Sommige dagen gaat alles mis click to hear 2 On some days everything goes wrong
Sommige dieren zijn meer gelijk click to hear Some animals are more equal
Alle mensen zijn gelijk, maar sommige zijn meer gelijk click to hear 2 All people are equal, ut some are more equal
Sommige mensen denken dat ze meer rechten hebben dan anderen click to hear 2 Some people think they have more rights than other people
Sommige mensen vinden dat ze meer rechten hebben dan anderen click to hear 2 Some people think they have more rights than other people
Een paar click to hear can be 'a pair' like in 'a pair of shoes,' but it can also mean 'some, a few.' 'Een paar' is a random small number, while 'sommige' indicates a specific group with that characteristic.
een paar schoenen click to hear 2 a pair of shoes
een paar handschoenen click to hear a pair of gloves
een paar regendruppels click to hear a few drops of rain
over een paar jaar click to hear 2 3 in a few years
een paar jaar later click to hear a few years later
Eten over een paar minuten! click to hear 2 Dinner (or lunch) in a few minutes!
Hij liet ons een paar foto's zien click to hear 2 He showed us a few pictures
Hij vertelde ons snel een paar mopjes click to hear 2 He quickly told us a few jokes
Er stonden een paar mensen in de rij voor het loket click to hear There were a few people in line at the counter

5. 'wat' = 'something' (noun)

Is er wat te eten? click to hear 2 3 4 Is there something to eat? Is there any food?
slang: Is er wat te nassen? click to hear ('nassen' - think of 'to nosh')
Wil je wat eten? click to hear Would you like something to eat? - >>
Wil je wat drinken? click to hear 2 Would you like something to drink? - >>
Als je vis eet moet je ook wat drinken click to hear 2 3 4 When you [eat] have fish, you should also drink something
Je moet wat drinken click to hear 2 3 You should drink something
Heb je d'r wat van geleerd? click to hear 2 [Have you learned something from it?] - Did it teach you [something] anything?
Heb je d'r wat aan? click to hear 2 Is it of (any) use to you?
Je moet er wat aan doen click to hear 2 3 4 You should do something about it
Heb je nog wat van Piet gehoord? click to hear 2 Have you heard (something) from Piet?
Weet je wat ... click to hear 2 You know what? - Let me tell you something
Elk wat wils click to hear (saying) Something for everyone
Als er wat is ... click to hear 2 If/When there is something ...
Komt er nog wat van? click to hear 2 3 Will something be happening? (you're getting impatient)
Ik heb wel wat beters te doen click to hear 2 3 I have [something better] better things to do
Er is wat aan de hand click to hear 2 There is something going on
Vertel eens wat leuks click to hear 2 Tell us something amusing
Heb je wat leuks gedaan in het weekend? click to hear Did you do something nice in the weekend?

Er zit wat in click to hear 2 3 4 5 / Daar zit wat in click to hear 2 3
Literally: 'there is something in it (in that)' but usually it means: 'there is something to it, it's a good point'

Brood - daar zit wat in click to hear 2 Bread - there's something (good) in that (commercial slogan found to be ambiguous)

Synomyms, Alternates and Related Words

Dutch 'iets' click to hear also means 'something' or sometimes 'a little.' In most of the examples of 'wat' meaning 'something' above 'iets' would have been just as good. See also: 'niets' click to hear 'nothing' on the 'al' disambiguation page.
Er is altijd wel iets click to hear There's always something (wrong, bad, a problem)
Neem je d'r iets voor? click to hear 2 Do you take something (medicine) for (against) it?
Ben ik iets vergeten? click to hear Did I forget something?
Er is iets tussen gekomen click to hear 2 3 Something came [between it] up
Mag ik U iets vragen? click to hear 2 3 May I ask you something?
Niemand heeft me iets verteld click to hear 2 Nobody told me anything (about it)
Er is iets heel ergs gebeurd click to hear 2 3 4 Something [very] really bad happened
Er is iets mis click to hear 2 3 There is something wrong
Wil je iets toe? click to hear 2 3 Would you like ["something after"] some dessert?
Heeft U iets vegetarisch? click to hear Would you have something vegetarian?
Wil je koffie of thee of iets fris? click to hear 2 3 Would you like coffee or tea or ["something cold"] a soda or fruit juice?
't Heeft iets geheimzinnigs click to hear 2 [It has something mysterious] There is something mysterious to it, it is a bit mysterious
Misschien is het iets onschuldigs click to hear Maybe it's something [innocent] harmless
Ik heb zo'n zin in iets lekkers click to hear 2 I [have a great desire for] would really like someting tasty (usually sweet) now
't Heeft iets van chocola click to hear 2 3 [It has something of] There's a hint of chocolate
't Betekent heel iets anders click to hear 2 It means something completely different
Ik ben met iets anders bezig click to hear 2 3 I'm [busy with] working on something else
Net iets minder dan honderdduizend gulden click to hear 2 Just [something] a little less than 100,000 guilders
Mag 't iets meer zijn? click to hear 2 3 Is it alright if it's a little more? (the butcher cuts off considerably more than you asked for)
Net iets lekkerder click to hear 2 Just a little more tasty, better
Wat is dat nou voor iets doms? click to hear 2 3 [What a stupid thing that is] - Such stupidity!
iemand click to hear someone, somebody
Iemand zal een oplossing moeten vinden click to hear Somebody will have to find a solution
Er is iemand aan de deur click to hear There is someone at the door
Hoe kan iemand zoiets doen? click to hear How can someone do a thing like that?
We krijgen iemand te eten click to hear 2 We're having [someone for lunch/dinner] a dinner guest
Iemand van mijn leeftijd click to hear 2 Someone my age
Ik ben een eenvoudig iemand click to hear I'm a simple person

Dutch Vocabulary Overview - Dutch Grammar Overview - Listen to and Read Dutch

email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2014. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2