by Marloes van Rooijen of Direct Dutch Institute (article originally published on I AM EXPAT)
As you may have noticed, our mild Dutch climate boasts four fair seasons: a mostly rainy spring, a quite rainy summer, a spectacularly rainy autumn and a predominantly rainy winter. Direct Dutch Institute, one of the oldest language institutes in The Hague, recommends speaking Dutch as often as possible. If you can’t think of any other topic to talk about to your Dutch colleagues, friends, fellow train travellers (or actually just anyone at any given time) discussing the rain that is coming up / pouring down / surely about to end any time soon is a great one! It’s always relevant and sure to evoke instant bonding against our common, liquid enemy!
Dutch expressions for a rainy day
Here are some phrases to use on a rainy day, both for beginners and more advanced students of Dutch:
› Wat een weer, hè?
(Quite some weather, isn’t it?)
Especially for beginners, this is a universal phrase to comment on any kind of weather. You can vary it with “wat een weertje” to make you sound Dutcher than Dutch.
Uttered with a cheerful face in an upbeat voice, you might be talking about the sweet sunshine.
Accompanied by tormented sighs, moans, or groans it is more likely to refer to other weather types (more common in the Netherlands).
› Wat een motregen / regen / hagel / wind / storm / onweer / sneeuw / mist, hè?
(Quite some drizzle / rain / hail / wind / storm / thunder / snow / mist, isn’t it?)
Some more specific versions of the basic phrase offered above for the slightly more advanced student. Obviously, for maximum effect, the same sighs, moans and groans are indispensable.
In the same way that Inuit are said to have an extraordinary amount of words that can be translated as snow, the Dutch have a lot of words that all mean bad weather.
Of course, for the Inuit and the Dutch these words refer to different kinds of snow and bad weather, respectively.
Luckily, the English have quite an unfortunate climate as well, so there are plenty of translations available.
› Het regent dat het giet
Literally this expression means: it’s raining so much that it’s pouring. When you’re on your bike and there’s a sudden cloudburst, you’ll find shelter underneath a tree or in a tunnel and usually you’re not alone.
Try to hide your disgust and present a smile when your new friends ask you, if you have just taken a shower. It’s meant as a friendly joke. The only fitting answer is: “Het regent dat het giet.”
› Het regent pijpenstelen!
(It’s raining cats and dogs!)
The “pijpenstelen” in this expression refer to a kind of reed resembling both the stem of a pipe (which is the literal translation of the word “pijpensteel“) and the rain pouring down.
› Avond- (and / or) morgenrood brengt schoon water in de sloot
(A red sky in the evening ( and / or) morning, brings fresh water in the ditches)
My grandma tends to use this expression accurately and authoritatively. According to her, this is because her father (who used to be a sailor) taught her to look at the morning and / or evening sky and predict the weather.
According to us, she simply adapts the saying to the weather forecast on TV and to whichever sky happens to be red the day before. We suggest you do the same.
› Na regen komt zonneschijn
(After the rain, sunshine will come (every cloud has a silver lining))
To end this stormy story on a positive note, this expression can be used both in a literal and a metaphorical way. No matter how endless the showers seem, they will be followed by a sunny spell eventually – even in the Netherlands, and even in October.
We wish you a lot of sunny spells this season!