Skip to main content


Elyzabeth Gorman

Gepubliceerd op

April 21, 2020


Engels, grammatica, webinar

It’s no surprise that the Netherlands routinely tops lists of countries using English as a second language. However, there are a few troublesome areas that people who speak Dutch as a first language have in English. LEWIS has developed an English-writing training that is useful for anyone writing in English but especially targeted at people whose first language is Dutch. My webinar, which was a teaser that covered some topics from the training, had a few key takeaways:

“I wrote to you before” vs. “I have written to you before”

Simple past (I wrote) means that the action and its direct consequences are completed. Present perfect (I have written) means either: (i) the action started in the past and continues through the present or (ii) the action happened in the past, but its direct consequences are still ongoing. If you write an email that says “I have written to you before”, you are implying that the recipient didn’t respond or didn’t take action.


“I look forward to seeing you”

A huge source of confusion is what happens when you use a word that is normally a verb to do something else. It’s a complicated issue; I wrote an entire article about it on Frankwatching and there’s still a lot more ground to cover in the trainings. However, the one that comes up most often is that after the verb phrase “look forward to”, you should always use verb+ing. So, it’s “I look forward to working with you” and not “I look forward to work with you”.


Try for five-word sentences but vary your sentence length.

English can pack a lot into a small sentence. A classic example is Junot Diaz’s “The half-life of love is forever.” Another is Hemmingway’s “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” However, too many five-word sentences can get monotonous. Write active and compact sentences, sprinkled with a few medium-length ones and one or two long ones.


For more information on English for Dutchies, check out my series on Frankwatching. For more information on English writing style, check out the localization series I wrote for LEWIS. To find out how we can help you and your team improve their English writing, check out our trainings.


Watch the webinar:

Neem contact op