Quick tip: there is no letter y in the Dutch alphabet

boy looking at paper of boy sitting next to him

Children in class, 1937. Photo: Wiel van der Randen, collection .

The Dutch alphabet has a letter ij, not a y. Dutch names with a ij typically get spelled with a y in English, for example Dijkstra/Dykstra, Wijnveen/Wynveen. Next time you’re having problems finding a person in a Dutch search engine, check that you’ve used the Dutch spelling.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Elaine Feldhacker says:

    Thank you so much for this information, it certainly clears up a lot of confusion, and has been most helpful to me.

  2. Teresa says:

    I was so glad to learn this, a few years ago. It cleared up how to say Winterswijk! One time when I was a tourist in England I met other tourists from the Netherlands, and in making small talk, they wanted to know where my Dutch ancestors were from. I told them I didn’t know how to say it, and when they insisted, I stumbled over Winterswijk. I remember when they finally figured out what I was trying to say, they said the name correctly, but I wasn’t sure we were talking about the same place. What they said sounded so different than the spelling looked to me!

    If I had only known this tip, then.

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