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, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. 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.

  3. Kevan Hubbard says

    Strange as y is used with great enthusiasm in Friesian and Afrikaans!I had assumed that English got it’s y’s from French but then I see it’s used a lot in Friesian so it might come from both sources as well as Norse and Danish?

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