Our English, especially in and around Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague and Utrecht, is definitely not bad compared to the English speakers in other European countries.
Still we do make mistakes and yes, the English are too polite to tell us.
Even when an Englishman will comment on your English there is still the chance that you don’t realize that he tells you that you make a mistake. Normally because he will correct you in a way more indirect then the Dutch would do. This indirectness is what you see in many phrases the British use. Most of the time we just don’t understand what the English want to tell us.
Check out the following phrases:
What the British say What the British mean What the Dutch understand
I hear what you say I disagree and don’t want to discuss it He accepts my point of view
I almost agree I don’t agree at all He almost agrees
With the greatest respect…. I think you are totally wrong He is listening to me
That’s not bad That’s good/great That’s just okay, not that great
I would suggest This is a (polite) order, just listen and do it Think about what I say, but do as you see fit
Oh, by the way/incidentally The primary purpose of our discussion is…. This is not that important
Very interesting I don’t agree/ I don’t believe you They are impressed, they think it is very interesting what I have to say
I was a bit disappointed I was most upset and cross with you It doesn’t really matter that much
I’ll bear it in mind I will do nothing about it They will keep it in mind, they may do it
Please think about that some more It’s a bad idea, we won’t do it It’s a good idea; keep on developing it
I am sure it was my fault It is absolutely your fault It was his fault, he admits it
That’s an original idea You must be crazy They like my original ideas
You see that it is not that difficult to get misunderstandings when people interpret phrases that different. So be aware of the indirectness of the English and check what they really mean!