If you’ve been to Brussels, you may have noticed that many locals speak an apparently incomprehensible dialect, with lots of consonants and guttural sounds. You may have wondered to your self: what language is spoken in Brussels?

Here’s your answer, together with the reason why there are multiple languages spoken not only in Brussels, but all over Belgium.

Brussels is a multilingual city located in Belgium where several languages are commonly spoken by the locals. The main languages spoken in Brussels are French, Dutch, English, and Flemish.

Official Languages in Brussels

There are three official languages in Belgium: French, Dutch (Flemish) and German. Most locals speak all of these languages.

Let’s see what languages most people in Brussels use.

French in Brussels

French is the most widely spoken language in Brussels. It is one of Belgium’s three official languages along with Dutch and German. Here are some common French phrases used in Brussels:

– Bonjour – Hello
– Au revoir – Goodbye
– S’il vous plaît – Please
– Merci – Thank you
– Où est…? – Where is…?
– Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?

Dutch in Brussels

Dutch (Flemish) is Belgium’s second official language and many Brussels residents speak Dutch. Here are some useful Dutch phrases:

– Hallo – Hello
– Tot ziens – Goodbye
– Alstublieft – Please
– Dank u – Thank you
– Waar is…? – Where is…?
– Spreekt u Engels? – Do you speak English?

Flemish in Brussels

Flemish is a regional dialect of Dutch spoken in parts of Belgium, including Brussels.There are slight differences between Dutch and Flemish, but the core is common to both languages.

Here are some Flemish phrases:

– Hallo – Hello
– Tot ziens – Goodbye
– Alsjeblief – Please
– Merci – Thank you
– Weur is…? – Where is…?
– Spreekt ge Engels? – Do you speak English?

German in Brussels

German is one of Belgium’s three official languages. Here are some useful German phrases used in Brussels:

  • Hallo – Hello
  • Auf Wiedersehen – Goodbye
  • Bitte – Please
  • Danke – Thank you
  • Wo ist…? – Where is…?
  • Sprechen Sie Englisch? – Do you speak English?

In summary, French, Dutch, Flemish and German are commonly spoken in Brussels, making it a diverse multilingual city. Visitors can get by using basic phrases in any of these languages.

brussels languages

Belgium, and therefore Brussels as well, has three official languages

Reasons Why Brussels Locals Speak Multiple Languages

Brussels and Belgium as a whole are home to various language communities that have co-existed in the region for centuries.

French arose from Belgium’s ties to France and years under French rule.

Dutch has long been spoken in Flanders. The local Flemish dialect of Dutch also emerged over time.

German also has a presence in Belgium, as it is one of the country’s three official languages along with French and Dutch.

And English has become widely used internationally in business, tourism, and as a common tongue among locals.

Belgium did not become an independent, unified country until 1830, so the language communities retained their own identities and tongues, contributing to Brussels’ multilingual landscape today. The city’s position as Belgium’s capital and a major European hub have also attracted diverse language speakers from across the continent and world.

When I’ve been to Brussels, I had an easy time communicating to locals, as almost everybody spoke a little English. My then rusty French also helped.

If you want to visit Belgium, you may want to check out my article about an easy and fun 2-day Brussels itinerary.

Violeta Matei