Danish Language Blog

Liking Things Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Having touched the slimy subject of swearing, it’s now time for us to return to some of the more ”tasteful” aspects of learning Danish. 😉

The poet Halfdan Rasmussen, who has been mentioned earlier, once wrote a children’s poem about liking things, as seen from a child’s perspective. Fittingly enough, it concludes with the line:

Jeg kan nemlig li at li.

Loose translation: ”I just like liking”.

The odd thing about the Danish version of to like is that it is a compound (consisting of several parts, like to be able to in English). Your dictionary says at kunne lide. At a very literal level that means ’to be able to like’, but it really just means to like. Only the kunne (to be able to, to ”can”, as in Yes we can!) part is inflected:

Jeg kan lide at synge.     I like singing.
Kan du lide at svømme?     Do you like swimming?
Hun kan lide hunde.    She likes dogs.
Hun kunne ikke lide katte.     She didn’t like cats.
Hun har aldrig kunnet lide jordbær.     She’s never liked (eating) strawberries.

In fact, if you remove the ”lide at” part from the first two phrases, you end up with sentences saying that you’re capable of doing something:

Jeg kan synge. I can sing.
Kan du svømme? Can you swim?

As Danes love vowels, the ”de” in lide is usually chopped off in the spoken language, and even the kan may lose its n. So, if you want to say to someone that you like her or him, the most native way of saying it would be

Jeg ka’ li’ dig! [ya ka lee dieh]    I like you!

Other ways of expressing ”liking” include

Jeg holder (meget) af ham.     I like him (a lot)./He means a lot to me.
Jeg holder af mennesker.    I like people.
Hvad synes du om mit nye slips?     How do you like my new tie?
Jeg synes godt om det.     I like it indeed.
Jeg er vild med sushi.     I’m crazy about sushi.

Of course, you may also slip into

Jeg elsker sushi!    I lo-o-ove sushi!

Most likely, though, the Danes around you will think you’re an American who’s just learnt Danish…

Keep learning Danish with us!

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Lanae:

    Jeg kan lide det! Thanks for explaining clearly an aspect of dansk that was confusing me!