Liking Things Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Mar 8, 2012 in Grammar, Vocabulary
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…
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