Words of Love : How to Say I Love You in Dutch Posted by on Feb 13, 2010 in Dutch Language

I don’t think Valentine’s Day (Valentijnsdag) is traditionally a big deal in the Netherlands, but since we live in a world that has close contact with other cultures via the media, internet, television, etc., it’s not uncommon to do something small and special for your loved one here too. Although Dutch may not be known as the language of love, there are lots of ways of expressing how much you care about that special someone. In order to help you in your romantic endeavors and spice up your life, here are a few words and phrases about love.

houden van : to love

Houden van is very dependent on context. Thus, I can use it to express how much I like something, or how much I love someone. You can use this for your partner, your mother, your family, your children, anyone who you love, even your favorite food or your town.

Ik hou van mijn vriend/vriendin.

I love my boyfriend/girlfriend.

Wij houden van elkaar.

We love each other.

Ik hou van jou.

I love you.

Ik hou van dansen.

I love dancing.

verliefd zijn op : to have a crush on

This is the starry-eyed, having a crush on, lovey-dovey feeling of love instead of the very serious and intense feelings of love. For expressing deep love for someone you would still use houden van. You wouldn’t use verliefd zijn op with your mother, or your children, or other family members.

Ik ben verliefd op die leuke jongen bij mij in de klas.

I have a crush on that cute guy in my class.

Dutch doesn’t have a particular word that designates whether someone is your romantic boy/girlfriend or just a “normal” boy/girlfriend. This is very much derived from context. Sometimes to specify the relationship, the word order makes all the difference.

Hij is mijn vriend.   Zij is mijn vriendin.

He is my boyfriend.   She is my girlfriend.

This can indicate an intimate or romantic relationship with the person.  But not always. And the Dutch sometimes get this one confused as well.

Hij is een vriend van mij.   Zij is een vriend van mij.

He is a friend of mine.  She is a friend of mine.

This generally indicates that a person is just your friend. It implies that you have many friends and this person is one of them.

de liefde : love

schatje : cutie

He schatje, wil je iets van me drinken?

Hey cutie, would you like something to drink? (implying the person asking will pay)

Ik heb vlinders in mijn buik.

I have butterflies in my stomach.

Ik vind je leuk.

Literally: I find you nice, but in the right context : I really like you.

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  1. ellen:

    Hi Sarah, I have a question. You have not mentioned, I am in love with you. Which I thought was Ik ben verliefd op jou, in stead of I have a crush on you.
    So schatje is cutie 🙂 nice to know 🙂

    • Sebastiaan:

      @ellen Hi ellen, you’re absolutely right about that.


      i’m dutch 🙂

  2. sarah:

    Hi Ellen,

    As far as I know, “ik hou van jou” holds the same intensity as saying you are in love with someone when it is used in the right context. My resident Dutch native said that he would never use “ik ben verliefd op jou” because it’s something teenage girls feel for their crush. Also that the idea of using it with a child or a parent makes him uncomfortable…

  3. Marion van Overveld:

    The dutch way of saying that someone is working in a restaurant is:

    Ik werk in een restaurant.

    So not ‘bij’ een restaurant. ‘bij’ indicates that something is near (by). ‘Bij’ indicates direction.


  4. William C DeWitt:

    i am studying Flemish, because my Dutch comes from Zeeland, near Walcheren, low country natives, my grandparents. The language is softer than the new dutch as formed after WW2. I visited Nederlands while in the US Army in Germany in 1952 before the great floods and hope to visit again!

    • sarah:

      @William C DeWitt Hi William,

      Thanks for your comment! Indeed there are many different pronunciations for Dutch. Generally in the south of the country there is a softer “g” which can be quite lovely to hear. In the northern parts of the country there is a much harsher and more pronounced “g” that becomes even more pronounced the farther north you go. As far as I know this has always been that way and isn’t related to a “new” Dutch language that came after WWII, though there is a standardized Dutch in the Netherlands called ABN. ABN is basically newscaster neutral Dutch that everyone is supposed to understand, though it does have the more pronounced “g”. It’s actually quite rare to hear anyone speak real true ABN Dutch, especially when you add the numerous dialects into the equation. The pronunciation also changes depending on how close to the German and Belgian borders you go. It’s amazing the variety you can find in such a small space!

  5. Taylor Chambers:

    Karen, my wife, and I lived 18 years in Antwerp and I learned een beetje Vlaams in which the ‘g’ is definitely softer. I prefer it but Flemish speakers slur the language and round off words the way Americans do English, so ABN or north country Dutch can be easier to understand for an English speaker. I was never fluent but could translate Dutch advertising text into English ad text. Am still studying Dutch at home, which is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thanks!!!

  6. Jim Primdahl:

    I lived in the village of Putten when I was a young teen. The kind and calm nature of the Dutch people made a huge impact on my life. It’s as if to be born Dutch carries with the acceptance of agreeing to a social that says simply “I promise to be the best person I can be”. Now at 60 years of age I am working towards moving back there. My language skills are coming back since my recent 3 week visit to your gracious country. Dutch is the softest language I have ever heard, and I’m well traveled. Thanks to this site for informing me about the word ‘love’.

  7. Jim Primdahl:

    rewrite: social contract is what I meant to say

  8. Karin:

    Hi! Me and my boyfriend are studying Dutch, but we have a question: how we can say “my love”? I read that “mijn liefde” isn’t correct because it means “love” as a feeling and not ad a person. Could you help us?

    • tiffany:

      @Karin “My love,” referring to a person is not used in Dutch. Instead, you would say “mijn schatje” or “my sweetie.” Hope that helps!

    • Sten:

      @Karin Another option you have is “mijn lief” or “mijn liefje”. Of course your choice if you want to belittle or not 😉

  9. Bob:

    This is specially to Jim Primdahl. A year or so after WW 2, a bus full of German tourists came to the city of Amersfoort. They stopped at a reasaurant. On the side of the bus was a banner saying “Da sind wir wider” , which means in German : “Here we are again”.
    It so happened that a bunch of young men from the village of Putten were there too.
    The village of Putten was blown up by the Germans and many men were picked up and deported to Germany…
    At the cost of the front window of the restaurant, the Putten boys threw the Germans out of the place…. !

  10. Tommy:

    Most people think putting je behind a word makes it a diminutive. It is true, but the way most dutch people use is because it sounds sweeter. And i am a native Dutchman.
    If we would say “wil je een biertje?” doesn`t necessary means that it is a small beer :).

    Mijn schat – mijn schatje (schat actually means treasure:))
    “Mijn geliefde” = my beloved, my love.

    And yes to “verliefd” is more like a crush.
    Instead of “ik ben verliefd op je”
    you could use “ik ben voor je gevallen” or
    “ik ben stapelgek op jou” :).
    I have fallen for you and i am crazy about you.

    And “je bent een schat” is a phrase that can be used for more situations. Like if someone a man or woman has done something for you then you could say “bedankt, je bent een schat” really means thanks, you are a treasure.You say this to a man or a woman, but if you are a man say it to a woman and if you are a woman say it to man. But you don`t have to be lovers for this.

    “ik vind je leuk” = i like you
    “ik vind je erg leuk” of “ik vind je heel leuk” = i really like you
    “ik vind je heel erg leuk” = i really really like you
    But a strange thing about this phrase “ik vind je leuk” it can also mean that you find him fun. But normally we would then say “je bent leuk” = you are fun. And i say normally, so if someone say “ik vind je leuk”. Find out if they mean really like me like me or just like me for fun. This is similar with English, right? if someone say i like you it can mean like you to start something or just like you as a friend :).

    • Tommy:

      @Tommy Re -je at the the end of a word. Yes, here in Flanders they say -je, ‘wil je ‘n pintje?’ to ask if you want a beer but they also use -ke as in ‘m’n schatke’ for ‘my love’ or ‘wil je ‘n pintske?’. -ke is even in my street name ‘Veldeke’.

  11. Erica Obeng:

    I lived in Amsterdam for 3 years and I really did and still liked the language. It was fun and I do remember some of it.I wish to go back there some day. I enjoyed all of the different comments posted.

  12. Caitlin clover:

    hello, I would like to know how to say I love u dearly I dutch! if u can type back asap (as soon as possible)

  13. Unknown:

    Thanks so much I have a crush on this kid in my class and I don’t know how to tell him so I am telling him in Dutch

  14. Magaly .A. Tomajko:

    I have someone dear to me and I would like him to feel almost like he is home back in Amsterdam so I appreciate all your help ,I learn some Dutch ,good enough to greet him and tell him I love him thank you

  15. Anon.:

    If I tell someone “Ik vind je leuk” does this imply I like him more then a friend? Can it be used in the context of good friendship?