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The language of Dutch love: from leuk vinden to houden van


By Dr. Ruud Hisgen (Direct Dutch Institute)

Ik lief jou


Love is in the air. Spring has sprung. Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cuccu. Olla vogala…

Yes, all the birds have begun their nests except you and I, so what are we waiting for? So the lyrics go in the earliest Dutch poem, first noted down in the 11th century.

I feel like singing: Ik hou van jou, de lucht is blauw, de zon is geel and ik hou van jou heel veel– as one of my students from Kuwait recently rhymed.



The seven stages of Dutch love


Declaring ik hou van jou can go a long way, but there are other, more original, ways to express your romantic feelings in Dutch.

Here are seven words and expressions that can come in handy if your partner (or partner-to-be) is a Dutchie, a Flemmie or simply enjoys a little Dutch romance:


1. Leuk vinden (to like) – Ik vind je leuk (I like you)


So it starts. Strangers exchanging glances. There is a warm feeling. You want to know this person. You say or whisper: ik vind je leuk. If this feeling proves to be mutual you can maybe move on to the next stage.


2. Lief vinden (to be fond of) – Ik vind je lief (I think you’re sweet)


The ice is broken. Hands are touching. Sweet remarks are made. Ik vind je ogen leuk (I like your eyes). You are not afraid to say ik vind je lief(I think you’re sweet).

A flighty kiss might follow. You are sweet on the other person and you know for sure that you’ll be seeing more of each other.


3. Verliefd worden op iemand (to fall in love with someone) – Ik word verliefd op jou (I’m falling in love with you)


Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. But it is madness. It isn’t love in fact. It’s verliefdheid, or infatuation.

The Dutch poet Hans Andreus (1926-1977) wrote a cycle of 39 sonnets which he called “Sonnetten van de kleine waanzin” (1957) The words kleinewaanzin mean “small madness”. When you fall in love you lose control in a mad way. It’s hell when the feeling remains unanswered, but absolute heaven when it is mutual.


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