Houden van

to love, to like [verb] [hield, gehouden]

Today's word is the elementary "houden van", which can also be applied in a non-romantic context, for example when talking about food.

– "Ik hou van jou!"
("I love you!" For those of you who study Dutch grammar, in the case of the verb "houden", the "d" can be omitted in the first person and is in fact more common than "ik houd". Don't ask us why this is the case 😉 )

– "Maar… Hou je dan niet meer van me?"
("But… Don't you love me anymore (then)?" You can substitute "je" by "jou" "jij" and "me" by "mij" in case you want to emphasize.)

– "Hier, neem maar een hapje!" – "Nee bedankt, ik hou niet van witlof."
("Here, take a bite!" – "No thanks, I do not like chicory.")

– "Zij houdt heel erg van sla!"
("She loves lettuce!" If you leave out the "heel erg" ("very much"), it will translate to just "she likes lettuce". An alternative is to use the expression "gek zijn op" (see below).)

– "Ga je nog skieën dit jaar?" – "Misschien, maar ik hou sowieso meer van snowboarden."
("Do you have plans to go skiing this year? – "Maybe, but I am more into snowboarding anyway." Literally: "Are you (still) going to ski this year?" The word "sowieso" is adopted from German.)

Related expressions:
– "Lekker vinden": to find something tasty (in this context).

– "Als kind vond Sander witlof niet lekker."
("When he was a child, Sander did not like chicory." Literally: "As child …")

– "Gek zijn op": to be crazy about something/somebody, to (really) love something/somebody.

– "Ik ben gek op chocola!"
("I love chocolate!" You will sometimes also hear "ik ben dol op…")

The Dutch are not generous with "I-love-you's". In general "houden van" is used amorously (but not until a relationship has evolved seriously). It can be used among friends, or between children and parents, but this is not done on a frequent basis, contrary to what seems to be the case in the U.S. (at least that is the impression we get from watching U.S. movies 😉 )

11 thoughts on “Houden van

  1. Excellent work!!
    Could you please explain what is the difference between houden van, lusten, geven om and willen. I know they all mean like but in what sense each one.
    Thank you

  2. How about “Ik zie je graag” as a related expression, or is it only used in Belgium?

  3. Hi Helen,
    “Ik zie je graag” in the meaning of “I love you” is only used in Belgium and I am not sure if it has the exact same meaning (Flemish people are invited to comment).
    In the Netherlands it is not used that way, in fact people would understand it as “I enjoy seeing you” which is of course not the same thing (and you would not use this expression to say that).
    Groetjes – Sander

  4. ik zie je graag means the exact same thing as ik hou van je.
    – “Maar… Hou je dan niet meer van me?”
    (“But… Don’t you love me anymore (then)?” You can substitute “je” by “jou” and “me” by “mij” in case you want to emphasize.)
    –> you can substitute “je” by “jij” an not “jou”

  5. I’m from Mexico, currently studing Dutch, as I really like your language and country. For me it was funny to find out that “houden van” is not of frequent basis. In México, we use love expressions (“te quiero”, “te amo”, “te adoro”, etc…) all the time.

  6. Hi Adriana, I guess we are modest with our emotions 🙂
    By the way, ‘querer’ is ‘willen’ in Dutch (‘to want (something/somebody)’). However when you say ‘ik wil je’ (literally ‘I want you’) without any context, it always has a sexual connotation. Perhaps good to know 🙂

  7. I’m in trouble with the word “sowieso”. I just can’t figure out when I should use it, and I hear it used all the time everywhere.

    • Hi Massimo,
      I can imagine it is tricky to master. The general English translation of ‘sowieso’ (which is taken from German by the way) would be:
      – anyhow; or
      – in any case.
      “Zullen we nog even snel een kadootje kopen, of is het asociaal om dan te laat te komen?” – “Ach, laten we het maar doen, want we zijn sowieso te laat.”
      (“Shall we quickly buy a present or will it be rude to arrive late?” – “Oh well, let’s do it, we are late anyhow.”)

      • Hi Sander

        bedankt! strange that I consider a word that comes from German so important to give to my Dutch a real “Dutch touch”!

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