3 Simple Ways to Say ‘Like’ in German

like in german

How do you say ‘like’ in German? If you want to have conversations and get to know people in German, you need to learn how to express your likes and dislikes. In German there are few different words that we use to say ‘like’ depending on the situation. Auf gehts!

Gefallen

Gefallen means ‘to please’ and is used with the dative case. Gefallen is an irregular verb and is conjugated as depending on the subject.

It is the most complicated way to express liking something in German (for English speakers), but it’s also essential to know it. Just remember that it all gets easier once we get gefallen out of the way, so stick with me!

gefällt miris pleasing to me
gefällt diris pleasing to you (informal)
gefällt ihm / ihris pleasing to him / her
gefällt euchis pleasing to you (plural)
gefällt unsis pleasing to us
gefällt Ihnenis pleasing to you (formal)

Let’s take a look at it in a sentence:

Das Bild gefällt mirThe picture is pleasing to me
Berlin gefällt unsBerlin is pleasing to us

In the first example think of gefällt as ‘is pleasing’ and mir as ‘to me’. This may sound a little odd to English speakers but it’s an important phrase to learn. It’s best to try to not overthink it and learn it as a chunk.

If you want to talk about something ‘being pleasing to you’ in the past tense, you just use the conjugated past tense of haben and the unconjugated form gefallen:

Es hat mir gefallenIt was pleasing to me (I liked it)

When is gefallen used?

Gefallen is connected to sight or hearing, but not smell, touch or taste. It can be used to judge something based on appearance and can sometimes be superficial. It’s a very visual expression.

Berlin gefällt mirI like Berlin (I like Berlin from a visual point of view)
Dieses Lied gefällt ihmHe likes this song
Die Frau da drüben gefällt mirI like that women over there

The last example demonstrates a quick judgement of a woman’s looks and is quite superficial.

Gefallen is never used with verbs, so if you want to say you enjoy an activity don’t use gefallen.

Gefallen is also never used with food and drink.

Negation

To say you don’t like something in German we use nicht to negate the statement. Bear in mind the following rule:

Generally nicht goes to the end of the statement or main clause.

Mir gefällt das Bild nichtTo me is pleasing that picture not (That picture is not pleasing to me)

Mögen

From now on it gets much easier to say ‘like’ in German.

Mögen is modal verb that means ‘to like’ and is conjugated as follows:

  • ich mag
  • du magst
  • er / sie / es mag
  • ihr mögt
  • wir / sie / Sie mögen

Mögen is far simpler than gefallen and can be used in a similar way to the English ‘I like that’.

Ich mag diesen Kaffee sehrI like this coffee a lot

When is mögen used?

Mögen can be used for all senses:

Ich mag den Geruch von RosenI like the smell of roses
Ich mag das Gefühl von SeideI like the feel of silk

It is also used to express your feelings towards a being, thing, place or fact:

Ich mag dich sehrI like you a lot (I like this person on a more intense level, it’s no longer about judging someone on their looks)
Ich mag die Stadt BremenI like the city Bremen (I like Bremen on a more fundamental level than just how it looks)

Here’s an example of liking a ‘fact’:

Ich mag es, wenn du mir schreibenI like it when you write to me

You can use mögen for food and drink, but rarely for verbs.

Negation

Again, we use nicht to negate a statement and put it at the end of the phrase or [main clause].

Ich mag das nichtI don’t like that
[Ich mag es nicht,] wenn er mich unterbricht[I don’t like it,] when he interrupts me
Ich mag den Geruch von Kaffee nichtI don’t like the smell of coffee
like in german

Gern / Gerne

Gern / gerne means ‘with pleasure’ or ‘gladly’ and is used with verbs. You can use it to say ‘I like [activity]’ in German.

Ich lese gernI read gladly (I like reading)
Ich trinke gern BierI drink beer gladly (I like drinking beer)
Ich höre gern MusikI listen to music gladly (I like listening to music)

Top tip: Gern and gerne are completely interchangeable and it really doesn’t matter which one you use. Just say whatever sounds best to you.

Negation

To say you don’t like doing something using gern is quite straightforward. Just add nicht in front of gern.

Ich lese nicht gernI don’t like reading
Ich trinke nicht gern BierI don’t like drinking beer
Ich höre nicht gern MusikI don’t like listening to music

So now you know the 3 ways to say ‘like’ in German. All 3 words have their own uses, so it’s important to get a feel for each of them in daily conversation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.