lieb haben

See also: liebhaben


Alternative formsEdit


From lieb +‎ haben, thus literally “to have [someone] dear”. Compare Dutch liefhebben, Afrikaans liefhê.


  • IPA(key): /ˈliːpˌhaːbən/, [ˈliːpˌhaːbm̩]
  • Hyphenation: lieb ha‧ben


lieb haben (irregular, third-person singular simple present hat lieb, past tense hatte lieb, past participle lieb gehabt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (somewhat informal) to love
    Ich hab dich lieb.
    I love you.

Usage notesEdit

  • The verb lieben (to love) does not exist in many traditional German dialects and may retain a slightly solemn sound in the contemporary language. Therefore, lieb haben is the most normal and “down-to-earth” way of expressing love in German, particularly among friends and family, but usually also between lovers.
  • It is difficult to conceptualize the different sentimental values of both verbs. In some contexts, lieb haben may imply a weaker kind of love than lieben, whereas in others it may sound particularly affectionate. For instance, a formal declaration of love (“saying the L-word”) calls for the verb lieben, but a kiss good night will be accompanied by „Hab dich lieb!“.