How to (not) use the Dutch word leuk

Like the words lekker and gezellig, leuk is one of these words that native Dutch speakers use very often. Leuk is an adjective and primarily means nice or fun. Depending on the context, however, it can also mean good, attractive, cool, beautiful or pleasant. Since it can be used in many different contexts, the word leuk usually stands out to people who are learning the language. If you pay close attention, you hear it all around you all the time! 

How to use leuk to describe events or objects

An easy way to use leuk is to describe an event. For instance, when you have been out and the next day someone asks you: Heb je een leuke avond gehad? They want to know if you had fun last night. If you did, you can reply with: Ja, het was erg leuk! Yes, it was great fun! Leuk can also be used to describe an object. A book you enjoy reading is een leuk boek. If you want to compliment someone’s outfit, you can say Wat zie je er leuk uit! And when someone shows you a photograph of their child or pet, you could politely reply Wat een leuke foto! 

How to use leuk to (coincidentally) express romantic interest 

Leuk can also be used to describe people, but this requires some attention. The phrase Ik vind je leuk does not simply mean ‘I think you are a nice person’, but is actually used romantically, to say you fancy someone. When you call someone een leuke man or een leuke vrouw, this can be interpreted in two ways. It could mean you find that person attractive, but also that you simply enjoy their company or personality. To make sure you do not express a romantic interest in someone by accident, you can use alternative words to describe them, like aardig or, of course, gezellig.

Written by Eveline Mineur
Ellipsis Text and Translation

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