Danish word of the day: Kære

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Danish word of the day: Kære

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Our Valentine's Day Danish word of the day is kære, which roughly translates to 'dear' or 'beloved' in English.


Like "dear" in English, kære can be used to address almost anyone in a letter or email in order to be polite, although it’s not compulsory to use it and younger generations might find it too formal.

Kære can in theory be used to address a close family member, friend or partner in Danish as well.  But beware. It may come across as overly affectionate or outdated, so only use it if you're sure that it's appropriate. If in doubt, hej ("hi") is nearly always the best choice.

In everyday spoken Danish, kære should really only be used as a greeting for people you are very close to.

Kære is related to the noun kærlighed or “love”. You can also holde nogen kære (hold someone dear).

The "k" sound here is pronounced like a "c" sound in English, so kære is pronounced very similarly to "care".


Kære can be used as a suffix, such as in the word folkekære, meaning something loved by the people (similar to the phrase "national treasure" in English).

If you want to say you love someone, though, you would usually say jeg elsker dig (I love you). “To be in love with” is at være forelsket i, using an adjective form of the verb at elske (to love), and not kære.

Jeg er forelsket i dig translates as "I am in love with you", and is only about romantic love and not platonic or familial love. Stick with jeg elsker dig when telling your mother, child or best friend that you love them, and save jeg er forelsket i dig  for your partner (although you can definitely tell your partner that you elsker them, too).

At kære as a verb means "to appeal" in a legal sense, so a person convicted of a crime might kære dommen til landsretten (appeal against the verdict at the high court), for example.

Example sentences:

Ghita Nørby blev folkekære på grund af hendes roller i flere klassiske danske film.

Ghita Nørby became a national treasure because of her roles in several classic Danish films.

Åh, mit kære barn, hvor har jeg savnet dig!

Oh, my dear child, how much I've missed you!


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