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I just stumbled over the following two paragraphs and noticed that I'm unable to express their meanins in a natural way in German. Here are the sentences:

She could be so sweet.

and

That's so sweet of you!

How would you say those two in German?

I thought about "süss" and "lieb", but the former is more accurately translated with "cute" and the latter with "kind". "Sweet" seems to be a combination of both.

How would you express the two sentences above during, say, a casual conversation?

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    Your suggested "Lieb" fits nicely. A translation for "kind" would be "freundlich" – npst Jul 31 '18 at 11:21
  • @npst How would you translate the whole sentence? "Sie konnte so lieb sein" seems very artificial to me, and it feels like it's not exactly the same meaning. – Nearoo Jul 31 '18 at 11:39
  • Sie konnte so lieb sein. is perfect. Nothing artifical. If you wanted to say she's cute, you had to say süß. – Janka Jul 31 '18 at 11:42
  • Alright, thanks! Just out of curiosity - isn't "süss" a little more patrionizing than "cute"? Cute is used often to show attraction, but "süss" I've mostly heard when talking about babies and animals... should I call a girl I've just met "süss"? – Nearoo Jul 31 '18 at 13:26
  • Eine junge Frau kann definitiv als süß bezeichnet werden. Auch die Gefühle, die sich einstellen, wenn man an sie denkt, werden teils als süß bezeichnet. Die Beschützerperspektive wird mehr noch durch "niedlich" betont. Bei "süß" schwingt dies schon mit, aber während "süßes Gift/Biest/Luder" noch möglich ist, ist "niedliches Gift" ungebräuchlich. – user unknown Jul 31 '18 at 21:49
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First of all know that there is no reason why the area of meaning of an English word should match exactly with the area of meaning of a German word. So, even when süß is the best translation for sweet, this does not mean that is has to match in every situation. English and German have a common ancestor, about 1500 years ago, but since then then developed independent from each other, and so sweet and süß are distinct words now.

I would translate:

She could be so sweet.
Sie könnte so süß sein.

and

That's so sweet of you!
Das ist so nett von dir!

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  • Thank you for your response. However, in the context I saw the first stentence in the meaning also meant "kind" (the sentence was written right after the girl offered a favour). "Süss" does not contain that dimension, or am I mistaken? – Nearoo Jul 31 '18 at 13:22
  • @Nearoo: My problem is: I am a German native speaker. My English is quite ok, but far away from the skills of an English native speaker. I am not so firm with the areas of meaning of the English words sweet, cute, nice, kind and so on. So, when you say "She could be so sweet" without any further context (who are you talking about?) I am not really sure, which picture you have in your mind. I just can tell you, that »Sie könnte so süß sein« is absolutely fine in German, for example, when you talk about a 4 year old girl. But it is not a good choice, if you talk about the wife of your boss – Hubert Schölnast Jul 31 '18 at 15:38
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You can use süß (süss for English keyboards) in a casual conversation. Like "Du bist süß." or "Das ist süß von dir." But keep in mind that you should "süß" usually use on women, children or pets. Instead of "süß" you can also use "niedlich". Men are neither "süß" nor "niedlich".

Wives or girlfriends sometimes say "Du bist so süß" to their men, then it is okay but outside a marriage it sounds strange in German ears.

Yo can use süß in two ways:

  1. "Das ist süß, refering to "sugar" (a food is very sweet)
  2. "Du bist so süß", refering to a cute girl.
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  • 4
    I disagree that men cannot be cute. Justin Bieber ist zum Beispiel total süß. ;) "Das ist süß." can also refer to an action, "Das ist eine süße Geste" and doesn't refer to sugar at all. – Iris Jul 31 '18 at 13:22
  • Probably user33835 is a heterosexual man. For a man, other men can't be sweet, except he is homosexual. – user unknown Jul 31 '18 at 21:41
  • I agree with Iris, "süß" does not need to be connected to sex or marital status – npst Aug 1 '18 at 10:44

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