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I want to discuss these three sentences:

I don't like her
I dislike her
I hate her

While 'hate' is pretty clear for its intensity/degree of 'not liking someone/thing', what about comparing all those three?

My view:

I don't like her - polite and harmless
I dislike her - a bit impolite as compared to the above one
I hate her - offensive and rude

I am more interested in 'don't like' and 'dislike'.

If I care about culture/society, which one seems better? My vote is for 'don't like'. But I want natives' opinions on this.


By the way, 'detest' is higher than 'hate' in intensity/degree of disliking?

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  • @Usernew it says 'hate' comes from animosity! But then what can 'food' do to us? I still hate pizzas'
    – Maulik V
    Dec 4, 2015 at 7:22
  • It says: "You hate somebody on the basis of animosity or enmity. We hate foods that doesn't appeal to us either because of taste or smell or maybe allergy: that's a lot of hostility to my taste buds and olfactory nerves, kidding :P. Furthermore it says: You dislike non-living things. You dislike bananas. You hate living things. You hate your neighbor. You dislike books. You do not hate them. You dislike getting low marks in math. You do not hate getting low marks in math. Yet, that is not a universal truth ;)
    – Usernew
    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:04
  • You'll almost never find a flat "I dislike X" in plain spoken English; it will be either "I don't like X" or "I dislike X in some way" - either explaining why, or how much etc. ("I don't like X very much" is ambiguous: do you dislike it very strongly or do you like it only weakly? - does "very much" strengthen or weaken it? "dislike" carries no such ambiguity.)
    – SF.
    Dec 4, 2015 at 12:13

3 Answers 3

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I am not a native speaker. If you tell me that you 'don't like' me, I would get slightly offended, but not too much. On the other hand, if you tell me 'I hate you', I would clearly get hurt and probably tell you something like 'Oh yeah ? I hate you too' ! Same is the case with 'dislike'. With words like 'hate' and 'dislike', a possible retaliation can be expected (I know I will). But if you say you 'don't' like me, I might ask you 'why' instead of saying something of the same degree with you as the subject. The least offensive is 'I don't like you'. But then again, this is based on personal opinions and how they take offence in these phrases. 'Despise' and 'Detest' are much too intense and probably would come as too offensive or hurtful.

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  • This is a very well written explanation for a non-native speaker! Well done. I am up-voting your answer. Dec 7, 2015 at 15:23
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I would agree; "don't like" is less severe than "dislike" because "don't like" still allows the possibility of being neutral. I wouldn't call it "harmless" - it would still be a bit rude - but it's not as bad as "dislike" or "hate".

About "detest" and "hate": I think they're about equal. "Detest" might be a bit worse, but not by much - hating a person and detesting them are almost exactly the same.

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Don’t Like does not sound very advanced and is used by younger children by a larger margin than the other two.

Dislike is not offensive but less childish.

Hate is very strong.

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