How does "like" in German work?
So I'm wondering if I were to write "I like to read." in German, how would sentences below work: "Ich mag lesen."- this doesn't look right since I just slotted in the "lesen" in its infinitive form so is it even grammatically correct? "Ich lese gern"- this makes more sense and sounds more normal, so is this correct?
Just remember, mögen means "to like", gern/gerne is an adverb meaning "gladly/willingly". The difference is subtle but important, as it is in English! As you pointed out the adverb gern/e is generally used to emphasise the like on the activity (a verb), BUT if you're making a list it’s (generally again) shorter with mögen: “ich mag Lesen, Laufen, Schwimmen“ (I like reading, running, swimming).
So, in short, any of these variations may apply:
a) Ich lese gern/gerne b) Ich mag lesen c) Ich mag Lesen/ich mag das Lesen d) Ich mag es zu lesen
-a) this is just fine.
-in b), "mögen" appears as an auxiliary verb that requires an infinitive (here: read). However I think this is mainly used in some dialects and in spoken language.
-in c) "mögen" is considered as a regular verb, so it can not directly claim another verb, just a noun. Therefore, "reading" must be capitalised. Purists usually say that however in this case at least an article should be added ("ich mag das Lesen")
-d) it's about the construction "I like it" + to + infinitive.
Interesting. I have been taught to avoid structure b. Every teacher I have ever had has said that you should not use mögen as an auxiliary verb. Could it have something to do with Standard Germany German vs other standards/regional varieties? Or is there something wrong in the Finnish teaching plan?
there's nothing wrong with the Finnish teaching plan.
mögen + verb 'Ich mag lesen' 'Ich mag joggen' is just more colloquial German. That's why your teacher told you to avoid it. Better or more correct German is 'Ich lese gerne' 'Ich jogge gerne '.
mögen + noun 'Ich mag das Essen' 'Ich mag den Sonnenaufgang' is correct and normal German.
mögen + verb used as a noun 'Ich mag das Schwimmen' 'Ich mag das Radfahren' is correct and is normally used to express that you like this action generally (not necessarily you like to do it) If you want to say you like to do something you say 'Ich mag es zu schwimmen' With that term you emphasize that you like to do it, to practise it.
best regards Angel