Chocolates and cards are nice, but what if on Valentine’s Day you could impress that certain someone by learning how to say “I love you” in different languages? Extra points if you can toss in a few other romantic expressions!
So what are the words for love in other languages? What follows is a guide to how to say “I love you” in different languages, the 11 languages offered in the Fluent Forever app. You’ll also learn other terms of endearment, like how to say “my love” or “sweetheart” in different languages.
Ik hou van jou [ɪk hɑʊ fɑɲ jɑʊ] is how to say “I love you” in Dutch (you can also use je [jə] instead of jou here). For “sweetheart” or “dear,” the Dutch often use schatje [sxαtjə]. For something close to “my love,” you would use liefje [lifjə]. If “I love you” feels like it would be coming on a little strong, you can also go with Ik geef om je [ɪk ɣeɪ̯f ɔm jə], which is closer to “I care about you.”
Hoping to learn how to say “I love you” in French, the language of the City of Love? It’s je t’aime [ʒə t‿ɛm], with ma chérie [ma ʃe.ʁi] (directed to a female), mon chéri [mɔ̃ ʃe.ʁi] (directed to a male), or mon amour [mɔ̃.n‿a.muʁ] (for either gender) being close translations for “my darling.”
In German, the words for “I love you” are Ich liebe dich [iç ‘li:bə diç]. This phrase suggests a strong feeling, so it would be most often used in serious romantic relationships. For “sweetheart,” the Germans use schatzi [ʃats i].
In Hebrew, things are a bit more complicated. אני אוהב אותך [Ɂani ōhēḇ ōṯáḥ] is how to say “I love you” in Hebrew if you are a male talking to a male. For a male talking to a female, it’s אני אוהב אותך [Ɂani ōhēḇ ōṯḵá]. For a female talking to a male, it’s אני אוהבת אותך [Ɂani ōhēḇét ōṯáḥ], and for a female talking to a female, it’s אני אוהבת אותך [Ɂani ōhēḇét ōṯḵá].
To call your loved one “sweetie,” you would use מתוק [mátōq] for a male and מתוקה [mətūqā] for a female, both of which literally mean “honey.”
In Italian, the way to say “I love you” to a romantic partner (maybe over pasta, red wine, and candlelight?) is ti amo [ti ˈaːmo], while amore mio [aˈmoːre mjo] (“my love”) or tesoro [teˈzoːro] (“treasure”) may also come in handy.
In Japanese, the way to say “I love you” is, well, not to say it at all. The Japanese do have 愛してる [äiɕite̞ɾɯ̹], but this is generally reserved for very dramatic situations, like proposals.
Though giving each other pet names is common, couples almost never say “I love you” directly, insteading opting to express their love through actions. There is an amusing–and rather telling–story about a novelist who suggested that the way to say “I love you” in Japanese would be to say, “The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?” (月が綺麗ですね).
In Korea, it’s traditional for women to give men gifts on Valentine’s Day as a way of saying 사랑해 [saraŋhɛ], which is how to say “I love you” in Korean. There is more variation when it comes to terms of endearment. A married couple might use 여보 [yʌbo] for “sweetheart,” and 자기야 [cagiya] can be used between married and non-married couples.
As in Japanese, the way you would actually say “I love you” in Mandarin is almost never said. It’s 我爱你 [wo ai ni], but this is considered too strong to be said as often as it’s said in Western cultures. A lighter way to express it is 我喜欢你 [wo ɕi xuan ni], which translates to “I like you.” And “sweetheart” in Mandarin would be 甜心 [tʻiæn ɕin].
The Portuguese are not as reserved about professing their love. Eu te amo [ew tʃi ə.mʊ] (or the shortened te amo) is how to say “I love you” in Portuguese. “Honey” or “sweetheart” would be meu bem [mˈew bˈeɲ], and meu amor [mˈew a.mˈoɾ] would mean “my love.”
To tell a Russian speaker how you feel on Valentine’s Day, you would say я тебя люблю [ˈja tʲɪˈbʲa lʲʊˈblʲu] for “I love you,” and дорогой [dərɐˈɡoj] (male) and дорогая [dərɐˈɡajə] (female) for “darling” or “sweetheart.”
11. Spanish (Latin American and Castilian)
People from Spanish-speaking cultures tend not to shy away from displays of affection. So, be ready with your te amo [te ‘a.mo], which is “I love you” in Spanish. For added romance, you could call your loved one mi amor [mj a’.moɾ] (“my love”), mi cariño [mi ka.’ɾi.ɲo] (“my dear”), or mi vida [mi ‘bi.ða] (“my life”).
Romantic or otherwise, learning a foreign language is all about connecting with people through words, stories, and personal experiences. Download the Fluent Forever app to get connected, and start learning one of the 11 offered languages today!