Ways to Say “I Love You” in German (Plus Terms of Endearment, Flirty Phrases and Audio)
How do you say “I love you” in German?
German isn’t known as the language of love, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some romantic and poetic phrases for expressing love, feelings of closeness, intimacy and endearment!
Read this post for the key ways you can express your romantic side in German, from casual flirting phrases to declarations of long term love.
- “I Love You” in German: Ich liebe dich
- 1. Ich liebe dich — I love you
- 2. Ich hab’ dich lieb — I have love for you
- 3. Du gefällst mir — You please me
- 4. Du bedeutest mir viel — You mean a lot to me
- 5. Ich mag dich wirklich — I really like you
- 6. Ich bin in dich verliebt — I’m in love with you
- 7. Ich bin bis über beide Ohren verliebt — I am over both ears in love
- 8. Du bist mein Ein und Alles — You are my one and everything
- Pet Names for Your Partner: Terms of Endearment
- FAQ About German Expressions of Love
- And One More Thing...
“I Love You” in German: Ich liebe dich
1. Ich liebe dich — I love you
Let’s start with the simplest, most straight-to-the-point way to express love in German.
While Americans might freely express their love for everything from their spouse to their morning cup of coffee, German culture and language is more reserved. The expression Ich liebe dich is only used between romantic partners and is generally said to express love on the scale of a long-term and committed relationship.
Basically, if he says it, he means it!
This charming video from Easy German discusses the phrase (amongst others) and how it’s actually used in German culture.
The host uses the expression with her co-host (and long-term partner):
“Janusz? Ich liebe dich.” — Janusz? I love you.
“Oh! Das ist ja lieb von dir.” — Oh! That’s nice of you.
Hopefully your own expressions of love will go a bit more smoothly!
2. Ich hab’ dich lieb — I have love for you
It may only be three words long, but Ich liebe dich is a rather potent way of expressing your feelings. Therefore, it’s a phrase typically reserved for more meaningful moments between romantic partners.
In the less powerful moments, when the love may not be of the inflamed or passionate sort, the phrase Ich hab’ dich lieb steps in. It’s appropriate for more platonic contexts such as between family members, or when you want to more simply and innocently express your fondness and appreciation for someone.
By the way, hab’ is just short for habe (from haben — to have). Verbs in German gain an -e ending in the first person “I” form, but this just as quickly gets dropped in spoken language as it’s quicker and easier to say.
Ich hab’ dich lieb, Oma! Danke für das Geschenk. — I (have) love (for) you, Grandma! Thank you for the gift.
3. Du gefällst mir — You please me
The verb gefallen literally means “to please” or “to appeal.” This is the most common way of saying you “like” something and can be used to describe anything that you like from food items, to furniture to people.
You are, in essence, saying that someone is your type. Yes, saying that someone appeals to you might sound a little odd in English, but in German, it carries an honest and complimentary tone. You’re admitting that you like that special person quite a bit, perhaps not to the point of deep, devoted love, but enough that romance is a viable possibility.
Du gefällst mir sehr. Willst du mit mir gehen? — I really like you. Do you want to go out with me?
4. Du bedeutest mir viel — You mean a lot to me
Even if the word Liebe isn’t explicitly used in this phrase, that doesn’t make it less heartfelt. Sometimes, a person deserves to know, in direct and sincere wording, that he or she is significant to you. Their importance doesn’t necessarily have to have romantic connotations, either.
You can emphasize the sentiment by simply including “so” (sehr), like so: Du bedeutest mir sehr viel.
Danke, dass du immer an meiner Seite bist. Du bedeutest mir sehr viel. — Thank you for always being by my side. You mean so much to me.
5. Ich mag dich wirklich — I really like you
This phrase is heavily reliant on the context in which it’s being said.
Telling someone Ich mag dich could perhaps imply that more romantic feelings are meant. However, this depends very much on the person themselves and how they may or may not feel about you. For example, if you’re just friends, they’ll likely take the phrase in that context.
Kai: Ich mag dich sehr. — I really like you.
Kathi: Ich mag dich auch, aber ich bin nicht in dich verliebt. — I like you too, but I’m not in love with you.
6. Ich bin in dich verliebt — I’m in love with you
This phrase is one level down in power from Ich liebe dich, so you can think of it as a stepping stone on the way to the big declaration. Nevertheless, this is definitely a phrase that is still reserved for romantic relationships and lovers—so don’t go telling your best friend this unless you want to change the relationship dynamic.
Ich muss dir die Wahrheit sagen: Ich glaube ich bin in dich verliebt! — I need to tell you the truth: I think I’m in love with you!
7. Ich bin bis über beide Ohren verliebt — I am over both ears in love
Cue fluttering baby Cupids with their heart-shaped arrows. This funny phrase can be considered the German counterpart to the English “I’m head over heels in love.” It’s an idiomatic expression that means you’re completely enamored with someone. If you choose to use it, then it can be said that you’re quite unashamed of your affection.
Saying it aloud in public to your loved one can, I imagine, cause onlookers to either swoon or scrunch their faces at the sickly sweetness of it all.
Hilda ist bis über beide Ohren verliebt. Sie denkt schon ans Heiraten! — Hilda is head over heels in love. She’s already thinking of marriage!
8. Du bist mein Ein und Alles — You are my one and everything
If you want to be more sappy than a fresh sugar maple tree, then this phrase is the one for you. It more literally translates to “You are my one and all,” a powerful way of declaring your devotion to someone.
You can use this phrase for that one special person you’re utterly smitten with, the one you can happily imagine being with for the long haul. I reckon the statement would have more impact when said only during more important occasions, so don’t wear it out by saying it every day!
Du bist mein Ein und Alles, Schatz. Vergiss das nie! — You are my everything, darling. Never forget that!
Pet Names for Your Partner: Terms of Endearment
Be warned: There’s something about the German language that makes mushy nicknames sound significantly more mushy than in English.
Even the German word for “pet name” is der Kosename. Kosename comes from the verb kosen, meaning “to caress.” So you don’t have a pet name, you have a “caress name.”
Here are the most common ones:
Schatz — Treasure, dear, darling, sweetie
There’s a similar word, the verb schätzen, which means “to value, treasure or protect.” It makes sense that this is something you’d like to do to your loved one!
Komm ins Bett Schatz. Lass uns einen Film ansehen. — Come to bed, sweetie. Let’s watch a movie.
Liebling — Loved one, darling
The German language has a number of useful diminutive suffixes, namely -ling, -chen and -lein. This particular term is close in connotation to the English “darling.”
People the world over think that small things are cute, and so any language with diminutives will tend to use them to describe cute or endearing things. German dives hard right into this.
The animals der Bär, die Hase, die Katze and die Maus all take diminutive endings when they turn into mushy nicknames:
Ich liebe dich, Mäuschen. — I love you, little mouse.
Baby, sugar and honey
Lastly, Anyone who’s watched a German vlog or modern TV show knows that Germans are no strangers to the English language. Therefore, the English terms “baby,” “sugar” and even “honey” are occasionally used to refer to one’s dearest!
Du siehst wunderschön aus, Honey. — You look beautiful, honey.
For more terms of endearment, check out our full post on the topic:
For even more authentic expressions of love in German, you could look into FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FAQ About German Expressions of Love
Is Ich liebe dich romantic?
It certainly is. Ich liebe dich is exclusively used between romantic partners and lovers. It’s also generally reserved for relationships of a more long term nature, although there are always exceptions.
How do you respond to Ich liebe dich?
If someone tells you Ich liebe dich, consider yourself lucky. If the feeling is mutual and you also love the declarer of this statement, you can also respond with just Ich liebe dich (I love you) or with Ich liebe dich auch (I love you too). This will make the point clear that you love them, too.
How do you flirt in German?
Flirting in German is slightly different than in other cultures. It’s important to remember that Germans are very direct—and can even be blunt. But this doesn’t mean there’s not some poetry in the phrases of German flirtation.
Some convenient phrases for flirting in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt are:
- Du bist hübsch — You’re cute
- Willst du tanzen? — Would you like to dance?
- Deine Augen sind wie Sterne — Your eyes are like the stars
- Darf ich dich küssen? — May I kiss you?
- Kann ich dich anrufen? — Can I call you?
- Ich genieße jede Sekunde mit dir — I enjoy every second with you
- Du siehst aus wie mein nächster Freund/Freundin — You look like my next boyfriend/girlfriend
What so I say if it doesn’t work out?
Not all romances work out, as we all know well. If your relationship falters, you may want to utilize a few of these ways to say “I miss you” in German:
There’s simply nothing like love in this world, and with thousands of years of humans describing it, we’ve gotten pretty poetic at it. As flowery as some of this writing is, it’s really just scratched the surface.
German may not be the language of love like French, but there are plenty of ways to express affection in the language.
Now go out there and tell those precious to you that you love them!
And One More Thing...
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