How to Say I Love You in 20 Different Languages
We English speakers are guiltiest of using “I love you” way too lightly.
Elsewhere in the world, the word “love” is a heavy, serious and meaningful thing—definitely not to be delivered at the drop of a hat.
If you’re wondering how lovers from around the world and its diverse cultures express love and affection, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s discover how to say I love you in different languages.
- 1. French: Je t’aime
- 2. Spanish: Te amo
- 3. German: Ich liebe Dich
- 4. Chinese: 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ)
- 5. Japanese: 愛してる (aishi teru)
- 6. Korean: 사랑해 (saranghae)
- 7. Arabic: ٲنَا بحِبَّك (ana bahebak)
- 8. Hindi: मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हुँ (main tumse pyar karta hoon)
- 9. Greek: Σ΄αγαπώ (se agapo)
- 10. Italian: Ti amo
- 11. Russian: Я тебя люблю (ya tebya liubliu)
- 12. Portuguese: Eu te amo
- 13. Hebrew: אני אוהב אותך (ani ohev otakh)
- 14. Tagalog: Mahal kita
- 15. Swahili: Nakupenda
- 16. Vietnamese: Anh yêu em
- 17. Turkish: Seni seviyorum
- 18. Polish: Kocham cię
- 19. Cheyenne: Nemehotatse
- 20. Inuktitut: ᓇᒡᓕᒋᕙᒋᑦ (nagligivaget)
1. French: Je t’aime
What better way to start this amorous list than with French? People all over the world travel to Paris to fall in love. If your paramour is of the French persuasion, just say, “Je t’aime.“
You could cap the line with “my darling” at the end as a flourish. Use “ma chérie” if you’re saying it to a woman or “mon chéri” if you’re confessing your love to a man.
2. Spanish: Te amo
Spanish speakers can be incredibly passionate. You can taste that passion in their food, hear it in their music and definitely see that in their dances, like the salsa.
The words “te amo” perfectly encapsulate the spirit of lovers lost in each other’s arms. It’s an informal pronoun that expresses real intimacy. Spanish speakers don’t toss “amo” around lightly—it’s reserved for the real deal.
To put “forever” in there, you can say, “Te amo para siempre.”
3. German: Ich liebe Dich
Contrary to common misconceptions, the Deutsche do know how to fall in love. Big time!
So, if you ever in this lifetime find yourself falling for a handsome or beautiful (or beautifully handsome) German, be prepared to say, “Ich liebe Dich.“
Have this one in the bag. You never know what wonderful kind of person you’ll run into in the streets of Berlin.
4. Chinese: 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ)
The Chinese have a saying: Lovers’ hearts are linked together and always beat as one.
But since it’s from a poem about lost love, you might avoid it all together and just say, “wǒ ài nǐ.“
Just note that “I love you” is a little too strong in Chinese culture. Parents and children rarely say this to each other.
So letting out an “I like you” equivalent or wǒ xǐ huān nǐ is highly recommended.
5. Japanese: 愛してる (aishi teru)
“Love” is a very strong word in Japanese culture and expressions of love are not very common—apart from in television dramas.
So, only use “aishi teru” when you’re really committed to the person you’re telling it to. The Japanese don’t take that one lightly.
But if you really want to tell your partner how much you like them, you can say, “suki da,” which means “I like you.”
6. Korean: 사랑해 (saranghae)
You’ve probably heard of this one if your usual fare is Korean dramas and movies.
When you say, “Saranghae,” the answer you would be looking for would probably be “Judo sarang haeyo!” (I love you, too!)
There’s always the chance that the other person might respond with “Chin-goo ro namgo shipuyo.” (I want to stay friends).
But if they say, “Je boomonimkge insa deuriruh gayo” (I’d like you to meet my parents), then… congratulations!
7. Arabic: ٲنَا بحِبَّك (ana bahebak)
There are around 200 million Arabic speakers, with a rich culture that dates back millennia.
Arab women may be more conservative than you’re accustomed to (depending on your country and culture of origin), but make no mistake, they’re as brilliant and headstrong as any other modern woman. That’s why you need to be prepared to declare your love properly.
No matter what Arabic-speaking person you fall in love with, “ana bahebak” are the magic words.
8. Hindi: मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हुँ (main tumse pyar karta hoon)
Most marriages in India are arranged. But don’t fret, many Indians also say that love must be part of the equation.
And, hey, we’re really getting ahead of ourselves here talking about weddings (which, by the way, last three days).
The bottom line is that “main tumse pyar karta hoon” is the phrase you need if you’re a man. “Main tumse pyar karti hoon” is what you use if you’re a woman.
9. Greek: Σ΄αγαπώ (se agapo)
After a long day philosophizing and mesmerizing the crowds, Socrates would have to walk home to his equally argumentative wife. Ever wondered how he would say I love you to her?
“Se agapo.” Those are the words Xanthippe would hear.
And she would probably say, “Mou leípeis,” which means “I miss you” in Greek but translates much closer to “You are missing from me.”
These words are all still used today in modern Greece.
10. Italian: Ti amo
We come now to the language of Casanova himself—Italian—which is considered by many to be the true language of love.
Italians, regardless of gender, all speak one of the most passionate languages around. They will charm their way into your heart.
So when you hear, “Ti amo,” you’d better watch out—that Italian is out to make you fall in love.
11. Russian: Я тебя люблю (ya tebya liubliu)
From Russian with love. I’m sure James Bond (you know, 007) would agree that Russians know their way around the arts of love and seduction.
Take a page from them and learn I love you in Russian. Say the last word three times fast, and it’ll start to sound like “love, love, love.”
12. Portuguese: Eu te amo
When it comes to lists of the most romantic languages, Portuguese somehow always makes the cut. So take advantage of this and learn this ultimate phrase for expressing love in Portuguese. But take your time in saying it—it’s not a phrase that you would say during casual dating!
Another way to make a Portuguese lover swoon would be to proclaim that you really dig them with “Eu te curto muito.“
13. Hebrew: אני אוהב אותך (ani ohev otakh)
Traditional views on love connected with Hebrew would point to love as an action—a solemn lifetime commitment.
And they do have the vocabulary for it. In Hebrew, expressions of love would differ depending on who is confessing love.
If you’re saying I love you to a woman,” you’d say, “Ani ohevotakh.“
On the other hand, if you’re saying I love you to a man, you’d say, “Ani ohevet otkha.“
14. Tagalog: Mahal kita
Tagalog is the language spoken in the Philippines.
“Mahal kita” is used no matter your gender or the gender of your significant other. Although it’s mostly spoken in a romantic context, the phrase is sometimes used to express love to family members.
If you want to increase the implied intensity of that love, and mean that you really, really love the person, you can say, “Mahal na mahal na mahal kita.”
15. Swahili: Nakupenda
Swahili is the most popular African language, with more than ten million speakers.
To say I love you in Swahili, you just need to know “nakupenda.” The longer form of this is “ninakupenda,” but it’s common to drop the “ni-.” “Nakupenda” can be used in a more general sense for anyone you care deeply about.
You can even add more intensity to it by saying, “Nakupenda sana.” (I love you very much).
16. Vietnamese: Anh yêu em
In Vietnamese, there’s a special word that expresses a deep kind of love: yêu. It’s meant for someone who you’re married to or want to be with for life.
For the full sentence, it gets trickier because you have to consider gender. If you’re a man professing your love to a woman, you can use “anh yêu em.” For women talking to their husbands, this can be switched to “em yêu anh.”
17. Turkish: Seni seviyorum
Need the right phrase to speak directly to the heart of a Turkish significant other? Then say you love them with “Seni seviyorum.” The verb seviyorum is in the present tense, so this literally means “I am loving you.”
If you’re still in the earlier stages of dating, “Senden hoşlanıyorum” is a milder phrase to mean that you like someone romantically, usually when you’re about to get into a relationship with them.
18. Polish: Kocham cię
Did you know that Poland actually has a city of love where you can find St. Valentine’s relics? Flowers also have a specific meaning based on their color, with red flowers and roses being specifically romantic.
Here’s a tip to score with a beloved in Polish: learn how to say, “Kocham cię.” It’s a serious romantic phrase for expressing your love, so reserve it for someone who’s really special!
19. Cheyenne: Nemehotatse
The Cheyenne are a Native American tribe that lives in the Great Plains of Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.
The Native Americans have a saying: Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.
And when someone does capture your heart, sweep them off their feet with “Nemehotatse,” the Cheyenne way of saying I love you. Use it only when you really, truly love someone.
20. Inuktitut: ᓇᒡᓕᒋᕙᒋᑦ (nagligivaget)
We reserved the Inuit way of saying I love you for last to prove that, even at the ends of the Earth, even in the coldest places, the warmth of love and the heat of passion rings true.
Even when things are so cold that you cover your entire body several times over. Even when only your noses are exposed to the great outdoors and available for use to greet each other (as is done in the typical Inuit kunik greeting) love still finds a way.
And that rounds up our list of different ways of saying I love you.
If you want to communicate with (or really impress) your paramour, why not learn the whole darn language?
As we’ve learned above, there’s more to love than those expressions. Watch foreign movies and listen to international music to see how native speakers truly express their love.
On the FluentU language learning program, which covers 10 languages listed above, music videos and movie scenes come with interactive subtitles to help you understand romantic phrases in context.
Together with other learner tools, these allow you to absorb the language as it’s really used by native speakers.
So, go ahead and practice expressing yourself!