St. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and love is very much in the air. Birds are singing, bees are buzzing through the roses, and a profusion of little pink cherubs, love hearts and other such romantic paraphernalia is about to descend upon us all.
Don’t let the language barrier get in the way of your romantic liaisons this February 14th. Here is how to say those all-important 3 words in 18 world languages:
Considered by many to be the language of love, in French there are 2 options for ‘I love you’. Firstly you can say Je t’adore, which, more or less, means I adore you. This can, however, be interpreted as I like you depending on the context in which you use it. To avoid accidentally relegating your intended to the Friend Zone, you might be better off with the classic Je t’aime.
In Spanish the most common way to say I love you is with the phrase Te quiero. Literally translated this can mean to love, to like or to want, but if you say it to your intended they will definitely know what you mean. Alternatively, you could use Te amo if you wanted to be slightly more grandiose, but this is not used as commonly, at least not outside of poetry and romantic films.
Another language that rolls very romantically off the tongue, the typical Italian way to express how you feel is Ti amo. We can’t guarantee of course that speaking Italian will have the same effect for you that it does for Kevin Kline when he speaks the language to Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda, but we can hope!
Perhaps considered less of a romantic language, the German phrase to use would be Ich liebe dich. It may sounds a little guttural and harsh to English ears, but say it to a German and it may be exactly what they wanted to hear.
I love you in Dutch would be Ik hou van jou. The Dutch are generally considered to be a very open and direct people, and this is reflected in the no-nonsense phrase. Fortune favours the bold, and so might your Dutch intended, but we’re not making any promises.
The main language spoken in mainland China, in Mandarin the best way to say I love you is Wǒ ài nǐ. In Simplified Chinese, the written equivalent to Mandarin, this would be written as 我爱你, so you can get to work on those love letters too!
The best way to say I love you in Russian is Я люблю тебя or ya lyublyu tyebya written in Roman characters. If you’re really smitten and don’t care who knows it, you could also go for Я не могу жить без тебя or ya nye magu zhit’ byes tyebya, which literally translates as I can’t live without you.
How you say those 3 magic words in Arabic will depend on who you are talking to. If your intended is a male, then you want to say Ana behibak. However, if you are speaking to a female, then you should say Ana behibek.
In Japanese the word for love is ai (愛). The best way to work this into an expression of your romantic intent would be to say Aishiteru. Beware though – in Japanese culture it is not done to express such feelings openly, and you would be better advised to demonstrate your love through the application of good manners.
We’ve all seen Wallander, and who could be blamed for perhaps carrying a candle for the rugged, no-nonsense detective. If you wanted to express your feelings in his native tongue, you could say Jag alskar dig. We can’t guarantee he’d reciprocate though – he’s a busy man, and, of course, fictional. Luckily this phrase works on other Swedes as well though.
The Greek economy may have been through a bad patch recently, but we all know money can’t buy you love, so don’t let that curb your romantic intentions. The way to say I love you in Greek would be Σε αγαπώ, or S’agapo. I should point out that this is Modern Greek, so for any time travelers out there, remember that it won’t work on the ancient Spartans.
The Welsh language is growing year on year in the number of speakers, and it’s not all just about trying to confuse the English. If you have, quite understandably, fallen for someone from the Valleys and want to impress them by telling them the Welsh way, then say Rwy’n dy garu di.
I love you in Portuguese is most commonly Eu te amo. What’s mores this is really a 2-for-1 deal, as this expression works in both European and Brazilian Portuguese. Although the Olympics are long since over, the sunny beaches of Rio are still a major draw, and if you do meet The One whilst you’re there, now you’ll know how to tell them how you feel.
Snuggled up safe from the freezing cold with a warm drink and a view of the beautiful Northern Lights to set the scene, it’s easy to see why you might feel the need to use the phrase Eg elska tig, which means I love you in Icelandic.
The Danish concept of Hygge has been all the rage this winter. In short it means something like coziness, or anything that creates a warm and pleasant atmosphere. With that in mind, we strongly suggest that you snuggle up with an attractive Dane and say to them Jeg Elsker Dig. Sorted.
In Korean, you can say Saranghae (사랑해) in a more casual context, or if you want to be slightly more formal, go for saranghaeyo (사랑해요).
Probably less relevant given it’s a dead language, but if you are trying to impress an ancient Roman or perhaps a classical scholar, then the way to say I love you would be Te amo. This also has the advantage of being the same as modern Spanish, just in case you are unsure whether you find yourself in present-day Spain or in ancient Rome.
Strictly speaking, the language we mean here is called Sindarin, and is of course fictional, being created by Tolkien for his epic Lord of the Rings franchise. If you want to declare your love to a Toliken fan, then you could say it as Gi melin. We are assured that Orlando Bloom is spoken for, however.
So there you have it. You have no excuse now, so go on – get out there and tell them how you feel, whatever language they speak!