It’s the most romantic time of year once more – or that time when you pay double the usual amount to buy your partner a bunch of roses, then dine in an unusually crowded restaurant. Yes, however you feel about it, Valentine’s Day is here again!
Here at Tomedes, as a translation company we always like to look at things from a language perspective, so this year we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day by taking a tour of the globe and learning how to say “I love you” in different languages. 25 of them, to be precise.
What's the most romantic language? Both French and Italian lay claim to that particular title. Why don’t you make your own mind up when you read their translations of “I love you” below?
North America is home to a heady mix of languages, from indigenous tongues to languages introduced from half a world away. Let’s look at how to express your most intimate feelings in four of them.
After English, Spanish is the most spoken language in North America. “I love you” in Spanish is “te amo” or the more casual “te quiero.” Both will suffice when it comes to letting your loved one(s) know how you feel, though “te amo,” which comes directly from Latin, is the stronger of the two.
If your accent isn’t that great, don’t despair. In case you’re still wondering how to say “I love you” in Spanish to your partner this Valentine’s Day, use these: “Tay-ah-mo” or “Tay key-aero.”
Spoken to a lesser degree but still with widespread influence, from Canada to the Caribbean, French is the third most spoken language in North America. Often considered to be the language of love, “I love you” in French is familiar to many of those who don’t otherwise speak a word of the language and would need to call on our French translation expertise.
How do you say “I love you” in French? It’s “Je t’aime” – pronounced “Zhuh tem.”
Up in Alaska, Aleut is one of the 11 Eskimo-Aleut languages that are native to this part of the world (one of which is now extinct). If you’re looking to say “I love you” in Aleut, you’ll need to wrap your tongue around “Txin yaxtakuq.”
One of the principle Inuit languages of Canada, Inuktitut is spoken in the wintry lands north of the tree line. If your idea of a romantic setting involves mile upon mile of snow-kissed natural landscape, then “ᓇᒡᓕᒋᕙᒋᑦ” is the phrase you need. Not sure where to begin with the pronunciation? Try “asavakkit.”
Is your quest for romance likely to take you to South America? If so, then “I love you” in Spanish will serve you well in many countries. However, head to Brazil and you’ll need to roll out some Portuguese or even Dutch in order to win over local hearts. Are your head and your heart ready to cope with those fiery Latin temperaments? Then let’s get started!
“I love you” in Brazilian Portuguese is spelled just the same as it is in Spanish: “te amo” (tee ah-moh). That’s because the expression is directly descended from Latin in both languages. However, it’s not quite the same in Portugal, where it is more common to say “amo-te” (ah-moh tee).
While we’re on a romantic tour of South America, it’s also worth checking how to say “I love you” in Dutch. That’s because Dutch is the official language of Suriname, which was a colony of The Netherlands until 1975. “Ik hou van jou” might look like a mouthful, but don’t be put off! Try saying “ick how fon-yuh” with the emphasis on the “how.” Simple!
Of course, mastering how to say “I love you” in Dutch will also allow you to romance your way across the Netherlands and parts of Belgium as well.
Can't wait to impress your loved ones with a new way to say "I love you"? Don't worry, we made a short video just for you.
Speaking of Europe, let’s take a look at a few examples of how to say “I love you” over there. As the home of French and Italian, it could be said that Europe is the home of the languages of love, but will you be able to pronounce all of these declarations?
Incidentally, if you’re looking to learn an entire language this year, instead of just one phrase, why not click the link at the end of this section to read about the 15 best languages to learn in 2020?
Often considered to be a very business-focused language, German isn’t a tongue that you might think of straight away as a language of love. However, “I love you” in German can be a very moving phrase. “Ich liebe dich” (ik lee-bah dik) is descended from Middle High German (“lieben” means “to love”).
Definitely known more as a language of love, Italian is a wonderfully romantic language to use when it comes to expressing your feelings. “I love you” in Italian is “ti amo,” and it’s easy to see the same origin here as for “te amo” in Spanish and Portuguese, with the modern-day phrase descended from Latin with only a minor alteration.
If you’re looking for a different way to declare your love this Valentine’s Day, why not try your hand at Polish? “I love you” in Polish is “kocham Cię.” What’s that? Your Polish accent is a little rusty? No problem, try pronouncing it “kohaaam chye.”
If you struggled with saying “I love you” in Polish, how about trying it in Swedish instead? “I love you” in Swedish is “jag älskar dig.” Stumped? Ok, we can help you out here. The phonetic pronunciation is “Jah elskuh day.” It comes from the Old Swedish verb “älska” (“to love”).
With 120 million native speakers, Russian is the most spoken language in Europe (in terms of native speakers). If you’re looking to say “I love you” in Russian, try getting your mouth around the wonderfully lyrical “ya lyublyu tebya” (“Я люблю тебя” for those of you who read the Cyrillic script).
Read more: 15 Best Languages to Learn in 2020
Do you fancy trying your hand at some of Asia’s tonal languages when it comes to expressing your feelings? And, indeed, some of its non-tonal languages? Then try these on for size!
Saying “I love you” in Japanese is harder than you might imagine. That’s because there are different phrases for expressing varying degrees of love (as opposed to the catch-call “I love you” in English, which you can say to anyone from a romantic partner to a grandchild). In Japan, use “watashi wa, anata o aishiteimasu” when you want to express the deepest love possible – outside of music and movies, this is a phrase to save for your wedding day!
Are you looking to say “I love you” in Chinese? If so, “我爱你” (pronounced “wǒ ài nǐ”) is the phrase that you’ll need. However, if you’re a young person in China and looking to use the latest slang, you’ll need to say “520.” Yes, that’s right. Numbers in China often sound a lot like other words, so if you say “wǔ èr líng,” you’re either saying “520” or using number slang to say “I love you!”
Interestingly, Chinese is one of the oldest languages in the world that’s still in use today. You can read more about the world’s oldest languages by clicking the link below.
Read more: The World’s Oldest Languages
Will you be in India this Valentine’s Day? If so, it could be worth practicing your Hindi, as it’s India’s most spoken language. Saying “I love you” in Hindi is easy: “main tumse pyar karta hoon.” We’re simplifying a little here, as the words are tweaked slightly depending on the genders of the person speaking and the person (or persons) being spoken to. However, if you’re after a phrase that will ensure your affectionate meaning is understood, this one will stand you in good stead.
While we’re in India, it’s also worth considering how to say “I love you” in Bengali, India’s second most spoken language (with around 83 million speakers). To declare your love in Bengali, say “আমি তোমাকে ভালোবাসি” (that’s “Āmi tōmāẏa bhālōbāsi” for those of you who don’t read Bengali).
If your idea of romance is stunning, sandy beaches with the waves gently lapping at the shore, then the Philippines may well be your ideal holiday destination. If you fall for a local while you’re there, “iniibig kita” is the phrase you’ll need – it’s “I love you” in Tagalog.
Over in Indonesia, try saying “saya sayang awak” to express your love. You’ll find the expression works equally well in Malaysia and Brunei.
Do you want to say I love you in Thai? If so, the phrase you’re looking for is “ผมรักคุณ” (pronounced “p̄hm rạk khuṇ”). Interestingly, each of the component words has numerous meanings. “P̄hm” can mean “I,” “hair,” “me” or “fruit.” “Rạk” means “love,” “fond,” “adore,” “care” and “affect.” “Khuṇ,” meanwhile, can mean “you,” “miss,” “mister,” “advantage” or “thou.”
Learning to say “I love you” in Korean is simple, as you only have to remember one word: “saranghae” (pronounced “sah-rahn-gh-aee” and written as “사랑해”). It’s not the only way to declare your romantic feelings in Korean, but it is the simplest.
What is “I Love You” in Pakistan’s language? That would be “میں تم سے پیار کرتا ہوں” (pronounced “mein ap say muhabat karta hoon”) in Urdu, which is the official language of Pakistan (along with English). As with Hindi, the phrase is altered depending on the gender of those who are declaring their love.
Africa is home to more linguistic diversity than any other continent, with over 2,000 distinct languages (that equates to around a third of all languages, in global terms), so you can truly put your language skills to the test.
What is the Arabic word for “I love you?” In North and East Africa, as well as the Middle East, those looking to declare their love will need to say a single word: “ahabak” (“أحبك”). Bear in mind that Arabic dialects vary hugely across this vast region, so if you’re looking to say “I love you” in a specific country, it’s worth double-checking first how to say it there.
If you want to say “I love you” in Swahili, “nakupenda” is the word that you need. Spoken in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, Swahili has several ways to declare affection. “Nakupenda” is a more formal way to do so, while “ninakupenda” is a more informal way to tell someone that you love them.
Should your travels take you to Somalia, or to Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti or Yemen, then the phrase you will need in order to say “I love you” in Somali is “waan ku jeclahay.” If you’re struggling to get your mouth around that, try the phonetic pronunciation: “one ku je la hi.”
Are you looking to say “I love you” in Hausa? If so, the phrase that you need is “ina son ka.” This will allow you to share your feelings with those in Nigeria, which is home to some 120 million Hausa speakers.
Our final language of love is Amharic, which is spoken by around 26 million people in Ethiopia (with 22 million of those speaking it as a first language). “I love you” in Amharic is “ewedihalehu.”
We hope that these 25 ways to say “I love you” in different languages have given you some new ways to express your feelings this Valentine’s Day.
Of course, you don’t need to say “I love you” out loud in order to get the message across. You could say “I love you” in sign language, as part of a poem or in any way that takes your fancy and will be meaningful to you and your loved one(s). For those looking for an unusual way to express their feelings, “rawr” means “I love you” in dinosaur! And if you’re after a quirky gift to get the message across, you can even buy a necklace that says “I love you” in 100 languages.
We’ll leave you with a final thought…
Each of the languages we’ve included has its own unique way to tell someone you love them. But how do you say “I love you” in all languages? Simple – you say it with your actions. No matter which language(s) you speak, showing someone that you love them is the ideal way to share your feelings.
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