Express love, like and lust in other languages

There are some feelings the English language just can't communicate. Here's how to express yourself to your partner or prospective lover this weekend, whether you've known them for 10 days or 10 years. 

Valentine’s Day typically conjures images of red roses, heart-shaped chocolates and romantic evenings. For many of us, however,  it can also stir up some awkward questions about how we truly feel.

When is it acceptable to tell someone you’ve been day-dreaming about them, without it being creepy? Which date should mark the end of small talk and the start of whispering sweet nothings? In an era which has seen a rise in casual relationships, dating-apps and enough new courtship terms to make your toes curl, navigating Valentine’s can be pretty confusing.

two lovers on bikes saying I love you

This can be especially tricky in English—since there is no neat, tidy way to say "I’m almost in love", without causing offence. Nor is there a word big enough to explain that all-consuming surge of emotion you feel for someone that you love whole-heartedly.

Luckily, in other languages, there’s a whole load of romantic expressions to fit every stage of love, and the experts at leading language learning app Babbel have rounded them up for us.



the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of French love

Who could appreciate the nuances of romance more than the French? The language of love can, unsurprisingly, provide many terms with which to "define the relationship".

Un soupçon d’amour, for example, is a term used in the earlier stages of dating. This is a way of hinting at love without really declaring it, and in English would mean something along the lines of “a hint of love”.

For the braver among us, saying J’taime or “I love you” would be especially romantic if delivered in French. However, the French don’t do anything by halves.

For those of us looking to get truly romantic this Valentine’s Day, other expressions could be useful: such as Je suis fou de toi (I’m crazy about you) or Je suis amoureux (which is another way of saying “I love you”, but is used to explain that you are "smitten" with someone).



A heart shaped lake in Germany

In Germany, the formal Ich liebe dich (which translates to “I love you”) is considered to be a significant declaration of love with a sense of gravitas. It’s a term that’s reserved for serious romantic relationships. Luckily, the Germans have developed some other ways of expressing love which can take the pressure off slightly.

Du gefällst mir, for example, loosely translates to “you suit me”. This is a term to use when you’re attracted to another person, or you’re trying to compliment their appearance or quirks—a perfect expression for the early stages of dating, or even a Valentine’s Day confession!

For those in the in-between stages of relationships, Ich hab’ dich lieb (“I have love for you”) is a term commonly used with partners, family and friends, and is a more casual way of expressing love. This is closely followed by Ich bin in dich verliebt, which is a way of expressing love for a partner that doesn’t carry as much weight as “I love you”.


spanish words for love

Spanish has two main phrases for telling someone that you are in love with them. The first is the slightly confusing Te quiero, which literally translates loosely to “I want you”. This is the kind of love you can express to family members, friends, or someone you are in the early stages of romance with—although it’s best to do the latter in private!

If you want to take things down a notch, you could try using Me caes bien, which means “I like you”. It’s a way of showing interest without coming on too strong—almost like a stepping stone to romantic language. From there, you can progress to phrases like Me encantas (“I adore you”)—which is a bit more serious, but not quite as intense as Te queiro.

Once you’re ready for the next step, you can move on to the more serious version of love in Spanish: the widely known Te amo. This phrase should be reserved for romantic partners alone.

There are many ways of building upon this, of course, and the more emotional amongst us can try some of the more dramatic turns of Spanish phrase. A famous one is Hoy te quiero más que ayer, pero menos que mañana; an adorable phrase which means “I love you more than I did yesterday, but less than I will tomorrow”.


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