In English, saying the three words, “I love you,” can hit with the force of an atom bomb or a magic spell. These words can either destroy a relationship when spoken too soon or solidify a bond when said at the right moment. And since in the United States, courtship is rather casual, this makes a heartfelt confession of love more serious than ever.
But what about when these words are expressed with one word, “Ahibbik,” or two words such as “Te Amo?” Obviously, it’s not simply a question of language. Yet, dating cultures can differ by geography, which can affect the meaning of the words. Experts agree that love is universal in value, but the words used to express it can have very different meanings.
So, today we’re going to talk about “I love you” in different languages. We’ll find out how the meaning changes depending on where you are in the world.
What Does I Love You Mean? It Depends On Where You Say It
Have you ever stopped to think about what the phrase actually means? While you may think that I love you in all languages would be the same with different words, it’s not. In fact, it can mean different things to different cultures. Let’s look at some examples of ways to say I love you in different languages:
I Love You In French
While America may place a great significance on saying “I love you,” there is less pressure in France. In fact, it commonly happens faster, and though relationships will vary, some people in France utter these precious words after just two months. But, as we said, the dating scenes in France and the United States are very different from one another.
It’s said that in France, they don’t have casual dating periods where someone is seeing several people at once while trying to keep their options open. French tend to move faster because they’re all in, and sometimes they’ll go on three to four dates in one week with someone they just met. Furthermore, it’s common in France to meet each other’s friends after just a few dates and then the parents within a couple of months.
I Love You In Iraq
In Arabic, the words “love” and “like” are translated into the same word: Ahibbik. For this reason, it’s not strange for a man to court a lady using “ahibbik” on their first date. Customarily, in the US, relationships evolve from liking a person to loving that person. Yet, in Iraq, this progression is marked by a family visit. For example, the man’s family will have the opportunity to meet the woman’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. This visit is a public declaration of commitment by the suitor and his family. So, in a sense, this may be the equivalent to America’s “I love you” signifying a commitment. With this being said, in Iraq, if you want to express sincere or deep feelings, you could say something like “amoot alaych,” which means “I’m dead in love with you,” or “a’shaqich,” which translates to “I’m deeply in love with you.”
I Love You In China
In China, the man will usually say, “Wo ai ni” to a woman he wants an exclusive relationship with. Before these words are uttered, she may kiss him, hold hands, go hiking, see movies, but will usually wait for the statement before appearing to date in public or have sex. Yet after “Wo ai ni” is spoken, both the man and woman will say it to each other, probably daily.
So, in other words, “Wo ai ni” just signifies the first time a man wants the woman to know that they can go exclusive as a couple. It relates mainly to younger people between the ages of 20 and 35, as the older generations don’t really say it much.
I Love You In Argentina
Argentina seems to be split about whether “te amo,” which means “I love you” or “te quiero,” which translates to “I want” or “I desire you,” reflects the stronger commitment. While both phrases could lead to two people moving in together or getting married, getting there may take forever or might come very quickly.
Here are some other ways to express loving emotions in Argentina:
- Me re copás: You take me over/absolutely fulfill me
- Me Flecho: His/her arrow struck me
- Me va [or] me re cabe tu forma de ser: The way you are is my way
- Me encantás: You charm/enchant me
- Alta onda pegamos: We’ve hit a high wave or vibe
The Bottom Line
In the end, while you may not need to know I love you in all languages, it’s fun and challenging to learn how to say “I love you” in different languages. So, have some fun with the chart below and learn how to say it in two or three languages. And if you’re feeling extra smart – learn the phrase in as many languages as you can – trust us, you’ll impress someone with the knowledge!
Original infographic via Fredericks.com in 2014, content updated November 2021.