Love in japanese – I love you in nihongo


Do you know how to say love in Japanese? One of the most important words in any language is “love”. In Japanese, there are three main ways to say that you love someone: 愛(Ai), 好き(Suki) and 恋(koi), moreover, several variations and conjugations are used to express this feeling.

Japan is compound into 47 provinces, each one with different customs and dialects, so basically we can affirm that there are more than 100 forms to express love and affection with words. In this article, we are going to learn three main ways to say I love you in Japanese as well some variations and dialects.

Perceive that the radical 心 (Kokoro), that means heart, are inside the ideogram 愛 (ai) and 恋 (koi). This shows us that even when we write in Japanese, this feeling of love is linked to the heart. Another way to express your feelings (好 – suki) is composed of the ideogram woman (女) and child (子), showing us again the strong love between mother and son. It is interesting to know how the feeling is expressed in the word itself.

Love in nihongo - i love you in japanese

Three main ways to say love in Japanese

Ai – 愛 – It means literally “love”. Adding “shiteru” you are saying your love to a person in an intimate way. Aishiteru (愛してる) is more used when you are in a sérious relationship, married or engaged.

Suki – 好き – It means literally “like”. That is the more common way to say you love or like something, be a person, food or another thing. Sometimes it is normal to add the word 大 (dai) to express that you like very much or have a strong love for someone or something.

Koi – 恋 – It is used in the same way as 愛. It has the same meaning, although in a way more romantic, intense and ardent. It can be translated as “passion”, used between extreme intimate people, a true love.

Love in nihongo - i love you in japanese

Suki Desu is the most used. It does not mean using Aishiteru or Koishiteru you love someone less. We do not say “neko wo aishiteru”, we say “Neko ga suki” or “Dai suki”. So, culturally we should assume the value of the word “suki” has the same value as “love” in English.

Some Japanese, mainly the young, also often use ラブ (rabu – love), a word originally from English to say, love.

Summarizing I love you in Japanese

  • Aishiteru – 愛してる – I love you (really intimate, in a relationship);
  • Koishiteru – 恋してる – I love you (I’m starting to fall in love with you);
  • Suki desu – 好きです – I like you;
  • Dai suki desu – 大好きです – I like you very much;

Others words related to love in Japanese

  • 恋愛 – renai – Can mean love, affections, making love, passion and falling in love;
  • 色 – Even the simple kanji of color can be related to love, lust and sensuality;
  • 情 – Kanji present in some words related to love that can indicate feelings, emotion, passion, affection, and affection;

Bellow, we can see some Japanese words that contain the Kanji of love:

Words with “Ai (愛)”Words with “Koi (恋)”
愛読書 aidokusho


Favorite book.

初恋 hatsukoi


First love.

愛人 aijin



悲恋 hiren


Tragic love, sad love.

愛情 aijou


Love, affection.

恋人 koibito



愛犬家 aikenka


Dog lover.

恋文 koibumi


Love letter.

愛国心 aikokushin



恋敵 koigataki


Rival in love.

愛車 aisha


Favorite car.

恋に落ちる koi ni ochiru


Falling in love.

愛用する aiyousuru


Favored, habitual.

恋する koisuru


Be in love with…

母性愛 boseiai


The maternal love.

恋愛 renai


Romantic love.

博愛 hakuai



失恋 shitsuren


Disappointing love.

Look some interesting words involving romance and marriage:

  • Renai-kekkon (恋愛結婚) is a “marriage for love”;
  • Miai-kekkon (見合い結婚), “arranged marriage”;
  • Renai-shousetsu (恋愛小説) is a “story of love” or “a romance”;

Here are some proverbs that include the word “koi”:

Koi ni shishou nashi.
 Love does not need teaching.
Koi ni jouge no hedate nashi.
Love does all the men the same.
Koi wa shian no hoka.
Love does not have a reason.
Koi wa moumoku.
Love is blind.
Koi wa nesshi yasuku same yasui.
Love becomes deep easily but cools quickly.

Suki desu in different dialects

We all know that a language has dialects, slangs, and accents. In Japan, it is even bigger because the country is divided into 47 states, it has existed for thousands of years and also has a complexity language pronunciation due to the various readings of his ideograms. For these and other reasons, there are thousands of ways to say I love you and even variations on the pronouncements of declaring yourself saying Suki Desu.

To finish, we will leave some vídeos showing how to say Suki Desu in some dialects of Japan.

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