Saying I love you

Let me preface this question by saying that I know “I love you” is a phrase that isn’t used much in Japan, but I’m trying to collect lots of opinions on this to see what people will say.

My girlfriend and I are learning Japanese, and to get more used to the language we’ve been saying small phrases to get used to them. One thing we’ve always done is say “Good night, I love you”–over text–before we sleep. Good night we’re familiar with, but what would be the most accurate way of saying “I love you”, and especially “I love you too” that doesn’t sound overly bookish or just really wrong? So far we’ve been using:


Based on some answers I’ve gotten to this elsewhere this may just be a really bad question but I figured it can’t hurt to ask.


Surprisingly enough this is a good question and can have a few different answers.
So I am by no means an expert on this, but from what I can tell in the context of a couple like yourselves 好きだ works fine.

If your looking for very literal translations it goes
好き = like
大好き = Really like (aka love)
愛してる = To love romantically

I know this makes it seem like what your saying to each other is just like “I like you” but with the current usage of the word, that is just context based and can easily mean “I love you”.

愛してる has more of a lovey dovey ROMCOM feel to it. Like there is a lot of passion behind it which does not fit super well in most Japanese societal norms.

For saying I love you back I am much less certain, my grammar is pretty bad so do not let me be your go to source, but it kinda feels like your response could be interpreted as I love me too.


In Japan, couples don’t really say this to each other, which makes this awkward to translate. This video might be helpful:

They do mention saying 愛してる to each other often, although it was awkward for Jun (the boyfriend) to get used to it.


Getting off-topic, but I found it amusing when I noticed that this was the case in French as well… i.e. “Je t’aime” strictly speaking meaning “I like you”.


This looks really cute, and fun that you guys are studying together! Only the tone is a little of to me. Ending a sentence in だ can come off a little blunt or hard.

For ladies: 好き、好きよ、好きだよ
For fellas: 好き、好きだよ

And I think that え is a typo? But I would just leave off も and just go with (あなたが)好き.

My boyfriend and I also text in Japanese, and we’re both aiming for N1 this year. Do you guys tend to correct eachother’s grammar over text, or just let conversation flow?

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Is that so? I thought that was je t’adore that meant I like you.

We both did a semester of Japanese in college but a year apart, and we’re both learning now but only started a few weeks ago. We haven’t really had any grammar to correct yet but knowing how we normally talk we’d probably let it flow unless it was really glaringly wrong.

Also yes that is a typo, I totally missed that lol.

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I say “I love you” in English, since it’s not really a Japanese thing to say it regularly anyway.


In a manga I saw it written in katakana (アイラブユー).
But also in that context it was a father writing a cutesy letter to his son, so maybe it has no romantic context at all :laughing:


I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around: “adore” is a (pretty big) step up from “aime”. If anything I’d say “adore” is the one that maps closest to “love”

You can use aimer for stuff you like or would like, such as I like studying languages / “j’aime apprendre des langues”.

French people, please correct me if I’m wrong here since I don’t want to accidentally teach someone bad French, but if “aimer” means “to love” then I really can’t think of a way to simply say “to like”.


I sadly can’t help with the original question (how to say I love you), but just yesterday I actually watched a tv show about love and expressing affection in Japan. Its conclusion were, that even though a lot of girls like emotional guys and would like to hear the phrase 愛してる a lot, this rarely happens. This is due to how love is learned. You adapt your behavior (in this case expressions of love) by what you see displayed in your society and specifically by what your parents show you. If you ask japanese boys (and girls), so the journalist said, they would tell you that they basically never saw their parents behave in a romantic way in front if the children. That includes no hugging, no holding hands, no kissing and no saying 愛してる. And that carries on to next generation.


I have a different opinion. What I feel is, in Japanese most of the things are already implied and understood from the context. There is usually no explicitly mentioned subject. So well, I think a normal couple would say goodnyt honey (or nickname) or use some emojis’ altho, saying ily may sound cheesy in English language. Normally it’s quite hard to find the phrase I love you in a normal couple convo. Also if it was a proposal, it would just be 好き…(好きだ) cos pretty much everything is implied . This is just based on my understanding

I think that “aimer” is definitely the verb with the broader spectrum, even if I don’t think “adorer” is strictly reserved to romantic love… However, I seem to remember some French discussion about how “je t’aime” is strangely stronger than “je t’aime bien”, because “aimer bien” is more like ‘to quite like’, whereas “je t’aime”, when used alone with no other words, quite clearly means ‘I love you’, even if that love can be familial and not romantic. Honestly, I think it would be more accurate to say that “adorer” and “aimer” express different types of love: “aimer”, which is related to “amour”, the French word for ‘love’, expresses a tender sort of affection that may also be very passionate; “adorer” is a sort of love that elevates the other person above the lover, similar to how one might love a god or a greatly admired person. It’s more intense than “aimer”, but not necessarily as tender. Those are my impressions based on experience, usage and dictionary definitions, but I’m not a native French speaker.

This sounds like such a sweet ritual (and way to practise Japanese). I’ll just share some impressions though: I think that 好き is more the sort of word one would use for 告白(こくはく – a confession of love)rather than for daily expressions of affection. I don’t think it’s wrong to use it that way, but I rarely hear it used for such a purpose. (Full disclosure: I mainly watch anime, which may not be representative of daily communication. I’ve watched two live action Japanese romantic films on a plane though, and I don’t remember such usage in them either.) Honestly, in established relationships, I think both 好き and 愛している only get used when something significant happens, in order to reaffirm one party’s affection for the other, with 愛している being much stronger.

The helpful Rachel & Jun video above notwithstanding, I think a more common way to consistently express affection might be through pet names/intimate forms of address? ダーリン is something I’ve seen fairly often in romantic anime, but it might be a romantic cliché born of the adoption of Western pet names. The other one I’ve seen is the stereotype that Japanese wives call their husbands あなた, which is always construed as very romantic. It makes some sense to do so in Japanese though, since even getting to first-name basis conveys a significant level of closeness, let alone referring to someone directly using a second-person pronoun. A post I saw on another forum included a woman relating how her Japanese boyfriend called her 君(きみ)– once again, second-person pronouns indicated a form of intimacy.

I’ve heard that the reason why some Japanese women have the impression that foreign men (especially those from the West, I believe?) are romantic is that foreign men tend to express their affection more openly, so it would seem that the TV show’s conclusions are consistent with that. I’ve also heard about the lack of obvious displays of affection by Japanese parents, even in front of their children. I suspect that might be linked to a certain idea of what’s proper for children to see? I know that under traditional Chinese social norms, public displays of affection are frowned upon, especially if they’re very passionate. ‘Get a room!’, I guess one might say in the West. As for children, I suppose the assumption is that children should not be shown improper ‘adult’ behaviour, since that would taint their innocence? I mean, I don’t think it’s uncommon in any culture for young children to be shy about or even disgusted by kissing, so perhaps there’s a link (amusing as children’s reactions are :laughing: )? I’m just throwing things into the air here though, because I’m no expert on Japanese culture.

Anyway, returning to OP @autonomix’s question, what I said earlier aside, I guess you guys could also try varying the tone of your messages? @Saida’s comments provide some ideas. On that note,

Personally, I might try doing the opposite: instead of saying 私も好き, I would say 私も・俺も(I’m a guy), since it’s clear that the main subject here is affection.

Another thing you can try is stuff like おやすみね, since ね has a softening effect, almost as though you’re gently encouraging the other person to have a good rest. (After all, おやすみ is generally short for おやすみなさい, which is an imperative form.) It might even be fun to learn a few Japanese emojis, even if that has nothing to do with Japanese fluency per se. I personally think that when it comes to affection in Japanese, where the literal equivalents of ‘I love you’ are rare, it’s not so much what you say (i.e. explicit expressions of love) as how you say it (affectionate tone, expressions of concern etc).

EDIT: I see that @Imro_0512 has similar ideas. Interesting. :slight_smile:
PS: does anyone want me to highlight the ‘ideas for expressing affection’ in bold, or is my (long, as usual – I’m sorry > <) post readable enough on its own?


I usually write おやすみ〜 and some emoji or something.

I think it’s the period that makes this おやすみ seem short. I use periods more in Japanese texting than English or Dutch, for some reason, but I also tend to replace periods in Japanese with emoji, feels more friendly.

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おやすみ〜 :curling_stone:


Strangely that is the emoji I use most! :curling_stone:


Shucks! Now you know I’m in your phone :sob:

Also, since when are you level 20?!

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A curling stone indicates…? :thinking:

EDIT: heres my love hitting you like a rock


I’m not, I’m level 21.

Edit: if you’re asking when I reset, a bunch of stuff happened in December, that eventually led me to decide to reset all the way at the end of January.

Il me plaît xxx ?

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