Blog Course Language

How to Say I Love You in Mandarin Chinese

In my posts: My Favorite Chinese Love Poem (1) and My favorite Chinese Love Poem (2),  we appreciated two classic Chinese love poems.

 However, do you know how to say “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese?

I am sure some of you know the right answer: 我爱你 (wo3 ai4 ni3). In this post, I will teach you other ways to say “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese.

“我爱你” is one phrase to show your affection, however, there are more ways to express your love.

If you wish to say “I like you”, it is “我喜欢你” (wo3 xi3 huan1 ni3).

If you wish to say “I miss you”, it is “我想你” (wo3 xiang3 ni3).

If you wish to say “I love you forever”, it is “我永远爱你” (wo3 yong3 yuan3 ai4 ni3).

Just let you know, when it comes to say “I love you”, in Chinese culture, usually, only the couple will say “我爱你” to each other, actually, even the couple might rarely say this word.

Chinese people are not good at talking about loving feelings.

We believe in actions speak louder than words. When we try to show our affections, we tend to do something for our loving ones.

If you are dating a Chinese guy, you might find he often takes you to a nice restaurant but he rarely says “I love you”.

If you have a Chinese wife, she might cook nice dishes for you but she won’t say “I love you” as much as you expect.

Yes, in Chinese culture, a nice meal is a way to say “我爱你”. If your Chinese boyfriend or girlfriend takes you to meet his or her parent, it is the way to say “我爱你”.

If you need help and your loving one is there for you, it is the way to say “我爱你”.

It is just cultural difference. Young Chinese people might be different because they grow up with the influence of western cultures.

My parents might only say once “我爱你” after I said “我爱你” to them, but I know they really love me.  I don’t say “我爱你” to my parents that often, but I do love my parents.

In Chinese language, except “我爱你”, “我想你” and “我喜欢你”, there are other classic love phrases.

1, 执子之手 (zhi2 zi3 zhi1 shou3) (hold your hand),与子偕老 (yu3 zi3 xie2 lao3) (age together).

This beautiful love vow was written in about 2400 years ago.

It is a very typical Chinese way to say “I love you”. Even in today’s society with a rising divorce rate, many Chinese people still hold this traditional belief.

2,  在天愿为比翼鸟 (zai4 tian1 yuan4 wei2 bi3 yi4 niao3) (wish to be a pair of love birds flying together in the sky),在地愿为连理枝 (zai4 di4 yuan4 wei2 lian2 li3 zhi1) (wish to be two trees with interlocking branches in the field).

This sweet sentence is from one famous work of Bai Juyi (白居易), the famous poet in Tang dynasty.

By the way, on my blog, I introduced one of Bai Juyi’s poems: Tang Poem: Grasses.

3, 曾经沧海难为水 (ceng2 jing1 cang1 hai3 nan2 wei2 shui3) (After seeing the ocean, the water elsewhere is nothing),除却巫山不是云 (chu2 que4 wu1 shan1 bu2 shi4 yun2) (After seeing the cloud on the Wu mountain, the cloud elsewhere is nothing).

This touching devoted love phrase is from a mourning poem written by a poet named Yuan Zhen (元稹) in Tang dynasty. In this poem, the poet expressed his deep love for his wife.

4, 弱水三千 (ruo4 shui3 san3 qian1) (there is a lot of water), 只取一瓢 (zhi3 qu3 yi1 piao2) (only drink one scoop).

What does this mean?

At the first glance, it means: There is a lot of water, I just drink one scoop. However, in Chinese language, it is often used to express the loyal love.

It means: Even there might be a lot of people to love, but I only love you, the only one. How sweet!

Now you know, besides 我爱你, you are able to say “我爱你” in other ways.

On Valentine’s day, don’t forget to practice what you learned from this post.


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