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5 Must-Know Chinese Words About Love

By Daniel Witman

Love is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful feelings in the world! Even those people who take the whole concept of love with a pinch of salt and treat it with a bit of skepticism cannot deny the fact that love has a powerful effect on the individual’s character and lead to a drastic change of views, beliefs and even their personality in general.

It is not an exaggeration when they say that love is capable of moving mountains. It, indeed, is omnipotent when embraced. The only catch is that the feeling must be genuine. If it is not, it will be rather difficult if not impossible to convince yourself in it, regardless of how hard you try. However, once you come across your true soulmate and finally experience the bliss of having butterflies in your stomach from just thinking about your lover, you will realize what you had been missing out on for that entire time.

As it has been mentioned above, in order to find the love of your life you need to find a person whom you would be able to proudly call your true soulmate: someone who shares your passions and just completes you as a person. Unfortunately, not always finding your match made in heaven is easy, sometimes they can live somewhere far away from you, and perhaps not even speak your language. This is where globalization of the world comes in handy. With the introduction of the internet and this global network being made accessible to everyone, people all around the world can connect with each other and expand their circle tenfold!

Granted that China is the most densely populated country in the world and 1/7 of the world population is Chinese, chances are your soulmate’s first language could be Mandarin! If that is the case, you would definitely want to know how to manifest your love for them in Chinese.

However, even if you are not looking for a lover and are simply interested in learning a new language for the sake of being a better-educated individual, there is something in this article for you, too! After all, we are exposed to the words of love in our everyday life, too! Often, these feelings are not even necessarily romantic, but rather platonic. For instance, if you want to tell your best friends how much they mean to you, or if you want to remind your parents that they are your closest people in this world. In English, a simple ‘I love you’ would work for all of the aforementioned cases. However, Chinese is a tad more complicated with there being cultural differences that determine the use of different words and phrases for different situations.

chinese words for love

How to Say ‘I Love You’ In Chinese?

In the modern world out communication is made easy by the means of numerous software available on our devices. That way, the most intuitive way of finding out what the translation of the English ‘I love you’ into Chinese would be simply typing it into a translator app.

If you do that, Google Translator will immediately offer you “我爱你” (wǒ ài nǐ.) as a translation. To an extent, it is valid as it does, indeed, translate into English “I love you”. If you isolate the word ‘love’ itself, you would get “爱”. However, the catch is that you would not normally hear it on the streets of China and would probably not see a native speaker use this phrase to express their affection. Even the most westernized Chinese people are lacking “爱” in their vocabulary as it is considered to be a way ‘too strong’ word.

While it does sound slightly confusing to someone who grew up in an English speaking environment, it is absolutely normal for Chinese native speakers to avoid the aforementioned word. In fact, it is a cultural thing. According to a number of studies conducted by both independent researchers and institutions, Chinese people tend to show a significant degree of restraint when dealing with romantic feelings. This can be explained by the fact that Chinese children are not exposed to those linguistic constructions in their families. Xia Xueluan, a Sociologist from Peking University, claims that Chinese people are so bad at expressing positive emotions because ‘they are used to educating children with negative language’.

Hence, so kindly suggested by Google Translator “我爱你” version may be met with a couple of funny looks in China. Of course, if you are a foreigner who has only started learning Mandarin, it could sound cute, but Chinese natives themselves are not very fond of this phrase.

But what do they say to show their affection instead?

There are a couple of somewhat boiled down options that come across as milder collocations yet still get the point through. If you want to confess your feelings to your Mandarin-speaking lover, you might look into using these phrases:

我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐ huān nǐ) = “I like you.”

我希望和你交往 (wǒ xī wàng hé nǐ jiāo wǎng) = “I would for us to date.”

Some other ways of showing your affection could be constituted in the phrase 见钟情 (yījiàn zhōngqíng) = “Love at first sight” that you would use if you want to state that your feelings for someone are genuine and infallible.

And, of course, if your romance unfolds into something more substantial, you should know that “boyfriend” in Mandarin is 男朋友 (nán péngyǒu) and “girlfriend” is 女朋友 (nǚ péngyǒu).

Subtler Ways to Express Your Affection

What you need to remember about the language when chatting to native speakers or generally speaking Chinese to someone is the fact that the culture is constantly changing with more and more new forms of expressing your feelings emerging. Social media, esports, Netflix, texting, all that changed the way modern people spend time and communicate.

This way, modern Chinese people are likely to use some alternative ways of talking about their love. For instance, it is reported that a lot of couples use English with its classic “I love you” to get the message across to their lover.

However, not all of them are that westernized and therefore have adopted some local forms of communicating their romantic feelings. One of the most common ways of sending love to someone over text would be through numbers! It does seem a bit confusing, but actually makes a lot of sense. The reason for this is that some numbers sound similar to certain words in Chinese, so different combinations of numbers can replace lovey-dovey messages in couples’ texting. Think of that the way you think about English ‘xo’ that stands for ‘hugs and kisses’.

chinese words for love
  • 520 (wǔ èr líng) = 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ) “I love you.”
  • 880 (bā bā líng) =抱抱你 (bào bào nǐ) “Hug you.”
  • 530 (wǔ sān líng) = 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) “I miss you.”
  • 770 (qī qī líng) = 亲亲你 (qīn qīn nǐ) “Kiss you.”
  • 1314 (yī sān yī sì) = 一生一世 (yī shēng yī shì) “Always / forever.” Often combined with 520 so that it becomes 5201314, or “I’ll love you forever.”


It can be said that Chinese is definitely a challenging language to express your romantic feelings in. However, it does not make it any less charming! If you have someone whom you would want to manifest your love for in Mandarin, go ahead and use one of the most common words and phrases mentioned in this article! It will definitely make their heart melt!

About the author...

Daniel Witman is a passionate journalist who has contributed to major media publications. He enjoys writing about eSports and other topics that bother modern men. Currently, he's serving as an editor for

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