How To Express Love In Different Languages

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated July 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There are nearly endless ways to express love. You can say "I love you" with your hands using the ASL hand sign. In fact, there’s a way to say “I love you” in every language. 

You might also express your love through your actions by catering to your partner's love language, which could be quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, or giving and receiving gifts.

Not sure how to express your love?

American Sign Language

Did you know there is a love hand sign that allows you to say "I love you" in American Sign Language, or ASL? You can make the love hand gesture by holding your middle finger and ring finger towards your palm while extending your thumb, index finger, and pinky finger. Then, direct your hand towards your loved one. 

While the “I love you” hand sign has its origins in American Sign Language, you don't have to be deaf or hard of hearing to use it. The love hand sign has entered the mainstream, and many learn it from friends, school, or sign language courses.


In French, "Je t'aime" means "I love you." Many people view French as a beautiful and romantic language. This preconception may come from the idea of Paris being a place where love is in the air; it's often referred to as "the city of love."


The Vietnamese language has two ways of saying “I love you.” Yêu is often used for romantic love, while thương describes deep platonic or familial love. The pronouns used can also affect meaning, as Vietnamese uses kinship pronouns that change depending on whom you're speaking to. For example, a husband may say “Anh yêu em” to his wife, while a child would say “Em thương bà” to his grandmother. 


You can say "ana bahebak" to express your love in Arabic. Roughly 420 million people speak Arabic globally, and it's spoken in most Arab nations. In general, languages use particular inflections and tones to communicate feelings and authentic emotions. The words "I love you" or "ana bahebak" can express romantic love or love for friends and family.


In Greek, you can communicate your love for someone by saying, "Se agapó." In ancient Greek philosophy, Socrates looked at the idea of love. Many poets, philosophers, and writers existed in ancient Greece, and they were often fascinated with love and how it could shape the world. Though love as a concept may constantly be evolving, many people during that time likely expressed feelings you may relate to today.


"Ti amo" is how you say "I love you" in Italian. Italian is a romance language that stems from Latin. Other romance languages include, but aren't limited to, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian.


In Hebrew, you can say, "Ani ohev otakh," to tell someone you love them. This expression of love dates back to the Old Testament, in which various people said these words. Many biblical references mention a feeling of warmth inside your chest and a pure expression of how you feel about someone when discussing love.

A couple are standing up outside near a brick wall and are about to kiss; the man is holding the woman’s head and the woman is smiling.


When speaking Tagalog, you'd say, "Mahal kita," when you want to say, "I love you." Tagalog is the main dialect of the Philippines. Whether used to communicate your love for a romantic partner or family, "mahal kita" can be a meaningful way to express love.


In Spanish, "Te amo" means "I love you." Spanish can be a beautiful and passionate language that may offer many ways to communicate your love for others.


"Ich Liebe Dich" is how you would say "I love you" in German. While some may refer to German as a harsh-sounding language, it can still express beautiful emotions.


In Portuguese, “te amo” is “I love you,” just like in Spanish. You may also say “te adoro,” or “Eu estou apaixonado por você.” Portuguese is one of the romance languages of the world.

The five love languages

For many couples, saying "I love you" is a way to continuously affirm and reassure each other of their commitment, regardless of their language. In addition to expressing love through verbal communication or visual communication like ASL, you may also express your love through your actions and behaviors.

According to Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, there are five common ways, or love languages, in which most people like to receive love. The five love languages include:

  • Acts of service
  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Giving and receiving gifts
  • Physical touch

Although many enjoy a combination of these love languages, most people have one or two that resonate more than others. It can be beneficial to speak with your partner about their love language and see what resonates the most for them. Understanding their favorite ways to give and receive love can help you form a stronger connection and bond.

Words of affirmation

If words of affirmation is your partner's love language, you might make a point of verbally expressing thoughts like, "I appreciate you," or leaving them handwritten notes around the house. You might also write love letters or choose your words carefully, to indicate deeper meaning.

Giving and receiving gifts

Gift-giving can involve thinking of your partner and providing small tokens of affection. Often, these gifts don't need to be large or expensive. Perhaps you could grab your partner's favorite snack if you're stopping by the grocery store. In addition, it may make your partner feel loved if you show plenty of appreciation when they have gifts for you.

Acts of service

If acts of service is your partner's love language, you might go out of your way to take responsibilities off of their plate. Maybe that means picking up a package from the post office, making a phone call they've been putting off, or changing a tire on their car.

Quality time

Quality time means spending intentional time with your partner rather than focusing on the TV, phone, or other distractions. Distraction-free time could be a special date night or a no-phones-allowed dinner each night that gives you a chance to discuss your days and give each other your full attention.

Physical touch

Although you may initially think of sex when considering the love language of physical touch, it does not have to include sex. It can refer to many other kinds of physical affection. That could be kissing, giving your partner a back rub, or even placing a hand on their arm when you sense they're overwhelmed.

Not sure how to express your love?

Counseling can help you express your love

It may not always be easy to express your love or ensure that you're giving your partner love in the way they wish to receive it. Online therapy may be an option if you'd like to work with a professional to better express how much you care for your partner, family, or friends.

At times, it may feel uncomfortable to open up to someone you've just met in an unfamiliar location, as you may do in traditional therapy. Online therapy can remove some of that potential awkwardness by enabling you to attend therapy sessions from anywhere with an internet connection.

Depending on your preferences and goals, you may attend online therapy individually or with your partner. A recent study focused on 15 couples experiencing online treatment together for the first time. Many weren't sure about going through the process online at first. However, once they had experienced multiple sessions, they concluded that online therapy was both positive and beneficial for their relationships.

If you hope to try online therapy, platforms such as BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples may be beneficial to you, as they offer a simple way to choose a large database of therapists.

Read below for counselor reviews from users who have recently reached out for support.

Counselor reviews

“Lisa is great. She really listened to my current challenges and introduced me to worksheets and concepts I didn't know or realize about myself. I had not known that when I "explain" myself in an argument that is Defensiveness! And she is helping me prepare for the holidays and family visits. Also, there is a sense of humor that I can connect with. I already am communicating better with my partner and feeling less lost and frustrated.”

“Christine is a warm, understanding therapist who reminds me to accept where I am and to set goals to work for something better for myself and my family. I appreciate her advice and reminders that therapy is what happens whenever I stop to reflect in a journal, conversation with my partner, etc. she encourages me to make time for myself and to enjoy this stage of my parenting life. I appreciate her kind and thoughtful guidance.”


There are many ways to say, “I love you.” You can say it visually with American Sign Language or in a multitude of different languages. It's possible to show love through your actions by catering to your partner's love language. If you have trouble expressing your love or want to improve your communication skills, you may wish to consider online therapy.

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