There are many different ways to express your love using Mandarin Chinese.
And, of course, you don’t have to stick to one single phrase to do that.
Whether you’re trying to impress someone or convey your love to your partner in their native language - you’ll never know when you’ll need these phrases.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the different phrases and terms you can use to express your interest, love, or affection for someone else using Mandarin Chinese.
If there’s a romantic occasion just around the corner, you’d definitely want to get into this!😊
How to say “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese
The most literal and standard translation for “I love you” in Chinese is 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ).
- 我 means “I” or “me”
- 爱 translates to “love”
- 你 means “you”
An accurate, simple, and no-frills phrase - but not always the best in every situation.
In many cases, native speakers don’t use 我爱你 when speaking to their friends or even family (we’ll explore this further down the article).
The thing about the word “love” in Mandarin Chinese is this: It carries a powerful and deeply-rooted meaning.
For instance, we say things like “I love my mother” and “I love eating hotpot” in English.
Obviously, you don’t love eating hotpot as much as you love your mother, but the same word is used anyway.
In Mandarin Chinese, this concept doesn’t apply.
You would use the word 爱 for people you genuinely love and not the food you enjoy. We rarely use 爱 to describe things or objects we like. 😅
我爱你 can be used when speaking to a partner or spouse, and depending on your upbringing, this may be used in Chinese families (though this isn’t commonly the case).
If someone said 我爱你 to you, you can reply with a 我也爱你 (wǒ yě ài nǐ), which translates to “I love you, too.”
也 in this context means “also”.
And if you would like to express how much you love a person (using words), here are some phrases you can use:
These super sweet and cheesy phrases may be perfect for conveying your love to your spouse or long-time partner.
But they may scare the wits out of your crush. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of “too soon, too fast.” 😭
In the next section, we’ll explore some phrases that likely work better.
How to say “I like you” in Mandarin Chinese
If you have a crush on someone and would like to confess it to them, you wouldn’t use 我爱你. You might scare them off.
What you can use is 我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐhuān nǐ) which means “I like you”.
喜欢 translates to “like.” People tend to use 喜欢 a lot more than 爱, simply because the word “love” isn’t as casually used as in English.
You can use this to confess to your crush or to remind your partner how much you like (or love) them. Some couples prefer using 我喜欢你, while others will use 我爱你, so there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule on what works.
If your relationship is still fresh on the scene, 我喜欢你 may be more appropriate.
On top of that, you can also apply here what we covered in the previous section.
If you’d like to respond with “I like you too,” you can say 我也喜欢你 (wǒ yě xǐhuān nǐ).
And if you really like that person, you can say:
On a side note, you can also use 喜欢 to talk about objects or things you enjoy doing.
For instance, you wouldn’t usually say 我爱吃火锅 (Wǒ ài chī huǒguō). Something more appropriate would be 我喜欢吃火锅 (wǒ xǐhuān chī huǒguō), meaning, “I like eating hotpot.”
There are some other ways you can express your interest in someone through words.
Here are some phrases you may use when confessing your feelings to someone you’ve had your eyes on:
As a reminder, these five phrases convey romantic feelings and affection (as you can tell by their English translations).
So they’re a big no-no for family and platonic relationships!
How to romantically express your love
If you’re currently in a relationship or married, you can go with 我爱你, but this isn’t the only phrase you can use.
For instance, you can use phrases such as:
They can come off to be a little over the top or dramatic, but your partner will definitely appreciate the effort it took to learn these more creative phrases.
Romantic terms of endearment in Mandarin Chinese
Why not pick up some terms of endearment to use when speaking to your sweetheart? Especially so if they swoon over pet names. 😊
宝贝 (bǎobèi) is one of the most common terms used when addressing your lover. Another phrase with the same meaning is 宝宝 (bǎobǎo).
They both mean “babe” or “baby,” which can refer to a literal baby or your lover.
If you’d like, you can also add 我的 (wǒ de) in front to get 我的宝贝(wǒ de bǎobèi), which means “my baby”.
If you’re an old-school romantic, you can use the term 亲爱的 (qīn’ài de). It is a timeless phrase of affection, though you won’t hear youngsters using it as commonly.
亲爱的 translates to “my love” or “my darling,” and it is a great phrase to address your spouse or partner.
If you’re married, then you can also use 老婆 (lǎopó), meaning “wifey” or 老公 (lǎogōng), which translates to “hubby”.
Combine any of these pet names with the phrases we’ve learned above, and you’re good to go! For instance, you can say 老婆, 我爱你胜过一切。(Lǎopó, wǒ ài nǐ shèngguò yīqiè.) This means “wifey, I love you more than anything”.
Or you could say: 宝贝, 跟你在一起真的很开心。(Bǎobèi, gēn nǐ zài yīqǐ zhēn de hěn kāixīn.), which means “baby, I feel so happy being with you.”
How to say “I miss you” in Mandarin Chinese
You can express your love and care by letting someone know you miss them when you’re apart.
The most commonly used Mandarin phrase to do this is 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ), which means, “I miss you.”
You can use this when speaking to your friends, family, and romantic partners.
想 (xiǎng) translates directly to “think” or “want”, but in this sense, it conveys the meaning, “I’m thinking of you.”
If you miss the person a lot, you can say 我好想你 (Wǒ hǎo xiǎng nǐ), meaning “I miss you so much” or “I really miss you” People usually reserve this for close friends, family, or romantic partners.
You may also hear the phrase 我想念你 (wǒ xiǎngniàn nǐ) being used in dramas, shows, and real life.
Essentially, it also means “I miss you.” But it does carry a more heavy and formal tone compared to 我想你.
想念 (xiǎngniàn) translates to “miss,” “yearn,” or “long for.” So in a sense, 我想念你 conveys a deeper longing for a person. You can use this when you’re not going to see the person for a long time.
How to express your love to family and friends
In the Chinese culture, you won’t normally say 我爱你 to your friends or family members.
This, of course, does not mean that no love exists between both parties, but people tend to express their care and love through actions rather than saying 我爱你 to each other.
Whether it’s helping them with errands or cooking their favorite meals - there are tons of ways you can show your concern and affection to Chinese friends or family members.
You can express your love through words as well, but not via the conventional 我爱你 as you may be thinking.
One common greeting that can double up as a display of affection is 你吃了吗? (Nǐ chīle ma?), meaning “have you eaten?”
But how is this so?
Well in Chinese culture, you’re showing concern by asking the other person if they’re eating well and taking care of their health.
It’s very common for parents or grandparents to use this when speaking with their children or grandchildren because that’s one way they show their concern and love.
Some other phrases that can be used to show care to friends and family members include:
*You can use this when someone is looking glum.
These don’t directly translate to “I love you.”
But they are a good demonstration of your care and concern for the people you love.
What does 520 mean in Mandarin Chinese?
You might have noticed that Chinese slang using numbers is becoming more and more popular, especially on Chinese social media and chat messaging platforms.
Nowadays, Chinese people use this online slang consisting of numbers to express their love and affection for the other party when chatting online.
And if you’ve been using Chinese social media for some time, you may notice this popular term being used: 520
But what do these numbers mean when put together?
520 is 五二零 (wǔ èr líng) in Chinese, and this conveys the meaning “I love you.”
To Mandarin native speakers, 5 in Chinese sounds like 我, 2 sounds like 爱, and 0 sounds like 你.
Hence, 520 means 我爱你.
In fact, 520 has become so popular in China that the 20th of May (05/20) is now celebrated as another Valentine’s day. 😁
But this isn’t the only slang you can use while texting.
- 2013 is 二零一三 (èr líng yī sān) in Mandarin, and this conveys the meaning, “I will love you forever”.
- 530 is 五三零 (wǔ sān líng). The only difference between this and 520 is the 3 in the middle. 三 (sān) sounds like 想 (xiǎng). So, putting the pieces together from what we covered above, 530 stands for 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ), meaning “I miss you”.
- 770 is 七七零 (qī qī líng). This sounds like 亲亲你 (qīn qīn nǐ) in Mandarin, which means “kiss you”.
- 880 is 八八零 (bā bā líng), and this sounds like 抱抱你 (bào bào nǐ). 抱 (bào) means hug, so this stands 880 stands for “hug you”.
If you wanna up your Internet lingo game, these are some of the best Chinese terms you can use when texting someone you love.
Not to mention that they’re popular among native Mandarin speakers!
我爱你 isn’t the only way to say “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese
There’s nothing wrong with using 我爱你.
It is universally understood by both natives and new learners alike. The word 爱 carries a very strong meaning in the Chinese culture, so you won’t be casually using the phrase without deeply feeling it.
Other common phrases to convey your love, care, or affection for someone else are 我喜欢你 and 我想你.
Do you know of any other ways to say “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese?
If so, do share them in the comments below!