How To Say I Love You In German (+ Idioms & Endearment)

  • Stephanie Ford
    Written byStephanie Ford
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How To Say I Love You In German (+ Idioms & Endearment)

The German language isn’t often considered a beautiful language, but there are still many ways to express feelings of love.

Germans do like to show affection, albeit a little more reservedly than Americans.

What’s more, it’s surprisingly easy to learn German - contrary to popular belief.

In this guide, you’ll discover a number of ways you can show your love in German for family members, friends, and partners with several words and phrases.

Common ways to say ‘I love you’ in German

German is a far more precise language than English, which means there are a lot of different ways to be expressive.

Specific sentiments can be conveyed easily, but this means there are a lot of phrases to memorise. What’s more, they all depend massively on context.

The right phrase for your situation will vary according to who you’re addressing.

Take a look at these common ways of saying ‘I love you’ in German.

After you’ve learned these, read on to find out when to use them in context.

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Ich liebe dich.

I love you.
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Ich mag dich.

I like you.
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Ich hab’ dich lieb.

I love you.
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Du gefällst mir.

I like you / I'm attracted to you.
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Ich bin in dich verliebt.

I'm in love with you.
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Ich habe mich in dich verliebt.

I'm in love with you.
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Ich verehre dich.

I adore you.
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Ich liebe dich, egal was.

I love you, no matter what.
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Ich hab dich lieb bis zum Mond und zurück.

I love you to the moon and back.

Some of these phrases, like Ich liebe dich, Ich bin in dich verliebt, and Du gefällst mir, are for use only with romantic partners or when you have strong feelings of love.

Many others, like Ich hab’ dich lieb and phrases including it, are reserved for friends and family.

They’re for platonic relationships as opposed to romantic ones.

Continue reading for more information on when to use the key phrases.

When to use Ich liebe dich

Ich liebe dich is the most common, most literal translation of ‘I love you’.

However, this doesn’t mean you should use it in every context, or even much at all.

It’s important not to use it liberally, because Germans simply aren’t that expressive when it comes to showing love in everyday scenarios. Besides, Ich liebe dich holds strong sentiments within, so it’s mainly reserved for romantic partners and people you have profound feelings for.

This means that Ich liebe dich should be used with your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, or anyone you’re romantically interested in.

Essentially, you must be sure of your romantic love for the person.

Germans don’t throw the term around rashly, so don’t be afraid if your partner has yet to say it. They’re likely just waiting until they’re absolutely sure it’s true.

Younger Germans may use Ich liebe dich in a more open manner, so you might hear them use the verb lieben in a platonic context.

This is down to influence from the US in film and TV, as Americans tend to say ‘I love you’ a lot.

Older Germans, though, will never use lieben for friends and family.

They aren’t as influenced by American culture, so will keep this sentiment reserved for strong feelings of love only.

When to use Ich hab’ dich lieb

This expression is not as strong as Ich liebe dich and is used for friends, family, and any platonic relationship.

It literally translates to “I have love for you” and is not as intense as other expressions. As such, you can use it for almost anyone you’re close or semi-close with.

You can even use this in the early stages of a romantic relationship, as it’s not as weighted.

While you can say ‘I love you’ to almost anyone in English, there are clear distinctions in German.

For friends and family, use Ich hab’ dich lieb.

The hab’ is a contraction of habe, and reflects spoken German. It rolls off the tongue more when spoken and it’s easier to write over text.

In more formally written German, however, avoid contractions where possible.

Terms of endearment in German

If you’re showing your love with a few of the phrases above, why not add to your sweetness by including some terms of endearment?

They’re a great way to show your love for your partner or friend, and can spruce up any mundane or overused phrase.

Check out the vocab table below for some nice terms of endearment and their German translations.

English German
my sweetheart mein Schatz
dear Liebchen
darling Liebling
love of my life Liebe meines Lebens
handsome Hübscher
beautiful du Schönheit
babe Schnuckelchen
sweetie Mausi

German verbs related to love

To really cement your German knowledge of love, it’s best to learn some words associated with the subject.

Below, you’ll find a list of common verbs linked to love in English and their German translations.

English German
to love lieben
to kiss küssen
to cuddle kuscheln
to be smitten bezaubert sein
to adore verehren
to miss vermissen
to marry heiraten

German love idioms

Like other languages, German has a lot of idioms.

If you’re a German beginner, these might seem a little out of your league.

But don’t worry, take your time when learning them and you’ll be using them in no time!

For more advanced speakers, you may have already come across some of these. If you haven’t, some will be easy to guess anyway as there are similar idioms in English.

Check out some of the German idiomatic expressions about love below.

English German
You are my everything. Du bist mein Ein und Alles.
I am head over heels in love with you. Ich bin bis über beide Ohren verliebt.
I’m into you. Ich steh’ auf dich.
You make my heart skip a beat. Du bringst mein Herz zum Hüpfen.

Express your love in German

You can now confidently profess your love in German (just don’t go randomly throwing around lieben too much!).

If you’re just meeting a date for the first time, perhaps this guide on how to say ‘how are you’ in German is a little more appropriate? 😊

Viel Glück!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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