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Thread: How do you say "I love you" in Japanese...?

  1. #1
    Join Date May 1, 2003
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    Heart How do you say "I love you" in Japanese...?

    Tokyo International Party

    Okay. I wanted to know how to say "I love you" and "I love you too" in Japanese... not like, "I love you Mommy," but for if you were saying it to a spouse or something... I've heard one way to say "I love you" is "aishiteru", but something I read in one of my Kanji books told me that for boy-girl love it's supposed to be more like "koishiteru"... but I don't know. Is there a typical romantic-ish phrase that's used commonly in Japan for people who are in love, and/or husbands/wives? Also, how do you say "I love you too"? I mean, it's hard to just have your significant other say "aishiteru / koishiteru / whatever it is" and then just go... "Aishiteru... too? -_-;;;..." That happens to me a lot. So, please, can somebody help me out here? Thank you!!
  2. #2
    Join Date Mar 14, 2003
    Location Belgian in Japan
    Posts 49
    Depends on whether you're a boy or a girl. Basically the thing to say is 'aishiteru' and as a reply 'me (depending on your sex) mo aishiteru'. 'Kimi ga suki' is another option...
    [i]In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side. [/i] - Hagakure
  3. #3
    先輩 Female
    Join Date Apr 22, 2003
    Location アメリカ
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    United States
    I've wondered recently about the different ways to say 'fell in love' as well.

    And so far just know three:

    1). Ga suki ni natta
    2). To koi ni ochita
    3). (To/ni?) aitaku natta

    It seems like these could be expressing a range from least (1) to most (3) intense or romantic -- but exactly what are the shades of meaning before I can try it out on someone myself?
    Last edited by Elizabeth; Jun 11, 2003 at 10:00.
  4. #4
    Join Date May 1, 2003
    Location With Johnathan, no matter where that is
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    Well, if it makes any difference, I'm a girl... but I also posted this thread at my boyfriend's suggestion, because he wants to know, too. So, for "I love you", we just say "aishiteru" like we've been doing, right? And for "I love you too", what is he supposed to say and what am I supposed to say? And what IS "koishiteru" used for? We've sorta been wonderin' for over a year, now...
  5. #5
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Jan 8, 2003
    Location I live in Kansai.
    Posts 2,280
    Konnichiwa Kagenshi-chan!

    If you say "I love you" face to face with your boyfriend, it is "Anata wo Aishiteiru" in Japanese. And "I love you too" is "Watashi mo Anata wo Aishiteiru".

    "I" is "Watashi".
    "love" is "Aishiteiru".
    "you" is "Anata wo".
    "too" is "mo".

    But usually Japanese say only "Aishiteiru" and "Watashi mo". The Japanese omit the subject word and an object word frequently. And it is more natural to say "Suki dayo" but not "Aishiteiru". "Suki dayo" is "I like you" in literal translation but means "I love you" in Japanese. The Japanese usually say "Suki dayo" but not "Aishiteiru".

    "Koishiteiru" is "I am deeply in love". I think you don't say "I am deeply in love with you" to your boyfriend, and you will say only "I love you". It is same as the Japanese. The Japanese don't say "Watashi ha Anata ni Koishiteru" face to face with boyfriend.

    But if you say to your friends about your boyfriend, "I am deeply in love with him" or "I love him", when you say "Watashi ha Kare ni Koishiteru".

    "I am" is "Watashi ha".
    "deeply in love" is "Koishiteru".
    "with him" is "Kare ni".

    Of course you can say "Watashi ha Kare wo Aishiteiru" or "Watashi ha Kare ga Suki".

  6. #6
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Apr 22, 2003
    Location Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts 352
    If I may pitch my two cents... Hello all.

    In Japanese, love is as multifaceted as the language. There are different degrees to it and different ways of expressing it according to the situation.

    "suki" is used both as like or love and the meaning has to be interpreted from the context. Therefore if one says:

    "ramen ga suki"

    It would be interpreted as meaning "I like ramen". But if one says:

    "ramen ga dai suki", the use of the "dai" which means big compunds like into love, thus making the example above "I love ramen" in English.

    When talking about people, suki can also be used to express filial love, special friendships, or childish love. So you could say "anata ga suki" to your mother, siblings, good friends, etc. When used towards boyfriends and girlfriends by adults, it has a childish and not too serious flavour to it.

    Now "ai" is more laden with commitment and permanence. It is very rarely used in anything but the romantic sense. So, "anata wo aishiteiru" is usually used by adult lovers, husbands and wives, in declaring ones "serious" love to another, etc. However, when admitting feelings for someone, you would not use "ai" but rather something along "anata ga suki ni natteiru" (I'm beginning to love you).

    "koi ni ochita" is more often used in a litterary sense, but when used in daily conversation, it is often used to talk about a third party falling in love as this is exactly what the expression means, "ochita" being the past tense of "ochiru", meaning to fall.

    As for "koi wo suru", it usually means that you are flirting or active on the dating scene. For example, as a married man, if I said of myself that "koi wo shiteiru" I would be implying that I'm sleeping around or have one or several girlfriends. As a single person, it would mean that I'm dating, but not commited to anyone.

    Does this clear things up some? I hope so. (I posted at the same time as Nangi made his post, so sorry if they overlap).
    Last edited by tasuki; Jun 11, 2003 at 10:45.
    - His arrogance is matched only by his firepower.
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  7. #7
    Join Date May 1, 2003
    Location With Johnathan, no matter where that is
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    First of all, I wanted to thank all of you for all your help!! You guys are great. But... I still have a few more "in-depth" questions...

    Originally posted by NANGI
    ..."love" is "Aishiteiru".
    How does the entire word "aishiteru" just mean "love"...? I mean, doesn't 愛 ("ai") by itself mean "love"? What does "aishiteru" mean literally? Also, what are the Kanji for "aishiteru"? Is it just the Kanji "ai" then Hiragana "shiteru"? Please post a picture (or I guess just type it if ya can) of the Kanji and/or Hiragana for that.

    Thanks again for your help! ^^;
  8. #8
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Apr 22, 2003
    Location Location: Tokyo. Country: Quebec, Canada
    Posts 352
    愛 (ai) means love.
    する (suru) means do. している (shiteiru) is the present continuous of する.

    Thus, 愛している, translated litteraly means "I am loving you". But remember that time is viewed differently in English and in Japanese. In English, regular actions are expressed in the present tense (I take the bus to school), whereas only actions currently underway are expressed in the continuous (I'm typing). In Japanese, it doesn't quite work like that, thus love being a continuous emotion, it's expressed in the continuous tense. It's as simple as that. Does that clear things up?
  9. #9
    Join Date Nov 4, 2003
    Posts 35
    More often said as 愛してる.Pretty serious. So serious, in fact, that to Japanese ears it often sounds fake and/or insincere. Basically, the train of thought on this is that if you have a relationship deep and committed enough to warrant using the term, there's no need to use it: it's intuitively understood.
  10. #10
    先輩 Female
    Join Date Apr 22, 2003
    Location アメリカ
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    United States
    It may be understood by the couple themselves (for those that truly do), but they aren't the only members of the household and I've often had Japanese friends express some unease and discomfort about growing up in a family with parents whom they never heard speak intimately or lovingly to each other.
  11. #11
    SECURITY-you SPAM/we BAN Male
    Join Date May 21, 2003
    Location Portland-USA
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    USA - Maine

    If only I could hear...

    Yoshiko whisper those magic words in my ear again

    "I rub you Frank"
  12. #12
    先輩 Female
    Join Date Apr 22, 2003
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    Count yourself fortunate, though, Frank, to have ever had a woman so couragous. I offhandedly asked my boyfriend about saying it once in Chinese while we were thinking of "good morning" in various languages and even then as I repeated it for practice and he just walked away in disgust....;).
  13. #13
    Join Date Jun 11, 2003
    Location Missouri, USA
    Posts 53
    In teh Okinawan Dialect, Both usually say the name of thier spouse and then Daisuki. If They mean it in a serious relation ship way then it is Aishiteru.


    Akemi wa daisuki.

    or just say Aishiteru.

    Of course this is Okinawan sooo....

    Cheers S!
  14. #14
    Join Date Jan 2, 2004
    Posts 1
    There's a very helpful writeup on the everything2 encyclopedia on this subject.

  15. #15
    Join Date Nov 27, 2003
    Location KIX -> JFK -> LAX
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    There's really no way to say it in Japanese without sounding corny. Simply because the Japanese have no tradition of saying such phrase. I read in the book "Strawberry Road" that after WWII Japanese women wanted to date U.S. GIs because that was the first time in their lives they were told "I love you."

    If you want to say it to a Japanese person, my suggestion is to just say it in English. The meaning is understood by any Japanese of any age anyway, and it's probably more romantic for them to hear it in English since they got to know the phrase by watching Western love story films or hearing in Carpenters songs.

    Even then, Japanese would only say it in terms of romantic love between two lovers, unlike in the west where a parent might say that to a child.
  16. #16
    Join Date Aug 21, 2004
    Location Los Angeles, CA
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    United States
    Yeah, the Japanese generally just dont say it to each other.
  17. #17
    Join Date Aug 1, 2004
    Location Sydney
    Posts 14
    Originally Posted by NANGI
    How do you actually pronounce を? 'Wo' or 'O'?
  18. #18
    Manga Psychic Male
    Join Date Jan 22, 2004
    Posts 2,016
    Originally Posted by Jimm
    How do you actually pronounce を? 'Wo' or 'O'?
    98.7% of the time, same as お.
  19. #19
    Join Date Aug 1, 2004
    Location Sydney
    Posts 14
    Originally Posted by PaulTB
    98.7% of the time, same as お.
    And the other 1.3% of the time?
  20. #20
    Manga Psychic Male
    Join Date Jan 22, 2004
    Posts 2,016
    Originally Posted by Jimm
    And the other 1.3% of the time?
    As something rather like 'wo'. Most often encountered in song lyrics.
  21. #21
    Join Date Aug 27, 2004
    Posts 41
    As stated above, Japanese generally don't say "I love you".
  22. #22
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Aug 25, 2004
    Location Venezuela
    Posts 85
    Why is it that japanese generally don't say " I love you " (in japanese or english) ?? :S
  23. #23
    Join Date Sep 8, 2004
    Posts 202
    You would almost never stick "Anata wo" in front of "ai shite iru" because of the limited way that pronouns like "you" are used in Japanese.

    If you were doing "kokuhaku" (declaration of love) to someone you weren't going out with, you would tend to use a phrase with "suki", which would differ according to whether you were a girl or boy, and how politely you tended to speak.

    A husband would say to his wife "ai shiteru zo, Misae" (or whatever her name was), and the wife would answer "atashi mo". The wife would be less likely to initiate the exchange, though it isn't impossible. (Of course a woman wouldn't use "zo", they would tend to just say "ai shiteru" or "ai shiteru, a-na-ta" using anata meaning "husband" rather than "you")

    Because Japanese are kind of reserved, this kind of declaration would be more for newly married couples, or on a special occasion, etc. That's just Japanese culture.

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