8 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Japanese (But Watch Out!) | AlexRockinJapanese (2023)

A lot of my readers want to know how to sayI love you” in Japanese. However, translating these three little words from English is not that easy, because in Japanese there are 11 words for “love”, and a lot of them can be used to say “I love you“. So which word should you use and what is the best way to express your love to a Japanese person?

The three words suki (好き), daisuki (大好き), and aishiteru (愛してる) are basically used to say “I love you” in Japanese. “Suki” is used at the start of relationships and when confessing your love. “Daisuki” is stronger and closest to the English “I love you”, while “Aishiteru” should rarely ever be used.

If that seems to be complicated don’t worry! Below I’m going to explain the different ways and phrases of how to sayI love youin Japanese in detail and tell you exactly when you should use which phrase. After that, we will also cover how to include the name of your loved one and how to say “I love you” to your friend and family members.

How to Say “I Love You” in Japanese

In Japanese, there is not one basic way or expression of how to say “I love you“. Japanese people tend to use a couple of different phrases mostly depending on the length and therefore depth of their relationship and love for the other person.

In this blog post, I will cover 8 different phrases. First the 3 basic phrases for love “aishiteru“, “daisuki (desu)“, and “suki (desu)“. Then, we will look into 5 other ones that are less often used in real life but can often be encountered in anime, manga, and Japanese dramas. Here they are:

  • aishiteru (愛してる)or aishitemasu (愛してます)
  • daisuki (大好き) or daisuki desu (大好きです)
  • suki (好き) or suki desu (好きです)
  • suki da yo (好きだよ)
  • daisuki da yo (大好きだよ)
  • aishiteru yo (愛してるよ)
  • suki yanen (好きやねん)
  • daisuki yanen (大好きやねん)

Before we start a quick but very important note, though.

It is not that common to express love and affection in Japanese culture. So the three little words “I love you” are often not explicitly said but shown nonverbally through actions. I have covered that in detail in my blog post about the meaning of “Aishiteru” in Japanese.

I highly recommend you to read that article before moving on!

1. Aishiteru – I Love You (With All My Heart)

The word “Aishiteru” (愛してる) is often considered the default Japanese translation for the English phrase “I love you“. However, the word is a really deep expression of love and rather means “I love you with all my heart“, “I love you deeply“, or “I really love you from the bottom of my heart“.

I love you
I love you deeply
I love you with all my heart

I love you
I love you deeply
I love you with all my heart

Aishiteru” (愛してる) and “Aishiteriru” (愛している) are both correct and have the same meaning “I love you“. The latter one, “Aishiteiru” is more formal and actually the grammatically correct spelling of the word, but nowadays “aishiteru” is more commonly used in spoken and written Japanese.

Usage: This phrase is hardly ever said but rather shown through actions and gestures. If “aishiteru” is said it is usually between a husband and a wife or two people that are in a very committed lifelong relationship. It is important not to overuse this word in Japanese or it will sound insincere.

Occasionally you will also see “Aishitemasu” (愛してます) or “Aishiteimasu” (愛しています). Using “masu” or “imasu” instead of “ru” and “iru” makes the phrase “I love youmore formal and polite. Their meanings are the same as “aishiteru” (愛してる) and “aishiteiru” (愛している), but they are even less commonly used.

I love you (formal)
I love you deeply (formal)
I love you with all my heart (formal)

I love you (most formal)
I love you deeply (most formal)
I love you with all my heart (most formal)

2. Daisuki – I Love You (So Much)

“Daisuki” (大好き) means “I love you“, “I love you so much“, or “I really love you“. It consists of the kanji dai 大, meaning “big“, and suki 好き which means “like” or “love“. So put together you get “big love” or in more natural English “really like/love“. It’s the closest to the English “I love you“.

I love you
I really love you
I love you so much

Usage: Even though the phrase is the closest to saying “I love you” in English, Japanese people often start usingDaisuki” after they have been in a committed and serious relationship for a while. However, it might be used when confessing one’s love for the first time, especially in anime and manga.

The word can also be used when talking about a hobby, food, or other things you really like. So it is very similar to the English phrases “I love (doing…)“, “I really like (doing…)“, or “I’m really into…“.

You can say “I love youmore politely by adding the word desu (です) after daisuki (大好き). “Daisuki” (大好き) and “Daisuki desu” (大好きです) essentially have the same meaning. The only difference is that the latter sounds politer and more formal. Maybe good when confessing your love for the first time.

Daisuki desu
I love you (formal)
I really love you (formal)
I love you so much (formal)

3. Suki – I Love You (Confessing Your Love)

The word “suki” (好き) is the last one of the three basic words and phrases that are used to say “I love you” in Japanese. It is the most neutral word and therefore also the most commonly used one. It means both “I love you” and “I like you” and is often used as the first confession of one’s love.

I like you
I love you

Usage:Sukiis tricky because it is used to say “I love you” but it can also mean “I like you“. When Japanese people have just fallen in love or when they started to like someone they often saysuki” (好き). It’s the appropriate phrase when confessing your love and at the start of a relationship.

Same as with daisuki (大好き), suki (好き) is also used when talking about a hobby, music, food, anime, manga, and other things you like. So it can also be translated into English as “I like (doing…)” or “I’m into…“.

The politer version of “suki” (好き) is “suki desu” (好きです). While both phrases mean the same, either “I love you” or “I like you“, adding desu (です) will make you sound more formal and respectful. So use this phrase in formal situations or when confessing your love officially for the first time.

Here is my full article if you are interested to know all the ways of how to say “I like you” in Japanese.

Suki desu
I like you (formal)
I love you (formal)

Now let’s have a look at more casual phrases to say “I love you” in Japanese. These phrases are commonly used in anime, manga, drama, and Japanese movies, but are less often encountered in real life.

4. Suki Da Yo – I Love You! (Anime, Casual)

Suki da yo” (好きだよ) is a more casual expression that is used to say “I love you!” or “I like you!“. The da (だ) is the casual form of copula desu (です) and adds emphasis. Yo (よ) is a so-called sentence-ending particle that makes you sound even more empathic and acts as an exclamation mark.

Suki da yo!
I like you!
Love you!
Luv ya!

Da yo” or “dayo” (だよ) is often used in informal situations to add strength and emphasis and can be seen in many phrases like for example “Dame dayo” or “Nandayo“. You can find a concrete guide about it on my other webpage AlexRockinJapan: “Japanese “Dayo” – What it Means & How to Use“.

Usage:Suki da yo” (好きだよ) can be used to express your love or affection for someone you have been known for some time. It sounds more friendly and shows that you really care about the other person. However, it also sounds more dramatic and can sound less serious like the English “Luv ya!“.

You can also just use “suki da” (好きだ) which is more casual and slightly stronger than “suki desu” (好きです), but slightly more formal and less empathic than “suki da yo” (好きだよ).

Suki da
I like you!
I love you!
Luv ya!

And you can also just use “suki yo” (好きよ). It sounds less forceful and therefore also a little less serious than “suki da yo” (好きだよ). If you compare both phrases “suki yo” is more commonly used by females since it is softer than the more masculinesuki da yo“.

Suki yo!
I like you!
Love you!
Luv ya!

5. Daisuki Da Yo – I Love You! (Anime, Casual)

Daisuki da yo” (好きだよ) is another more casual expression that is used to say “I love you!” or “I really love you” in informal Japanese. The da yo (だよ) adds emphasis and strength and acts like adding one or two exclamation marks to what you are saying. Sometimes it can also mean “But I love you!“.

Daisuki da yo!
I love you!
Luv ya!
But I love you!

Usage: The phrase “daisuki da yo” or “daisuki dayo” (大好きだよ) is usually only used in anime, manga, and other media, such as TV dramas, movies, songs, etc. It sounds even more dramatic thansuki da yo“, but it could be used as a reply to your partner meaning “(But) I love you (more)“.

The more casual form of “daisuki desu” (大好きです) is “daisuki da” (大好きだ). The da (だ) sounds more informal and empathic. However, compared to “daisuki da yo” (大好きだよ) it is slightly weaker and a bit more formal.

Daisuki da!
I love you!
Luv ya!

As before with “suki” you can also just use “daisuki yo” (大好きよ) which is a bit weaker and less forceful thandaisuki da yo” and therefore more commonly used by females. In my opinion, it also sounds a bit weaker when you directly compare it to “daisuki da“.

Daisuki yo!
I love you!
Luv ya!

6. Aishiteru yo – I Love You! (Anime)

Similar to the other words “suki” and “daisuki” you can also add the sentence-ending particle yo (よ) to “aishiteru”. “Aishiteru yo” (愛してるよ) translates as “I love you!” or “I love you with all my heart!”. However, it is too much and sounds more like an exaggerated “I really, really, really love you“.

Aishiteru yo!
I love you!!!
I love you with all my heart!!!
I really, really, really love you!!!

Usage: You shouldn’t useaishiteru yo” (愛してるよ) in real life because it is too much and will probably sound insincere to your Japanese partner. This phrase is generally reserved for characters in TV dramas, movies, anime, and manga. So I really don’t recommend using it at all.

Maybe, but only maybe it can be used when you respond to “aishiteru” and want to say “I love you, too” in Japanese.

7. Suki Yanen – I Love You (Kansai-ben)

Suki yanen” (好きやねん) is Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect) or Osaka-ben (Osaka dialect) and also translates as “I love you” or “I like you“. Yanen (やねん) is a popular ending that is used in Kansai and the Osaka area. For most Japanese, it will sound a bit funky like for example, “I love ya” or “I luv ya“.

Suki yanen
I like ya!
I love ya!
I luv ya!

Usage:Suki yanen” is slang and sounds more like you are joking. However, in case you are dating someone who is from Kansai, Osaka city, or the Osaka area, they might use this phrase, and/or they might be happy when you use it, too.

8. Daisuki Yanen – I Love You (Kansai-ben)

When you really love something or someone you can use “Daisuki yanen” (大好きやねん) in Osaka and Kansai. It is best translated as “I love ya” or “I luv ya“, because Kansai-ben usually sounds a bit funky and funny, but it generally means “I love you“.

Daisuki yanen
I love ya!
I luv ya!

Usage: You can use “daisuki yanen” (大好きやねん) when you are dating someone who lives or grew up in the Kansai area or Osaka. However, when you use it in Tokyo or any other place in Japan you will probably just make the other person laugh. So use the phrase at your own discretion.

How to Say “I Love You, (Name)” in Japanese

I love you, (name)” is “Aishiteru, (name)” (愛してる、〇〇) or “Daisuki, (name)” (大好き、〇〇) and just like in English it can also be said the other way around “Name, I love you” which is “(Name), aishiteru” (〇〇、愛してる) or “(Name), daisuki” (〇〇、大好き). However, in Japan, it is not usual to state the name.

Aishteru, Arekusu.
I love you Alex!

Alex, I love you!

If you want to explicitly address the person in Japanese it would be more common to just say “you” which is either “kimi” (君) or “anata” (あなた) depending on their gender. Men would typically use “kimi” when confessing to a girl and women would typically use “anata” when confessing to a man.

Here are the common phrases you can use when you want to say “I love youto a woman. You can also use the more formalsuki desu“, “daisuki desu” or the more casual “suki da yo” or “daisuki da yo” if you want.

Kimi ga suki
I like you.
I love you.

Kimi ga daisuki
I love you.

Kimi o aishiteru
I love you.

Here are the common phrases you can use when you want to say “I love youto a man:

Anata ga suki
I love you.

Anata ga daisuki
I love you.

Anata o aishiteru
I love you.

It is also common to use the more formalKimi no koto” (君の事) and “Anata no koto” (あなたの事). When you use these phrases it will sound like an extremely official and probably slightly stiff expression or confession of love.

Kimi no koto ga suki desu.
I love you.

Kimi no koto o aishiteru.
I love you.

Anata no koto ga suki desu.
I love you.

Anata no koto o aishiteru.
I love you.

Saying “I Love You” to a Friend or Family in Japanese

When you want to say “I love youto a friend you can either use “suki” (好き) or “daisuki” (大好き), but to your familydaisuki” (大好き) would be more appropriate. The phrase “aishiteru” (愛してる) shouldn’t be used with your friends or family. However, the casual “suki da yo” and “daisuki da yo” are okay.

Here is how to sayI love youto a close friend. However, always remember that it is not common to say these words. The same goes for saying “I like you” to a friend in Japanese by the way. Japanese people rather show their affection through gestures and actions.

To a friend:
Suki da yo!
Daisuki da yo!

And here is how to sayI love youto a family member:

To a family member:
Daisuki da yo!

Do They Say “I Love You” in Japan?

In Japan, it is not common to say the words “I love you” or even “I like you“. Japanese people tend to be more reserved and they don’t often express or show feelings, especially in public. In Japanese culture, it is way more common to express love and affection through simple gestures and actions.

How Do They Say “I Love You” in Anime?

In anime and manga, they tend to use a greater variety of phrases to sayI love you” than in real life. Some of the more commonly encountered expressions are “Aishiteru” (愛してる), “Aishiteru yo”(愛してるよ), “Daisuki” (大好き), “Daisuki da yo”(大好きよ), “Suki”(好き), and “Suki da yo”(好きよ).

  • Aishiteru (愛してる)
  • Aishiteru yo (愛してるよ)
  • Daisuki (大好き)
  • Daisuki da yo (大好きだよ)
  • Suki (好き)
  • Suki da yo (好きだよ)

Aishiteru” (愛してる) is by far the strongest and most romantic phrase. “Daisuki” (大好き) is the second strongest, while “suki” (好き) is the weakest that can also just mean “I like you“.

The variations “Aishiteru yo” (愛してるよ), “Daisuki da yo” (大好きだよ), and “Suki da yo” (好きだよ) are stronger and sound more dramatic than their counterparts without “da yo” or “yo”.

You can also hear “Daisuki desu” (大好きです) and “Suki desu” (好きです) which are the politer and more formal versions. They sound more official but also a bit more distant.

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