How to Say I Love You in Japanese

Everyone likes a complement.

And telling someone you love them is the biggest complement of all. It puts a spring in their step and a smile in their hearts. So how do you say I love you in Japanese? It may surprise you to find out that there is more than one way!


love-kanjiThe biggest way to tell someone you love them is to say 愛してる (ai shite ru). But you probably won’t hear it very often. That’s because the normal translation of “I love you” doesn’t truly capture the nuance of the word.

A better interpretation of 愛してる (ai shite ru) would be “eternal love.” A good example would be the way a parent loves their child.

Isn’t it true that most parents would do anything for their children? Even when it is at the parent’s own expense, most don’t hesitate to do what they believe to be the best for their kids.

Isn’t it also true that a parent loves their kid even when they mess up and do something bad? If you’re friend betrays you, you probably cut ties with them. But when a child does their parent a wrong, the parent may be upset, but they still love their child. Not because of what they do, but simply because of who they are.

If you were going to use 愛してる (ai shite ru) with your significant other, it would be like saying to them “I love you forever, and no mater what.”

I like You – I Big Like You

It is much more common to tell someone 好きだ (suki da) or 大好きだよ (dai suki da yo).  Let’s break each one down now.

好きだ (suki da) means “I like you.” this is something you would say to someone after a date or two when you genuinely feel attracted to and interested in them.

By the way, this is also how you would say that you like things, such as “I like beer”  ビールが好きだ (bīru ga suki da).

The second expression combines the Kanji for BIG () and LIKE (). So the next time you see your boyfriend or girlfriend, don’t just say “I like you” say “I big-like you.”

Haha, ok but really. This is the most common way to say “I love you” in Japanese. 大好きだよ (dai suki da yo). Be sure to add that よ (yo) to the end as it’s an “ending particle” that basically functions as a spoken exclamation point (!).

Related: Read more about Love here.

Now it’s your turn! How do you like to tell someone you love them? Do you have any tips on how to “wow” them? Let us know in the comments below!


  • Glory2U

    Hi Nikki

    This is unique and special. Good layout and content. How would I begin to learn Japanese?. Where do I start? I am totally a beginner. I learn visually and practically.

    Can you prepare Video tutorials for beginners online? This will promote further help. And later on you can add even more.

    Thank you for your content. All the best and success.

    God bless.

    • Nick

      Hey man, thanks! A good place to start would be over on the page For Beginners. Check it out.

      I will look for a good topic to do a video in. Great question!

  • rebecca cosmidou

    Hi, Nick!
    Very interesting the things you wrote about how to say i love you in japanese! What really strikes me is the thing you said about eternal love and i love you forever and no matter what! I didn’t undestand though if the phrase ai shite ru can be used only when we refer to our parents or both our parents and our lovers! I hope to hear from you soon!
    Best wishes,

    • Nick

      Hey Rebecca,

      You can say it to both! How great is that? You just probably shouldn’t say it to someone you’ve just met or you might scare them away :p


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