You might already know how to say I love you in Chinese. In Mandarin, it’s 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ) and (ngoh ngoi leih) in Cantonese.
But sometimes, however sincere you might be, you need a bit of variety other than the ‘famous three words!’
I always love to hear from learners whose partner is Chinese that they are learning their partner’s language so that they can communicate or get to know their culture better. It’s a really meaningful reason to want to learn a language, and get to know somebody better, even if you don’t have to rely on what you’ve learned just to have a conversation.
If you’re a regular reader to this blog, you might know that my wife is Chinese, although I had already been learning the language for more than 6 years before we met, and I didn’t specifically learn Chinese with this aim in mind!
If you are dating a Chinese man or woman then I hope these phrases put a smile on their face, and if not, I hope you enjoy them anyway! Who knows, they could even come in useful some day 🙂
1. 我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐhuan nǐ) – I like you / I fancy you
This literally means ‘I like you’, or ‘I fancy you’ but as Chinese people can be shy about expressing their love so directly, they will often say wǒ xǐhuan nǐ first, and then take it from there!
2. 我想跟你在一起 (wǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ zài yīqǐ ) – I want to be with you
我想 means ‘I want’, and 跟你在一起 means ‘with you, together’
3. 我爱你， 宝贝 (wǒ ài nǐ， bǎobèi) – I love you, baby
I love you, baby. The first three characters, as I already mentioned, mean I love you, and bǎobèi means baby or precious. It can also be used to address a small child.
4. 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) – I miss you / I’m thinking of you
You might hear two people who have only recently met say wǒ xiǎng nǐ to each other. In this situation, you would probably translate it as ‘I’m thinking of you.’
5. 你是我的唯一 (nǐ shì wǒ de wéiyī) – You are my only one.
你是 means ‘you are’, 我的唯一 means ‘my only one’. The word order is exactly the same as in English.
6. 跟你在一起真开心 (gēn nǐ zài yīqǐ zhēn kāixīn) – I’m so happy with you
The word order is the opposite here. 跟你在一起 means ‘together with you’ and 真开心 means ‘really happy’.
7. 我的心里只有你 (wǒ de xīnlǐ zhǐ yǒu nǐ) – In my heart there is only you.
我的心里 ‘in my heart’, 只有你 ‘there is only you’
8. 我会一直陪着你 (wǒ huì yīzhí péizhe nǐ) – I will always stay with you
陪着你 here literally means ‘accompany you’.
9. 在我眼里你是最美的 (zài wǒ yǎn lǐ nǐ shì zuì měi de) – In my eyes you are the most beautiful
This one is sure to make that special somebody happy!
10. 我希望能跟你一起变老 (wǒ xīwàng néng gēn nǐ yīqǐ biàn lǎo) – I hope to grow old with you.
A sentiment expressed in Western languages that can be directly translated into Chinese. There is even a passage from the ancient Chinese Book of Odes that means a very similar thing: 执子之手，与子偕老 ‘taking your hand and growing old with you’. It seems that the idea is universal.
11. 你若安好便是晴天 (nǐ ruò ānhǎo biàn shì qíngtiān) – If you are safe and sound, the sky will be blue
This one is a popular saying that expresses your concern for somebody. Another good one to learn!
12. 你愿意嫁给我吗？(nǐ yuànyi jià gěi wǒ ma?) – Will you marry me?
If you are ever in a situation where you need to ‘pop the question’ in Chinese, this is how you do it. You can thank me for the tip later!
13. 我愿意！(wǒ yuànyi!) – Yes / I do!
If you get asked the last question, you need to know how to respond. This is how you say ‘yes, I do’ (you’ll also hear it in every Chinese wedding!)
Of course, you can’t communicate everything you feel about somebody in just a few phrases, but something is better than nothing.
And if there’s anything else you need to know how to say, just let me know in the comments!