“Love” in Chinese: Characters, Symbols, and Sayings

How to say love in chinese

Love in Chinese: Expert’s Guide to Expressing Love With Confidence

Love is an important aspect of the human experience. However, the way people express love varies significantly between cultures. As you learn Chinese, understanding cultural norms and values will help you figure out how to properly express love. Whether talking about love in a general sense or letting another person know how you feel, discovering the nuances of love in Chinese culture can help you ensure you get it right every time. 

Love in Chinese Culture

As you may have guessed, love is expressed much differently in Chinese culture than in the Western world. While there is a word for “love,” Chinese people don’t often say “I love you” to their family members. It isn’t as common in Chinese culture, because using it to express love is considered too emotional, and even romantic partners often use the equivalent of “like” to express their love for each other when they have just recently started being together..

Still, learning the Chinese word for “love” and its associated terms is beneficial for those studying the Chinese language. When used correctly and combined with other words, it can give you a solid starting point for learning to express your sentiments to others.  

Love in Chinese Symbols

Hanzi, the formal term for Chinese characters, is the oldest writing system in the world that has been continuously used since its inception. Unlike the English language, the characters represent meaning instead of sounds. For this reason, how you represent the concept of love in Chinese symbols matters. 

The Chinese character for “love” is 愛 in the traditional language (used in Hong Kong and Taiwan) and 爱 in simplified Chinese, primarily used in mainland China. The simplified version lacks the 心 (xīn), which means “heart.” Both characters are associated with the pinyin “ài,” and you can use them interchangeably to say you love someone or love doing something.

Though you can use the symbol to express platonic love for a family member, “love” in Chinese is mainly used to express romantic love for your chosen partner. Many Chinese people see the word as too emotional and opt to use other words more regularly for cultural reasons. 

Pronunciation and Romanization

Pinyin refers to a linguistic tool that substitutes phonetic symbols from the Roman alphabet to approximate the sounds of Chinese words. This system is used when transcribing Chinese and helps language learners correctly read and pronounce Chinese characters. 

How do you say “love” in Chinese? The pinyin for love (愛 or 爱) is “ài.” It is pronounced in what is known as the fourth tone. That means you would begin the syllable at a slightly above-neutral pitch and end the word by quickly and forcefully moving your pitch downward. 

Different Ways to Express “Love” in Chinese

Whether you’re saying “yes” in Chinese to a marriage proposal or expressing love for a friend or family member, there are many ways to learn how to say “love” in Chinese. When you do express love, Chinese characters will help you convey the correct meaning in the proper context.

爱 (ài)

This is the standard way to say “love” and can also be used to express that you love to do something. For example: “They fell in love in Beijing.” – 他们在北京相愛了。- Tāmen zài běijīng xiāngài le.

情 (qíng)

This word expresses deep emotion, sentiment, and passion and can be combined with other terms to express this complete thought. For example: “Our relationship is very deep.” – 我们的感情很深厚 – wǒmen de gǎnqíng hěn shēnhòu.

疼 (téng)

This word expresses love in the form of care and concern and is sometimes used to convey that you love someone so much you cannot bear to see them physically hurt. For example: “I love you very much.” – 我很疼你’ – ‘wǒ hěn téng nǐ.

宠 (chǒng)

This word means “to spoil and pamper” in the sense of doting on someone. For example: “He doted on his wife very much.” – 他对自己的太太非常宠爱。- Tā duì zìjǐ de tàitài fēicháng chǒng’ài.

怜 (lián)

This word implies a compassionate and empathetic form of love, often between parents and their children. For example: “Mother loves her daughters very much.” – 母亲非常怜爱她的女儿们。- mǔqīn fēicháng liánài tā de nǚér men.

恋 (liàn)

This term refers to a situation involving romantic love or infatuation. For example: “They are dating.” – 他们在谈恋爱 -tāmen zài tán liànài.

Practical Tips for Using “Love” in Chinese

Whether you’re romantically partnered or not, the day may come when you want to express feelings of love to someone using the Chinese language. When that day arrives, here is some advice to take into account.

When talking to a romantic partner, it’s more common to say “我喜欢你 (wǒ xǐhuan nǐ), which means “I like you.” In that context, it basically means “I love you.” Instead of expressing love in Chinese letters, try using a coded language consisting of numbers similar to the pinyin. You can use the number 520 for this purpose.

Consider learning to express love outside of just using the word. In addition to displaying loving actions, you can use pet names (such as 宝贝 (bǎobèi), which also means “treasure,” or give compliments like 你的眼睛里有故事。(nǐ de yǎnjīngli yǒu gùshì) which says “There is a story in your eyes.”

Take time to understand cultural norms. For example, since Chinese women are often taught modesty from a young age, you may not want to compliment their looks directly. 

Though it may take some extra effort to understand the nuances of love in Mandarin Chinese, it will be worth it to help you express yourself correctly. 

Unlock the Language of Love With NewConcept Education

Learning to express love like a Chinese native may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. NewConcept Education has developed a unique curriculum that helps students learn Mandarin naturally, leaving behind raw memorization for a more practical and interactive experience. 

All students get to engage in a collaborative learning community that increases spoken practice and promotes fun in learning. Get confident with pronunciation and embrace the richness of language to connect with others on a deeper level.

We work with Fortune 500 companies, colleges, journalists, and business executives to help others learn Chinese quickly and efficiently. Whether you’re bursting at the seams with love or just want to expand your cultural and linguistic horizons, book a free class with NewConcept Education today and discover how to begin quickly growing your Chinese language skills.

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