How to say I love you in Japanese

The most formal and neutral way to say 'I love you' in Japanese would be :

私はあなたが好きです。/ Watashi ha anata ga suki desu.

Let's decompose this :

  • 私 / 'watashi' = I, me
  • は / 'ha' (pronounce 'wa') is the particle for the subject.
  • あなた / 'anata' = you ; which you can replace with 君 / 'kimi' or おまえ / 'omae' (more familiar forms).
  • が / 'ga' = to make it simple, it's the particle for the object.
  • at last, 好きです / 'suki desu' means to love, or 好きだ / 'suki da' or 好き / 'suki' in the familiar form. You can add 大 / 'dai' before 'suki' to really mean it, which gives us 大好きです / 'daisuki desu'.

The whole first part (私はあなたが / 'watashi ha anata ga') is quite formal and not required, that's why you can hear a mere 大好きだ / 'daisuki da'…

More precisely, the Japanese character (kanji) for love is the same than in Chinese : 愛 pronounced 'ai' (at least sometimes). You can create a verb from it : 愛しています / 'aishiteimasu' in the polite form, 愛してる / 'aishiteru' in the neutral form. Its use is the same than 好きです / “suki desu”, except you have to replace が / 'ga' with を / 'wo' (pronounce 'o'), giving us 私はあなたを愛しています。/ Watashi ha anata wo aishiteimasu.

愛 / 'ai' and its derivatives are more meaningful than 好き / 'suki'. You can 'suki' baseball or ice creams, but you can only 'ai' someone.

Posted on
Posted by Gael
Editor in chief
Gael is founder and responsible for Kanpai's publication. In love with Japanese culture, he travels to Japan regularly since 2003 and shares his information and tips.
Kanpai also suggests these posts