How do you say “I love you” in Italian?
It’s said that love is a universal language that makes speech unnecessary for two strangers to understand each other. Yet, sometimes, putting the correct words to your feelings can be very helpful, most of all when those feelings are romantic.
Chances are that if you’re interested in learning Italian, you have a certain fondness for romanticism. You’re in luck!! Italian is a rich language, but even more so when it comes to expressing love. After all, it’s in the “romance” language family.
Do you have an Italian partner and would like to pleasantly surprise them with Italian love phrases? Or are you planning on finding love during your next trip to the boot-shaped peninsula? I cover it all here.
This is your guide to Romantic Italian Phrases 101: once you’ve read it, you’ll be able to express your love like a native.
“I Love You” in Italian
There are two very different ways to say “I love you” in Italian: ti voglio bene and ti amo. This is different from English where we have only one way to say “I love you”, so it’s important to understand the difference.
Ti voglio bene could be translated as “I wish you well” or “I want what’s good for you”. It’s used with friends, family, and in the early stages of a relationship or by long-time partners.
On the other hand, Ti amo implies a very strong feeling. It’s only comfortably used in a passionate, serious love.. It’s not exactly “I’m in love with you”, but that’s the kind of love it expresses. To say “I love you so much” in Italian you can add cosi tanto (“so much”) after the original phrase: ti amo cosi tanto.
In this article, we’re focusing on the serious and deep romantic love, the one communicated with ti amo.
5 More Italian Love Phrases to Share Romantic Love
Maybe you’re not yet ready to say “I love you” in Italian but still want to express what you feel. In this case, consider the following phrases:
- Mi piaci – “I like you.” If you add molto after it, you’ll get “I like you a lot”. Add moltissimo to get “I like you an awful lot.”
- Significhi molto per me – “You mean a lot to me.”
- Ti voglio un mondo di bene – “I love you a lot”, literally “I want a world of good for you.” It’s a couple of notches down from “Ti amo”.
- Ti voglio/desidero – “I want you.”
- Sono pazzo di te – “I am crazy for you.”
Expressing “Love” in Italian
The Italian word for love is the very famous amore, which can be found sprinkled through pop culture in songs like Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and movies.
Amore is pronounced with an emphasis on the second syllable and a rolling ‘r’ that make it as charming as its concept.
Related words that you should know include:
- attrazione – “attraction”
- sentimenti – “feelings”
- affetto – “affection”
- tenerezza – “tenderness”
- adorazione – “adoration”
You can fare una cosa con amore (“do something with love”) and credere nell’amore (“believe in love”).
People often tell their significant other sei un amore (literally, “you are a love”) as a way to say thank you. But a closer translation in English is “you’re adorable”. You can also call your partner amore, which is equivalent to calling them “love” in English.
Love is a Verb! How to Say “To Love” in Italian
The Italian verb for expressing a very serious and deep love is amare, which conjugates like this:
- (io) amo → “I love”
- (tu) ami → “you love” (singular)
- (lui/lei) ama → “he/she loves”
- (noi) amiamo → “we love”
- (voi) amate → “you love” (plural)
- (loro) amano → “they love”
You can amare la pizza (“love pizza”, like most Italians do) or amare qualcuno (“love someone”).
If you’re going to declare your love for someone, you must know which pronoun to use:
- (io) mi amo → “I love myself”
- (io) ti amo → “I love you” (singular)
- (io) la amo → “I love her”
- (io) lo amo → “I love him”
How to Say that You’re “In Love” in Italian
Being in love in Italian is essere innamorato/a. The phrase uses the verb essere (“being”) and the adjective innamorato/a, which refers to the person who’s in love.
It’s important to know how to conjugate the verb essere, since it’s an irregular verb:
- (io) sono → “I am”
- (tu) sei → “you are” (singular)
- (lui/lei) è → “he/she is”
- (noi) siamo → “we are”
- (voi) siete → “you are” (plural)
- (loro) sono → “they are”
You also need to know how to inflect the adjective innamorato:
- innamorato (masculine)
- innamorata (feminine)
- innamorati (masculine/general plural)
- innamorate (feminine plural)
If you want to talk about “falling in love” you will simply add the appropriate reflexive pronoun at the beginning of the phrase:
- (io) Mi sono innamorato/a. → “I fell in love.”
- (tu) Ti sei innamorato/a. → “You fell in love.” (singular)
- (lui/lei) Si è innamorato/a. → “He/she fell in love.”
- (noi) Ci siamo innamorati/e. → “We fell in love.”
- (voi) Vi siete innamorati/e. → “You fell in love.” (plural)
- (loro) Si sono innamorati/e. → “They fell in love.”
“Heart” in Italian
When you fall in love, you can “love with all your heart”, or you’re ready to give your significant other “the key to your heart”… In any case, “heart” is a crucial word to learn when you want to be romantic in another language.
In Italian, “heart” is cuore, “my heart” is cuore mio, and “all my heart” is tutto il mio cuore.
Italian has a handful of heart-related expressions, some of the best being:
- Grazie di cuore – “Thank you sincerely”, literally “Thanks from the heart.”
- Mi hai rubato il cuore – “You stole my heart.”
- Ti do il mio cuore – “I give you my heart.”
- Il mio cuore è (solo) tuo – “My heart is yours (only).”
- Hai conquistato il mio cuore – “You have conquered my heart.”
- Ti amo con tutto il cuore – “I love you with all my heart.”
How to Say “Beautiful” in Italian
Love is such a beautiful thing… So how do you say beautiful in Italian?
For men, you can use bello, for women, bella. Yes, there is both a masculine and feminine version, unlike in English, where beautiful is used more for women.
Be careful, though. Because saying “Ciao, bella!” to get someone’s attention can come across as impolite, just like it might be to call someone “Hey, beautiful!” in the street.
However, it will be much appreciated if you earnestly tell someone sei bello/a (“you are beautiful”). You can also increase the flattery and tell them sei molto bello/a or sei bellissimo/a (“you are very beautiful”), or sei cosi bello/a (“you are so beautiful”).
Lastly, it’s not uncommon for men to call women bellezza (“beauty”), which, depending on the tone used, can be perceived as teasing, disrespectful, or very romantic.
“Handsome” and “Gorgeous” in Italian
In English, being called beautiful is nice, but being called handsome or gorgeous is on another level.
However, in Italian, they really only use bello/a to say beautiful, handsome, and gorgeous. With so many different ways to express your love, it’s a bit surprising they only use one main word to describe all kinds of beauty.
But there still are some choice words that you can use to describe a person’s physical appearance in a way that may make them blush:
- attraente: “attractive”
- seducente: “seductive”
- affascinante: “charming”
Incantevole (“enchanting”) is used to describe a smile – un sorriso incantevole – or eyes – degli occhi incantevoli – but rarely a person. It would be considered a little too much.
“Cute” in Italian
Carino/a (“cute”) might look like the diminutive version of caro/a, which means “dear”. So it would be translated as “little dear”. However, if there ever was any relation between the two words, it’s been lost with time, and caro and carino have unrelated meanings.
Italians love to exclaim how cute things are. In fact, it’s quite frequent to hear them say Ma che carino/a! (“So cute!”) in response to almost any statement that has the bare minimum of cuteness involved.
Example: “My sister brought my grandma some apples.” “Ma che carina!”
“I Miss You” in Italian
Sometimes, telling a person that you miss them is even more powerful than telling them you love them.
If your Italian partner asks you ti manco?, they want to know if you miss them, in which case you can answer mi manchi (“I miss you”).
To add more meaning to your words, you can say mi manchi tanto (“I miss you so much”) or mi manchi troppo (“I miss you too much”).
Other Italian ways to tell a person that you miss them include:
- Ti penso sempre. (“I’m always thinking of you.”)
- Senza di te non sono niente. (“I am nothing without you.”)
- Non voglio vivere senza di te. (“I don’t want to live without you.”)
“Good Morning, Beauty” in Italian
Waking up to the sunshine next to your significant other can bring on some romantic feelings so you want to greet them in the best way possible.
If you’re in the mood for slight playfulness, you can say Buongiorno, bellezza! (“good morning, beauty!” to a woman) or Buongiorno, bello! (“Good morning, handsome!” to a man).
Otherwise you can play it romantic and opt for a buongiorno, tesoro (“good morning, treasure”) or buongiorno, amore (“good morning, love”).
“Good Night, My Love” in Italian
When the day’s up, it’s time to wish a good night to your loved one. Buona notte, amore (“good night, love”) or buona notte, amore mio (“good night, my love”) work perfectly fine for that. You can even display some gentlemanly tenderness and wish them a buona notte, caro/a (“good night, my dear”), a phrase favored by married couples.
“Sweet Dreams” in Italian
To be a little sweeter than the basic “good night”, try wishing sogni d’oro (“sweet dreams”, literally “dreams of gold”). It’s a very common and nice “little plus” among Italians. You can even say sogni d’oro, tesoro (“sweet dreams, my treasure”) – which could result in a Ma che carino! from your love’s grandmother when she hears about it.
Because love and dreams are two concepts that, when paired, are too irresistibly romantic, here are a few expressions that bring both together:
- Giorno e notte sogno solo te. (“Day and night, I only dream of you.”)
- Mi fai sognare. (“You make me dream.”)
- Vivere un sogno d’amore. (Used to describe a perfect love, literally “Live a dream of a love.”)
“Girlfriend” in Italian and “Boyfriend” in Italian
There are many ways to describe a relationship nowadays, and there are plenty of Italian words to cover them all.
The common way to say “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” is ragazzo/a. It’s a word used by teenagers and young people che si frequentano (“who are dating”) or are starting una relazione (“a relationship”).
When things get more serious, the appropriate term to use is fidanzato/a, which has a different meaning than its English look-alike “fiance”. Fidanzato/a is both used for serious but informal relationships and formal relationships – those with un anello (“a ring”). Often, when children have a boyfriend/girlfriend, they call them their fidanzatino/a (“little boyfriend/girlfriend”).
Other ways to describe your partner include:
- persona amata: “loved one” (somewhat elevated language and rarely used)
- innamorato/a: “lover” in the sense of someone whom a person is in love with or who is in love
- amante: “lover” in the clandestine way
- convivente: “cohabitant”, the official description of two middle-aged people who have been living together for a long time but are not married
- compagno: “partner”, usually used by elder people who are not married but are dating
“Wife” in Italian and “Husband” in Italian
When the big question is popped – Mi vuoi sposare? (“Will you marry me?”, literally “Do you want to marry me?”) and fidanzati say their sì, lo voglio (“I do”), they turn into marito (“husband”) and moglie (“wife”). You could also say sposo (“groom” or “husband”), and sposa (“bride” or “wife”).
Share the Love in Italian
Now that you know the Italian for love, you’re all set up to be a heartthrob in one of the most romantic languages in the world! Which romantic phrase will you use the most? Will you start saying ma che carino?
Are there any romantic Italian expressions I missed? Share them in the comments with me!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.