Saying “I love you” in Portuguese is a special thing to me – not least because it's the language in which I said my wedding vows.
If you plan on travelling to a Portuguese-speaking country, perhaps you too will find love on the road. Or maybe you’ve already found a Portuguese speaking lover! In either case, it’s good to make sure you know all the words and expressions below, so you're never unsure how to say “I love you” in Portuguese.
“Love” in Portuguese
“Love” in Portuguese is amor, a masculine noun. It's a cousin of English words like “amorous”.
To the object of your affection, you could say: você é o amor da minha vida – “you are the love of my life.”
You might send messages com amor (with love), or tell someone they're your amor verdadeiro – “true love”. “To make love” is fazer amor.
So maybe tomorrow morning you can greet your Portuguese-speaking lover with bom dia, meu amor – “Good morning, my love” in Portuguese.
“To love” in Portuguese
We've covered the noun “love”. The verb “to love” in Portuguese is amar, and it conjugates like this:
- eu amo – “I love”
- tu amas – “you love” (informal in Portugal, not used at all in Brazil)
- você ama – “you love” (formal in Portugal, used in all situations in Brazil)
- ele/ela ama – “he/she loves”
- nós amamos – “we love”
- vocês amam – “you (plural) love”
- eles/elas amam – “they love”
For the sake of completeness, it's also worth knowing vós amais, an antiquated way of saying “you (pl.) love”. You'll never hear it in speech anymore, but it might turn up in old-timey writing.
With amar under our belts, we can learn this essential phrase:
“I love you” in Portuguese
To say “I love you” in Brazilian Portuguese, say eu te amo. Or better yet, drop the eu, as it's optional: te amo.
Portuguese people tend to use a different word order to Brazilians, especially when it comes to pronouns. So, while te amo is still acceptable in Portugal, amo-te can be used as well. Brazilians would almost never use amo-te, except perhaps in very formal writing.)
To say “I love you too” in Portuguese, i.e. in response to a te amo or amo-te, you can say te amo/amo-te também, or simply eu também.
Or maybe you want to make things sound more intense. Te amo muito means “I love you a lot”.
Te amo muitíssimo is even more emphatic. It's a great way to say something like “I love you so much” in Portuguese.
To say “I'm in love with you” in Portuguese, say estou apaixonado por você (change apaixonado to apaixonada if you're female).
As you may know, Portugese has two words for “to be”: ser and estar. It’s a complicated topic, but the basic idea is that ser is used for permanent, non-changing states while estar is used for temporary conditions. So actually, if you’ve been madly in love with someone for a long time, it makes more sense to say sou apaixonado/apaixonada por você instead of estou.
“Beautiful” in Portuguese
There are a few ways in Portuguese to tell someone that they're beautiful.
First off, you could describe someone as bonito (for men) or bonita (for women). This is roughly equivalent to calling someone “pretty” in English.
A stronger word is lindo or linda, which means “beautiful”. The noun lindeza means “beauty”.
Then there's gostoso/gostosa, which literally means “tasty”, but is a common gíria (slang word) in Brazil for saying that someone is… well, tasty. Tell someone they’re gostoso if you think they’re hot.
The English word “sexy” is also used in Portuguese, with the exact same meaning.
Finally, there's tesudo or tesuda. This word doesn't have a direct translation, but if someone is tesudo then it means they make you feel tesão; that is, sexual desire.
Note that tesudo/a is a rather suggestive word. If you tell a girl you just met that you find her tesuda, don't be surprised if she slaps you in the face!
“Cute” in Portuguese
Another word worth knowing is fofo/fofa, which means “cute”. Use it to describe people, animals, children, or anything that makes you go “awwwwwww”.
“I miss you” in Portuguese
That word is saudade, plural saudades. If you have a saudade for something, it means you feel a deep longing or yearning for it. You miss it!
So to tell someone you miss them in Portuguese, say eu estou com saudades de você – “I have (lit: am with) saudades for you”!
“Heart” in Portuguese
“Heart” in Portuguese is coração. Make sure to pronounce the “-ão” ending correctly, with a nasal sound; this is often a difficult one for learners of Portuguese.
Like in English, and in most languages, Portuguese has a lot of heart-related expressions about relationships and love. A warm, generous person is said to have a grande coração – big heart – or even a coração de ouro – heart of gold. If you want to win someone's affections, you can try to ganhar o coração – win their heart. Or if your attempts to ganhar o coração are unsuccessful, you may be left with a coração partido – a broken heart.
If something is very important to you, you can say that you feel it do fundo do meu coração; “from the bottom of my heart”.
So next time you see your Portuguese-speaking love interest, let your true feelings be known: te amo do fundo do meu coração – “I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
“Sweetheart” in Portuguese
Portuguese has many terms of endearment – cute, affectionate names by which you might address a loved one, like “sweetheart” or “darling” in English.
One common term of endearment is querido (said to a man) or querida (said to a woman.) While it literally means something like “desired”, think of as like the English word “sweetheart”; it's the kind of thing a husband might say to his wife (or visa versa.)
Another nice term of endearment is bem. Or to keep things simple, address your loved one as amor. I already told you what that one means!
“Boyfriend/girlfriend” in Portuguese
Your “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” in Portuguese is your namorado or namorada. To remember it, think of the English word “enamoured”.
In the early stages of your relationship, you might say that you're saindo com the other person; “going out with them”. Once things get more serious, and they “officially” become your namorado or namorada, you say that you're namorando com them. (Com means “with”.)
“Fiancé/fiancée” in Portuguese
Are you ready to pop the question to your namorada? If so, get down on one knee and say você quer casar comigo? – “will you marry me?”. Hopefully he or she will say yes, in which case you're no longer namorados (boyfriend/girlfriend) but noivos (fiancés/engaged.)
If you speak Spanish, beware of the false friend here. In Spanish your novio or novia is your boyfriend or girlfriend, but in Portuguese the cognates noivo and noiva (note the slightly different spelling and pronunciation) mean “fiancé” and “fiancée” respectively. (Your “fiancé/fiancée” in Spanish is your prometido/prometida.) Make sure you don't mix these words up!
On the day of the casamento (wedding), the words noiva and noivo are still used to refer to the bride and the groom. Portuguese doesn't have separate words for “bride” and “groom” like English does; you’re still just “fiancés”.
“Husband/wife” in Portuguese
So now that you're casado (married), what should you call each other? Easy: “husband” in Portuguese is marido and “wife” is esposa. No amigos falsos this time: both words are exactly the same as in Spanish.
Enjoy having an aliança (wedding ring) on your finger. Parabens (congratulations) on your marriage!
“Love” in Portuguese is a Beautiful Thing
As the Beatles sang, tudo o que você precisa é de amor. Well, actually they sang “all you need is love”, but I like how it sounds in Portuguese. Hopefully I've given you all the words you need to catch and keep that special someone. Learning another language is, after all, a great way to broaden your potential dating pool. 😉