• Rebekah

How Germans Talk about Love

For Valentine's month, we're looking at how speakers of three different languages talk about love and last, but not least, is German!


Though there aren't many different ways to directly talk about love in German, there are a few important and easy to remember phrases, which we've dipped into below.


The Black Forest, Germany

Key Words & Phrases


Mögen, as in ich mag dich


Stehen, as in ich stehe auf dich


Lieben, as in ich liebe dich


Schatz, as in du bist mein schatz








Mögen


The verb, mögen, means to like and Germans use it to express fondness for someone at the early stages of relationships, similarly to how English-speakers might say I like like you. If you want to take ich mag dich to the next level, you can say ich mag dich sehr, which means, I really like you.


Just like with the other languages we've covered the word for to like, mögen can be used for objects. Like Russian and English, but unlike Norwegian, the German word for to love, covered below, can also be used for objects. E.g., ich mag gesundes Essen, aber ich liebe Tacos [I like healthy food, but I love tacos].



Stehen


The verb, stehen, literally means to stand and is used in a flirtatious, fun way to tell someone you're into them. Just be sure to use the accusative form of dich [you] and never the dative, dir. While ich stehe auf dich means I'm into you, ich stehe auf dir means I'm standing on you.


Since it's flirtatious in nature, ich stehe auf dich is strictly used for romantic interest - don't go telling your Oma [grandma] you're into her!



Liebe


Unlike its English counterpart, I love you, the German ich liebe dich is used exclusively for expressing romantic love. Unlike Norwegians, who hold out on saying the big ILY, Germans comfortably use ich liebe dich for serious lovers to life-long partners alike.


That's great and all, but what if I want to tell my mom I love her!? German's got that covered with the very same word, actually - you've just got to switch up the order a bit. To say I love you to a platonic love, like a family member, Germans say ich habe dich lieb, literally I hold you dear.


For some Germans, all expressions of love are strictly for romantic love, with no way for directly telling family members they're loved. I asked my German friend, but how would you tell your mom you love her? To which he curtly replied, I wouldn't.



Pet-Names


Kuschelbär [cuddle bear], schatz [treasure] (fun fact, mein schatz is how German Gollum refers to the one Ring, my precious, in English), and my personal favorite, liebling [favorite], which is what my German partner of two years calls me :)


*Germans don't have a lot of Kosename [pet-names], but the ones they do have are used very frequently.



Don't miss Part I on how Norwegians talk about love here and Part II on how Russians talk about love here!

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Hi, I'm

Rebekah

I'm a linguistically-inclined writer, translator, and avid adventurer.

 

In Linguistics is all about

the paths we take to adventure

and the languages and cultures

we discover along the way.

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