So you fell in love with a Chinese boy or girl, adopted a cute little Chinese child, or plainly just want to say I Love You in Chinese to your pet cat/dog/hamster and let him or her know how you feel.
Chances are, you’re going to want to tell your object of desire exactly how you feel in the Chinese language – and most importantly, get it right. So here’s the Chinese for ‘I Love You.’
I love you in Chinese is: Wǒ ài nǐ
I love you in Chinese characters is: 我爱你
The Chinese character for love is: 爱 (ài)
Reading it is one thing but it is really best if you listen to a native speaker say it. Watch the following video below for the word and the correct pronunciation. It should give you a better idea of how it is said (although you’re going to need a lot of practice still to get the tones right).
In a nutshell, you can say:
Wǒ ài nǐ
Literally, ‘I love you’
But it is never that simple is it? Let’s break this down…
The tones! What’s with these ‘ǒ’ ‘à’ and ‘ǐ’ characters?
There are four ‘tones’ in Mandarin Chinese. Using the Han Yu Pin Yin system, the tone of the word is marked by the symbol over the word… usually on the vowel sound. As seen in the following examples:
First Tone: nī.
The first tone is the high and flat tone which has no rise or dip from start to finish.
Second Tone: ní.
The second tone is the rising tone. Your voice should rise when you say the word.
Third Tone: nǐ.
The third tone is the dipping tone (and a difficult one to master).
The tone of the word ‘dips’ down before rising up again.
Fourth Tone: nì.
The fourth tone is the falling tone. To an English speaker this might sound like the word is being cut off abruptly. Sometimes, to a non-native Chinese speaker it can sound as if the person speaking is being rude or angry, which is not true!
Tones in Chinese can be quite challenging
Tones in Chinese can be quite challenging at first, as they require a lot of listening and practicing to master. Some people can take up to as long as two years to even start grasping the tones. For a sentence like I Love You in Chinese, you might be forgiven for getting the tones a bit wrong (who is going to be angry after you telling them this?) but it is good practice from day one of learning Chinese if you pay special attention to getting the tones right.
The most efficient way to get to grips with this is to just be patient and take the time to try saying the tones out loud. For this phrase you’ll need to master how you will say wǒ ài nǐ (third tone, fourth tone, third tone). Thankfully there are tonnes of pop love songs in Mandarin Chinese which repeat the words ‘wǒ ài nǐ’ over and over again. So you can view one on YouTube here to listen to how it sounds.