Learn how to say I love you in Italian and how to express affection in Italian to a loved one, with real-life examples and phrases.
If you look online for the literal translation of the phrase ‘I love you’ into Italian, chances are you came across the following answer:
I love you in Italian is ‘Ti amo’.
This is correct if you want to express romantic love to a partner however, ti amo has a much narrower meaning and use than ‘I love you’ in English and using it inappropriately can cause embarrassing situations!
Italian makes a big distinction between romantic love, the type you declare to a boyfriend/girlfriend, and friendship or paternal love.
In one case, we use the expression ‘ti amo‘ and in the other, we use ‘ti voglio bene‘.
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The two are not interchangeable: using ti amo to a friend will be misunderstood as a declaration of romantic interest and saying it to a grandparent would be genuinely weird!
On the other hand, saying ‘ti voglio bene’ to someone who just declared their love to you is a quick way to deflate them and stir the conversation away from romantic involvement.
So you see, learning how to say I love you in Italian is a little less straightforward than it may seem!
With the right tools, however, you can easily learn how to best express affection in Italian in the appropriate way.
In this language guide to expressing love and affection in Italian, we are going to look at:
- How to say I love you in Italian to a romantic partner
- How to say I love you in Italian to a friend
- How to express love in Italian to a parent, grandparent or child
- More love phrases in Italian you may want to use with a partner, friend or to express love for an activity or an idea
Love in Italian: essential Italian vocabulary words you need to know
Love (noun) = amore
To love (verb) = amare
Innamorato / innamorata = in love (said of male/ said of female)
Affetto = affection
Ti amo = I love you (romantic love)
Ti voglio bene = I love you (said to friends, parents, children etc)
Abbraccio = embrace, hug
Bacio = kiss
Il mio ragazzo / La mia ragazza = my boyfriend / my girfriend
Fidanzato / fidanzata = fiance’
Anello di fidanzamento = engagement ring
Fede = wedding ring (lit. ‘faith’)
Cuore = heart
Mi piaci = I like you / I fancy you (depending on the context, this can be a tricky one!)
Sono pazzo di te = I am crazy about you
How to declare romantic love in Italian to your partner: I love you in Italian
When declaring romantic love to your partner in Italian, you say ‘Ti amo’.
Ti amo is Italian for I love you and it is used almost exclusively to express romantic love.
It has the same weight as the English ‘I love you’ and you can use it to declare your love in person and in writing.
Ti amo = I love you
Ti amo anch’io = I love you too
Ti amo di piu’ = I love you more
Ti amo, vuoi sposarmi? = I love you, will you marry me?
Need to know: in Italian, we never ever use ‘Ti amo‘ as a friendly way to close a phone call, like you would with a friend in some English-speaking countries. If you want to close a call with a friendly phrase, you can say ‘ciao cara‘ for instance but make sure you don’t use the big A word!
How to say I am in love with you in Italian
If you are not quite ready to say I love you in Italian but you want to say you are in love with someone, the Italian phrases you need are:
Mi sono innamorato di te = I am in love with you / I have fallen in love with you.
For a masterclass on the use of this Italian phrase, you can listen to the famous song by Luigi Tenco with this title, In Italian classic!
I like you in Italian
If you want to say to someone that you like them in Italian, you can use the expression ‘Mi piaci’.
This is a tricky expression as it may have different connotations depending on context.
In some cases, ‘mi piaci’ means ‘I like you’ as in ‘I am attracted to you’.
This can be a simple mi piaci (I like you), mi piaci tantissimo (i fancy you a lot), mi piaci da impazzire (I like you like crazy)
In other cases, it can be a way to set boundaries ‘Mi piaci ma come amico’ – I like you but as a friend only.
Mi piaci, ma non sono innamorata di te = Iike you, but I am not in love with you
Cute names to call your boyfriend/girlfriend in Italian
My Love in Italian – amore mio
Sweetheart in Italian = caro/a, tesoro
Love of my life = l’amore della mia vita
The apple of my eye = la luce dei miei occhi (my eyes’ light)
My angel = angelo mio
My heart = cuore mio
How to say ‘I don’t love’ you anymore
If you need to declare the end of your love for someone, then you say Non ti amo piu’ = I don’t love you it anymore
How to say I love you in Italian to a friend
if you want to tell your friends that you love them, the expression we use in Italian is ‘Ti voglio bene’.
Hear how to pronounce Ti voglio bene in Italian here (click on the small speaker icon under the words ‘ti voglio bene’
TI voglio bene literally translates into ‘I want your good’ but it is the common way to say to someone you love them in a friendly manner.
The closest expression in English would be ‘I care about you’.
You can use it to express your feelings or it can also be a way to set the record straight if someone tells you that they love you romantically but you don’t feel the same way.
While wishing someone happy birhtday in Italian, you could say or write “Buon compleanno cara! Ti voglio bene‘
Person A: Ti amo = I love you
Person B: Ti voglio bene, ma non provo la stessa cosa = I care about you but I don’t feel the same way
How to say I love you to a grandparent or a relative
When expressing love for a grandparent or other relative, the correct expression is ‘Ti voglio bene’.
You can use ti voglio bene in person or also in writing. For instance, if you or your child are writing a card to a relative, it would be appropriate to close it with ‘Ti voglio bene nonno’
Ti voglio bene nonno = I love you grandad
Ti volgio bene nonna = I love you granny
Ti voglio bene zio = I love you uncle
Ti voglio bene zia = I love you auntie
How to express affection in Italian on a card or by email
Affectionate expression to close a message, may it be a birthday card or an email, do not use the word ‘amore’ but words associated with it.
Common, affectionate ways to close a message are:
Un abbraccio = a hug
Ti abbraccio = I hug you (similar to the above, a little more personal)
Baci = Kisses
Un caro saluto (more formal) = warmest regards
How to say ‘I love’ in Italian about a place, an activity, food
If you want to express love for a place, an action or a concept, you can also use the verb ‘amare’. For instance, you can say:
Amo l’Italia = I love Italy
Amo viaggiare = I love to travel
If you want to express love for a food or specialty, on th other hand, you use ‘mi piace’ For instance you would say:
Mi piace molto il caffe’ = I love coffee
Useful forms of the verb to love in Italian: amare
|Person||Verb: Amare||Verb: Voler bene||Verb Piacere|
|I||amo||Voglio bene||Mi piaci (I like you)|
|You||Ami||Vuoi bene||Ti piace (Iou like him/her)|
|He/she||Ama||Vuole bene||Gli / Le piace (He /She likes)|
I hope you found this quick overview of love phrases in Italian useful. Happy Italian language learning!
Learning Italian for an upcoming trip? Then also check out over 100 useful words and expressions in our guide to travelers’ Italian.