The custom to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day as the day of lovers was introduced to Germany by US soldiers after WWII, and then got popularized among the general public by marketing campaigns for flowers and sweets. So even if the day has a slightly commercial feel to it in Germany, I figured it would be the right time to teach you some love-related vocabulary – thereby hopefully taking the focus from the commercial aspect to the interpersonal.
So, first things first! How do you tell someone that you love them in German? Ich liebe dich! Or, in the more old-fashioned / polite writing style: Ich liebe Dich! By the time you tell someone that you love them, you’re probably familiar enough that you’ve already switched to adressing each other as “du”. So, just for completeness’ sake, here’s what you say to someone with whom you’re still on “Sie”-level: Ich liebe Sie! (Not to be confused with “Ich liebe sie” = I love her!)
Maybe you also want to tell your friends how much you like them. In German, you’d probably not tell your friends that you ‘love’ them, because that’s usually interpreted as romantic love. Instead, one might say “Ich hab dich gern” (something between “I like you” and “I’m fond of you”). If that sounds too intimate for the occation, go with
Du bist ein guter Freund. / Du bist eine gute Freundin. = You’re a good friend (to a male person / to a female person). Or
Du bist mein bester Freund. / Du bist meine beste Freundin. = You’re my best male / female friend.
Ich bin so froh, dass es dich gibt! = I’m so glad that you exist! This you can tell everyone: lovers, friends and family.
But back to the core of Valentine’s. So you want to write a Valentine’s card to your loved one. Here are a couple of phrases that you might find useful:
- Du bist der Mann, mit dem ich alt werden möchte. / Du bist die Frau, mit der ich alt werden möchte. = You’re the man / the woman I want to grow old with.
- Dein Anblick bringt mich um den Verstand. = Your looks make me lose my mind.
- Ich habe Schmetterlinge im Bauch. = Literally: I have butterflies in my stomach; but in German it’s only used for the feeling of being in love!
- Ich kann mir ein Leben ohne dich nicht mehr vorstellen. = I can no longer imagine a life without you.
- Wann werde ich dich endlich in meinen Armen halten? = When will I finally hold you in my arms?
- Ich möchte in einem Meer deiner Küsse ertrinken. = I want to drown in a flood of your kisses.
Happy Valentine’s everyone!
As a special bonus I promise to correct the first ten love poems or letters or texts of any sort in German that get posted in the comments! So if you need some last-minute advice, this is your chance!