1546 wo xi huan ni
I love you. Photo: Chinlingo

Saying “I love You” in Chinese is not as simple a translation as you might think. In English it is very common for people to use the word “love” in many different ways. We say things like, “I love your shoes” or “I love eating nachos at a football game.” When we say “I love . . . this or that,” we are using it in a way that expresses our strong liking for some object.

Go with "wǒ xǐ huān nǐ" (我喜欢你) to express romantic feelings. A Chinese person would probably look at you strangely if you said "wǒ ài nǐ" (我爱你) to them — especially someone you just started dating or have a crush on. A literal translation of the phrase "wǒ xǐ huān nǐ" (我喜欢你) would be "I like you," but it is actually the most common way to say "I love you" in Mandarin Chinese.

1540 xi huan ni
I miss you. Photo: Pinterest

This phrase is also used in more casual situations where "wǒ ài nǐ" (我爱你) would be considered out of place. For example, you might say it to your romantic partner before the two of you go your separate ways.

What is popular in China right now is to use numbers in text messages. These numbers sound like specific Chinese words and are a form of chat speak among younger generations. This is a more subtle way to tell someone your feelings, and are basically the Xs and Os in Chinese, according to Tutorming blogs.

1532 i love you
I love you in numbers. Photo: Pinterest

520 (wǔ èr líng) = 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ) “I love you.”

530 (wǔ sān líng) = 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) “I miss you.”

770 (qī qī líng) = 亲亲你 (qīn qīn nǐ) “Kiss you.”

880 (bā bā líng) = 抱抱你 (bào bào nǐ) “Hug you.”

1314 (yī sān yī sì) = 一生一世 (yī shēng yī shì) “Always / forever.” Often combined with 520 so that it becomes 5201314, or “I’ll love you forever.”

Express your love, Beijing style

If you're looking for some more original ways to say I love you, we thought of some Beijing-specific phrases you can try. All you've got to do now is hope that your partner hasn't also read this blog ... because that would be a little awkward.

I love you more than Trump loves bronzer.

A seriously large amount. More than any Geordie girl we know. We wonder where he gets his goods, because Dior doesn't make that shade.

我爱你胜过川普爱美黑乳。Wǒ ài nǐ shèngguò chuānpǔ ài měihēirǔ.

My love for you is beyond index.

Yup. Beyond the range. You make my head spin more than a red alert day.

我对你的爱无以言表。Wǒ duì nǐ de ài wúyǐyánbiǎo.

I love you more than 99 iPhones.

Remember the lad who proposed to his girlfriend with the 99 iPhones?

我爱你胜过99个爱疯。Wǒ ài nǐ shèngguò 99 gè àifēng.

Not even the proposed 7th Ring Road is big enough to contain my love for you.

And that road is outside Beijing's city limits, going for a total of 940 kilometers.

连没建成的7环路都装不下我对你的爱。Lián méi jiànchéng de qihuánlù dōu zhuāngbúxià wǒ duì nǐ de ài.

I love you more than half-price burrito night at Q Mex.

We love burritos. A lot.

我爱你胜过Q Mex的半价墨西哥卷。Wǒ ài nǐ shèngguò Q Mex de bànjià mòxīgē juǎn.

And a bonus phrase ... Roses are red, violets are blue, I love you more than a big tanghulu.

玫瑰是红的,紫罗兰是蓝的,我爱你胜过爱大糖葫芦。Méiguī shì hóng de, zǐ luó lán shì lánde, wǒ ài nǐ shèngguò ài dà tánghúlú.

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