Learn how to say I love you in Korean for different people and understand phrases like the meaning of “saranghae” and other love expressions in Korean.
They say love transcends languages. But it doesn’t hurt to know how to say “I love you” in different languages now, does it?
If you were to ask Google Translate how to say I love you in Korean, the answer would be “Saranghae” written in Hangul as 사랑해.
Is it right? Yes, most of the time. But the thing about the Korean language is that there are different ways to express different kinds of love.
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Korean society is still very traditional, so expressing your love for your partner isn’t seen much in the older generations.
A lot of young people say I love you without hesitation. But there is still a marked difference in the way you say it to your girlfriend or boyfriend and the way you say I love you to a parent.
This is why using the word “saranghae” to say I love you in Korean might not be right all the time.
There are different expressions you can use while addressing different people.
For example, if you want to tell your parents or grandparents that you love them using the “saranghae” can be too awkward as it’s considered informal.
How To Say I Love You In Korean?
The most common way to say I love you in Korean is to say saranghae or saranghaeo.
Saranghaeo written in Hangul as 사랑해요 is the standard way to say I love you in Korean.
Korean culture is big on hierarchy. So you can’t use an informal term of endearment for your elders and people above you in station.
But if you’re in doubt as to what expression to use, you can choose to say saranghaeo.
You’ll see that the word saranghaeo is often written as salanghaeo as well. This is because the Korean alphabet ㄹ makes a sound that is somewhere between a “r” and a “l”.
If you want to anglicize the word, both the English spellings are correct. However, it’s written in Hangul the same way.
I Love You In Korean – Informal
The most informal way to say I love you in Korean is to use the word saranghae. However, this should be used between close friends and your partner.
Some people even prefer using saranghaeo when they are confessing their love for the first time. Sarangae is reserved for your boyfriend or girlfriend when you’re already in a relationship.
Confusing? That’s just Korean culture for you. They are very strict about their Ps and Qs.
And no matter what you do, don’t use the informal saranghae for elderly people or someone greater than you in age. It’s considered disrespectful.
I Love You In Korean – Formal
Want to show some appreciation to your older Korean family members? Than you use the word saranghamnida (writtein in Hangul as 사랑합니다).
If you want to use a formal expression to say I love you in Korean, you should say saranghamnida.
It’s not used very often in Korea right now. More and more people prefer doing away with all the complications and using saranghaeo instead.
However, on special occasions and festivals you can still hear the expression being used to greed parents and older family members.
It’s not only an expression that conveys love but also gratitude for everything they’ve done.
A surprising place where you’d find the word saranghamnida used is K-pop concerts.
Weren’t expecting an old-fashioned term in such a blatantly modern setting?
It’s pretty common for K-pop girl groups and boy groups to thank their fans this way after the end of each concert.
How To Say Love In Korean
The Korean word for love is 사랑 or sarang. And this is the root from which we get all expressions of love.
By adding the word 하다 or hada which means “to have”, you make the word saranghada or “to have love”. Ain’t it romantic?
All other forms of “I love you” in Korea like saranghae, etc. are derived from these words.
If you’re wondering why the words “I” and “You” are not attached to the phrase saranghada, it’s because Korean is a contextual language.
When you say this phrase out loud, it’s understood that you’re referring to the person you’re talking to.
Sometimes, when you’re talking to someone about a third person you can say things like:
- The name of the person followed by “neun/eun naega sarangha neun saramiya’. It is written in Hangul as “name 은 내가 사랑하는 사람이야”.
- If you’re pointing to someone you can say na-neun geu saram-eul saranghaeyo which means “I love that person”. It’s written in Hangul as 나는 그 사람을 사랑해요.
But if you really want to be specific and use “I” and “You” with the Korean phrase for I love you, you can say – na-neun neo-leul saranghae. (Hangul: 나는 너를 사랑해)
How To Call Your Husband Or Wife In Korean
If you want to call your husband in Korean, you should simply say “Oppa” (오빠 ). Now this word doesn’t mean husband but is the Korean term for older man.
It’s used by girls to call their older brother, cousin, schoolmate, or sometimes their boyfriend or husband.
If you’re thinking that’s weird, relax. That’s just another quirk of Korean culture.
Men are supposed to find bubbly, child-like women attractive. So calling your significant other oppa is considered cute.
But if you want to use the right term, the Korean word for husband is nampyeon (Hangul – 남편).
The Korean word for wife is anae (Hagul – 아내). But most guys prefer to use the Konglish (mix of Korean and English) word waipeu (Hangul – 와이프) to call their wives romantically.
How To Call Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Korean
As I’ve said earlier, young women often refer to their boyfriends as oppa lovingly. But this isn’t technically the right term for boyfriend in Korean.
The word for boyfriend in Korean is namchin (Hangul – 남친) or namjachingu (Hangul – 남자 친구)
The word for girlfriend in Korean is yeochin (Hangul – 여친) or yeojachingu (Hangul – 여자 친구).
Korean Romantic Phrases
Don’t limit yourself to the regular sarangheo. There are plenty of ways to express your feelings in the Korean language. Here are some common phrases you can use while talking about matters of the heart.
Nee-ga jo-ah 네가 좋아 – This phrase is means “I like you” and is used in a romantic sense. This is a very casual phrase however, and always used in a romantic way. So don’t use it for your elders or to confess your feelings for the first time.
Dang-shin-ee jo-ah-yo 당신이 좋아요 – This phrase also means I like you, but this is more formal. Like the phrase above, it is also always used in a romantic sense. If you want to confess your feelings, this is a great phrase to use.
Want something more romantic? Try this phrase.
Dang-shin-upsshi motsal-ah-yo 당신없이 못 살아요 – The translation of this phrase is “I can’t live without you”. Sigh. That’s just heartwarming isn’t it?
This phrase is also pretty formal so if you want a more causal version of this can be nuh-upsshi motsarah 너없이 못살아.
If you want to complement your significant other? Here are a few romantic Korean phrases that will help you do just that.
Nuh-bak-eh upss-uh written in Hangul as 너밖에 없어 this phrase means “There’s no one like you”. If that doesn’t impress them, I don’t know what will!
Another way to complement your boyfriend is neun-jal saeng-gingeoya 넌 잘 생긴 거야. This phrase means “You’re handsome”. Saying this will surely melt your Korean boyfriend’s heart.
If you want to complement your girlfriend you should say ah-reum-da-wo 아름다워. This phrase means “You’re beautiful”. Just what every girl wants to heart, right?
Want to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend out? Here are some ways to ask your significant other to be with you.
Na-rang sa-gweel-lae or 나랑 사귈래 means “will you go out with me?” and is the perfect way to ask your Korean partner to go steady with you.
If you’re planning to pop the questions, here’s the phrase you need to memorize before getting down on one knee.
Nah-rahng ge-yool-hohn-haee joo-laee 나랑 결혼해 줄래 is the Korean phrase for “Will you marry me?”
Hand Gestures For Love In Korea
Not able to find the right words? Cat got your tongue? Don’t worry. Just do the famous Korean hand gesture for love.
If you’re avid watcher of Korean dramas on Netflix, you’ll know the one!
All you have to do is cross your index finger and your thumb to create a small heart.
And there you have it… your sweet little love confession. All without uttering a single word.
FAQs about Korean “I love you” phrases
What Saranghaeyo means?
Saranghaeyo is a Korean word which translates to “I love you”. It is considered a more polite version of I love you compared to “Saranghae” which is considered informal.
Does oppa mean boyfriend?
Yes and no. Most women use the word Oppa to call their husbands or boyfriends or even crushes. But this word doesn’t mean boyfriend at all. In fact, it can even mean “older brother” in Korean. Basically Oppa refers to any older male.
What is saranghae reply?
Saranghae means I love you in Korean. So the (hopefully positive!) reply to this would be 나도 사랑해 (nado saranghae) which means “I love you too. If not you can also reply with the word “아니요” (aniyo) which means no. However, be warned this might cause a few hearts to break.
Those were the many ways you can say “I love you” in Korean.
I hope this article will help you navigate through South Korea with a little more understanding of its culture and society.
With this article, you can surprise your Korean partner or friends with a beautiful expression of your love that is sure to delight them.