18 Ways to Say "I Love You" in Russian

Learn the appropriate term of endearment for every situation

Woman's hands shaping heart

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The Russian language has numerous terms of endearment and ways to say "I love you," all suitable for unique situations and relationships. Whether you're looking to express your love to a romantic partner, address a child with affection, or even just make your friends smile, these Russian expressions for "I love you" will help you make those love connections while expanding your vocabulary.

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Я тебя люблю

Pronunciation: Ya tyeBYA lyuBLYU

Definition: I love you

This phrase is the most common way to say "I love you" in the Russian language, and it's used in the same way as the English expression.

You can swap the words around in different ways without losing the meaning, such as Я люблю тебя (I love you), Люблю тебя (love you), and Тебя люблю (love you). When declaring your love to someone you have recently met or to a group of people, say Я вас люблю, which is a more formal version of "I love you" and can also mean "I love you all." 

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Ты мне нравишься

Pronunciation:  ty mnye NRAvishsya

Literal definition: you please me

Meaning: I like you

This polite way of telling someone that you like them is often used at the beginning of a romantic relationship. Change it to the more formal Вы мне нравитесь if you are talking to someone you don’t know very well yet.

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У меня к тебе чувства

Pronunciation:  oo myeNYA k tyeBYE CHUstva

Literal definition: I have feelings towards you

Meaning: I have feelings for you

This phrase is fairly formal and is commonly used when a friendship has potential to turn into a romantic relationship.

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Я тебя обожаю

Pronunciation: ya tyeBYA abaZHAyu

Definition: I adore you

This passionate phrase is customarily used in romantic relationships, but it is not uncommon for close friends and doting family members to use the expression as well.

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Я не могу без тебя жить

Pronunciation: ya nye maGOO byez tyeBYA ZHYT’

Definition: I can’t live without you

A passionate declaration of romantic love, this phrase is used in the same way as its English equivalent.

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Я хочу быть с тобой

Pronunciation: ya haCHOO byt’ s taBOY

Definition: I want to be with you

This phrase is used only in romantic relationships. It demonstrates a very strong desire to be together.

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Выходи за меня замуж

Pronunciation: vyhaDEE za myeNYA ZAmoozh

Definition: Will you marry me?

Sometimes shortened to Выходи за меня, this is the phrase traditionally spoken during a marriage proposal.

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Ты такая милая / такой милый

Pronunciation: ty taKAya MEElaya / taKOY MEEly

Definition: You are so lovely/cute/ you are such a sweetheart

This affectionate phrase is used as a compliment in romantic relationships. You can also say милый / милая on its own when addressing a loved one.

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Мой сладкий / моя сладкая

Pronunciation: MOY SLADky / maYA SLADkaya

Literal definition: my sweetheart, my sweetie

Meaning: honey, sweetheart

A term of endearment similar to "honey," this word is used in close relationships, especially romantic ones. You might also hear parents using this term of endearment to address their children.

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Pronunciation: LApachka

Literal definition: little paw

Meaning: cutie pie, sweetheart

This word is used to address or refer to someone sweet or cute, typically a romantic partner or a young child, as in these examples:

  • Он такой лапочка (on taKOY LApachka): He's such a sweetie.
  • Привет, лапушечка (preeVYET, laPOOshechka): Hi, cutie pie.
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Pronunciation: ZAYchik

Literal definition: little bunny

Meaning: honey, sweetie

This term of endearment is very popular in Russia. It is used in a variety of situations where affectionate terms are appropriate, including romantic relationships, family interactions, and friendships.

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Любимая / любимый

Pronunciation: luyBEEmaya / lyuBEEmy

Literal definition: beloved

Meaning: darling, my love

This term comes from the word любовь, which means "love." It is a passionate term used exclusively in romantic relationships.

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Счастье мое

Pronunciation:  SHAStye maYO

Literal definition: my happiness

Meaning: darling, sweetheart, my love

This affectionate term is appropriate when expressing love for your partner or child. It is considered very intense and heartfelt.

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Pronunciation:  OOMneetsa

Literal definition: clever one / smart one

Meaning: good boy / good girl; you’re so brilliant / smart

This word is used to compliment someone who is particularly smart or has done something especially well. It applies both to men and women, despite the word’s feminine form. The masculine form, Умник (OOMnik), refers to someone who is too smart for their own good —a smarty-pants or a smart aleck — so be careful not to confuse the terms.

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Pronunciation: ZOlatseh

Literal definition: little gold

Meaning: my treasure

This word is used in close family and romantic relationships, usually when talking about children or partners.

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Радость моя

Pronunciation: RAdast’ maYA

Literal definition: my joy

Meaning: a term of endearment

This is an affectionate form of address in family and romantic relationships.

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Душа моя

Pronunciation: dooSHAH maYA

Literal definition: my soul

Meaning: my love

This way of addressing your partner or child is loving and intense. It comes up more frequently in classic Russian literature than in everyday conversation. 

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Pronunciation: RYBkah

Literal definition: little fish

Meaning: cutie, darling, honey, baby

Similar in its use to зайчик, this is an affectionate term frequently used in romantic and familial relationships.

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Nikitina, Maia. "18 Ways to Say "I Love You" in Russian." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/how-to-say-i-love-you-russian-4175891. Nikitina, Maia. (2020, August 28). 18 Ways to Say "I Love You" in Russian. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-say-i-love-you-russian-4175891 Nikitina, Maia. "18 Ways to Say "I Love You" in Russian." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-say-i-love-you-russian-4175891 (accessed June 1, 2023).