Two Ways to Say "I Love You" In Italian

Learn the difference between "ti voglio bene" and "ti amo"

Young Couple Exploring the City
Young Couple Exploring the City. Redrockschool / Getty Images

It’s been said that Italian is the language for lovers and the fact that it’s the mother tongue of the renowned seducer Casanova gives that statement even more weight. When you have such a lovely language at your disposal, it would be a shame not to take advantage of its melodious charm and learn how to whisper sweet nothings to your sweetheart in Italian.

While there are lots of ways you can say “I love you” in Italian, there are two main phrases that are used to express that level of affection.

So what’s the difference between the two phrases and what are other expressions you can use to charm your amante (lover)?

Phrase #1: Ti amo.

“Ti amo” is the ultimate romantic phrase to use with your lover. It can be thought of as a goal, or a new level, to reach in an intimate relationship. While it’s not common to use it with family members, I have heard it used before in that context in the south of Italy.

Phrase #2: Ti voglio bene.

Ti voglio bene” is a phrase that means “I love you”, but it’s meant to be used with your immediate family members, your relatives, your friends, and even your pets. Essentially, it’s used for people you care about outside of intimate, romantic relationships. It literally means “I want good for you”.

FUN FACT: If you’re messaging a friend, you can shorten “ti voglio bene” to “tvb”. You can learn more abbreviations for texting by reading this article.

Once you know those main two phrases, then you can move onto more creative expressions, like:

  • Ti penso sempre.—I always think of you.

  • Mi manchi.—I miss you.

  • Mi sei mancato/a. - I missed you.

  • Come/Quanto sei bella.—How beautiful you are.

  • Tu sei una mia stella.—You are a star. (While this sounds very romantic, I would recommend avoid saying it to Italian women. It can feel very over the top.)

  • Cara mia, ti voglio bene. —My darling (feminine), I love you.

  • Mi hai lasciato senza fiato. - You took my breath away.

  • Sei la donna più bella che abbia mai visto. - You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

  • Sei l’uomo più bello che abbia mai visto. - You’re the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.

  • Hai un bel sorriso. - You have a beautiful smile.

  • Dammi un bacio. - Give me a kiss.

  • Mi fai impazzire. - You make me crazy.

  • Sono attratto/a da te. - I’m attracted to you.

  • Ho un debole per te. - I’m weak for you.

Don’t forget that you can use pet names for your amante as well.

  • Gattino/a, Micino/a - Kitty, kitten

  • Cucciolino - Boo

  • Tesoro mio – My darling

  • Cuore mio – My heart

  • Amore mio – My love

  • Caro/cara – Dear

If you’re calling a male a pet name, use the -o ending. If you’re calling a female a pet name, use the -a ending. Click here to learn more about noun agreement

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