How to express LOVE in Italian [Ep. 15]

By Manu Venditti | Advanced

Sep 06

Jim asks:
How do we express LOVE in Italian? 

OR... How do I choose between AMARE and VOLERE BENE?

Here’s how we express love in Italian:

For loving people…

AMARE
is between lovers only

VOLERE BENE
is between family and friends

Some examples are:

Italian – Sara, ti amo! Mi vuoi sposare?
English – Sara, I love you! Will you marry me?

Italian – Non ti amo piu… Voglio il divorzio!
English – I don’t love you anymore… I want divorce!

Italian – Mama, ti voglio bene!
English – Mom, I love you!

Italian – Io voglio bene a tutti i miei amici
English – I love all my friends!

Italian – Mi vuoi bene?
English – Do you love me?

 

For loving things..

PIACERE
ADORARE

AMARE

Italian – Mi piace molto ballare
English

It depends on what you "LOVE"...

FOR PEOPLE WE TEND TO USE:
AMARE
VOLERE BENE

FOR THINGS WE TEND TO USE:
PIACERE
ADORARE
AMARE

In this very order. 


Let's start with loving people!

Between LOVERS we use the verb AMARE (literally “to love”).

SARA, TI AMO! MI VUOI SPOSARE?
Sara, I love you! Will you marry me?

NON TI AMO PIÙ… VOGLIO IL DIVORZIO!
I don’t love you anymore… I want a divorce!

Between family and friends we use the (odd sounding) expression: VOLERE BENE (literally, “to want well/good”).

PLEASE NOTE:
VOLERE BENE is used with an Indirect Object Pronoun.

TI VOGLIO BENE (I love you)
LE VOGLIAMO BENE (We love her)
GLI VUOI BENE (You love him)

We are basically saying “to you, I want good”, “to her, we want good”, “to him you want good”. I can only assume this means “I wish you good” etc.

Some examples

MAMMA, TI VOGLIO BENE!
Mum, I love you!

IO VOGLIO BENE A TUTTI I MIEI AMICI.
I love all of my friends.

MI VUOI BENE?
Do you love me?
(as in “do care for me?”)


How about when you "love" THINGS?

FOR LOVING THINGS WE TEND TO USE:
PIACERE
ADORARE
AMARE

In this very order. 

In most cases, you should be using the verb PIACERE (“to like”) (highly irregular verb – see note below for a quick explanation) followed by some sort of modifier that would amplify your “liking”. For examples:

MOLTO = a lot
MOLTISSIMO = really a lot
TANTO = a lot
TANTISSIMO = really a lot
UN CASINO = a ton (slang)

To say: I LOVE TO DANCE
we might say:

MI PIACE MOLTO BALLARE
MI PIACE MOLTISSIMO BALLARE
MI PIACE UN CASINO BALLARE (slang)

I know this might not satisfy you (“I’m trying to say LOVE, not LIKE”) but that’s how a native Italian would express that concept most of the time!

A MIA FIGLIA PIACE MOLTISSIMO JUSTIN BIEBER
My daughter loves Justin Bieber
(literally “my daughter likes JB a lot”)
(or more literally “to my daughter JB is very pleasing”)

AMARE can be used, but please, DO NOT USE IT A LOT, as it often sounds weird in Italian!

If you LOVE WALKING IN THE PARK, just say:

MI PIACE MOLTO CAMMINARE NEL PARCO.

If it’s really important that you stress how much you love it, then try: ADORO CAMMINARE NEL PARCO.

If walking in the park is your life’s passion, the only thing you enjoy doing etc, then, OK, I’ll let you use AMARE!
AMO CAMMINARE NEL PARCO.

If you love music classical music:

MI PIACE MOLTISSIMO LA MUSICA
or…
ADORO LA MUSICA CLASSICA

Or… if classical music is your life then sure… use AMARE if you must!
AMO LA MUSICA CLASSICA


The odd verb PIACERE (to like)

PIACERE is a tricky verb, as it doesn’t work like in English. And it doesn’t work like other Italian verbs either (SVO – Subject – Verb – Object).

To say that we like something in Italian, we actually say that that something is pleasing to us.

Basically, the thing we like is the subject of the verb PIACERE, not us!

If we like something singular, then we use PIACE.
If we like something plural, then we use PIACCIONO.

Before the verb we have to use an indirect object pronoun, to mean “to me, to you, to him, to her, to us, to you guys, to them” (remember, we are saying “X is pleasing to me”).

These are the possible pronouns:
Mi / A me (to me)
Ti / A te (to you)
Gli / A lui (to him)
Le / A lei (to her)
Ci / A noi (to us)
Vi / A voi (to you guys)
Gli / A loro (to them)

So, let’s say we want to say:
I LIKE PIZZA

We would basically have to change the sentence to “pizza is pleasing to me”, right? Here goes:
MI PIACE LA PIZZA.

If we want to say:
I LIKE TOMATOES

We’d say:
MI PIACCIONO I POMODORI

WE LIKE TOMATOES
CI PIACCIONO I POMODORI

DO YOU LIKE PIZZA?
TI PIACE LA PIZZA?

I know, it’s weird. And this was just a quick introduction to the verb PIACERE!


Click on the button below to download the Lesson Notes for this lesson. You will find more examples and some exercises for you to practice! 

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