3 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ in Tagalog

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You’re likely to find many Filipinos are naturally warm and romantic. This can be seen by the many different ways to say ‘I love you’ in Tagalog. They are often more expressive when compared to other Asians who tend to be more reserved. When foreign tourists visit the Philippines, it’s not unusual for them to say that there is only one thing warmer than the country’s tropical weather: The friendly and romantic nature of Filipinos!

Different Types of Filipino Love

Filipinos are naturally palakaibigan (friendly), mapagmalasakit (caring), and mapagmahal (loving). That’s why when Filipinos are in love, they don’t shy away from using specific words that express their emotions. Love has many nuances, and Filipino vocabulary allows you to express every one of them!

palakaibigan (friendly)
mapagmalasakit (caring)
mapagmahal (loving)

Pagmamahal is a Filipino word that refers to familial, platonic or romantic love. Giliw connotes tender affection and fondness. Courtship, on the other hand, when underscored by an earnest, heart-melting pursuit, is called pagsuyo.

Pagmamahal (famial, platonic, romantic love)
Giliw (tender affection)
Pagsuyo (courtship)

Even puppy love is covered in the Tagalog dictionary. When a giddy teenager feels the euphoric rush of seeing his or her crush, the cute Filipino term for that is kilig. But when emotions run deep and beat with passion, Filipinos call it pag-ibig.

Kilig (rush of euphoria)
Pag-ibig (love with emotion and passion)

And when it comes to ‘pet’ nicknames, Filipinos typically call their romantic interest mahal (love). Pure romantics may opt for the more poetic variations: sinta ko, giliw ko, or irog ko. All these are a more formal terms that mean “my darling” or “my love”.

Mahal (love)
Sinta ko, giliw ko, irog ko (poetic love)

How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Tagalog

So… given all these words, how do you simply say “I love you” in Tagalog? Easy! Repeat after me.

Informal ‘I Love You’ in Tagalog

Mahal kita. (I love you, informal) Ma-hal ki-ta.

Mahal kita (I love you, informal)

It means “I love you”. Mahal kita is conversational, straightforward, and commonly used. Let’s try it!

Say “I love you” …To your Mom: Mahal kita, ‘Nay (I love you, Mom).
To your Dad: Mahal kita, ‘Tay (I love you, Dad).
To your cat: Mahal kita, Mingming! (I love you, Kitty!)
To a guy friend: Mahal kita, ‘tol! (I love you, bro!)
To your girl friend: Mahal kita, mars! (I love you sis!)
Or to a significant other: Mahal kita, (insert term of endearment here).

Mahal kita, Nay (I love you, Mom)
Mahal kita, Tay (I love you, Dad)
Mahal kita, Mingming (I love you, Kitty)
Mahal kita, ‘tol (I love you, bro)
Mahal kita, Mars (I love you, sis)

Easy, right? Let’s add some hot and spicy to that love!

Romantic “I Love You” in Tagalog

But what if you want to be “extra” romantic, more expressive, and more passionate? What do you say in Tagalog when Mahal kita is not enough? You say…Iniibig kita. (I love you; formal, Old Tagalog). Repeat after me: I-ni-i-big ki-ta.

Iniibig kita (I love you, formal)

Iniibig kita also means “I love you”. But unlike the commonly used Mahal kita, it is more formal and old-fashioned. Think Shakespeare’s cheesy lines. It’s full on poetic and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Say Iniibig kita if you want to stand out and don’t mind wearing your heart on your sleeve. This loving phrase will definitely leave a lasting impression on your love interest. Let’s practice. Say this with me:
Iniibig kita… at baliw na baliw ako sa ‘yo! (I love you deeply… and I’m crazy about you!)

Iniibig kita at baliw na baliw ako sa ‘yo! (I love you deeply and I’m crazy about you!)

BUT WAIT… Just when you thought things couldn’t get any hotter… THERE’S MORE!

Sizzling Hot, Head-Over-Heels, Melting from the Inside Out ‘I Love You’ in Tagalog

What if your love story is of epic Titanic proportions—think Jack and Rose multiplied by a billion. And what if, unlike the average Romeo or Juliet, you want to do more than just to make their heart flutter, but take his or her breath away in one fell swoop.

Then you it’s time to level up from Iniibig kita, and declare with conviction the power phrase in all of romantic Tagalog-dom: Iniirog kita. Repeat after me, lover boys and ooh-la-lovely gals: I-ni-i-rog ki-ta.

Iniirog kita (I love you, Titanic proportions)

If Mahal kita is for lovers.
And Iniibig kita is for poets (Romeos).
Then iniirog kita is for full-on Casanovas on a mission.

Iniirog kita, iniibig kita, mahal kita (I love you, choose the best phrase for your situation)

Don’t be surprised if saying Iniirog kita causes your love interest a blush or two. This loving phrase is hardly used in everyday Filipino talk. So hearing it will be sure to surprise them and leave a lasting impression that will be remembered long after you’ve uttered those precious words. *Swoon*

Be Ready for Valentine’s Day

If there’s somebody you have your eye on this Valentine’s Day, don’t hold back from saying I love you in Tagalog, okay? Whatever the phrase of your choice—be it Iniirog kita, Iniibig kita or Mahal kita—one thing’s for sure:

Whenever you say it, you’ll be making every day Valentine’s Day. Isang Maligaya’t Mainit na Araw ng mga Puso, mga lovebirds! (Have a Happy Heart-Warming Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!)

Isang Maligaya’t Mainit na Araw ng mga Puso, mga lovebirds! (Have a Happy Heart-Warming Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!)

Watch the video above to learn how to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in Tagalog (Filipino). And keep falling in love with speaking in Tagalog!

Marie Gutierrez

Filipino (Tagalog) is my native language, but with more than 15 years experience writing professionally in English, I am uniquely qualified to flex my semicolons to help others learn this magnificent language and let you in on cultural insights that you won't get anywhere else.


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