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Affectionate Russian Phrases: Tender words in Russian

written by: allychevalier • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 11/20/2013

Is your lady love from Moscow? Maybe not, but it might be useful to know some Russian love phrases anyway—stranger tidbits of knowledge have come in handy, even if you're not a student of Russian. Here's some tender words in Russian.

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    Before We Begin

    The format of the vocabulary on this article will be English, then Russian, and then a phonetic guide to pronunciation. Stresses are indicated by a capitalization of the syllable involved. This is not a perfect guide to pronunciation, as there are many sounds in the Russian language that simply don't exist for speakers of English. Your best bet is to seek out audio recordings on the Internet of real Russians saying love phrases, or find a native Russian speaker who can guide you through the pronunciation in person.

    This article does not explain the different structures of these phrases. To understand how these are constructed, you'll need a background in Russian grammar, which will require the use of other articles. However, if it's just a few useful phrases you want and nothing more, then this is all you'll need.

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    The Role of Love In Russian Culture

    What does love mean to these Russians, anyway? Well, it depends on who you talk to of course, but there's some general attitudes within this culture regarding love and romance.

    Russian romance traditionally involves love with a variety of other emotions, from sadness to joy, making it a richly emotional aspect of the culture. The Russians tend to be a deeply passionate people, and revel in outcries that might embarrass Westerners. So, the below vocabulary might seem like overkill to many readers, but it's the expectation of many Russians to be a bit on the wordy side.

    Of course, like all cultures, Russian culture is changing with the times. Globalization has led to an influx of Western notions regarding love, which has led to a change in romantic attitudes between the generations. That being said, you'll still hear a lot of the same phrases and behaviors that you might read about in Tolstoy.

    Again, keep in mind that there's a fair bit of variation within Russian cultures, especially by the church they happen to belong in. Those calling from satellite countries that belonged to the former USSR may have very different attitude than someone from cosmopolitan Moscow.

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    Affectionate Phrases in Russian

    You first need some things you can call that special someone. Here's a few tender ideas:

    • My sweet: Милая моя (MIlaya Moyna)
    • My sweetheart: Любимая моя (LyubImaya moyLyubImaya moyA
    • My sun: Солнышко моё (Sol-nyshka moyo)
    • My dear: Дорогая моя (DorogAya moyA)
    • My joy: Радость моя (RAdost' moyA)
    • My angel: Ангел мой (Angel moy)

    Be creative! Referring to a loved one as anything that is good in this world will probably bring a smile out—as long as you're pronouncing it correctly, that is. New terms of endearment are just a page in the dictionary away.

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    Compliments

    Speaking Russian may not be enough to impress, however. How about some adjectives to add to those nouns?

    • You are [so] beautiful: Ты [такая] красивая (ti [takAya] krasIvaya)
    • You are lovely: Ты красивая (Ti krasIvaya)
    • You are wonderful : Ты чудесная (ti chudEsnaya)
    • You are pretty: Ты привлекательная (ti privlekAtelnaya)
    • You are sweet: Ты милая (ti mIlaya)
    • You are gentle: Ты нежная (ti nEzhnaya)
    • You are kind: Ты такая добрая (ti takaya dObraya)

    As with the previous, pretty much any positive adjective will do. Just flip through the dictionary and be creative. The structure is simple and easy enough to construct for yourself.

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    I Love You, And Other Passionate Phrases

    Want to layer on the sap? Here's some little phrases that might come in handy:

    • I love you: Я тебя люблю (ya tebya lyub-lyu )There is not a strict word order in Russian, so saying Я люблю тебя is also correct.
    • I can't live without you: Не могу жить без тебя (ne magu zhIt bes tebya)
    • I need you [so much]: Ты [очень н] нужна мне (ti [Ochen] nuzhna mne)
    • I love you with all my heart, with all my soul: Люблю тебя всем сердцем, всей душою (lyubb-lyu tebya vsem sertsem, vsey dushoyu)
    • Come to me, my love: Любовь моя, приди ко мне (lyubov moya, pridI ka mne)
    • I can't live without your love: Мне не жить Без твоей любви (mne ne zhIt Bez tvayey lyubvI )
    • My heart is full of love: Моё сердце полно любви (moyo sErtse palno lyubvI)
    • All I need is your love: Всё, что мне нужно; это твоя любовь (vsyo, chto mne uzhno; eto tvoua lyubov)
    • I will always love you: Я буду всегда любить тебя (ya budu vsegda lyubIt tebya)

    If you've got a decent grasp of Russian grammatical structure, try constructing your own! Think back to all those things you wish people would say to you... and be creative!

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    Possible Lesson Plan

    Want to practice this all? The best way is to play pretend (or not, depending on who you're working with.) Partner up with someone else and take turns trying out these sweet somethings on each other. It's either a good thing to laugh about between friends, or a cute way for two couples to get closer. Either way, it's a good way to learn some Russian in a fun, practical way.

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    Additional resources

    Want the vocab and nothing else? Here's the Russian love phrases vocabulary download.

References