Long Love Letters?
There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to penning German love letters and phrases: writing long communications or adhering to the notion from Hamlet that “In der Kürze liegt die Würze" (“Brevity is the soul of wit"). Generally speaking, women are known to write long love letters while men are known for shorter love notes. The latter are more reliant on sweet phraseology than the former.
Sample Love Letters Phraseology
No matter if they are long or sweet, love letters rely on some phrases that apply to both:
- ‘My Dearest’ translates into ‘Mein liebster (m)/ Meine liebste (f)’
- ‘I miss you’ = ‘Du fehlst mir’
- ‘You make me happy’ = ‘Du machst mich glücklich’
- ‘I love you with all my heart’ = ‘Ich liebe dich von ganzem Herzen’
It’s Not Quite Love
German is a highly nuanced language. As such, it has a lot in common with teaching students how to say “I love You" in Japanese. If the relationship is on the cusp of love but not yet quite in this territory – or if the writer is not yet ready to commit to this depth of affection and emotion – the look and feel of German love letters and phrases is slightly different.
- ‘Dear’ translates as ‘Lieber (m)/ Liebe (f)’
- ‘Über deinen letzten Brief habe ich mich sehr gefreut’ becomes ‘I was so happy to get your last letter’
- ‘I miss you’ = ‘Ich vermisse dich’ (Note the differently nuanced phrase from above)
- ‘Best wishes … Your’ = ‘Schöne Grüße … Dein (m)/Deine (f)’
A Word on Pet Names
Using a pet name (Kosename) is another ‘must’ when writing to a love interest. The English term ‘darling’ finds a host of translations in German love letters. Phrases include ‘Schatz’ or the diminutive ‘Schätzchen’ (literally: treasure); ‘Mäuschen’ (little mouse) or ‘mein Bär’ (literally: my bear or teddy bear). Although commonly translated as ‘darling,’ ‘Liebling’ is actually closer to ‘sweetheart.’
Grammar and Other Considerations of German Love Letters and Phrases
Prior to the big grammatical change of 1996, ‘du’ was always capitalized in written communications. This is no longer the case. Proper letter writing demands that it is rendered in lower case, unless it is at the beginning of a sentence. It is a testament to German letter writers’ love of the traditional written word that this rule is widely ignored.
Love letters should never be typed but always handwritten. It is considered bad form to send a type-written love letter. The obvious exception is email or texting, although neither forms of communication are considered suitable substitutes for messages of the heart. Ample poems and literature notwithstanding, German love letters and phrases are very clear and to the point.
They are usually devoid of veiled hints and double-entendres. This is a mistake that must be overcome by English speakers who might be making their first forays into romantic correspondence and have it coincide with a deepening interest in poetry. Clearly say what is on your heart!
This post is part of the series: Corresponding in Written German: Letters for Business, Love and Fun
- German Alphabet Letters for Writers
- Tips on Eliminating False Friends in German
- How to Write German Letters in a Business Environment: Wirtschaftsdeutsch
- Writing Sweet German Love Letters and Phrases: Liebesbriefe