By: Willow Welter   |   Posted: February 14, 2023

Celebrate love by learning to express it in different languages spoken by children in Compassion’s programs.

Say “I Love You” in Languages of Kids Around the World

Celebrate love by learning to express it in different languages spoken by children in Compassion’s programs.

Written by Willow Welter
Photography by Junieth Dinarte, Eric Lema and Jonatan Ruiz
a boy holds a sign that says "Te Amo Padrino"
Twelve-year-old Kelvin in Peru holds a sign that says “I love you, sponsor” in Spanish.

Love may be universal, but the way it’s expressed varies widely by culture.

In the U.S., we LOVE to say “I love.” We say it about family members, significant others and friends, but also about songs or products or games we like. In your sponsored child’s culture, “I love you” may be reserved for deep, romantic relationships, or it might rarely be said at all.

The customs and languages in which people express love are as beautifully diverse as the children in Compassion’s programs. To celebrate different cultures, here’s how to say “I love you” in the most common languages in countries where Compassion works.

A couple of notes: If you are a sponsor and want to write "I love you" to your sponsored child, it's best to write it in English and let the translator choose how to write it most appropriately for a child. Also note that many African and Asian language alphabets have their own unique characters that have been transliterated below.

Spanish: “Te amo” or “Te quiero”

For children living in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua or Peru, the most widely spoken language is Spanish.

“Te quiero” is a casual expression of love or fondness toward someone or something. “Te amo” is deeper, often used between close friends, family members or romantic relationships.

Swahili: “Nakupenda”

Children who live in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda may speak Swahili or hear it frequently spoken. But African countries enjoy a huge diversity of languages; Swahili is just one of the most common. It’s among the 10 most commonly spoken languages in the world, says UNESCO.

French: “Je t'aime”

Children in Burkina Faso, Haiti and Togo may speak French. French is the official language of Burkina Faso, but only 2.2% of people speak it. The most common language spoken there is Mossi. In Togo, there are also four major African languages spoken: Ewe, Mina, Kabye and Dagomba.

English: “I love you”

If you’re reading this, you probably speak English. But we didn’t want to leave out readers who sponsor children in Ghana, where the official language is English. Uganda is another African country where English is one of two official languages. (The other is Swahili.)

a woman says “I love you” in Nicaraguan Sign Language
Eudaliz, mother of two teenagers in Compassion’s program, shows how to say “I love you” in Nicaraguan Sign Language.

Amharic: “Iwedihalehu”

Children who live in Ethiopia may speak Amharic, the official national language. But there are several ethnic groups in Ethiopia with their own official working languages.

Bengali: “Āmi tōmāẏa bhālōbāsi”

This is how “I love you” would sound in Bengali, the language spoken by most sponsored children in Bangladesh. The language is also known as Bangla.

Filipino: “Mahal kita”

For children in the Philippines, the official language in their country is Filipino, an offshoot of the Tagalog language.

Indonesian: “Aku mencintaimu”

Most children in Indonesia speak Indonesian. But there are more than 700 languages used in Indonesia! The most widely spoken local dialect is Javanese.

Portuguese: “Eu te amo”

Here’s how a child may say “I love you” in Brazil, where Portuguese is the most widely spoken language.

Sinhala: “Mama oyāta ādareyi”

Children in Sri Lanka would probably say “I love you” in the Sinhala language.

Thai: “Rạk na”

Most children in Thailand speak Thai, which is the country’s official language.

Noel holds a sign that says "I am loved"
Noel, 14, is known, loved and connected in Compassion’s program in Tanzania.

Now you’re ready for Valentine’s Day! Try telling your family “I love you” in a language spoken by children in Compassion’s program.

Write to Your Child

a girl holds letters from her sponsor

If you sponsor a child, write to them to ask about their culture.

a girl holds letters from her sponsor