'LOVE' vs 愛 / 恋 and 好き

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New Member
Hi guys,

I'm writing my term paper in linguistics/semantics, emotion words across languages to be precise (making use of Wierzbicka/Goddard's studies and the Natural Semantic Metalanguage theory). Apart from dictionaries and theoretical studies (blah) I need real opinions and intuitions of real people who shape and are shaped by the language (yay). I have a few questions that I do have some opinions on, but I would really really appreciate if you could tell me what YOU think about this:

  1. is there a difference in meaning between 愛 and 恋? if there is, what would you say it is?
  2. do you think there is a difference between 愛 / 恋 and the English word ‘love’?
  3. which one would you say is closer to the meaning of the word ‘love’? (e.g. is it broader/more narrow? does it refer to humans/anything? does it include mother-child type relationship or only romantic-lover? etc.)
  4. do you think when the Japanese say "好きです" they are simply being metaphorical/indirect or do they actually mean something (slightly) different or more precise than 愛 / 恋? e.g. Would you use 好き in a context where you do not get any pleasure, be it emotional or physical, from the relationship but instead it brings you pain (so there is nothing to literally “like” about it)?
  • Isperia

    Senior Member
    a) 愛 can refer to all kinds of love, and 恋 is only emotional, romantic and/or erotic love, which means "be in love".
    And generally 愛 (for romantic meaning) means an emotion between serious relationship and 恋 for a friend who one wants to be together.
    For non-romantic meaning of 愛, we often use "家族愛(Familal love)", "同胞愛(Brotherly love)" or so.

    b) I think, yes. Japanese 愛 or 恋 is not based on Christianity.

    c) 恋 for things is very odd. In such a case, we always use 愛.
    Meaning of 恋 is very narrow.

    d) If the Japanese says "好きです", it means the speaker wants a serious relationship with the listener, I think.
    However, we often use "...が好きです" for "I like...". (e.g. りんごが好きです...I like apples.)
    So, if you say "好きです。 (Wait) ...が", you can surprise listeners. Such a reversal is widely used in comedy Manga.
    And I never use "好き" in the situation where there's no "like" or "love"...
    Last edited:


    New Member
    Thanks so much! It didn't occur to me to think of "love" in relation to Christianity but you do have a good point there.
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