The Real Meaning of “Suki” in Japanese (Like & Love)


The Meaning of Suki 好き in Japanese - Why it Means Like and Love

I’m sure that many of you have always wanted to know the real meaning of the Japanese wordsuki” (好き). Does it meanlike” or does it meanlove“? Especially when someone you are romantically interested in uses the words “suki desu” (好きです) you don’t want any misunderstandings, right? So in today’s blog post, you will finally get to know whatsukireally means in Japanese.

The Japanese word “suki” (好き) means “to like”, “liked”, “well-liked”, “to love”, and “loved”. It’s used to talk about people, hobbies, and things you like and it is also commonly used in anime as well as real-life to confess one’s love. It sounds less romantic than “daisuki” and “aishiteru” though.

I know that it can be quite confusing that suki (好き) means “like” and “love” at the same time, but I’m going to explain the reason behind that down below. I’m also going to cover in detail the differences between the Japanese words for lovesuki“, “daisuki“, and “aishiteru“.

What Does “Suki” Mean in Japanese?

When you look up the word “suki” (好き) in a Japanese-English dictionary you will see that it has a bunch of different meanings and slightly confusing translations (source).

  • liked, liking, fondness, affection, well-liked, favorite, preference
  • in love (with), loved, romantically intersted (in)
  • faddism, eccentricity
  • the way one likes, (as) it suits one

However, this is only because “suki” is a very common word that can be used in all kinds of grammatical and sentence structures.

In my opinion, it is easier and better to look at the kanji 好 which has the meanings “fond“, “pleasing“, and “like something” as well as the verb 好く (suku) which translates as “to like“, “to love“, and “to be fond of“.

  • kanji 好 – fond, pleasing, like something
  • verb 好く (suku) – to like, to love, to be fond of

Most of the time “suki” (好き) is used in Japanese just like the English verbs “to like” or “to be into“. It shows that you like a person or thing, that you like doing something, or that you are really into a hobby or topic.

Suki!
好き!
I like you!
I like it!

Sushi ga suki!
寿司が好き!
I like sushi!

Rokku ga suki.
ロックが好き。
I like rock music.
I’m into rock music.

The thing is that Japanese people are more conservative and in general less open about their feelings. I have written a whole article about the meaning of the word “Aishiteru” and the reason why Japanese rarely say “I love you” even to their long-term partners.

The same goes for the phrases “I like you” and even “I like it” in Japanese. While we tend to use the phrases on a daily basis some of my Japanese friends don’t even remember the last time they used the word “suki” (好き).

Using the word suki (好き) and saying “I like you” in Japanese can already be quite a big thing for Japanese people.

That’s why for many Japanese when confessing their love or when saying “I love you” at the start of a relationship the word suki (好き) feels more appropriate. And that’s exactly why suki (好き) can also be translated into English as “to love“, “I love you“, or “I love it“.

In case you are really into watching anime and want to learn how to say “I like anime” and “I like watching anime” in Japanese, please check out my other blog post. It will teach you a bunch of convenient phrases to talk about your hobby!

Is “Suki” Used Romantically?

The word suki (好き) is often used in Japanese to show that one is romantically interested in the other person. Especially “Suki!”, “Suki desu“, and “(person’s name) no koto ga suki desu” are common expressions to confess one’s love. However, “daisuki” and “aishiteru” sound more romantic.

Suki!
好き
I like you! (romantic interest)

Sasuke-kun…suki…
サスケくん…好き…
I…I like Sasuke (romantic interest)

Suki desu! Tsukiatte kudasai!
好きです!付き合ってください!
I love you. Please go out with me!

However, as discussed before suki (好き) isn’t always used romantically. When, for example, a girl says to one of her best female friends “Sakura-chan suki” it rather expresses friendship than any romantic interest in the other person – just like the English word “like”.

Sakura-chan suki!
サクラちゃん好き!
I like you Sakura (best friends)
or
I like you Sakura (romantic interest)

Does “Suki” Mean Love?

Suki” (好き) doesn’t only mean “like” but it can also meanlove” or “I love you“. When a Japanese person says to you “Suki” or “Suki desu” it is more likely that they have a romantic interest in you and are confessing their love than it is that they are telling you that they like you as a friend.

Suki (好き) means both “like” and “love” in Japanese.

However, the meaning of the word “suki” (好き) really depends on the situation and it can be bothlike” and “love“. Anyway, since Japanese are in general rather shy and not open about their feelings it usually really means a lot when they tell you “suki“. So you should be very happy about it!

Suki vs Daisuki vs Aishiteru – What’s the Difference?

Suki (好き) means “I like you” or “I love you“. The word daisuki (大好き) is a bit stronger and means “I really like you” or “I love you“, while aishiteru (愛してる) is the most romantic phrase that can be used to say “I love you” in Japanese. All phrases are commonly used to express one’s love, though.

  • suki (好き) – like, I like you, I love you
  • daisuki (大好き) – love, I really like you, I love you
  • aishiteru (愛してる) – I love you (from the bottom of my heart)

I explain the difference between the 3 words in more detail in this blog post: “The Meaning of “Daisuki” – Say “I Love (You)” in Japanese“. So if you are still not sure about the meaning of each word I highly recommend you to check out my other article.

What Does “Suki Desu” Mean in English?

Suki Desu” (好きです) can either mean “I like you“, “I like it“, “I love you“, or “I love it“. It actually has the same meanings assuki” (好き), but the so-called copula desu (です) at the end turns the sentence into a polite and more formal expression.

Suki!
好き!
I like you/it! (casual version)

Suki desu!
好きです!
I like you/it (formal and polite version)

Nihon ga suki.
日本が好き。
I like Japan (casual version)

Nihon ga suki desu.
日本が好きです。
I like Japan (formal and polite version)

Does Suki Mean Moon? (Suki vs Tsuki)

Suki” (好き, すき) is the Japanese word for “like” or “to like” and it can also mean “love” or “to love“. It is sometimes confused with the Japanese word “tsuki” (月, つき) which means “moon” and sounds very similar to “suki”. However, both words are not related and have entirely different meanings.

Alex (RockinJapanese)

おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime! Alex

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