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A few years ago I wrote something to a female German teacher who I was quite fond of (not in a romantic way), and it included the phrase:

Ich habe Sehnsucht nach dir.

I was shooting for a translation to "Estou com saudade de você." This is an expression in Portuguese (my native language), which roughly translates to "I miss you" in English and it's quite common to use it when talking to friends.

At the time, it didn't occur to me that this expression might have a stronger romantic connotation in German. So, German speakers, did I commit a faux pas writing something inappropriate here? If yes, what would've been a more appropriate expression?

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Sehnsucht implies a strong desire, i.e. craving for something. I miss you is simply Ich vermisse dich. –  Em1 Oct 31 '12 at 23:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Here are my suggestion to take away all possible romantic impulses:

Du fehlst mir.
Sie fehlen mir sehr.
Ich vermisse Deine... specify what exactly it is you are missing, e.g. ... guten Ratschläge.

"Sehnsucht nach jmd. haben" is used exclusively in a romantic context in Germany. "Vermissen" is much weaker here. All romantic connotation can also be taken out when we specify what we miss (then we may also use "sehnen").

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Die ersten zwei Sätze würde ich zwischen zwei Personen unterschiedlichen Geschlechts, wenn auch nicht so stark, auch als romantisch interpretieren - besonders durch das "sehr" - außer es würde, wie im 3. Satz eine unromantische Konkretisierung folgen. –  user unknown Nov 2 '12 at 5:45
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Ich stimme da @userunknown zu. Wobei ich diese Formulierungen bei engen Freunden durchaus nutzen würde, wenn hier beide Personen relativ sicher sind, dass sie füreinander nur Freunde sind. Gegenüber einer Ex-Freundin dagegen würde ich diese Sätze eher meiden um keine Missverständnisse zuzulassen. In so einem Fall würde ich eher "ich hoffe, wir sehen uns einmal wieder" sagen, das ist dann aber auch distanzierter und weniger stark. –  0x6d64 Nov 2 '12 at 18:26

Using your vocabulary (with a version of Sehnsucht), one might say, "Ich sehne mich nach dir." But as Em1 pointed out in a comment, that's an indication of a strong, "serious," longing.

A better translation is "Ich vermisse dich" (I miss you). That's a more socially acceptable construction.

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