I was writing with my very close friend in German. We had the following conversation:

She wrote: “Du bist etwas ganz besonderes für mich. ich hab dich sehr lieb.”
I answered: “danke, meine liebe.”

How does it sound for a native German speaker? The thing is that I wanted to put a bit bigger meaning than just dear. But I wrote it as an adjective, not as a noun Liebe, as I thought that then it would be too strong. The dictionary shows that as an adjective it can be translated as dear or also as beloved. Does it sound for a German speaker as something more than just dear?
We are both girls, but I have a feeling that there’s something more than just a friendship between us. But the lack of language feeling makes it hard to understand for sure.

  • 2
    Both of you are not using capital letters where mandatory so it's not clear you did not mean the noun. Which does not matter in this case because the adjective would have to be nominalized, resulting in "Liebe" anyway.
    – xehpuk
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:38
  • Oh, that's wonderful! So, basically I told something like "thank you, my love"? At least that's the way the German speaker who doesn't speak English would read?
    – Lisa
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:41
  • 3
    Hard to tell. I'd find it rather strange to hear "meine Liebe" in the sense of "my love" instead of "my dear". I expect to see an adjective like "große" before "Liebe" in the first sense.
    – xehpuk
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


Als Adjektiv fehlt aber das Substantiv. „Danke, meine liebe Klein.“ würde gehen, oder „… meine liebe Claire.“

„Danke, meine Liebe“ wäre richtig und geht auch, wenn es nicht deine große Liebe ist, obwohl es auch richtig wäre, wenn es deine große Liebe wäre.

Die Konventionen verschieben sich momentan derart, dass ich auch schon von Geschäftspartner, die mich noch nie persönlich gesehen haben, mit „Lieber Stefan“ in E-Mails angeschrieben werde. Die ersten Male habe ich gezuckt, inzwischen benutze ich es selbst, wenn auch nur als Reaktion auf solche Distanzlosigkeiten, die mir eigentlich gegen den Strich gehen, denn sie schränken die Differenzierungsmöglichkeit ein. Es ist aber ein zunehmendes Phänomen wie das Geduze in Firmen; ich werde es kaum aufhalten können.

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    Vielen Dank für diesen detaillierte Antwort :)
    – Lisa
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:42

When I read the title, I immediately pictured a well-behaved, elderly gentleman, maybe a professor, or a butler, talking to a young girl in a fatherly, very friendly, but non-romantic way: my dear.

As for persons of the same age, the phrasing doesn’t add romance per se, but it might, as a function of frequency. What I’m trying to say is that it may become obvious when adjectives and nouns based on Liebe are beginning to crop up in daily interactions, where before there have been none. But if the receiver of that “minced” communication is not inclined, he or she will not “catch the drift” solely because you sprinkled in some love-based words. This is probably not specific to the German language.

Also be aware that most Germans are aware that “I love you” is more freely used in American English than in German*. Nobody says “Ich liebe Dich” to a family member or a platonic friend except in extreme situations (said friend hands you the keys to your dream car) or with sarcastic undertones (said friend set up a public prank and you starred in it), but in AE, this appears to be totally normal, and the distinction towards romantic love seems to be made more through context and non-verbal clues, both of which are hard to come by in written communication. This might lead to an initial subjective devaluement of phrases surrounding “Ich liebe Dich” when a German speaker receives such a phrase from a U.S. American.

Instead of “Ich liebe Dich”, German speakers use “Ich habe Dich lieb” for platonic friends. This phrase appears in the quote you provided from your friend. That said, the enhancement through “sehr” as well as calling you something special expresses strong feelings — impossible to tell whether that’d be platonic or a romantic hint. But that wasn’t your question anyways.

*: I’m obviously presuming that you're US American, apologies if this is not the case.

  • 1
    @Lisa Geez, all those conditions :P As for "my beloved", I can only think of "meine Geliebte", but this doesn't leave much room for thought, really. Saying "Meine geliebte .. [Schwester | Freundin | Oma | Schallplattensammlung]" is less dramatic, but for non-family persons, pretty straight forward. I guess you'll just have to play it out and see how far along the language barrier you'll have to shuffle until you'll have to show your hand. Nov 16, 2015 at 13:31
  • Related on the topic of hab dich lieb
    – Jan
    Nov 17, 2015 at 15:47

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