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I'm trying to write a letter to someone I'm very close with and I drafted it in English. In English I would say "the truth is, I fell for you a while ago." This seems to convey strong feelings without explicitly saying I fell in love. This feels more genuine and in this context is more fitting. And sadly, any translation into German that I can find says something along the lines of "habe ich mich in dich verliebt." While it is true, I wonder if there are not ways to say it closer to the way it sounds in English - as sad as it sounds, explicitly without mentioning the word verliebt.

Thanks

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    "Die Wahrheit ist, mein Herz gehört schon lange dir" Or "nur dir" to emphasize even more ? Dec 20, 2021 at 20:05

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There is the verb 'jemandem verfallen' (to fall for someone). It has a quite ancient and somewhat elevated, maybe even slightly snobbish touch to my ears, though. But I can totally see myself using it in a context you describe:

In Wahrheit bin ich Dir schon vor einer ganzen Weile verfallen.

While deepl or google don't suggest it, it's one of the possible translations listed on leo. Mind though, that "jemandem / einer Sache verfallen" is quite a strong expression and can have a touch of negativity in it as can be used to describe that ones attachment to the person or thing goes beyond a healthy level (like "addicted to someone/something").

It also suggests the much less strong translation of "sich in jemanden verknallen". That is much more colloquial and does not convey deep-running feelings.

Further possibilities are

  • ein Auge auf jemanden / etwas werfen
    This does not necessarily mean sexually attracted though. Just "you have attracted my attention".
  • sich in jemanden vergucken (see answer from @xehpuk)
  • Schmetterlinge im Bauch hervorrufen
    literally "cause butterflies in the stomach". This figure of speech is used to describe the feeling of elation caused by the presence of the other person.
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    I was considering "verknallt" but that sounds as if it would be said in jest on a playground. This seems like it was the answer I was looking for. Thank you. Dec 20, 2021 at 10:48
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    @YamahaJacoby it might be, but not necessarily. It's often used to refer to situations like "In der 10. Klasse war ich in XY verknallt, hab mich aber nie getraut, sie anszusprechen" or similar. The best translation of "verknallt" is IMHO "to have a crush on someone". Dec 20, 2021 at 11:00
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    You may want to note that "jemandem verfallen sein" has stronger negative conotations than "to fall for someone". The German phrase is more akin to "to be addicted to someone", "to be a slave to somebody" or "to be fatally attracted to somebody". It's mostly used with objects, like "er war dem Alkohol verfallen", but when used with people, it doesn't indicated anything close to a healthy relationship ;) Dec 21, 2021 at 16:56
  • yes, you're right @HenningKockerbeck - amended. Dec 21, 2021 at 17:17
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"sich in jemanden vergucken" seems to be a good fit:

In Wahrheit habe ich mich vor einer Weile in dich verguckt.

More or less coincidentally, when translated back to English by DeepL, you get the original sentence.

There's also an entry at dict.cc.

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Ich habe vor einiger Zeit Gefühle für dich entwickelt

Just means you have (developed) feelings for that person, not necessarily love (just yet). Stronger and more sincere than "verknallt" (which can be very superficial).

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"Ich fühle mich Dir sehr nahe."

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    This phrasing is ambiguous: it may either deep friendship or romance (or anything in between).
    – ComFreek
    Dec 21, 2021 at 1:17

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