English vocabulary for love and romantic relationships

Speak the Language of Love: Vocabulary for romantic relationships

Love is in the air, so I wanted to share some great vocabulary for romantic relationships. You’ll see these phrases on television, in movies, and of course, whenever people talk about being in love. 

No matter what stage of a relationship you’re in––single, dating, married, or something else (it’s complicated)––there are creative ways to describe your level of romance. Let’s look at some love vocabulary you’ll fall head over heels with!

Part 1: Once Upon a Time

Hook up with someone

Hook up with

Meet someone and share physical contact with (kissing, holding hands, or other physical activity.)

They hooked up at a party and started dating soon after.

Head over heels in love

Head over heels

To be completely in love with someone. You’re life has been turned upside down by your new relationship, and you’re crazy about your new love.


She is head over heels in love with her new boyfriend.

Making out in public

Make out with

This usually happens in private locations. It describes heavy physical contact and serious kissing.

I saw you and your boyfriend making out in the hallway. Get a room, guys!

Part 2: Days of our lives

After a relationship has begun, things start to move faster. You might decide to live together, and one of you will move in with the other. You might meet each other’s parents for the first time. Good luck with that!

After a few months or years, it might be time to get serious about the relationship. You might start to plan for the future, discuss having children, and talk about your larger goals in life. I imagine many people will get engaged on Valentine’s Day this year. Congratulations to them all!

He popped the question!

Pop the question

To propose marriage.

He got down on one knee and popped the question, “Baby, will you marry me?” Of course, I said yes.

He finally put a ring on it.

Put a ring on it

To get engaged and begin to plan for marriage. We can thank Beyoncé for this slangy expression. Girls love to brag to friends about their engagement with a sparkly ring on their finger!

We were on and off for 7 years before he finally put a ring on it.

They decided to split up.

Split up/Break up

Relationships can’t always be picture perfect. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and you decide to go your separate ways. 😦

We just couldn’t agree on anything, so we decided to split up. I broke up with him this afternoon.

They got back together after a big fight.

Get back together

Continue the relationship after a break up.

I realized that I couldn’t live without the love of your life, so we got back together.

Part 3: Happily Ever After

The final stage in a relationship isn’t the end; it’s really just the beginning of a long life full of love and promise. It’s not easy to find a person you can spend your whole life with, but true love is possible, and half the fun is getting there!

He could be my soulmate.

Soulmate

The most perfect person in the world for you. Your perfect match. Your destiny.


I’ve been looking for my soulmate my entire life, and now I’ve found him.

They just tied the knot

Tie the Knot

Officially get married.


We couldn’t wait to get married, so we tied the knot after just 6 months!

my wife is my better half

My better half

An affectionate way to refer to your husband or wife.


I can’t wait for you to meet my better half. She’s a wonderful woman.

settle down and start a family

Settle down

Reach a point in life when you decide to start a family.


After years of being a bachelor, he finally settled down and started a family.

an old couple in love

Grow old and gray with

To stay together forever.

I want to meet someone I can grow old and gray with, don’t you?

Aww! That’s such a cute couple. They’re a couple of lovebirds! I hope you find love as sweet as this one day, and if you have it, celebrate! Love is a lovely thing to share.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Borrow or Lend: What’s the difference?

It’s easy to confuse these two terms. They are used when we give or take something that will be returned (Well, we hope it will!)

What's the difference between borrow and lend?

LEND = Give

To lend is to give someone something for a short time. Lend requires a direct pronoun (money, a phone, a sweater, etc.) and an indirect object pronoun (me, him, her, us, them, my friend, the students, etc.)

Notice that in each of these sentences, we can replace the word lend with the verb give-gave-given and it will have the same meaning.

  • I lent my friend $5000 so she could get a new apartment. (I gave…)
  • Could you lend me some money? (Could you give…)
  • Have you ever lent money to friends? And if so, do they always pay you back? (Have you ever given…)

BORROW = Take

Borrow means to take. It means you are asking to take something from someone and return it in the future. You can use the verb take-took-taken in the following sentences and have the same meaning.

  • My friend borrowed $5000 from me so she could move into a new apartment. (My friend took $5000…)
  • Could I borrow some money? (Could I take…)
  • She promised to pay back the money she had borrowed. (…the money she had taken.)

Remember, lend = give and borrow = take

Need a loan? Borrow some cash from a friend!
Need a loan?

When we borrow money from a person or a bank, it is called a loan.

Check out this classic episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld to see how lending money to friends can sometimes be complicated…and very funny!

Jerry can lend you $5000.00!

Do you think Jerry will lend her the money? I’m sure he was happy that his friend Kramer was there to negotiate the deal!

Pay (someone) back = return money that was borrowed

When talking about borrowing money, we use the phrasal verb to pay back. This is a separable phrasal verb, meaning we often use an object noun or pronoun in the middle of the phrase.

  • When can she pay me back?
  • She shouldn’t borrow money from Jerry unless she is sure she can pay him back!

Give (something) back = return an item that was borrowed

When talking about borrowing a car, phone, or other items, we use the phrasal verb to give back.

  • Did she give your bike back to you after she borrowed it?
  • You borrowed my umbrella three months ago. Please give it back!

Now it’s your turn. Can you describe each photo below using both borrow and lend?

Thanks, dad!

Example: I borrowed my father’s credit card. My father lent me his credit card.

Write your answers in the comments below to see if you’ve got the hang of it. When you finish, lend this post to your friends to improve their English, too!

What's the difference between go back and come back?

Go Back or Come Back: What’s the Difference?

When talking about travel, it’s easy to confuse the phrasal verbs go back and come backThey both mean to return. So what’s the difference?

It’s actually very simple. It all depends on where you are at the time of speaking. For example, if you are from Italy, but you are in California right now, you would say:

  • I’m going back to Italy in two weeks. (You are in California now, but you are returning to your home country.)
  • I’m coming back to California next year. (You are in California, and you are returning to California next year)

What's the difference between go back and come back?
It depends on the location of the speaker.

Let’s look at a conversation to see some examples.

A: Honey, I’m home! I went shopping, but I forgot to get the eggs.

B: Oh no! I need the eggs to make your birthday cake.

A: OK, I’ll go back to the store and get them.

B: Great. Do you know when you’re coming back home?

A: I’ll be back in 20 minutes.

B: That’s great. Don’t come back without the eggs!

The speakers use come back and go back (and even be back) depending on where they are at the time of speaking. They are both at home, so they use go back to talk about returning to the store, and come back to talk about returning home.

  • I was born in New York, but I haven’t gone back there in many years. (not there)
  • I loved visiting Italy the first time, so I went back there again last year. (not there)
  • I was still tired, so I went back to bed.
  • Our dog ran away a few days ago, but he came back last night.
  • When are you coming back from your trip? We miss you here!

If you have any questions about these phrasal verbs in use, you can always come back to this page to ask questions and practice.

Cheers!