Document Type : Original Article


1 The University of Texas-Pan American, USA

2 Hengyang Normal University, China


This study explores the use of the English locution I love you in the American context. The data were collected through a focus discussion group and a survey questionnaire. 120 college undergraduate students from a large public American university participated in the study with 28 attending the focus discussion group and 92 completing the survey questionnaire. The findings indicated that the use of I love you is a daily phenomenon. It can be used across a variety of different relationships, in a variety of different modes, during a variety of different occasions, and with a variety of different meanings. The theoretical justification and explanation for Americans’ high frequent and varied use of I love you were tentatively probed. The results from this study delineated a preliminary ethnography of how I love you is used in the American context, which can help EFL teachers and learners understand it more thoroughly, translate it more accurately, and use it more appropriately.