8 Favorite Valentine's Day Expressions for ESL Learners

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Valentine's Day words for ESL

I’m a sucker for Valentine’s day. In other words, I love it—even though I know it is a holiday created by businesses to get me to buy candy and cards!

In fact, I have such a love affair with Valentine’s Day, that I even chose pink and red as my wedding colors and roses as my flowers.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to share some of my favorite expressions that have to do with love. Now, I only like to teach idioms and expressions that I actually use in everyday life. So, if you want a complete list of love expressions, you could easily find more, but here are the ones I have used:

Tough love

Example sentence: When my son accidentally broke the neighbor’s window with the basketball, I showed him some tough love by making him pay for the repairs himself.

Can you tell from the context what it means? When you show tough love, you enforce a rule or make someone take responsibility for their actions, even though it might seem a little harsh at the time. It is done with the intention of helping the person to grow morally and ethically.

To break one’s heart

Example sentence: It breaks my heart to see homeless dogs on the street.

Imagine a heart split into two pieces. This would feel painful, right? So, if something breaks your heart, you feel emotional pain.

From the bottom of one’s heart

Example sentence: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Loaning me that money really saved my life!

Picture a big, beautiful red heart filled with love. When you use this expression, you are thanking the other person with all of the love in your heart (from the bottom all the way to the top!).


Example sentence: She offered me her heartfelt apology.

In other words, the apology was very sincere; it came from the heart.

Heart and soul

Example sentence: The music teacher told her students that they really needed to put their heart and soul into the song, otherwise it would just sound monotonous.

Your heart and soul is everything really. So, when you put your heart and soul into something, you are putting your love and light into it!

To not have the heart to do something

To not have the heart for something

Example sentence: My mom didn’t have the heart to tell us that our dog had been hit by a car. So, she told us that he ran away instead.

I give you my heartfelt apologies for the sad example sentence! But hopefully you get the idea. If you don’t have the heart for something, you lack the motivation or the emotional fortitude to do it.


Example sentence: You look really lovely tonight, Susan. Is that a new dress?

This is one of my favorite adjectives. Why? There is a softness to it that I appreciate. It is a gentle and thoughtful adjective that you can use to express your appreciation for something or someone.

Love affair

Example sentence: Angelica has a love affair with the color pink; she wears it every day!

This expression can be used figuratively or literally. In the sentence above, it is used to emphasize how much Angelica likes pink. However, two people can have a real love affair. Usually the word "affair" implies that the relationship was extramarital (the husband or wife has an additional relationship outside of his/her legal marriage).

However, the term "love affair" doesn't necessarily imply that it is an extramarital affair. It expresses that the couple is deeply in love. If you are curious to learn more, here are some of the greatest love affairs of all time.

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with lovely English conversation, friends, and family (and maybe a little rich, dark chocolate)!

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