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  5. प्रेम vs. प्यार vs. ishq?


प्रेम vs. प्यार vs. ishq?

So, in the course, we learn the word "प्यार" for love. Watching Hindi movies/listening to Hindi songs, I've also heard "प्रेम," and another word that's usually Latinized as "ishq," though I'm not sure of the Hindi spelling.

What are the differences between them? In the course we use "प्यार" for family, as in "I love my family." But I think I've also heard it in a romantic context? As for "प्रेम," I think I've only heard it in a romantic context. But can it also be used for friends/family? I've only seen "ishq" in movies, and I'm suspecting it's actually Urdu, not Hindi. But, if it isn't, is it different from the other two?

Just curious about when to use these, as it seems these would be important NOT to mix up.

October 23, 2019



This is a good example of how Hindi has vocabulary that comes from different sources.

  1. प्यार is from a class of words called 'tadbhav' which form the bulk of Hindi's vocabulary. These are words that have their roots in Sanskrit or its vernacular forms (called Prakrits) but have changed in form and usage over the years. प्यार is thus the most common word for 'love' and is not limited in scope to just romantic love (so you can use the word with your crush, lover, spouse, baby, mom or friend). If you're ever in doubt about how to translate 'love' in a given context, go with प्यार. (That said, there are senses where the English word 'love' is used to convey a more intense form of 'like' as in 'I love apples' where no Hindi love-word would be appropriate).

  2. प्रेम is a 'tatsam' word which means that it's a word that has been borrowed as-is from Sanskrit. These words are usually seen as more 'formal' than their 'tadbhav' and Perso-Arabic counterparts and it is more common to find them in written form than spoken. You will still find प्रेम in spoken Hindi (especially in the form of derived words like प्रेमी-'lover' as Ishan.Kamat says) but you'll see it a lot more in letters, poetry and the like. Use of the word like in 'मैं तुमसे प्रेम करता हूँ ' may be seen as somewhat old-timey. प्रेम is usually used for romantic love but is also used a lot in a religious/spiritual sense. It is not commonly used for filial love.

  3. इश्क़ is from Arabic/Persian. These words form a good chunk of the vocabulary and used all the time in Hindi but they are still more associated with Urdu. इश्क़ is used for a far more intense emotion than प्यार/मोहब्बत and strictly in a romantic sense (passionate love). इश्क़ is also a word that you'll find a lot more in poetry and songs than in daily speech. Since क़ is not native to Hindi, you will sometimes see the word written इश्क and pronounced ishk.

  4. मोहब्बत is also from Persian. It can be used interchangeably with 'प्यार' because it does not carry the somewhat loaded interpretations of प्रेम and इश्क़. So, 'मुझे तुमसे मोहब्बत है' is absolutely fine. It can be used outside of a romantic context but it is rare to do so.


Thank you! This is way more detailed than I expected, and very helpful.


You are right. 'Ishq' is an Urdu word. And it is mostly used in romantic context only.


Thank you! Yes, I understand they all mean "love," but are they completely interchangeable? Or would they be used in different contexts?


This was both helpful and deeply interesting! Thank you!


no at the end it all means same thing. it all means love there is no difference except the way they sound and how different states use different word. I personally think word prem is old fashioned no one really uses word prem when saying ILY lol. not too sure tho hindi is my second language so hahaha don't trust me completely but at least trust me 85%?


XD 85% it is! I've been trying to build my Hindi vocabulary, but I'm beginning to learn synonyms for things, and so it's been an adventure trying to figure out the nuances from context. I'm having a great time, though!


All of them mean love, most commonly used is प्यार. प्यार can be used to express love in a romantic way as well as for family. इश्क़ is always used in romantic way but not as commonly used as प्यार. प्रेम is also used in a romantic way, but mostly used as a noun for couples - प्रेमी (male lover) प्रेमिका (female lover). Another word is मोहब्बत and is always used in a romantic way.


Thank you! That's very clear and very helpful.


Hey, there. Ishq, prem, & pyaar are all hindi words for love. But yes, watching hindi movies can help you have a deeper understanding of words.


Thank you all! I've been wondering about these differences for a while now. I don't plan on telling anyone "I love you" in Hindi any time soon, but, should the occasion ever occur, I feel much more able to rise to it. And I learned a few extra vocabulary words too!


The language has gone through many twists and turns.Many of the words may sound hindi but are actually adopted.They are synonyms and would have gone to be popular after being used by foreign speakers. LOVE in Hindi can be proposed in many ways and ishq is one of them.

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