Why do I need to know this
Directly translated, love you is the same as I love you. But be careful. The two aren’t often interchangeable.
What does it mean
Love you means “I love you”. It’s an expression you would use with your friends. Or your favourite colleague. Or the barista you meet every morning at your neighbourhood cafe. Love you means I love you. But it can be thrown out there in more of a casual context.
I love you also means, “I love you”. Which is why non-native speakers can quickly be under the wrong impression that they are interchangeable. I love you is typically used with someone you are in a romantic relationship with. If you told someone ‘I love you’, it would mean that you are in love with them, which is a lot more serious than saying love you. Love you is expressing you have more of a lovely connection than a connection of love.
Yes, in specific contexts the two can be interchangeable. You can tell your husband or wife love you or I love you. But you would never say I love you to your favourite morning barista. Well, only if you have a major crush on them and want to reveal your feelings.
To be on the safe side, use love you with everyone else other than that special someone in your life.
Use it like this
Think of everyone who is love you. – Think of all those who love you.
Thank you for thinking of me. Love you. – Thanks for thinking of me. Love you.